Today I was struggling to find some inspiration. I was determined to find something since I haven’t done one of these in a few weeks. Driving home I was listening to Let it Go by James Bay and this lyric struck me:
“I used to recognise myself
it’s funny how reflections change”
I still wasn’t quite sure where I could take it so decided to have a browse through some photos on my Pinterest visual writing prompts board. I thought it could be a good challenge to try and combine the idea behind this line from the song with the picture above and see what comes out! It was not the easiest one for me (it’s hard writing something where you don’t naturally see a story) but there are some bits I’m happy with. I hope you enjoy it.
It was so heavy. Each step was like wading through water as the tide pulled you backwards. The gown seemed ethereal, but the crystals glittering as they reflected the chandeliers above weighed a tonne in their brilliance, and the inner seams were lined with lead, to stop the tulle floating away. Emmeline discreetly tugged the hem forwards and forced her gaze to flutter from person to person, granting each one a tiny smile as befit her new station. They bowed low, gratified – or at least seeming to be so. Gowns of brilliant hues outshone her ivory splendour and she fought off a frown. Pearls and diamonds were scattered through intricate fabric rosettes from her neck to her waist, but in her mind she saw a garnet, cheap and small but bright and well loved. Gone now.
Even her hair had turned white.
Purple velvet billowed behind the thrones at the end of the room, shadowing the Royal Couple in soft darkness. A small smile lit behind her eyes at the thought that she who had once held the dark would now light the way for the Court of Feallan.
She let her hem go and felt the small train drag behind her, catching now and then on the tiles that clearly weren’t as smooth as they appeared. Like me. The thought appeared only to be pushed away. She was here. She was enough.
Her smile shining as brilliant as the crystals, and as brittle, she made a deep curtsey to the King and his consort.
“Madam Wyrd, you grace us with your presence. Some light, if you please.”
The king’s words tugged at a feeling deep inside, a thought of fire and flame and darkness. She covered it with lead and increased the brilliance of her smile.
“Your wish is my command, Majesty”
She took her place at the side of the dais. The lights flickered and danced but the royal couple remained enshrined in darkness. She raised her arms to the side and her long sleeves fell to the floor, silver embroidery tracing patterns that caught and held the light. It was still new to open the magic this way, to feel ice instead of fire, and she convinced herself that the weeping she felt in her heart was from joy.
Light burst from her hands, twisting into sharp crystal swirls and flying through the room, touching on and sparking person to person until all were dancing with the light. Brilliant reds and greens spun through icy whiteness and the room glowed with her magic.
Her hands dropped. Craving the dark and remembering flame, she stepped away from the dais.
She didn’t know he was there until a voice came over her shoulder, weaving with the melody of the musicians until she wasn’t sure which was the music and which the man.
“An ice witch indeed. Bright and brittle and as deceptive as the moonlight that breaks the dark.”
The world seemed to stop and then start again just slightly off rhythm. She wanted desperately to turn and look at him, but the memory of leaving him was a wall she wasn’t sure she could break down. He solved it by walking around to face her, long legs encased in black hinting at a swagger. He curled his lip at the dancers a moment before turning to look at her.
He looked the same. His black hair curled slightly longer than before but the shimmer of ravens wings was still there, and her fingers curled against the stiff white tulle of her skirt, remembering the feel of those silken strands. His face was as strong, but colder. The fire was tamped, waiting.
His gaze went to her hair and with some difficulty she kept her hand from adjusting the roses plaited into the tightly curled tresses. The look on his face was unreadable, even for her and she tossed back her head, making the curls bounce.
“It’s very rude to stare.”
His eyes returned to hers and her breath caught. Rich dark hazel flecked with gold, they burned through her and she felt the ice crack.
She blinked, and the pull towards him and his dark wells of eyes stopped.
“This is not a place for you, Bastien.”
“It shouldn’t be one for you either”
Her spirit shrank at the harshness of his voice, she felt it replaced by lead, heavy and cold. She lifted her chin and pushed the lead into her gaze.
“I changed. You have not.”
He took a step forward, his hand reaching out and she would have flinched from his urgency but for the fear of eyes watching.
“Emmeline, it doesn’t have to be this way.”
Darkness filled her head. Creeping. Watching. Waiting. And her heart died a little bit more.
“Yes Bastien. It does.”
“There are others who would be the sacrifice. This burden should never have been yours to bear.”
She closed her eyes against the broken heart in his. His hand sought hers and without volition her fingers twined with his.
“Bastien, it has all been said. The decision has been made and there is nothing else to do but accept it.” She opened her eyes and looked towards the dancers. “It is not a sacrifice, it is a blessing”
His grip tightened on hers and little flares of flames sparkled up her arms.
“It is a curse.”
His bitterness spurred the flames on and she quenched them with a look, she who once danced with the flames all night. She took a step back before she lost the strength to do so, disentangling her hand.
“As I said, Bastien. I have changed. You have not.”
He grabbed her as she walked off but she flared ice and kept moving. His hand passed down her arm to her hand and she couldn’t help but return the pressure of his grasp one last time.
Her chamber was cold. She was always cold now. The maids fussed until she sent them away, roses and pearls strewn across the dresser.
She uncurled her fingers from where they’d stayed hidden in the folds of her gown since Bastien had left. A deep red garnet lay reproachful on her white skin. A shudder ran through her and tears that she had thought burned out long ago slid slowly down her cheek.
Looking into the mirror she saw not an ice witch of the court but a smiling woman with dark tumbling hair, wild blue ribbons flying around her, and a dress of golden flame. The woman met her eyes and sadness crept into the smile.
A blink, and she was gone.