Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Sand Witch Part 4

*You can find the first part in this series here, the second part here and the third part here.


“There is something you should know,” Estdre says.  We have crossed a million dunes, wandering for days. 

Estdre’s side feels more like home than any place I’ve known.  Nothing has changed.  Whenever I want something, Estdre’s winds blow and it comes to me—a large pizza with extra hot peppers, a new pair of shoes.

It is slow going because of my mortal needs—this I know.  Estdre does not need sleep or water.  She carries me when I grow too weak.

“We are close.  Today is the day you will meet your father.”

“He’s alive?”  I ask.

“He lives always.  In time, you will be immortal too.  But there is a price.  You must give up your human form to become my familiar.  The men in your family are coyotes.”

Coyotes.  Creatures of the desert.  Their voices always made feel lonely.

“Perhaps you can choose another shape.”


The boy trembles against me.  It is not with lust, though my body captivates him still.  He is sad.  The others were not sorry.  Logan is the most peculiar by far.

“The night you met me, you said I am not the desert.  What did you called me?”

“The ocean.”  He puts his hand on my heart, plays with my bare skin. 

“I do not know what you speak of.”

“I’ve never seen it.  The amusement park woman carries a picture of it on her phone.  She showed it to me once, years ago.  Water as far as the eye can see and salty.”

“Like tears?”  I ask, fingering one of his and putting it in my mouth.  I will miss this peculiar one most when he is no longer human.

Edna Jean

“It’s done.”

The words are sweet.  Goodbye Renaissance.  You’ll never steal another child.

I lie back, imagining smoke against desert sky.


It starts as a tingle.  When it reaches the bone, pain rips through my chest.  I am hacking, choking.  



Estdre’s coughing wakes me.

It isn’t dark anymore.  The sky is a sickly shade of green.  Estdre glows against it like a live coal.

“Renaissance is burning.”  She chokes.

Around us, coyotes—my ancestors—raise their lonely howl to the sky.  It makes me think her pain hurts them too.

I look in the direction of my old home—a glow on the horizon, a column of smoke.  Suddenly, I realize I am the last of Estdre’s familiars, her last human. Her ties to Renaissance run deeper than mine.  She has cared for it for so long.  The coyotes push their noses into my skin, willing me to fix everything.

I stroke Estdre’s face, almost too hot to touch.  “You’re the ocean.”

It is the only thing I can say.  I whisper things that make me sure.  But she is turning to ash between my fingers.

My father leans into my ear.  In a voice like a bark he says “Bite her, son.”

I close my teeth over her blistered neck.  My flesh stretches and tears, bones cracking.  Through blurry eyes, I can see the red coyotes calling me on one side and darkness on the other.  Their howling beckons.  But it’s the darkness I reach for.  Darkness will save us both.

My flesh becomes slick and scaly—legs elongating to fins.  The blowhole grows like a new nose from the back of my neck.

But the air is too dry for a whale to breathe.  The last of my human voice wheezes:


“Estdre, be my ocean.”

I let the winds blow.

Edna Jean

It’s funny.  I heard coyotes in my dream.


The Sand Witch is a four-part story I'm writing for The Rule of Three Blogfest.   You can find the first part in this series here, the second part is here, and the third part in the series is here.

The prompt I chose this week was "The misfortune is resolved/accepted."  This entry is 599 words.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Sand Witch Part 3

*You can find the first part in this series here and the second part is here

Edna Jean

The town of Renaissance will burn and I will dance in its ashes.  The day I left, I should have never looked back.  My money.  My career.  My power.  They should have been enough to sustain me.

But I had to come back, didn’t I?  All because he was here.

Logan.  My son.  I couldn’t just give you to her the way I promised, could I?

My only thought from the day I could take my first step was leaving Renaissance.  When I was five, I tried to ride my bike all the way down the Kris.  I imagined that, by sunset, I’d arrive somewhere like the Emerald City where there’d life and color and activity.  But I made the mistake of taking Rory, the cry baby.  After an hour on the path, he skinned his knee, turned back and told on me.  Aunt Eddie, his mother who really isn’t my aunt, came to pick me up in her truck and told me that I must never ever think about running away again.  Bad things happen to little girls who run away from home.

Such stupid Renaissance superstitions.

