Day 10 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Make the reader believe an evil character is good, and change their mind with the last few words.
Erin: Marrying a chef was undoubtedly one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. When we were first dating that didn’t cross my mind. He was just a kind, funny and inspiring human being. That was all I thought I needed, but once I got a taste of what someone taking care of me felt like I was hooked. His food was like a mother’s hug and he never failed to have the table sprawled in warmth when I arrived home.
On special occasions like our anniversary he would decorate the dining room like he had that night. He knew how to get me and nothing turned me on quite like the smell of caramelized onions or simmering garlic. Our breath was an afterthought when my stomach was full. “Welcome home,” he placed chicken nuggets on the table.
That’s how I knew he loved me. I knew he had every reason to be too good for my favorite food, but he cooked it anyway. He was too good for a lot of what I brought to the table, but he never alluded to that fact once. “Ugh, I can’t say I love you enough,” I hugged him and reached around him to steal a nugget while he drew me in tight.
I bit into the ecstasy and couldn’t tell where my pleasure from his touch and the food separated. He spiced it up. My throat was taken off guard, “what’s the new ingredient.
“I added peanuts to the breading,” he hugged me even tighter.
“I’m allergic,” I tried to open my increasingly closing throat.
That caused his grip to loosen, “Darling,” he took a step back and placed his hands on my shoulders, “I know.”
Shannon: “So close this time, but again you’re too late, and you suck again. Guess you’ll have to try again next year,” Dean shrugged before slamming the door in my face.
“Why do you always sabotage my chance? Why do you hate me,” I yelled, finally letting go of the anger I had built up against him for holding me back for so many years. I was ready to move on to the next level but as long as he was on the testing committee I wasn’t going anywhere.
“Sabotage your chance,” he mocked me with a laugh as he opened the door. “In what way have I done that,” he questioned in his usual snake-like tone.
I clenched my jaw, and shook my head. Where to begin, “I don’t know, maybe when you gave me different directions than everyone else to lead me off track. Then there was the time you drugged my meal with a hallucinatory pill, getting me disqualified. Oh wait, or how about when you gave me a clue in a language spoken by an isolated island population. A form communication that wasn’t widely documented until after competition. You gave me that clue on purpose. It was your choice,” I wanted him to own up to it.
His mouth curled. “Why don’t you give up if you are so sure I’m out to get you?”
“Because than you win,” I felt my voice crack. “Than you’ll have succeeded in breaking me.” I held my tears back so I could remind him, “But I won’t ever let you.”
He nodded his head slowly, staring at me with more fear and emotion than he’d ever shown before. “I know,” he breathed out, “And I admire you for your determination.” He put his hand out in the first peaceful gesture he’d offered since I met him. I was reluctant, but eventually gave in and shook his hand. He moved in closer to pat my back at the same time. “You don’t want to win,” he whispered almost inaudibly, so the cameras couldn’t pick up on what he was saying. He spoke out loud again as he leaned back to avoid causing suspicion. “I’ll never forgive myself if you ever make it past that door,” he smirked for the viewers, but the look in his eyes told a different story.
Evil or good is subjective most of the time. Not today… make it black and then white.
Wandering through the street full of bright and fragrant tents and stands my senses were assaulted by a cornucopia of exotic food, alluring textiles, enthralling performers and delightful knickknacks. In search of an amazing healer, I had nothing to go on other than the word of a half-mad baker who swore by his hands. I stopped, pulling back my hood slightly, before a brilliant green tent full of soft silk fabrics. Along the side was a shelf piled with embroidered and plain bolts of every colour of cloth you could imagine. Tentatively, remembering a phrase about a textile tent having the answers, I took a step out of the blazing sun and into the surprisingly cool stand.
My overwhelmed senses were greeted with a reprieve from the smells and sounds of the market as I stood in the comfortable tent. Above my head, fabric was draped to cut through the dazzling sunlight, turning it a kaleidoscope of fantastic colours as it hit the grassy floor. There was an excited, magickal feeling to the space to go along with the mystic quality the cloth seemed to possess.
As I was admiring a delicate bolt of emerald silk struck through with shimmering silver a kind figure made its presence known behind me. Decked in a long, gold-embroidered coat stood a slight, gaunt woman. Her lips were taunt and unyielding as she spoke, “He’s not here. Down by the church; apart from the others,” turning she disappeared back through the curtains of the tent and I was left alone with her words dripping in the frigid air.
When I eventually stepped back into the marketplace the heat hit me like a brick; hot and humid. Catching my breath a bit I straightened the cozy hood of my jacket and dropped my head. Slowly I began to wander down the path, weaving between the innumerable tents, towards the church a few blocks away. People hollered from everywhere about everything from bread and apples to walking sticks and teacups as the masses milled around.
I was within sight of the church when I spotted his hobbled tent; a dirty grey cover with an ancient bench and threadbare rug on the stoop. Though it was barely eight stalls away it took a good half-hour to get through the din of Saturday market shoppers. When I arrived and read the hand-carved inscription hanging limply above the door I considered bursting in; ignoring his request for shoes to be removed. But even if I didn’t believe in this holy crap someone did.
