Tuesday, October 26, 2010
When one creature spoke, the other immediately answered. I could not bear to look at them—their stench and the feel of their loose, moist skin was too much sensation for me— but I had gleaned the wide spherical shape of them, the make of their long limbs and the thin texture of their skin.
My descent slowed and I found myself wrapped in their embrace, unable to move my legs or even shrug my shoulders. Their grip was like a slack-fitted vice, not constricting but confining enough that I had no chance of escape.
Both creature slid up my body and rubbed their long noses against my temples and I could tell that they were naked. One female, one clearly male.
“So much promise…”
“So much doubt…”
I felt the cool lick of them pressing on my mind. There came a shudder of my breath and the rasp of my voice sticking in my throat before their grip tightened and I struggled to breathe.
I tried to plead, to mutter “please, stop,” but the only sound I heard was the forced gurgle of air leaking past my lips.
“Is to die…”
“Is to choose...”
With another squeeze around my chest and the pump of their tongues on my mind, my eyes opened, but I did not see gray, wet well brick or even the queer green lewd figure gyrating in their perversion. I saw, through a mist of white fog my life set present and real. Every sin open to be discovered, every shameful thought tangible.
I watched, horrified, as a younger version of myself lifted three gold coins from my dead grandmother’s jewelry box. That bounty had bought three bobbins of red and pink ribbons despite the winter’s harshness and my parents struggle to keep us fed.
Then I saw an only moderately aged version of myself hiding beneath the cellar doors to spy on William Hunter as he stripped himself completely of muddy clothes near the horse trough. The baker’s coach had overturned, the horses spooked by a painted black rope fashioned to mimic a snake, tied beneath their reins. One horse had to be put down and William lost his job delivering the baker’s orders that summer.
Then, the Blythe Matthews from just two summers ago, holding her father’s whiskey under her arm, already flirting near drunkenness, racing into the Hollows to meet Riley Cormac past a secluded field of heather. Never mind that her father had forbid her from ever seeing Riley. No matter that he was promised to Elisabeth Hillson.
More flashes came, more retellings of all my wrong doings until I felt I could no longer bear the weight of my shame— until I thought I may burst from the heartache I caused and, heartache there was, right before me: my mother crying into my father’s chest, worried at how thin we’d grown; William shielding his face from his father’s fists as he explained he could no longer return to the baker’s shop; Elisabeth staring over the railings of Dunleery Bridge, her belly round, no ring on her finger and a damp letter from Riley telling her he’d fallen in love with a dancer from London.
The voices sounded proud, indulgent in the reflections laid before me, as though all I had done, all the horrors I had breathed life into, were meant to be praised. I shuddered and pulled my neck away from their embrace, fought despite the guilt I felt to rid myself of their touch. They resisted, gripping me tighter.
“No,” I said. I tugged against the slick surface of their skin and shook my arms until my fingers were free, until I found the rough texture of the rope once more. I lowered my eyes and squeezed them tight, repeated “no, not ever. I will not,” until I felt their embrace linger and fade.
It was moments— minutes, perhaps hours before I dared to open my eyes again, hopeful that the past’s retellings had finally vanished. When I let my shut lids open, lifting them fractions at a time, the past had disappeared, the earlier versions of my sins vacant from my sight. The future, however, was sure to follow, ushered in by the pale young man that stood before me.
“Hello, Miss Matthews.”
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
The hag’s laughter echoed against the brittle brick around me. Every loud shriek of the sound pierced my ears and my hands took on a terrible shake, making it almost impossible for the rope to stay gripped in my hands.
She stared at me and moved her head left and right, her eyes squinted as though she could not make out what I was. Her eyes—cold and manic— grew brighter.
“Lower and lower, my pet,” she said, slithering on the brick like a python.
I wanted to look behind her, curious how she managed to move, to wind around me in such a tight space, but my eyes would not leave her, my words froze in my throat.
“Lower,” she said again, still cackling. She looked down, below my feet and nodded, her amusement disappeared at a command I could not hear. She smiled once—several teeth missing and those still left were black and jagged—before she slid down, to stop at my feet.
“Must be lower,” she mumbled. She took the bucket between her hands and turned it, making the already tenuous grip I held on the rope loosen.
