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The Entrancing Sword

Selena Reilly

     Tambourines chimed around me along with chanting and singing from the gypsy-cloned onlookers. They all silenced as the red lights flooded the outdoor stage, which even grasped the attention of the whistling wind. Silence. I could hear myself breathe. A red wall raised up from the floor of the stage extending six feet high and the lights switched blue.

     "Welcome!" A male's voice bellowed through the microphone speakers, startling the air out of my lungs.

     "Once again we have a special treat for you tonight. She is beautiful. She is fearless. She is mysterious. She is Gaea, the defender of all elements!" As soon as the voice enunciated his last word a deafening bang erupted from the stage and appearing through a cloud of thick red smoke was Gaea. My eyes fixed on her as she stepped forward, hands in the air, and bowed gracefully to the audience. The previously hypnotized crowd exploded with applause and whistles and tambourine shakes causing Gaea to smile with straight white teeth while pivoting on her heel to approach the raised wall. My throat was dry, my mind blank and my legs weak. Her dark hair reached her thin, bare waist as her slim hips swayed with every step her long, satin-pant-covered legs took until she again faced the resilenced crowd, spreading her arms, placing her frail wrists in the steel clamps as though she were to be crucified.

     The body behind the thundering voice appeared from the velvet side curtains carrying four silver swords in his pudgy hands. Pounds of jewelry swayed back and fourth as he approached center-stage, wearing bright purple pantaloons and a white almost pirate-looking shirt. Sweat formed in the creases of my forehead as my eyes burned through Gaea's tempting body, clenching my stomach in impatience. No one around me seemed surprised about the silver weapons as the man snapped her wrists and ankles into the clamps. Her face remained calm.

     The first sword was held high in the air, reflecting the authenticity of its steel and razor sharp edges of the blade's either side. Suddenly, the sword disappeared from the blue light and thrust into Gaea's exposed stomach. I gasped, and pushed myself through the wall of people in front of me to save her but someone grabbed my shoulder, never loosening the grip. The second sword mirrored the stage lights and just as violently as the first, severed Gaea's flesh, penetrating into the wood behind her with a deep thud. She wasn't bleeding. She never even flinched. Two thick swords pierced Gaea's stomach without any implication of pain. She found my teary gaze and held it. The third and fourth gruesomely punctured her smooth human skin, with her eyes never leaving mine. The wall Gaea was confined to pivoted to the side to reveal the swords protruding through her body and out the back of the wall. The blue lights dimmed and shadows of the man, Gaea, and the swords remained on stage as each death stick was removed. White lights illuminated the dark stage revealing Gaea and her unharmed, unruptured stomach. Tambourines chimed around me again, Gaea vanished from the stage and I vomited for ten minutes.
 

     I had to leave my office job late that evening because of some unfinished paperwork. I knew I was going to be late for my parent's anniversary dinner but instead of calling I decided to take the shortcut to their cabin house. They moved there a few months ago after my youngest brother went away to college. I had visited the new home one other time and swore I could find it from the back roads. When I graduated from the four-year college last spring, I held off buying a new car since an apartment seemed more important. But only as the endless black smoke expelled from under the blue hood, causing me to walk along unfamiliar dirt roads in the middle of nowhere, did I realize I made the wrong decision. I walked for nearly a half hour before I came across any civilization. Through the break of trees, a semicircle of trailers and booths and tents appeared. Windchime and drum music echoed through the uninhabited woods, strings of colored lights cascaded along the hovering branches. Barefoot men and women decorated in vibrant skirts and pantaloons danced in the open space of the circle, swinging their arms to make their gold and silver bracelets clang in an attempt to imitate the chime music. A sign at the entrance read, "Elfin's Traveling Carnival" in painted letters. As far as I knew, traveling carnivals in the middle of nowhere didn't exist anymore. But as I entered this world, I saw no stomach-turning rides, or impossible games, or flocks of children eating cotton candy. Instead there were tarot readers, palmistry, and the outlawed "freak" shows of the fat lady, the smallest man alive and Gaea- defender of the elements.
 

     I violently sat up, escaping the vision of each sword stabbing Gaea's flesh. My body ached and throat was dry as I recalled passing out after the show. I was in a small room on an orange couch suffocated by incense, surrounded by lamps with red bulbs, colored beads hanging in the doorways, and candles glowing from every corner. Black thick books stretched across the shelves along the adjacent wall, and windchimes entertained the silence with eerie tones. Gaea entered through the beads with an orange glass. I drank as she sat next to me.

     Her eyes never made my direction as she spoke.

