Welcome to the Random Wednesday Blog's Promptly Penned segment. If you've never been here before, it's where Bronwyn and Jessica toss out a prompt and we have to come up with a story around it. This month the prompt is: "Her/His life changed when s/he learned the monsters were protecting her/him."
Here is my contribution:
Sebastian sat on the porch of his grandmother’s home and stared into the woods. He’d spent every summer with her as far back as he could remember. As soon as school let out, his parents would drop him off with his gran and they’d go. He really didn’t care where, since he loved his gran and loved her home even more. Or, not just her home, but the forest that surrounded it. As a child, he’d spent hours running and playing and exploring. He hadn’t thought it odd, that at six she’d let him go into the woods. She never worried for him. She knew, and he knew, nothing would ever hurt him there. Though he couldn’t remember why or even what he’d spent all that time doing.
The wind pushed clouds across the sky, causing shadows to race and frolic across the ground. Shadows. The first time he’d been aware of the shadows he’d been maybe twelve. Could be they’d always been there, but he just hadn’t seen or noticed. Didn’t matter since the shadows had saved his life. He’d ran across the street to head home and a car had come out of nowhere. At least, that’s what the neighbor had said. All Sebastian remembered was glimpsing the car and ending up in his own front yard. He hadn’t been hurt. He hadn’t remembered moving, but, somehow, he’d gotten out of the street without a scratch.
The neighbor had termed it a miracle, but the police had put it down to liquor since Mr. Webster was known to drink in the afternoon. Didn’t matter though since Sebastian had walked away unharmed. He’d seen them again off and on. And, anytime he had seen them, he knew he was protected.
The last time he’d seen the shadows he hadn’t come out unscathed, but he wasn’t dead. He should have been dead. No doubt about it. His unit had taken heavy enemy fire and he’d run out to grab one of his guys and drag him to safety. There’d been some kind of explosion and he knew he was in the kill zone. Instead, a shadow had come from nowhere and deflected part of the blast.
He’d still been injured. Injured enough that a medical discharge was forced on him, but he wasn’t dead and neither was the guy he’d gone to save. So, now he sat and stared at the woods. Hell, he wasn’t sure how many days his vigil had gone on. All he knew was he waited. He supposed he’d been waiting since he was twelve, since his life had changed when he’d learned that monsters were protecting him. Monsters. Yeah, that’s what he’d called the shadows as a child. He hadn’t been afraid, though, not of the woods and not of the monsters.
As the sun, sunk below the horizon, he ran his hands over his face. Fuck, maybe he was losing his mind. Every evening he planned to leave the next day, but when morning came he found himself sitting on the porch…waiting. He couldn’t keep this up. He had to go back and try to pick up his life. What there was of it anyway. He had job interviews lined up and he needed to find an apartment. He would leave in the morning.
He stood to go into the house and found he wasn’t alone. A young girl sat curled up on the porch swing watching him. Long, heavy dark hair with high sharp cheekbones, and luminous blue eyes—he knew her.
“Rhiannon,” he said, his voice low and harsh from disuse.
She smiled and his heart gave an odd kick.
“Sebastian, you remembered.”
He sank back into his chair and stared at her. “How could I not? We practically spent every summer together.”
She nodded. “Yes, until you no longer came.”
“My parents forced me to go to boarding school. They decided that staying with my grandmother all summer wasn’t healthy for me.”
“I missed you. I waited, but you ever came.”
And he was too. Rhiannon had been his best friend. They’d run through the woods together exploring. How had he forgotten her? And why did she look the same? Exactly the same.
“Are you real?” he forced himself to ask.
She cocked her head and held a hand out. “Come, take my hand and sit next to me.”
Not hesitating, he went to her and grasped her small, soft hand in his much larger one. Warm. She was warm and real. And smelled of flowers and growing things. He sank onto the swing next to her, but still held her hand. Her hand felt right in his. He twined their fingers together and studied her. She wasn’t a young girl, no matter her outward appearance. The knowledge settled around him.
“The shadows. Are they from you?”
“The Far Dorocha are mine. You were grievously injured.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t die. I should have died.”
She pressed her fingers to his lips. “Never say that. We made promises to one another. I promised to keep you safe.”
“And I promised to always be your friend. No, not your friend. I promised to always love you.”
The longer they sat together the more Sebastian remembered their summers. Even as a young boy, he’d loved her. They were halves of a whole. That’s right, that’s what his gran had said when he spoke to her of Rhiannon. Halves of a whole.
“And, do you?” she asked, softly. “Love me? Or, could you love me?”
Leaning forward, he pressed his lips gently to her own. Soft and sweet, her lips were so soft and sweet.
“I think I could. Yes, I think so.”
Cupping his face in her hands, she rubbed her nose against his. “Then, will you stay here so we can learn about one another?”
“Yes,” he replied, as he planned on calling and cancelling his job interviews in the morning. Because, he wasn’t leaving this place and this woman again.
Go check out the pieces by Jessica, Bronwyn, Kris, and Siobhan.