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Fantasy Fiction Suspense

Shock rippled out over my relatives’ faces. I glanced around at their horrified expressions, already seeing the signs of rejection that were brewing under their normally kindly faces. They didn’t understand just yet - they were questioning if they had heard me correctly, if it was not simply a bad dream.

A soft murmur swelled and broke over the stunned silence. They were turning to each other now, asking if they had heard the same thing. They would turn on me in a moment, demanding to know what I meant-

Up until now, I had avoided looking into my father’s face. I felt I could not bear to see the anguish that I knew would be there…

“Risha.”

My father’s voice sounded softly in my ear. Incredibly, it did not sound at all angry. I looked up at him, puzzled, and suddenly I was reeling under the impact of his blow.

I heard, vaguely, the gasps and cries of my family around me, tasted the sharp, metallic tang of blood, felt my head roaring and pounding inside me-

My father had never struck me before.

And yet, I had no one to blame but myself. I had hurt him horribly, destroyed my family’s pride. They would see me as nothing but a coward and traitor - a coward because I would not accept any responsibility for my role in the family, and a traitor because I was abandoning them.

I closed my eyes as a fresh stab of pain ripped through my skull. How could I make him understand? How could I make him see I was not doing this out of disrespect, but because I believed the slave-trade to be horribly wrong?

I looked up again, and my blurred vision focused on my father’s face. He was staring back at me, his face set and hard. 

“Father-” I began, despair choking my words before I could say anything else. He didn’t care; he had already rejected me, there was no going back... 

“Get out.”

The words were gritted out from between his teeth, as if it were torture to merely acknowledge me.

“Please-”

“Get out!”

I stumbled under the impact of his words, my world breaking up and falling away beneath me. I couldn’t leave like this, I had to make him see-

But one look at his set face told me all I needed to know. He would never forgive me. 

I turned and walked out of the room, the world dissolving into mist before my swimming eyes. 

****

I stumbled up the stairs and down the hall leading to my room. My fingers brushed against the smooth wooden surface of the door as I pushed it open and I suddenly realized this might be the last time I would enter this room. 

I paused, the implications of my thoughts sweeping over me. Never again enter this room - but I didn’t see how it could be otherwise. My father had made it very clear how my family should view me from now on. They would treat me as if I were invisible, or worse…

Disinheritance had never been how I thought my life might play out, but now it seemed a very real possibility.

I walked into the room, my mind suddenly made up. Better to leave quietly than publicly thrown out.

In a few minutes I had thrown a few clothes and belongings into a bag. My hands were hardly aware of what my brain was doing - it all seemed so unreal. It was a dream; I would wake up in a few moments with my sister’s face smiling into mine.

Leana - would I ever see her again? I hadn’t caught her gaze once after I renounced my inheritance. Did she hate me for it? Would she ever forgive me? 

I sat down on my bed and buried my head in my hands. I couldn’t leave like this. I couldn’t bear never seeing any of my family again. I loved them, although I could not agree with them. I could not imagine a life apart from them, day after day slipping past, alone, struggling to survive -

Maybe it would be best to give it all up and say I would do it.

I shook myself. No, I had made my decision, I couldn’t go back now. They wouldn’t listen to me. It was better to go now, before anyone found me…

I grabbed my bag and crossed over to the window. As a child, I had often sneaked out of my room by climbing down the tall pillar outside; it would be easier than trying to sneak through the house.

I had already pushed open the window when a knock sounded on the door. Two quick followed by two slow - the secret knock my sister and I always used to let each other know one of us was knocking. 

I hesitated. Urgency was pressing itself upon me, hot and heavy. But I couldn’t leave without knowing how Leana saw me now.

I sighed and closed the window. “Come in.”

Leana pushed the door open and walked in. Upon seeing me, she rushed across the room and flung her arms around me. Her warm, sweet scent wafted around me and drew me into her, bringing back memories of when we were small children, playing in the garden, running through the streets…

She pulled herself away and looked up at me, her eyes smudged with tears despite her smile. “Thank goodness I caught you.”

