Uneasy Blossoms

This is a bit of back story about one of the characters in a book called The Balance (maybe) that I've been writing for a few years, it's nearly finished and I'd really love to get it published. This is about Phoebe before everything went a bit weird for her. She's only about nine years old. She's only known Kyran about a year and a half. Her father is away on a trading expidition in some weird country. Her mother is dying of TB and keeps having hallucinations. TB is highly contagious and was kn

Spring blossoms drifted gently from the trees as Eva glided towards the altar; fresh white lilies surrounded her and the warm sun shone in the azure blue of the cloudless sky. Family and friends stood and smiled at her as she strode towards her fiancé. He stood tall and proud, yet the slight tension in his shoulders betrayed his nervousness. He didn’t look back at her – though she knew that he wanted to. She stopped at his side, her feather-light, snowy dress floating around her ankles. He took her hand in his and squeezed gently.

            "I love you." He whispered, smiling.

            The priest spoke, "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today…"

            The service passed in a euphoric blur. At last the priest uttered the final words of the service. An almost overwhelming sense of elation filled her as she turned to her new husband, his sparkling golden topaz eyes looking into her warm brown ones.

            "I love you, Evangeline." He said again.

            "I love you too." She reached up to brush a lock of his golden hair back from his face and kissed him softly. She could see them growing old together, this scene happening countless times. She glanced down as the priest bound their hands in the way of her people and was suddenly horrified by what she saw. Crimson blood blossomed across her pristine white dress

 

             She coughed, pain engulfed her once again. She saw the blood that covered her white night-gown as the sweet unconsciousness was wrenched away from her. The storm still raged on outside her small, cold, stone cottage and her young daughter watched her from the side of her bed, wide-eyed and terrified by her mother’s fevered mutterings. Eva smiled weakly, trying to comfort her daughter. She knew she would be too young to understand what was happening. Her mother was dying … she understood that.

            "Go to bed, Phoebe. It’ll be alright." Eva wheezed frailly, patting her daughter’s hand. Phoebe nodded obediently and left her mother, and the room, in silence.

                                                *          *          *          *

The eerie stillness and quietness of the air was split by a chorus of blood-sputtering convulsions. The storm had raged for almost 13 hours and the small sea-side town of Kinslif was in the eye of it.Dawn was breaking but none could see the hope it brought for the new day. Evangeline slept feverishly, her thin wasted body drenched in icy sweat from her fitting. Phoebe knelt at her side again watching, waiting for her to awaken again.

            Evangeline opened one blood-shot eye and winced away from the garish light that streamed into their cottage. Her daughter rushed to pull the rag further over the crude hole in the wall – affectionately termed a window.

            She shifted uncomfortably in the bed. Her once beautiful chocolate-brown hair was plastered to her skull. Her skin held a deathly pallor where it had once been glowing and full of health and she’d lost far too much weight in the past few weeks. She wished death would take her quickly, if not to end her own pain but that of her daughter too. Eva could see the effect her illness was having on her daughter and it broke her heart. Eva knew it was only a matter of time before the consumption took Phoebe too. She was but a shadow of the bubbly girl that she’d once been. Her chestnut eye’s didn’t shine with life but seemed dark and dead. It was as if her lips had forgotten how to smile.

            Eva could feel the soft caress of unconsciousness at the edge of her mind. She didn’t try to stop it from taking over. It was, at first, an unnerving feeling – to be there but not to be at the same time – and the hallucinations and vision of her past were traumatic and chilling at times but warm and comforting at others but at least it was a release from her pain.

*          *          *          *

            Waves crashed against the warm white sand of the beach. The sun was shining brightly in the sky – another in a succession of warm summer days. Phoebe sat in the wet sand watching the sea. Kyran back-flipped up out of the water the tiny droplets forming tiny rainbows as they fell. The two of them had been friends for almost three years now. Kyran was eight, just like Phoebe. He was rarely seen inland, preferring to stay as close to the sea as possible. He spent most of his days swimming, so much so that his hair and clothes never seemed to be dry and his skin always glistened with moisture. Eva always thought that there was something other-worldly about him.

She sat with her husband as they watched the children play together. He smiled contentedly and put his arm around her waist. Eva rested her head against his shoulder and closed her eyes. She could hear Phoebe and Kyran splashing in the water. He’d been teaching her to swim and she loved it almost as much as he did. She’d spent nearly everyday since the start of spring down at the beach and most during the winter until the water had become too cold for her.

