Sunday, 18 September 2011
08:22:11 PM (GMT)
My mother once spoke of faeries.
My younger sister, Arabel, lives in a world all her own. She sleeps and eats and
watches, she screams and cries and then is suddenly silent, but no one can explain
her behavior. She would rather take apart her toys and then attempt to reassemble
them than actually play. She never speaks, and her eyes are often blank. But she is
my angel, my sole companion and friend in this dark world. She is the reason that I
When she was born Tia Grisel called her a 'changeling', claiming she was a
faerie creature. They come the night after the child is born, and switch your
healthy infant for their own. My mother scoffed at this. It was Arabel's
strangeness that ended her belief in faeries.
Now Mother is dead. Arabel and I belong to each other, sleeping on the floor of
Grisel's shop at night. In the day I sort fruit and sweep and dust.
No one knows where Mother went, no one knows who my father is. So much no one knows.
But I feel it; Mother is dead. I know, just as Mother knew that Arabel was her own
child, not someone foreign or magical, but her own flesh and blood.
Today I sweep the floor with the old broom as a man tells my aunt of a
chupacabra who killed his sheep.
I saw it, he says. Ugly damn thing, disappeared before I could do much
though. My dog was scared stiff.
I roll my eyes and think, You were drunk, it was a wolf, but I keep quiet.
That night Arabel is restless, crying. She looks around, and whimpers, Red
blanket, candy, red blanket, candy. She's talking about her sixth birthday, the
day before Mother disappeared. Her presents were candy and a blanket. I wonder
where the blanket is now. The only we're sharing is grey. I wrap it around her.
Her large, dark eyes look up at me. Where is Mommy?, she seems to say.
The air grows cold suddenly, and I hear the hinges of the door creak loudly. Muffled
voices rise and fall in the darkness. The moonlight through the window isn't enough
to show who they are, but there are people in the doorway. I whisper to Arabel to
stay, and emerge from the darkness just as someone lights a candle. The people jump,
as if I had suddenly appeared. The flickering light illuminates their faces; they
are people from the village I've known my whole life. A man steps forward.
We've found your mother.
The air in the room seems to vanish, I inhale but there is nothing, and I choke with
the impact, as if his words have burned up all the oxygen. My only proof that this
is not so is the candle, which remains lit. I force myself to breathe again.
They found her body, says a woman. She is hesitant, watching me for a
sign that she has smashed some newly born hope. But there is none; my mother is
dead. Nothing can change that.
They found her at Akelarre, says a voice from behind the man.
I recognize that voice, it's tia Grisel.
She's a witch.
I'm tempted to laugh; my mother was not one to believe in superstition, and neither
am I. Of all people, my mother was not a witch.
Before I can speak for her, the people are pushing past me, into the store. They
move towards where Arabel crouches on the floor. I try to get to her, but the old
man, who I recognize as the priest, has already picked her up. He slings her over
his shoulder like a sack of flour. She makes a sound, surprised, scared. I shout my
protests but they are leaving now, and my aunt locks the shop behind her.
I pound on the door, rage filling me. Arabel!!! I scream.
The small windows are not large enough for me to fit through; I rush to the storage
room. There is a vent near the floor, to keep the food from overheating. I find a
few random tools in a box by the cellar door, and use them to pry open the vent. I
climb through the opening head first, falling a few feet into icy mud. Wiping my
eyes, I run through the streets, but I see no one.
An inhuman scream pierces the air, and I freeze. Light flares behind me, creating a
shadow that stretches before me to reveal a girl too tall and too thin. I turn and
run towards the screaming. Something in the way it makes my veins run cold tells me
They're at the church. Arabel is tied and bound, a small animal rather than a child.
The priest's voice booms out across the night, commanding demons to leave the girl.
I scream and try to push through the crowd, but I am shoved aside.
The group of people gathered on the porch steps watch as Arabel begins to writhe,
crying out as the priest throws holy water on her face. She's terrified, and I can
feel her fear.
I shove through the crowd, not caring if I hurt them, just desperate to reach my
sister. Finally I'm through, and I fall to my knees in front of her, reaching out,
embracing her, crying. Leave her alone! I scream.
A sharp pain jerks my head back, a woman looks down at me. My long hair is tangled
in her fist, and she tugs hard. Silence, witch child! We do the will of God
I roar at her, digging my fingernails into her wrist. Hands fall on me, and soon
ropes are tied around me, binding me, leaving me helpless. I look to where Arabel
was, but she's gone, and I am blindfolded and carried to a dark, cold place.
