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Fantasticoe 1995

The Crying Statue
Joi Bergman

     Marissa stood looking out the parlor window with her arms folded, trying to suppress the tears she knew were coming. Her father sat across the room in his high-backed chair watching her, his eyes full of worry and concern for his only child. The room was silent except for the crackle of the fire in the fireplace and Marissa's own muffled breathing.

     "Marissa", her father's voice was stern, yet compassionate. "This is not the end of the world, my dear. You are only seventeen and will find another..." She quickly cut her father off as she turned around to face him.

     "But I do not want anyone else! I love Richard, and he loves me. Don't you understand that Father?" Her voice was trembling, full of pain. Of course he doesn't understand. Ever since mother's death he has forgotten what it feels like to be in love.

     "What I understand, Marissa, is that Richard is from a poor family and will not be able to care for you in the ways I feel are necessary for a man to care for his wife. I will not stand by and willing allow my daughter to become a victim of poverty."

     "But Father", Marissa begged as she walked barefooted across the carpeted floor and stood facing the blazing fire, "money is not important to me. What matters is that Richard and I love each other. We want to be married and have children and spend the rest of our lives together. I do not care if I have to live in a small cottage and grow my own vegetables. I just want to be with Richard."

     "Oh, my sweet daughter. You say that now, but what do you think will happen when the newness of your love wears off and your hands are callused from years of hard work, and your children go to bed at night cold and hungry because you haven't the proper means of caring for them. What will you think then?"

     "Why must you say such horrible things, Father! My life with Richard will not be as bad as you think. We will be happy and he will be able to care for me and the children we will have. Just wait and see. We will show you how wrong you are."

     "No, Marissa, I am afraid that will never be. I cannot allow you to marry Richard. I am sorry, but you will thank me someday when you realize that I was right."

     Marissa turned and stared at her father, her eyes glowing as bright as the fire at her side. "You can't mean that, Father", her voice was low. "How can you forbid me to marry Richard when you know how much I love him? That is not fair, Father! It is not fair!" She made no effort now to hold back her tears as they shamelessly coursed down her cheeks. Then she ran out of the room and up the staircase to her bedroom.

     In the privacy of her room, Marissa laid face down on her bed, clung to her pillow and cried. Damn him, she thought. How can he do this to me? Father knows that I love Richard and that my only dream was to marry him. Why must he ruin everything? If only there was something I could do to change his mind, but he is so stubborn. Oh Richard, I love you. And somehow we will be married. I promise.

     As Marissa wept, thinking she was alone with her thoughts, a shadowy figure darkened her room. Slowly, she lifted her head from her pillow, watching the figure as it stood motionless before her.

     "Who are you? W-What do you want?" she asked, feeling very afraid.

     The figure slowly reached out its gloved hand and stroked Marissa's hair.

     "Do not be afraid, my dear child. I am here to help you." The voice was calm and soothing. The sound of it eased Marissa's fears. "Good", the voice cooed. "There is no need to be frightened, my child." The hand returned to the figure's side. "Now, shall we begin?"

     "Begin what?" Marissa asked, feeling cautious again.

     "My child, I know that you are unhappy, and that your father is at the root of your unhappiness. I would like to help you. Please, do not be afraid."

     That voice, it's so comforting. And so peaceful. "That's right, you can trust me, my child."

     Marissa sat up and looked at the shadow standing before her. "How did you know that I am unhappy and that my father has caused me to be this way? I never..."

     "Yes, I know. You never spoke the words. But I heard you just the same." The voice was so gentle, so smooth. "Now, if you would allow me to help you, I can make your wishes come true."

     Marissa rose from her bed eager to know more. "Do you mean that I could marry Richard after all?" she asked, unable to contain the excitement in her voice. "That would be marvelous!"

     "Yes, my child, that is what I'm saying. You may marry Richard, but on one condition." The voice was full of anticipation, not quite as smooth as before, but in her excitement, Marissa did not notice.

     "Oh, I would do anything, anything if it meant that I could become Richard's wife", said Marissa gleefully as she danced around her room. "What must I do?"

     "First, you must agree to whatever I bid you to do, and only then can I tell you what it is." The voice was becoming coarse now.

     Marissa stopped, sensing that the mood was changing, and stared again at the figure.

     "Now, now, my dear child", the voice returned to its original soothing tone. "You must trust me. And when you do, I can make you Richard's bride."

     Oh, that voice. It's so relaxing, almost seductive.

     "Good. That is so very good." The voice was oozing with anticipation.

     "Okay", Marissa agreed. "I will do whatever you ask, as long as I can marry Richard." The figure then extended a gloved hand, containing an amulet, toward Marissa. She stared at it, mesmerized by the beauty of the stone.

     "Go ahead, my child. Take it." Marissa reached out her hand and took the amulet from the figure.

     "What must I do with this", she asked, closely examining the amulet.

     "You must wear that tonight as you sleep. I am going to cast a spell over you and your father, but the amulet will keep you safe from harm.

     "What do you mean, a spell? What will happen to my father?" Marissa's eyes were wild with fear.

     "Oh, my dear child! You were the one cursing your father earlier tonight. I am simply here to carry out your wish. The one you agreed to." The voice was now vile, and nearly hissing. "I am going to turn your father into stone, a statue if you will. That way you will be free from his rule and will be able to marry your Richard."

     "You are going to kill my father? I had no idea when I agreed to your plan." Marissa was crying once again. "No, please, please do not harm my father!" she pleaded.

     "You just wear the amulet and you will be safe. As for your father, you have already made the deal." Then the figure vanished as quickly as it had come.

     That night, Marissa knew what she had to do. It was not her father's fault that she had made a deal with the devil to end his life. She, herself, had not even known it at the time. She waited until her father had gone to sleep and then gently placed the amulet on his chest. Then, in tears, she returned to her room to await her punishment.

     The next morning, when Marissa did not come down for breakfast, her father went up to her room to see what was keeping her. He knocked on the door to her bedroom, but there was no answer, so walked in. He stopped immediately when he saw what had become of his daughter. She had been turned to stone, yet tears were streaming down her face. He ran to her side and cried out her name. "Marissa! My lovely daughter, if only there was some way to undo this."

     He turned around as a shadow darkened the room.

Acknowledgments: The following people gave me important advice and suggestions for improving this story: Terry Heller, Joe A. White, Chad Tamez, and Joe E. White.

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