     "I am a witch, Jonathon, but my powers are not that of any other witch. I do not invoke spirits, cast spells, or mix potions. I am immortal as long as I do not fear the elements." Her voice was soft and the letters rolled off her tongue with purring syllables.

     "The elements...?" My head felt heavy and my safety threatened but I apprehended her every word.

     "The elements of nature; Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and the fifth element, Love. I was chosen as the guardian of these five watchtowers and because of this gift, their powers cannot defeat me. If I ever give into one of these elements or become afraid, I lose all my power and they shall destroy me. I will die because of my weakness."

          The next night, I stood behind the mesmerized crowd as Gaea was submersed in a glass tank filled to the top with water and no oxygen for twenty minutes. She danced in the water, her hair flowing around her body and bubbles escaping her mouth as though she were breathing regular air. Two nights later, Gaea was tied to a metal pole, encircled with a moat of gasoline and set on fire. Her tanned skin resisted the flames and after ten minutes the raging fire became cinders beneath her feet. Each night I watched Gaea's show and no matter what act was performed, she never surrendered to pain or death. As every element stung her flawless body, my love intensified.
 

     A week passed before I called my parents apologizing for missing their dinner and making them worry. And then I lied about being on a business trip in Philadelphia for an indefinite amount of time. That day Gaea and I sat alone in the forest, talking about our past and our secrets. We had spent nearly every waking hour together for the past five days. She was the only one who would acknowledge my presence at the carnival. Most of the carnival-goers came and went, while the others seemed to be constantly hypnotized. That coming Saturday the carnival was packing up to go to a small town in Albert, Kansas. I was planning to go with since I figured I was already fired from my job. I couldn't leave Gaea. She somehow completed me. Passion grew inside that I never thought possible. I didn't care that she would never let herself love me. Her presence made my whole life make sense. One night I caught her watching me sleep. She sat on the table next to the orange couch and didn't move when I opened my eyes.

     "Your eyes flutter when you dream. They do every night." Her dark eyes burned through me, her voice singed every muscle. For a moment our stares became one and I saw her soul weaken as tears filled her dehydrated eyes. I put my hand up to her face and felt her skin for the first time. Windchimes sang through the breeze as the rain's pitter-patter became almost silent. Her body flinched and tightened as my hand moved along her jawline. Briefly, her eyelids shut back the tears and her eyes became dark and parched again. I sat up, never turning my gaze from hers, and slowly leaned in, kissing her gentle red lips. Although her lips remained motionless and her body tightened even more, I kissed her again. She responded. Her breath warm, her saliva salted, her lips quivering. My fingers found the nape of her neck pulling her closer, until she abruptly pulled away. I lost her gaze and her hand covered her sinned mouth. She sat up with tears reforming, her racing heart deafening my ears, as she backed away from my reach. I moved carefully toward Gaea, sending her into a desperate run through the colored beads and out the front door. Rain soaked the satin clothes to her fragile body as my voice penetrated through the wooded silence. "I love you," echoed through the trees as I realized I lost her forever.
 

     Red lights flooded the infamous stage and the faces of the audience became blank and entranced. I stood in the crowd, motionless, as Gaea made her entrance. Her smile, nonexistent, and her body limp with uncertainty. The old man strapped her wrists and ankles in the red clamps and kissed her forehead. She met my stare and I dashed for the stage. A man grabbed my shoulder --tight-- I struggled but I couldn't release his grasp. I screamed for her, my voice cracking with terror. My cries echoed through the silence but no one even bothered to look. A tear fell down Gaea's cheek. The sword raised, reflecting the red lights as I unsuccessfully tried to break free again. I screamed again, this time deafening to my own ears, but the sword flashed. Gaea's eyes met my desperate stare and her red lips mouthed, "I love you" as I watched the sword defeat her weakness.
 

Acknowledgments

I would like to take this space to thank all those that inspired me during the creation of, The Entrancing Sword. First I would like to thank my mother for always being interested in witchcraft and magic and for being my subject, Gaea (minus the immortality part). Next I would like to thank Colleen for being my listener as I read her every draft of this story, and for being honest about it. I would also like to thank Miller Lite for producing beer to get my creative juices flowing in order to come up with this unusual plot idea. Thank you to the publisher's of The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft by Rosemary Ellen Guiley who helped authenticate my ideas. I also thank Sarah McLaughlin and Des'ree for singing dramatic love songs that I could listen to while writing, which helped inspire me to produce the love scene. Finally, I give thanks to my fellow classmates and teacher, Terry Heller who praised and criticized my story and helped make it become what it is today.


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