13 Kisses in the Dark

She thought it impossible to love anyone more than she loved her magic. Then he said, I’m yours—and meant it—and impossible was nevermore.

“I let them take you. I knew, and I still let them.” The dirt that had sucked her lover’s screams felt cold against her wet cheek. “I wish I could change it. I would give everything I am for a chance—” The idea hit her so abruptly that it was as if it had been born in someone else’s head.

Fueled by desperate hope, she took the shape of a white hare and ran to the Crafter’s cottage.

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“It’s not wise to walk these woods in your fur,” the Crafter said, without looking away from the parchment he was working on. “They’ve been felling trees and turning stones looking for you.”

Crossing the Crafter’s threshold and resuming her human shape, she said, “Can you write my husband out of wherever they’re imprisoning him?”

“I can write anyone anywhere, my girl. But—”

“I’m with child. I know they’re keeping my husband alive to use his magic to rip our babe out of my wound as soon as she’s big enough to breathe on her own… That’s in three nights.”

“They will track you, my girl.”

“Not if you write us into a story your masters will never read.”

The Crafter put down his quill. “Crafting a story world takes weeks.”

“What about that one?” She pointed at the scribbling-covered parchment in front of the Crafter.

He shook his head. “This is a place for punishment, a place where… they hurt people like us.”

“My husband and I will shield our child. We’ll do anything for her. That’s what parents are supposed to do. But I was wrong to expect—”

“They will burn you alive, in this story world,” the Crafter yelled, hurling his quill against a wall.

“We can hide,” she said. “You became slave to people you despise, so those you love could live. My husband and I would give up our magic to protect our child.” She put a hand on his shaking shoulder. “No story world can be too terrible, if we get to be together and alive, Father.”

“They will force me to tell them where I wrote you,” he said.

“I’ll drink your memory of me,” she said, placing a dusty tin cup on the table.

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By the sounds of quill and kettle, the Witch brewed a forget-me tea, and the Crafter wrote his daughter and her family into a story world where the wrongs of magic were made right by fire.

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She poured the tea in the cup. He handed her the parchment with the words she would need to escape their world. His face was warm and wet with tears, when she put her hands on his cheeks and began to chant:

Thirteen kisses in the dark,
they’ll taste of moon full
and of sun-bright;
thirteen touches of my lips,
they’ll make me yours
and keep you mine.

Thirteen kisses in the dark,
they’ll bring oblivion
and memory seep;
thirteen touches of my lips,
in your mind I’ll be nothing
after this sleep.

He slumped forward the thirteenth time she kissed his temple, sipping his last memory of her. Gently, she laid his head down on the table and watched him through blurry eyes until each line of his face was branded in her heart.

They had agreed to leave the empty cup on the table and some forget-me tea in the kettle. His masters would find him spelled, and realize he didn’t remember her. And they would never hurt him; not when he was the only living Crafter, and the other one was unborn and lost to them.

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Inspired by “13 Kisses”, winner of From Blackout Poem Bit to Flash Fiction or Full-Length Poetry, 3; and linked to Vanessa Valencia’s Witches Tea Party. Fly over to A Fanciful Twist and see what everyone else is brewing. Oh, and beware of tin tea cups… you know, just in case.

Tin Tea Cup, from Analogue Lifevia

Always

The muddied uniformed woman walked into my kitchen, a steel cup of congealed redness in her hand. She tried to pour it into the sink.

I shook my head.

She sat on the floor, resting her head against my right thigh; darkened blood, flowing from her left ear, seeped through blue denim to chill my skin.

I rubbed my arms.

“Cold?” my fiancé said, frowning at me from across the table.

I glanced down at the woman.

Setting his fork down, he walked by her to stand behind me. “I’ll give you privacy.” He kissed my forehead, nose, lips… and spoke a soft “I love you” into my mouth.

“I need to clean up,” I said, after my fiancé left the room.

“Sorry,” the woman said.

“No need to be sorry.” I headed towards the bathroom.
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I pulled my t-shirt over my head, and walked into the shower with my bra and jeans on.

Through the semitransparent shower curtain, I watched the woman sit cross-legged in front of my tub; her eyes fixed on the contents of her cup.

Once all the red had washed out, I struggled out of the wet clothes and wrapped myself in a towel.

The woman was trying to empty her cup in the toilet bowl. “Please,” she said, her marred hand extending the cup my way.

“You need that,” I told her.

“No,” she shouted, standing up and rushing through the door.
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Hours later, the sound of steel landing hard on wood startled me awake. I smelled the woman. Keep your eyes shut. Think her away. But that never worked. I opened my eyes slowly, and rays of moonlight trickled through the bedroom window to outline the woman’s eyes—full of tears, blood and dirt, and just inches from my face.

I screamed.

My fiancé jumped out of bed. He knew not to touch me when I was like that. He called my name, from three feet away. “Look at me,” he said. “See me. I’m with you.”

“I see you. I’m okay.” My heart pumping wildly, my eyes averted from the woman and her silvery cup of blackened blood on my nightstand.

“You scare me sometimes,” he said, lying next to me.

“I scare me all the time.” I managed a grin.

“It’s frightening when I call your name, and your eyes are listening to things thousands of miles away. What if you stopped seeing me? Or… stopped loving me enough to want to see me at all?”

“I love you everywhere,” I said, “all the time.”

“Why?” He asked infinite questions with that word.

Wondering if he truly didn’t know, I said, “Because you ground me. You help me hold myself together. You know how to kiss my screams into song and fuel the bright that balances my dark. You remind me how amazing it is to be me. I’ll never stop loving that.”

He pressed his face between my breasts, and breathed.

I held him; and watched my eyes watch me, from a clean face, a torch overflowing with light in my healed hands.

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Inspired by “Always”, winner of From Blackout Poem Bit to Flash Fiction or Full-Length Poetry, 2; because there was a tie between poetry and fiction, I let Shelle’s comment make the final choice, and went with fiction. She suggests “‘Always’ is so perfect as a stand alone [poem], delicious word food already, without needing the extra aioli…”.

a wee note on tardiness and stuff:
I’m a day late… and 200 words over my self-set limit of 313 words or fewer. The first was unintentional; I had an appointment that left me exhausted, and ended up taking a nap that lasted about 5 hours too many. The second bit was the cup’s fault… I’m not exactly sure where the cup came from… But once it got into the tale, it wouldn’t go away without morphing into something it liked—you know cups, my Luvs, stubborn like bloody mules.

Antique Always (Snape)
“Always” (quote from Snape, in Harry Potter) Antique Style Bronze Ring

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