Authors: Tara Fuller
© Copyright Tara A. Fuller 2012. All rights reserved
Cover Art: Jeannie Ruesch
Crescent Moon Press
1385 Highway 35
Middletown, NJ 07748
Ebooks/Books are not transferable. They cannot be sold, shared or given away as it is an infringement on the copyright of this work.
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.
Crescent Moon Press electronic publication/print publication: January 2012
For Colten and Caden
Something changed today. I can feel it in my bones; the same quiet fear that shook me in the moments before they came, torches blazing, to take mother away. The winds have shifted. The Goddess is at my door. And I find myself filled with fear for the unknown. To make matters worse I dreamt of her again, this beautiful creature whose name I fear I will never know. I awoke this morning, her face still fresh in my mind and somehow I knew that life as I knew it would never be the same.
~ Alexander 1692
Death. It’s all I’d been able to feel for months. A black burning ache that worked its way through my veins. Stealing my breath. Branding my insides. It’s what I felt as my dad looked me over like I was something in the house that needed fixing, his dark eyebrows drawn, his mouth holding back an ocean of words that neither of us could stand to hear again. I ran my fingers over the puckered pink line that now creased each of my wrists and swallowed hard. It had seemed like a good idea at the time. Now…now it seemed stupid. Trying to solve death with death. But in my defense there hadn’t been a lot of room for thoughts at the time. Not when I was drowning in everyone’s grief, including my own. This was the problem with being born with a freakish ability that caused you to be able to feel the emotions of anyone standing within a ten-foot radius. Pain prickled. Anger burned. Sadness throbbed, a hollow ache in the pit of my chest. Didn’t matter that none of it belonged to me. I still felt every miserable ounce of it.
I twisted my Mom’s birthstone ring around my finger and stared down at a faded muddy boot print someone had left on Bevin’s concrete driveway. A possible leftover from one of the fire fighters that had been tromping through the ash before heading across the street to Bevin’s to tell us Mom was gone. I’d already known. Standing there across the street surrounded by screams, I’d felt every ounce of life seep out of her like water through a sieve. I placed my own foot on top of the print, wishing I could be that person–anyone but me.
“Rowan?” Dad closed the space between us cautiously. I wished I couldn’t feel the regret and indecision pouring out of him like sweat.
“It’s okay Dad. Just go. I’ll be fine,” I promised, letting my dark hair fall like a veil across my eyes so that he couldn’t see the uncertainty behind them.
“Isn’t this the part where I’m supposed to say that this is insane and that families stick together? Shouldn’t I be ordering you to get in the car with us right now?” he said in a strained voice.
My eyes shot to the newly sprouted streak of grey that now marred his otherwise chestnut colored hair. I couldn’t even remember when the color had changed. And the lines that etched a worried look permanently onto his forehead, those were new too.
“It’s really okay Dad. It’s better this way–for both of us.” I swallowed past the lump in my throat, determined not to let him see how much this was costing me.
“I just...” His eyes traced the scars on my wrists, then looked away. He could never look at me for longer than a few seconds anymore. It was always the same game. Eye contact, followed by memories of my mother and my bleeding wrists. Seven seconds max. He watched a patch of clouds wander lazily overhead. “I just don’t know what to do anymore Rowan. Tell me what to do.”
He sighed when I didn’t answer.
“What would your Mom do?”
“She would tell you to stop wasting daylight and get in the car already. She would say that it’s time for Rowan to have her own adventure and that it will be really good for you and Cameron to spend some quality time together. And more importantly, she would say that she loves you. And so do I Dad. So go.” We both smiled knowing that it was exactly what my Mom would say.
“I love you kid,” he said and cleared his throat, moisture filling his eyes. “Please don’t…”
He didn’t have to finish. Don’t do anything stupid. Or rather don’t do anything stupid
. I nodded.
