where awkward private thoughts become public knowledge.

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Hard came the rains; rumbling thunder overhead shook the house.

The glass in the windows shook menacingly and threatened to shatter and scatter onto the dark floor.

Clouds colored dusky gray blocked out the once visible scattering of stars. Not even the moon, powered by sunlight, could shine through.

As the storm continued the roof sagged under the weight of the water and then shook violently. Creak, shake, creak, shake.

Hours passed with the house swaying in the storm; attacked on all fronts by an invisible enemy. A surprise attack on an unfortified structure.

But then more hours passed, and the thunder gave way to grumpy rumblings. The rain became lazy and slow. The dark clouds were pinpointed with glimpses of a shining night sky; you could just make out the outline and faint glow of the moon.

The storm subsided, finally, and the house stood proudly in triumph. Windows can be replaced, the roof built stronger.


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The euphoria faded steadily into exhaustion and she was forced to fall to her knees. Her bare legs didn’t feel the hard garden stones, just a place to lay in rest. She tipped her head back to the sunny sky and took a deep breath; it was more luck than skill that had kept her breathing at all.

She closed her eyes. The garden was silent except for the usual buzzing of insects and gentle rustling of leaves in the breeze. “I’m safe now,” she thought, “at least for the next few minutes.” Reveling at her breath and sense of security was making her dizzy.

She allowed herself a few peaceful moments and then opened her eyes. Her right hand picked up her sword as she slowly stood up. She surveyed the damage. Most of the stone was red and slick; a head here, an arm there. There were holes like polka dots in the privet hedge, and someone had set half of them on fire. Stepping carefully around the carnage she started moving down the path toward the gate.

“I need to find a way to get home,” she muttered. Exiting the gate, she saw no choice but to start walking until she found what she needed.

Several miles up the road she saw a familiar figure leaning casually against an oak tree. He was hard not to notice, several feet taller than a normal man and wearing a bright red coat. She savored the way he looked, long black hair, glittering green eyes, and even the ridiculous coat. It felt good to see a familiar face after coming so close to death. As she approached she saw his face widen in shock. “Pari,” he stammered. “You’re?…What?…You?…So much blood!”

She smiled. “It’s not mine. At least I don’t think it is. I think I would have noticed a mortal wound by now.” Looking down at what had been her favorite dress, she noted the blood and flesh stuck to her and the tips of her hair turned blonde to red. Other than surface cuts on her bare feet, she seemed unharmed. She wasn’t entirely sure how that was possible.

“Pari you look terrifying! Covered in blood and-you’re sure you’re okay? I wasn’t sure I was in the right place, you know, and I was standing here wondering if I’d seen it wrong and come you down the road, sword in hand, looking like a hellion! We’ve got to do something about your appearance, I won’t be able to stand it much longer. Give me a minute.”

At once he snapped his fingers and disappeared. Pari was unphased; it had been his only means of transportation for a hundred years. As convenient as it was, she was sure Audrick continued to do it simply to show off.

In less than a minute he reappeared soundlessly and displayed a simple green dress, a chestnut coat and a pair of brown boots. “I’ll just give you a few minutes -if you’re sure you can stay out of trouble?”

She laughed and said, “I promise,” and he disappeared once more.

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The End of June

For the first day in a week, she looked at the sky and saw the storm was clearing. The horizon, though peppered with small dark clouds, leaked sunshine and blue skies. The ground was still wet and muddy. She picked her way carefully from the front door to the end of the driveway. She looked up and frowned at the clouds still in the sky; it should be stormy or not. The audacity of the indecisive weather!

But the rays of the sun and blue patches kept catching her eye as she worried over the dark clouds. After a moment she caught herself looking at the golden blue chunks. They slowly grew as she watched. She was amazed by the gentle creeping of the clean sky; the way it mixed into the dark like paint mixes, slowly lightening and transforming the canvas into something else altogether. She sat on the fence and tilted her head back as far as it would go, transfixed by the metamorphosis of the storm into something precious. After a while she forgot the clouds were there and let the sun beams warm her pale skin.

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Killing It.

“Well, well well. These are not the circumstances in which I wanted us to meet again, Philip my friend.” Her tone was steady and serious, but had a hint of amusement. “It’s not often that I’m caught by surprise.”

She snapped and pointed at the table. One of her men set a long, black case on the table; Philip had a good guess of what was inside. He had been on the other end of this situation and was well aware of the trouble he was in. But for now she still wore a smile to match high black heeled boots clicking across the floor. Swishing her long jacket and long hair to the side, she sat down across from him.

They stared at each other for a moment. “So,” she started, “is there anything you’d like to say to me?”

Philip shook his head.

“Should I even waste my time trying to figure out what the fuck happened with you?”

He shook his head again and looked down at the table. Blood ran down his face and formed pools on the knotted wood.

She turned to look at her men, and laughed. “This is kind of a one sided conversation! What on Earth have you done to poor Philip here? I told you to make a point, not scar him for life.”

She turned back around. “Philip, here’s the deal. I need to know what was in the case you threw off the bridge. I have a hunch…” All amusement drained from her face. Her voice was icy. “I have a hunch what was in that case did not, in fact, belong to you. I think you know that I know that it was a very important and expensive thing that you chucked off of the fucking bridge.”

Philip still looked down. More droplets, the pools should have been bigger. The wood was soaking up the blood, like a vampire. Like the fucking vampire that was sitting in front of him. He didn’t trust himself to meet her eyes.

She sighed as he said, timidly, “It wasn’t mine. It’s long gone. I threw it off-”

“I KNOW you threw it off the bridge. I KNOW it wasn’t yours. What I want to know is why.”

He slowly looked up to meet her eyes, blood running faster down his cheeks. Tapping her nails on the case on the table, he saw her eyes narrow. He knew she was losing patience. She looked like an angry pixie. How could someone so delicate be so monstrous?

“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” he choked out. Philip was relieved when she laughed but immediately tensed again when he saw her motion for her gun. He had always liked that Tussey custom .45; the ivory handles and flower engraving were delicate, but the sucker had power. It fit her perfectly. It fit in her hand perfectly. She released the safety and laid it on the table, pointing at him, finger tapping the handle.

There was an uncomfortable silence as they stared at each other.