September Rose

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It was a bloody, strident scream that made her wake up, and afterwards it was impossible to discern whether the ululation was outside her head or not. Her vision was tainted a very light pink from the aftershock of the dream, but when wiping the sweat off her brow she discovered something else noticeably wet. A vicissitude in her posture broke the news; Mother Nature had paid an overnight visit. There was a brief hiatus in which she debated lying beneath sheets festooned in bodily fluids or making an effort to avoid stains. Thinking sensibly, the latter won, and she removed herself to the bathroom.
The fluorescents burned her retinas, forcing her back into darkness. Once recovered she scrutinized her reflection. Chestnut brown hair fell past her shoulders, blunted green eyes were accented by bags beneath, full, pale lips parted with a word whispering about them: swarthy. It had been her nickname since sixth grade when her teacher commented on the color of her deep summer tan. For the remainder of the year her classmates and teachers were obtuse to her diffident pleas to stop, and thus the name had stuck three years later.
A pungent odor pulled her out of her reverie and back to the task at hand. She squatted on the chilling porcelain and cringed at the vulnerability her underwear had procured against the glistening blood. The blood was bright and sluggish, dripping over her hand, and suddenly she was thrust back to the dream.
She had been walking down a dusty country lane at dawn. Pastures and woods were choked in mist, and up ahead was the outline of a large stone building. Upon closer inspection the building bore a sign that stated INN. She looked up at the structure in the early light, but as she was about to knock on the door, a twig snapped to her left. Her head whipped in that direction as she peered into the dauntingness of the shadowed woods; was someone watching her? No, but something was most definitely moving. A hunter moved between the trees, rifle at the ready. The were no animals as far as she could tell, but she knew she had to follow the hunter. He led her to a clearing a few hundred feet from the inn, and when he abruptly stopped, she continued until she had reached a small clearing. A girl, about ten years old, was dancing in the clearing; her ebony hair bounced as she jumped and her pearly nightgown swished as she turned. She was mumbling something, an incantation of some sorts, and as the girl turned toward her, she noticed a talisman that hung from the girl's neck caught a ray of sun. The girl was impervious to her presence, as she was to the newly welcomed hunter. A closer study revealed him to be well in his forties; an aura of officious belligerence enveloped his ungainly build. His body was tremulous in the frigid morning, but his hands and eyes held steady from practice of watching prey. It was then she knew the hunter's fell purpose of decorum within his small town; he must eliminate the taboo witchcraft. His myopia was not a necessity for his skilled aim, and with a single finger, he shot. All at once the clouds overhead rolled a tempestuous grey, the girl spun, the bullet found its mark, the girl fell, almost in slow-motion, to the ground. Branches stirred in the commotion, and she could hear the breath leave the wounded girl. She landed with a soft thud, her hair splayed across golden leaves spotted red. The hunter approached and knelt beside the corpse. He stared, unaffected by his crime, at the scarlet circle that discolored the girl's nightgown darkest over her heart. With the butt of his rifle he carved beside her in the soil :WITCH. He had then turned upon her, who was standing by a tree, struck dumb in awe at what she had witnessed. A greedy malice grew in the hunter's eyes as he took aim at her own fluttering chest.
And back again she was on the toilet face to face with the ignorance of her period. Her breathing had become caught up in the whirlwind of the nightmare, and as it slowed she wiped and changed. Moving to the sink to rinse the soiled clothes, she gazed up again at the mirror, but did not see the brown hair, green eyes, full lips, or dark skin that was her own. Instead she gazed in horror at the ebony hair, icy eyes, and cold, lifeless skin of the dead girl from her nightmare. The girl's pale lips moved rapidly, forming a tirade of incoherent words. "You could've saved me," she recriminated. "You could've said something. I died for nothing. The hunter shot me out of fear and pride. I died in vain, not peace. You could've said something to stop him. You could've said something." Her chastise echoed off the walls, ricocheted within her skull. It grew to a crescendo of dizzying proportions. Words began writing themselves behind the ghost. They ran September Rose...September Rose...September Rose. A freezing wind blew out from the mirror. The lights blew out and September Rose blazed white. She couldn't breath; her throat was blocked by a sticky, thick liquid, but she tried to make a sound, any sound, and she did. It was a bloody, strident scream that made her wake up.





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