This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
This story is written with great thanksgiving for all the paths that have not been taken, all the desires hoped for that were not received, and all the times that things could have gone tragically wrong but did not happen to do so.
She lit her candles with great reverence and trepidation, bringing forth into existence pinpricks of light to send the shadows skittering into the far corners of her room. The light scurried to make a dent in the overwhelming dark, but all it could ultimately manage was a portal for vision into darkened things. Trina knew what was at stake, but her longing far outweighed the consequences. After all, what was the point of going on in her existence as it had been, without him? She had spent the first couple of decades of her life without him, without the man that could set forth a blaze in her like no other, a man who could make her come undone by the mere whisper of his name through the corridors of her sickened mind and now blackened heart. She had spent years not even knowing he truly existed only to be catapulted into an awareness and then knowing of him without ever being able to bring to fruition the love that she felt. He’d already found another lover by the time they’d met, a soft slip of a woman, an elf-like creature. And, Trina had spent the last nine years watching that relationship weave itself tighter and tighter so that no room for anyone else existed between the two of them. Trina had tried her womanly wiles. She had done her best to entice physically, seduce mentally and emotionally, and had at long last succumbed to using her more ethereal talents to try to shake loose the bonds that tied her romantic interest to another partner. But, the bond they had for one another could not be shaken. There was nothing in this life that could force the man she had designs on away from his bride. But, fortunately there were measures to be tried after Death had held its sway. Death brought with it the end of all ties and was without malice the great equalizer. It brought to a screeching halt all that had been built, just as screeching tires on wet pavement brought his life to a halt on the back of his treasured motorcycle. He had loved in his time. He had loved things other than her, and Trina would not be denied now, not this time, not now that Death had done her such a great service. What had been set forth in life no longer applied after the funerary rites were completed. The widow had wept and prayed and buried her spouse. She had shoved away what once was her other half and as the days passed, slowly and inexorably, the tenuous bond withered until it was practically no more. He had gone so cold in the ground that he was beyond a stone, and this was all happening as his widow had started to grow warm again with the first flush of new life. Winter was morphing into springtime, and as the dead materials became mulch for new life, it was a time of transition. Beings have to die for others to live. And sometimes, if one is very fortunate, if one knows the right paths, the best words, the correct herbs, and the appropriate timing, life can become a source of sustenance for the dead. Trina knew all this and more. So much had been passed down through her maternal line from generation to generation, and she was the most recent keeper of secrets. But, who would hold them after her?... There was no one left. The candles were lit, the herbs were placed, the timing was right… all she had to do was speak the best words. All there was left to do was summon her heart’s only desire back from beyond the grave so that he would love her as he had done no other before. His heart was opened now, cracked by the strain of Death and drained by the elements so that a vacancy waited to be filled or reformed. It was worth it, 2
worth all of it, worth any price to be paid that she could put on it. Trina spoke with a wavering voice at first, dropping herbs into the flames as she went along. The dewdrops of her candle light trembled in response, as the darkness encroached and almost snuffed them out. She spoke the echo of her words louder a second time, more force coming up from inside the bellows of her lungs. The air vibrated with her intentions as the flames sought a new and shadowed life, eclipsed without going out or losing their vigor. The room smelled fragrant from the smudging smoke, the blaze of heady musk. And from somewhere inside her, she saw the hallowed ground that was a little less than a mile away. It began to quake. It cracked and creaked and gave out a mighty groan. As Trina sighed, it sighed and then belched up a cloud of dust into the night sky. Her lungs breathed for the ground as the ground then started to breathe for her lungs, and then they both breathed for him. It was a unifying force in tandem that told her there was no going back. His lungs had been still for so long. Sinewy tissues had started to turn to putrefying liquid and then to dingy dust. Now they were being called back from an earth that didn’t want to give them nourishment. They were being brought forth and would demand repayment… but that was for another time, another moment, a different