Sneak Peak ~ Opening Scene TCITWW

the opening scene of The Church In The Wildwood


When Iris Carver died, he felt her leaving like cool silk. She whispered past him as she left, tickling the nape of his neck with a ghostly touch, icy yet glaringly hot in a confusing collision of senses; slipping through his fingers and floating down the hall until she was nothing but a shadow bowing into the cracks of the painted wainscotting.

Joseph had wandered from the hospital in a daze of misery and now, standing in the home she had held together with her heart, he sensed her absence in cool breaths of memory and goodbye.

Anger and pain fought an internal duel as he studied himself in the bathroom mirror. He saw her in his own reflection—in the way his eyes held secrets and his expression hung between innocence and too much world knowledge— and for a moment he forgot to breathe.

He let his head fall forward. It hit the glass just hard enough to rend a crack through from the top right corner to the very middle where, when he looked again, his face was split and foreign, wearing the scar of her passing.

It was both her heart and her magic that had held their house together. It made sense in his grief-stricken mind it would begin to fall apart the moment her spirit left.

He looked at himself—at the shades of grief shadowing the hollows beneath his eyes; at his wild, orphaned hair; at his heart spilling raw down his cheeks—and he hated what he saw.

“Who are you?” he asked his reflection, watching his lips move but unable to answer himself.

He fingered the old nail he wore strung around his neck with a strip of leather. The word ‘RELIC’ was carved into its rusty surface. It reflected backwards in the cracked mirror. “Killer,” he mouthed to his distorted likeness.

But he didn’t dare say the word aloud.  

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© Alanna Rusnak