Friday, December 4, 2009

Hunt For The Dark Phoenix (part 16) [Friday Fiction ]

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by Karlene "KJ" Jacobsen, herself @ her blog : Homespun expressions. Click here to read and share more great fiction!

Author's Note: Special thanks to all of you who took the time to email me your vote for Eira's hair. I do appreciate it very much-and as you will see, the winning vote is...keep reading to find out! Have a great weekend, sorry this installment is short, but I've got finals coming up in these next two weeks, so you'll just have to hang in there until I have time to type up the action sequences coming up. Cheers!

It wasn’t that she was trying to annoy him on purpose, or so she told herself, but as Eira continued to tramp through the jungle-like trail behind him, every little twinge began to build up inside her until it rose to an unbearable point.
True to his word, they did stop soon, the moment the sky began to darken, he changed direction and found a spot eerily close to the same size and look as the clearing by the river where she’d nearly half-drowned herself.
“We are going in circles, aren’t we?”
He didn’t answer, instead, slinging his pack to the ground and walking a circular path around the perimeter to set up the energy field that protected them at night.
Eira watched him walk in a circle and then draw the energy physically from his body. It emerged dark in form, then shifted and lightened until it gave off the pale yellow glow she was accustomed to. Floating to the top, it spread over in a dome-shape, forming the traditional web.
“Have you made up your mind yet?” He asked, quiet.
Eira ignored him. “Should I just start my meditations?”
“The river is twelve paces to your right from the fork in the corner.” He pointed with one hand, throwing a tiny flicker of energy for her to see the groove in the edge on a mound of dirt. “Count carefully.”
She stared at him for a moment, then scowled upwards at the energy orb. Guessing it to be in the center of the clearing, she set her pack beside his own, and moved to stand beneath the yellow ball. She danced around a few short steps until she was certain she was close enough to be directly under it and then sat down.
It wasn’t until she’d closed her eyes and managed to count a few deep breaths that she realized she didn’t have a way to keep track of time. It took another moment to swallow that thought and the lurking touch of negativity that came with it. If he was going to talk about things she didn’t care to answer to, then she would ignore him.
A simple strategy that now seemed rather pointless. It took another careful series of deep breaths in and out before she decided to simply sit as long as she could stand, or until he interrupted her.
The time passed very slowly.
Eira wasn’t sure how long she was sitting there, but it did feel as if it amounted to much more than forty-three minutes. However, she wasn’t interrupted and she never felt him approach her. This thought was slightly unnerving to the point where she tried to focus long enough to tell whether there was anyone in the clearing, but it didn’t quite register the way she’d wanted.
She couldn’t sense anything at all.
Eventually, she began to feel sleep slowly creeping over her. She woke with a start when a hand touched her shoulder. She licked her lips as she felt him bend down to her level.
“Forty-four.” He whispered, one hand sliding under her arm and hooking beneath her shoulder, hauling her upwards to stand. “Feeling better?”
“No thanks to you.” Eira struggled to wipe the sleep from her mind. It was harder to think than when she’d first sat down. Nothing seemed to be making much sense.
He gave her a little shake. “Don’t ever do that again! What were you thinking?”
“I wasn’t.” Eira croaked, a cough came out as she tried to pull away. “What happened? What did I do this time?”
“You were putting your powers to sleep.”
“What?” That broke through her fog. “I did what?”
“You didn’t do, you were going to.” He gave her another shake, as if for good measure and then released his hold over her. “Look at me.”
“Why?” Eira scowled even as she lifted her eyes to glare defiantly back, or at least with as much attitude as she could muster, her head was beginning to hurt again and it was causing a most unpleasant set of eruptions throughout the rest of her body. The kind that usually led to more troublesome things that caused the headache to become much worse. Of course, such thinking was already giving her more pain within her head and a few pangs to her heart.
