1883: Lost Things

1883: Lost Things

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Read after Blood Moon 007

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Point of View: Hesper
Featured Characters: Hesper, Jonathan
Word Count: 1,179

Hesper reflects on what she encountered on her clandestine venture around the town.

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“You can’t be out here!” barked Jonathan, his fingers tightening around her bone-thin arm and yanking hard. She gasped, windmilling as he tugged her back into the shadow of the doorstep.

“I just wanted to be in the sunshine,” she protested as soon as she’d caught enough breath, her free hand flying up to clutch at her breast as it heaved. Her pulse hammered in her ears. “Just for a little while.”

“You’re too frail.” Unyielding, her brother hauled her over the threshold. She looked back over her shoulder at the creaking of the door’s hinge behind them. Her eyes lingered on the dark, polished wood as it shut out the light and she was trapped once more in the thick and stifling air of the house. “You know this, Hesper. I don’t understand why you have to be so difficult.”

“I’m sorry,” she repented, in as conciliatory a tone as she could muster.

Hesper wasn’t really very sorry at all, but it wouldn’t do to upset Jonathan. He would go into colic if he found out she was coming rather than going, or just how long her little jaunt had been- let alone where it had taken her.

The corner of Hesper’s mouth turned down as she mentally retraced those steps for herself. That place… It had been so strange. Dark. Like there was something standing in the way of the sun.

“…if Father knew about this,” Jonathan was saying when she tuned back in. “I won’t breathe a word, but you have to promise you’ll be more careful. You know what the doctor told him.”

At that, she stifled a giggle. She knew a great deal more than Jonathan did about that conversation. Hesper didn’t have a care in the world.

She already knew when she was going to die, and it wouldn’t be today.

But she didn’t tell Jonathan these things.

“You’re right,” she said instead, giving him a sheepish smile. “I’m feeling a little tired. I think I’ll go rest now?”

It worked like a charm. The stern, lecturing elder brother suddenly disappeared and was replaced by the doting fusspot. He insisted on escorting Hesper to her room, adjusting her shawl every sixth step as if afraid she’d perish at the first strong draft. Hesper wondered idly if he’d be so attentive to his sister once he stopped pussyfooting around and married Cecily Masters. Goodness, she hoped not.

“She’ll be a lucky girl,” she said aloud, wiggling her fingers at him playfully before pressing the tip of her pointer to his nose. He wrinkled it at once, going cross-eyed, and she laughed. They were fast approaching her room now. “Someone who dotes on an old maid like me will make a fine husband for the princess of Silent Pines.”

“What?” he sputtered. The distraction was a success! She ducked around him and slipped fast as a shadow into her sanctuary. Hesper paused just long enough to turn back and give him a broad grin.

Then she shut the door in his face and threw the latch.

Unfortunately, it hadn’t all been a fib when she’d begged for respite. Hesper took a few wobbling steps toward her bed and collapsed atop the dark green bedspread, pressing her cheek against the cool cotton surface of her downy pillow. Her fingers stretched out beside her, tracing a line of gold thread embroidered in the shape of a flower.

It was getting more difficult every day. She wondered how she was supposed to cope for the rest of her life. It seemed a very long time to her. But she had things to do. Starting with the discoveries she’d made today.

Part of her ached to go back to the dark place, to pull that boy out of it. But she knew that she couldn’t.

“It’s because he’s like you,” she scolded herself, lifting her fingers to brush a curl of brown hair out of her face. “But just like you, that’s where he needs to be.”

No one would be rescuing that boy, and certainly no one would be rescuing Hesper. They were both trapped in their fate, hemmed into little boxes where they could never possibly fit, their keepers the monsters who bore them. And one day…

And one day, they’d both be monsters of their own making.

Rolling onto her side, she braced her palms against the bedclothes and hoisted herself into a sitting position. She scrabbled at the nightstand until her hand found purchase on her leather-bound journal and nib pen. She paused to breathe again before unstoppering her inkwell.

The room filled with the soft, soothing scratch of pen on paper while she jotted down her thoughts. Hm. Thoughts was perhaps not the correct word, she supposed. They were more like impressions. Hesper doubted they’d be sensible to anyone but her.

Find her, she mouthed.

Suddenly, ice spread down Hesper’s arms and filled her lungs. She sucked in a startled breath and nearly choked on it. Her skin prickled and turned to gooseflesh. The chill seemed to expand inside her chest, and her next breath was a rasping wheeze.

Meddlesome, someone spoke soundlessly in her ear. The voice was ice too, settling into her bones and rattling her to her core. Hesper began to shiver as she struggled to take in air rather than what felt like a lump of hail behind her ribs. You toy with dangerous things.

“Nnn,” Hesper tried to speak. “Haahhhh.”

I suggest you leave them well alone.

Something touched her. Hesper gurgled out a failure of a scream.

Tiny, rattling shudders and gasps continued to rack Hesper’s body well after the presence lifted away. Tears stung her eyes as she gripped the edge of the nightstand, fingers curling so hard against the sharp edge of the wood that she felt warm blood roll down her palm.

When she lifted her head, though, the tears had given way to fire.

“Fuck you,” she hissed. “I was dealt a bad hand by destiny, but I will make my fate and yours in the end. I will make sure of that.”

There was a knock at her door. Jonathan again. Hesper wished just a little that he’d walk off a cliff, but of course he wouldn’t. Jonathan would die of old age with brats and loads of dogs at his bedside.

“Hesper? Hesper, are you alright? What’s wrong?”

“I lost my favorite pen,” she found her composure to say in turn. It was a passable excuse, she decided. “I got a bit overexcited, but it’s fine now.”

“Are you sure? You shouldn’t-”

Lifting her hand to her lips, Hesper sucked clean her cut and narrowed her eyes at the ink that had smudged across her journal page before it had time to dry.


The dark boy in the lost place The dark place with the lost boy

lock and key bar the way to find the voice

something scratching at the other side


“I’ll make sure that nothing is lost again,” she muttered, and picked up her fallen pen.

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