“What do you mean?” I reached out and wiped away a tear that was threatening to slip down her cheek.

“You’re running away. I thought you might.”

I opened my mouth to respond, but she cut in first. 

“Risha, don’t go. If you leave like this, I’ll never see you again. Please-” Leana’s eyes suddenly overflowed and dissolved into tears. 

I led her over to the bed and gently sat her down. I pulled her into me, laying her head on my chest and softly rubbing her back. Almost as if she were a very small child again. After a few moments she relaxed and her breathing slowed. I held her a little tighter. I didn’t want to let go of this moment, wished it could go on and on and on…

Eventually, however, she sat up and rubbed her eyes. “I’m sorry, Risha. I didn’t mean to completely lose control like that. It’s just - I love you so much! I can’t let you go!”

She turned to me, her eyes pathetically appealing. How could I refuse this sister whom I loved so much? 

“Leana-”

She reached up and laid a finger over my mouth. “Hush. Listen to what I have to say.”

I obediently sat back and waited. Anything to prolong these last moments…

“Risha, there’s still a chance you can win back Father’s good will. I know he seemed horribly angry, but I also know he still loves you underneath. He just feels that he can’t do other than reject you if you refuse to take on his role - it’s expected of him.”

I tried to cut in - I knew what she was trying to say - but she went on.

“If you just went back down now, and begged his forgiveness, and vowed to become the head of the family, he would still take you back. He doesn’t want to estrange you, but he feels he has to if you won’t do what you are supposed to.”

I closed my eyes, pain ripping through me. I could have resisted her if she came to me angry and demanding, but she knows me better than I know myself. She knew I wouldn't be able to resist her if she asked me like this.

I opened my mouth, ready to tell her I’ll do it, but something held me back. I suddenly remembered as a small child, walking along the city streets with my father, when we encountered a shopkeeper and his slave. The slave had not done something correctly, and the shopkeeper was livid with rage. I could still see the shopkeeper’s arm, lifting and cracking back down again and again, while the old man begged for mercy. I remembered how it had gone on and on until the man suddenly shuddered and lay still. 

I had never seen death before, but that day he passed before my childish eyes and brushed away the innocent scales covering them. I was not old then, but years of knowledge fell upon me in a moment. My sister had never seen anything like that; she didn’t know…

“Leana-” I began, and stopped again. How would I tell her? She was naturally so goodhearted; she might not understand that our family was not perfect in everything we did - she might not believe me.

But to my immense surprise, she said, “I know. You think you don’t know how to tell me, but I’m not blind. I understand why you hate what our family does, and why you would want to reject it.” She took a deep breath. “I know it seems impossible to take on that role, but you are not responsible for how others treat their slaves. You don’t even have to keep slaves yourself; you can practically wash your hands of it.”

I shook my head. I desperately wanted to agree with what she was saying, but I knew it was wrong. 

“No, Leana. Even if I released all our slaves, and only ran the slave trade, I still am to blame for the consequences. By selling people as slaves, I’m still giving others the opportunity to mistreat them. I might not actually beat these people, or starve them, or mistreat them directly, but I make it possible for others to do so.”

I looked down into her unhappy face and gently brushed back a lock of hair that had fallen into her face. 

“You see, Leana - by selling slaves, I still contribute to the misery.”

She looked at me for a long moment and suddenly pushed me away and stood up. 

“Alright! Leave for all I care! I know you think it’s wrong, but can’t you ignore that for my sake? For everyone’s sake? If you really loved us, you would do what’s best for us!”

I rose, my hope failing. She didn’t understand…

“Leana-” I grabbed her hand, but she pulled it away.

“Don’t touch me!”

We faced each other for a moment, time dragging out..

Then Leana tossed her head and turned away, heading for the door.

“Leana!”

She paused, her hand on the door. For a moment, she did not speak. Then- 

“Don’t speak to me. You are as one dead to us and I have already done wrong in speaking to you at all.”

