Death Warmed Over

Outside is covered in snow and tomorrow is promising to be a rather isolated Valentine’s Day. I’ve seen a few short Valentine’s Day stories floating around, and so I thought I would write one, too. I wanted it to be a little different, however, and I remembered a picture I once saw of a girl with her arms wrapped around a skeleton…so I thought, why not write a story where death falls in love? I’m sure it’s been done before, but once the idea came to me, I had the story written down in a matter of minutes. I hope you enjoy, and Happy (quirky) Valentine’s Day to you all!

Death Warmed Over

a short Valentine’s Day story

 death443Falling in love was inconvenient at the best of times. Falling in love with the living was even more inconvenient than that. For one, people were just so…alive.  For another, they were never very happy to see him, although he couldn’t understand why. When you wore an itchy woolen coat to a fancy dinner and someone offered to take it, you didn’t pull it closer and beg them to let you keep it. you gave it up, and gladly; because it was binding and uncomfortable and you were glad to be rid of it.

At least that was how he imagined it felt. He had never personally worn an itchy coat, woolen or otherwise. He was distracted from his own thoughts by the sound of a laugh. Not just any laugh, either, but her laugh. There were four things he knew about Cora Cutting:

1. She was the most beautiful creature alive,

2. She could eat an entire jar of dill pickles in one sitting,

3. She had a depressingly long list of things she wanted to accomplish before she died, and

4. She did not seem to be going to die anytime soon.

He often wished he could think of a fifth thing to add to the list, because five was a more complete number than four, but he never could. Imagination wasn’t his department, not at all. A lot of people said he was creative, but really all he was, was efficient. He had never quite been able to see how those two attributes related to one another.

Cora Cutting ran around the gorse bush, a vision of black hair and pale skin and lips as red as blood. She was practically cadaverous, and she was breathtaking.

Well.

He was sure that had he any breath to take, she would have been the one to do it.

Wait. She was not laughing. She was doing that other thing, the thing people tended to do whenever he showed up. Cora Cutting was crying.

No, not crying exactly; it sounded more like hiccuping now, and he remembered that the trick to ridding someone of the hiccups was to frighten them out of their wits – but did that mean they had to have wits in the first place? What if they were witless? Cora Cutting had wits. Maybe he should-

“What is wrong with me?”

He nearly lived of shock for a quick moment, until it became clear she was asking her surroundings in general and not him specifically.

Still, he said, “Nothing at all.”

“This makes the third year,” she said, the wind tossing her hair around her shoulders. “The third year without a valentine.”

“Oh, that’s awful,” he said with as much genuine feeling as he could.

“Not even a card,” she said.

He crept closer, if floating noiselessly could properly be called creeping.

“I mean…” she threw up her arms in violent exasperation. “It doesn’t have to be much. A phone call, or – an e-card. Just anything.”

Anything.

ANYTHING?

Was this his chance? It was! She wanted it!

“Nobody loves me,” said Cora Cutting, with a resigned sniff. “Nobody ever will, not that way. I’ll just have to live with it.”

“No! No, you won’t!” said Death resolutely, and leaning forward, he kissed Cora Cutting on her blood-red lips. As the warmth seeped from her bones and she became solid and real in his arms, he said, “You’ll never have to live with anything ever agian. Happy Valentine’s Day, Cora Cutting. I’m so happy to meet you.”

