The Poison Garden

In the dead of night a girl flees all she's ever known, fearing for her life and seeking to save that of her brother.
Far into the forest, beyond yew trees grown on human flesh, she seeks the Serpent, a small community of individuals secretly thriving away from the pious eyes of the Garden.
If she's lucky, their interests might just align.

Follow Henbane, Bluebottle, Mistletoe and others as they seek to tear down their old lives in order to build them anew.

(Cover by WinterSoldier)

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23. Chapter 22 - Artemis

Nothing. Just absolutely nothing.

It has to be. I have to keep it that way. Force myself to be nothing.

Or the arguing, niggling, irritating thoughts encroaching on my mind will get in. They’re like fists to joy.

There’s no joy to be had.

“Shut up.” I mumble, rubbing my knuckles into my temples like they can beat it away.

Nothing. Just nothing.

A heavy heavy heavy weight pushing into my chest, pushing lumps into my throat like vomit on a dark, bloody night.

Shit. Shut up.

But, fuck, it hurts. Firm, firm pain in the very centre.

My head says to keep hurting, but now I’m getting pissed.

I don’t even know what I’m sad about.

There’s nothing to be sad about.

But my head isn’t convinced.

I will punch a wall. I will punch the wall until my knuckles bleed and my fingers break. Damn it, I’ll damn well give my head something to cry about if it insists.

But not now. Not whilst there are people watching.

They look on me like a fairy caught in a cage. Some kind of admiration, and some kind of fear, and some kind of longing.

Some kind of whatever the fuck just shut up. I smile.

I hope they’ll leave me alone eventually.

If I could just turn away…

But I can’t. There’s nowhere to go, nowhere to escape.

I’ve dug my own grave, and I’m suffocating in it.

Except I’m doing the right thing, I know I am. I’m keeping people safe.

And at the same time I’m almost dreaming of turning my fingers purple and yellow and black and blue and red red red red red.

“Shut up.” I whisper again.

Concerned eyes.

They don’t know. They don’t need to know.

I smile.

I smile and smile and smile until I start to believe that’s how my face looks naturally.

And the people walk by, and they watch me.

And I force myself to be nothing.

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