Chapter Five

Chapter Five

A Chapter by Raven Starhawk

1

 

      Eve slipped under the blanket. Solace held no guarantees tonight. She figured this to be more than fact as she listened to Rory's throaty rasps. The temptation to roll over to check him mounted with every minute.

 

      She jerked, bolted upright and stared into darkness. Something, or perhaps it was her imagination, kicked the mattress. She pushed back the blanket and gasped, her hand covering her mouth to muffle a scream as the oversized trunk at the end of the bed flew open. She looked next to her. Surely the noise woke Rory, but to her amazement he continued to slumber.

 

      Is he really asleep? She wondered as she slowly touched her feet to the floor. She thought she saw his eyes open then close, a smile twitch his lips and his features spasm. She blinked hard. As she made her way toward the trunk she studied his profile.

 

      He is asleep, she assured herself.

 

      She kneeled in front of the yawning abyss of mystery and licked her lips. Gazing into it, it appeared bottomless. With shaky fingers she reached inside, jerked back as her tips brushed against something, and then she returned her search, plucking a sole object from a velvet cradle.

 

      Holding it against her breasts she scurried into the hallway and from there dodged a chair in the living room to come to rest on the couch. Gasping for air she lowered the object to her lap and blinked again. It was a book encased in leather. Its gold letters scrawled across the cover were without a doubt foreign.

 

      Opening it to cryptic passages she shivered.  Decayed page after decayed page waft must to her nostrils and she looked up.

 

      What kind of book is this, she wondered.

 

 2

 

     Staring out my window at night's approach I sat back and chewed the end of my pencil. With my homework done and neatly placed back inside my backpack I had a few hours before bed, but would that be enough time?   I turned to face the computer screen. As my eyes adjusted to it's glow my chair squeaked and spat the pencil out.   My fingers hovered over the keyboard and settled on the keys, but before I had a chance to type a single word the mammoth whale breezed into my room wearing an oversized nightgown that looked more like a shower curtain. For a moment I pretended not to hear the bellow of her orders but knowing what would soon follow I swiveled around to face her.

 

     "Did you finish your homework there," she asked. Judging by how she moved her mouth I knew she had taken her dentures out.  "You might want to pay Eve a visit.  She called earlier while you were at school.  Rory's not well."

 

     A smile tugged at the corners of my mouth.  "Really?  Did she say anything else?"

 

     "He hasn't been acting like himself," she replied with one hand on her hip.  "She said he'd been sick since some men's club meeting or something."

 

     "Hmmm," I said, trying to avoid eye contact.  "I'll have to stop by."

 

     As if she sensed my hiding of knowledge, she asked, "Do you know anything about it, Mandy?"

 

     The Men's Club, I laughed.  Was that the best name they could come up with?

 

     I cleared my throat and forced my most sincere poker face as I answered, "Not a single thing."

 

      I waited for her to move back into the hallway. Giving my room a quick glance over she pulled the door shut.  In my black swivel office chair I spun around to regard the computer as it quietly whirred. It was easy to have a love-hate relationship with the internet. So much s**t finds its way on there and at times it is more of a burden than a fabulous tool. Of course I think it all depends on the day. Right now I consider it a waste of time. I had more important things to do and closed the infernal machine.

 

     I looked over at my bed. It welcomed me. The warm blankets were pulled back, invited me to come slip between them and rest my weary head. Still I stayed seated. Though the whale had gone off to bed something still plagued me. I didn't have to think long to know exactly what or who it was weighing in on my mind.  I stood. Stretching my arms over my head I yawned. There was much to do in the morning. Sure it was the same old ritual day in and day out but if I didn't make a habit of it I might find myself in deeper s**t than I already am. Still the idea of school soured my stomach.

 

     "You stupid b***h," my father yelled.

 

     The last time he used those words was when he was drunk.

 

     "I am never appreciated around here! All you do is sit on your fat lazy a*s all day long and watch television while I am working my fingers to the bone! I am sick and tired of never getting any praise! It isn't fair and now this happens! How am I supposed to look at you the same way ever again?"

 

     What was he talking about, I wondered and stood on wobbly legs. Staring at the crack at the bottom of my door I could see a sliver of light.