“Stop,” I shouted, but only received a frown from the now silent hag. “Please, I’ll fall.” When she continued to ignore me, continued to slap her hands against the bucket, I lowered into a crouch, winding my arms around the rope. “Please,” I said, though I knew she could not hear me. “God, please,” I said as the walls spun and shifted to become a blur of shadows and dizzying, disappearing light.
Before I closed my eyes, the spin of the bucket and rope now so fast that my hair slapped against my cheeks, I saw a cluster of symbols jumbling together—large red and black letters I could not read and tiny green naked figures danced and gyrated together.
I closed my eyes completely. My stomach twisted and gurgled until I feared I’d vomit.
“Lower,” the hag shouted. “Lower still, my pet.”
I chanced one peek, forcing my eyes open despite the heavy fear I felt pumping my heart into double beats.
This time, when I heard the hag speak, the sound came from above me, the distance made her words barely recognizable.
I could not feel the spin of the bucket, but the whirls of the brick and the green drawn figures around me told me I had not stilled. My hair stuck against my forehead and I could not tell if it was sweat or well water that had dampened it.
I stared up to find no light, no shadows and no mad hag anywhere. There was only the dimness of the well and two small shapes slightly lighter than the cavernous darkness.
They whispered my name, calling to me in soothing, sweet tones before I felt the brush of their bodies wrapping around my waist.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
First part is here.
The lower I sank, the higher the smell grew, slipping up my body until the stink of it— dried, rotting meat of some sort and the heavy thickness of curdled milk— penetrated my nostrils. I gagged once and heard Ruth’s voice from above, barely audible against the slow drip of well water.
“Mind all those dead Matthews down there.”
Her taunt was echoed by more laughter and I looked up, eager to glare again, when I noticed only a sliver of light above me. I didn’t know if those horrid girls were sealing me in or if my descent had brought me so far into the well’s belly that the sun was being blotted out with each dip of the rope.
When my surroundings grew dimmer and the smell worsened, I examined the surface, taking in the slimy film on the brick and cool breeze that shifted my hair. The well itself seemed to moan and I knew, logically, that it was only the wind, only the whip of the breeze coming through the cracks and rot of the brick. Still, my heart sped and my grip tightened on the rope. Despite my threat to Ruth, I remembered my old aunt Hilda’s warning; how she made me wary of this place, of its past.
“Never venture to the Wishing Well, dear heart. There are shadows below. Things you mustn’t see. Secrets you will go mad from hearing.”
She was old, I told myself. Old and superstitious and though now, dangling like some tiny worm on a hook, her warning screamed in my mind, I wouldn’t let my fear win.
“Silliness,” my father would say of Aunt Hilda’s superstitions. “ Nothing to fear in the night or in the woods but young boys wishing to lead you astray.”
I smiled, remembering the significant tone of my father’s voice and the deep wink of his eye when he gave me that warning. The smile, however, only remained a second, erased from my face by the slip of the rope. I called above me, shouting to Ruth, but received no response, not even laughter as a reply.
“Ruth?” I called again, this time letting my voice rise to an almost scream.
Then the rope jerked and shifted, twisting me around in a spin. As I turned in the bucket I thought I saw a figure, shapeless and gray, but when I looked back again it vanished. I reached out, trying to grab the thick moss on the well wall, but it broke under my touch. Finally, after the spinning slowed, I dug my fingers in the weathered white mortar between the bricks, my whole body shaking and the rope whining at the sudden stop.
I took a breath, calming, letting thick pockets of air fill my chest before I looked around. The light grew thinner above me. Two black insects I couldn’t name followed one another behind a large fray in the brick then I saw the long face of an old woman staring with wide, colorless eyes at me.“Lower,” she said before I had time to scream. “Take this one lower.”
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
So, wonders of wonders, I jump on Twitter this afternoon and discover that the flattering Super Daddy has passed on his One Lovely Blog award to little ole me.
About my small little blog home, he said:
T S Tate - is another writer. I have only recently found her blog, but have enjoyed reading her Teaser Tuesday posts…get your mind out of the gutter…teaser as in teasing the audience with an excerpt of her current writing project.
Thank you Mr. Daddy. You flatter me with your generosity, so I'm paying it forward and linking y'all to some of the blogs I stalk most! I should say, some of the writer blogs I stalk most!
Go forth and read and if I've named you, please pass it along.