I didn’t talk to Rory for a whole two weeks after that.  And we only started talking again because he brought me a printed map that he found in the dessert.  I pasted it on the wall inside my closet, staring at it night after night after everyone went to bed and wondering about magical places that weren’t full of forgotten old women and children with no fathers.  Rory brought me maps every Sunday for years and I really started to like him after that.  I started to like him best of all.

By the time I was twelve, I was the smartest girl that the town had ever seen.  I taught myself to speak French from books and I built a computer from a kit that I sent away for.  Aunt Eddie said that I couldn’t go to college though and Mama agreed.  Only bad little girls run away from home.

Stupid superstitions.

Gawd, it’s college, not prison, I’d say.

They’d cross themselves and look the other way.

I had Logan when I was sixteen.  Rory had grown up big and strong—nineteen then, but he already belonged to her.  But he still brought me a map every Sunday and it was sort of like a promise.  I imagined that we could still leave and never look back.  That’s why I let him touch me and kiss me even though I knew it was her telling him to do it.

They let me nurse Logan for six months before they took him away.  They locked me in the basement of the old church and told me to pray for my soul.  I had child-sickness, they said.  That’s what they called my wailing and my sore breasts. 

But in the end, I got out, took my old bicycle and peddled away down the Kris.  Found myself an old half-dead miser to marry and when he died, I went to college and started my own company.  A tourism company—amusement parks, resorts, reenactment towns. 

For my son, for Logan, I bought the town of Renaissance and tried to make something of it.  But they gave him away anyway.  And today I will hire an arsonist to burn it down.  At least I will re-coup the insurance money.


The Sand Witch is a four-part story I'm writing for The Rule of Three Blogfest.   You can find the first part in this series here and the second part is here.  If you like what you've read, please check back next Wednesday or Thursday for the third part in this series.

The prompt I chose this week was "The impending misfortune foreshadowed in the 1st prompt comes to pass, but one or more characters laugh at it."This entry is 566 words.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Sand Witch Part 2


“Hello?”  The voice on the other end of the line is raspy, hesitant.  He doesn’t sound like this when he goes walking through my sand.  But during those times, he is usually singing or whistling along with his MP3 player. 

Still, I make note of the first word he speaks directly to me and all the blended emotion therein.  I have waited for this word for a long time.

Logan, it’s time.  I am lonely.  You must come out to me.”

I expect him to protest, the way his father and his grandfather did before him.  The sound is already building in his silence.  He is stalling for time.

“Who are you?”  He says, giving my expectations ground.

“My darling, you have known me since you were a child.  My winds have carried you gifts after every storm. My sands give you food—prickly pears and mesquite.  You visit me everyday.”

“I don’t know your name.”  He is still stalling, but I feel recognition on his end of the line, so I am patient.

“Your father called me Estdre, an anagram for—”

Desert, I know.”  I smile at his abruptness.  When they are young like this, they are so eager to prove themselves.  “What does my father have to do with this?  He died before I was born.”

Logan,” I begin.  This is the hard part.  It would be so much easier if we were face to face, if he could see me.  “The men in your family belong to me.”

He does not hang up.  I take it as a good sign and continue.

“A long time ago a disaster killed nearly all of the men and many of the women and children in town.  Your great-great grandfather made a deal with me.  Save his family, and all of his male decedents would belong to me.”

He doesn’t scream or cry or curse—a very good sign.  The slight breathing on the other end of the line is slow and steady.  But it’s too much to get my hopes up.  This has never been something that the Sons of Everett have wanted.   

“I belong to you?  Like a servant or something?”

“Not quite.  Come down to me and you will see.”  I listen as he throws his worldly possessions into a backpack.  It has never been this easy before.  Maybe someday, I will ask him why.

“You’re—you’re not my mother, right?”  His question makes sense.  He is a foundling, after all, left for his grandmother to raise.

“No.  Come down to me.”  The phone goes silent now, but I see the light in his bedroom shut off.  I hear his shoes on the stairs.  I hear him unlock the front door.

He is a different man when he walks out to meet me.  Somewhere is the glint of the boy with the shaggy sun-bleached hair and the freckled nose.  But his walk is different—he doesn’t shuffle anymore, eyes trained on the ground.  For the first time, he looks at my land, and I think that he likes what he sees.

