Of a Feather

Seventeen-year-old Delia has never been comfortable in her own skin, let alone in the company of her overbearing cousin and his wife who took her in last month. She's never known her real parents and she's never felt like she was normal.The night she decides to seek a little escape changes her life forever.
Over the course of the next few days, she discovers things about herself - about her creation and what she's capable of - that simply don't even seem possible. Will she simply freak out and hide, or will she accept her new responsibilities and the burden of saving the world from her -family-.

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1. Chapter 1

 

I don’t know why I was doing this, exactly. I guess there were a lot of reasons.

Annette trying to act like she’s my mom. The constant noise of Beatty and his endless string of toys left all over the floor. The complete lack of privacy. My fury over Nana being put into that home. Miles expecting me to pretend like I’m okay.

All of that lead me here.

I got out of my car and played with my keys in the dark until I found the one I was looking for. The one I was supposed to hand over to the realtor yesterday.

I walked up the dirt path I knew so well. The sound of the gravel shifting under my shoes made me feel like I’d come home.

I put the key into the door knob and turned it. The door creaked open. I stepped into the house and flipped a switch.

Nothing.

Just darkness. Guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Miles had the electricity shut off. My cousin always was a bit of a cheapskate.

I felt a chill run up the back of my arm and shuddered.

I shut the door, effectively cutting off the source of the cold. It was the middle of February and snow was still packed on the mountains with no sign of melting anytime soon.

I walked back towards my old room. All of the furniture was still here, even though the place had been empty for several weeks. I’m sure Annette would be setting up some sort of estate sale in the near future.

Who needs the old, comfortable and familiar when everything in your new home - new life - is cold and new?

I laid down in my old bed and kicked off my galoshes. I managed to finally fall asleep a little bit, but then, something roused me. This strange feeling of dread.

I stood from the bed and went to my desk. I picked up the lantern I used sometimes to read without my grandmother knowing I was still awake and turned it on. I sat it on the desk and was about to dig around in the desk for a pencil and some scrap of paper when something in my peripheral caught my attention.

I saw the silhouette of a girl through my window, backlit by the bright moon.

She looked tall, lean, wiry. Her hair looked long and wild.

She stepped closer and I could better make out her features.

She was beautiful and fearsome. Her hair was dirty ashen blonde. Its length fell nearly at her ankles, tangled and fettered with leaves and burs. So messy, but almost beautiful.

Soon, she was standing right in front of my window.

The shape of her face was round, but her cheeks sunken, her skin darkened by the sun in a glowing bronze. Her body was thin, but I could clearly see the hard, sinewy muscles in her arms and legs. Even her fingers looked strong.

Her eyes were a pale gray, like the sky on a snowy winter's day.

She wore a sundress, the hem of which was tattered. One of the straps was completely ripped and hung loose over her chest.

I thought I was staring at a wood sprite, framed in frost on my glass pane. I could not help but stare back.

Something about her pulled me towards the window. She moved closer, too, and touched her finger to the glass. I wondered if she was freezing, briefly, before I raised my hand and placed my fingers to hers.

I saw her eyes change to ice.

Her facial expression changed infinitesimally to something harder, angry.

I could feel the pressure of her finger increase on the glass. A small crack formed vertically across her fingertip.

I pulled my hand away and stepped back. The glass shattered and her lips pulled up in a smile.

I stumbled back, knocking the lantern off of my desk. The bulb broke and the room went dark. All I could see was the ghostly girl outside, now glowing in silver and blue hues in the moonlight.

Her lean arm reached through the broken window and unhooked the lock. She raised the window open. A cold wind blew a flurry of snow inside as she began to climb through.

I grabbed a letter opener off of my desk and stepped back until I hit the door. I fumbled to turn the knob and fell into the hall as she approached me with slow deliberation.

I couldn't understand her eyes.

They showed anger and affection, neither of which I could find a reason for her aiming at me.

