by Elizabeth Myrddin

he dream embodied a parchmented archetype and told an arcane story. Wearily, Mavra began scripting it into her Book of Shadows. Her subconscious had couched the tale vividly. The parallel was conspicuous.

In her hissing, dusty dream, Mavra rushed on horseback toward a forest which rested inappropriately verdant at the edge of a steaming yellow desert. The cloying heat wrapped her in a blanket of feverish discomfort and sharp particles of sand stung her face and bare arms.

As she drew nearer the forest, a pulsing wave of anxiety coupled with a stab of grief blurred her vision. The horse reared suddenly and threw her. The white horse, its eyes red and mad lunged at her, baring its white teeth with inexplicable malevolence.

Edging away from the horse, she scrambled toward the forest, slipping on the coarse, hot sand while the deranged horse continued to attack and snap at her with its teeth.

A faceless woman in a long pale gown appeared suddenly beside Mavra. With a small ivory-handled pistol she shot the mad horse in the head. Eyes rolling upward, with one piercing shriek the horse collapsed. The woman left in a whisper, "The horse had gone bad."

Upon entering the smooth green shade of the forest, the sand that coated Mavra's hair and skin slipped away like a veil.

Tall and slender, he stood languidly resting his back against the trunk of a tall pine. His eyes were closed and he was breathing slowly. Under the canopy of pine branches, Mavra went to her lover and wrapped him in her long black hair. She folded her arms around him. His eyes opened and he bent down to place cool lips upon her cheek.

They sat next to one another on the forest floor and she placed a kiss against his neck. His skin smelled of sandalwood and as she breathed, another tide of anxiety rippled through her. She cradled him closer, resting his head against her breast.

"They want to spill your blood in a ceremony."

He laughed quietly, "It is a ruse. They know that I am sterile."

In frustration, Mavra gripped his hair tightly. "They are not mistaken. They are jealous. They adore you desperately and thus resent you utterly."

Her lover pressed his soft cold lips on the base of her throat and murmured something incoherent. He brushed his mouth upon hers and then relaxed as if having been comforted he could now fall asleep. Mavra untangled her hands from his hair. He clasped his long cool fingers through hers and sighed drowsily. Mavra closed her eyes and waited.

The moment was splintered by a vehement clamor not too distant from where they rested. A stream of forest birds scattered upward from the adjacent circling of trees, fanning into the air in all directions. Mavra knew their arrival around the bend into the clearing was imminent. She gathered her lover into her arms, entwined her legs around his, and pressed him against her pliant body. At the speed of concentrated thought, he was altered. She had transformed him into a tiny capsule.

The chaotic sounds of tearing branches and frantic footfalls upon pine needles grew nearer. Anxiously, she struggled to find a place on her person to conceal the capsule and finding none, placed him under her tongue just as her pursuers tore into the clearing.

They instantly came to her and two of the three women clutched her arms on either side while the third stood haughtily before her.

The woman before her spoke pleasantly but firmly, "Now Mavra. Tell us where he has hidden."

The woman on her left spoke in a silky childlike voice, yet her tone was edged with spite, "She would play sorceress and change him."

The woman on her right gave a bright laugh and said with patient rebuke, "Oh now. Let her take care of this."

Mavra set aside her pen and stoppered the bottle of black ink. There was yet more to this dream-rendering of a distant fable, this retelling of an enigmatic and ancient myth. But first, bitterly and with reluctance, she would contemplate its analogous portent for her life.

Except for their voices, the three women in her dream seemed faceless and unfamiliar. Yet Mavra knew them well.

The woman before her in the dream was Lindy, that certain strain of woman who used sex and a fluctuating sexuality as a divining rod for self-esteem. All her appetites were greedy, desperate and vampiric.

Mavra laughed suddenly at her own descriptive thoughts. She was being cruel yet amusing at the same time. But more important, she was being precise. She mused further, allowing rage to tinge her thoughts.

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