3 comments

Fantasy Fiction

No physical compulsion? She signs, baffled by my admission.

I shake my head. There is nothing to keep me from telling the truth, save the knowledge that I will lose absolutely everything if I do.

Destinee raises a fine eyebrow before nuzzling closer to me. We watch her cousin in open amusement as he begins his daily struggle of wrestling the pink disc from the stubborn clutches of Night. The air shifts, Wind blessing our bodies with her cool breeze as the planet warms. Destinee wills her midnight tendrils to stay impervious to its pull. I carefully twirl a ringlet around my finger, smiling indulgently at her vain tendencies. Not even Wind’s good intentions are enough for Destinee to permit a stray or frizzy strand of hair.

We seldom converse in the first hours of the day. Silence may be an obstacle elsewhere, but here, with her, it’s akin to an old blanket—worn and comforting. It wasn’t always this way. I met Destinee before her tongue was cursed. This golden-skinned, petite goddess spoke like she was in constant fear of interruption. Her words collided with one another, stumbling to attribute meaning and profundity to each line of speech. Many gods avoided Destinee, and for good reason. A conversation with her was like performing a play without lines.

Destinee had a special affinity for collecting the deepest-held convictions and fears of others. Luxuries aren’t difficult to obtain for immortals, so we barter with something far more valuable: secrets. The future holds no mystery or allure, but the present consistently eludes Destinee. When I asked her if she ever used her newfound information to tinker with the future, she simply winked and said, “That’s the beauty of the future. It never exists. Thus, I’ll never get in trouble for influencing it how I wish.” I sometimes wonder if she knew then how wrong she was.

Destinee’s gluttony for secrets was well-known, and regular visitors frequent. Her silvery-grey eyes would alight at the prospect of learning something her visions weren’t privy to, and precious bits of the future would tumble impulsively out of eager lips.

It was at Poetry’s first birthday party that Destinee’s words abandoned their safe realm of inconsequential and entered imminently dangerous territory…

I don a simple black dress that ends just at the knee. My long auburn hair is pulled into a messy bun, the only style my clumsy fingers can achieve. Destinee enters our room in a stunning floral number. Flora herself had blessed it with the enticing scent and lazily waving energy of a pristine meadow in exchange for the knowledge that her next children would be a healthy pair of girls. I watch a lilac petal on her sleeve shiver in a breeze I cannot feel.

She laughs softly upon spotting my hairdo and instructs me to sit on the edge of the bed. She pulls out my pins and begins anew, her gentle hands weaving with the same intensity and practiced ease with which a spider spins its web for an early supper. I feel her touch for an extra spare moment each time she pulls away to pick up another pin. The echo’s sensation makes me grin. My smile vanishes as I catch her reflection in the mirror. Her elegant beauty takes my breath away. Not for the first time, I mourn the fact that I can never tell her outright how she makes me feel.

“What will your gift be, Dee?” Destinee asks. “A silver tongue? Perhaps a talent for hearing lies?” She catches my dark expression and returns the scowl. “How dare they reject a godly gift? Hypocrites, that’s all they are. Do Rhyme and Meter not value power? The two of us alone could pit every single god in this city against the other with our knowledge combined.”

“A lovely sentiment. I’m sure that would change their perception of me,” I sigh.

Destinee gives an unbraided section of hair a sharp tug. “Sarcasm remains one of your worst creations, I hope you’re aware.” I suppress a laugh. My dalliance with Humor had been brief and unremarkable, yet evidence of our relationship could be found everywhere nowadays. I was at once amused and aggrieved by the constant reminders and their enduring popularity.

The celebration is hosted by Wisdom himself. His palace is a breathtaking marvel in more ways than one, with an architectural design far and away the most creative and eccentric in the city. Fractals and other impossibilities blanket the floor and ceiling. Twin pillars are inlaid with sparkling jewels yet to be discovered by the human populace. I trace a navy-blue design on a nearby wall with greedy hands, aware that when I return it will be gone, replaced by something even more intricate and bizarre that caught Dom’s fancy.

Destinee floats from guest to guest, chattering excitedly. She had confided in me that something important would happen at the party, though the images were still unclear. I’m fairly positive that each interaction is a mining of sorts for clues. Utterly disinterested in small talk and the mysteries Destinee embroils herself in, I hasten to help myself to the impressive selection of wine.

Rhyme receives me at a table laden with refreshments. “It’s miles from the realm of perfection but I’m glad you’ve enjoyed yourself to our collection,” she remarks in a sugary tone. I almost laugh. Lying to the goddess of deceit must be the height of hubris.

I pat my heart in response and smile. Ambiguous gestures are safest, especially at celebrations. Participants tend to get too drunk to remember that they must interpret my words.

My heart stalls when I spot Candor nearby. I’m about to retreat when Rhyme follows my panicked gaze, a cruel smile touching her lips.

