It began with a letter. The clunk of the mailman’s shoes as he delivered a letter sealed with scarlet. Genevieve snatched the letter from her mailbox. Her hands trembled. The writing of the address seemed masculine. It curved without order or neatness. The fact that a male could handwrite these days surprised her.
“Perhaps he’s an older man?” She shrugged and slit the letter. The name on the envelope wasn’t one Genevieve recognized. She did not believe its sender was ‘actually’ ‘John Smith.’ She rolled her eyes.
Genevieve slid three folded cream pages from the envelope and straightened them. The first page had a tiny emblem in the corner. She wasn’t sure what it meant. A ‘J’ with a squiggle looped over and down from the top of the ‘J’ to form a tiny ‘S’ beneath it. The third letter was a ‘T’ that she realized matched the wax seal.
‘John Smith’s’ writing began without greetings. Genevieve read a few sentences and discovered the letter was penned to someone called Moose.
“I’m not Moose, and I don’t know anyone with that nickname.” She struggled to read ‘John’s’ handwriting. After a bit, she set down the first page. Moose was involved in serious business.
She threw her coat and purse on the floor. She’d only returned from work a minute before the envelope arrived. She groaned. “Why C/O Genevieve O’Connor?” But no one answered, as she knew they wouldn’t.
Genevieve pinched the bridge of her nose. “Shower and food. Then, I’ll read more.” She gathered clean clothes and pondered the letter under the shower’s spray. After a half hour, she dressed and heated left-over Ravioli.
She grabbed a cozy blanket from a linen closet and flipped over page one of the letter Genevieve swore under her breath. Damn illegible handwriting. Can’t you print like a normal person?
She padded back to her room to towel dry her hair and to comb through some mousse. Then, she reclined on her sofa, gathering her blanket as she deciphered ‘John’s’ letter. She shivered despite her hot shower, and couldn’t help the feeling that something about this letter was amiss.
That’s how it Genevieve became lost in the forest, and ended up at a summer cottage closed for the fall. Her body trembled and she couldn’t stand the dirt, blood, and other forest offerings on her skin. The only place to wash was a large kitchen sink. There was no shower, so Genevieve stuffed the cabin’s broken window pane with a blanket and stripped.
She couldn’t get rid of the tang of blood or acrid dirt. It made her nauseous. She scrubbed her skin raw, and poured more dish soap on her hair. She stepped out of the sink careful not to slip. As she rinsed her hair, evidence of the past few days whirled down the drain.
She was tired of being alone. She yelled at the absent John Smith. He’d helped her only once before. “You’ve a lot of explaining, John.”His name was a sneer. “I’m tired of this game. I never knew Moose. I don’t know why I’m his contact: let me be, and tell your gun-totting buddies too.”
Her voice echoed in the cottage, and she was alone except for the howling mountain’s winds; its paradoxical breezes made her headache throb. Gentle winds mixed with gusts causing the windows to clammer.
Genevieve scrambled through kitchen drawers until she found the Advil. Swallowing two pills, she fell into bed. The sheets were lavender-scented and the duvet warm. Who lived here? She didn’t know. Then, a hand swept across her forehead, and she mumbled thinking it was a dream.
“John?” Her voice was hoarse, and her hands reached, and gripped a muscled arm in flannel. Genevieve groaned as his fingers combed through her wet hair. His hand rested on her forehead.
“It is you.” The room was dark and only John’s outline was visible. She knew it was him by his scent. Fresh and masculine.
“You’ve a fever.” She rolled her eyes. Genevieve was mad.
“Drink this?” A red mug lowered to her mouth.
“What is it?”
“I’m not here to hurt you, Genevieve.”
“Such a liar.” He insisted she drink it, so she did. In-between sips she grumbled and tried to sit up. He pushed her down.
“It’s Neocitran. You’re sick and you need sleep.”
“I’m sick? Whose fault is that? After everything, now you show up?” Genevieve’s eyes closed as lethargy overcame her.
“Go away, John. I’ll figure this out alone. You complicate everything.”
He sighed. She opened her eyes as he rubbed his hands over watched his face, and through his two-day stubble.
“I didn’t mean to handle it this way. I didn’t know you’d never met your brother.” He combed through her hair once more.
It bothered Genevieve that things seemed less hopeless with John beside her. She wanted him to stay but knew he’d be gone by morning.
“Just leave, John.”
“Not a chance, Genna.” She thought she imagined his last words.
For NaPoWriMo Day 9 the Prompt is: “to write a poem in which something big and something small come together.” Also thanks to Sarah from MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie for hosting Saturday Mix March 24, 2018, with her Same but Different Theme,to take the five challengewords and NOT use them in your writing; to find a synonym for each word instead.” The words are: 1) Lie, 2) Dive, 3) Realize, 4) Pass, 5) Red.
