She wore a dark purple cloak these days, and she always kept the hood on as well. It covered her face, it hid most of her body—but most importantly of all, it veiled her eyes from view. All that remained in sight were her lips, a natural pink color. Under her cloak, she wore a purple dress in an even darker shade. She was covered from head to toe; her lips were almost always drawn to a thin line. In her pale hand, she carried a book written in a language not many could read. She was shunned by most and she kept her distance from most. She rarely spoke; when she did, her voice echoed like a soulless tune carried by the wind. From her lips, there only ever came one name…
“I'm here. What do you need, Keziah?”
I answered from another room, not daring to raise my voice lest that would break the peace. After answering her tranquil call, I walked to the doorway and looked at her. She was hugging the book close to her chest—that ominous-looking book with a pure black cover.
“They are coming. I can hear them,” she mumbled, “I will leave now.”
Not once did she look up at me as she spoke. I really wished she would. Although we had known each other for a long time, it was still hard to tell how she was really feeling if I could never see the look in her eyes.
“Where are you going, Keziah?”
Every time, I used her name. Somehow, I felt that she would forget what it was otherwise. I stayed where I was, having decided not to take another step forward. I was less concerned about her doing anything to me than her running away right then and there without a warning.
“Leaving,” she repeated, refusing to elaborate. Yet, she still stood there, as if she was waiting for me to say something specific.
I thought about it. I let out a chuckle.
“...Keziah, do you hate me? At least tell me this much if you’re going to disappear forever.”
Her chin lifted just a little at the question. I hit the mark, I thought—but it was still not enough for me to see her eyes.
“Do you want me to leave?” she questioned.
...no, I did not hit the mark. I should avoid pre-emptively congratulating myself.
“Do I hate you…” She could not hear me, and she did not want to listen to me. Keziah’s voice dropped to an even lower volume. She hissed, “I’ll tell you when I see you again, whenever that is. Don’t die until I kill you.”
Without waiting for my reaction, Keziah ran out the door—ah, yes, she ran after all. As she ran, she left the door open, not even bothering to close it. She brought with her nothing but the book. When she first ran out, I still couldn’t tell what she was running from. It was a full minute later that I saw the elders arrive with their staffs. Some chased ahead, others mumbled something under their breaths. It was then that I, too, finally realized what was happening and hurried outside.
“What is it this time?” I asked—anyone within earshot.
“We must kill the enchantress this time,” somebody answered, “Or her dark magic will kill us all.”
“But...what did she even do?”
“She killed Shkemb and then all his children turned into pigs.”
“It was him who threw her into the ocean,” I reminded the villager.
Then, I shook my head, lifting my hand for a quick wave before racing to the front. I wasted too much time in that conversation, I realized. This wouldn’t be the first time they tried to take Keziah’s life. I was almost certain that this time, like most others, they would fail and flee from her the moment she did anything—anything at all. Maybe it was that belief that precluded me from running as fast as I could; maybe I was simply a coward. Either way, I did not make it to the front. Bolts of lightning struck the land, some blue, some purple, some white. A few bystanders fell. A blinding glow came from somewhere up ahead. All I heard was a scream so agonizing I almost couldn’t believe it came from a human being...because, yes, Keziah was human to me, no matter how many lives she claimed—just as she was always Keziah to me, no matter how many others simply called her “enchantress”.
Whatever that word means.
By the time I reached her, there was nothing left but her cloak. The book was gone, just as her body. I knelt and gathered the cloak into my arms, wishing once more to see her eyes…
...I always would remember. They were a beautiful amethyst color.
Keziah didn’t always have to run from everyone. That was not how her story began.
It began when we were both kids, running free through the fields together. The adults would look up to check that they could still see us; otherwise, they left us well enough alone. Keziah was an amicable child. She wore her thick brown locks in twin braids and a beige-colored dress over her petite frame. She giggled at every dumb little thing I said and did, and she’d sprint off somewhere pretending to catch a butterfly the second I called her “mean”. Then, she would somehow find a flower of just the right size and color and hold it up to me. With a smile like that, I would have forgotten it even if she’d stabbed me in the chest just a moment ago. I’d take the flower and try to put it in her hair—and fail. We would watch it fall and she would laugh at me again. This time, I would laugh with her.
One day while walking through the woods, we came upon a wounded deer.
“Is he okay?” Keziah asked.
“I don’t know,” I answered. That was the best answer I had, no joke.
We stood around watching it, partly concerned for the deer, partly wondering if it was somebody’s game, and partly worried that there was a predator nearby. After all, what hunter would leave his prey just lying in the middle of nowhere like that?