but all too waiting and ready instant. Trina spoke the echo of her words a third and final time, decreeing to all that were sensitive enough to hear, to all that could help and aid in her quest, her very firm intention as fingers started to unearth themselves. They grasped and pulled to reveal hands and arms. A firm torso landed flat upon the moistened earth with a heavy smack, and then finally shaking legs clambered up and out of the traumatized ground, as her unwilling beloved was torn from the dirt and his eternal sleep. His stone slab of an effigy was smashed to bits by a falling tree, uprooted by sudden high winds and forces unseen. The winds whipped around outside her small house as he slowly but surely made his way down vacant streets under the cover of night, moving without knowing where he was headed. He still had to get there all the same; he had to get to her. The rustling of the strong breezes bid her speak his name, and she did so with baited breath. “Russell,” she said and snuffed out the center candle in her room, leaving only a small circle of light to beckon and beg. Her heart ached with the weight of a love that had been restrained for years upon years. Trina could feel him moving along the streets and the sidewalks, his pace quickening as stiff muscles became more pliable and the hardened dirt that stuck to his tattered clothes loosened and finally fell away. He was newly born again and in need of something to sustain him. He had cravings and she could hardly wait to satisfy them and sacrifice herself under their heavy weight. It would be a wholly different and swiftly born burden. She closed her eyes knowing that soon she would be in the throes of everything she’d ever wanted. She whispered his name again, giving it all the air she had in her body, “Russell.” There were further preparations. She moved to put the herbs away and clear out the flame-lit area of her work space, her circle, her energy sphere. There would 3
be nothing between them and nothing around them… nothing more than the essences of light and dark and the call of eternity. “Russell.” A tingle played upon her spine as he turned a corner and began the brisk pace down her very own street. He was coming for her and there would be no stopping it. The skies split open then and let loose with a downpour the likes of which Trina had never seen. It was sudden and it was definitive, but even the force of the storm, the fury of Nature herself, could not hold him back. The rains could not wash away the filth of her unclean doings. There was the clap of feet along the pathway outside, the trudging up stairs, and finally the pounding of fists upon her heavy oak door that rippled out into the thunder of the midnight rage. Russell was at her door demanding entrance, seeking the circle of her eclipsed light without knowing why. He would insist on coming in and he would want answers. She wanted him inside but wasn’t sure she had answers to give. And, that was the part she’d never bothered to think of in her fevered twisting of fate. The sacrifice was a focal point and that was easy enough to come to terms with when desire had become so sharp it practically split her in half. But the minor detail of questions, that was something that had slipped through the splintered cracks of her psyche. “Trina!” Russell yelled through the storm, his voice the calling of a primal underworld chant. It was on his tongue that she heard the tongues of a thousand more that waited with rapt attention for her across the veil. He cried out a couple more times before she finally found the full courage of her convictions and threw the door back and open to greet her long dead but soon to be paramour, and the storm’s upset. Raindrops flew in her face and the gusts of wind beat down upon her as she saw his silhouette braced in the entryway. He had flung his arms out to either side of the frame to help hold himself upright, and his head was bent low in the onslaught. Long and muddy blonde tresses were left hanging, swirling down well past his shoulders. “Come in from the storm,” Trina instructed, as if it were all normal enough. And as though he were any other suitor, Russell entered her abode and quickly made his way to the hearth space, to the outer edge of the ring of candles. Trina sensed his hesitance and the uncertainty he held about stepping inside the ring of tiny flames. He may not have had any idea what was happening to him, but his reptilian brain was no worse for wear from a trip back from beyond the grave. Trina locked her door. She slid the latch and clicked the deadbolt into place. He wasn’t going anywhere from there, not that he seemed to want to. She made her way back into the main living room and the candle-guarded circle. Trina stepped well inside the ring and then turned around to see Russell, her hearts only desire, cautiously walking the outer edge. Other than the dirt and grass stains still on his clothes and slightly smeared across his face, he was perfect. He looked exactly as he had right before the accident claimed him, just before Death had opened the doorway for her. His tall, lean, and lanky frame was at the peak of physical condition. His long blonde hair that still hung limp and wet managed to glisten in the flaming glow. And his eyes, even in the heavy dark corners of her room, gleamed with that same shade of unusually bright