“Deceit’s sister, come hither!” She calls, waving my twin over. Candor navigates the crowd swiftly, weaving towards us. Auburn hair hangs limply around her pale, freckled face. She wears a sparkly pink dress at odds with her hungry expression.

“A pleasure to see you,” I greet her sweetly. She ignores me, and Rhyme follows suit.

“I must admit,” Rhyme starts, an awful twinkle in her eye. “your identical eyes lead me astray. Are you the same in every outward way?”

Candor nods. “Of course, it’s awfully simple to tell us apart if you know how.” My stomach hardens to stone. A crowd of well-wishers has gathered near to speak to Rhyme, but they pause at my sister’s words.

“It’s so easy it’s laughable,” she continues. Destinee’s gaze meets mine from across the spacious room. I smile stiffly. Her stormy eyes flit to my sister and narrow.

“Just ask either one of us a fact.” Candor makes a show of examining the table’s contents carefully before plucking a red apple from the cornucopia. The growing crowd follows every exaggerated movement. She thrusts the shiny fruit in my face. “What color is this?”

My face burns. “Blue,” I mutter quietly. This garners several laughs and a few claps for Candor’s ingenuity.

“How interesting! What color is the apple?” Destinee asks my twin with fake cheer, brushing past the other guests and linking her arm around mine.

Candor looks suddenly unsure of herself, but answers regardless. “Why, red, of course. I’m not confined to lies.”

Destinee’s grip on my arm tightens. “What an intriguing choice of words. Forgive me, Candy, but Deceit could have said any color in existence, save for red. She’s not beholden to the truth, which seems to me incredibly liberating.” If looks could kill the nearly un-killable, Destinee and Candor would both be lost to perpetual darkness.

Dom intercedes, announcing the commencement of the gift-giving ceremony. The crowd quickly disperses to form a line to little Poetry and his father Meter. Rhyme rushes to join them, her mischief forgotten. Candor bows to Destinee and me with an ill-concealed sneer and rejoins the others. She won’t forget this soon.

Destinee sighs irritably and follows the crowd, squeezing my hand in parting. I respectfully refrain from entering the queue, per Rhyme and Meter’s request. “We don’t aim to teach dishonesty to impressionable little Poetry,” Rhyme had explained in a cloying voice that attempted to convey regret she most certainly did not feel.

Rather than join the small cluster of similarly rebuffed gods deemed too weak or uncaring to exact vengeance, I opt to leave early. I resign myself to the possibility of never meeting Poetry in person. A shame, considering Destinee’s insistence that he will grow to inspire the lives of many.

I’m surprised to see Love loitering outside Dom’s estate. New parents want nothing more than a happy match for their child, and the prospects among immortals are few. No one would be foolhardy enough to eject Love when he has so much to offer. Did he really accept their food and drink only to refuse the most highly coveted gift of all? Perhaps he hates them as much as I.

“How silly,” Love drawls, surveying my shock with a wry grin. “Your emotions are quite transparent. Aren’t you tired of the endless obligatory gift-giving sessions?”

“Never,” I agree with a stiff head shake.

Love pushes himself off of the ivy-laced wall with strong, large hands and steps closer. He towers above my considerable height, perfectly white teeth gleaming against dark, unblemished skin.

“Oh, this is fun. Have you ever noticed how often you and your sister give the same answer? It makes me wonder why anyone cares enough to puzzle out which is which.”

I turn to leave. Let Love find another plaything. He has billions of hearts to mold before crushing them.

“Aha! I see it now. You love another. Candor keeps me for herself.”

“Aren’t you clever?” I snap, walking quickly towards the gate. The last thing I need is Love meddling in my affairs.

“You wound me!” He shouts in a voice spun from silk. “But exercise caution, little liar! Your lover isn’t the only one who sees the future. And your love story looks positively thrilling!”

I don’t exhale until the gate swings shut behind me. What does thrilling look like to a god who has spent millennia toying with different hearts? I really think I would prefer boring.

My feet take each step of their own accord, my mind lost. Memories of my sister overtake my thoughts, despite my best efforts. In anger, I had once sworn I would never see her again. Of course, this had only condemned me to more sightings. She posed a larger threat than the others realized, in no small part thanks to me.

“But he does love me Mother—and if you really loved me you would just die!” Candy shrieked. What did you do? I wanted to scream. What have you done? Candor trembled in shock, standing rigidly. I fell to my knees, grasping at Mother with unfeeling hands.

I press my hands to my head as if to squeeze the image from my mind with brute force. I don’t know how, but despite our identical features, Destinee knew it was I who took the stand in Candor’s place and pledged her innocence. Destinee had promised to keep her knowledge to herself. Of course, she isn’t bound by her words.

Candy was never the same. I may have helped, but she had engaged in a deception. She could scarcely look at me afterwards. I became the reminder that Candor wasn’t always truthful. None of us fully embody what we represent; no multi-faceted god could, but I suppose that’s one truth my sister never learned to accept. I fidget uncomfortably, more concerned than ever for my twin’s future.

