Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. The ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read. Enjoy!
iturnedaround by: inessaemilia
Pain crackled beneath my skin as I bolted from bed. My heart raced with fear and I tugged the edge of my night shirt down over my shoulder.
Oh God, it was me. I was marked.
“Kataline, you need to come eat breakfast, it’s nearly dawn,” Mother called.
I took a staggered breath. What could I say to my family? After father died I’d become the main provider, now they’d have to survive without me.
My door swung open and my sister, Natalia, came in and hugged my waist. “I’m scared that they’ll pick me to send,” she whispered.
“No, the townsfolk won’t ever choose you,” I said, forcing a smile. “Now come along before your breakfast gets cold.” I grabbed her hand and led her to the kitchen table.
Griddle cakes and sausage scented the air and Mother poured me a cup of tea. I wanted to tell her I’d been chosen, but the words became lodged and I cleared my throat. She eyed me curiously and I stood, sipping the steaming chamomile tea.
“We best hurry or we’ll be late to the town square. You know how they hate late comers,” Mother said.
“I’m not hungry. I think I’ll just make my bed.”
I hurried back to my room. Ripping open my drawer, I took out the leather pouch that I’d been saving money in. After scribbling a quick note, I left it on my dresser, hoping Mother would use it to get food for Natalia or to purchase firewood.
“Mother says we have to go.” Natalia poked her head in my door.
“I’ll be right there.” Closing my eyes, I took a deep breath and said a silent goodbye to my room before scurrying outside where my mother and sister awaited me.
“Aren’t you going to change?” Mother raised a quizzical brow.
A nervous chuckle fell from my lips. “No. This is what I’m comfortable in.”
“Kataline, what’s wrong?” she whispered, clutching my arm as we made our way through the woods, toward the clearing.
“Nothing. Just you watch after Natalia. There’s already quite a crowd lined up.”
The wooden scaffold was set up and the magistrate had his gavel in hand trying to quiet the people of Stone Hollow. Families huddled together, fear etched on their faces. The youngest seemed unaffected, having never had to live through the Marking Ceremony.
“Good people, I ask that you remain silent so that we may get this over with. As you know, every nine years He comes,” the Magistrate began. “He is looking for her. And until he finds her, we must abide by his laws. The Goddess has forsaken us and will not give to him that which he desires most.”
The Gods and Goddesses, it was there doing. Their petty wars and games, we were nothing but pawns. The Goddess had banished his soul mate to human form and had hidden her. And so He exacted his revenge on the humans that worshipped the Goddess. Every nine years he came and took one of the females away.
“Who amongst us has been marked for Him?” The magistrate scanned the crowd.
“It is I, Kataline of the Draconust family,” I said, stepping forward. My mother whimpered beside me, Natalia gripped my hand. But I shook her off, catching Dalin’s eye. God, I couldn’t look at him. He’d been working hard to save up enough money to propose.
People cleared a path for me and the magistrate handed me the scroll. He cut my hand with the end of his blade and I dipped the pen into it and signed my name. A blood oath that I was to be the next sacrifice.
The village elders pounded on their drums as I turned and headed down the darkened path, toward the lake. My body quaked as I neared the dock, my night shirt barely warding off the brisk morning air. Fog clung to the water like a sweater and I stared off into the distance, standing on the edge of the dock.
The wooden boat came, its driver cloaked and standing tall, a large oar in hand. From within the woods, I heard the townspeople gather. They must give witness to the deed.
“Please, not my Kataline,” Mother wailed.
I wanted to turn and comfort her, but instead I stared ahead. I needed to be brave. Water lapped against the dock as the boatman drew closer. The wind picked up, the sky darkening.
At last the rowboat stopped. “Show me your mark,” a deep voice commanded.
My hands trembled as I pulled down the shirt to reveal it to him.
I heard a sharp intake of breath then he said, “Get into the boat.”
Taking hold of my waist, he helped me in then began to paddle away. I sat on the seat, eyes moving up his tall frame until I met his gaze.
Oh God, I knew him. I’d seen him every night in my dreams, since I was a child.
“I know you,” I whispered.
He stopped paddling and pulled me to my feet. “At last,” he said, touching his hand to the mark. “I’ve found you, my dearest love. The Goddess could not keep us apart.”
His hood fell away, revealing his monstrous features. Oh God, what had she done to him? I wanted to scream, but instead, I made myself kiss him. His lips scorched mine. Today it ended.
He found me.