green that they’d held in life. The only difference now was that an occasional shadow could be seen flickering across the surface of his irises. Trina couldn’t help but admire and then appraise him. He was her treasure now, and hers alone. Standing there at the darkest corner of the room after all his considering, he wore the same tight-fitting jeans and black leather jacket he’d often rode his bike in. It was the same sort of outfit he’d also been buried in. He was the epitome of all she had ever wanted, and it was important to have him find value and worth in her. She had so longed for him to give her the approval that had been her soul’s only quest. And after what felt like forever, his eyes locked on her. Tombstone eyes that roamed up and down her substantial frame. Her body was so unlike the sleek and slender woman whom a single wave might have knocked over. Trina was hearty, strong, and supple. She was mostly muscle and almost as tall as Russell. There was no denying or protecting or relegating her. She was a woman apart, and it came to her attention too late that Russell could never be secure enough for that. But, the grave stripped away insecurities, and he looked at her now with a bewitched and well-summoned longing. “What’s happening?” he eventually spoke to her in that even tone that had been so signature of him in life. Trina swallowed a large lump and bit back the beginnings of torrential tears that sought to reveal her ecstasy. “I couldn’t let you go,” she said with a faltering voice. “I tried, believe me, I tried hard… but I just couldn’t let the elements claim you before I’d done so.” She wondered if that could be answer enough. Russell came in a little closer to the circle. “What are you saying? What’s happened? Where’s Anna?” And that was when Trina realized that her working hadn’t given to him the awareness that he was dead, long dead. He only remembered, or seemed to remember, as much as what led up to that moment, nothing beyond it. Her prized night of passionate reclamation was off to a bumpy start. It wasn’t supposed to manifest in this manner. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Anna. He remembered his wife. Did he also feel the same love for her that he had kept well kindled in his heart all the years Trina had watched from the outside, watched without ever really being noticed by him? “Russell,” Trina began and approached the very edge of the circle from the safety of her side, “Russell, I know how insane this is going to sound, but it’s the truth. You’re dead. You’ve been dead for several months. The motorcycle accident…” But, Trina found she couldn’t go on. He had drawn back and away from her, retreating into an inky black corner and then slumping down into silence. She could sense that he did know, somewhere inside him all of the forbidden knowledge lurked. Her words were merely drawing it to the surface, perhaps unwillingly. After several moments, he spoke to her again. “Where’s Anna?” Trina let go of a heavy sigh. “Why does it matter? Russell, I brought you back from the dead. I pulled you from the ground she placed you under.” Her words and her jealousy hung between them, right over a single flame that was all set to ignite into a fiery geyser, if it went unchecked. 5
“How?” he pressed and came in so close to that single flickering flame that it nearly caught his damp hair on fire. As it was, Trina could smell a smoldering. They were but a single and unnatural breath apart. “It’s complex… and it’s secret,” she said, leaning into the pull that was spiraling around them, between them. Her energetic work was not in vain and the ears that heard hadn’t abandoned her efforts or the tantalizing offer of reward, payments due. Trina stared into those green orbs until she was lost in them, until the sinewy strength of her form and his felt one another across the shrinking void. “I could never say this before, no matter how much I wanted to. I could never have you before no matter how hard I tried to make you see me, take an interest in me. But, you are all that matters to me in this world and the next. I’d move the heavens and earth just to be with you, rending the veil between life and Death, too… and it doesn’t matter how, only why. I did it all because I love you more than anything and anyone. I love you even though I shouldn’t. