the Omen Follows You Home.
There was a time when Venice was easy to be in.
I’d left home; I’d traveled, seen death, felt grief, and
returned — the city welcomed me, begged me to leave my small apartment and
breathe the moving air.
I wandered during daylight hours, watching the others who
moved about, gazed at those moving to and from their jobs and families. Two
things I had been avoiding after the army had sent me home.
That habit was how I came to meet the omen by the river.
When I first saw the old woman, she stared into the murky
water of the river, one hand resting on a thick, gnarled, wooden cane. She had
tied her dress with impossible ruffles on her back, and every so often - the
Most things seemed to slip right past her unseen, unheard,
uncared for. But when a crow flew near and screeched its mournful greeting, she
And so I named her Morrigan.
Whenever she looked around, her eyes pierced through
everything and everyone they landed on. Anything that dared force her to enter
the mortal realm was a threat and risked its imminent demise.
I worried that if those eyes looked at me, they would burn
the heart right out of me. I would succumb to a trance-like-death, probably
with a smile on my lips but otherwise terror on my face. Nevertheless, A voice
inside me insisted I keep an eye on her.
So I did.
When I started watching her with purpose, I did it through
my binoculars — confident that I was far enough away to avoid drawing attention
to myself—hidden enough that her eyes couldn’t make contact with mine. I had
chosen a spot high atop a building, borrowing the terrace and spare bedroom of
an old schoolhouse friend.
Morrigan eluded me in many ways, despite my planning; for
instance, I failed to wake up early enough to see her arrive. I failed to stay
awake long enough to see her leave. And one day, after weeks of nothing but
watching this woman as if my life depended on it, I realized I had failed to
keep myself hidden.
The sun was high in the sky, casting glares on the river
and sliding long shadows off all the buildings. My eyes burned as I stared at
her, moving from feet to face and up again. I looked at her back — where her
dress bundled like a fabric package, a veil for something I didn’t understand —
and when my vision settled, I gasped.
The noise shot from my mouth when I realized the bundle was
not her dress. It was long, silky black wings that fluttered at my exclamation.
In an instant, a different movement caught my eye. Her face had shifted, and
she was no longer staring at the restless water. Instead, with a wide, crooked
smile that bore no perfect teeth, she looked directly at me.
She made eye contact despite being hundreds of feet away.
My fingers betrayed me, and I dropped my binoculars in
shock. The metal things bounced off the patio’s surface, once, then twice, then
slid swiftly underneath the railing. It seemed comedic in its path.
I let out an unattractive guffaw, then heard it mirrored
back, but distorted. It had become sharper and smaller.
There was not just one bird before me, but half a dozen in
number. A murder of crows hovered in front of me, holding my binoculars in the
beaks of those willing to carry it. My possession hung from the strap I had
failed to wrap behind my head.
I stared until I blinked, and when I did, the old woman and
her magnificent wings had replaced the crows. Morrigan indeed; I had never
expected my private joke to be a myth that had come true to haunt me.
I may have screamed.
She might have laughed.
The next morning came with hazy details on falling asleep
and wondering where nightmares and reality separated. I picked my binoculars
off the chair, and although I hesitated strongly, I ended up putting them over
my eyes and looking down toward my city’s fabled river.
Morrigan stood, cane in hand and eyes staring downward as
they had always been. Her wings…
They appeared as a clot of dress upon her back. I couldn’t
see her lips to know if she was smiling, and I didn’t dare get close to her. In
fact, when she adjusted her stance to shift her weight, I flinched.
I flinched so hard the binoculars dropped again. This time
with a single thud.
I went home that day, drafting a message in my head to tell
my mother when I got home. A way to explain why I hadn’t been answering her
calls, and a reason I was back at her doorstep...
I drafted this message for hours — sitting in the taxi in
front of my childhood home. But it never mattered; the message never got
I hadn’t just stumbled upon the old lady. Morrigan hadn’t
merely been playing a trick on a secret admirer. She’d been very clear. I
guessed that she’d waited as long as she could to tell me. But in the end, even
magic can’t control a person’s fate.
Seven days later, we held my mother’s funeral. There at the
very back of the crowd, tucked behind the last tree of the graveyard, she stood
with her hand on her cane, and her wings unfurled.
That time, I admit — I screamed.
Morrigan laughed, although the sound didn’t seem to travel.
It occurred to me then, a more profound revelation, that maybe she hasn’t bided
her time at all. Perhaps she was one of many, and I was her charge. The duty
she carries in her pocket.
The epicenter of death and darkness.
To tell the truth...I have yet to prove myself wrong.
lives in Maryland where she got married, had her daughter, and began her
writing journey. She has appeared in Altered Reality Magazine and (mac)ro(mic).
You can find her on twitter @rudexvirus1
Darren Blanch, Aussie creator of visions
which tell you a tale long after first glimpses have teased your peepers. With early influence
from America's Norman Rockwell to show life as life, Blanch has branched out mere art form
to impact multi-dimensions of color and connotation. People as people, emotions speaking
their greater glory. Visual illusions expanding the ways and means of any story.
arts mastery provides what Darren wishes a reader or viewer to take away in how their own
minds are moved. His evocative stylistics are an ongoing process which sync intrinsically
to the expression of the nearby written or implied word he has been called upon to render.
View the vivid energy of IVSMA (Darren Blanch) works at: www.facebook.com/ivsma3Dart, YELLOW MAMA,
Sympatico Studio - www.facebook.com/SympaticoStudio,
DeviantArt - www.deviantart.com/ivsma
and launching in 2019,
as Art Director for suspense author / intrigue promoter Kate Pilarcik's line of books and
publishing promotion - SeaHaven Intrigue Publishing-Promotion.