more than you think

“Should you have need of me, I’ll be in my study.”  With a quiet flurry of her robes, the sorceress turned down the gloomy corridor.  The dancing candle light splashed playfully along the walls in her wake, until she disappeared into the darkness that held sway at the far end.  The soft sound of the door closing behind her traveled with the final ripples of motion buffeting the light before all settled into calm.

He breathed a sigh of relief and returned to his own studies.  The small slow-burning candle on his desk, sitting in a pool of congealed wax that spoke to the length of time he’d been sitting there, giving credence to the aches in his joints, caught his attention for a moment.  The light remained still despite his small shuffling, as his spell had intended and he smiled at the small success.

The tome, a gift from the sorceress upon his apprenticeship, received his attention next.  The silver runes in the binding sparkled in the light.  The leather cover, though still soft and supple, showed signs of its ancient age.  The delicate pages, with purple dragon blood ink as vibrant in its majesty as the day the words had been immaculately penned letter for letter, whispered dark secrets in the still air.  He could feel the magic within calling to him, trying to catch him unprepared and trap him forever.

He would not be its first victim, its first triumph.  When the sorceress had handed it over to him, she had warned him to always be on his guard when studying the spells it offered as at least three of her previous apprentices had fallen victim to its charms.  With a small wink she’d added, “And that’s just the ones I know about.  Who knows how many countless others had their consciousness devoured before the tome fell into my control?”  Then she had laughed, and somehow he’d managed to keep from shuddering until she’d left.

Though nervous, it had only taken an hour for him to gain the courage to carefully peel back the cover and begin deciphering the spells on the first page.  Curiosity has ever been the main driving force of most magicians.  They have an unending desire to know the how and why of things.  He’d felt the book probing him immediately and struggled to maintain control of his mind, his essence.  He had succeeded, eventually, though the physical and mental toll had sent him to bed to recover before he’d even glanced at the full contents of the first page.

He returned the next day, and the day after that, and so on.  Eventually making his way beyond the opening pages and into the more complex spells that he craved.  Occasionally the book would sense him weakening and mount a new assault, but so far he had managed to keep it at bay, through mutual respect of power: magician for book, and book for magician.

Returning his attention to the candle, he spoke the words that released it from his enchantment and watched with delight as the flame began to waver naturally back and forth.  A sigh of contentment escaped as his lips curled into a smile.  Carefully closing the magical tome he stood from his desk, extinguished the candle and crossed to his bed.   The two spells, and his brief encounter with the sorceress, had left him exhausted and he welcomed the prospect of recovery through rest.

To those outside of magical realm, it may not seem like much to freeze and then reanimate a flame, but the small candle was just the test to make sure the spells worked.  The practical applications ranged far wider than a flame nestled between wick and wax.  He could use the same incantations on all moving objects and animals.  When he was powerful enough he could use it to freeze time.

Unbeknownst to the apprentice, from her study the sorceress smiled in appreciation of his advances.  He was coming along nicely and would work well into her plans.

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But He Loves Me

1jaded1:

Please head on over and read the story of another survivor of domestic abuse, who stopped believing the lies. Thank you.

Originally posted on Stories that Must Not Die:

Please welcome Alicia Benton from Imperfectly Perfect with a story of surviving domestic violence. It was originally published on Black Box Warnings, but since that site is gone, we’re reposting it here.

Trigger warning: this post talks about domestic violence. This is not an easy post to read, but it’s an important one and there is a happy ending since she’s still here to talk about it.


He is screaming at me so close to my face that I can feel his spit. I close my eyes and hold my breath.

He is wrapping his hands around my neck and squeezing tighter and tighter. I start to see spots.

He is grabbing my hair and shoving my head in the toilet. I try not to breathe, but I have to gasp for air.

He pulls the car over to the side of the road and demands that I get…

View original 1,029 more words

full disclosure

“What does it say?”

Charles reread the paperwork before responding, the crease in his forehead, the telltale sign that it was troubling news, deepened before he had finished, “We are being sued.”  Despite his best efforts to remain calm, the final word caught in his throat.

