Two Months Later
The word is whispered so quietly into my ear that it’s almost lost in the empty space around us. The dark clings to Mon and me tightly, and I’m afraid to breathe too hard and let it inside me.
I shake my hands hard and hear the sharp slap of my thumbs and fingers hitting each other. Not that I can see anything. Weaving in the light is hard enough; weaving in the dark is asking for trouble. I like trouble. Although, it is what landed me here in the first place, but I’m … adjusting.
Even though I can’t see Mon’s face, I know she’s impatient. It’s clear in the way she keeps getting up and pacing the floor. Then she sits down and pinches my arm. She’s trying to help me Water Weave the seawater in the walls. She thinks that together we could break through them and escape. We’ve been trying since the sun went down and one of the Sightless put out the torches. So far, I’ve got nothing to show for our efforts. Neither does Mon, so I guess that makes us even.
She leans in against me, the sound of her rough clothing is like metal filings against my bare arm. “You’re not concentrating hard enough!” Her voice echoes loud, so loud, in the space around us even at a whisper. The Sightless have hearing that would rival a dog’s. My blood pumps a little harder waiting to see if they’re coming to punish us for not sleeping.
Mon changes tactics too, grabs my hand, and starts drawing symbols on my skin. It’s a slow process because I’m not a very good speller. After each word is finished, she stops until I tap her on the wrist with a finger to show I’ve understood.
Try. Tap. Feeling. Tap. Energy. Tap. Flowing. Tap. Down. Tap. Your. Tap. Arms. Tap.
Seven words and I’m exhausted. Without the torches, the ability to have a spoken conversation, or Professor Rolm to guide this little experiment, we’re not getting much accomplished. Not that we’d dare talk about what we want to do or have help from Rolm.
In frustration, I take a chance and whisper into her ear, “This can’t wait until morning?”
I don’t need to see her to hear the way her hair whips back and forth on her neck. Guess not. I let out something like a sigh that sounds more like a huff. Mon presses her finger into the back of my hand. The veins feel mashed against my bones. Focus! Tap. Actually, that last tap is more of a scratch than a tap. Mon drops my hand instantly. A pang of guilt follows. It’s not her fault. None of this is.
For weeks I’ve been gathering tiny bits of dirt and stuffing them into the corners of the room. So far I haven’t been caught. Dirt must be a lot harder to smell than flowers or plants because the Sightless haven’t confiscated anything yet. In addition to the dirt, I’ve been practicing on extracting the salt water from the dungeons’ stone walls. If there were metal bars here, Mon says she could have made more knives. Not that it did her a lot of good two years ago. We both got thrown down here instead. She doesn’t know I’m going to make a weapon out of the water and dirt. Something that will melt away and leave a trace of evidence. I hope. This is the one secret I keep from Mon. She’s against hurting any of the Sightless so we can escape. My opinion is that they’ve made their own beds by keeping us prisoners here.
With that thought in mind, I splay my fingers against the wall and put all my efforts into feeling the weave of its construction. Mon can do it without any preamble. In contrast, I have to clear my mind and wait for it to build behind my eyes. It’s like a winter force: cold, grey, and powerful. I imagine the force moving down out of my skull, along my spine — the hairs at the back of my neck rise and I know it’s finally working –, down my shoulder, out of my palm.
Weaving makes me feel strong. If the power would come to me faster, I’d feel invincible. Mon’s a million times better than I am at this, yet she’s stuck in here with me. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because she wants to be stuck here. She’s never been outside of this castle’s walls along the Côte de la Brume. She kept me from dying two years ago. I want to give her the world for that, and it doesn’t matter what it will take to do that. Including murder.
The wall begins to sweat as I weave out its base composition: water, earth, air, and fire. Because it includes almost all of the elements, it begins to hurt after only seconds. Mon places her hand beside mine, the thrum of our Weaving pulsing into the wall. It begins to sweat with seawater. Then, in small pieces, it begins to crumble.
I might feel the night air on my skin after all!
The headache behind my eyes builds. Something drips down my nose. I hope its snot from the cold, but the metallic tinge to it tells me differently. Ignoring them both, I put my other hand against the wall, feeling power flow through me and into the wall. Small puffs of stone rattle down.
But the wall is too thick. The seawater inside it helps to make cracks and fissures, but they’re only on the surface. Two of us don’t have the power we need to make a hole big enough for a mouse to crawl out of, let alone two girls. I drop both my hands from the wall and bring them to my face to wipe away the tears and blood there. Sweat beads at my hairline, and I’m breathing heavily enough to wake the dead.
I won’t be defeated by a stupid wall! I take one last calming breath before plunging back into the task. The bones of my arms begin to vibrate. My willpower remains steady. The water pours from the walls now, spraying us both with freezing dirty water.
Above us a door slams. The Sightless don’t require torches. In a rush of scratchy fabric and skin, I’m back on my cot, trying so hard to stop shivering. It sounds like three of four people are descending the stairs. There’s a struggle. A muffled voice. A slap. The terrifying sound of wood against bone. Nothing breaks though, at least I don’t think so.
Then it sounds as if someone’s dropped a large bag of flour or potatoes in the cell next to ours. A girl or a boy scrambles around in the straw. They must be bound and gagged because they aren’t trying to get away or scream for help.
Why do our numbers keep growing? What is it the Sightless want of us?
I wait until the blindfolded women shuffle back up the stairs. Wait for the sound of the heavy wooden beam that keeps us in here to fall. Wait for my heart to stop beating and my breathing to still. Wait even longer than that until I whisper, so quietly, so terrified of being caught:
“Hello? My name’s Harper. Can you hear me?”
… to be continued.
For more amazing art by Catherine Langwagen, please visit her Deviant Art page (cassiopeiaart.deviantart.com). Stay tuned for Jen’s answer to this prompt on Friday. Follow us on Twitter to get updates and news.
Artwork © Copyright, Catherine Langwagen 2011. All rights reserved. Used with permission.