Week 1: A Heart

21 Nov

These shoes look like crap was the only thought zigzagging inside my skull that morning as I entered the bright room. The light hurt my eyes. The white of the walls depressed everything that was left of my body. I frowned at my shoes and looked up. She was lying in bed covered with a stack of grandma quilts, her face pale, no hint of old age. None at all. If creepiness should suddenly decide to get a body, she’d be the best and only pick. And she could probably read my mind, too, because she opened her eyes and stared at me. A dozen pick-up lines for blue-eyed girls passed through my mind, all inappropriate. I mean, really, who would hit on her knowing how ancient she really was.

“Yes?” she asked, quirking an eyebrow.

“You wanted to see me. Julian told me…”

“Julian is an idiot. I told you what happens if you hang around idiots—your brain shrinks. Do you want your brain to shrink, Adam?”

“No, Mother.”

“Such crass lack of manners, darling.”

“I blame society.”

“I’d blame your mother but the poor thing had no clue you’d turn into such a monster. But here you are now, in my quarters already…” she gestured at the bare, white walls. “I need a heart, Adam. And I need you to get it for me.”

“Oh. Yes. Absolutely. I always keep a fresh heart in my freezer. Just in case, you know. What the hell do you need a heart for, Dora?”

“If cheek could save lives, you’d be a hero, darling. Let us think. Why would anyone need a heart? Why would someone like me need one? Of course, you might look at the decimation of the House of Rowe and smile, or giggle, or what have you. I, however, see it with different eyes, what with you all being my children.”

“Of sorts.”

“Of choice,” she shot me a glare that would have frozen the blood in my veins. If only I had any.

I looked at her, drowning as she was in the sea of colorful pillows and blankets, asking me for a heart with a glint in her blue eyes and the shadow of a smile playing about her lips. Her nostrils flared as she took in a deep breath. She was tasting the air, an ancient habit that was starting to bug me. Nothing ever betrayed my insides. I was a fucking work of art.

And the work of art stared in a mix of disbelief and horror as Mother Dora opened her mouth and laughed. Maybe she could really read minds after all…

“No, darling, I need no real heart. Let yours be still, as well. What I do need—and it is of utmost importance, is someone to take my place. I won’t be here much longer, you know it too well.”

“You have Anna for that,” I smirked and inspected my shoes again.

“Not over my unresponsive body,” she replied.

“But you trained her…”

“She’s going to marry William Dunn the second I’m gone. I have not spent my entire second life trying to build a strong family just to have it torn asunder in the blink of an eye. And Dunn’s eye of all! No, darling, I shan’t put up with that. That’s why I’m asking, no—urging you to go find me a girl.”

“Is there any chance of putting my name in for consideration?” I laughed.

“Men were meant to be ruled over, Adam. Otherwise they wouldn’t have been made with so many appendages and so little common sense.”

“Right. A girl. Where from?”

“How wide is the world?”

“But… You can’t possibly mean… That’s crazy, Dora!” I felt my fists clench against my will. The old wall of anger came tumbling down on my heated skull. She was raving. She had to be. Turning a girl and having her rule over hundreds of cannot-be-bothered individuals… It was worse than sunrise.

“Of course I can. Go find her, bring her back and witness her ascension. But don’t tell her anything before you get here. Nothing at all. Ever.”

“Or what?”

“Everything around you speaks, Adam. Every blade of grass you glance at screams your name. That is the downside of having deep-seeing eyes. You change things just as much as you are changed by them. If you had allowed me…”

“No. That was not my gift to give. If there’s nothing else…” I turned towards the door. White, as well.

“Try not to be late.”


I closed the door behind me and stood there for a minute or two, just breathing. I couldn’t decide if my head was full of thoughts or completely blank, as blank as that room. A girl. Any girl. I fished out my phone from the pocket of my jacket as I strode out of the castle.

“Hi. I was wondering. Where’s your first flight tomorrow to? I see…  Well, book me a ticket to Bucharest then.”



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