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do, and nothing I’m not capable of doing for you. You are why, Russell. You. It’s always been you.” For such a long time the only sounds that came to either of them were the thunder claps and the slaps of large raindrops hitting an already saturated ground outside. Eventually, Trina grew weary of standing there, waiting for Russell to decide what he would do next, and she withdrew just enough to sit down on the floor inside her fiery haven. “I’m still dead?” Russell asked so softly that she barely heard the question. “Yes, I suppose technically you are… but you’re alive, too, at least in every biological sense of the word and for the time being.” “The time being? You mean it isn’t going to last?” Russell approached her out of concern and came in so close that his fingertips breached the barrier of light. “You and I have right now and that’s what anyone and everyone else has ever had —the length of one lifetime. I mean, does life ever last forever in only one guise?” she posed a more than fair question. “I guess not,” he acknowledged and sat down just on the border of the circle. “Can you at least tell me what’s become of Anna?” There was a note of caution in the way he asked, revealing that he didn’t want to upset Trina. But, something a little more than curiosity had ahold of him. Trina reached out a hand and covered the back of his own, bridging the gap that still existed from them sitting on opposite sides of the sphere. “Anna… Anna has done what is natural and best for her to do. She’s moved on with her life.” Russell interlocked his fingers with Trina’s. “She’s found someone?” “Or someone found her. Either way, she’s living with some guy. I don’t really know him. I’ve seen him around here and there, so I’d guess that we travel in reasonably similar circles.” “Is she happy?” He just couldn’t stop the inquiries. Trina shifted her body so that it straddled the border of the ring, the edge of light and dark. And, she delighted and tormented herself in the internal seesaw effect. “She seems to be… what more can I tell you?... Russell, the life you knew, the
life you had, it’s gone. All there is now is this. There can be so much between us tonight. There can be that whole lifetime’s worth.” As the only option upon the brink of another Death, Trina assumed it was enticing. It had to be alluring enough. “How? How can I feel all you are telling me?...” Russell trembled with the cold as his rain soaked clothes were starting to dry. “Come inside the circle,” Trina whispered, as she leaned in close enough to allow her lips to brush against the lobe of his ear. “It’s warm and inviting and can hold so many fulfillments.” Russell’s grass green eyes met hers with a look of longing. “You did all this for me,” he said more like a statement than a question. “You brought me back because you love me.” “I do,” Trina affirmed. “With all my heart.” Russell crawled on all fours to the inside of the flaming ring, the energy sphere. He was instantly bathed in a luxuriating candle glow and sought the reassuring touch of her hands. Trina gently stroked the side of his face with a tenderness that practically dissolved them both on the spot. The cataclysmic wave of emotions that burst forth from her was enough to alter the time and the tides, at least as far as the inside of the circle was concerned. She and Russell were awash with a gratitude and desire that rivaled any paradoxically living love. She brushed the limp strands of his hair back from his face so that he couldn’t hide any portion of himself. Trina felt him give into the sway and take her in his arms. He let her see him for all he might have been in a life lived differently, and for all he was and wasn’t now that Death still had a slippery hold. “I did notice you,” he suddenly spoke into her ear. Trina drew back slightly from his increasingly tighter embrace. “What?” “All those times you thought I didn’t, or that I tried to make you think I didn’t, I did. I noticed you. It’s just that there was someone else, there was Anna, and she made me feel safe.” Trina wound her arms about his neck and kissed the side of his face with adoring abandon. “You’re safe with me. We are safe right here for now.” “You made me feel naked. Under your eyes, I felt too seen. You knew too much about me, and I thought anyone who knew that much certainly couldn’t love me.” Russell completed the terrible track of thought his proverbial train was on. Trina kissed him. “You were wrong.” And Trina knew then in the depths of her blackened heart, a heart that had been demented in wanting to twist fate, that she was right. She was right on all counts. It was worth it, worth any price she could put on it. He had come back from the grave not only because she had wanted him to, because she had called out to unclean ears to make it so, but also because he had wanted to. There had been a portion of his soul that had actually belonged to her, a fraction of his heart in its natural lifetime that had gone unfilled, and it was time to right the wrong. Trina let the small amount of guilt she’d carried over her ethereal working dissipate into nothingness, until all that remained inside the circle was Russell and herself. They both became bare, entirely naked under each other’s hungry and mildly faltering gaze. It was in this state and in that hour, moment, and eternity that 7
they belonged to the night and to each other and to the vows that had been spoken to make it so. And as dawn broke upon the horizon, as inevitability crept in on the summoning of hedonistic love that had held an unalterable lifetime’s worth, the rays of sunlight found remnants of candlewax, smoke upon the stagnant air of the hearth space, a pile of dust and bone bits, and Trina’s still warm corpse.
© Copyright 2013, Jennifer Adele. All rights reserved.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.