I got back to my feet and ran for the door, grabbing my grandfather's camouflage hunting coat from the armrest of the chair next to the door. I fumbled with the knob as the girl crept on in my direction at an eerily steady and slow pace. She felt no rush, nor hesitation. She was confident that I was hers.

I could see it in her eyes. Somehow, I could feel it. And she could feel me, too. No matter where I ran or how fast, she was never going to lose me.

A sudden desperation came over me and I bolted out the door.

As I stumbled through the snow, I pulled the coat on and lifted the hood over my head.

The realization that I’d left my keys in the cabin flashed into my mind and I cursed myself.

I ran into the woods. I grew up in these woods. If I had any chance at all of losing her, it would be in these woods.

I ran straight for ten paces, not glancing behind to check what I already knew. She was behind me. I took a sharp turn left, nearly falling for my speed and ran another fifteen paces before finding the tree.

I jumped up, latching onto the branch above me and swinging my legs up over it using the momentum to lift myself to sitting on the branch.

This is where I hid my hunting gear. I hated hunting, but my grandmother had insisted I learned how to safely use my grandfather's weapons if he was allowed to keep them around.

My hands searched anxiously through the branches in the dark. I couldn’t see anything. My heart was racing. Finally, my hand landed on what I'd been searching for. The hunting pistol.

I wrapped my fingers around the handle when the branch shook. I fell, dropping the pistol and the letter opener. I landed flat on my back, the wind leaving me. A knot in one of the roots hitting just to the right of my spine.

The girl stood to my left, her foot on the hunting pistol. She leaned down over me, her eyes crossing from interest to confusion to frustration to anger.

Her nose scrunched to sniff.

I finally was able to gulp in a breath and choked it out, my heart pounding. My fingers dug through the leaves. They found and grasped the blade of the letter opener.

Her hand reached for my throat, but she didn't squeeze.

I felt tears start to trail over my cheek. I don't even know when I started crying.

Her eyes looked confused again, almost compassionate. She ran her free hand over my hair, smoothing it down. I gulped in a deep breath, readying myself for something.

Death. Or survival.

I gripped the blade. And gulped down tears. Her eyes looked frustrated again. They zeroed in on my throat as I choked out more tears.

“Sound,” she said. “Sad sound.”

I was not expecting her cadence as her eyes met mine again. Her voice sounded like that of a child, light and insecure. It was strained with raw and mixed emotion. I sobbed, more tears falling.

“Sad sound,” she whispered. She sounded desperate, sad, and like she was trying to sooth me. “Sad sound. Stop the sound. Okay. It's okay. Stop the sad sound. Please. Please.”

Her eyes fell back to my throat and her grip tightened. I gasped for breath and sobbed again.

“Okay. It's okay. Stop the sad sound now,” she continued, almost singing like a lullaby, and pressed harder. “Don't wanna hear the sad sound. Too sad. Too sad. Please. You don't need to make the sad sound. Stop the sad sound.”

The air seeped into my lungs through her grip, painfully, as I tried with all my might to pull it in. I gripped the letter opener and drove it into her thigh. She screamed, her hand releasing my throat.

I scrambled to get to my feet, letting go of the letter opener and leaving it in her leg. She looked at me, a pained look in her eye.

She started to cry.

I found my way to a tree and leaned against the trunk, sucking in breath like the source of life that it was.

She sobbed as she patted her hand at the blade in her thigh, but the sound shocked her and her hands found her own neck.

“Sad sound!” she screamed, then covered her mouth.

Her eyes weren't focusing on anything as she tried despairingly to quiet and calm herself. Before she could do that and come after me again, I took off, making sure to have a semblance of a head start.

I ran in the direction I knew would lead me to the road. I found the shortcut I took when I was running late for school.

I was about five feet from the street when I just couldn't keep on for the pain in my back. My legs collapsed beneath me and I fell to the ground.

I thought that this was it. Either I'd die from freezing to death, or I'd be murdered when that girl came for me.

The image of snow falling towards me from the sky blurred.

I fell unconscious and dreamt of that wood sprite, her childlike voice singing a lullaby.

Hush little baby, don't you cry...

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