Writing Challenge: The Exile
by Cooper Young
I’ve decided to do a couple of related stories for the next few months; seven stories, to be exact. I’ve already done these two. The other five may not be as directly connected, or even seem related at all. Regardless, they are.
Lemme ‘splain: I’ve been working on a story told as a novella -length series of poems. Point of view rotates between seven major characters. Thus, I need to explore and connect with these seven, good guys and bad guys both. The stories which have been and will be presented here are events which take place outside the story told in Edorathis, a series of delete scenes, as it were. I’m doing this mostly as an exercise for myself, but hopefully I’ll manage to tell an interesting story or two in the process.
So far, I’ve presented you with the stories of Queen Nazarel and her brother Etalz. Yet to come are the banished general Arcturus, Lady Musara, Rue the madwoman, and, of course, Veritane. All will somehow fit (or at least attempt to fit) Sonia G. Medeiros‘ monthly writing challenges. Why? Cause they’re awesome.
This month’s prompt is here.
Tonight, you meet Lilith.
“Someday,” he had said, years back, “someday you’ll find me gone and the barn locked. When you get that door open, the world will be different.”
He had said it with tears in his eyes—madness thick behind them—and never did tie between he and Lilith seem so strong as then. She understood his weariness, his desperation, his homesickness for the city, and his anger at what its rapid procession of kings had done to them. She wanted nothing more than for the world to be different.
As a child, she would sneak out of the cottage to the barn—not to play, but simply to be where the change would come. Every time she tried the door and found it give easily with a long sigh of rotting wood and musty hay, she knew that she was one day closer to the magic transformation. Would they go home to Edorathis? Would they go somewhere else entirely—anywhere else but that starving, barren, lonely homestead by the sickly lake? Would it all just fade away like a dream?
Lilith would lie there in the damp hay and dream that she was someone else’s dream. She would imagine that whoever they were, they were happy when they were not her.
Those dreams of youth were dead and buried the day she found the barn locked, but instantly they rattled in her head like the hasp in her hand. Her father had been gone a week; how had she never checked? She used to check every time he left.
At nine she had dreamed. At thirteen she had hoped. At ninteen, she had needed a shovel.
The key was somewhere in the house, but there was no time. She had waited ten years for this, and even though she knew now that it was insane to think that the solution to all her adolescent desperation had spontaneously manifested in her father’s barn she threw her shoulder against the thin-planked door with all force of hope. Rusted screws burst from their wormholes, and that familiar sigh of air lapped around her.
She gagged. It was different this time; it stunk of horror and rot the way the streets of Edorathis had the night they fled. Without looking inside, she knew exactly what had changed and realized that she should have known what he meant all along.
In the rage and disillusionment that accompanied the long look she finally risked, she knew that he had been right. The world—her world—now stood still on its axis: dreamless, changeless, futureless. She had forgotten her hopes until a moment ago; why did it hurt so to see them miscarried?
Tearless, she went back to the cottage for a knife. Someone had to cut him down from the rafters.