ArcAnvil's Holiday | The Ink Well Weekly Fiction - Week 3 : Prompt - Beauty With a Twist

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Weekly Fiction : Week 3
The Ink Well Weekly Fiction Prompt #3: Beauty With a Twist

Prompt: Beauty With a Twist


ArcAnvil stood next to the Grand Hall. He never ceased to marvel at the intricate carvings of his ancestors etched in gold upon the marble walls. The names of many still unknown to only but a privileged few. He had not yet become of age to take his rightful place among them.

"Enter, my son. Your special day approaches. I've agreed to grant your wish." ArcAnvil handed the envelope to the guard, then bowed his head and retreated several steps.

Silence fell over the Great Hall. He could hear the envelope drop to the floor. His birthday wish had been granted. Nothing of this nature had ever been requested of the Master. However, a sacred vow was evoked once a promise was given.

Two days later, ArcAnvil stood on the edge of the lake. Deep, green grass covered one side of the mountain. White crystals lined the ridge as trees poked through. The gray sky covered the horizon. Crystals began to fall slowly at first on his overcoat. He'd heard about such a place where white particles fell during certain times of the year. His thoughts turned to home and the warm, year-round glow.

Image by Olichel from Pixabay

Cassia leaned against the rock. Head down, she didn't notice the young man standing nearby. She wanted her last thoughts to be of the place her parents took her before the accident claimed them.

She didn't know ArcAnvil saw this. His father warned him not to, but he reached inside. As he pulled out his hand, flames rose up from its palm. Returning it to his pocket, he walked closer to Cassia and introduced himself.

Startled, her head jerked upward. ArcAnvil leaned back and took in a slight breath. Her greenish-blue eyes returned a calm essence like the reflection of the mountains nearby upon the vast blue waters. Those eyes pierced his being. He took in the breadth of her. Lustrous brownish-red shoulder length hair draped her shoulders. Even under the hat, he could imagine how it looked if allowed to flow freely. An unnatural shiver took over, as his insides began to swell with remorse and regret.

Cassia repeated twice, "hello, nice to meet you." Leery of strangers, she kept her distance. But something about him compelled her to extend her hand. She shook his hand. A strange thought occurred that if she'd ever marry, it would be him. She grinned widely and removed her cap as though confirming his assessment.

How could she be laughing? he thought. What should have been a happy future would be cut short. Why does He allow this to happen?

ArcAnvil and Cassia spent the day together. She'd brought lunch, so the two ate, talked, and laughed. He wanted to learn all he could. He allowed himself to feel that he never wanted to part from her. Late afternoon, he asked to escort her home. She couldn't explain why she agreed, then stated her ailing grandmother needed her attention. She was more concerned about others. He looked into her face, then settled on her heart as if comparing both to the undisturbed snow. They emitted a purity he'd never seen.

As Cassia drove, an uneasy feeling enveloped her. One hour later, they arrived just in time to see medics leaving her grandmother's house toward the hospital.

"You'll not lose your grandmother today." ArcAnvil gathered her in his arms. She needed to stay quiet and calm for her own health.

"How would you know? You don't know her...or me." Cassia pulled away from him. For the first time today, she was scared. She allowed herself to get close to a complete stranger. He could be a stalker, she thought. Her heart beat faster as she attempted to sort out the day's events. She'd already made up her mind to distance herself from him.

She ran back to her car, jumped in, and sped off. He attempted to stop her. She panicked as the car careened in the snow towards the sidewalk, but not before striking him. ArcAnvil lay motionless.

The car came to a stop at the curb. Cassia alternated between crying and struggling to open the door. She didn't know this man, yet she felt she'd gladly exchange places if he were dead.

Before reaching him, she collapsed. ArcAnvil, seeing Cassia fall, rushed to her side.

Neighbors called paramedics. A strange place the hospital, as he waited patiently to see her. He explained to the staff that her only relative was also a patient.

ArcAnvil sat holding Cassia's hand tightly. She finally woke, gazed into his eyes and smiled. In the distance, the tower clock struck midnight as if to echo his father's command. For the first time, he didn't want to obey.

Thirty minutes later, he felt a slight breeze. He opened his fingers and placed her hand near her side. He could no longer keep her here.

Outside the facility, snow fell lightly on his overcoat. He walked slowly looking downward. Suddenly he looked back to see his footprints tracing his steps in this world. He headed toward the park entrance. The bench nearby offered solitude.

He lost track of the hours as the snow continued its duty.

Daylight brought a flurry of activity. Laughter rang out from across the way as families enjoyed the winter snow. Children threw balls of snow while others seemed to erect a figure.

The early morning edition was already circulating. A young boy stopped yelling and paused in front of ArcAnvil with his hand extended.

"Extra, Extra, Amazing Phenomenon. The World Health Organization reported no deaths occurred worldwide for 24 hours yesterday."

"But you won't believe 2,000 deaths already in the past six hours." The boy smiled into ArcAnvil's expressionless face, then moved on chanting the rehearsed selling point.

He didn't have to read it. "And I know two of them personally." ArcAnvil's voice was hoarse as he stood up. He shed the overcoat from his shoulders and laid it across the back of the bench. He thought about the homeless people Cassia talked so passionately about. She called it "empathy". They would have more use for it now. A strong wind blew past him as a familiar voice spoke.

"I understand, son. But hear me now. She could not return with you. It's not permitted. And you are never allowed to enter where she has gone."

His father paused as if his words needed a moment to be absorbed, then continued,

"It's time. I'll not permit you this indulgence one minute longer." ArcAnvil didn't have to turn around. That stern voice commanded respect from everyone in his realm. The large hand that accompanied the voice tightened its grip on his shoulder.

ArcAnvil's holiday had come to an end.


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