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Where the stars fall
A woman and her magic.
The night Esmerelda wrote her tale, it was a summer evening with a cloudless sky. A thousands of stars winked down upon her as she sat at her desk, a blue feather quill in her hand, its tip damp with the purple berry ink she used for scribing spells. The swift mountain breeze that normally sang through the trees had fallen silent, leaving stillness instead of rustling branches, and the croak of frogs instead of the whisper of the willows in the creek nearby. Fireflies danced around her hand, illuminating the parchment on the desk almost as well as the lamp that her trembling fingers had failed to light.
She didn't choose that night because it was extraordinary, though it was. She didn't choose it because she was dying, though she was. And she didn't choose it simply because it was summertime, even though that was most appropriate of all. It was more a matter of convenience than anything else. Who knows when she would have time again? The sands in her hourglass were draining, spiraling out of reach. Death called to her, beckoned to her old bones, whispering about peace and tranquility and never feeling pain again. There was a time when she would've balked at such a thing, but the years weighed heavily on her, and the chance to rest would be welcomed.
It had been a long time since she'd walked without needles in her feet, or her body groaning upon awakening in the morning. She often used a heavy cane to walk farther than a few feet, and considered it a small miracle she could stroll across her tiny cottage unassisted. Even lowering herself to her cherrywood desk brought a tense sigh to her lips. There were antidotes, of course - she often made them for other people - but they contained magic, and it wouldn't work on her. She could access the magic, but never use it for herself. That had been the agreement, and now because of it, her time was almost through.
The pen scratched the parchment as she wrote. Not speedily, like she once did - those days were long past, buried in the books and lessons she'd worked through to bring herself here. Once, her quill was quick to write, and her heart quick to anger. But that, too, had been lost to time. Now she felt slow, in step and in feeling, and others often chided her for her seemingly calloused nature. But time had taught her well, and though they saw an old woman, who thought too much and said too little, she still saw herself as a warrior. A healer. A friend. Keeping away the nightmares, armed with ink and paper and spells.
What they didn't know wouldn't hurt them. If it did, they would show up at her doorstep, and then they'd know better.
The pen laid down reluctantly as the fireflies danced farther away. Her hands began trembling almost immediately, now that their job was through. She grimaced as she rubbed them back and forth. The pains that shot through her fingers and wrists weren't new, and she would carry it to the grave, most likely. All the more reason to tell her tale while she was still able, instead of allowing it to fall silent in death. The people needed to know how she became what she was. Or rather, for the first time in her life, she wanted to tell them. Warn them, so that if they followed in her footsteps, and craved something beyond what life awarded so freely, at least they would know the cost.
People often didn't think of costs. She certainly didn't, when she signed her name in blood. Forging a bond to last the rest of her life, tying the links between her world and the magical realm. Opening the door that would allow peace and healing to flood others' lives, and closing it to herself forever.
Yes, she had paid her dues. In arthritic hands and aching hips and a quavering voice, she had paid a hundred times over. There were still times when she missed her younger self - her veil of luxurious black hair, the jewels that decorated her arms, a perfume that smelled like money. But that girl was desperate and lustful, and craved more than she deserved. When her heart shattered into a thousand pieces, she would have given anything to put it back together again.
And so, she did.
She lost her beauty. The money, the jewels. People who used to be friends brushed by her like strangers. They carried on with their lives as if she'd never existed, and now they, too, were old or in the grave. Some had come crawling to her for remedies, and for a few coins, she gave it to them. There was no flare of recognition, no smiles, no greetings of peace. They were not there to rekindle a lost relationship or reclaim a loved one. No, they were desperate, and like every other visitor to Esmerelda's door, they needed a remedy. The circumstances varied - this one trying to escape a tumultuous marriage, this one claiming she has no future, that one saying he's better off dead. But they all sought her out, every last one, because they know.
There is only one place where the stars fall, and that is at Esmerelda's door.
Hello, dear reader! It’s still Wednesday (not by much, but hey, it’s better than last week!) so I’m calling this one a minor success.
Cheers to all the little successes in our lives! They may seem a little frustrating sometimes, especially when they don’t match up with our own expectations, but don’t forget to celebrate them when they happen. This week, for me, it’s still Wednesday when I post this. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough for tonight.
I hope this finds you well, and may the rest of your week be easy like Sunday morning.
See you next time!
(Photo by 100files, Pexels)