Authors: Amy Joy Lutchen
Tags: #Fantasy, #Romance, #Paranormal, #Action
an urban fantasy
Amy Joy Lutchen
Copyright © 2012 by Amy Joy Lutchen
Publisher: Amy Joy Lutchen
Cover art by
Editor: Harrison Demchick
Kindle Edition, License Notes
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictious.
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for you, then please return to Amazon.com and purchase your own. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This book is dedicated to my husband, for his constant support of my numerous rendezvous with Earl Grey tea lattes, to my children for providing the spark that ignites, and to my mother, for simply being.
Table of Contents
There is absolute silence.
A change in consciousness.
A feeling of being watched.
The smell of mud, of earth.
The sensation of birth, of life, of love, of wholeness.
The sensation of pain, of desperation, of loss, of falling apart into a million pieces.
It’s the incessant barking outside that brings me back to my senses. I stop fidgeting with the silver-braided ring in my hand and place it gently in my robe pocket. I gather my strength, and rise from the couch to stand at the window, peeking through the slit in the curtains, not wanting to touch the fabric for any movement signals life inside.
The demons are out there
sitting in their vans and talking between sips of hazelnut coffee, their subconscious gorging on the crimes spoken of by chattering scanners. All the while the eyes in the back of their heads screen this south side of Chicago’s low-income home, hoping for a special photographic opportunity, perhaps the one that grabs and nails that promotion they’ve been cutting throats over.
I move from t
he window, trudging in my plaid baggy flannel pajamas and heavy, black terry cloth robe toward the kitchen and stop mid-way, staring at my house slippers buried in the brown shag-of-a-forest carpeting. The slippers sit there, all pink and perky, happy and smiley, with their sloppy floppy ears, staring at me with their stupid bunny eyes, their smirk attempting to defy the darkness of my depression.
My feet slip into the slippers and make their way to the kitchen, stopping at the mirror as I slide my hand inside my pocket, feeling the smoothness of the ring and slipping it onto my much smaller-sized finger.
My fingers then rise to touch the stitches in my lip and I brush away my long red hair from the incision on my throat. I clench my teeth and continue walking to the k
itchen stove to prepare my daily cup of tea. As I grab the box of Tension Tamer, I find myself staring at a ridiculous princess sitting atop a dragon and wonder what marketing idiot came up with the idea. I plop the bag in my favorite teacup and notice a new sharp chip in the rim.
The cup is one
my mom bought me, with a cute little cottage surrounded by lilac bushes and dragonflies etched into the china and a cool rune on the back.
The water steams as I pour it
and I decide roulette on my lip shall be my excitement for the day. It beats opening and closing the front door repeatedly, forcing the camera-accessorized vermin outside to scatter, vying for the best position.
As I bring the cup to my lips and taste the tea, I decide it ne
eds something—something strong, much stronger than just milk and honey. As I open a lower cabinet door, I reach in deep and pull out the hidden half-full flask from behind the blue Tupperware bowls and pour the remaining contents into my tea, hoping maybe this time will be different.
The ring keeps noisily clinging against the cup, so I take it off and place it on the counter.
I turn, returning to my indent in my mom’s fugly couch and pick up Bear—my old and mangy stuffed teddy bear—and place him in my lap facing me. I then look around my mom’s house, a house totally void of pictures, even of myself. I imagine my mom saying, “The best film is in here,” as she points to her head.
Reaching over and
pressing the flashing play button on my mother’s digital answering machine, I hear, “Kailey, it’s Amber. I know you’re probably just sitting there, in the dark, sulking. You need to get out with me, or something. Please call. It’s been three weeks now. I need to hear your voice. I need to know you’re okay. Your mom says you are, but I want to hear it from you. I’ll be home after nine if you want to call. I’m going out on a...date.” Another pause. “I miss you. Bye.” I bring the princess’s drink of choice to my lips and gulp it as I stare at Bear, allowing images of Amber, my best friend, to spill before my eyes, ending with an oddball one of Amber asking me if Bear has fleas.
I then feel the sudden movement of the hounds outside. My eyes tighten and I down my whole concoction, hoping for relief—anything. They are closer and I can feel their ridiculous eagerness, then I feel
. Three... two... one... The door swings open as she shouts profanities—something about cameras being shoved somewhere nameless.