Maleficent stared from her dim dungeon-like castle eyeing King Stefan’s daughter, Aurora, playing in a wide open field.
She whispered to Crow, “They’re supposed to be watching her those three dim-witted fairies. When I was a good fairy, I watched my charges closely. How foolish they are, I could end her life now.”
Crow cawed, “She’s but ten years old and it isn’t her fault Stefan is her father. She doesn’t know what he did to you to become king.”
“Quiet, Crow. I’m thinking.”
“You think a great deal but never do much. Aurora knows what her fate is, those ignorant fairies told her. Now, whenever she can, she escapes to this field to play. She has no care for danger or death. Sometimes she sits and stares into the sky crying.”
“Why should I be merciful to her because she knows she will prick her finger and die in six-years? I owe her nothing. She is a means to an end.”
Crow cocked his head. “She is not responsible for her father’s crimes anymore than your parents were responsible for leaving you alone to rule the Marsh; your parents did not intend to die. Aurora, does not want to die either. Why not raise her yourself and find a way to undo the curse? Simply losing her will hurt Stefan deeply as the queen can’t have more children.”
Maleficent pinched the bridge of her nose. “I cannot undo such a powerful curse and I will not do Stefan any favours despite Aurora’s innocence. He raped me Crow, I was helpless. He cut off my wings. I will not save the girl.”
“You may change your mind yet. You have watched her for years and have become fond of her. You hate that she’s putting herself in peril now.”
“Yes, you have this soft smile on your face when you watch Aurora. You never smile that way except with her.”
Maleficent’s voice went cold. “In that case . . . ” she pointed her wand at the blond beauty. Heart beating loudly in her ears, she struck the small girl down. Aurora death was instant and a single tear slipped down the dark fairy’s cheek.
“Now, you see, Crow? I have ended her life. I’m not attached to her and we will bury Aurora’s body in the Marshes. Aurora’s early death will bring Stefan greater pain. He will live his life not knowing what happened to his daughter. His queen will die in grief.”
Tears dropped as diamonds from Crows’ coal-black eyes and wouldn’t stop. “I do not think Stefan is the most evil being in the kingdom. You are the person most full of evil. Just as he lost his heart to become king and hurt you, you have ended the life of an innocent child and are no better.”
“I meant for you to truly act as Aurora’s Godmother — not to kill her. You should’ve been the one to guard and protect her; I thought you loved her.”
“Love is as treacherous as running off alone to a field . . .”
Crow’s caw was forlorn. “Aurora could’ve had a new beginning with us, but I cannot serve a fairy whose heart has become black with revenge, with blood on her hands from an innocent’s death. How far you have fallen, Maleficent.”
“Stefan is not responsible for your evil deeds; you are responsible for your own crimes.”
Crow bowed once and flew away forever. Maleficent was left alone and inside her chest her heart’s ache was perpetual.
Ichabode Crane was observing the dim forest when he noticed the bald head buried beneath the tree of death. Each morning it was Ichabode’s job to discover what the headless horseman had left behind from his nights decapitating helpless citizens.
Today he found two headless corpses half-buried. He shivered thinking of the literal trail of blood that often followed the horseman.
Though Ichabod was a medical doctor, he’d never found any heads attached to the bodies the horseman discarded. His heart pounded and he began to sweat as he clawed the head from the ground with his fingers.
The hair felt dirty and greasy. The waxen skin was warm and he was sure the head had soulless eyes beneath its lids. While he stared, Ichabod’s hands shook. The blood running from the head’s eyes, suddenly, caught his attention as they began to open of their own accord.
Coal eyes with pupils as red as poppies, alerted Ichabod this head belonged to the horseman. Ichabod drank from his trusty flask, whiskey and opium to numb him.
But perhaps he drank too much. When he awoke, the head lay on his lap and Ichabod rested against the horrid tree. The moon exposed him and his opium veil faded. He felt too alert. The head’s mouth fell open revealing carnivorous teeth.
Soon, the thundering footsteps of the black horse and the armed body of the headless horseman could be heard. He screeched as the horseman took one slice at his neck, but then, Ichabod offered the horseman the head.
The horseman dropped his sword and went to his knees on the ground. He took the head in his gnarled hands and placed it on his neck. The horseman growled, a sound of rage in a demonic tongue.
He gazed at Ichabod, “Run, go now. I will spare you for returning my head. Everyone else in Sleepy Hollow will join me in death.”
Ichabod had never considered himself a coward but he ran anyways, never peering behind him as screams filled the night.