Rise is a new short story I'm drafting, working on the themes of love, grief, vengeance, and resurrection. The above image is a teaser of the cover, but not necessarily the final version.
*This is a raw, unedited draft. Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think.
I cried at my first resurrection. I never wanted to be brought back. Death was a welcome blessing. A nothing. A brief escape from the responsibility awaiting me, a duty brought nearer by every sunrise. But the choice to return wasn’t mine. Rising is what my family does. The task which fell to my mother before me, hers before her, and so on and so on, back to the beginning. Back to when she created us, summoning the first of my line from the ashes with all the force of a grief-stricken lover who wanted the world to burn and feel her pain.
Letting go wasn’t possible for Anne.
Neither was moving on. Each day she fell further into the abyss, the walls of her emotional prison growing taller and more inescapable.
And she wasn’t alone.
Many came before. Many after. They lived different lives, suffered under different circumstances. Yet, there was a vital commonality that linked the women together over time: a profound loss that refuses to fade. A pain that never wanes. A heart that does more than break. It festers, dying a slow, poisonous death, hardening and darkening, shriveling and rotting. Loathing twists around their sorrow, letting bitterness in to spread like a hearty winter vine, squeezing out whatever good remained, choking reason and hope—whittling their very existence down to one thing, one consuming notion. One reason to live. Revenge.
It sated Anne like a fine meal, driving her deeper into isolation, deeper into the witchcraft—the very thing which brought about her loss in the first place.
The exposure of her illicit relationship with the magistrate’s wife might have brought a less permanent punishment, if not for Anne’s reputation. She’d been accused of practicing the dark arts and exiled from the village the year before, a leniency granted only in deference to the status of Anne’s father in the community. Communication between the women was forbidden. But love is a spell none can control, and a beautiful night of consummated desire ended with a panicked flight through the dark woods.
Running for their lives, pursued by angry men who set the trees aflame in their search; Anne lost track of her lover. She found her the next morning sprawled in a dew-wet clearing. The sun shining down on her pale body, tied, beaten, violated. Burned. Legend says Anne thawed the frozen ground with the heat of her tears and buried the remains. She retreated, then, moving far away from the village. But not to mourn and heal. To plot and plan.
Witchcraft had only been a mild interest before. A dabbling. The men who so violently extinguished the single bright light in her life ensured it became so much more.
When Anne was ready, she returned and dug up the bones. Calling to things she didn’t truly understand, nor cared to at the time, she lit the pyre, and cast the spell. Anne summoned the spirit of her dead lover and resurrected Esilda, my ancestor, my namesake; the first of us to rise.
Only, what Anne brought back wasn’t what she lost.