Almost a Whisper
by Kiirsi Hellewell
She stands in the middle of the clearing, arms stretched to the sky. The gold, rose, and scarlet of sunset have given way to lavender and now blue. She watches as the blue deepens and stars begin to appear.
She shivers as cooler air sweeps over her. She has lived here for so long that she knows every wind as intimately as her own breath.
Now she hears footsteps approaching…hesitant in the growing darkness. They stop right next to her. She stands, silent, and knows they will not see her.
They never do, not really.
Something catches her attention—a familiar tickling, creeping feeling, crawling its way up her skin. She listens.
“Are you sure about this?” Fallen leaves crackle as two people sit. It’s a girl’s voice. “I don’t really see why we had to come all the way out here.”
“Of course, Emily. Don’t worry. Just close your eyes. In five minutes or less your problem will disappear, just as I promised.” The voice is smooth, oily.
The girl shifts uneasily on the dry grass and leaves. “I don’t see how your little ritual can make my problem vanish, Mr. Fle—“
“Simon,” he cuts in. “How will you know unless you try it?”
Above them, she shifts slightly. She has not felt fear or pain or anger in a very long time, has almost forgotten such things existed. But now—at the return of his voice—she feels them stirring deep within her. Memories begin to rise…distant faces…far-off laughter…the touch of a loved one’s hand….
Emily sighs. “You’re right. I’d do almost anything to have this heartache go away.” She closes her eyes.
Simon’s face is triumphant. He raises his hands above her head, holding one on each side, and begins to chant.
She feels more memories swirling. She remembers what she gave up so long ago. She can’t let it happen to this girl, too. She tries to scream, to warn her. But she can’t make a sound.
A wind begins to blow. Between Simon’s hands a cold blue light appears. His smile widens.
She tries harder. She concentrates, pitting her strength against the forces that hold her deep in the earth.
Emily twitches. “I feel weird. What’s going on?”
“Hush,” he whispers. “It’s working.” Emily’s arms and legs lengthen, fingers becoming pointed, branching out.
“Simon?” Emily cries. “I can’t move! Stop! STOP!” Her skin changes, hardening, thickening, darkening. One leg sinks into the soil.
Simon’s laugh rings out. “It’s too late now,” he says. “It’s been too long since I changed someone. My power was low. And you’ll get what I promised—your problem, gone. You won’t even remember your boyfriend.”
Above the struggling girl, she gives one last desperate heave. The ground under Simon opens in one long, wide crack. “What the—no!” he cries. “Impossible!” He begins to fall. A long root wraps around his waist and pulls him down …he is falling…
The blue light vanishes.
The ground closes. The wind stops. Emily stands, shaking. She looks at her fingers. They are covered in dirt. So are her jeans, up to her knees. She rubs her skin. It is soft, normal. She hears something. She looks around.
She is alone. The leaves of the solitary oak tree behind her rustle. It is a quiet sound…
Almost a whisper.
Copyright 2009 by Kiirsi Hellewell; author retains all story rights.