She turned back to face me, and I could see sharp lines of anger hardening her youthful face.

“If you are going to leave, I will not tell anyone. But that is because I want you gone, not because I feel any empathy.”

She pushed open the door and walked out.

I watched her go, my last hopes dissolving into nothing. 

I was alone. 

November 30, 2020 17:05

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12 comments

Grace Larson
17:08 Nov 30, 2020

Hey y'all! So this story does not super accurately follow the prompt - it's not really so much about being obsessed with a goal as someone being obsessed with a choice. However, it's the best I could do with trying to follow a prompt and continue the story started in 'One Word'. Happy reading and lemme know what y'all think!

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Soumya Garg
14:06 Dec 17, 2020

And I loved this part too! Its just amazing. But please make another part of it. I cannot wait to read what happens next. Not directly relevant with the prompt, but that was the least thing I cared :) See you in next week's prompts. WELL DONE!

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Grace Larson
18:20 Dec 17, 2020

Thank you so much! I will definitely make a part 3 to this (should only need one more part to wrap it up!) but I have to wait until I get a prompt that works. Last week's were all about cookies, so that did not work at all lol. One of this week's might work, but I have to see. Still haven't started a story because I've been so busy!! I will finish this story tho, in time:)

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Soumya Garg
01:56 Dec 18, 2020

Sure! I will wait :)

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Ananya Bhalla
02:09 Dec 17, 2020

As I haven't read the first parts yet, I don't necessarily know much about the plot...so I'll stick with writing style critique. Leana's sudden emotional shift was a bit underdeveloped; it would be more realistic if there was a build-up in either dialogue or expression. You could also increase suspense by adding more tension-filled silences or by describing how the father's features contort in confusion or anger as he processes what he heard. Overall, it's a promising story, and I'll probably take the time to go back and find the previous p...

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Grace Larson
18:15 Dec 17, 2020

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! It really means a lot to me when people actually tell me what worked and didn't work in my story as it definitely helps me grow as a writer:) I will definitely read my story again to see where I could improve based on your comments. Again, thank you so much!

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Ananya Bhalla
22:10 Dec 17, 2020

You're welcome, Grace, and I appreciate how you took my constructive criticism. It takes a strong writer to admit that he/she has room to improve.

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16:22 Dec 04, 2020

What a bummer, I could have expected this would happen but still a bummer. Will there be a part 3? This is like “Gone with the Wind” kind of material. I can relate this to the mid 1800’s but is it where you placed this story? Is this an alternate future where slavery still exists and we can expect the cell phone to ring at any time? Looking for more when you have it. Please send me a message when you are done. Robert

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Grace Larson
16:31 Dec 04, 2020

Thanks so much for reading it! Yes, there will be a part three, although probably not this week because the prompts are all about baking and idk if I could fit that in. The setting is completely fictional, just a random fantasy world that doesn't really exist. I didn't put a whole lot of detail in because I didn't want to go overboard with descrriptions, but I do realize that the setting then becomes rather unclear. I could go back and fix that though:) Thanks again for reading and I will totally let you know when the next part comes out!

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21:15 Dec 04, 2020

Excellent! I understand not wanting to get bogged down with descriptions but in my mind, when I hear slaves and slave trade it took me to pre civil war America. If it wasn’t that time frame or even an alternative world I think it should be described as such because this might be the only example the reader has, like I did. Does that make sense? Robert

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Méliss Lgrd
10:52 Dec 01, 2020

It's a great challenge you've set for yourself! A great idea. It's true that it's more of a choice than an obsession, but I wouldn't say it's irrelevant. I liked the story and as usual, it's still as easy to read you and to be able to project yourself in your stories! See you next week aha :)

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Grace Larson
15:06 Dec 01, 2020

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my work!! And thanks for your output about my story not quite matching the prompt - it's good to know people still enjoy reading it despite it not exactly following the idea it was supposed to:)

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