A Kiss with a Fist

In which the young Bela Talbot makes a deal that she doesn't fully understand the consequences of.

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1. A Kiss with a Fist

 

Abby is fourteen years old - that awkward bridge age in between childhood and becoming an adult. Still, though her hair is kept back in long, dark plaits, behind her eyes is anything but innocence. Her father already stole that - that delicate purity that comes with being young; the charming sense of virtue that Abby feels she only got to brush against for a second. She is only fourteen years old, but Abby already feels so wearied and aged, it's as if she's been living for a thousand years. 

The girl stands silently in the middle of the cross roads. She's opposite a flashy, ostentatious kind of club - the place is brimming with the aloof sort of twenty-somethings who do their utmost best to ignore her. Abby watches them as they flirt and drink and laugh together, asking herself if she minds that they pretend she isn't there. 

The people in the club seem so vibrant, so colourful. They remind Abby of the birds of paradise she's seen in the zoo, or on documentaries - except these people are so much more free than gaudy birds locked inside cages. Maybe, she thinks, she'll be like them one day. Maybe she'll grow up and live a life that bursts with so much beautiful colour, the rest of the world seems black and white in dreary comparison. 

Maybe. 

Abby smiles. Shrugging her burgundy rucksack from her shoulders, she unzips the back pouch and slips out a box. Though she doesn't look inside it, she knows that if she did her old school photograph would stare out at her. That, a handful of her grandmother's grave dirt, a black cat bone, and some yarrow. 

It goes without saying: this is not her usual Saturday evening.

Taking hold of the box, Abby crouches down until she's on her hands and knees, sitting amongst the dirt and gravel of the crossroads. She pulls a miniature trowel from her bag and begins digging a hole just big enough for the box to fit into - the trowel is not much, but it was all she could find in her garden shed that she was sure her parents wouldn't miss. 

Abby places the box inside the hole she's dug, covering it with the earth and macadam she's just dug up. She looks at the place where her box is buried with a heated satisfaction, wondering whether she's crossed the thin line between bravery and stupidity. The people in the club still seem entirely indifferent to her presence, and Abby takes a strange comfort in her own isolation.

Perhaps, she thinks, if I leave now, it'll be like I was never here in the first place. No one will know. Nothing will happen. 

Abby gets to her feet abruptly, picking up her rucksack from the road and resolving to go home. She doesn't bother to dig up the box from the middle of the road - no one will ever find it, after all. She's come here on stupid superstition, and it makes her feel foolish to think of what she hoped might happen tonight.

Her shoulders slump, dejected.

"You've got to be kidding me," says a male voice behind her. Abby starts, taken aback - she almost stumbles in her eagerness to face the speaker, turning around to look at him curiously. When she attempts to speak to him her voice comes out in little more but a jumbled stutter; she swallows, and tries again. 

"I- I didn't think anything was actually going to happen. I didn't think...you...were going to appear...here." Abby gestures around them, at the cross roads. The boy standing before her smiles in rakish amusement, his eyebrows flying up.

"New to this, are you?" he says, ruffling his hand through his short dark hair with a wry mirth. The boy is handsome, around Abby's age or slightly older. The only thing that seems peculiar about him is his eyes - they're fully black, like a monster has eaten all the colour out of them. 

Abby nods, feeling a tingling excitement in the pit of her chest. The excitement rises through her, up and up, until it spews from her mouth in the form of laughter. "Oh my God," says Abby, her voice shaking as she looks to the heavens in amazement. "Oh my God!" 

"Not exactly," says the boy, raising an eyebrow. "Actually, the complete opposite." He tilts his head, smiling. "The cross roads demon, at your service."

Abby nods, trying to contain the hopeful, giddy song that bubbles inside her. "So," she says, "what happens now? I get a wish, right?"

The demon grins. "Yeah, if you want to put it like that. Though you're sounding like I'm a djinn or something."

Abby makes a face. She doesn't know what a djinn is, not yet - but she want to learn. She wants to learn everything she can about this strange world of spirits and demons and things that go bump in the night. 

"But yes," the demon says. "You do get a wish. And that wish will come true for ten long, sweet years." He pauses, looking at the naive, desperate girl looking expectantly into his eyes. "And then," says the demon, knowing that the girl will not listen, "After you've made your wish and your ten years are up, you'll go to Hell." 

Abby takes a deep breath, and then nods. Ten years are a long time. Almost as long as she's lived already. And wouldn't ten years where she could live happily, free, be better than a whole life darkened by her father's presence? Abby looks at the demon who looks so much like a human boy, and thinks that if Hell is full of people like him, it can't be so bad. 

She's convinced - so foolishly convinced - that no Hell after life could be worse than the Hell that she's living. 

"Deal," says Abby, smiling at the demon, longing for the word to replay in her head, over and over, forever. This is the word that will change my life, she thinks. I don't ever have to see my father again. 

"So," the girl says to the demon, expectant. "Do I tell you what I wish for?" She doesn't wait for his answer - ploughs ahead with her wish as if she doesn't want to give the demon the chance to change his mind. "I don't want to ever have to see my parents again," Abby tells the demon.

"Deal," answers the demon boy, and takes a step towards her. They're close - she can smell his breath, cool and fresh against the mild night air. His face does not appear cruel, but then again, he's a demon - and Abby does not have much experience with those. She stiffens, her body going rigid.

"You know," she says, taking a step away from the demon, talking to distract him, "I think the first thing I'm going to do, now I never have to see my parents again, is change my name. That way they'll never find me." The demon still walks towards her, and Abby increases her babble, her heart thumping out a rhythm at twice its usual speed. 

"Yes," squeaks Abby, eyeing the demon warily. "I'm going to change my name. Not legally - I can't do that yet, I'm not old enough, but -" She breaks off as the demon takes hold of her wrist, pulling her closer. 

"Wh-what are you doing?" Abby says - and then she doesn't say anything else because his lips are touching hers and they're kissing as if the world is falling to pieces around them, and maybe it is. 

The demon pulls back, just for a second, and whispers in her ear. "What am I doing? Oh, darling...I'm sealing the deal." She tangles her fingers in his hair, and he does the same in hers, untying her plaits - and for Abby, this kiss alone is worth the deal. His lips linger on hers so lightly, it's like they're barely even there, but Abby knows she'll remember this moment long after the demon'a gone. 

When they've finished, all too soon for Abby's liking, the demon looks at her with an unnervingly human curiosity on his face. "So," he says, and she hears the smirk in his voice. "Have you decided what you're going to change your name to?"

Abby closes her eyes, her grin spreading across her face like grins are contagious. Tilting her head back, she stretches her arms up in a long, elegant line of bliss. "Bela," she decides, at last. "I'm thinking Bela."

When the demon doesn't reply, her eyes flutter open. He's gone - Abby's surprised he even stayed as long as he did. Maybe, one day, she'll see him again. 

In any case, Abby decides, she's going to fill her ten years with so many more kisses, she'll become a master at the art. She grins, bathing in the feeling of freedom for the very first time. 

Abby's going to Hell. She may as well enjoy the ride. 

 

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