Citrine’s Monsters | Chapter One: Quarrel

The foul wind slammed the door behind me. The hinges growled as if they would suddenly develop fingers, reach out, and eat me alive. Shaking off the looming six sense something bad was about to transpire, I spun around and drew up short, nearly dropping my basket of goods.

“Hansel,” reaching up I struggled with the knot of the scarf that concealed my vibrant hair. “You gave me a fright.”

“They warned me about you,” my lover, Hansel, confronted me as if some outwardly being had invaded his body and held it hostage. His bare arms trembled and his chocolate brown eyes were red rimmed. “They warned me about you,” his tone hollow as the repeated words buzzed in the suddenly thick air.

“What are you talking about?” I waved my hand in dismissal, more frustrated with the stubborn knot than what Hansel was agitated about.

“I was in the garden,” he went on.

A sudden flurry of alarm flittered through my heart like the panicked wings of a butterfly, stuck in a spiderweb. Save me. Words whispered through my mind. Save me. Blinking I straightened my shoulders, dropping the basket and hugging my middle. “I told you never to go into the garden…” I lifted my chin, reminding myself to stay calm and confident. He knows nothing. We can figure this out as long as I don’t lose my temper.

“I know!” his words bit the air as he snapped at me, a wave of anger passing over his face like a flash of lightening. “I found this.”  In his right hand he held up a three-foot-long black and white patterned snake skin. “What kind of dark creature has a skin like this? And this…” he held up a peacock blue feather, twice the size of my hand.

“What do a snake skin and a feather have to do with anything?” I cooed, taking a step towards him, holding up my hands in reassurance. “Don’t you think you’re overreacting? We live on the outskirts of the boundary line forest, wild beasts roam the meadows from time to time, which is why I told you not to go in my garden.”

“Don’t be coy with me,” he snapped. “Don’t beguile me with your words. I know what I saw in the garden, what are you hiding back there? Whatever it is, it’s not natural. The villagers warned me. You are too bright and snappy. There’s something odd and enchanting about you.” He pointed a shaking finger at my face as his face sneered. “You with your strange eyes and odd plants and herbs and potions…”

“Sometimes you see things you don’t understand. I’m sure it’s nothing,” I cocked my head at him, amused by his anger. He was frightened of a snake skin and feather. It did not add up.

“I know you’re hiding something,” he tossed the snake skin at my feet where it curled into a ball. He leaped backward as if he’d been stung, his tone rising. “I heard voices and saw eyes watching me, eyes like yours. There are strange beings in the garden and the more I think about it, the more I fear what you are doing. Don’t you know how the Changers and Monrages rose up? It started with something as simple and seemingly innocent as this. I think I’ve been blinded by love. I think I made a mistake.”

“Changers? Monrages?” I shouted, waving my arms, anger surging through me like a wave. Suddenly I had no remorse and the threads of control slipped away from me. “I resent that! You claim to love me and yet you go to my garden and get frightened because you saw a creature from the forest most likely eating my herbs! And you go to such a drastic measure to compare me to evil immortal beings? How dare you! Maybe you’re the one who isn’t trustworthy!”

Hansel dropped the blue feather, and it swooped back and forth, drifting to the patched floor of the cottage. Crossing his hands over his wide chest he frowned, his face growing stern. “Will you tell me the truth? Who are you? What have you done? I know what I saw. I went out there and I saw…I saw it shift and move. There were horns… tell me.”

I glared at him, fuming. I tapped one foot against the ground while fixing him with my wide eyes as I raised an eyebrow in defiance.

“I know what I saw,” Hansel resulted to blubbering and repeating himself. “Are you the reason? Tell me. Things are disappearing. Crops. Livestock. That child the other day? Tell me it’s not true. Tell me you have nothing to do with this.”

I have nothing to do with this. I wanted to repeat the words, to calm him down, but he’d stroked my anger. Instead I opened my mouth and out flowed the words I swore I’d never tell another living soul. As soon as I finished, I wished I’d never spoken. His face turned white, and he stumbled away, reaching for the wall to hold up his trembling body.

“Why have you never told me this before?”

“Because,” I shot back, “I thought you might react like this and I was right. I never should have told you.”

“You lied all this time. I thought we had something. I thought you loved me,” his face twisted with contempt, but it was his eyes, those deep chocolate brown eyes that made me feel as if I had ripped his heart out and boasted about it.

“We do have something,” I waved my arms as I tried to prove my point. “I love you, which is why I didn’t tell you, I knew you would not understand.” Love was not the emotion I felt in that moment, there was something deeper, some reason I would not relent.

“It isn’t natural,” his eyes narrowed as he hissed at me, and for a moment he seemed like a venomous serpent, ready to strike. “You aren’t natural. This must be reported.”

“Who are you going to report me too?” I crossed my arms, rolling my eyes as I mocked him. “Who are you to decide what is natural and what isn’t? You’re with me, remember!”

His hand came up and for a moment I thought he would strike me. All the same I stood unflinching.

“You are wicked,” his face contorted. He held up his hands as he backed away as if I were the snake who would strike him.

“Hansel,” I dropped my tone although I had no reason to apologize. “I thought we could talk through this, like adults.”

“You thought wrong,” he pointed a shaking finger at me as his back crashed into the door frame. His fingers fumbled for the door as he shook his dark head, his eyes glazing over in shame, fear and, perhaps, heartbreak. “I should have known. Someone as bright and snappy like you is too good to be true… I should have seen the signs, but I didn’t want to.”

“Where are you going?” I shouted as he slid out the front door. “We have to talk about this!”

“I need time. I need to think,” he shouted back and slammed the door.

Download the full version of Citrine’s Monster’s here. | Copyright 2018 Angela J. Ford

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