Posted by: victanguera | August 13, 2009

Exercise #44

“Mother, was that the same minister that kissed me by the brook?” I stared at the dark-haired man that had towered over the stall beside us. He’d smiled at my mother, although it looked more like a crooked, twisted grimace than something meant to convey pleasure. He’d stretched out his hand to touch my head, snapped it back, grimaced again and spun on his heel before disappearing in the crowd without saying a word.

“Hold thy peace, dear little Pearl.” Leaning down, she placed her lips close to her ear when she spoke. Her breath blew at my hair, tickling at me. “We must not always talk in the market-place of what happens to us in the forest.”

Round-eyed, I nodded at her. I wouldn’t speak of what happened in the woods. Not because she told me to remain silent, but because terror held my tongue in its firm grip.

Reaching up, I gripped my mother’s hand, clinging to her moist palm. She trembled, and I squeezed, trying to reassure her. Watching flames erupt from my tiny fingers, engulfing trees in a raging conflagration frightened her, too.

That dark man, his kiss dry against my fragile cheek, was the only thing that stopped the village from burning to the ground. Flames died as his lips brushed my flesh. I didn’t understand it. I didn’t know if he’d prevented the raging fire. But even as I watched him disappear into the crowd, I clung to my mother, not wanting to know.

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