The moment their gazes connected, she felt him enter her mind. It was a swift, sharp cut that sliced directly through every wall of defense and every barrier she’d ever constructed. Like a frantic frenzy of some creature, his mind’s probe darted in and out poking in every corner, searching for something it could not find.
And then as quickly as it could enter, it withdrew.
The choked gasp that came out was almost as if he was strangling her. Eira lurched forward a half-step and froze. His hands were gentle on her shoulders, easing her to the ground. “Eira? I need you to keep talking to me…that was one of two things, reviving your powers…awakening them, rather and making sure that your self-healing wasn’t killed in the process. You’re going to feel horrible for about…” He frowned, the expression suddenly making him appear quite comical. “All of a entire minute or so.”
That, Eira discovered, was the truth. No sooner had the horrible feelings come and gone, than they disappeared. It was a nice and easy going little happy fuzzy feeling that trickled down all around her. Breathing was nice, easy and slow.
“Well?” He demanded, standing above her, waiting to see if she’d catch her bearings. “How do you feel now?”
“Fine.” Eira sat up, surprised. The headache was gone, the fog was gone, in fact, she was feeling very much alive. And awake. “What did you do?”
“Something I shouldn’t have had to done if you would have kept your head screwed on straight!”
“Excuse me, I didn’t know it was crooked!” Her temper resurfaced in record time. “The last I knew, it was sitting on top of my shoulders and just about as empty as any thing else around here!”
“That makes absolutely no sense at all.”
“Does it have to?” Eira shot back. “What are you getting so-” She stopped. “Don’t tell me, did I almost kill myself again, or something like that?”
“No, but if you do that again, I’ll finish you myself.” He snapped. “That was a stupid and idiotic thing to do.”
“What was?”
“Unsupervised meditation.”
“I didn’t realize that I needed to be supervised.”
“Did I neglect to mention it?”
“If you did or didn’t, I can’t say that I know. I wouldn’t have been paying attention! Meditation is boring. I was just trying to get rid of those stupid minutes!”
“I ought to double those yet again.” He growled. “Didn’t you feel anything wrong?”
“No.” Eira shrugged. “Should I have?”
“NO?” He repeated, a slight tremor moved over him. “You didn’t feel anything at all?”
“I didn’t know I was supposed to feel anything.”
“You should have felt something.”
“I didn’t feel anything!” Eira snapped, exasperated. “Good grief! How many times do I have to repeat myself before anything goes beyond your thi-”
“You should have been able to sense me.” His eyes closed for a moment. “I thought you’d fallen asleep. I sensed you focus, so I let you be on your own for a few minutes, when you started slipping away, I tried to wake you up, and you wouldn’t move.” The eyes opened again, this time, they were tired. “You didn’t almost kill yourself, you were quite nearly as good as dead…to this world and realm.”
“What?”
“Your eloquence never ceases to amaze me.” The words were muttered, but he helped her up and immediately thwacked her forehead. “Don’t do that again. No meditations unsupervised, understood?”
“Ow.” Eira took a step backward, one hand raising upwards to poke her head. “I didn’t have a headache until you did that.”
“Liar.” He turned away, abruptly. “You don’t have any headaches at all…the healing packet inside of you…fixed it. What I don’t understand is how you didn’t realize there was something wrong…for the record, Eira, if you die in this dimension, you are dead here. I have no idea where else you’ll go or what will happen. Your energies may sustain you for some time, but what you did-whether you knew it or not, wasn’t very smart at all. Didn’t they teach you anything about your powers when you attended academy basic?”
“If they did-”
“Then you weren’t paying attention.” He finished for her with a shake of his head. “Not good at all, Eira.” He rubbed his nose for a moment and then threw up his hands. “You’re not going to be formally trainable are you?”
Eira blinked, but she couldn’t stop the word that popped out. “What?”
He muttered something she couldn’t hear and then turned around to face her again. “Hair. We’re focusing on one thing at a time and right now it is your hair. It’s late. I’m tired. You’re tired. Let’s just get this over with quickly. Are you going to cut it?”
“I can’t.” Eira winced. She didn’t want to know exactly what his expression was to that. “I just…can’t.”
“It is necessary.” He repeated the words slowly. “There is no compromise on this.”
