If Gods Can Bleed Ch. 1: Favor Owed

College was eccentric enough that Taryn passed by the stranger eating cereal in her apartment without a second thought. She also barely registered that there was an open book floating in front of the stranger’s face, pages turning by themselves.

All Taryn cared about was getting out of her rain-drenched clothes and praising every God if her textbooks had stayed dry. They were rentals, and she couldn’t afford to buy them at the end of the semester if they were too damaged to return.

Holding her breath, she dumped them onto her twin-sized bed in the apartment’s one bedroom past the kitchenette. She shared it with her roommate, who was doing her rounds for her residency. The two years it would be before Taryn started her own residency seemed way too far away.

Roommate’s gone, a part of her brain chimed in, so who the hell was that out there.

No longer caring about books or cold and wet clothes, Taryn rushed into the kitchenette, slipping on the linoleum. She bit back a swear as she prepared a spell, the rings on her left middle finger and right pinky hot against her skin.

“Angie wasn’t kidding about pre-med being full of zombies,” the stranger chuckled before slurping milk from the bowl.

Swallowing the spell, Taryn straightened. She ignored the already-fading pain in her backside and ankle—she must have twisted it in the fall—and she focused on her rings growing cool again. She couldn’t afford the energy waste. Spells required time of prepping jewelry and other physical objects to hold power for when she needed it, but with classwork, she didn’t have much time to even pay attention to the phase of the moon these days.

Luckily, it looked like the cereal thief hadn’t noticed any slips or altering of energy, and a smug smile cut across her round face when she caught Taryn eyeing the floating book. She must have done it for show, rather than entertainment, while she waited for someone to return. She shifted in the two-seat couch but didn’t get up, and the book slammed shut and lowered onto the old trunk being used as a coffee table.

It was Taryn’s ethics textbook, and she finally recognized the stranger.

Continue reading “If Gods Can Bleed Ch. 1: Favor Owed”



Amelia sprinted up the slope, mason jar clutched to her chest. Her copper bangs were plastered to her high forehead, and her twin braids slapped her shoulders and back as she ran.

The grass was slick from rain, soil soft and shifting underfoot.

Mud sprinkled her tongue and teeth when she fell, sliding down the slope a few feet and mason jar forcing air from her lungs. She kept a close grip on the jar that, just this morning, held the last bit of marmalade. She’d cleaned it with soap and boiling water just for this occasion.

Light skated through dark clouds above, and jagged fingers of white slapped the Earth in the distance.

“Almost there,” Amelia huffed.

Her sneakers were coming untied, but instead of wasting any more time, she simply kicked them off and kept running, no-longer-white cotton socks squishing with every step.

Thunder clapped cymbals in Amelia’s ears, and her wide mouth curved into a grin. She picked up the pace, legs and lungs burning as her heart seemed to skip every other beat.

Finally, she was at the top of the hill, high enough that she could see hers, Momma’s, and Nana’s house down where she’d come. She unscrewed the mason jar’s lid, keeping a tight grip so as to not lose the top or the rim. She then held the glass up and stood on her tip-toes, not breathing.

Light flashed at the same time as the thunder’s scream, and Amelia was knocked back. She slid partway down the hill in a roll, stopping herself so as to close the jar.

Breathing heavily, she smiled wide, not noticing that the storm around her had vanished.

It was now in her jar, the angry, dark clouds screaming with light and sound that made the jar shake in Amelia’s hand.

Still breathing heavily, she ran home with her caught thunderstorm. She was the first in her family to ever finish this part of her initiation on her first try.

I’m going to be the most powerful witch anyone’s ever seen, she thought gleefully, clutching the jar to her chest and feeling the thunder boom in time with her heart.


“This place doesn’t seem…”

Rae trailed off as she noticed luminescent circles etching themselves in the cement above the scarlet door. There were two, disappearing soon as they came; she knew she was here.

The door yawned open a breath from Rae’s knuckles making contact with the wood. She blinked slowly, hand hanging in the air for a moment before she blew her too-long, pale bangs away from her obsidian eyes.

“Melodramatic,” she muttered, entering the townhouse and not even flinching when the door slammed behind her. “All of them.”

The wooden floor looked warped, like splinters might be the least she should worry about. Ahead was a staircase, starting wide and narrowing as it moved up to curve around the back wall and lead to the balcony above. A long tapestry hung over the balcony’s railing. Rae had to incline her head to see it, but with only candles on ledges and shelves that were built into the wall, the depictions were difficult to decipher.

Switching her bag’s long strap to her left shoulder, Rae brushed back her bangs and looked to the right. It looked like a sitting room, too dark to make out anything but silhouettes of cases and sofas.

To the left were closed French doors, time-yellowed curtains blocking her view through the window panes.

Ahead, the hallway was narrow due to the staircase taking up space, and something hung on the wall – a painting or mirror, Rae did not care to see.

With a huff, she headed up the stairs, picking up her feet to keep from tripping or getting the skinny heels of her boots stuck in any knots or holes.

Boards squeaked under her weight, and dust puffed from the long, narrow carpet in front of the first step. The flames all around the room seemed to dance higher, more excitedly, and buzzing Rae recognized from her years of apprenticeship plucked the hairs along her arms and the back of her neck, forcing them up straight.

The squeaks, first discordant screeches of age and wear, turned to tones, like a mermaid’s screeches turning to song as she dives beneath the waves.

“Of course,” murmured Rae, hackles up as she clutched her bag to her side. “You’re not clever!”

Continue reading “Lifetimes”