Logan stops right before he gets to me.  He takes in the curves of my body the way the men of his family have for generations.  The scarves draped over my hips hide little.  Carefully, because the old woman has trained him well, his gray eyes find mine.  I hold out my hand, but before he takes it he says:

“I know who you really are.”

“I am the witch of these sands.”

“No,” he says.  “You’re the ocean.”


The Sand Witch is a four-part story I'm writing for The Rule of Three Blogfest.   You can find the first part in this series here.  If you like what you've read, please check back next Wednesday or Thursday for the third part in this series.

The prompt I chose this week was "A relationship becomes complicated."  This entry is 594 words.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Sand Witch Part 1


Sometimes I look out at the desert and think that it's really an ocean.   Since I was little, I’d find things out there:  a handful of marble chess pieces, a tarnished silver hand mirror, a rusty phone booth that still worked even though it wasn’t plugged into anything.  Strange things turn up after the wind blows and blows for days.  Just like the ocean after a storm.

Yesterday, I found a message in a bottle.

I was supposed to be collecting prickly pears for Grandma Eddie’s prickly pear wine. (I hate prickly pears.)  And there it was, right under a creosote bush, half buried in sand.  I scooped it up and put it into my back pocket, making sure that the back of my shirt covered the bulge it made.

The thing is I can’t tell anyone about the stuff I find in the desert.  People in Renaissance have been real superstitious since the disaster, especially the real old timers.  You never know what is going to set the sky a-fall'n.  It’s gotten so that the only things that I’m brave enough to talk about are the weather and plans for the next church social.  If anyone knew about the things I’ve kept hidden under the floorboards of my bedroom, they’d probably call an exorcist.

But I can’t let them go.  All my life I’ve only known the dead, dry wind, the coating of dust sticking to the back of my eyelids and lists and lists of useless saying and cock-and-bull rituals.  Finding treasure in the desert is the only bright spot in my life, the only magic I can call my own.

So when I got home, I dumped the baskets of prickly pears into their wash barrels as usual, changed out of my clothes—conveniently kicking my pants under the bed so that Grandma Eddie wouldn’t try to do anything silly like wash them—and took a shower.  Then I squeezed the marinade out of the strips of raw rattlesnake and laid them out on the screens to dry in the sun.  Pure disgusting.  But old time rattlesnake jerky is the sort of thing that the amusement park people love and apparently, even the biggest Chicken Littles among us know that becoming a tourist trap is the only thing that will save this town.  Then I transferred the prickly pears to the wine press, strained the juice into half a dozen carboys, adding some half-way gone pomegranate juice.  I put the mesquite beans in the flour grinder for Grandma Eddie’s gluten-free mesquite cinnamon rolls (another gross tourist thing) and headed off to the one-room school house that serves as everyone in town from age three to eighteen.

In short, yesterday was a normal day.  Perhaps the last one I’ll ever have.

Because when I finished my homework last night and read the note, this is what it said:

My darling Logan, please answer the phone.

And as soon as I had read it, the rusty old payphone hidden under the floorboards rang.


The Sand Witch is a four-part story I'm writing for The Rule of Three Blogfest.   If you enjoyed this first part, please check back next Wednesday or Thursday for the second part in this series.

The prompt I chose this week was "There is fear of an impending misfortune." 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hmmmm, pathetic

Well, this is day 3 of Gothnowrimo.  I'm supposed to be at 3871 words.  I'm so not.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Don't Eat the Chocolate

You’re not the first, they tell me.  Others have gone before you.

I stare out at the river of chocolate.  It is smooth and the surface has lost its sheen in the cold morning light.  It could be solid.  But even though I wish it were, I know it isn’t.  the currents are swift and sure at the very bottom.  Everyone knows that this is all part of the cycle. 

Around us, the candy factory has gone dead—the old psychotic CEO has given them the morning off for this.  He probably needs the extra time to research his precious Gobstoppers.  When all of us old ones are gone, no one will be left to ridicule him and his stupid fly-by-night whims.  But that’s no longer my concern.

