***Warning: Mature Content***
Eadwyn cradled her week-old infant in her arms. She wrapped herself around the child, trying to hide both into the moldy fabric of the crumbling couch. The abandoned cabin was a terrible place to bring a baby, but she had little choice. It kept her hidden from Pastor Greaves and his inbred cousins. The remote location had seemed safe.
Then THEY appeared.
She could hear them climbing across the walls and atop the roof, looking for a way in. Their wood and stone feet clattered across the corrugated tin patchwork that plugged holes in the wood. Their claws scraped across the windows as they peered in. They pushed and pulled at everything, testing the feeble structure. Eadwyn knew they would break in soon, and then her flight from horrors would be over.
She’d learned long ago not to fight back. It only made the bruises larger, the gashes deeper. The Pastor had taught her that. Avoiding the inevitable lash simply meant more lashing, and more blood. As the wood of the door began to creak and give, she squeezed her eyes tight, praying the creatures killed quickly.
The door burst apart in a shower of splinters. The thump of their feet echoed on the rotting floorboards. She murmured quietly, begging for the pain to be brief. The thumps drew closer. She braced herself, covering her baby, hoping her body would distract them from the tiny life. She shivered, waiting for the end.
And she waited.
Did they leave? Slowly she turned her head and peered through slitted eyes.
It was there, a creature of found things. Its limbs were bundles of sticks tied together with dried cordage. Living vines served as muscles. Its skin was a patchwork of living leaves, moss, bark, and feathers. Eyes formed by chips of turquoise gazed from a head assembled from pebbles and roots. Two eagle feathers, aligned like a moth’s antennae, fluttered at the top of its head. She gazed at the centauroid. Its four legs shifted rhythmically while a humanoid torso grew from its front. “Makahili,” it said. “Why did you abandon us?”
The word itself triggered Eadwyn’s memories to burst forth. Her parents died when she was eight. Pastor Greaves and wife took her in, but they were no family to her. She became a servant for the stern-faced couple. She lived on table scraps and slept on a rotting mattress in the cellar. Desperately lonely, she created little toy creatures, a new Family, out of moss and twigs. She gave them names and history and culture. She created a language for them. As the years passed, the creatures became more real in her mind.
In the silence of the evenings, she heard the skittering steps of her ersatz Family awakening.
At age twelve, the Pastor’s interest in Eadwyn changed horribly. She fought him at first, but that only aroused his passion. She bled for days the first time. Weeks later, his cackling, bible-thumping wife joined him. Each time they finished with her, they forced her to pray to wipe clean her sin of seduction. She fought back often, but the Pastor’s lash was unerring, the broken bones crippling. It became easier to disconnect herself, disappear from everything. This defense saved her mind, but shattered her bond with her Family of moss and wood. At thirteen she believed she’d given away the fantasies of youth for the nightmares of reality. The skitters of The Family disappeared.
Years passed like the death of leaves. “That wicked girl,” endured constant punishment. For her nightly sins of temptation, a day never passed without purple and yellow bruises roiling like plague across her skin. At age 15, she gave birth to a son. She heard the whisperings from the floorboards above as her child suckled. Her boy was sin incarnate and must be dealt with, they said. Eadwyn had learned to survive much, caring nothing for herself. Her son was another matter.
The creature reached out a hand of stick and vine, offering to lift her up. “We missed you when we first came here, Makahili. You give us color again.”
Her sleeping soul awakened, and she remembered the warmth of The Family. Her infant child grinned at the bright, crystal eyes of the creature. Eadwyn took the hand and stood up. The former child’s toy towered above her. “I don’t remember what Makahali means,” she admitted in a cracked voice.
“It means, ‘mother,'” it said and embraced her. “You’re safe now. Welcome home.”
Each week at the Grammar Ghoul, it’s time to meet a writing challenge. This week, the word to be used is, “Wicked.” The media prompt is a song. “Spectrum” by Florence and the Machine. The song includes the lyric, “When we first came here, We were cold and we were clear. With no colors in our skin.” Look here for more stories based upon the prompts: http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-5/