Short Story | ‘The Twelfth Day’ by Sonya Watson, Illustration by Jessica Wilson
I hid behind a rock as the eyes of my brothers scanned the frozen park for my battered body. The moon had set three times, sleep came but I chased it away and my wings had been plucked so as to ground me for a period of thirty one days. It was love that forced me to the earthly plane the humans called Toronto. Although my body was numb, my heart sang as I thought of his lips pressed against my neck. Our love was the reason I was cast out of paradise for he was my charge and I was his guardian.
“Emeilia! You need to fix this.” Gabriel’s anger collided with the air causing his rage to reach the far end of the snow-covered park. “We don’t have time for this Emeilia. Our brothers are dying.”
The sound was deafening and his words fused fear with guilt. The reaper came for my family every day while I hid from my fate. “Was I a coward?” The sun was the mother of my brothers, the water bore my sisters and the earth birthed our enemies. My mother thought it wise to send me away to the Fire Keepers when the Earth Keepers attacked. When it came time to return me, they refused and brought war to the land I called home. The women were killed and the girls were taken. Life was siphoned from our bodies causing our skins to crack and our hearts to slow. Torture was an art Gabriel mastered under the instruction of his father. The pain forced the memories of my origin into the deep crevices of my mind. I was a puppet for I believed what I was told and heard no lies so my captors became my family until a light illuminated the deception. Fiction and fact muddled my beliefs for I loved my brothers, grieved the loss of my family and yearned for the touch of the human who had my heart.
“I’ll kill her!”
I peeled back the layers so as to expose my heart to the joy her love would bring as well as the crippling pain of her sadness. I called on misery when she was conceived for she was the product of forbidden love. I knew Gabriel would come for her but the pull of Bradley’s lips was far stronger than my sense of duty. So I did what I felt was right and now my daughter was gone.
“You’re a terrible mother. Aren’t you worried about her?”
She was dead. My past was darkened by misery, my present tarnished by hate and my future doubtful. My soul had been hollowed out by the man who swore no harm would come to me or my sisters. At that point in time, it was truth he spoke. The promise was shattered in a matter of seven days for his father had twisted his insides until the feelings in his heart were turned to ash.
“Fine. Have it your way?”
Despair, fury and disgust found me all at once when I heard the pieces of a hard object hit the ground. It was then I knew what needed to be done. Patience grew weary as I waited for the keepers to disappear under the cover of darkness. Relief came soon afterward when I no longer saw the keepers’ lights or sensed their presence. The packed ice cooled my bare battered feet as curiosity pulled me towards reality and fear pushed me away. I choked back my sadness with rage. My child was three months old and I had failed her as a mother for I had allowed the monster shrouded in darkness to get her. Although I had the love of her father, it could never be enough. I had experienced what our love had created and to have it taken away filled me with vengeance. My body faded as I allowed my love to find Bradley in a tunnel beneath Queen Station. I wrapped my arms around his large muscular back and without warning my sadness attacked my body, crippling my legs. He looked at me with his large aquamarine eyes and my core was emptied of all hatred but my concern for the future lingered.
“It will be okay,” Bradley caressed my cheek then his fingers ran the course of my bottom lip.
“She’s dead.” I had so many tears and so little time to cry them for a battle needed to be waged. Gabriel had been a tyrant for more than seven years and the effects of his rule could be felt as far as the human world. A keeper’s duty was to be the voice of reason and nothing more but Gabriel had taken it one step further. The charges under his care were pawns in a game of his choice. The Earth Keepers thrived on the chaos they caused when they whispered words of self-destruction into the ears of tarnished souls. Although the Earth Keepers lacked any sense of morality, in their eyes Gabriel had crossed a line.
“Don’t worry. He’ll pay.” He pulled my head to his chest.
The sound of his heart beat in unison with my breath and a clam feeling washed over me allowing for the memories of the past to come flooding back. Fragments of my soul had been carved out leaving only a sliver. “I’m sorry.”
“No,” Bradley pushed me away and hurried to the other side of the tracks.
“I can’t lose you too,” I walked slowly towards him with my hands extended out in front of me.
“Please. Let me help.” Bradley’s bottom lip shook as the wells in his eyes overflowed.
“I love you.” I moved towards him as the light in my soul beamed and coloured the cold damp tunnel a pale orange hue. I touched his fair skin then ran my hand through his straight dark brown hair and a surge of electricity flowed from his lips into mine which warmed my very essence.
“Please. I can’t lose you,” his voice shuddered.
His words made my heart ache so I ended it. As he fell, I caught him and lowered his body to the ground. I knew I could remove the memories but our love would leave an imprint that would remain until the day of his death. Time was left undisturbed as I watched him sleep. I said goodbye with a kiss then went on my way to do Death’s work so as to deliver both lands from the evil hands of Gabriel.
Illustration by: Jessica Wilson