Nearby, sweet-faced girls decorate my sugar-glass skiff with buttercups (they’re made with real butter, you know), their long green hair braided with a million colors of licorice and their brilliant orange faces painted with a rainbow sheen of pixie dust.  I watch them giggle as they work.  The future of Wonka Enterprises.  It didn’t seem so long ago that I was with them.  It doesn’t seem fair that I am not with them now.

I knew my time was coming when I first felt the bitterness creeping up my throat.  Later when the snarfberries tasted like grimrot, I wasn’t surprised.  I tried to hide the fact that I could no longer stand the taste of candy as long as I possibly could.  Looking back, I think all the others did too.  Like when old Un Sa Tou when on a five year diet or when Loon de Mai had a decade long tooth ache?  Our kind don’t get cavities and what kind of self-respecting Oompa Loompa goes on a diet?  As for me, I tried to leave the candy factory.  My brilliant plan:  selling vitamins door to door.  There are only so many people willing to buy health food supplements from a three foot tall woman in overalls with orange skin and green hair.  Don’t let them fool you, it doesn’t matter how supernaturally your teeth sparkle.

But can you blame me?  I wanted to live.  I believed—and I still believe—that I deserve better than this.  Call me arrogant if you want, but what was good for so many others, isn’t good enough for me.  I cried when they took me.  Haven’t eaten, spoken or slept since.

A brave young thing checks my bonds and lays me down in the sugar glass skiff.  Six strong men carry me to the edge of the chocolate river.  All my chances to run are now gone.  It’s then that they begin to sing:

Oompa Loompa Doopity Doo . . .

I don’t hear the rest because I am trying not to cry.  If there’s any last chance for a miracle, I can’t let my tears melt the boat.  And if there is no miracle . . . well it would be best to let the waterfall do me in.  It will be faster and virtually painless if it happens that way.  Besides, my tears and snot and fear will ruin the flavor of the chocolate.  That’s something we learned back in school.  The old lessons die hard.

They push the skiff into the river now and I moan softly into my gag.  It’s not just the tragedy of the thing, it’s that even the scent of chocolate is making my stomach roil.  The back of my throat and my nostrils feel as if someone has poured acid down them.  I kick and scream against my bonds.  But they just keep singing.

Something inside of me snaps and I just start to laugh.  The morons will keep singing for eternity.  The last thing I will ever hear is there singing.  It will take it with me to hell.

The last thing I will ever see is the plasticy blue sky painted on the roof of the factory.  I will never see the real sky again.  I don’t know whether to close my eyes or to hang on to it.  What did the others decide to do?  I decide to close them.

I hold my breath.  Chocolate is the most nauseating substance on earth right now.  But it won’t be long. 

Before I know it, I’m caught in the whirlpool.  The waterfall hits the end of the boat, shattering it instantly and I’m plunged into darkness.  It knocks my held breath right out of me.  I’m under.  One second.  Two seconds.  How many more until it’s over?  Or do I just give in and take a deep breath?  The sugary gag and bonds melt away now, part of the putrid chocolate death trap.  My skin feels like it is breaking into a million boils, the delicate skin around my eyes feel like it is being stabbed by a million tiny knives. 

Finally, I throw up into the chocolate over and over.  The funny thing about throwing up, is that it takes breath to heave.  It is not a choice.  My body fills my lungs with the molten liquid. 

Then it’s over.

This week's Indie Ink Challenge came from Sir, who gave me this prompt: The Sweet Release of Death. I challenged Chaos Mandy with the prompt The crown was as good as hers . . . before the interview portion of the competition.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I’m Not Looking for a Way Out

I’d settle for a way back to myself.  Do you know what I mean?  I used to be a survivor—the kind of would do everything and has done everything in order to survive.  And now that I have the perfect family and I’m living in the lap of luxury, I have absolutely no idea who I am any more.

It’s not that all my problems have just magically disappeared.  I miss my Ama—my grandmother—who died because I failed her.  And there’s something very, very wrong with my new sister, all of her perfect children and most of all, her creepy, bearskin wearing husband.  He’s having an affair with a woman who’s living on the other side of our mansion.  I hear them at night.  Her emo son might want to kill me.

You don’t have to be some kind of hero.  I just want someone who makes me feel like the world is right side up again.
~Sophie, The Bearskin's Wife

PS.  Marcia Hoehne is hosting a MG/YA critique give away on her blog.  It sounds like she's quite good.  Enter Here.