The tower is empty, the stone walls cold, the air still. The plants on the balcony are long dead, the fine furniture draped in cloth. She finds herself running, searching for him. Aleric, her fiancé, her lover from another time, another life. She knows this now. Yet, she is here, now, and he had been once. How long ago, she wonders? How long was she gone?
Her heart thunders wildly in her chest, her ears rushing with the sound of her pulse, each breath more rapid, more jagged than the last. Then she sees it, the fire, the embers are still lit. There is a form in the chair, slumped and still. She collapses to her knees before him, flinging herself half across his lap, her hands searching for his.
“I’m so sorry!” she cries.
“You always were a whore.” The words are sharp and sudden, and she jerks upright as the meaning sinks in.
“What?” she gasps, pulling back, straightening to stare up at him.
“You are a whore, a slut, a filthy lustful thing,” he states, with utter clarity.
She recoils, pulling her hands from him, as if burnt. His dark eyes seem to flicker and shimmer with malice in the light of the embers.
“I came back, as soon as I could...”
“I gave you a second chance,” he is rising now, and shoves her with a foot. She stares up at him, stunned and still. He waits for a moment before a foot lashes out and catches her in the thigh. She yelps and scrambles back. He grants her only the briefest of glares before turning to stand before the fire.
She climbs to her feet. “Aleric, I’m sorry, I couldn’t help it, I was...” she can’t quite place what has happened to her at first. She only knows that she was gone. She shakes her head. “Please, I came back.” She reaches out to him, fingers lighting on his arm. He rounds on her, slapping her fiercely.
“You left. I gave you everything, and you left. You were my heart, you were all that was pure and good. And you left, you went to him...”
She holds her stinging cheek, her eyes welling with tears, trying to make sense of it all. She can only remember being here, and then being gone. Then, those eyes, those amber eyes, those rugged features, that hoarse voice, she remembers him. No, that is another world, a nightmare. This is reality, this is her life, this is her home.
“I didn’t want it,” she chokes out. “I couldn’t help it!” She reaches for his hand, ignoring those furious dark eyes, the hateful glare that pours down on her. “I came back,” she pleads.
He pulls away from her, and turns back to the fire once more. “I wish you were a raven and would fly away, then I should have a little peace.” The words are uttered in a sing-song sort of way, and she knows it is an enchantment. She cannot resist. Her body is pulled and twisted, deformed, crushed, broken and reborn. His wish is granted, and she feels her painful, newly formed wings unfurl. Her body is soon launching towards the window. Out and away from the tower she soars, from her dream...
She awakes gasping and writhing against her restraints. Not even sleep is peaceful in this endless hell she endures. The shivering, shuddering skin crawling pain-- if her hands were free, she fears she’d be trying to rip the flesh from her bones in an attempt to escape the feeling of bugs, of things crawling, biting and scratching. Her emotions are raw, full of fear and loss. What she has lost, she can’t quite pin down, but she knows it is great, the void it has left endless and dark.
YOU ARE READING
bit·ter·sweet: being at once bitter and sweet; especially: pleasant but including or marked by elements of suffering or regret. A collection of short stories I've written since joining Wattpad for various contests, challenges and publications. The...