Follow Tristessa through her mother's disappearance, bullying, and the mysterious appearance of the shadow-man in Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4. Satisfaction guaranteed! -m
I couldn't stop thinking about Ambreel-the-shadow-man, as I called him in my head. I began to imagine conversations with him while I was doing my chores. And then I imagined that he brought friends with him, children I might have known while living between the stone buildings in my life with my mother.
I loved imagining the children. They were sweet and helpful and aided me in sweeping the floor and cleaning out the chicken coop, and they talked about nice things like hot baths and clean toes and dresses that fit instead of hanging on my skin and bones. Every day I thought of them, they grew clearer in my mind, even gaining personalities and quirks. I loved the feeling of creating something so useful, and I relished the feeling of electric power I had whenever I was talking to them.
Ambreel was a gentleman and walked with me around the perimeter of the house after Ravigie decided I was allowed to venture there.
"How are you today, Ambreel?" I asked.
"I'm just fine, Tristessa Dellatierre," he said, using my first and last names, which I had almost forgotten existed.
Thinking of that, I asked, "Do you know my other names? I know there are others."
Ambreel shrugged his shadowed shoulders and I felt electricity tickle my palms. "I am in your imagination, Tristessa. You'll have to remember your other names for yourself."
"Thank you, Ambreel," I said. Turning the corner, I almost ran into Ravigie.
"Who are you talking to?" she asked forcefully. The smoke fled to the corners of my vision and the power stopped tingling in my fingers.
"Nobody," I said truthfully. I was talking to shadows and my own imagination.
Ravigie sniffed as though smelling the air and kept her nostrils wide. "You're lying," she said. "I can feel his magic. Where is he hiding?" she added, grabbing my arm and pulling me towards her. I had to stand on my tiptoes so that her vise grip wouldn't break my arm off.
"Who?" I asked as innocently as I could manage.
"Don't toy with me, child. I know his scent and I've heard you talking to him this past sennight. I will not be lied to. Now where is he?"
"He's nowhere," I said. The feeling was gone in my left arm and my calves were burning from standing so tall. "I just pretend to talk to him."
Ravigie looked at me with horror in her eyes. Without another word she dropped my arm to grab my hand. It stung as blood flowed back into the veins. The old woman held my hand up, holding her thumb in the center of my palm and pressing hard.
"Ow," I said. "What are you doing?"
"You're marked," Ravigie said, giving back my hand. I rubbed it and held it safe against my stomach.
"I don't understand," I said, knowing that she meant she could see the designs on my palms.
Ravigie looked at me shrewdly. "Don't use that magic to do anything stupid," she said. Just when I was about to ask another question, she walked away. Like she had told me not to forget to milk the goat. Like what she had just said was the simplest thing.
I cleared my throat and swallowed, letting her leave without a fight. When she was back in the house, I looked down at my hands. Magic? As I looked up again, my eyes drifted over the form of the brown paper package, which was still on the kitchen table. It made me think of the courier who had looked at me with fear, backing away before I had even had time to say hello.
Resolution flooded my mind. If I had magic, then I had power. And if I had power...no one could stop me.