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A Time to Mourn and a Time to Dance

24 Mar
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Illustration by Melanie Delon

 

Hello everyone! Today I’m sharing Part 1 of a short story series called A Time to Mourn and a Time to Dance. I hope you enjoy it.

A Time to Mourn and a Time to Dance

by Vashti Quiroz-Vega

 

Who falls in love with a ghost?

 

I recall the first time I laid eyes on Abigail. She wasn’t attractive in my eyes. Her skin was pallid like an ivory mist. Her limp, pale hair reflected merely a glint of sun. Her lips were thin and ill-defined, but when she looked my way with her heavy-lidded green eyes, she captured me. I couldn’t look away. I should have looked away.

 

I had a task to do–so I watched. She had a sweet way about her that lured me into her world. Was it possible to take part in her world? I observed her. She did caring things for those around her and had a generous heart. Oddly, she never seemed to expect anything in return. She was kind to animals and nature. She enjoyed singing, although she wasn’t very good at staying in tune. I spent hours, days, and then weeks observing her–trying to find something that would make my errand easier. I could not. What was it about this creature that held me captive?

 

Abigail was good, but also an odd and clumsy creature. I lost count of how many times I had to swiftly cover my mouth, fearing that my laughter would betray my presence. Once, she picked up a tarantula spider. It appeared to prance happily in place on her palm. She gazed at it wide-eyed and giggled with glee. Then she dropped it. The spider shattered when it hit the ground. She wailed for hours.

 

Another time she witnessed a small boy feeding bread to a swan. She ran to them and picked up a piece of bread lying by the boy’s feet. She attempted to feed the swan at the same time the boy did, but instead she clumsily struck the swan’s beak, making it irate. She gasped as the angry bird took the boy’s arm in its beak and pounded the small arm with one of its massive wings. Abigail screamed for help and managed to pull the boy away, but not before the swan had broken his arm. The boy ran away to his parents, red-faced and howling, his arm dangling by his side. She dropped to the ground and created a puddle with her guilt and sorrow. She did not eat for days. That’s when I finally approached her.

 

“Why do you starve yourself?” I asked. She jumped and stared at me. “Do you wish to die?”

 

“No, I wish to live,” she responded, her eyes wide and pale lips trembling. “I hurt a small boy and deserve to suffer.”

 

“You did no such thing. The bird hurt the boy, but his arm is healing well. He plays happily as we speak, regardless of the cast he wears. You have no need to go on tormenting yourself.”

 

“How do you know this?” She looked at me askance.

 

Thinking quickly I responded, “I was told about what had happened to the boy, and I just saw him minutes before I ran into you.”

 

She stared at me, brows crumbled and eyes squinted, and then she smiled faintly. “I’m glad to know this, thank you. My name is Abigail.”

 

“Then you must nourish yourself, Abigail.”

 

I looked around. A red fruit hanging from a nearby tree caught my eye. I picked it and handed it to her. She extended her hand slowly and took it. She bit into it, repeatedly holding the ripened, sweet fruit with both hands. She devoured it in no time. As she swallowed the last morsel, I wiped a bit of dribble off her chin. She smiled and her cheeks turned the color of an orchid rose.

 

I laughed. “My name is Azrael,” I told her. I’m not sure why. I reveal my name to few.

 

“It’s nice to meet you, Azrael. Would you like to walk with me?” she asked with a large grin on her face. I nodded. “Oh, good! This forest is quite beautiful. I enjoy hiking here. The smells, the sounds–fascinate me!” I smiled and we began our stroll.

 

“This beautiful place can also be quite dangerous. Doesn’t that scare you?”

 

“No,” she said, her face as innocent and pure as a daisy.

 

We continued walking. She stopped to smell wildflowers, drink water from a small waterfall that emptied into a noisy river, to point at birds she recognized and insects. I thought today would be the day, but torrents of crystalline water gushed, white fluffy clouds whipped across intense cerulean skies, daffodils vibrant as stars quivered and danced. It was much too lively a day for death to intrude.

 

“I must leave now.”

 

“So soon, Azrael?” She sighed heavily and her body slumped.

 

“The sun will set soon. Perhaps you should go home before it becomes dark and you can’t find your way back.”

 

She nodded with a frown. “Goodbye. It was very nice exploring the forest with you. Thank you for a lovely time,” she said as she departed.

 

I rushed in the opposite direction. When I was sure to be far enough away, I crumbled to the ground.

 

“Why? Why must I end the life of such a creature?” I cried to the heavens. “There is no malice in her. She is a lamb!” I felt a deep burning ache in my chest. Large drops fell from my eyes. I touched my cheek and looked with amazement at my wet fingers. A voice in my head reassured me that my task had good purpose. I rose from the ground and left the forest. 

 

Copyright © 2014 by Vashti Quiroz-Vega. All rights reserved.

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Illustration by AStoKo

 

Be sure to read part 2 and the finale of A Time To Mourn And A Time To Dance

PART 2

PART 3 – FINALE