Bleeding the forbidden fruit.
Photo credit: David K.
Azzi locked the pomegranate into the iron cage. It throbbed and rolled erratically, but the bars would hold it for now. Swelling, it threatened to burst, to spit out what had been so painstakingly infused.
The spell called for the blood of her enemy. After her outburst at that morning’s Council meeting, Azzi guessed her own would do her fine.
Through the window of the dark hut, her gaze ran across the parched yellow field to her childhood home, crushed under an endless expanse of empty sky. Once the fields had been lush, green, under a sky dreaming in wispy clouds. Now every year the river flowed thinner, the wells ran out earlier, the crops browned and burned by the vengeful sun goddess.
The desert was creeping closer. She tasted it on the wind, felt it in her eyes.
Azzi wrapped the bandage around her arm more tightly, looked out the window one more time. Then there was nothing left to do but start. She closed the shutter. In the light through the cracks she arranged the remaining components on the table. Combined them like this, now like that. Said the words. Rose and swayed, a joyless dance, her knees creaking in protest.
There. Almost done. Azzi sat. She stretched out an arm, reached into the cage. Wrapping her hand around the pomegranate, she squeezed, increasingly firmly. For a moment, it resisted, squishing between her fingers. Then it burst into a spray of dust. Invisible to anyone but her, it drifted down through the table, through the floor boards, into the dirt beneath.
With her other eyes, she watched the magic seep and spread, under her family’s farm, under the village, past the last house. With her other ears, she heard the water bubbling up from deep below.
Azzi’s palm grayed, sizzled, blackened. She stretched her fingers. Stiff, but still movable . As the pain shot up her arm, she gasped for air, swallowing a louder cry, and the next one, and the next.
She glanced at the incriminating objects on the table. If she survived, her first task would be to destroy the evidence, to prevent the Council—and her father—from learning that she had disobeyed. If she didn’t, well, it wouldn’t matter.
To distract herself from the tingling numbness spreading across her skin, Azzi thought about the pond near their house. It would finally be filled again. She imagined her youngest nephew splashing on its banks, as she and her brother did so very long ago. Slipping from the chair, falling limply to the floor, she kept this image in her mind. That loving little boy, so trusting in this hopeless world, covered in mud, laughing.
In response to this week’s Thursday Picture Prompt #41 on the Blog Propellant, which required using all three of the photos below—just to make things more difficult! I’m not sure how to properly credit the photos, but one (I don’t know which) is from Ladyleemanila. (I was planning to use the shot of the boy in the mud as my lead photo, but unfortunately the resolution isn’t quite good enough to blow it up that big.)