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Mark McClelland, 18 Feb '13

        There lived in the Kingdom of Florilegia, in a village by the sea, a vivacious girl named Malvinia, who loved to dance and sing. She could speak with authority on most any topic, and made friends with enviable ease. With her engaging eyes, ready laugh, and fearless questions, she opened hearts and invited sincerity with a glow that one rarely encounters. She particularly enjoyed drawing out the shy, man and woman alike, pulling them into her circle of friends, gradually lifting their veil, and revealing such gifts of charm and invention as would never have been suspected. This talent of hers made her wondrously popular, as you may well imagine, but it also was known, in matters of love, to make for… delicate situations.

        Malvinia’s friend Marisa, not dear but a friend all the same, was terribly fond of a young man named Modeste. This fellow was mum, as quiet as they come, but had an air of grace and majesty. He was tall, well made, well kept — and well liked by the lads in his circle. But for all his apparent virtues as an object of girlish affection, it was no small feat to draw from him anything but the simplest of pleasantries. Even Malvinia, the few times she’d tried, had never gotten well past the surface.
        By circumstances entirely free of design, it came to pass one afternoon that Marisa fell into the sea. She slipped from a dock as a boat was approaching, and a fright of a thunk was heard through the hull. All present agreed, as they peered into the water, that the sound could only have been that of her head against the underside of the boat. No sign was seen of her bright dress or gloves through the chop and the murk of the water; yet no action was taken — a panic set in — a fear of certain doom.
        Modeste, it happened, stood on the shore, awaiting a friend. Having seen the event, he sprang into a run, galloping straight down the dock. Before any of Marisa’s party even realized he was there, he was sailing through the air — aimed at the darkness just shy of the bow. He disappeared into a splash.
        The silence was broken, as shame stirred the others, and the spark-of-the-hero kicked in. But just as the first of them went plunging in, up popped Modeste, his arm ‘round the girl. He swam to the dock, seized hold of the edge, and his eyes bade the others to help. They pulled her up, and him out right after, and proceeded to do what they could. She spat and she spluttered, she coughed and she wheezed, and all present moved closer to help.
        “She’s alright,” someone said. “She’s okay.” By which it was understood that she was embarrassed.
        The cluster dispersed, and attentions shifted: “Modeste, you were amazing.” It was generally agreed, had it not been for him, Marisa may not be with them. He shrugged it off and waved them away, but inside felt a pride that would not soon subside: without him she may well have died.

        A bond lay between them, a bond most willingly obeyed. He had the role of protector, she that of the saved. It led to a romance that lasted some months, but its influence started to fade.
        She found it difficult to unearth his feelings, and he saw she wanted more. They drifted, and their feelings cooled, not by force of anything driving them apart — merely for lack of much keeping them together. This sad change she described to her old friend Malvinia, with the hope of some friendly advice. Malvinia tried to be kind to her friend, but knew in her heart that the love soon would end.
        At a ball days thereafter, it came to pass that Modeste should dance with Malvinia. A couple of turns was all, before he moved down the line, but she was struck by his strength and his grace. She saw fit to compliment him, in the presence of Marisa, and glimpsed a rare sight of his spirit.
        “To dance,” he replied, “is one of life’s pleasures, equaled by only a few. If there’s a dance left tonight for which you haven’t a partner, rest assured I’d gladly oblige.”
        As the night swirled on, with each hour that passed, Marisa found her beau often absent. She busied herself in other circles, chatting and smiling and laughing the laughs, but her sense of loss was nonetheless keen. The crowd started to thin, the dancers fewer in number, and she discovered with a start that neither her friend nor her man could be seen.
        She stepped into the game room, but few men remained — Malvinia’s date among them. She swept through the side rooms, her breath coming shorter, but neither was to be found. Turning in place, thinking where else to look, a movement seized her attention. In the dark of the patio, seen through the window: Malvinia, spinning into his arms.
        Malvinia lay back, eyes ablaze, her mouth a mischievous grin. Her charms worked their magic; he pulled her in close, with a passion Marisa had sought but never known, and they locked in a fiery kiss.
        Malvinia fed on the strength and the heat, and the wild within her surged. She pulled him in closer, stoking his embers, loving her power to bring out his fire — so entranced, so enthralled, that she almost didn’t notice the voice.
        "I curse you, Malvinia,” seethed a whisper from the window, “I curse you with the power of bliss. It’s a curse you will treasure and mistake for a blessing — the curse of the healing kiss.”

Comments · 5

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  • Mark McClelland said...

    Sketch for the beginning of a story, "The Curse of the Healing Kiss"

    • Posted 7 years ago
  • Mary Beth W. said...

    Oh, this was amazing! I could clearly see the characters - and the whispered curse at the end! How ominous! Will you be writing more of this?

    • Posted 7 years ago
  • Mark McClelland said...

    Thanks, @Mary Beth W.! I will definitely be writing more of this. I'll follow up here once I have a link to the final story.

    • Posted 7 years ago
  • Mary Beth W. said...

    Awesome - I can't wait :)

    • Posted 7 years ago
  • Mark McClelland said...

    @Mary Beth W. - Six years later... I published the novella for which this was a sketch!

    • Posted 6 months ago