His wife’s right hand made a mad dash to cover her mouth though no sound escaped.

Setting aside the paperwork, Charles took Livia’s left hand in both of his, squeezing gently, reassuring her that everything would be okay in the end.  He trusted in their relationship and their faith and he knew that even if the coming case went entirely against them the Lord would show them another path.  As long as they were together, as long as they continued to believe, they would be okay.

He smiled and Livia let her hand drop to join the others.  She took courage and solace in the strength she found in his hands and the peace she saw in his eyes.  She knew what he was thinking, and she agreed.  Together, in their faith, they would be okay.

“But, I don’t understand,” she said a few moments later.  “Our food is always of the highest quality.  Our restaurant is always impeccably clean.  We’ve never failed an inspection.  We’ve never had any complaints…”

“We are being sued for discrimination.”

Before Livia could completely process what that meant, Charles explained the details of the lawsuit further:  “A customer took offense to us praying together at the end of the night in question.  They saw one of our end of evening prayers, thanking God for another wonderful day, and the suit claims we violated their rights by forcing them to endure our religious ritual.”

“That’s preposterous.”

“That’s the way of the world right now.”

“What are we going to do?”

“I’ll call Pastor Reed in the morning and see if she thinks the church will help us hire an attorney to fight the claim.  If nothing else, I’m sure she will want to meet with us and we’ll all pray for guidance.  And, no matter the outcome, we will be okay.  If we go bust, the community will help us stay on our feet.  If we have to close the business, God will help us find something else.”

Livia took in a long, slow, breath and then let it out, once again squeezing her husband’s hands, “Okay.”

“Okay,” he replied, smiling again.

“Though…”

Charles raised his eyebrows in query, and Livia finally smiled in return, mischief dancing behind her pained eyes, “Perhaps we should post some signs around the restaurant to let customers know that, before they get served, every meal is blessed in prayer.”

hope

The blue fire, with traces of green spiraling along the edges, danced in her hand.  It gave no warmth but warmed her all the same.  It did her no harm but held the potential to greatly harm others should she choose to unleash it.  It was a simple spell but it was enough to prove what she had overcome.

Bullied and outcast for her strangeness as a child, she had thrown herself into the pursuit of magical studies at the first school that was willing to admit a girl.  Though she had hoped things would be different, her classmates ceaselessly tormented her rather than accepting her as one of their own.  They told her she would never become a sorceress.  They told her she would fail and be cast back to be trodden upon by those she had sought to escape in the first place.

The year she took her test, the worst of her bullies orchestrated one assault after another to demean her, to frighten her, to convince her she wasn’t worthy of possessing the power they longed to call their own.  The day of her test they went so far as to lock her in her room with various charms and odds and ends of heavy furniture.  She pounded on her door with her fists until the door splotched red with her blood.  She kicked at the door until she tore ligaments in her ankles.  She screamed for help until her voice cracked and faded away.

A passing teacher rescued her, mended her ailments, and whisked her to her test on time, where she showed great strength of character to push aside her emotional distress and flawlessly execute the exam spells and potions.  She wasn’t the greatest magician the school had ever produced, but she was close.

After graduating she sought residency in several of the top magician friendly realms.  Then she sought residency in any of the friendly realms.  Then she went after a spot in places that would at least allow her to live in peace, and not hunt her and murder her for practicing what they perceived as sinful.  When all her requests were denied, she requested permission to remain at the school that had been brave enough to admit her and teach her in the first place.

She was afforded a small dwelling, unlimited access to the archives and magical tomes in the library, and a small stipend in exchange for the classes on diversity and inclusion she was expected to teach.  Despite the anger she felt for having to teach something she hadn’t been shown herself, she threw herself into the work and her classes became very popular with the incoming ranks of students.

The anger never diminished though and she managed to assuage it by tracking down the tormentors from her youth.  One by one they fell to her hand.  She defeated them with her superior cunning and exceptional magical abilities.  And those who were on par with her in their knowledge of the craft, she defeated through her force of will born of vengeance.

