writing

At the Witch’s Discretion

He was dissolving.  Or he was melting.  He was choking.  Or maybe he was just dying.

He stumbled down the street towards the coffeehouse.  Cassie was working tonight.  Cassie would know what to do.  She would help him.  She wasn’t that kind of witch.

The cool, damp air pressed against his dry, aching skin.  He hadn’t felt so bad since he had mono in the tenth grade.  Only this was worse.  This was like drowning in sand, Princess Bride style.

The tires of passing cars made shushing sounds over the wet street.  It sounded like ocean waves.

A light flared to his left and a car horn blew right in his ear.  He stared at the car stopped a foot from his side–should he be worried about getting run over if he was already dying?  Even as he watched, the tires squealed and the car reversed and from the open driver’s side window, someone swore loudly.

Just ahead, the coffeehouse, a haven of golden light and dark wood and shining coffee pots.  The door jingled as he stepped in.

He’d just spotted Cassie clearing a table when someone gasped, then shrieked.  At the shriek, Cassie turned.

As he shuffled through the tables towards her, warlocks held their arms out protectively across the girls around them, their cuffs glowing as they charged up.  Girls clutched their amulets and recoiled.  But Cassie–she didn’t look surprised.

When he told her, “Cassie, I think I’m dying!” she blinked and, with a slight frown as if he were bothering her, said, “Well, of course you are.  That’s rather the point.”

“What?”  His throat was so dry, he couldn’t believe he was still capable of speech.

Cassie raised her eyebrows.  She stood there with the damp rag in one hand, the other propped on her hip.  Her long, golden hair was loose as usual, her witch’s beads woven proudly through it.

“Are you honestly surprised?” she laughed.  “Don’t your people have a saying about how you can’t trust a witch?”

The coffeehouse was silent.  He could only just hear his own heartbeat.

“But I thought–” He’d thought a lot of things.  Dumb, foolish, heart-mad things.

Cassie smiled at him pityingly, her head cocked.  “I’m sorry, my love.  Nothing personal.”

She dropped the rag on the table, slung her apron off and tossed it over the counter, and walked out.

He turned to watch her as she passed, and he caught sight of himself in the dark window.

He wasn’t dissolving or melting.  He was simply falling away.  The sand in his throat wasn’t sand–it was dust.  He reached up to touch his hollowed cheek, and cobwebs stuck to his fingers as he pulled them away.

The bell over the door jingled as the witch left him behind to die.


Hello, my darlings!

So here’s two days gone now.  If you’re just tuning in, I’m challenging myself to write every day for the month of October, and you can join me if you want to challenge yourself to a month of creative productivity.  You can read the full rundown here or visit my Instagram page here or read yesterday’s response here.

Today’s prompt was: coffeehouse / cobweb / jaw

I was so tired when I woke up this morning.  (Which, I don’t know why, because I slept quite late?)  I felt really rushed and harassed and just wanted to do this thing right, so I was decidedly not in the right headspace when I started this morning.

But I slapped something down anyway.

I had my piece of scratch paper for my outline.  I teased out some ideas from the prompt (did I want it set in a coffeehouse or just mention the coffeehouse?  How could I do something unexpected with cobwebs?).  The idea didn’t make much sense to me as it came, but I wrote it out anyway.

I was interrupted before I started writing properly, but the moment I was back at my desk, I started writing.  I didn’t want to think too much about the outline I’d sketched out.  I just wanted to feel productive.

So I wrote.

Review

I feel I should’ve spent a little more time understanding what was happening in this piece (isn’t a strange feeling when even you don’t know what’s going on?) because without the stakes or nuances defined, I think it loses something.

I think I did a good job with my details, though, establishing the contrast between the dark, cool street and the warm, dry, brightly-lit coffeehouse, although I do think I could have shored up my sensory details more.  I also like the dialogue.  I think I do well on dialogue overall, actually.  I’d consider it one of my strengths.

I’m really intrigued by the details that came out of this, like the warlocks reaching out to protect the girls around them, their cuffs glowing, and the girls clutching amulets.  I also like how Cassie, the witch, has beads in her hair to indicate she’s a witch?  Some very interesting details emerged.

Overall, I’m proud of myself for pressing on even when I was tired and brain dead.  I’m looking forward to tomorrow!

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