SPARK: A Story and Poems Lit Aflame
Series: Collections of Poetry & Short Stories #.5
Published by: Chrysocolla Publishing
Release Date: July 2020
Buy the Book: Amazon
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"It’s dark, it’s beautifully twisted and I’m happy to have had a chance to read it." – Madison Drake, Copy Editor, Content Editor, Proofreader & Beta Reader
“This is a really a strong story, it stuck with me for days after reading!” – Ryan McDonough, Millennial Storyteller, TV/Film Writer & Ghostwriter
With a story that tests your resolve and poems that reverberate long after they’ve been read, Spark: A Story and Poems Lit Aflame presents a raw, unapologetic voice on divinity, survival, and cruelty. Spark is the pre-release “single” from the long anticipated revised edition of Storm of Roses: A Compilation of Poetry and Short Stories.
This is an essential read for curious readers’ eager for their first bite of E. Tara Scurry’s thought-provoking literary art. Spark begins with its 7,000-word title piece about an abused girls tipping point that forces her to seek revenge by telling disgusting lies.
Not a story for the faint, heed the disclaimer for violence, miscarriage, torture, abuse and cannibalism. After your resolve is tested, E. Tara Scurry sprinkles you with an insightful selection of sixteen poems that synthesize a deep connection with our actions, choices, and their impact on the world around us.
SPARK (DISCLAIMER: Violence, Miscarriage, Torture, Abuse, Cannibalism)
An abused girls tipping point forces her to seek revenge by telling disgusting lies…
He’s drunk. There’s no mistaking the off-beat clap of his worn boots against the dirt floor. Heavy-handed, foulmouthed, and bad-spirited, he’s like all the men in our Turbid Orilon Lake commune. Endlessly vile.
Mother says Father’s good spirit flew away when his first union dissolved. The priest gave him Beth. She died shortly after three stillborn babies fell out of her belly. Two boys and a girl. Mother says when she was given to Father, there was nothing she could do to compete with Beth’s memory. Beth and Father’s union was arranged as all are, but they had loved each other before the priest had put them together. When Beth died, all the good that was in him died too.
Tonight, Father could have passed out in the pub like last time, but no. Instead, the wooden door shivers against its hinges. The lake splashes a stone’s throw outside our door. Startled awake, the water cows with their large dark-brown cyclops eyes groan, murmur and cry like exhausted babies desperate for sleep.
Mother squeezes my arm, her silent warning that I should pretend to sleep. Father is more likely to leave us alone if we ignore him. My little brother, Louis, curls up against Mother’s side. We three have our own cots, but we prefer to push them together, away from Father’s cot on the other side of the room.
Father mutters sharp, quick words. He’s complaining about our cottage, looking for something. I hear a dull cascade as something falls. Probably wooden cups. Father snorts. I open my eyes. He is strong with ripples of solid muscle surrounded by his protruding belly. Mother’s eyes are squeezed shut. I don’t know how she manages to cry so hard without making a sound. Mother can do a lot of things I don’t understand. She can endure the impossible. Live a lie.
“This place is disgusting.”
It was perfectly clean before you started knocking things down. Mother cleaned every single bowl so you wouldn’t beat her with them.
“Where is my food?”
You ate it before you went to the pub. What does it matter? If we don’t do anything wrong, you just make it up.
I shift my eyes from my mother’s face. The twin moons shine bright through a crack in our wooden walls. In a month, the moons will be full. I will be fifteen, and Louis will be eight, as we share a birthday. Mother always says that twin full moons on your birthday are a sign of the divine, bringing good luck.
Father destroys our fragile little kitchen. Throws himself against its walls. Shatters anything he can wrap his hands around.
Where does he get this energy from? He wakes up at dawn like the rest of us.
Good. He passes out on the floor. We’ll step over him in the morning. There will be no beatings tonight.
“Finish your porridge. Don’t be here when he wakes.” Mother waves her hands at us. “Get.”
My lips tremble. “We don’t want you here when he wakes, either,” I say.
She holds our faces in her hands and shakes her head. Her eyes are red and tearing. “I’m so sorry. I know. I’ll be all right.”
“No, you won’t,” Louis whimpers.
Once she finishes her duties in the cottage, she’ll go into the fields like the rest of us. If, that is, Father doesn’t render her useless once he finally wakes.
“Besides,” she adds, “I need to clean up my special powders.” Her hair is thick and wiry, like a tangle of sharp bushes. Her hair pin sticks up sharply like a thorn. One of her crooked teeth protrudes slightly out of her mouth as her lips tremble, but she is beautiful to me. Field soil dusts her coppery-brown skin, smooth and specked with barely visible freckles. “You mean your ‘cooking spices’?” I say, brows raised. She’s relentlessly secretive about the contents in her special jars.
She shakes her head. “Just go!” She snaps her fingers. She points toward the door, but her eyes tell us she wants another hug.
Louis and I take one last glance at our father’s slumped-over frame, wrap our arms around our mother, then rush out the door.
The sun’s heat immediately permeates my thin rags. I roll up my flimsy sleeves, and it bathes my skin. “Can I go to school today?” Louis tilts his head and raises his hand over his eyes.
“Go to school. I’ll go to the field. If he asks, tell him you worked the field. Father never remembers or notices anything important anyway.”
I wrap my arms around his slight frame and hand him a cloth filled with bread, apples and nuts.
