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Bright Light and Dark Swirls
The light reflected off her colorless eyes. He watched from the brush, returning his attention to her cupped hands as she created a butterfly out of the glowing light. She didn't know he was here or she wouldn't be using her magic. He knew when he first saw her that he couldn't do what he was sent to do, and hadn't returned to the Lord in a week. He'd be beheaded for not finishing the job.
His first view of her was of her cloaks hood hanging low, nothing but shadows visible underneath it. There were the dark veins curling over her hand and arm as she held it out. He notched his arrow and readied for the shot, then he paused as she reached for a blacked flower. He knew she had done that, was positive from what he'd heard of this hag of a witch that lived in the forest.
Stories raced through the town of the children she'd stolen, cooked, and eaten. The spells she put on their crops and animals, spoiling all so the town starved. Yet he paused when she bent. Strands of bright blonde hair slipped from the shadows of the cloak. He watched the section of hair. It was the color and movement of hair belonging to a young woman.
In that stalled moment of time he watched with intensity, as if he was caught in a spell, as she cupped her hands and light bloomed. The magic didn't surprise him, but what did was the flower grew into a vibrant lavender blossom, tall and strong. A squirrel came to sit beside her, along with rabbits and other small animals of the forest. He knew in that moment she was not the culprit of what was ailing his home town. The forest would not react to a being as so, not if it wished death upon it.
When she sat, she pushed her dark hood back. He dropped the bow and covered his mouth to keep from gasping. She was stunning. Her petite nose and thin lips accented her fragile structure. Her eyes are what he couldn't look away from, as pale as the blue sky on a clear summers day, almost of a pearl white. She smiled as the animals rubbed against her, and she petted them as they were her own companions.
Over the last week he's watched her nurture the soil and animals around her. Today, he watched the newly formed butterfly flutter from her hands and around her head, drawing a smile to her delicate face. He couldn't do what he was hired to do and he couldn't return home either. That would be certain death and disgrace to his family. Better they thought he died in the forest. Would she accept him here in the forest? He'd seen her each day for a week and couldn't bring himself to approach her. Surely she wouldn't turn him away, not from what he'd seen of her interactions with the forest.
"Come. I'm tired of waiting for you." She spoke softly.
He narrowed his eyes on her. Was she talking to him? She didn't look up from the rabbit she was petting.
"Yes. I'm talking to you. You've wasted a week in that brush. You think I wouldn't know? The forest tells me much." Her voice was felt like the breeze in his face, forward yet warming.
Now her pale eyes were on him. He was buried in the brush, she couldn't have known exactly where he was. Yet her eyes met his without searching. He birthed from the brush and walked to her, seen anew with her eyes.
The girl grinned. He had forgotten about the marks on her arm, until he saw the dark swirls curving up her wrist over her hand.
Jackie's sneak peek:
(untitled), an original short story by Jackie Lester
Sleep lifted from me at an infuriatingly slow place. I was aware of an intense heat around me though I still couldn’t quite manage to open my eyes yet. I struggled to pull at whatever was tied around my neck, making breathing seem impossible but my fingers failed me. There was nothing to grasp. I pushed hard against my eyelids, praying they would open and I could see where I was and what was going on around me.
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