 

     "Stop yelling at me like that," I heard my step-mother cry. "You never even touch me the way you use to. Whenever I want to be with you, for you to hold me, you shove me away! I need to feel loved and desired just like any other woman!"

 

     "Well maybe if you take some weight off you might earn my love and desire, but no. All you do is eat like a lazy pig. You sit in front of the freezer eating ice cream and whatever else your eyes see!"

 

     "I have been nothing but loving and faithful to you! I have stayed by your side all these years and put up with your daughter who despises me!"

 

     "Leave her out of this," my father bellowed. "You always have something s****y to say about her!"

 

     This hadn't been the first time they fought. I doubt it would be the last time. I can honestly say their fights were entertaining though.

 

     My step-mother stomped into the living room where her voice continued to carry. "I put up with too much! You wait and see. God might be forgiving but I don't know if I could ever forgive you for this!"

 

     "Well if you were so holier than thou you would know that is a sin. As a Christian you are supposed to forgive, but I suppose you are above and beyond that, aren't you? You walk around here preaching about the Bible and what it says yet you can't live up to your own bullshit!"

 

     "Shut up," she screamed.

 

     "You see," my dad yelled back. "That is what I am trying to tell you. You are such a lousy hypocrite. But I suppose the whole is full of them. They all say one thing while practicing another and they think their faith will bail them out of whatever trouble they get into. They attend church every Sunday and preach this and that and yet the very next day they are out committing the same sins as the previous week!"

 

     "You are sounding more and more like that daughter of yours!"

 

     "I told you to leave her out of this! Why in the hell can you not do that? Are you jealous of her or something? Are you insecure because she is maturing into a beautiful young woman? Or is it because she has more talent in one finger than you do in your whole body?"

 

     "You wouldn't know talent if it came up and bit you in the a*s!"

 

     "I am so sick of your bullshit. I cannot take it anymore. Something has to change. Something has to be done to end this misery."

 

     Fumbling for my shoes I made my way toward the window, slid it open and grabbed the nearest tree branch.  It was a venture I entertainment hundreds of times before.  I knew where to place which foot where and was on level ground in less than a minute.  Then I broke into a run.

 

3

 

      Golden beams of sunshine splashed across the table. She leaned into it. Although they were warm she shivered. Icy fingers tickled the nape of her neck. She jerked. Her attention again drifted back to her surroundings. The kitchen smelt of lemon cleaner from her morning mopping. Dishes sat neatly placed in the drain dish. They needed to find a resting spot in the cupboards, but she remained fixed to her chair. Her neglected cup of coffee lost its fresh aroma.

 

      Whispers drifted along tiny threads of blue smoke. Her shoulders rounded, her head hung. She glanced up only once before the sour taste flooded her mouth again. Behind her closed eyes she saw it lead around the bend and into the bedroom. She imagined the moment she acknowledged them with anything more they might evaporate and she once more would discard it, chalk it up to being her overactive suspicion inventing images and sounds in order to justify the mounting fear.

 

      She consulted the clock. Its red trim caught a sliver of glare from the overhead light. Only now did she realize she forgot to flip the switch. Her gaze shifted to it. Though it was merely a few feet away it was a distance too far for her to trek. There was something in the way it peered back at her that caused another shiver to rake down her spine.

 

      Out the window blue sky was peeking between separating clouds. For a moment the sun made an appearance but again was covered by gray billows of cloud. Beyond it was a universe the human mind held little knowledge about. She did not pretend to and believed no man or woman should though the oddity poked her mind.

 

      She jerked at the sound of sheets rustling. Cold streams of coffee flowed over her fingers and made quick running brown trails over the surface of the table. Swearing under her breath she leapt up to grab the towel off the counter near the sink and swiped at the liquid before it rolled onto the floor.

 

      Her thoughts turned to the book. Its words bore into her like a drill. Forsaking the towel and only partial cleaned table she turned into the hallway. She had dared to sneak a peek at it early that morning while Rory was in the bathroom doing what normally he would never do, but as the sound of the shower muffled his off key hum to some song she never heard before she found herself again at the trunk and clawing inside. Though the lighting at that moment was certainly far from the best she managed to make out some of the passage.  Now as she crept down the narrow stretch the phrase whispered inside her skull. The voice directing was not her own and she froze in her tracks.