“Don’t forget. You’re the one that has to go to school. When you’re old enough, you’ll get us out of here.” I rub his bald head playfully. Mother recently shaved it when she discovered critters living there. “Remember the places far beyond the lake and mountains?” I ask. “Full towns of women and children who’ve found asylum. Freedom from the priests and their stupid unions. We’re going to get there. We can make it.”
“I know.” He smiles for the first time all morning. His eyes are green just like mine, but his teeth are crooked like Mother’s. I have Father’s straight teeth and pale skin. Louis and Mother are brown like the murky lake that runs through our village.
I smile too. The reality of getting away from Father and Turbid Orilon Lake are the only things that could accomplish that feat. That and Richard.
I turn and run away, forcing the thought of Father out of my head. I stop walking as a smell jolts me, making my nose curl. I hate the fields. They reek of human flesh. The priests have too many laws and punishments, and their favorite is death by fire. Men and women burned bloody and black at the stake.
“Yah, I know. It’s bad!” Richard shouts as I draw near. “Only fire can burn the Devil out of heretics.” He laughs. His thick, long hair sits braided in a flat circle around his head, save for a stray bang that keeps touching his right eye. “Ever since that inquisitor was appointed, we’ve been getting burned at the stake breaks pretty much every week! One wrong breath and next thing you know, you’re up in flames! Should I feel bad that I’m actually happy about it? The breaks from work, I mean.”
I love the way the double suns glisten against his hay-colored skin. He’s a few months older than me, but he likes when I take charge. He winks at me with his dark-brown eyes and shifts his gaze down to my stomach. I look past him at the deep ditch. The spotted water cows hear his laugher and take the opportunity to beg for food. Richard follows my gaze to the water cows and sprinkles dried hay across the water. They bellow in appreciation. When the water cows saunter out of the lake to sunbathe twice a day, we milk them and pull off the delicious large blue crabs that get tangled into their long matted manes.
“Don’t be so loud about it! Best just not say or think anything about it at all.” I wrap my dirt-stained faded-green rags tighter around my body with a wry smile. I’m getting noticeably bigger. It was Richard’s way to make light of the terrible things that happen around us. To us.
Richard and I share the same type of pain: ruthless assaults from our fathers. Yet we still find joy in each other. Richard is the clearing in my storm. He feels the same about me too. I suppose we are a bit too happy together. I have been with child for many months now.
Richard nods, motions to my womb and reaches for my hand. “Not speaking about things doesn’t make them disappear.”
I want nothing more than to wrap myself in his arms and feel his strong weight holding me, comforting me. My heart longs for me to be held by him, but my feet force me to step back. Avoid his hand touching mine. I hate my life.
“You want people to see us?” I scold him. “We have to be careful. You know that,” I whisper, drenched in self-pity.
“I want to be with you! Get out of here. Your mother already knows.” He looks at me sternly, pausing until I give him my full attention. “We can’t let your father find out. He’ll kill you. I’m not willing to let that happen.”
I shake my head and hold back tears. “If Father wants to kill me, he will. No one can stop him. I can’t leave Mother and Louis. Ever.”
“That’s my point,” he says. His hand tremors. “We need to get out of here because once he knows, it’s over. We can take your mother and brother with us. I’m surprised your mother took it so well.”
I pick up my large basket and begin filling it with dry hay. “She’s more afraid than upset. Keeps making me pray on my knees for forgiveness every chance she gets. She makes me snort some powder mixture. Says it will give me strength for what’s to come, or something like that.”
“Did you do it?”
“Yah. Of course.”
“What is up with your mom and those powders?”
“I don’t really know. Don’t say anything. Next thing you know, she’ll be burning on the stake.”
I immediately regret my words. I trust Richard and don’t want him to think otherwise. Plus, I feel guilty speaking about Mother that way. With my bad luck, my words will become a reality. Tonight before bed, I’ll pray and replace my negative words with better ones.
“Come on, Diana, you know I wouldn’t. Even if my mother were alive, I’d still like your mom better. You know that,” he teases.
I nod and offer a smile. His father strangled his mother to death three years ago. Our commune leadership declared it was her fault. No woman deserved to live if she could not be obedient to her husband. He didn’t get in trouble, but the priest didn’t put a new wife on him, either.
“You’re right. I know.” I throw a handful of dry hay in his face. His eyes light up, and he grins.
“Come on!” I shout. “We have to finish the water cows, chickens and pigs.”
“I love you. Whatever happens, I’ll always be with you.” He grabs my basket and covers our faces with it so others can’t see if they look our way. I stand on my toes and kiss him.
I stare at the dirt floor with blurry eyes. I can’t focus. Blood drips from my face. Is it my nose or my mouth? My stomach aches. Burning. Hurting.
“Who’s been at you, Diana? I’m not going to ask again.”
I try to answer Father, but sharp words catch jagged in my throat. I cough on my own blood, and my throat hurts from him choking me. I blacked out, but that didn’t stop the pain. I can’t see, but I can feel everything. I moan and keep shifting my legs. My whole body trembles.
My life slips away with every drop of blood that clots out of me. When I feel myself slip into the afterlife, I scream in my heart as I fall fast. My baby girl is pressed tightly against my chest; there is no way I’m letting go. Like a stone in a slingshot, something pulls me back before the air pushes out of me, like I have been kicked in the stomach. My baby slips through my fingers and continues to fall. I scream and whimper. Reaching out in vain for my child. I hang there, swinging gently back and forth. My baby falls into the darkness. I can’t see her anymore. It’s as if there is a thin string holding me between the two worlds, not letting go. The thinnest of threads with an unmatched strength that has been waiting for me. Ready to hold me. Refusing to release my soul into the darkness.