The floor is mud and ox blood, packed smooth and hard. I cry, scream for Arabel, but
am silenced by a sharp kick below my ribs. I sob silently, crying myself to sleep.
When I awake, I have been untied. I am alone in a room that appears to be a cell. I
want to shout for help, but my voice is gone, and so is anyone who might have helped
Arabel is nowhere in sight. I lower my head and cry.
After hours of waiting, I hear the door open, and I look up to see a man I don't
recognize. He lifts me to my feet and grips my arm tightly, dragging me along with
him to another room. Soon I am in the church, entering through a door I had never
noticed before. The whole village seems to be here, and all eyes are on me. I am
led to the center of the room. Arabel sits in a cage near the pulpit, and I run to
her, reaching my hand through the splintery wood to grasp hers, and I whisper to God,
Lord, please save us!
I'm jerked roughly backwards, and my wrist bleeds where it scraped against the rough
wood of the cage. After that, everything happens too fast. The priest acts as a
judge, his voice booms like thunder shaking the room. The people seem to swirl
around me, shouting hateful things, speaking of witchcraft, my mother, demons and
familiars. I fall to my knees and push myself against the floor, trying to stop the
room from spinning. In a short moment that might have been a lifetime, I am taken
away, and I do not bother to struggle.
Darkness is falling in the evening sky, and a makeshift alter adorned with a cross
looms before me. It sits in the center of the village, an ugly stain in my beautiful
home. I look around for Arabel, but she is not there. I am lifted to the alter and
tied to it. I look down, seeing faces of rage, of horror, and of cold blooded
hatred. Tia Grisel stands in the back, her face emotionless.
The man who took me from my cell steps forward, holding a torch. He shouts
something, and the crowd screams and chants, but the words are meaningless, nonsense,
just ugly sounds. He lowers the torch to the base of the alter, below my feet. The
heat begins to simmer below me, but my flesh is cold and numb, and I feel no pain.
And then the sky bursts apart with a deafening roar, and for a moment, all is still.
The people are frozen where they stand, and lightening hacks across the sky,
splitting the blackness into two grey, broken halves. The fire beneath me shudders
as a wind picks up, sweeping across the village, ruffling the clothing of the
villagers. They stare, eyes wide, mouths agape, at the sky. I turn my face towards
heaven just as a pour of rain drenches the earth. The warm water stings my face, and
steam rises from below me. The continue to look up at the dark storm clouds that
fill the sky that was clear not an hour before.
Lighting shattered the dark once more, this time striking the church. The building
burst into flames, and the crowd fell apart. Chaos ensued, as people fled to their
homes, or fell to their knees, incapacitated with sheer terror.
The priest lay paralyzed on the ground, and I saw Tia Grisel, running in blind
panic, trip over him and fall in the mud. A woman I had never seen before was
suddenly beside me. She held a long, silver sword raised above her head, and as she
brought it down, freeing me, lighting once again shattered the night sky.
I fell, landing in a warm red puddle, and I almost screamed before realizing it was
only mud. I looked down at my soaked skirt, at my hands, everything soaked with the
bloodlike liquid. When I looked up, the woman with the sword was gone.
In the panic to escape the fire that seemed to be spreading despite the rain, no one
noticed me as I entered the smoky church and tore apart Arabel's cage. I lifted her,
carrying her on my hip, as I ran out of the burning building and through the streets.
The rain washed the mud from my legs, making them flash pale beneath me as lighting
lit the world. When I reached the forest, at the base of the mountains, I set my
sister on soft vegetation and hugged my aching sides, gasping for air. Sheep milled
through the trees, no longer a herd, just a mass of scared individuals. They bleated
and jumped every time the thunder shook the ground, every time the lighting struck a
tree top and sent in crashing through the forest.
I knew we wouldn't be safe in the trees with the lightning, but in the open fields
there was no where to hide. Once I had caught my breath, I helped Arabel onto my
back and ran along the edge of the forest. Soon I came to a rocky area, and could no
longer run with the sharp stones digging into my feet. Seeing a cave, I ducked
inside, setting Arabel down and hugging her tight. The cave was shallow; there was
just enough room for us to crouch inside.
Arabel cried and hugged me. I looked down at her, and whispered, Where should we
go, sister? Where will we be safe?
Her big, dark eyes seemed to smile at me in the dark. God will protect us,
Last edited: 16 November 2011