WRAPPED IN BLACK
Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult
by Eric Nash
Sitting on the playground, fingering the amulet which adorned her wrist, Maddie thought that the clockwork conspiracy was genius in the way it dictated her fall.
If Jack, her ex-boyfriend and ex-boss, hadn’t made that girl pregnant, he would not have left Maddie. If she hadn’t been forced to quit her job because of his unreasonable behaviour then she wouldn’t be working in the Estate Agents doing weekend shifts, and would not have been taking her lunch-break in the park. She would not have been watching a magpie swagger through the grass as she listened to her sister waffle on about how fantastic her holiday was – second already that year and it still only July – while her nephew walked along a balance bar between the swing and the climbing frame. If her sister, who never liked Jack and still frequently informed Maddie of this fact, hadn’t told her about her new job, the pay increase and the flirty fit bloke that had interviewed her, she would not have walked over to her nephew, who then would not have bet her that she couldn’t walk all the way along the bar like he had done twice. Maddie stepped up. She would have reached the end if a motorcycle hadn’t backfired and the magpie hadn’t leapt into flight, but it did and so did the other, and the frantic fluttering of wings came inches from Maddie’s face making her twist and flail and fall left off the narrow beam.
Even though she hadn’t landed exactly on the left hand path – the path was some distance away on the other side of the park – she felt that the act of falling to her left counted as the same thing. Now that she had fallen she was, of course, duty-bound to explore her desires and maximise her satisfaction.
Or maybe, Maddie just needed to give herself permission to repay Jack for the three years of pills caused by his betrayal.
Whatever the reason, her liberation began with the removal of her amulet. It was a plain silver band, around which she had wrapped a lock of Jack’s hair. Back when he wore it long. Back when he was hers. To secure the hair she had bound it with red silk. It had protected her from harm every day she and Jack had been together. After, it had been very successful in keeping him near.
Abandoning her nephew to the whims of his self-obsessed mother, Maddie unravelled the silk and let it trail behind her in the dirt, discarding it at the park gates when she turned left to take the Number 9 bus. Knowing what she was about to do had her heart skipping over her hollow belly. The act of allowing herself to do it swept away the many inhibitions that contained her, and made her body tremble with excitement. At the bus stop, she couldn’t help but play hide-and-peek with her reflection, each time lingering a little longer to marvel at the upward curve of her lips and the universe revealed in her eyes.
All the while, Maddie crushed the hair in her fist.
Read the entire story in
WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult
RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014
Eric Nash writes dark speculative fiction. As yet he has not won, or been nominated for, any awards for his literary works. However, he is working on this and will be sure to let you know when he does. He lives in the south-west of England, possibly with his wife and children but he can’t be sure as demons have lashed him to his writing desk and bolted the door.