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North’s feet tingled as they hit the old, wood-planked floor, sending chills up her spine. The chills got to her head in a matter of seconds and they beckoned for her to fall back into bed. But not today. Today, her mind’s signal was useless. Today was the day the people came to pick up the cotton that had been harvested that year. It was a big day for her family like always and she could not mess it up. It was her job to assist her mother in cooking, but that was definitely not her favorite job. Instead, North decided to work like the men in her family while it was still early.
As she forced herself to stand up, she stared at her distorted reflection in the mirror. Her eyes were tired and her lips chapped a cherry-red. Her hair had separated at the roots from her lack of showers. She stared little longer and yet could not recognize herself. Who she saw had hair the look of hay, tired freckles carelessly plastered to her nose, and lips that would burn if she attempted a smile. Too tired to really care, she yawned and moved over to her wardrobe. Swinging one door open, she pulled a white cotton dress off the clothes peg placed in the back. The dress pulled easily over her head and rested on her shoulders. She turned her head to look outside and saw the fog. Knowing it must be cold out; she pulled on a pair of Wellingtons and her favorite jumper to keep her warm. Tip-toeing downstairs, she pictured the men who came to buy her cotton. With the questions she asked herself, she decided it would be best to make the tea and scones first.
She wiped her hands on a near-by dish towel as she finished and headed out to the fields. The dew on the over-grown grass was clearly visible due to the gleaming sunshine. The fields were bursting with sunlight and blinding her, but wakening her too.
North heard rustling behind her in the house. She turned around to see her youngest brother Milton cautiously stepping out onto the porch. He turned, meeting her gaze and showed a large, toothless smile. He had had crumbs perched on his upper lip, which immediately angered North.
“Milton! Did you eat my scones? Those were strictly for the buyers!” Maybe North was just too tired, but she was irritated. She paused, and turned around to look at Milton again. His dark-brown hair was ruffled in the front, hanging loosely over his eyes. His eyes were a deep blue, pulling her in, pleading for her forgiveness. She sighed, went down on one knee, and spoke softly to her 3-year old brother. “Milton, now you listen. Don’t eat anymore scones, okay? I need those for today.” She wiped the crumbs from his face, “and you need to go get ready.” North said.
“Okay.” Milton said, nodding and not daring to look directly into his sister’s eyes. He pulled the collar of his dressing gown up to his mouth and began to bite it. It was a cute, yet a bad little habit he had. He stumbled back inside and North walked back out to the field.
It wasn’t long before everyone was awake. Milton, Hugh, and Byron had gotten up out of bed and were all done up in trousers and waistcoats. Her dad looked even sharper. His trousers had a crease in the middle, and his waistcoat had three gold buttons, unlike the boy’s silver buttons. Her mother was preparing the breakfast and was dressed in a gown that ran down to the floor in cotton blue, with a floral pattern rippling across it. Her collar was neatly trimmed with lace and the cuffs of her sleeves were, too. She wore a blue, lacy bonnet to match her dress.
Not wanting to be seen, North set off to work in the deeper parts of the cotton fields. Looking out at the nearby road North spotted two men. She suspected the buyers, but these two were scruffy, dirty, and untrimmed. Even from the distance, she could tell their looks from anyone else, and knew them to be her dad’s enemies. They actually used to be very good friends with the family. Clement Jury was the taller one with a blond shag of hair, and an untrimmed beard. He used to work with her father. Some way, something went wrong and they never spoke again. The other was Mr. Ladl. He was short and stubby, but full of muscle. In certain light, his hair looked as dark and midnight, and the length of it were surly no good to his eyesight. North was not really familiar with him, but she knew he didn’t like Dad. Those two were always up to trouble.
“Hey! You shouldn’t be here! Go away!” North was beginning to panic as she remembered her Dad always saying to run inside when they came, and to lock the doors. But North was too far away. She had also never been in this situation before. So close to them and even being outside when they were here was new. She began shouting again. “Hey! What do you think you are doing, huh? Go away!” They didn’t listen. Instead they both ran past her to the house. She paused for a second, and then began to run after them, her blond mattes beating against her neck. She ran and ran, tripping over rocks, sticks, and her boots, which were beginning to fall off at her pace. Splashing dew up to her face, she had to slow down. But the house was in view. North saw her dad climb out of the door, his gun perched on his shoulder. Stopping, she heard gun shots. But where they went was still a mystery. Her dad stumbled and fell off the back of the porch he was on. “Dad!” North shouted, slowly becoming aware of the direction of the bullets. She raced toward him, her heartbeat pounding in her ear. When she reached him, she almost died, too.