Then came the growling. I took her hand and started to run.
That was the first and last time I held her hand.
It didn’t take long before we ran out of breath, and we hadn’t even seen what was growling to begin with. We were nearing the village but not quite there yet. Keziah tripped on something and fell. I skidded to a halt next to her. Once we stopped, we couldn’t find the strength to start again. It was then that we looked back—to find a bear staring back at us.
My feet felt rooted to the ground, but Keziah raised her arm. At that moment, the air surrounding us became slightly suffocating. In the next, the bear had dropped dead on the ground.
“What...did you do, Keziah?”
She didn’t answer right away. She stared at her now-trembling hands instead for a while.
“I’m not a monster.”
“I know that. I’m just asking what you did—that was awesome! It was you, wasn’t it?”
Keziah looked up at me then, with those mesmerizing amethyst hues of hers. Slowly but surely, she smiled again.
That day, we went back to the village and told everyone what happened. Well, I did, mostly—and we were happy, until we realized the villagers were afraid of her unknown powers. They locked her up for a day and then threw her into the ocean late at night. Amidst the fury, I was too scared to speak up.
Stupid. She was everything to me—we were everything to each other. I somehow forgot that in my fear of...what even was I afraid of?
I never learned what she experienced, but when she returned to the village five years later, she came back with a cloak and a spellbook. Everyone who took part in throwing her into the sea died, one by one, until the elders finally took her down that night. For some reason, she left me be.
I kept Keziah’s cloak with me from that moment on. In the months that followed, I would sometimes stare at the cloak, wondering if she was really gone. I was in shock, and then I was in denial—but I might have never gotten past the stage of denial. A part of me firmly believed that an enchantress like Keziah couldn’t just be...killed, like that.
We were twenty years old when she died.
“Razi,” one day, an elder spoke to me as I carried some logs back home, “Be a little more careful.”
“Hm? What do you mean?”
“You know what I’m talking about—you are so careless with yourself these days. You’ll get seriously hurt one day if you continue living that way.” He hesitated for a moment but decided to add, “It’s not because of the enchantress, is it?”
“...huh.” I let out a chuckle, turning away from him to continue on my way. “That was years ago. Thanks for the advice, I’ll be more careful. A good day to you.”
With that said, I picked up my pace and walked off before I could hear him say another word. What he said was true—I became less cowardly and more reckless since Keziah vanished. I stopped treating my wounds whenever I had any; I volunteered for the more dangerous hunting trips. To everyone else, it must have looked like I was giving up on myself...and perhaps I was, but that was not all.
Since that day, my wounds healed too quickly. I could barely feel them before they patched themselves up. It was as if I’d never been injured. I began to wear clothes that could more fully cover my skin—I didn’t want them to see that none of the injuries the villagers saw me getting stayed. I couldn’t explain if they asked; I didn’t have the answer.
But that was why I believed Keziah was not dead. Whatever she was, dead could not be it.
Roughly a thousand years passed.
“The weather is quite nice today, Faith. It’s starting to get warm again,” said the broadcaster.
“That’s right, Paul, haha—I’ll have to sort my wardrobe soon. As spring approaches…” answered another.
Their voices became static noise in the back of my mind. I was driving out of the parking lot, having just visited the bank.
I was still twenty years old. At least, my body was. In truth, I’d lost count. I still had Keziah’s cloak, always doing my best to keep it in good condition—that was very difficult, but it was still there. All these years, I’d been trying to locate her, her spellbook...anything at all that I could find. I found nothing. I had been through numerous wars and plagues, I’d had bullets penetrate my body, I’d dropped out of the sky, I’d fallen into the sea and lost all the air in my lungs—but none of those things killed me. There was very little left on my mind these days, but one line rang louder and clearer with each escape from death: don’t die until I kill you.
Keziah managed to land a curse on me before running away. Did she intend to return when she did that or was she prepared to die and leave me wandering forever?
No...she was out there. She must be. I had to believe it. It was the last faith my sanity could hold on to.
“Stop!” Suddenly, there came a screech behind me. It was a familiar voice, so I stopped. Without as much as a glance into the rearview mirror, I unlocked the door to the passenger’s seat. A moment later, it was flung open. A young woman with a high ponytail invited herself in, a knife dangling dangerously from her fingers. “Thanks! Now leave, Clive! Hurry!”
