Sandpaper ripped gritty at Dettie’s eyelids when she came to; icy wind tracing her skin like the Reaper’s caress and dirt hard under her bare feet. Her dancing dress, once rippling silk skirts, lay torn against her thighs and hanging limp in the night – a surrender flag the color of ripe moss. Her mother’s hair pins littered the floor by her toes, glittering scarab beetles of emerald and broken glass; the intricate knot Cora had secured at the nape of her neck now loose about her shoulders in tangles.
Steadying her head, she stared hard into the surrounding darkness until pieces began to take form like wisps of smoke: barn walls stretching eagerly into the night sky, unfinished rafters caging her in like some giant, dinosaur skeleton beneath the stars, all lingering among the metallic smell of a night tipped in frost and pine needles.
Closing her eyes, Dettie breathed the winter air in deeply to feel for bruised ribs but nothing sharp rattled in her chest. Her eyes flicked open again to her pale hands strung above her head, all feeling in them gone, fingers as numb as the exposed skin along her collar bones. The rope at her wrists was anchored by a shining pulley, the end of it’s tail disappearing into what would be the hayloft once the barn was complete; her feet stood flat on the frozen ground, but, with a simple tug, she would be lifted as high as twelve feet.
Clouds danced aside, revealing a moon the color of cherry wine, raining garnet rays down onto the snowy branches surrounding the barn. A glint of steel caught Dettie’s eye seconds before the clouds rushed back into their waltzing positions- a rifle gazing steadily against the wall with a stock coated in onyx and inlaid with a family crest.
An eagle with a bone-white snake in its talons.
Fear bloomed like cotton in her mouth and stuck to her tongue with bubbling edges of bile.
©️ Pearl Bayou