Authors: S.A. Carter
Tags: #Magical Realism, #Fiction
Copyright © 2014 by S. A. Carter
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the website below.
Author/Publisher: S. A. Carter
Cover design by Creative Paramita
Publisher’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.
The Kuthun/S. A. Carter – 1st ed.
For my children,
Angelina, Lily, Tyler and Jonah.
Mon amour pour toi est
I wake from my nightmare with my mother’s scream
still echoing through me, the pain threatening to tear me open and spew forth a black ooze that will consume me forever. My heart is hammering within my chest and a single tear makes its way down my face.
It was only a dream
. But it was so real. What is she trying to tell me?
The dreams have been coming hard and fast for days now. Each night I am pulled back into the darkness and the pain, but this one was different. In this one my mother handed me something important.
Before I can make sense of it my wolf-dog Magi jumps up onto the bed. She nuzzles my cheek affectionately, sensing something is wrong, and the warmth of her touch makes me feel better. ‘It’s alright girl, it was just another dream,’ I say, giving her pat. I push her soft snout away gently and yawn.
As I reluctantly sit up I feel a tingle creep up my spine and my hair stirs, as if a slight wind has suddenly entered the room.
‘We have to talk, Shem,’ a familiar voice says.
‘Now, Ama?’ I respond tiredly, wishing that my dead great grandmother worked off a normal clock when visiting me from The Other Side.
‘Yes now,’ she says sharply. Her foot begins to tap against the wooden floor with impatience.
Groaning loudly I force myself out of bed, finally looking up to meet her eyes. Her scowl burns its way into my forehead. ‘Okay, I’m up,’ I grumble walking towards her, noticing that even in death she encompasses the quintessential image of femininity. Seventy-five years after her demise and Amaris Cole could still rival the screen sirens of the nineteen-forties.
She turns on her heel with her usual feistiness and takes her seat by the bay window that overlooks the back garden. Warm light floods my room and I take a moment to breathe it in, trying to forget the dream where my mother’s ghost still lingers in my mind. I miss her so much, the loss of her still as raw as if it happened only yesterday.
I take my seat beside her and she pierces me with her vivid green eyes—a female genetic Cole trait that separates us from the rest of the mortals.
I fold my legs up underneath me before reluctantly apologising. ‘Sorry, Ama.’
She glares at me a moment longer before her face softens. ‘What is it, Elena? What’s wrong? Did you have another dream?’ she asks concerned.
I nod. ‘It was Mum again.’
‘Tell me what happened?’ she gently asks.
I sigh. ‘She told me to find the light and handed me a small box, before she was pulled back into a dark nothingness. I tried to get to her but I couldn’t move.’
She looks at me thoughtfully. ‘The light? She said that?’
‘Yes. Why? What does it mean?’
‘It may be significant. Did she say anything else?’
Shaking my head I say, ‘No. That was all.’
She nods softly, looking off into the distance, her mouth pursing to the side in concentration. ‘These dreams must mean something, Shem. We just have to figure out what that
is.’ She smiles warmly at me and I nod my head sadly.
She squeezes my hand and diverts the conversation. ‘How’s Phoebe?’
‘Phoebe is great, Ama, but don’t change the subject.’
‘Well, I just want to make sure that Phoebe is taking care of you, that’s all,’ she responds, a smirk of amusement playing on her lips.
She knows fully well that it would be me looking after Phoebe. I am the witch after all.
Being a witch has its advantages but it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I don’t go around carrying a wand like
and shouting, ‘Expelliarmus!’ I don’t dance under a full moon, and I definitely can’t fly. In fact, it’s not often that I’ve had to use my magic at all. But to say I have lived a relatively normal life wouldn’t be being completely honest either. The Cole blood that runs through my veins gives me certain abilities that other people don’t have. It also means that I have had to learn certain skills to survive.
Rolling my eyes I say, ‘Yes, she’s taking care of me.’ I bring one pyjama-clad knee up to my chest. ‘Now are you going to tell me why you’re here?’ I ask, not meaning to be so blunt.
She straightens her back and her symmetrical eyebrows furrow. ‘Of course I did. Do you think I’m just some lonely spirit who has nothing better to do?’ She folds her arms and looks away from me with contempt.
‘Yep, that’s what I think. Now go on and tell me before I lose interest and Magi reminds me that it’s her breakfast you’re delaying?’ I reply dryly.
She looks at Magi, gives her a smile, and for just an instant it looks like Magi smiles back. It was so strange that I thought I had imagined it.
She clears her throat, smirking in spite of herself at my sassiness—a trait that she proudly says she passed on to me. ‘Fine. Well I’m here because there has been talk upstairs that the Venators are on the move.’
The Venators—Puritan hunters and my family’s greatest enemy.
