Violet and Riley
California, United States
Violet and Riley
I watch the tall, clear bottle hit the wall and the last remains of the alcohol that once filled it drips down the wall.
“I-I’m sorry” I mutter, sitting in the corner, hugging my knees while tears rush down my cheeks.
“I didn’t mean to-” but I’m cut off when a firm hand grips my hair and I’m pulled from the safety of the corner.
“Don’t bother lying to me girl,” my fathers slurred voice cuts through the ringing in my ears. He drops me on the ground and my hand shoots up and cradles the top of my head. He raises his hand, and knowing what comes next, I roll into a ball and lay on the ground, wrapping my arms around my head. I wait a few seconds, but instead of the feeling of his fist connecting with my body, there’s nothing. I risk a glance up and see a boy about my age, standing in front of my father.
The boy gently puts my fathers arm down and whispers something in his ear. It’s only then that I notice that the old grandfather clock that resides next to our fireplace has stopped working. Looking around, I see that everything’s stopped, my father staying completely still and the drips on the wall frozen in place.
It’s like the world stopped, everyone and everything, except this boy and me.
I slowly stand and approach the boy. He turns just as I reach him and our eyes meet. His striking green eyes widen and where there was once light, fear invades, and the look he gives me tells me I caused it.
I blink and when I open my eyes, he’s gone, my father, dazed and confused, makes his way to the couch to sleep off the 13 shots he had. And the old grandfather clock that sits besides me starts ticking again, and all is as it should be, it’s like nothing happened.
I didn’t want this job, but I didn’t have a choice. It’s my birthright, the reason I was created. But it’s a horrible job, collecting souls, watching helplessly as those plagued their whole life are sent to a place to continue their turmoil. But hey, that’s what death does, right? That’s the job, so why don’t I love it like my parents? Why don’t I revel in the fear I inspire like my brother? My parents love this job and are incredibly sad that they have to give up their mantle, but I can’t escape fast enough.
I like to wonder about Earth, no one notices but death has a lot of power, we influence more than anyone knows. I’m wandering down a street in an isolated neighborhood when I suddenly hear a crash.
I turn and through the window of a seafoam green house, I spot a girl, about my age, huddled in the corner of the room while a large man stands over her.
I quickly slip inside and as I do, the clock slows to a still and the man's hand stalls, suspended in midair. I gently place it by his side and lean in to whisper in his ear.
“Go to sleep, you’ve had a long day, you and your daughter fought, but you didn’t hurt her, you laid down and fell asleep on the couch.”
I turn and am met with timid hazel eyes. My breathing hitches. She can see me.
We stand there for what feels like an eternity, her watching me, studying me, and me, wondering what to do. She starts to close her eyes and I take my opportunity and quickly slip into the shadows.
I stand outside her window, watching as her father goes to the couch and she looks around, confusion swimming in her eyes, and all I can think is, how was she able to see me?
“Hey little bro” Fear, “what are you looking at?”
I turn to see my older brother standing behind my shoulder.
He chuckles and says, “I like her, been playing with her for years.” My brother is the embodiment of fear, he spreads it like a virus and soaks up the torment he puts people through like a sponge to water.
His smile falters as he says “she’s consumed with fear, but she doesn’t respond like the others, so I just mess with her dad.”
Anger coars through me, never again will he mess with her.
Her- 2 years later
“I’m 17,” he stops dead in his tracks and turns to face me. I start shaking from head to toe, but I stand my ground.
“What did you say to me?” fire blazes in his eyes.
“You said I was 15, I'm not, I’m–” I’m cut off when his hand is thrown in my direction. He hits me and I stumble back, landing on the ground with a thud.
I look up just in time to see his hand come down again, but this time, it stops half way down.
I release the breath I was holding and whisper, “it’s happening again.”
I wait for him to appear, just like he did two years ago, but nothing. Tentatively I stand and call out “Where are you?”
“Why can you see me?” I let out a small scream and spin around.
“Jeez! Don’t scare me like that,” despite what I say, my fear is gone.
He laughs and looks down at me, “so the fact that I can make time stand still appear out of nowhere doesn’t scare you, just me appearing behind you?”
My face starts to burn as I look down in embarrassment.
“Are you a proctor?” He asks, catching me completely off guard.
“A what?” I ask in return. He turns and walks around the coffee table and sits down on the couch, apparently ignoring the fact that my dad is standing two feet to my right, hand still raised.
“A protector, you know, death, fear, love… I’m guessing by that confused expression, you don’t know what I’m talking about.”
I blink, once, twice, “no clue.”
His eyes once again lose their shine and are clouded over with confusion, “then why can you see me, and why don’t you react to fear?” he mutters to himself.
“I-” I start to respond but he’s gone before I can finish.
I turn and am met with my dad's hand. I yelp and grab my cheek that now stings from his slap. I see him wind up for another shot, and suddenly, gone is the fear and I am consumed with anger and a rare burst of bravery.
“Stop!” I yell, placing my hands in front of me. And he does. So does everything else.
I slowly spin in place and am met with nothing, no sounds of birds outside, no tic tic of the clock next to me, nothing.
“You are a proctor.”
Having gotten used to it, his appearing out of nowhere doesn’t scare me.
I turn and stare into his green eyes, “meaning…”
“You are the proctor of bravery, the physical embodiment of it. It’s your job to spread it to others, to help them in a way you were never helped. I know this is overwhelming, but I can help.”
He extends his hand and says, “I’m Riley.”
She takes my hand and says, “I'm Violet, so what are you the proctor of?”
I pull my hand back and glance down, “death,” I mumble, then look up and meet her eyes as I say, “but I hate it.”
She shrugs like it’s no big deal and says, “so change that, come with me, help people with me.”
This time, she’s the one holding her hand out to me, “the choice is yours, you just have to have the to courage to choose the path you want.”
I laugh gently, then say, “you really do instill bravery,” and with that, I reach out and lace my fingers with her, trusting that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.
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