Siobhan stood on shaky legs, slinging the worn satchel over her shoulder. Margot had begun to walk swiftly back to the village. Flowers spilled from the pouch as Siobhan lifted the basket that Margot had dropped.
Siobhan’s heart pounded. There was an emptiness in the air without the barrier. Their magic was strong. Her hands trembled as she thought of Brenna. Siobhan sprinted to catch up to Margot, who had begun to jog.
Margot looked over her shoulder to Siobhan, her eyes wide with worry. Both women were passed their prime, but they ignored the strain against their bodies, as they started to run towards sudden billowing smoke.
Weak from the strenuous return, Margot collapsed to her knees at the sight of their ravaged village. The doors of her neighbors’ homes were broken. Fences were littered with blood. The men and women she had known and loved her entire life had been reduced to corpses. Their bodies strewn about the road and their lawns without care.Breathless and biting her lip, Margot watched the Clayborsons’ house burn through tear-blurred vision.
The basket of wildflowers slipped from Siobhan’s fingers. Her heart pounded as she raced to her small home with hopes that her daughter managed to escape whatever horror fell upon their land. She gasped as she tripped over an arm. She forced held not to gag as she realized there was no body near. For a moment she wondered if it would have been worse to see the owner’s fear-stricken face before reaching her home.
Siobhan stood before the threshold and stared at the oak door, afraid of what she would find on the other side. The sound of Margot calling to anyone left alive began to fade away; all Siobhan could hear now was the sound of her heart pumping in her tightening chest.
She closed her eyes and pushed against the heavy door. Holding her breath, she opened her eyes only to have that very breath viciously pulled from her lungs. Her daughter was still and silent on the living room floor.
The sight of Brenna, unmoving, on the floor lifted the air from Siobhan’s lungs. Her brain was unable to process the gruesome scene before her fast enough as she stood just as still and silent. Disbelief and reality fought for her mind. Tears too heavy to be held in her eyes began rolling down her flushed cheeks. Siobhan fell to her knees at her daughter’s side. She bit her lip and clenched her fists; the air in her lungs too shallow to let out the screams she could hear in her head.
Ill with ideas, Siobhan tried to ignore the bits of pale skin peeking through Brenna’s torn. Siobhan slid her hands under her, pulling her stiffening body close.. She held her daughter to her chest, stroking her hair with trembling hands. Siobhan kissed Brenna’s head, her thick hair muffling the sobs.
“No.” Margot stood in the entryway, her face wet with tears. She had seen enough brutality today, finding the entire village in shambles, all of their friends now corpses. She knelt by Siobhan and wrapped her arms around the broken woman’s shoulders. Margot wondered if they will ever move on from such tragedy; Siobhan wondered if her heart will even survive the night.