|The Angel and the Reaper
Author: Miyako Nakamura PM
Intertwined with the clear rain were streams of red...Rated: Fiction T - English - Supernatural/Fantasy - Chapters: 5 - Words: 8,950 - Reviews: 7 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 03-03-13 - Published: 11-10-12 - id: 3073154
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The storm didn't break until morning. It had been violent; the skies had darkened the in the late afternoon and the wind howled throughout the night, shaking the walls of a small cottage nestled in the side of the mountain. In the valley below the shops had closed early, merchants frantically slamming their shutters as hail pummeled their display windows. When the rain had finally ceased and the wind died, Oxana Zelinske ventured into the garden behind her cottage to inspect the damage to her cherry trees. The stone step to the back door was slick with water. Oxana managed not to slip, but found herself sinking into the mud in the garden path. On either side the flowers had been flattened in the downpour, their petals ripped and the leaves drooped. They'd spring back in some good sunlight, Oxana reassured herself.
She lifted her skirt as best she could to keep them from dragging in the thick mud as she walked to the small wooden shed. The hinges were rusting a stuck a bit; the door opened only with a harsh tug. Armed with her shears, she ventured to the back border of her little garden were the cherry trees marked the boundary between her space and the wilderness of the mountain side. She snipped the small damaged branches and pulled down the larger broken ones. Water still dripped from the leaves, crystalline and clear in the morning sun. Oxana had plenty of strength to bring down the boughs, but was quickly winded and had to give up on preserving the cleanliness of her dress. She was glad she hadn't bothered tightening her corset.
The last tree yielded a particularly large branch, snapped off at the trunk and still suspended in the remaining delicate boughs. Oxana gave it a stern tug that sent water droplets flying. She reached up to wipe the water from her face. As she pulled her hand away she noticed it was streaked with red liquid that was thick and dark like mud. Glancing down she saw her sky blue gown was also dotted with red spots, sinking in and turning black.
She held her hands under the dripping leaves. Intertwined with the clear rain were streams of red dropping down from some higher branch. She peered up through the leaves and spotted what appeared to be a hand. It was white as milk and still, a stream of the red liquid dripping off the fingertips. She yanked a branch out of the way so she could get a better view, causing the tree to shake violently. A body above slid down and crashed into her, causing her to fall to her knees in an attempt to catch it.
It was a young man, Oxana guessed no older than eighteen. He wore a peculiar robe of pure white except for the blood staining his shoulders and running down his arms. Picking a leaf from his smooth black hair, Oxana leaned her face close to his. She had been convinced he must be dead, but she could feel a faint breath on her cheek. The doctor was down in the town, there'd have been no time to walk there before he surely bled to death. No one would hear if she called for help. She didn't even own a horse!
Oxana didn't want to leave him lying in the mud of her garden, and so she struggled to her feet and hoisted the boy up as best she could. Half carrying, half dragging him, she managed to walk back into her house and to the dining room.
Despite her hands being slippery from blood and rain water she gently placed him on the wooden floor. She went to a closet for some rags and found some old linen as well as several rolls of gauze. She returned to the boy and dropped the cloth on the floor beside him. Peeling off the white robes, she could see that his arms were badly cut and scratched in long, jagged slices. The main source of the blood however was from his back. Oxana carefully rolled him over and patted away some of the clotting blood. One either side of his back were two deep vertical gashes.
Oxana pressed the linen onto the wounds, wiping away some of the blood from his shoulders. She thought he would need sutures, but suddenly the wounds looked quite superficial and the bleeding slowed significantly. She wrapped him in the gauze, dressed him in an old men's shirt she'd found stuffed in a closet. She sighed as she remembered the man to whom it had once belonged.
The second bedroom was on the lower floor; Oxana slept in the only room on the upper floor. The boy was small in stature but still a grown teenager and carrying him to the bedroom was a struggle. The bedroom was cold, the fireplace having never been lit and the curtains in the windows drawn. It was big enough only for a dresser and a bed which she kept made with a plain sheet and a single quilt only for the sake of decoration. She settled him into the covers on the bed. He was still and pale, the rise and fall of his chest as he breathed was barely distinguishable.
Oxana left the room, closing the door behind her. She was covered in thick dark blood; it was all down her front and arms. It was like this that she made the trek down from her mountainside residence to the town below, thinking only about the task at hand. It took nearly an hour to descend into the valley and nearly that long to find the home of the town's only doctor. He was already seeing to a line of patients and Oxana was made to wait despite her pleas for help. It was hours later before she returned to her home with a doctor in tow.
The doctor didn't ask any questions. He was a middle-aged man of average height; his circular spectacles perched on the very tip of his long nose. He wore a mustache with the ends curled up at the corners that nearly as grey as the hair that remained on his head. He had an air of austerity and was not always pleasant or the slightest bit approachable, but he was reputably the most knowledgeable doctor in the kingdom. Oxana trusted him completely even though she knew he didn't take her very seriously. He unwrapped some of the bloody bandaging from around the boy's arm. There were no more cuts or scratches, not even as much as a scar. The only evidence that there ever even was a wound was the bloodstains. He turned to Oxana, eyebrows raised. She shook her head at him, insisting she hadn't imagined it.
The boy was still here, and there were the bloodstains! That was evidence enough that she wasn't insane, wasn't it?
The doctor tried all manner of smelling salts to revive the boy to no success. He determined there was actually nothing wrong with him whatsoever, aside of course from the matter of unconsciousness. He advised Oxana to keep the boy hydrated and clean, and wait until he woke up on his own. Or simply passed on, whichever the case may be.
After Oxana profusely refused his offer for a mental evaluation, he bid her good day and left.
She would now have to clean the blood from the floor, from the back door and the trail leading into the dining room. As she collected a bucket, mop and water her single-minded focus on the injured boy gave way to a million thoughts all at once.
Where did he come from? What had happened to him? How did he ever come to be in her cherry trees?
By nightfall he still hadn't awoken. Oxana removed his bandaging and every day after checked to be sure he was still breathing.
The third day warmth and color had returned to his face and his breath was decidedly stronger.
The fifth day she thought she'd seen a hand stir.
On the seventh day when she opened the door she was pleasantly surprised when he finally opened his deep blue eyes.