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incoherence

When I say I’m a hopeless romantic, I don’t mean that my idea of a perfect day is one spent curled up on the couch watching period movies and crying over Mr. Darcy (although sometimes it is). It doesn’t mean I sit in my room staring out the window wishing (although I do that plenty, too). For me, the ever-loving poptimist, it means seeing more than what meets the eye. It’s a lot like faith. The substance of things hoped for. The evidence of things unseen. It’s hard to describe what it’s like being inside my head; you can never judge what’s going on between the walls of my skull from the expression on my face, because it never matches (unless I’m bored, in which case “just shoot me” is a fairly good word-picture). People frequently ask me “Are you okay? You look sad” or “Are you mad at me? You’re frowning” and my response is usually a startled “No…?” I tend to forget where I am, who I’m with, and what’s going on around me because I get distracted by seeing beyond what’s actually there. The sound of car honking in the distance sends my mind on an urban adventure, one with lots of colorful maps and a backpack and strangers I’ll never meet and places I’ll never see. A flash of color – it might be a flower, or a candy wrapper – brings faeries to life;a shadow on the wall is a ghost or a phantom lurking outside the window asking to be let in. The blinking of an airplane in the night sky is a shooting star, and it works just as well for wish-making. Each city light is a new world of possibilities. A woman walking down the street with a scarf and a mocha from Starbucks has her own story, and I wonder if she’s in love with anyone, or if she goes home at night to a big, lonely apartment, or whether she’s ever lost someone close to her. Is that person happy? Are they sad? Have they been through something we can’t even imagine? A couple holding hands, a brief glimpse inside the open door of a bookstore or a coffee shop, someone sitting on the street corner playing badly on a cheap musical instrument, the way the clouds are brushed in that very particular way across the sky – sometimes it’s almost overwhelming, and the only thing to do is take a deep breath and drink it all in and mull over it later, and watch it come out in strange, odd, wondrous forms when I write. I’m the most forgetful person I know. I forget what I had for breakfast, what I wore yesterday, an argument I had, something I was supposed to do, but I never forget strange, meaningless details  that are only meaningless until they spring to life somewhere between a word and another word. That flash of faerie-color might become its own story. The woman with her mocha might become a character. That strain of music I heard is a feeling which might become an entire theme from which I base a book. Some of the things I notice will never make it to the page. They’ll stay forever locked up inside my chest, like a box of colorful photos I can pull out and look over on rainy days, if I’m not too busy taking more pictures (which I usually am). But I know they’ll always be there. This ramble probably doesn’t make sense, and that may be because it’s four in the morning and I can’t sleep. In trying to clear my mind up for you I’ve probably only muddled yours, but you might come away with a sense of the sort of hopeless romantic I am. Everything is a story. You’re a story. Everyone you see is a story, and stories should never be judged by the covers they wear.

The Proposal Scene

I wrote this especially for the beautiful Hannah Nicole Martin on Christmas. She is a lover of Eristor/Sienna, and she had been asking for a romantic scene. So, with that in mind, I went all out and wrote the scene where Eristor proposes to Sienna. You may remember a few weeks ago, in my Nostalgia post, I mentioned I was writing about them and it brought back so many memories I was overwhelmed. This is what I was talking about.

shy_violet_by_pepperdarcy-d4ezv83

(fanart by PepperDarcy)

Sienna leaned over the edge of the fountain and studied her reflection in the clear water. The face that gazed thoughtfully back at her had changed over the last two years. Had it only been two? So much had happened, enough for a lifetime. More than enough.

            She lifted a finger and tapped the surface of the water, sending ripples away that splashed against the side. This had all used to be an adventure – many adventures, really, tucked inside one another. When had adventures become life? She could hardly remember New York anymore; the days and nights she spent at school, at parties, watching TV in her room and pounding on the wall to get Alec to turn his music down.

            “You okay?”

            She looked over her shoulder. Alec was watching her, smiling but concerned. His right hand rested on the sword belted around his waist, his tunic loose, hair down to the nape of his neck. It contrasted starkly with the imagine in Sienna’s mind of the New York Alec, the fifteen-year-old boy whose goal in life was to annoy the sense out of her at every possible turn. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

            “Okay,” he said cheerfully, turning to walk away.

            “Alec?”

            “Yeah?”

            She motioned for him to come over. He walked forward and as soon as he was close enough, Sienna wrapped her arms around him in a fierce hug. “I love you.”

            “Whoa,” he said, surprised even though he did not pull away. “You sure you’re okay? I mean, I love you too, but—”

            She laughed and wiped her eye with the back of her hand. “I’m fine. Now you can go.”

            He gave her a long look before nodding and striding out of the garden. Sienna’s reflection met her eyes again and her lips turned up in an attempted smile.

            “Why did you lie to your brother like that?”

            Sienna sighed and splashed her hand through her reflection again. “What do you want, Eristor?”