Deliberately I placed my sneakers under the little stool and took in a breath of warm, sweet-scented air before stepping through the drapes and into the unknown. What I’d expected to be a dank hovel turned out to be a luxuriously, spacious and well-decorated room. A man sat on a stool with his back turned to a large frilled pillow and eight rows of pews. Scattered around the room sat an odd group of strays; a mother clutching her baby, an old man with a walker and various others.
Glancing around the room I sauntered to the unoccupied back row and took a seat quietly. Though I didn’t know what we were waiting for no one spoke or made any sound at all. It gave me time to study my surroundings, though. The high tent was draped in light cloth designed to let in as much pale sunlight as possible, while the floor was a dark hardwood that was solid underfoot. The pews were cold, perfect steel that shone in the light.
After half an hour or so of quiet breathing the man, who I’d decided was actually a statue of a man, turned around, casting his golden eyes around at the sparse crowd. His suit, black as night and the finest available was bulkier than you’d expect, even from a brawny young man. Standing up silently he took a step toward the woman with the baby, who gasped and almost fell out of her seat. Eight more thoughtful steps brought him within arm’s length of the woman, who held the child out to him emphatically, and he took the babe in his arms.
Walking resolutely back to the stool he motioned for the woman to follow. She nearly tripped running to the cushion before him. After a few moments of him staring into the child’s eyes he whispered to the woman, who nodded stiffly, before holding the baby above his head. He decried in a thunderous voice, “This babe, loved by his family, has been ill for months with a cough. No physician can cure him. But I can.” On cue the bundle began wailing before devolving into a pitiful coughing fit.
Lowering the baby to his eyes it ceased its noise and the man smiled, “For this miracle I need your belief that it can be done. I am but I conduit through which the astounding power to heal flows through.” Calmly he held the baby to his chest and breathed in deeply, obviously concentrating hard. Around me the group was humming quietly to themselves with their eyes closed; like they were in a trance.
After a few minutes of that he held out the baby, like a rotten fish, to its mother. She took it gratefully, thanking him as he turned his back on the room. Everyone the woman passed as she darted by had a wildly jealous expression. I felt happy that her child wasn’t coughing but, as a non-believer, I could only hope the kid spontaneously got better.
It was another half hour before the next “patient” was seen to; an old woman, obviously blind, whose three daughters had accompanied her. When the man motioned for only one to follow there was a short squabble over who would be in his direct presence. The tallest girl pushed the other two aside and strode forward confidently. Kneeling on the pillow she whispered to the man hurriedly, smiling the whole time.
“This woman’s blindness cannot be cured by science. I need your belief to perform this miracle.” Lifting his hands to her eyes he gently held her as the room mumbled and prayed. He dropped his hands suddenly, tapping the old woman’s shoulders, and she opened her eyes. Where they had been milky with sightlessness they were a brilliant jade. Tears ran down her cheeks as she looked at her daughters.
They didn’t say another word as the jovially left the tent. But instead of turning around the man stood again, smiling slyly at the room, “I cannot perform any more miracles today. Come back tomorrow.” With that he vanished behind the curtain. Everyone began to march grievously from the chamber except a young woman in the first row.
As soon as the last person had disappeared through the curtains she got up and sat beside me. “You needed a miracle,” she stated. I nodded solemnly anyway. Looking me in the eye she spoke the truth I didn’t want to hear, “He doesn’t need the belief or the thanks to perform the miracles. He can do them all on his own. He just likes to see us beg.” She was gone before I could say a word.
“So…so, you could bring Oria back?” The father pleaded. I spied shell of his wife sitting at the dinner table behind him, dry tears limped down her numb ashen cheeks. The father bawled. “I’d do anything! Please name your price!” I pitied him, I really did.
I shook my head, my traveler’s leather shirt baggy and loose. “I do not need payment. Just simply your gratitude and a favour.” I tugged on the pendent that hung around my neck. “It’s a great opportunity to push the limits my fine skills.”
“Oh, thank you!” He eagerly nudged his wife’s shoulder. “He’s going to bring Oria back. We can get our girl back!” He held her tightly as she hugged back. “I can have you back.” For the first time during my visit, I could see his wife’s blank expression flake away at the seams. An ordinary response to the promise of miracles that I can indeed deliver.
I gestured to the sunny day outside. “Can you show me where she is buried?”
The man stammered. “Yes. Yes, right away.” He hurriedly slipped his sandals on. “I’ll grab a shovel and show you.” He was already out of the house and towards the shed.
I stepped out, the cool summer breeze and kiss of the sun greeted me. I admired the small farm of cabbages and sour roots all rowed up in front of the house. It was all very pleasing to the intellectual eye. I see the father nearly tripping to a stop in front of me. “This way.” He motioned me to follow.
We walked for awhile. Past a growing oak and up a ridge over looking flowering oceans of Rayion’s fields. The father’s enthusiasm had died down to a more manageable level. I decided to speak up. “If it troubles you, I can reawaken her on my own.” I glanced at the brown picket fence in the distance. “To save you and your wife the misery.”
