Just some lovely flowers from my garden (aka the only things I haven’t killed yet).
The Girl in the Well
My arms ache with anger and my fingers tingle from clenching. I thought he saw me. I thought he finally saw me.
I’m not going to cry.
The straw in my mattress is poking against the back of my thighs and the blood there is drying and making my skin tighten and itch. I rise, tugging down my skirts, and pad on bare feet out of the house and into the garden.
The moon is shining full and bright upon the orderly rows of vegetables as I follow the hard-packed path to the well. There’s a bucket that can be lowered when I carry water into the house but I simply lean over and dip a rag into the frigid black water. I don’t bother to ring it out; I hike up my skirts and let the icy rivulets flow down my legs as I wash off the evidence of his perfidy.
I lean over again to wet the rag.
“Etheldred,” a throaty voice whispers. I drop the rag and get splashed as I nearly fall into the well.
“Who’s there?” I whisper looking around and straightening, but no one is there.
The water in the well bubbles. When I look in, I see a blue-white face staring back at me. It blinks. Gasping, I step back from the well.
“Who are you?” I ask the water, half-sure there won’t be answer.
“My name is Nesta. Come here, Etheldred,” she commands. “I’m here to help you.”
I stop breathing. “Help with what?”
The well ripples with raspy laughter. “With Noll of course!”
My face warms and I back-up another step. “What do you know?” I ask through clenched teeth.
“I know everything, Etheldred. It’s a special gift from the Gods,” she answers slowly. “Now come here.”
My feet are noiseless as I obey. I peer over the rim of the well. Nesta smiles at me. I cross my arms. I don’t move closer.
“That’s better, I guess.” She gives a throaty sigh.
I wait silently.
“This is a lovely garden, Etheldred.”
“It’s such a shame about it,” she says, her black eyes closing for a moment, a smile rippling on her blue lips.
“What’s a shame?” I can’t help myself. I have to know.
“Well, once your Uncle learns what a whore you’ve been, he’ll be sure to turn you out. You’ll lose everything, dear.”
I swallow the lump that’s suddenly formed in my throat like a too large bite of sour apple. Will Noll betray me? One look at Nesta’s black eyes and I know he will. He has before.
“What should I do?” I move closer.
“Make Noll fall desperately in love with you.” She gives me a wink and a silver chalice floats to surface. “I have a spell.”
I look around my garden, at the vines expertly trained, the rows meticulously weeded, the flowers closed for the night.
“I have a spell of my own,” I whisper, moving away from the well.
A/N: Happy April Fools! I hope you enjoyed our mash-ups. We were inspired by last month’s Craft Discussion: World Building.
The Butcher’s Daughter
Alchemists lust for gold.
They tried to create it from lead, from fire, from bones. But it never worked. Uncle, a great alchemist, nearly lost his mind trying. And somewhere, teetering on the edge of sanity, deep in his sunless workroom, he found it, the key to limitless gold.
I have my fingers in the dirt when he comes for me.
Uncle says nothing, but I understand. I am to help him with the Dust. I rise, wiping my unclean hands upon my apron, and follow Uncle out of the sun.
In his workroom, my eyes adjust to the light, which comes only from a fire under a large black cauldron. The air is dry and smoky and my throat burns. Tears itch at the corners of my eyes, but I will not let them flow.
Uncle has me keep the fire burning. Stick by stick, I feed it so it never gets too hot and never goes cold. I must be doing well. He shows me a woody plant that he boils to make a soft white powder and teaches me how to measure out the ingredients for Dust like I do in the kitchen when I bake. I smile when Uncle places his hand on my shoulder and nods his head. He will let me come to his workroom again.