Dusk arrives before Destinee, lazily blotting out every trace of Day’s artwork. I sit on the front porch, a rapt audience of one. I enjoy this view most; there is unexpected beauty in erasure. The chance hues and patterns spared never celebrate the same way twice.

The clanging of the gate startles me out of my reverie. I spot the tears first, the defeated posture and shivers. I spring to my feet and brush away a tear, looking imploringly into her eyes. This is no time to say I don’t want to know what happened. I don’t care that she knows I mean its opposite—it would hurt my heart to say it.

She grips my hand, squeezes it, then brushes past me into the house. I follow, my worry compounding. A dusty volume on sign language is plucked from a far shelf. We had pledged one summer to study in order to converse with Silence, a god both ubiquitous and profoundly lonely. He was unmoved by our attempts and we quickly dropped our practicing.

Destinee flips to the alphabet and beckons me closer, pointing out letters slowly: C-U-R-S-E-D. Concern morphs into rage. My breath becomes uneven as, in an agonizingly slow and piecemeal manner, she briefly explains what happened. Destinee told Candor to leave me alone, threatening her with the truth about Mother. Candy’s response? “Write or utter another word and perish.”

I shut my eyes. I never curse fellow gods, but Candor warrants an exception. How shall I do it? Destinee tugs on my hair until I look at her. Her wet eyes seal my fate. I can’t bear to let her down.

Over the next couple of days we stay secluded at the house, poring over the book. Destinee becomes extremely fond of the profanity section. I counsel her strictly on restraint. My curse is not unlike hers—nothing prevents me from speaking truth and perishing, only my mind and will. These lessons, I come to realize, are more for my sake than hers. I can’t live in fear for her life every time we go to an event, witness a stunning sky, or bargain with other gods. I put a hold on social visits. No gossip, secret-sharing, bartering—no temptation. For the first time, future is a mystery even among the gods.

The more I watch Destinee struggle to adjust, the stronger my wrath grows. I want to preserve the kind goddess Destinee believes me to be. What do I stand to lose by paying my sister a visit?

After an afternoon of meandering around Candor’s public haunts, I bump into her at the garden, tending to her hyacinths. Before she can utter a word, I lie. “You will curse a god again.” 

An eerie smile creeps across her face, a twisted semblance of my own. “You told Destinee. I simply covered our tracks. Do you forget how much trouble you’ll be in if anyone finds out you deceived the court?”

“Ah, I see. You’re just looking out for us both. I’ll do the same.” Our smiles slowly match.

One long pause later, her grin wavers. “I think I finally see too.”

Feeling unbearably confined, Destinee and I decide to spend a night on our favorite hilltop. We drag a blanket across dewy grass and wearily allow Sleep to pull us under. As the stars keep watch, Silence guards us both from the curse of Truth.

When the inevitable topic of curses arises in the early morning, we openly discuss mine for the first time. No physical compulsion? She signs, baffled by my admission.

I shake my head. There is nothing to keep me from telling the truth, save the knowledge that I will lose absolutely everything if I do. Destinee raises a fine eyebrow before nuzzling closer to me.

Once the sun has successfully breached the horizon, I descend the hill. At its base runs a burbling creek. As I kneel to cup its chilled waters, a beautiful, horrible sound rings out.

“WATCH OUT!” Destinee screams. My head whips around just in time to see my sister cut the air with her dagger. I grab her wrist, shock gripping us both as the blade clatters to the stones below. I can do nothing but stare, breathing raggedly, as my perfect image takes several steps back and flees. 

Destinee’s yell reverberates in my mind. I claw at the earth, climbing the hill at a breakneck pace. Near its peak lies Destinee. Wind has pushed her long black curls haphazardly across her golden form. I look into bright, silver eyes. They don’t look back at me. My mouth opens. No cry comes. I pull Destinee’s head into my lap and hold her until the sun stings my skin and the Wind relinquishes its hold on her hair, framing the tendrils around her heart-shaped face as perfectly as she would have liked.

My mouth refuses to close. It knows, as I do, that my Future is dead. I press my lips against her forehead and whisper, “I love you.”

August 15, 2021 06:41

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

3 comments

23:43 Aug 25, 2021

Morgan, I love your story! You based the story of forbidden love - in the world of the Gods? If I am correct, I like how you set this up.

Reply

Morgan McHose
15:57 Aug 27, 2021

Thanks so much for reading Shawna! And yes, that's exactly what I was going for. I'm a total sucker for fantasy and otherworldly settings :)

Reply

16:05 Aug 27, 2021

Morgan, you are very welcome! I love fiction, sci-fi, fantasy as well. I am trying to finish a sci-fi short-short to publish. If a writer could make money on the number of drafts they write - we would be millionaires ten times over! Happy Writing!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.