“The fact that I have become what I loathed is not lost on me,” she whispered viciously to the man cowering in front of her.  His eyes darted back and forth between the flame in her hand and her frightening eyes.  “I am truly reveling in your discomfort as much as you ever did in mine all those years ago.  I am a bully.  And perhaps one day I will be forced to pay for that…, but it will not be today.”

The flames flared in her hand, casting shadows of death across the surrounding walls, and his eyes went wider as a small yelp of fear escaped his lips.  The acrid stench of urine accompanied a small stain on his robes and she snarled in distaste and loathing.

“There is still a difference between us, though,” she said and she leaned in closer to the man despite the smell of piss and sweat, “you failed in your attempts to keep me from the magic.  You should have tried harder.  You should have done more, but you never completely gave yourself to the project like I gave myself to magic.  You never committed to your bullying like I am committed to your death.”

With a small, deft, flick of her wrist, she freed the fire from her hand.  It hit the man squarely in the chest and spread quickly from there.  His screams of pain didn’t last very long and were easily drowned out by righteous laughter.

Moments later nothing remained but a smoking corpse, contorted from the torturous lashes and intense heat of the fire spell.  A lingering hint of laughter disappeared with the tendrils of smoke as she had already walked the corridors of magic to return to her private room at the school.  She had a class to teach in a few minutes, and students eager to learn about the importance of valuing the differences in others.  It was too late for her generation but there was still hope for the future.

Dream a Little Dream of – My Apartment

I hear a rustling in the living room. I shove the panic away as I open amd close my eyes. The light is blinding. Through it, I’m surprised to see my sister, sitting in the rocker, and my mom in my recliner. The chaos that is my apartment is in order. I ask what is happening and they respond that they are worried about me. I laugh as I realize that this is a dream, then become angry. I warn that they better not be here when I wake.

The light is still blinding. I’m agitated as I once again make way to the living room. They are gone. I want a snack. I make my way to the kitchen and I see a button that says “Push”, so I do. A panel opens and I hear music and am mortified that I can’t turn down the sound. My dad ambles in with a smile on his face and I want to pass out He flips a switch to silence the movie and I realize that this is another dream, because dad has been gone for seven years. I try to cover up by saying that I didn’t know my kitchen had a tele. He says that my.next door neighbor is angry. Dad pushes the button. The tele retracts and he walks away.

I have to use the bathroom. I see the yellow and black caution tape. I peer and don’t see my chalk outline and I breathe a bit easier. My maintenance guys are working. I ask why now and they respond that I didn’t give permission to enter while I was gone, so they had to enter while I was here. The time didn’t matter. I ask them to please hurry, because I have to pee.

When I wake up, I still have to pee and am annoyed that the tape is gone. I am more than shocked to see what is in the tub – or who. This person has not had a bath in I can’t even guess when. In an effort to prove that this isn’t real, I thrust my foot in the tub. The person disappears and I rejoice; however, my conscious mind is in high panic mode. I start to cry. I return to my bedroom.

No longer surprised, I determine that this isn’t my bedroom. I panic until I see my dad. He tells me to join him in the family room. I pass through his walk in closet and see spit shined shoes, formal suits and hockey sweaters. I trip over one of the shoes. As he straightens his collar, I ask where he is going. He replies that it is just the two of us. I scrutinize my clothes and he assures me that I’m fine. He offers me a drink. I accept but I don’t drink it. The 72 inch tele plays in the background but I don’t notice.

My conscious mind takes hold. I wonder if I’m ever going to leave this dream cycle. I wonder if I’m dead and this is what happens next. I feel guilty as my mom and sister will have to identify my body and untangle the chaos that was my life. I hope that my final resting place will be with my dad. Even if I don’t drink or watch the Tele, this will be quite tolerable. I relax.

My eyes snap.open. I’m in my apartment. I have to pee.

Whatever it will be…

The Matticus Kingdom

Whatever it will be...

You must write every single day of your life...

...You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.

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