When I was a girl, I lived in an old four-story house with my family in Northeast PA, coal country. The house perched on the top of the mountain like the skeleton of an old miner. In decades past, men would walk down the hill to work in the mines, leaving their wives to mind the children. My grandpop said the souls of the ones who died in the deepest parts of the tunnels sometimes came back out and walked home, thinking they were still alive.
I was ten when it began. Sometimes the wind blew hard and the whole house shivered. This didn't frighten me. Sometimes the air howled through the eaves. This didn't bother me either. But sometimes, usually on the first, crisp, cold night of late autumn, the flies would come.
I'd wake up flailing. The dark felt thick, almost suffocating, and often I panicked as I tried to extricate myself from my blankets and avoid the flies landing on my forehead or my nose or my hair. I took to sleeping with a fly-swatter near the bed. It didn't do much good—I was never fast enough.
Sometimes they clustered around the light in the closet. Sometimes they hid around the creepy old painting my Mom had hung on the wall of a Victorian girl dressed in a pink frock. She liked to watch me fall asleep, her blue eyes staring until I put the sheets over my face. The flies liked her, sitting near her shoulder like miniature bats. Sometimes I'd leave the window screens open, coax them with freedom. Surely the flies hated it here—no fresh water, nowhere to go…
They didn't leave. They waited for me. I hung netting from the ceiling, hoping they wouldn't be able to penetrate the filmy fabric. No such luck. I set out sugar water laced with vinegar and dish detergent and once caught a fly sitting disdainfully on the cup's rim, faceted eyes staring into the glittering liquid thoughtfully. When it saw me, I swear it laughed as it flew away.
My Mom said the house was haunted. She'd heard someone died in the house. I didn't care. I just wanted the flies to leave me alone, certain they were there to torment me for misbehaving. Eventually, we moved to a new house. The flies remained behind. For the first few months, I slept soundly. Peacefully. It was wonderful. Then one night, as I slipped downstairs for a drink of water, the cellar door creaked open by itself. I froze, certain I was doomed, but instead of a ghost, a single fly flew out of the stairwell and careened around wildly as if confused, or lost.
It flung itself at the window again and again, pocking the frosty glass with its small body. The streetlight outside gleamed like a full moon. When the fly finally fell to the sill, red eyes dulling into death, I realized I'd been there for hours. My feet were cold and I had school the next day, but I was no longer frightened. That was the first time I'd ever seen one of those flies try to get out of the house. It was the last fly I ever saw inside after midnight, at the tail-end of autumn.
Maybe the house was haunted. Maybe it was just me. The next day, I began to write stories about love and devotion and how even death couldn’t keep two people apart.
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About the Author: Marie E. Blossom is a romance novel devotee, the steamier the better. After years of devouring books, Marie decided it was time to write her own, mostly because she loves a happily-ever-after ending every time. She also writes erotic romance novels (ménage) under the pen name Erin M. Leaf.
Marie’s Evernight Page: http://www.evernightpublishing.com/marie-e-blossom/
Queen Ximena is devoted to her people and will gladly sacrifice herself for them, even if it means her death. Her bodyguard, Zefirino, is devoted to her and will gladly sacrifice himself to keep her alive.
When a terrible enemy suddenly attacks their planet, how will they protect those they love without losing each other? Together they survive an assassination attempt, invasion, and capture, but they both know that their duty may eventually tear them apart.
How can Ximena give her life for her people when she knows that Zefirino will die trying to save her? Who does she put first: her planet, or the lover she isn’t even supposed to have?