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Red as Coals, Black as Night excerpt

She shivered in the relentless cold, arms hugging her slender, willowy form as she stared with her gem-like eyes into the dancing flames. Her graceful hands were held over the fire in a fruitless attempt to stave off the freezing night.

He, Jose, had no problem with the cold. Or at least, not much of one. His immense body produced enough heat to keep him relatively comfortable. Esa, on the other hand, was miserable. An idea to alleviate her discomfort occurred to him, but he was worried about how it would be received. He had almost decided not to mention it when her frame was suddenly racked by violent tremors. It looked as if her seemingly-fragile body was about to fall apart. That decided him.

“Esa,” he called to her, loud enough for her to hear, but not loud enough for any predators nearby to take notice of. When she looked up, questioningly, he patted the bare earth next to him as he sat and propped himself against a large spruce tree. She just blinked and looked confused. Either she didn’t understand his plan or didn’t want to. But when he repeated the motion, she came willingly enough. She sank onto the cold dirt elegantly, as if it were a throne and not filth and, copying his posture, reclined against the thick tree. However, she was still freezing. Her lovely lips were a dark blue, and her face and hands were turning a similar shade. So he opened his large, burly arms and easily enclosed her shoulders, pulling her closer to him. He did not do this because of any crude desires, but for a more practical reason. Jose hoped this would help her get warm.

At first she was stiff and tight in his arms, aloof and unyielding, but as his body heat passed to her and thawed out her iced-over bones, Esa gave an involuntary sigh of relief. Her rigid muscles relaxed and she leaned into his embrace, her head on his chest. Her tumbling, raven hair shifted in the breeze, and he caught Esa’s unique fragrance of dew, flowers, pine needles, and rich earth.

As Jose stared at her in awe, he couldn’t help but think how, despite all her talents, Esa would never be good at camouflage. In the dim night, the moon only a silver wisp in the sky, her skin shone like polished silver wire, lighting the small clearing. He, in contrast, completely melded with the shadows, save for his flaming eyes. But she did not recoil from his black touch, merely staying in his hold, not a whit afraid. Or at least not showing it.

Jose’s feelings were in turmoil. They were too strong and he was too confused to try to make sense of them. So he simply waited for them to cool and reorder themselves.

How long they stayed in that pose Jose never knew. It was Esa who finally broke the silence. She said quietly, “The night is late, and we must pack our things and go to bed. It will be an early start tomorrow.” Jose lifted his arms and patiently waited for her to get up, but she didn’t. “I think I’m too stiff to get up,” she admitted. Jose could almost feel her wry smile.

He tenderly grasped her upper arms and, careful not to squeeze to hard with his ham-fingers, lifted her to a stand. She wobbled for a second, then regained her usual poise. “Better?”

“Better,” she agreed.

Then she smiled at him. In the wan light, she was so glorious that, if he had been a human man, he would have been to stunned to speak. Shanese were made of sterner stuff, though, and he was capable of replying gruffly, ”Well, we’d better start.”

Esa started to gather the supplies that had been left out into a pile to be put away in the packs, but he stopped her. “You work on the defense,” he said. “I’ll do the rest.”

So while he put together and stowed away their supplies, and put out the smoldering fire, she sat down and concentrated. And the short tough grasses and shuffling ferns suddenly grew to extraordinary heights, forming the walls of a dome. Then the trees themselves swayed and shifted, until their formerly isolated branches were intertwined above Jose and Esa’s heads to form a thick, scratchy barrier. Esa herself sighed and rocked back on her heels, tired. Jose made sure to set her bedroll up before his, and she cast him a grateful look.

They both climbed into their ridiculously long bedrolls and closed their eyes, waiting for sleep. As they lay down, Jose looked over at her prone form and said gently, “Good night, Esa.”

The silence was so long that Jose thought she had succumbed when she suddenly whispered, in that unearthly voice that never failed to amaze him, “Good night, Jose.” A wonderful sense of peace enveloped him then, and he fell into an undisturbed, dreamless rest.





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thepreechyteenager said...
Aug. 26, 2010 at 6:52 am
Ok this was just really cute!!!  I also like your descriptions at the beginning.
 
butnotacrime This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Oct. 26, 2010 at 8:04 pm
Thanks:)          
 
AsIAm This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 25, 2010 at 8:38 pm

The good:  Where to start!  The description is perfect, giving a clear picture without making my brain want to explode.  Which is a complement, because at nine thirty at night, when I'm reading something for the second time, my brain is very prone to explosions.  I loved Jose's emotions - it was really cute how unsure he seemed about feeling tender feelings, you could tell he was hardened.  Overall, it was amazing.

The Bad:  It's over!  But, worst of ... (more »)

 
ItWasAMurderButNotACrime This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 25, 2010 at 8:51 pm
Thank you so much! I'm really glad you like my work:D And don't worry, I don't intend to stop, lol. In fact I just submitted a new story today.
 
AsIAm This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 25, 2010 at 8:54 pm
Yay! ~AsIAm
 
ItWasAMurderButNotACrime This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 25, 2010 at 9:01 pm
Haha but it'll take a while to get accepted. I think I posted it in the writing forum though...
 
abster55 said...
Aug. 6, 2010 at 12:34 pm
This was great! I loved it, you held my attention well throughout the piece. Keep up the good work with the rest of the novel!
 
gymbabe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 8, 2010 at 12:17 pm
Thanks! :D
 
FashionGuru said...
Jul. 27, 2010 at 6:27 pm
I love it! But i don't understand what they are....? Are they like avatars? Ha idkkk but i'd love to know! I'll read the rest, i promise. And thanks so much for reading my stuff. 
 
gymbabe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jul. 27, 2010 at 6:39 pm
Thanks!  And it'll make more sense once you read the first chapter.
 
shywriter said...
Jul. 14, 2010 at 1:54 pm
Awwwww, that's kind of cute!! =P
 
gymbabe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jul. 14, 2010 at 5:32 pm
Thanks:)This piece was written not only for the novel, but to make me happy.
 
sunnyhunny This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 12, 2010 at 12:31 pm
:) I'm so glad that Jose decided not to kill her.
 
gymbabe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jul. 12, 2010 at 4:10 pm
Haha yeah, I couldn't do that:)And as you can see, he's more than just friendly to her.
 
5star_writter_mone said...
Jul. 9, 2010 at 2:17 pm
it was definatly attention grabing but i did get lost in some spots and i really liked it
 
gymbabe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jul. 9, 2010 at 6:42 pm
Thanks!  I'm sure you were a bit confused, since this was from the middle of my novel, but I'm glad you liked it.
 
A_Dreamer said...
Jul. 8, 2010 at 8:39 pm
Good job! You haven't failed to get me bored yet! (That's a huge accomplishment, trust me.) This is a very engaging story, can't wait to read more!
 
gymbabe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jul. 8, 2010 at 8:55 pm
Thanks!  Lol, hope I continue to succeed:D
 
MizzBieber said...
Jun. 28, 2010 at 1:07 am
i love it!
 
gymbabe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jun. 28, 2010 at 7:32 am
Thanks!  Glad you like it:)
 
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