To get practice reading out loud and help generating ideas I’m taking part in Write Anything’s Fiction Friday challenge this month. So far, the writing’s been more successful than the reading. Reading and recording takes as long, or even longer, than writing. I’ll try to get this one recorded on time.
I spent about an hour writing these 983 words. Not editing is very difficult. I want to do some major edits to this text, to make it flow better and to add more detail here and there. I’m quite interested in finding out how John and Emma met: they seem to live intersting lives and I wish I knew more about them.
Short, December 16
“Sorry I had to rig your GPS, but you wouldn’t have come otherwise. This is urgent. You know what you said, this morning? About my rashness, my habit to do stupid things? You were right, of course. I do do stupid things, stretch for things just beyond my reach. I don’t seem able to help myself.”
John smiled as he read the note Emma had left on the kitchen table. She wrote just like she spoke and he could hear her voice in his head. Her handwriting was strong and even. He recognized the scarlet ink she always filled her favourite fountain pen with.
“I have a favour to ask of you. Actually, I have two favours to ask of you. The first one is this: don’t leave now. Don’t walk out that door in a snit because I tricked you and you’re cross with me. There’s time for that later. “
He had no intention to leave. He had been angry with her, but that was this morning. Emma was eager to learn, eager to try her powers and to learn to control them. Her ambition was one of the reasons he loved her. She wanted to become the most powerful sorceress in the world. The problem he had with her learning-by-doing approach was her impatience. She threw fireballs and opened portals to parallel dimensions before she’d learned to hover feathers above her hand. She dove straight in, every time, entirely without fear. But magic was dangerous and he was afraid that she’d kill herself in her hurry to master a new technique.
“When you left, I went back to my work and continued to study the text that we quarreled about. It might seem like a really insensitive thing to do when you’ve just had a ding-dong row about it with your boyfriend/teacher, but it was a really interesting text and you were wrong: I could handle it. See, I even learned something new from it. This morning, I wouldn’t have been able to rig your GPS by magical means. But by lunchtime, I could. Isn’t that brilliant?”
It was brilliant. Emma was brilliant. He was so proud of her. John put her note down to make himself a cup of coffee and took both into the living room to read the rest.
“I got lots of great tips on different teleportation techniques – don’t worry, I still haven’t tried most of them, easy does it – as well as the distant manipulation that got you here this evening. The problems started this afternoon, when I looked at the other book. Yes, that one. The one you looked into the strongbox.”
The coffee suddenly tasted bitter in John’s mouth. He got up and walked to the bedroom where the strongbox was, reading as he went.
“I opened the strongbox and hovered the book down to the study all using remote techniques. I’m getting really good at that and at the moment, I don’t think there’s a metal container in the world that can keep me out. Or keep in anything I want out of it. Don’t be too annoyed. You knew I wouldn’t be able to stay away from it for long. Curious George, that’s me. Always monkeying around, sniffing things out.”
The strongbox looked as it always did. The lid was closed and locked. John’s hands shook as he made the signs that unlocked the box. He got down on his knees and opened the lid. A faint smell of sulphur was the only indication that magic had been used. That, and the fact that the book was gone.
This book was one that he really hadn’t wanted Emma to get her hands on until her training was much more advanced. What she had spirited out of the strongbox was the book that held his magic, his tricks and his power: his grimoire. It is not something you share with a novice. Most sorcerers never show another person their grimoire but John had wanted to share it with Emma. Eventually. When he was entirely sure that he could trust her.
“My darling, John. I understand now why it was so important to you that I don’t look at this particular book. It breaks my heart that I didn’t respect your wishes, that I broke in to the strongbox and took it. Here, on the pages in front of me, are all your secrets. It is as if I know your thoughts now and I know how to use them against you. Suddenly, I understand the width of your power – you have so much more that I thought – and I know how to turn that against you too. I know too much to be able to stay. This is our end and it has to happen this instant.”
The sadness John felt was not as strong as the panic that rose in him. Emma had everything she needed to destroy him. To remove him from the fabric of the universe and take everything he’d ever known, achieved and loved and make it her own.
“Here’s the second favour I have to ask of you. Don’t come looking for me. I love you, John, but I love the power more. You understand, don’t you? I know that you do, or you would have shared this with me when I moved in with you. You shared everything else, from bathroom habits to embarrassing dreams, so why not this? It was because it meant more to you than I did. It is the same for me: magic is more important to me than anything. Maybe one day I can give it back to you. Until then, my love, stay safe.”
John crawled into a ball on the floor, crushing the note, smearing the pretty, treacherous letters with hands damp with panic sweat. He was alone. And he was powerless.