Day of Atonement

 

Book 3 of the Days of Ascension series is now available from Silver Leaf Books! Buy today for your Kindle or pre-order the paperback, coming July 3, 2018.

THE WOMAN WHO COULDN'T EVEN KILL HERSELF

Waking up to your best friend hanging herself from a tree is not the best way to start your day.

     I sigh and put down the brimming water bucket I’m hauling up from the creek. “Vickie, again?” I call.

     There’s no sound except for the wind in the treetops and the gentle creaking of the stout branch Vickie has tied the rope to. I’m not fooled. I hold my breath as I approach her swaying, barefooted body, ignoring it for the moment as I study the tree, looking for the easiest way to climb up. Inconsiderate as usual, she’s chosen an oak with no branches less than eight or ten feet above the ground. She must have flown up there, in fact, to have tied the rope around the limb supporting her weight.

     Vickie’s charcoal-gray gown billows in the breeze as her body spins gently, winding the rope clockwise, then counterclockwise, reversing direction every thirty seconds or so. Her head is tilted to her right, as if she’s thinking over the answer to a question, and her red curly hair has flopped over to conceal most of her face. A stranger happening on the scene would immediately assume she’s dead.

     I know better. Despite her stubborn silence, she’s as alive as me, and she’s only causing me major inconvenience. “This is never going to work. You know you can’t die,” I say as I eye a nearby birch tree, wondering whether I can shimmy up close enough to jump onto the branch she’s hanging from. I can’t touch her, of course, not unless I want a vivid vision of all the people she killed when she was a Priestess of Asherah. My only option is cutting the rope with my pocketknife and letting her loosen the Georgia necktie herself. But I have to remember not to breathe through my nose as I climb up to rescue her, because a stench of mingled sewage and fresh blood surrounds her for yards in every direction. A walking eau d’slaughterhouse, that’s my best friend. Being cursed by a god sucks.

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