“I know.”
“and your answer is…?”
“I can’t cut my own hair.” Eira felt the first traces of a headache coming back-for real. But it hovered in the background as she took the time to identify it. “Please…isn’t there some kind of disguise and-”
“You can grow it back once we’re past that city, once we’re clear of everything.” He tried to catch her eye. “Please understand at this point, I am not trying some cruel tactic for-”
“You don’t understand at all! It’s my hair! My HAIR!”
“And it’s…beautiful…but your life depends on this, Eira.” His voice was soothing now, coaxing as if he were talking to a young child. “You can’t keep it now…later, yes…now, no.” He drew a short knife from his waistband and offered it to her. “Here.”
Eira took a step away from it, the pressure mounting steadily. “I c-can’t.”
“That’s okay…try.” He took a step forward.
She took another step back. “I can’t try…I’ll make a mess of it…and my hair takes a long time to grow.”
He didn’t answer, but he took another step forward to keep the distance between them. “you don’t know that you aren’t capable of trying until you try.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Does it have to?” He almost smiled. “Little between us seems to make any sense at all.”
“That’s your fault.” She sniffed. “You’re always talking in riddles.”
“And you never answer in complete sentences.” He countered.
“Like what?”
“You’re dodging the subject.”
“Am not.”
“Eira.”
“I’m not! You are always talking in riddles.”
“That’s not the subject I’m talking about.”
“Then talk about a different one.”
“I can’t.”
“Why not!”
“You can either do it yourself or I can do it for you. Pick one or the other and pick it now.” The coolness had returned to his voice. “and I do mean, right now.”
“You’d cut it for me?” Her head snapped up to look straight at him. “Would you really? Do you even know how to cut hair?”
“How about, do you really believe I have a personal hairdresser?”
“You make it sound weird.” Her gaze skittered across the simple, almost standard hairstyle. “N-no…you probably scare people away.”
“Not on purpose, but certainly not for lack of trying.” He twirled the knife. “Catch?”
“N-no!” Eira held her hands up. “Just cut it…yourself…quick.”
His eyebrows went up. “Really? Are you sure?”
“Don’t ask me. You’re the one that wants it cut.”
“For very necessary reasons.” He spun his finger. “Turn around.”
She hesitated and turned, crossing her arms, eyes squeezed tightly shut. “Just…do it quick.”
“If you wish.”
She felt him move closer and cringed as the knife sliced neatly through the messy braid of hair. She hadn’t had time to look after it today and now for sure, all the ends would be uneven and-the knife curved around her ear, jerking her to a new place of stillness.
“I’ll even it out.” He said, smoothly. His hands were experts as they wove quickly through the hair and the knife twirled easily beneath his hands. “And done.” He leaned forward and tucked the knife into her waistband. “Keep that. I want you to have a physical weapon on hand somewhere.”
Her eyes opened slowly and she was aware of him moving away and soon rummaging in his pack again. She didn’t dare look over her shoulder, for at that moment, Eira wanted to be anywhere else in the world, the universe or realm…but exactly where she was standing. Of course, wishing did precious little to improve her current situation, but eventually she worked up the nerve to reach a hand to touch the short crop of hair. The weight was missing and it felt all wrong.
Fingers tangled through the rough edges and then she released a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been thinking of.
“Catch.”
His voice was faint, almost muffled.
Automatically, Eira turned, hands poised to receive whatever it was. She barely had time to adjust for the tiny bubble of silver. She caught it, nearly dropping the item when it was soft and warm to the touch, before straightening out to show a silvery, oval platter-like shape.
A mirror.
The reflection staring back at her was one she couldn’t quite make out as her hair seemed to be swarming around her face and cut much shorter than she could make out.
“Is it that bad?” His image appeared beside hers in the platter and the head bobbed and twisted. “It’ll look better in the morning.” The face disappeared and the platter-mirror dissolved.
Eira was left staring at her hands until she finally crumpled to the ground. It was a shock that hadn’t quite left yet as she slowly hugged herself and let the tears fall. There was more memories than anything in her hair…and he’d taken it away.
© Sara Harricharan
(copyright SH)