1. Adrienne Crezo - This woman is a writing/networking/reviewing animal and, thanks to the miracle of the Internet a great friend to yours truly. On her blog you will find everything from some of the best book reviews to the hands down, most delicious peanut butter cookie recipe you will ever encounter. Recently, Adrienne, Dominatrix of Awesome, as I like to call her, was made Reviews Editor at The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog, so be prepared for your world to be rocked with even more wonderful reviews as well as thorough and skillfully written writing articles. Bow down, children. Bow right down.
2. Phoebe North - Watch out for this one, guys, because Phoebe is about to become the literary world's newest rock star. Her blog features expertly written reviews, advice on writing and Phoebe's personal journey to land an agent. Occassionaly, she'll tell you all about the yummy things she eats, which you know...yay food!
3. Lia Keyes - Okay, so the previous link isn't to Lia's blog, but will lead you to her baby. I've exhausted you plenty with my fangirl gushing about #scribechat and Lia is one big reason why I'm one of this chat's biggest cheerleaders. We don't call her the Chat Yoda for no reason. She is witty, clever and has a wealth of writing knowledge to pass on to we feeble mortals. If you want to learn about the craft and how the business truly works, follow our Yoda. Trust me, you won't be sorry.
4. AJ Larrieu - I have a special place in my heart for AJ. She's a Southern girl living in California and her blog is as inspirational as the beautiful stories that are birthed from her vivid imagination. Read her, follow her on Twitter. You can thank me later.
5. Heather McCorkle - Heather loves writing. No, you don't understand. She really and truly loves it. Read her blog as she takes the journey toward publishdom. She'll be your biggest cheerleader and a wonderful source of constant, perpetual support. This is one classy lady, trust me!
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
This is brand, spanking new. No clue where this is going, but it will be continued next week.
The Wishing Well
Sarah’s hair clung around her face, dripping with well water. Her cheeks, normally pale and freckled, were blotched red. She panted, making the tips of her hair against her bottom lip move, back and forth.
Whatever she had seen, frightened her. She would not say what the fates had shown her and seemed unable to meet my eyes, but I knew her greatest fear, heard it every night as she said her prayers.
“Please, God, don’t let me become like mother.”
My turn came and the oldest girl, Ruth, shoved my shoulders, a high laugh coming from her pinched lips as I tripped and fell on my knees in front of the stacked stone.
“Go on then, Blythe. It’s your turn.”
I inhaled, letting the air fill my lungs before I grabbed the rope. The knotted braids were wet and I smelled the bitter scent of rust as I sat on the cracking stone surface and slipped my feet into the wide bucket. I ignored the laughs behind me and looked for Sarah, hoping my friend would offer me a smile, encourage me in this silly venture, but she’d deserted me.
Only her small lace handkerchief was left behind and it skipped with the dead leave across the forest ground.
Another push on my shoulder had me gripping the rope tighter.
“Don’t be a coward. Get on with it.”
Ruth’s laugh died as I stared at her and my chin went up, determination and pure stubbornness fueling my movements. I disregarded the laughs behind me and pushed off from the side, dangling over the vast darkness with only the thin rope and a cracked, damp bucket saving me from the depths below.
Really, I should have not placed so much faith in these girls. They were cruel at the best of times and downright vicious on a bad day. Still, I had been challenged and I was, after all, a Matthews and Matthews never back down from a dare.
The rope creaked and whined as I swung, then my body spun and the descent began. The giggles continued and I fixed a harsh glare at Ruth as she turned the crank, daring her to call me a coward once more.
“If I die, Ruth Carrollton, I will come back to haunt you every night until you are white-haired and wrinkled.”
“Hush, little Blythe. You can’t curse anyone,” Ruth said. Her lips were pulled into a tight, sneering line.
I stretched and grabbed her wrist, stopping the crank. “Do you want to place a wager? You haven’t heard about my old aunt who lives in Redwood Hollows?”
We stared at one another—her eyes narrowing and searching my face, I’m sure, for any waver; mine steady and certain.
“You’re fibbing. Everyone knows your aunt died last winter.”
She blinked first and I released her wrist letting her continue on the crank, but my eyes stayed wide and staring and before I was lowered, losing sight of anything other than the crawling insects and dripping stone of the well walls, I noticed Ruth’s chin quiver.
Satisfied that my threat was taken for truth, I finally smiled and released the breath I’d been holding, ready for whatever the fates would tell me.