“I’ll try to visit,” he said. “Maybe when your Aunt Abby has the baby we’ll come through town. Spend some time together. What do you think?” He was lying. He had no intention of visiting. I could tell from the uncomfortable twist in his gut. I nodded and took one last lingering look at my dad. No matter what he said I knew it would be my last for a while. He was willing to do anything to get away from my face, my scars. And I was going to let him.
“Rowan are you ready? You don’t want to miss your flight,” my best friend Bevin spoke up from behind me. I turned to see her holding my bag poised at the driver’s side door of her latest ridiculous birthday gift. A little silver BMW. She was still dressed in her cheerleading uniform from school that day, her eyes red and rimmed with smudged mascara. She looked like a raccoon with team spirit. I felt my lips turn up into something that resembled a smile. Was I ready to leave my home, my friends, what was left of my family behind? No.
But instead of admitting that I just said, “Yeah. Ready as I’ll ever be.”
My little brother Cam fidgeted awkwardly next to Bevin’s car, pretending he wasn’t eyeing her short skirt or her clingy top. He was all lanky limbs and freckles, topped off with a flop of reddish brown hair. At thirteen he was the poster child for puberty. I wrapped my arms around his neck and squeezed.
“Take care of Dad Cam,” I whispered before breaking the unspoken brother sister code that said we were supposed to loath each other and planted a kiss on his cheek. I grinned down at him when he didn’t even try to wipe it away.
“Rowan, be safe. Okay?” he said.
I nodded, wondering why they hadn’t just made up a big banner for my send-off that said:
Hey Rowan. Don’t kill yourself!.
It would have saved us a lot of time if you asked me. I let myself steal one last glimpse of the charred rubble that was once our home before the fire. The ashes that used to be house. The ashes that used to be Mom. I couldn’t tell them apart. I stood there staring in horror until the pain thrumming in my chest forced me to look away.
“Let's go Bev.” I grabbed my bag from her and tossed it in the back seat. I could still feel Dad behind me, nervous and fatigued, his feelings awkwardly pulling at me, prickling my mind. I didn’t look back. Instead I stared at my lap, watching the way the sun cast shadows that swam across my jeans like charcoal ghosts of fish.
The car pulled away.
I closed my eyes.
Mother is gone. It has been two months since her death and I cannot bear her loss. First father and now her. I feel like an empty glass bottle tossed to sea, hollow and drowning in an ocean of black waves. The magic within me is steadily dying and I can feel my mother’s Goddess frowning upon my wounds. My father’s God is trying to lend me strength but somehow it always gets lost before it finds me. Nothing can save me now. Aunt Marion has been kind. She has taken me in. Even being the irrefutable half-breed that I am she has accepted me. Half witch, the blood of my mother. Half puritan, the blood of my father. Have the God’s ever created such a misfit? I have moved into her home on the outskirts of Salem Village. It’s a small community here, far from the watchful eyes of the village, and the house is double the size of the cottage I was raised in. But even here, a three-hour ride from Salem and an ocean away from the witch hysteria in Europe, we are not safe. Since the day of Mother’s hanging, suspicious eyes have been on me, waiting for me to slip. I attend church with Aunt Marion every week. I sit in the wooden pews, hands folded, praying. Praying that they won’t find me out. Praying that I won’t end up with a noose around my neck like mother. Writing my secrets, my truth, in this book of shadows has become my last source of hope that I will not lose myself to this madness. Mother was a high priestess. The seventh daughter of a seventh daughter. Her magic was pure and bright. Her power unsurpassed and above all I have ever seen. And even she was found out. What chance do I have? Aunt Marion is a great master of deception. The people in this village think she is the most devout puritan of them all. Ha! The fools. She sits in on their hearings, and lends her voice while they persecute witches like mother, while she herself is the high priestess of a coven crafting black magic to smite them all. A high priestess clamoring for dark power. I do not doubt that if I abide by her rules that she will keep me safe. But what of her cause? What of my soul if I join her?