FIRST FROST EXCERPT
Bianca got out of her car and ran inside the house. She called for her mother as she searched for her upstairs in all of the rooms. Nothing. She quickly ran downstairs and was ready to go down to the basement when a strange turquoise light caught her eye. She looked out the kitchen window; she couldn’t believe what she saw. Her mother was throwing what Bianca could only describe as balls of turquoise fireballs at a woman wearing a black hood. Bianca couldn’t see the woman’s face, but she could see her pale hands and slender fingers.
Bianca tried to make sense of it all. She kept expecting to see a special effects crew to come out from behind the trees and tell her that it was all part of an elaborate prank. But no such thing happened. All she knew was that a strange turquoise flame was coming out of her mother’s hands.
She knew that her mother sometimes read old dusty books on witchcraft, but she didn’t know she had actual powers. She thought about all the little quirks her mother had. Things that Bianca thought were essentially Rose. Her mother talked to plants and trees. She would sometimes stare off into space as though she were looking at something in another world. Something only she could see. She read tarot cards to random people and would tell them things about his or her life as though she were reading an open book. Bianca always thought she just made really lucky guesses. She chose not to believe in this other world and everything it stood for. Magic represented a life out of the norm, and Bianca desperately wanted to be normal. Just like everyone else.
Bianca pulled herself out of her thoughts. As she looked at the blue and green flashes in the backyard, she quickly realized that this was something she couldn’t escape. Normal was no longer a part of her world.
Normal was no longer an option for her.
Bianca didn’t know what to do. She was frozen in place. She was afraid to distract her mother for even a second. She ducked behind the screen door; at least this way she could still hear what they were saying to each other.
“Did you really think I wouldn’t come?” the witch shouted.
“Oh, I knew you’d be back,” Rose replied.
Bianca slowly lifted her gaze and peeked above the screen. She saw her mother standing behind the shed on the left side of their backyard. The witch was still too far away for her to get a good look at her, but Bianca could tell that she was on the far right corner of their yard.
“Where’s the book?” the witch demanded.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Rose replied with a smirk.
“Don’t be coy with me. You know very well what I’m talking about.”
“Sorry. I can’t help you.” Rose’s breathing was becoming more labored and she was drenched in sweat…obvious signs of exhaustion, but Bianca could tell by the look on her mother’s face that she wouldn’t give up.
“The wards in the museum are impressive. I couldn’t get past them. But maybe…she’ll know where the book is,” the witch said as she looked in Bianca’s direction and threw a sickly olive-colored fireball at the screen door.
Bianca shrieked and jumped out of the way. The screen door fell off its hinges and landed on the kitchen floor with a loud thud.
“Bianca!” Rose screamed.
© 2013 Liz DeJesus
Bianca continued to follow Knox up the lopsided stairs. She had to bend a little so her head wouldn’t touch the ceiling. Once they reached the hallway, she studied her surroundings. There were four rooms. Three of them she could peek into, but all she could see was the foot of their beds. The door to the fourth bedroom was closed. That was the room he led her to.
Knox opened the door; it released a soft creak, as though it had been ages since anyone had stepped inside its threshold. It had a higher ceiling than the rest of the cottage. In the middle of the room was a full-size bed with white lace sheets and a single pillow. There was a small night table with a silver candlestick and a single half-burnt white candle. At the foot of the bed was a large wooden trunk. It was a beautiful polished cherry. All Bianca wanted to do was open it and find out what secrets it held.
“This was Snow’s room,” Knox said.
“It’s beautiful.” And Bianca meant it. She was struck by the simplicity of the place. It was elegant. Uncomplicated. Much like the woman that inhabited this space.
“We’ve left it just as it is. We come in every once in a while to dust and clean off the cobwebs.”
He opened the trunk and very carefully placed the items on top of the bed. There was a white dress, a pair of dusty-rose silk slippers, black work boots, a navy-blue and white quilt, and lace gloves that had yellowed with age. Then he tugged on a small piece of rope and revealed a secret hiding place. Patiently, Bianca waited. Knox pulled out a red velvet bag with gold ties.
“Here.” He handed the bag to Bianca.
“What is it?” she asked as she took the bag from him. She couldn’t get over the rich velvet fabric she held in her hands. The fabric felt soft against her fingertips. Bianca had never seen anything so luxurious in her life.
“I don’t know. I’ve never looked inside. She never said what it was or what to do with it. All she told me was that she would return someday to retrieve it. Unfortunately that day never came. And seeing as you’re her kin, I like to think she wouldn’t mind if you had it.”
Knox took the items he had placed on the bed and put them back inside the trunk. He gently closed the lid and walked out of the room. He closed the door behind him with a soft click, leaving Bianca alone to examine the red velvet bag.
She let out a deep sigh. It never ends.
She sat on the corner of the bed. The color on the blood-red bag was still bright. It was as though it had been at the bottom of the trunk for a few days and not a couple of centuries. She undid the knot and emptied the contents on top of the bed.
“Apple seeds,” she whispered.
© 2015 Liz DeJesus