“I want to be there when my daughter returns.” He smiled. “I want her to know that I’m sorry and that I won’t let anyone hurt her again.”
I nod. “Fair enough.”
We walked into the cemetery, the sun still burning bright. Not many graves were filled here. Perhaps a generation but that’s it. I surveyed the graveyard with a professional eye that only experience could gift me in my old age.
He began to carefully shovel away at the freshly packed dirt of a shallow pit, careful to not hurt his precious girl. Eventually he had moved away enough dirt for me to lift Oria up with my arms and carefully set her on her back atop a bolder. The body had not yet decomposed was in prime condition. I am grateful that I had arrived as soon as I did.
He stepped beside me. “H-how long will it take?” he asked.
“Not too long. Hold out your palm facedown.” I watched as he did so in absolute trust of me. “As a favour, I must ask of you give some of your blood for the ritual to work.” I pull out my utility blade and lay it flat in my own palm. “Are you absolutely sure?”
His eyes widened in horror at the blade presented. I continued. “Either I can do it or you.” I paused, and then added. “Which ever your most comfortable with you.”
He gulped. “You. I’d rather you do this part.” He stared at the knife in dreadful anticipation.
“Very well then.” I hold blade with the confidence of a surgeon. “This will only sting for but a moment.” I turned the fathers hand over gently, quickly slashing a small shallow cut along the center of the hand. He screamed. “It’s alright. This for Oria.” I comforted him. “Now, giveth life as you once did before.”
He nodded and turned his palm facedown, hot blood dripped onto the chest where the heart would be. I started incanting, citing the rites of rebirth in the tongue of giants. As the last damning syllable was spoken, the little girl jolted up to a start. “Oria!” The father cried in joy embracing the child. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” He muffled as my newly acquired corpse bit down on the neck of the man with an unnatural strength. He coughed as blood spilt across the tender soft earth.
(I love yours Erin! That was really scary to read the last bit. …This one feels like it will be hard for me… What character to use…? …Eh, going with Bryce.)
Created to Write: Heather and Kate were so excited for their first day in the middle school. It was smaller than the elementary school, but that was because there were less grades present. The two holds hands as they walk to the doors. They step in, surrounded by other students.
“Hi,” a boy to their right greets. The girls look at him. “My name is Bryce,” he says. He is taller than a few other kids here, but he introduces himself as in their grade. “Here, let me walk you to your lockers,” he insists. The girls follow him.
Heather can’t help but admire him as he weaves his way through the halls. He has reddish hair cut in a clean line above the nape of his neck. He’s tall, yes, but not too much. She remembers his eyes are gray, and show an excitement. ‘Maybe he’s excited for this year too?’ She wonders.
“So, Bryce, how do you know where the lockers are?” Kate asks.
Bryce turns around and smiles at them, “I was here last year. Got held back.”
The girls put there stuff away, then are escorted to their first classes. “He’s cute,” Heather says as she sits down.
“I guess,” Kate says, smirking.
Heather looks at her friend, “What does that mean?”
Kate gives her the ‘you’re crushing’ look. Heather shakes her head, scoffing.
Heather and Kate are done with class and Bryce is already at the door, just like the last ones. He brings them to lunch, talking about the different activities available, if either of them plan on playing sports or drama. He comments and listens very intentionally. After the last few classes, he insists he walk them home.
“No, we take the bus. But thank you for your help, Bryce,” Kate says. She takes Heather’s arm and they go to Heather’s home to hang out.
The first week had been relatively easy for Heather. She was sometimes escorted by Bryce. Some other girls gave her dirty looks, but she didn’t think anything about them. Bryce was always kind to her, and he was really sweet about how she struggled in school.
At her locker, she puts her books away. The last pre-test made her want to thump her head on the desk. But she finished to the best of her ability. “Trouble in paradise?”
Heather looks up. There’s a guy from her last class, Adim she remembers, looking at her. She sighs. “School stinks.”
“I hear that,” he chuckles.
“Hey!” Bryce calls down the hall. He stomps up to Adim and shoves him against the lockers.
“Bryce!” Heather yells.
“You don’t talk to my girl, got it?” Bryce threatens. Adim stares at him with fear.
“You are new, so here’s the deal,” Bryce says, leaning closer. Heather notices a few teachers are watching, not doing anything to stop him. “You talk to her, I will kill you, got it?”
Adim nods and Bryce lets him go. Adim looks at Heather for a brief second then takes off down the hall.
“Bryce, what was that about?” She asks. Kate is almost to Heather.
Bryce looks at her, “You don’t talk to any other guys, okay?”
“Why not? You don’t own me,” Heather says.
“You talk to him, or anyone, I will kill them, okay!” Bryce yells for everyone to hear. The teachers look on, but no one does anything.
(Morbid, yes, but I needed to write the scene they meet. And no, Heather doesn’t let him push her around. But no one talks to her or Kate after this, unless for class projects. But they have each other at least.)