“Jeez, Bobbie…alright, alright.” I sped away in broad daylight. Yes, my name was Clive now—just another name in just another era. I couldn’t be Ravi forever if I were to avoid unwanted attention. “Where are we going?”
“Out of the country. Anywhere, really.”
“You can’t just…” I sighed. “I won’t even ask what you did this time. Who are we running from?”
“Uh...assume it’s everyone.”
I could hear the sirens already. I stepped on the pedal more, but the sound of sirens didn’t even alert me anymore. It did alert Bobbie though—funny how that was, when she was the one seeking excitement in the most illicit ways possible. She ducked in her seat.
“Everyone?” I asked casually, “You got everyone running after you? Hot damn.”
“Is this a time for jokes?!”
“Hm. Is it a joke?”
The knife she had on her when she got into the car was already nowhere to be seen. I turned the radio off. Ten minutes later, the sound of sirens died down.
I glanced at her.
“Remember when we first met? It was something like today too—just a tad colder. You just robbed a bank and were about to hijack my car coming out.”
Bobbie looked up, thinking.
“Yeah, I think that’s what happened. You just straight-up drove for me though. Wasn’t that just last month?”
“Yep. And now I can never go home in peace. Or at all, for that matter—all because of a wild cutie.”
“I’m not cute, I’m fierce!”
“A fierce cutie.”
She sighed. By now, she was visibly more relaxed.
“You never asked why I live this life though,” she said.
“And you never asked me anything. It’s fine.”
In her—or our, whenever she got me involved—many escapades, there were times when we crashed my car (she never came in one, smart lass). There were times when there was a brawl. There were times when we were shot at, and there was once when we jumped right out from the glass windows of a six-story building. In all of those instances, I ended up cushioning the damage for her. Bobbie watched me bleed and watched me heal. I could still recall the shock in her eyes—but after that, she simply gave me a hug and decided to never ask even the first question.
I would remember her, I often thought. Of all the people I’d met, Bobbie was one of the more unique ones. But just like all the people I’d met, I would have to leave eventually, before she began to age and notice that I didn’t. I couldn’t stay long.
That night, Bobbie brought us to a remote motel run by a friend of hers. To save budget—on both sides—we shared a room.
“I’m so tired after today,” Bobbie claimed, throwing herself onto the bed.
“Then, rest,” I said, taking a seat in a chair.
At that, she suddenly sat up again, crossing her legs.
“Is there a place you want to go?” she asked.
“To the south somewhere,” I said.
“To do what?”
“Look for a book. That’s not very important though. Where are you going after this?”
Bobbie went quiet. She bit her lip, as if thinking about something important. A moment later, she shifted again to the edge of the bed, reached out, and pulled me in with a force so strong and precise my whole person landed on the bed. If I truly only had twenty inexperienced years to my life, I most definitely would not have been able to avoid touching her. Even now, my escape was a narrow one.
“...dangerous. Girl, that was a dangerous move,” I mumbled.
The brunette kept her grip on my arms, looking straight into my eyes. She wasn’t even smiling anymore.
“I’ll go wherever you go,” she said, “You’re an outlaw just like me anyway. You say you want to go to the south? Then let’s go to the south.”
She moved again, loosening her hold on one of my arms to free up a hand. With that hand, she reversed our positions, flipping us around so that she was pinning me down instead. I should probably stop her here, I thought, but I had a feeling this wasn’t what it looked like.
“How far south?” she asked instead.
“We’d have to take a plane.”
Bobbie brought her face close to mine, her locks veiling us from view. She lowered her voice to a whisper.
“You’re a wanted man, aren’t you, Clive? You can’t board a plane.”
With that declaration, she pulled out a knife and plunged it into my chest. There came a familiar pain—one I’d suffered too many times to count. After driving it in, she pulled it back out.
The healing did not come.
She seemed to be expecting a different result as well. Did I look shocked? I definitely felt that way. After a thousand long years, ironically enough, I could finally feel my heart pounding. It was as if I realized I was alive only now.
“Good thing you’re right on top of me,” I said to her, “I can see you easily. You’ve been training all your life for this, haven’t you? You did a...good job, Bobbie.”
“But…” Her eyes were now brimming with tears. “But up to now, you…”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m happy.”
“But you shouldn’t...I didn’t want…”
“It’s alright. I’ve been waiting for you all my life.”
I think I might hate you a bit, for making me wait this long.
I think I might hate you a bit, for dying on me.
I think I might still love you too, for all that we did.
I think I might still love you too, for all we could not do.
Keziah...I think I might know now, what you would have told me if you could have returned that day.
~ fin ~
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