Julie’s No Rules Friday: Curses Part III

Curses Part III

(Part I is here. Part II is here.)

“Halt, demon!” a man yells from behind.

Someone grasps the hood of my robe. It catches my neck, and I’m flung back, hands out, losing the staff. I touch the hard metal of a breastplate, and I channel my curse.

The corridor flares with light. My hair stands upright. The man slumps to the floor, smelling singed. I run.

Ahead is an open door in the wall. I don’t want to go, but this feeling that’s been pulling me along, her, tugs me. The other demon.

More shouts. I dive for the opening, fall for an instant, and catch myself on a rough rail along the wall. Steps go down.

It’s suddenly cold, chilling my skin after the blast. From the door, yells echo, steps resound. But they don’t follow me.

There is a platform at the bottom of the stairs lined in the soft light of candle flames burning low. A sweet, nauseating smell rushes up my nostrils so fast it’s like I’ve been hit between the eyes. My feet crumple under me, just for a second, and I tumble down the remaining stairs.

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Julie’s No Rules Friday: Desert Cursed

Desert Cursed

The sun rides high, but Juna’s hand sticks to mine as she speaks to the guard outside the wall. His eyes roam the cloth that covers her blindness and prickle over my shoulders and lank, long hair. We are dusty and footsore from the road, can count all our ribs. No food since yesterday morning, no water since nightfall. The guard only filled our waterskin because he couldn’t understand Juna’s raspy whispers.

“We’ve been on the road days,” Juna says, her accent smoothed and fitted with the man’s nuances. “My sister, Anelli, and I were separated from our caravan.” After a pause, she adds, “She cannot hear or speak.”

We’ve practiced the lie again and again. I can’t lose the city accent, so Juna talks for us both. If we told the truth, that I found her two years ago in the rubble of our city, they’d know our curse and run us out of town.

This man is wider than the two of us doubled, his meaty arms folded over a worn tunic. He frowns, but his blue eyes have not yet settled on distrust. I imagine him, briefly, as Juna has told me people appear to her Sight: a flaming column rippling with indecisive colors, orange and green. Her curse is sometimes beautiful.

“We’re stout,” Juna says, dropping my hand and giving her best attempt at standing with her feet apart, which only emphasizes her frailty, “and hard workers. Anelli is the best.”

She looks at me when she says this, and I nod, staring at the cracked clay between my feet and clasping my hands together. I know many people are watching us from the ramparts and the chinks in the wall. I’m only fourteen and can close my fingers round my biceps, but in crowds people give me a berth, and grown men have fled from my stare. Maybe they sense my curse like dogs sense danger.

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Jen’s No Rules Friday

Under Dublin Skies © Anne Marie 2009

Under Dublin Skies © Anne Marie 2009

The weather is as dangerous as I feel.

I’ve never heard the sea growl, until today.

I am high above it, sitting on an outcropping of rock, my knees pulled to my chest. It snarls, dark and roiling. The air is taut as a rubber band, charged with something that feels slick and cold, like the chill of fear down the back of my neck.

The sky is thick over head, steel grey and angry, and it has followed me here. Clouds are always following me, and the whispers in my head respond to them, a growing buzz in my ears, like an incessant bug. The heavens press down, making my ears pop and my head pound painfully. The feeling is always there just like the clouds and never ending rain. It hurts, and I can’t get away from it. I come the cliffs to let the weather have me for a little while. Sometimes it helps, but today is different. I can’t stop it.

I suck in a breath and rise. My beat up sneakers scrape against the rock. Maybe I can make it back to my apartment before the sky comes crashing down.

I’m at my limit. I think about what it would be like to stop breathing in and out, but I’m not fond of unknowns. The cliff edge beckons, but contemplating death and welcoming it are two different things. I don’t welcome death. I hold onto that and try to remember the sun.

I sigh, the sound getting lost in the wind. It’s been three years since my fifteenth birthday; three years since I’ve felt normal. That was the day the pressure in my head grew to a roar and the murmurs started. There hasn’t been a day without them.

Sometimes I feel close to the rain, like it could wash away whatever is eating at me, but then everything creeps back in. Lately not even the rain can help, and the tapping on the roof sets my teeth on edge. I’m reeling all the time, never in control.

Nausea rolls over me, and the whispers get so loud that I drop to my knees to wait it out, head in my hands. Wind pushes at me, as if it wants me to stand and fight it. I feel like I do that everyday.

The weather is crazier than I am, and neither of us should be here.

I stand, and the rubber band snaps. The sky explodes.

Maine doesn’t get tornadoes. Not in autumn.

Today it does.

The cyclone lands in the water and fights with the surf. I don’t know if it’s the wind or the twister pushing and pulling on me, but my feet are lead and I stand against it. It pulls branches from the trees as it heads inland. A sharp sting across my face makes my eyes water, and my fingers come away from my cheek dark and wet. The tornado bears down, and I can’t move.

I never thought death would be so loud. I don’t welcome it, but the storm and darkness swallow me.


Stay tuned for Anne’s No Rules Friday next week.