6 comments:

Catrina Bradley... said...

Ah, Sara, what a sad ending. I can totally relate to the hair thing. Well, probably not - it seems she was more than attached...

Great installment!
Love ya
Cat

Sara Harricharan @ Fiction Fusion said...

LOL! Yeah, it is a bit sad for Eira. Glad you're enjoying the story so far, Cat. I'm having a blast writing it. ^_^

Yvonne said...

Love your new look! so sparkly, just like you!

J.H. said...

__What’s up, aaaaaand here’s another comment. I’m on a vacation of sorts from my income job this week and I thought I’d surprise you (or perhaps I’m frustrating you now) with a comment every day. Hasn’t quite worked out as planned; my vacation ends on Saturday.

= So Eira, or the D.Phe. rather, cuts off her hair. And they are still walking in circles waiting for you, Sara, to reveal which character flaws Eira needs to change. Ho-hum. My frustration is mellowing out. I had a thought, if Eira’s flaws are considered her “sin nature” it’d be classic if those were personified. She’d wake up and there’d be a mirror image of herself, like Dark Link or Mr. Hyde, that would be a combination of all her flaws. The D.Phe. helps her overcome them and when she does she’s more mature.

? “You were putting your powers to sleep.”
“...I did what?”
My thoughts exactly—what!?! Please explain how, had Eira put her powers to sleep, this would have killed her? Right then and there is where you should have explained this; without it, I don’t get a sense of peril or the importance of his warning. The D. Phe.’s supposed to be teaching Eira important things, right?

J.H. said...

+ You have a way of moving the narration through insignificant detail by focusing on the emotions of the main character(s) and I find this enjoyable to observe and learn from; in other words, excellent pacing. For example, paragraph 1. Eira and her master do a lot of walking. You mention that, but that’s not where you focus my attention: “…as Eira continued to tramp… every little twinge began to build up inside her until it rose to an unbearable point.”
The D.Phe. cuts Eira’s hair in paragraphs 91 and 92 and is paced smooth. You could have been overly straightforward and described every trim and snip, rather: "She hadn’t had time to look after it today and now for sure, all the ends would be uneven and-the knife curved around her ear, jerking her to a new place of stillness….His hands were experts as they wove quickly through the hair and the knife twirled easily beneath his hands. “And done.” " Great finish right there!

- Clunky sentence. This one has more to do with word choice than sentence structure, but I still want to make you aware. Paragraph 94: “Fingers tangled through the rough edges and then she released a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been thinking of.” We don’t really “think” about taking breaths most times do we? Our bodies do the ‘thinking’ for us, therefore, your idea of shock would come across better if Eira’s thoughts are disconnected from her body’s involuntary actions. “Fingers tangled through the rough edges and then her lungs released a breath that…they’d taken.”

- Last paragraph: “There was more memories than anything in her hair….” Really? I don’t believe you. Sixteen installments and I haven’t read of ONE fond memory Eira has had with her hair. I don’t think you even mentioned what color it is! Sure, I’ve seen the image of Eira from part 19; her hair is brown. You still have an obligation to describe your main character, especially as it relates to how she feels about herself.

Sara Harricharan @ Fiction Fusion said...

Hi J.H.! I finally have the time to try and catch up with all the wonderful comments you left for me.

Hopefully I won't max out the word count on this comment box like the last time. I hope your vacation was nice!

I did not think of personifying Eira's flaws, that's a great idea to keep in mind for the future. I was kind of stuck on her silly points, eating a lot, whining, being a brat, a city kid, etc. But none of these show through, so I can see how it would be irritating.

LOL, yes, the DP is supposed to be teaching her important things, but honestly doesn't do too much of that at the moment. The powers to sleep was a point I forgot to use later on and now, it's just something I plan to edit out, because it only added confusion, for the sake of something "interesting" in the chapter, is the only reason it was there. (which isn't even a valid excuse, I know) thank you for pointing it out. I'm glad to have extra input on pieces/snippets I intended to cut.

I'm glad you liked the Hair Scene, that was fun for me, because it was a reflection of the DP, calm, collected and quick.

Completely missed the "clunk" you found. Thank you for that note--I can see what you mean about thinking of natural/automatic habits.

*facepalm* Thank you for the note on that. I didn't give any reason for her to miss her hair, except for the fact that she's a girl and generally a hair cut shorter than what she's used to, causes frustration/sadness. Good point, I definitely need to clear this up. Eira doesn't have a description until later, mostly because I didn't give it any thought. This was me randomly throwing things together and thinking I'd puzzle it out later and didn't. I have a more finalized picture of her now, but will need to add descriptions to my edits. Thanks a bunch-this was very helpful, I do appreciate it! ^_^

~S