            The setting sun left a warm glow on the beach as it glistened over the sea. Phoebe and Kyran were sitting on the rocks some way out to sea but Eva wasn’t worried she knew that as long as Kyran was there, Phoebe would be perfectly safe. He would never let anything happen to her.

            Eva could feel herself slipping away: the soothing noise of the waves and the warmth of the sun were sending her to sleep.

            Crash…the waves hit the rocks…Crash…Phoebe and Kyran ran by giggling…Crash…the lightning whip-cracked and rolling thunder resounded through the room.

            Eva woke with a start. The lightning flashed through the inky black sky, the wind howled and the torrential rain pummelled the walls of their home. The ill-fitting door swung inward as the lock came undone but a silhouetted figure held it from crashing against the wall. The single candle that lit the room blew out again. Phoebe rushed to relight it as the door was pushed slowly shut gently. Kyran stepped into the flickering light holding an armful of lilies. He placed them on the table at the bottom of Eva’s bed, placed one in her hands and gave one to Phoebe.

            "You okay?" He asked her, whispering. Phoebe nodded and smiled weakly as he hugged her. "I’m always here for you, Phoebe, if you ever need someone, I’ll be there." He whispered in her ear. She began to sob quietly and buried her face in his dark rain-soaked hair.

            Eva smiled to herself. Yes, she thought, he’s the one for our daughter, Eric. If only you were here. She was so very proud of her daughter. She’d been so strong. She’d never let Eva see her cry, or anyone else for that matter. She hoped Eric would come home soon as she didn’t want Phoebe to be alone for too much longer. Another coughing fit shook her delicate body. Phoebe rushed to her side, whispering soothing words to her mother. When the fit subsided she held a cup of water to Eva’s lips.

            "Mother," she breathed "don’t leave me all alone." Her tear-streaked face watched her mother intently; the wisdom in her eyes betraying her short nine years. Kyran approached the bed warily.

            "Kyran, how are you? How’s your mother? I haven’t seen her in such a  very long while. Would you like a drink or something to eat?"

            "My mother’s fine, thank you, she sends her best and is sorry that she couldn’t come herself," he took the drink from Phoebe and thanked her. "And I’m fine too." He added. He glanced around nervously. Eva sighed.

            "I’ve let my hospitality slip of late, I apologise, my dear." She went to speak again but was abruptly cut off by another bout of coughing. Phoebe winced.

"They’re getting worse," Phoebe whispered to Kyran, She turned to her mother and said: "Mother, just rest, you need your strength."

"No, I won’t my darling, not any more…" Eva cupped her daughter’s cheek in her hand. "You’ve grown so beautiful. Get your looks from your father, you do. But your eyes," She paused smiling at memories of happier times. She looked at her daughter, eyes focused once more. "You get your eyes from me." She looked to Kyran who stood at her daughter’s side. "Look after her, Kyran."

She started coughing again. Phoebe frowned.

"Mother, please, rest." Phoebe’s voice was strained, close to breaking, but she held it together once more. Eva sighed and slipped away from them again.

*          *          *          *

Snow drifted gently from the clouds as Phoebe glided towards the altar; fresh white roses surrounded her. Family and friends stood and smiled at her as she strode towards her fiancé. He stood tall and proud, yet the slight tension in his shoulders betrayed his nervousness. He didn’t look back at her – though she knew that he wanted to. She stopped at his side, her feather-light, azure-blue dress floating around her ankles. He took her hand in his and squeezed gently.

            "I love you." He whispered, smiling.

            The priest spoke, "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today…"

            The service passed in a euphoric blur. At last the priest uttered the final words of the service. An almost overwhelming sense of elation filled her as she turned to her new husband, his sparkling deep blue eyes looking into her warm brown ones.

            "I love you, Phoebe." He said again.

            "I love you too." She reached up to brush a lock of his black hair back from his face and kissed him softly.

Eva watched them proudly. She’d always know that Kyran was prefect for their daughter. She looked up at the man by her side.

"Our little girl," she whispered. "She’s all grown up, Eric…"

Tears of joy trickled down her face as Eva lay staring up at the stone ceiling. The storm was finally beginning ease and the cold room was lit with the soft glow of sunset. Phoebe and Kyran sat at the bed side holding hands. Phoebe was crying. Eva put a comforting hand on her daughter’s shoulder and smiled softly.

"Don’t worry, my darling, I’ll always, always be with you." She looked out at the sunset one last time and smiled again. "I love you, Eric." She whispered. Her eyes closed one final time as she drew her last breath. Dying, with a smile playing on her lips.

The End

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