“Damn reporters!” she screams as she slams the door with her foot, h
er hands busy with grocery bags most likely filled with my many requests. She freezes and looks at me. “Kailey, you need to change out of those clothes. And open the curtains! And let the dog in!”
She puts the bags down and throws open the curtains, letting the unforgiving rays of the sun pierce my eyes. As she bends over to pick up my empty tea cup, she sniffs it.
I look away, feeling no effects from the alcohol, wishing I would. “I’m an adult. Six years of experience at it, too,” I murmur, ignoring her penetrating stare by looking down at my bunny slippers. I immediately sense her worry and add, “Mom, I’m sorry. I can’t do this. I need something to take the edge off. Nothing is working!” I bite my lip, waiting for a reply.
“What do you mean,
? Kailey, what else are you doing?” I look up into her eyes which have begun filling with tears.
“It doesn’t matter,
” I say, “because nothing works.”
She says nothing as she picks a newspaper out of a grocery bag and tosses it to me. “Here
’s your daily newspaper, you junkie,” she says. I see her hesitate at her poor choice of words. “Why do you even read those stupid personals?”
I pick the paper up and glance at the headline picture of some disfigured animal the nearby zoo attained, describing it as an unknown species found wandering Dan Ryan Woods. It apparently attacked three innocent joggers.
I begin shuffling the papers to find the personals. “Some SM has to be looking for a crazy, tattered and broken SWF,” I whine.
My mom inhales deeply and I see her wince as she bends over to pick up the bags.
It brings me to my feet quickly and I say, “Mom, let me help you. You shouldn’t push it. The doctors said-” Her piercing gaze tells me to sit back on my ass, immediately. I do.
She picks the bags up and heads into the kitchen. I hear: “I can do a simple act like bringing in groceries. Don
’t worry about me. But
, my dear, will be doing the cooking.”
From where I
’m sitting, with only a little maneuvering, I can see her standing near the counter, staring at the ring on the counter. The burrow between her eyebrows deepens, and then—in a flash—she moves about, stashing away the groceries with her unnatural speed that peeks out at stressful moments. It always baffles me.
“Don’t let those idi
ots outside get to you,” she advises, slamming the back door shut after letting our dog, Kioto, back inside.
Kioto, my huge 110-pound akita, walks swiftly with her wide-spread gait through the front room, staring at me as she walks by on her journey to the front window. As she
peers at the strangers outside she growls a long and deep growl, one of pure disgust. She then barks one loud noise of warning to those who have gotten too close.
“It’s not just them! Something is wrong with
,” I sputter as I pet Kioto on her head. “I don’t know what. Maybe psychological, maybe brain damage, something. These feelings... ” I throw down the papers on the couch.
My mom walks to me slowly, then places her hands on both my shoulders. “Honey, anyone who has gone through something as traumatic as what you went through would undoubtedly have strange feelings. Feelings of mistrust, anger, perhaps a heightened sense of empathy, are all perfectly normal. Remember what your psychiatrist said.” She then lets go
of me and places the ring back in my hand as she walks toward the front window to scowl at the morons outside. She extends her middle finger through the window, humphs, and then turns to me and flashes me sign language for “I love you”: thumb, pointer and pinky finger extended while the other two fingers are bent down. This is something we’ve shared since I climbed out of the womb, and it makes its appearance at special moments.
I return the gesture,
but vent, “That quack of a psychiatrist? She never even really listened to me. She sat staring at that stupid picture of her boyfriend on her desk the whole time we were there. Oh, and occasionally glanced at the clock. I know you saw it, too. And when she
have questions for me, why were they all detailed questions about
,” my mother corrects me.
!” I scream as I gaze into her eyes, pleading her to believe me as my scream turns to sobs. She grabs me and holds me tight as I sob into her shirt. I wipe the fabric where my nose begins dripping ooze.
“Don’t worry about the shirt. Just let it out, Kailey. You are going to get better. Things will get easier for you. It
’s only been three weeks. It’s just going to take some time and some work, by both of us. I am going to help you through this,” she says as she squeezes harder, making my bruised rib scream in pain. “No matter what it takes, we are going to get through this,” she whispers.
I flinch as her
sudden anger actually crawls along her skin and onto me, constricting my throat like an anaconda on steroids, and I choke from
as well as from my own tears.