“Dad, Dad, no, don’t do this,” she sobbed, kneeling next to his limp body. Her dad’s eyes flickered open.
“North, baby. I need you to help me.”
“I know, Dad, I’m calling the doctor right now okay?” She began to rise to her feet. He grabbed her arm and pulled her back down.
“No, there’s nothing they, or you, can do now. Just go and keep Mum and all the lads safe. Please. Leave me.”
A tear formed in the corner of her eye, and she held her pain inside. She kissed her father’s forehead, and keeping her eyes away from his bloody chest, she ran into the house. “Hello? Is anyone here? We’re not safe, Dad’s dead!” Her voice trembled as she shouted. “Mum? Milton? Please!” She was now screaming, her rage flinging out of her in sheets. “Please!” No answer.
The two men turned the corner, gazing at her intently. North’s heart raced, and raced. Unable to hide her pain and anger, she yelled. “Look what you have done! Who do you think you are, killing my father? Well, I will have my revenge! I will, and you will pay! Now get out of my house!” She was shouting at the men, yet she did not know what she was saying. The words flew out of her, like bottled up anger beckoning her to take a swing at them. Emotions flooded through her veins so fast, she was sure she would pass out.
The men were just laughing at her pain. Then she realized why. Jugs of petrol had been toppled over all over the place, spilling a liquid that was making its way to her feet. She heard cries of distress nearby, but she couldn’t find where. The men glanced at each other, and then one was sent off to fetch the criers. He came back, pushing four trapped bodies on the floor. It was Mum, Byron, Milton, and Hugh. They were alive though. Their eyes were glued open, wide with terror. And their faces flushed. Thin pieces of cotton were tied around their heads, holding in their screams. North could not get the look of her mother out of her head, the pain, and the black streaks on her dress and face. Even their hair that had been so slick and neat that morning was a mess. It was almost as painful as watching her dad being shot and her being helpless. Just then, Mr. Jury picked up a can of petrol and splashed it all over them, and then at North. Why didn’t she run? Why was she going to let them do this to her? North just couldn’t leave her family there. And like that, the other man, Mr. Ladl pulled out a match, and struck it. The flame blazed on the edge of the stick for a while, and then he dropped it. It fell immediately into a spot with no petrol and the men ran. They ran far, leaving the others to burn. North dove for the match, but it blazed up, licking her face. Then she dropped to the floor and pulled her brothers and mother, trying to save them. It was no use. It was painful watching the fire spread as quickly as the match was struck. Picking up chained Milton, she ran to the door. She was too late.
The fire had engulfed her mum and other brothers, and she heard muffled screams. Soon, the fire was to her, blocking all exits. It crept up her dress and burned her back, she tried to throw Milton out the door, but he gripped her with sturdy hands. The flames encased her and she let the burning set in. Her body fell limp and death dominated her body. The last thing North saw was Milton’s chest collapse under the pressure of the heat, and his open eyes flutter closed for the last time.
* * *
North had been in the after-world for about a week. The entire time she spent attempting to comprehend the feeling of death. But she could see the world, and all of its occupants. And there was Mr. Jury and Mr. Ladl at their own quiet houses. She laughed quietly to herself as a strong wind whipped across her face, tinting her cheeks pink. Well, I will have my revenge! I will, and you will pay! A voice screeched in the back of her head. She stared at her hands, which were now pulsing with anger and energy. Sparks danced on her fingertips and she laughed again. “I said I would have my revenge.” She aimed her hands down to the direction of the men. The sparks flew out of her hands, and they rode through the skies, meeting up with a loud bang and yellow streams of electricity flew to the Jury’s house. It immediately caught ablaze. And North sat there, getting her revenge to every descendant of the two cruel men. Her powers are not unusual and have continued for decades, setting fear in people’s eyes when they experience it for themselves.