‘You must be careful now, Elena. I cannot say how close they are but they are a cunning bunch of zealots and I want you to be on your toes.’ Her expression is serious.
Flashing her a cheeky grin I say, ‘What else are they talking about upstairs?’
She lowers her gaze. ‘I’m not laughing, Elena Wisteria Moonheart Cole.’ She points her index finger at me. ‘This is serious!’
Geez she’s feisty today. I roll my eyes. ‘Okay, okay. I promise that I will be extra careful, don’t worry.’
She scoffs. ‘Don’t worry? Elena, I am your great grandmother. It is my job to worry about you.’
‘Ama, I know I have to be careful and I know that right now, somewhere out there, a Venator is trying to track me down. But I’m just really tired of being afraid. Can you understand that?’
She sighs reluctantly and nods her head.
I get up out of the chair, not wanting to talk anymore. ‘Are you coming down for breakfast?’ I ask, knowing perfectly well that she only ever visits me in my room.
She shakes her head. ‘No, I can’t. But give your Uncle Josiah a kiss from me, and Happy Birthday, Shem. Talk soon my sweet.’ She kisses my forehead and disappears with a wink. I smile sadly, remembering that it is in fact my sixteenth birthday today.
The growling in my belly reminds me that I am famished. ‘Come on, Mags, let’s go eat,’ I say, ignoring the pain in my chest at celebrating another birthday without Mum.
We head downstairs where the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and baked croissants floats its way throughout the farmhouse, enticing my nostrils.
As we turn the corner to the kitchen I blush, noticing that my aunt and uncle have put on a birthday breakfast for me. I’ve never been comfortable with being the centre of attention, preferring to stay under the radar whenever possible.
Maybe that is what my curse has taught me
After giving them a hug I rub my hands together in anticipation of the meal before me. ‘Okay, Mags, what do you want first?’
Magi doesn’t hesitate, she heads straight for the bacon already sitting in her bowl and inhales it all in seconds.
‘Thank you,’ I say with appreciation, as I pick at a warm croissant. ‘This is really nice, but you didn’t have to.’
Uncle Jo shrugs. ‘We know. I told Lil that it wasn’t a big deal and that we could have just put cereal out, but you know how she is,’ he says sarcastically. Aunt Lily rolls her eyes and I shake my head laughing.
I watch him holding his ritualistic morning mug of steaming hot coffee, the smell of which fills the entire room with its strong potency, and wonder how he could really be my uncle. His straight, sandy-brown hair is in direct contrast to my chocolate-coloured waves, and his hazel eyes don’t match the intensity of my green. He is tall and strong, standing out in a crowd, while I can walk through a sea of people and never be noticed. The one thing he does have though is the same heart and determination of my mother. Maybe I missed that gene?
He jerks his head in the direction of the side cabinet where on top sits a beautifully wrapped present.
I jump up excitedly. ‘What is it?’
‘Open it up and see,’ Aunt Lily says as she wipes the front of her apron that has become synonymous with her love of baking.
Unwrapping the present reveals a small velvet box and my breath catches sharply in my throat. The dream I had this morning permeates my mind. In it my mother hands me a small velvet box and says to me, ‘Elena, you must find the light.’
It can’t be the same one…can it?
I open the box gingerly and a feeling like someone giving me a big hug washes over me—the familiar scent of jasmine and lavender infused within it.
Mum’s favourite flowers
Nestled delicately within the box lies the most precious charm I have ever seen. ‘Who left this?’ I ask him, my voice wavering slightly.
‘I assumed it was from Ama,’ he responds.
‘Oh. Yeah, you’re probably right,’ I answer hesitantly, knowing that Ama
to have been involved somehow. But the dream wasn’t just a coincidence either. Could Mum really have left this for me?
He frowns. ‘Ellie, is everything alright?’
‘Huh? Oh sure. I just felt like I’ve seen this before that’s all.’
Aunt Lily looks between us, frowning slightly, aware of our family history of supernatural abilities but never wanting to know more than that. As she said once to both Uncle Jo and I, ‘I understand the Cole blood runs through your veins and while I respect it I would prefer not to know too much about it if that’s alright.’
We agreed and felt it would be safer for her if she didn’t know more than was necessary.
I turn back to the gift, which catches the morning rays of the sun making it appear translucent, yet it exudes warmth from within as if someone has placed a handful of freshly popped popcorn into my palm.
The charm is made out of a delicate crystal glass. It throws off the colours of sunset and catches the reflections of light that filter through the kitchen window. It is in the shape of a woman it seems, but instead of having hands and legs it looks as though the woman is dressed in a robe—her arms down by her sides and her limbs unseen. There is no face but for some reason I know this is a woman. I feel like I have seen her before…but where?