Woman In Dust
Quiet hung like incense in the empty church when the woman came in coated with summer dust. She wore white feathers in her hair and sweat left her gypsy dress clinging to her like a silken fog. I don’t know that she was beautiful. Her hair was streaked a dirty blonde; the kohl that darkened her eyes had smeared on her cheeks from tears. But the paleness of her face strummed nerves in me I’d long thought dead.
She came all the way down to the rail before the altar. I knew she’d seen me, though she made no acknowledgement of my presence. When she knelt, I heard the whisper of cloth over her long limbs and the crack of her knees hitting the floor. The sounds were brittle and exquisite.
The woman’s gaze was lowered, but a glow of emotion lit the cheeks beneath. When she finally did look up, I saw that the whites of her eyes were marbled with the red of broken blood vessels. Her irises were pure, though, pure as gin, pure as sin.
She began to murmur. It wasn’t exactly a prayer. It was life. The words were wild, full of cemeteries. I saw them rise like ruins reborn. I heard the bells of angels in them, but their scent was that of scorpions.
Her words sped. Her voice was hoarse, wired with hope and hopelessness. For a moment it all streamed out of her. Electric. Ecstatic. Flagellant. In that moment I felt strength begin to pour back into the mold of myself. Almost, I could scream with the power of it.
Then the woman inside the dust looked directly into my eyes. She did not see me. She saw only porcelain and paint, only a statue upon a cross. Her voice faltered; she looked away but it no longer mattered.
I sank back into myself. Once more I began to wait for the one who would finally have the power to call me forth. My patience was wearing thin.
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Charles Gramlich is the author of the Talera fantasy trilogy, the thriller Cold in the Light, and the SF novel Under the Ember Star. His stories have been collected primarily in three anthologies, Bitter Steel, (fantasy), Midnight in Rosary (Vampires/Werewolves), and In the Language of Scorpions (Horror). His works are available in print and ebook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Wildside Press. Charles blogs at: http://charlesgramlich.