So The Power of Zero was launched without major drama and now I’m trying to get my head around the other Jack book…the one that’s been kicking my backside for a while now. While my mind attends to that, I’m playing around with flash fic. (And I’m living in hope that if I stick a fork in it and post it here, it won’t grow into a plot bunny that won’t let me sleep.)
So here is a very short bit of fantasy, inspired by pictures of ravens. I think.
“He’s good to you, right?” Guilt and apprehension edged Aaron’s words as well they might. I had history picking shitty boyfriends, but Ramirez was different. He took me in the day my parents threw me out. He, a stranger, opened his home to me when my friends – including Aaron – didn’t want to be seen helping someone like me.
Someone who’d been born all wrong.
Ramirez didn’t beat me. He didn’t insult me. He had offered me shelter and then mostly left me alone. And if I woke in his bed some mornings wearing bruises… well, I’d come by those honestly.
Ramirez wasn’t what you’d call conventional. He wasn’t even human. He could take any form he wanted. While I lived with him, he most often chose that of a bird: Glossy black feathers with a shimmer of blue and green, a cruelly sharp beak and vicious talons. Those weren’t weapons I needed to fear.
“I can save you. If you agree to the price.” He offered the bargain after I’d been with him for exactly twenty-one days, and after I’d told him all of my story. As payment he demanded a year and a day of service.
I was more than ready to accept, but prudence had stayed my hand. “Will you take my mind or my memories?” The tip of the quill, red with my blood, hovered over the parchment. I wanted the chance he offered, but I also wanted to know.
He rolled his eyes. “I don’t want your mind or your memories. I’m not a raven, idiot, I’m a crow. I want your soul.”
“And then what happens?” I’d given up believing in a hell that came after death. I’d learned that hell came long before that final moment. But maybe I’d been wrong.
He ruffled my hair and one of his rare smiles bloomed. “Then you’ll be reborn.”
That had been a year ago.
Tomorrow my time of service was over.
Tomorrow, my life would change.
For today, Ramirez had granted me the chance to go where I pleased. To see whom I wanted to see and speak to them as I hadn’t spoken in a year. Today, I had one last chance to see the world as it was.
“He’s good to you, right?” Aaron asked again and the guilt was heavy in his tone.
Was it guilt that he’d left me to fend for myself when I’d needed his help? Maybe. I didn’t want to burden him with what would happen, so this time I answered his question. “No. But he’s good for me.” I’d been born all wrong, or so everyone kept telling me. Wanting boys when I should want girls made me wrong. Even Aaron thought so, though he tried to be supportive.
Ramirez had told me there was nothing wrong with me. When I couldn’t accept that, he’d offered me a chance to start over, something I’d never had before.
And maybe next time, everything would be different.