Monday, August 5, 2013

Fiction #45: Elizabeth Glass

Crossroads

Peyton approached the crossroads excitedly. She couldn’t remember exactly how the legend went, but she hoped she knew it well enough. She buried her stuffed toy dog from when she was a child—her most prized possession—in the crossroad, made a wish, and waited for the demon to arrive to grant it.

It wasn’t a demon who approached, but a woman who looked just like Peyton. She couldn’t tell if it was her twin, Patti, back from the grave, and her wish was granted, or if it was a demon masquerading as Peyton herself. She waited. The demon/twin sure was slow in her walk to the crossroads.

As the demon/twin got closer, Peyton could tell it was Patti. She knew she had to stay in the road for the wish to be granted, and she realized that she had traded her soul for it, but it was hard not to run toward Patti as she neared.

Beelzebub had decided to handle this one himself. He was all for gathering souls, but this seemed particularly unfair, so he approached warily. He had made himself look like Patti, who since she was an identical twin to Peyton, looked virtually the same as her. This one just seemed too easy; he preferred a soul that was more of a challenge.

As he got to the crossroads, Peyton jumped up and grabbed him, hugging fiercely. “You’re back!” she hollered.

“Wait. Just a minute,” he said in Patti’s voice. “I’m not really Patti. I just want to be sure you really want to go through with this.”

Peyton looked at him. “Yes, I’m sure. I want Patti back.”

Beelzebub sighed. “You can have her back any time you want. You don’t need me for that.”

Peyton looked at him quizzically. “That’s why you’re here, right? To grant me Patti back and take my soul?”

He rolled his eyes. “Like I said, you can have her back without my help. Just turn to your mind, like you did when you were little.”

He could tell Peyton wasn’t following him, and as easy as this was, and as eager to give his boss her soul, he was a demon high leader, not some amateur newbie who would take just anyone’s soul to score points with the boss.

“Come on now, Peyton,” he said, exasperatedly. “Just take Patti back. You know how to do it. Just wish her back, don’t sell your soul for her.”

Peyton squinted her eyes and glared at him. “I’m not afraid. I want Patti back. It’s all I’ve wanted since she died when we were four.”

He thought he’d give her one more chance, then he would go ahead and sign the contract with her. “You were four when she went away.” He sighed again. “Went away.” He looked at her uncomprehending face. “Four? Left? Didn’t die. Get it?”

“She did die, and I’m here to trade my soul for her. I’m ready to have her back,” Peyton said adamantly.

“Okay, okay, but this is just too simple. You sure you don’t want to reconsider?”

Peyton shook her head.

A contract and quill pen appeared in his hand. “You know how this works? You have to sign with your blood.”

Peyton nodded.

Beelzebub pricked her wrist with the sharp point of the feather, let some blood seep up the quill, then handed the contract and pen to Peyton, who eagerly signed it. “Okay. When you turn around and walk that way,” he pointed south, “she’ll meet you in 100 yards.”

He watched as Peyton walked away from him, then began talking to the space beside her, hugging it and speaking animatedly. He shook his head. He hated taking souls for giving back invisible friends, or in this case an invisible twin.

He looked for another moment, then thought, “Well, the boss will be happy.” He retrieved Peyton’s stuffed toy dog, then disappeared.

*

Elizabeth Glass holds Masters degrees in Creative Writing and Counseling Psychology. She is the recipient of grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and the Kentucky Arts Council, and is winner of the 2013 Emma Bell Miles Prize in creative nonfiction. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in a variety of journals and magazines including New Plains Review; Still: The Journal; Writer's Digest; The Chattahoochee Review; and New Southerner. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

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