 

      Out of the corner of her eye plaster rippled. She jerked at once to take a full view of it but as she did so her surprise turned into relief. With a fluttering hand she gently patted the space and softly laughed. It was solid.

 

      She backed away, turned as a cold air pocket engulfed her and shivered. Where could such a draft be coming from she wondered. She looked back toward the living room and kitchen. She even ambled in the direction of their windows only to discover them closed and locked.

 

 "Good morning."

 

      She jumped at the sound of his voice. On her heel she spun around to face him and then froze. Sweat made a thick blanket over his face where loose strands of hair stuck and darkened in the moisture. Around his eyes dark bruises caused his lids to swell and nearly pinch off his sight.

 

      "You look terrible," she breathed and then flinched. She hadn't meant to say it out loud. It popped out and now she knew what to expect.

 

      He chuckled. It was a soft sound coming up from the dark regions within him and for a moment she was stunned though leery. Rory loved to play good guy then change completely into a raving lunatic at the drop of a hat. This could be just another test.

 

      His complexion seemed almost to get paler under her stare, his body clad in thick wrappings of a robe, and as she took a step back she felt a nagging sensation burn in her stomach.

 

      "I am in need of another shower," he replied and in the direction of the bathroom he went.

 

      Another shower, she asked herself. She watched as he opened the door and stepped inside. There was a curious oddity in his step. It was almost as though he were carrying himself differently. She shook the idea loose and pushed it aside.

 

     She veered to the room straight ahead then remembered her coffee and trotted back toward the kitchen to fetch herself another cup after finishing cleaning up after the earlier spill. With her mug securely in her hand she returned to the room at the end of the hallway, opened its door and greeted the computer with an awkward smile.

 

      Rory limited her time on it. He was afraid she might...what? Even she could not wrap her head around his ridiculous rules, but no matter.

 

      She lifted the cup to her lips. Bitter coffee flooded her mouth like so many memories. A finger lingered to caress the warm ceramic handle of the mug. Setting beside the crackling machine it soon lost her interest. At one time she might have thrown the mug across the room, listen to it shatter and watch its dark contents run down the way like tears, but the urge to do so faded as her eyes shifted to the screen.

 

      Her eyes narrowed. Already she tasted anger emerging from the back of her throat. Its acid bite made her swallow hard. Still, as her finger flexed around the coffee mugs handle again, she shifted her weight.

 

      Was it okay to be online? She wondered, glanced over her shoulder at the closed bathroom door and took a deep breath.

 

      In her mind his words echoed. There was very little left to do but accept them for what they were. Their sting was still very much felt in her heart, her quivering lips ceased, pressed into a firm line and she groaned. In his universe perhaps she was not the most pleasant woman. Perhaps there were women more appealing and better companions, but since when was he a fair judge of anything?

 

      Her eyes brightened. She heard it all before about how a man takes away a woman's power and in the end she finds the courage to stand tall and win. For the most part it seemed to work only in fairy tales, but she believed this was a matter only she could solve without the use of Hollywood writers and such. After all half of them probably never had a problem even close to the ones most people encounter every day. The life of a writer was never easy, she knew this all too well, but writing trash for television could not have made a person more open to the game.

 

      She pushed away from the machine as it hummed. She returned to the hallway then turned into their bedroom. Under threads of gold, a shimmering mane hung. Upon first glimpse it looked like a curly water fall barely skimming the hardwood floor, but as she turned onto her stomach the sweep of hair moved with her. Her arms tightened around the pillow as her face buried in it.

 

     Eve pushed herself up onto her knees. Glancing at the clock on the nightstand she squinted. The red digital numbers confirmed her suspicions.

 

     Dancing in her mind the dizzy thoughts of yesterday weaved about her. She came to a halt at the door. Thinking of things long past should never hold such power in the present but as she glanced over her shoulder at the lap top computer she could not help but remember.



© 2019 Raven Starhawk


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Added on March 13, 2019
Last Updated on March 13, 2019
Tags: horror, fantasy, occult, supernatural, paranormal