            He walked forward, leaned his hands on the side of the fountain. “You’ve been morose for the past few days now.”

            “He’s the cheerful one,” she said in her defense, pointing in the direction Alec had gone. “I have a right to be ‘morose’ now and then.”

            He turned his head and pierced her with his frigid blue eyes, made even more startling by the black lashes and eyebrows that framed them. “I was not questioning your rights. I was wondering why you felt that way.”

            Silence captured her tongue for a moment. “I…just…” She studied her hands, and carefully lifted her eyes to Eristor’s face again. He was still watching her, waiting patiently. “It’s like everything waited until now to really hit me. I wasn’t born in this, you know? Not like you were.” Something wet dripped from her face and she realized she was crying. “I mean, you were a prince, for pity’s sake. I was just a high school student who cared more about prom and nail polish than – we didn’t even have battles! You know? Not where I came from. And I thought I was dealing all right with it – I wasn’t even thinking about it until today, and—”

            Her voice was broken by tears and she covered her face with her hands. Stop crying, Sienna!

            A hand, long-fingered and calloused, was set on her shoulder. Eristor did not say anything, and Sienna was grateful for the silence and companionship. After a minute or two she regained her composure, though she was certain her face was red and blotchy from crying.

            “Sorry,” she sniffed. He shrugged. Sienna glanced over and realized his hand was still on her shoulder.

            “Sienna,” he said.

            She swung her feet. “Yeah?”

            He let out a deep, quiet sigh. “You are…brave.”

            Startled, she turned her head to stare at him. “Are you okay?”

            He gave her a scathing look. It melted quickly off his face, leaving behind something a little bit gentle and a little bit determined. “When I was your age, I wasted my time. Horses, fighting, women.” He shook his head, causing a strand of blue-black hair to fall from behind his ear. “You are doing far better than I was.”

            Flustered butterflies clustered in Sienna’s stomach. It was impossible to imagine Eristor; the quiet, responsible, caustic elf, running wild. He probably considered that his youth, she realized, even though he was still young for an elf-kind. “Thank – thank you,” she faltered. She smoothed the pale lavender skirt of her dress across her knees. “I don’t know, though. I wasted a lot of my time back on ear – Awartha.”

            “Whatever you did, Amar prepared you well.” He straightened a little and turned his gaze once more upon her. She fought against the desire to look away from those eyes that seemed to peel away her skin and bone and find what lived behind. “He saw the gold there.”

            The gold there. The words, so unexpected and kind, made her heart skip a single beat. It continued to pound for a short moment and then stopped completely when, in a low voice so quiet that she almost did not hear it, he added, “And so do I.”

            She opened her mouth to say something, but her mind washed free of any words and she could only breathe as Eristor stood up and turned to face her. He was lowering himself onto one knee.

            “Sienna…” He took a deep breath, his eyes boring into the side of the fountain. He brought them back to her face, and this time she could not have looked away even if she wanted to. They had changed, from a stark, pale blue to the color of the ocean meeting a sunset horizon. “You are courageous and beautiful.” Tears filled her eyes. “Your faith has kept me strong more than once. You have disproved my doubts and given me hope when there was only despair.” She covered her mouth and even the fountain behind her faded into silence at the sound of his voice. “You gave me back my heart, and—” his voice was faint, but steady “—if you will accept it, I would give it back to you.”

            He opened his hand. A ring of delicate silver vines lay in his palm. “Would you, Sienna Elizabeth Hunter, consent to stay by my side forever, and marry me?”

            There are no words that exist in this world or any other to describe how she felt in that moment. It was as if the angers and fears of the past were put out of sight, and she could see nothing but Eristor and feel nothing but what she knew, and had known for so long, was love. She gathered a deep breath. “Yes,” she choked – then again, “Yes, I will marry you.”

            A smile lit his face and as he slid the ring onto her finger, she laughed because there was nothing else she could possibly have done. He smoothed his thumb over the top of her hand and, gently, pressed his lips to it before rising to his feet.

            Sienna stood up on the edge of the fountain and threw her arms around him, pressing her face into his neck and breathing him in. And they stood there, in the violet twilight, until Eristor lifted her into his arms and carried her inside.