Another Wednesday, my first since Christmas. I had a great Christmas, with lots of good, family times. The New Year was good and now we're back to reality.
This week, I'm cheating again. Imagine this prompt, not as a princess, but as a totally insane woman, in a tattered wedding dress.
Emma woke, to Tristan calling her name. She blinked open her eyes, and thought she must still be dreaming. The car was full of mist, so thick she couldn’t see anything at all. With a groan, she brought her hand up to her forehead, and winced as her fingers touched what felt like a nasty cut. They came away sticky with blood.
The mist was cold. It felt as if it was made up of tiny slivers of ice and Emma shivered. Every breath hurt, as she took the freezing mist into her lungs.
“Catherine,” Tristan said, simply. “You have to get out.”
“You have to get out, Emma. She’ll freeze you where you sit. You have to get out, before you’re too cold.”
“Leave him. It’s too late. Save yourself.”
“No.” Ash’s weight was heavy across her legs, and all attempts to rouse him where fruitless. With panic making her heart hammer in her chest, Emma fumbled with the door handle. To her immense relief, the door opened.
Tumbling out of the car, with the mist swirling after her, Emma struggled to drag Ash out onto the grass.
“Leave him,” Tristan begged. “Save yourself, please.”
“Where’s my father?”
“He’s alright. He got out. I think he’s over there.” Tristan nodded toward the road. “He’s trying to get a signal on his communication device. Please, come away”
Tristan tugged at Emma’s sleeve and she turned to glare at him. “I’m not leaving my brother behind. Either help me or leave me the hell alone.”
Tristan froze, meeting her eyes with a shocked expression. Then, he apparently came to a decision, and nodded.
“Very well, I’ll try, but please don’t…. It’s too late for him, Emma. If he isn’t already dead, it will be very soon. It’s too late. There’s nothing we can do, but get as far away from here as possible,”
Emma gazed at Ash. He was motionless, his grey skin tinted blue with cold. Was he already dead? “No,” Emma growled. “I won’t let it happen. I won’t let him go. If he was dead Catherine wouldn’t be here anymore. She wouldn’t have any need to be. For the love of God, help me.”
“I said I would.” Tristan grabbed Ash, under the arms, and hauled him out of the car. Supporting Ash against him, Tristan dragged him away from the car, and the swirling mist, laying him on the grass.
“Emma.” Emma looked up at her father’s cry. Adam came sliding down the banking from the road. “I got a signal. Help is coming. Oh, dear God; Ash.”
Adam threw himself to his knees beside his son. Wiping blood out of her eyes, Emma joined him, while Tristan hovered nervously at her shoulder.
“Is he…?” Adam asked, afraid to touch him.
“I don’t know.” Shivering at the touch of her brother’s cold skin, Emma felt for a pulse and almost passed out when she found it. It was weak, and fluttered under her fingers, but it was there. “He’s alive. We have to keep him warm.”
“Nothing can warm him, Emma,” Tristan said sadly.
“Help or leave, it’s up to you, but stop the doomsaying. I’m not leaving Ash, and I’m going to do everything in my power to save him. If you can’t accept that, get the hell out of here.”
Tristan stared at her, his mouth agape. Then he nodded. “I understand,” he said. “I will do what I can.”
“Find kindling,” Adam said, snapping back to life. “I don’t know how long it will take for help to get here. We need to build a fire. There are matches in the boot of the car. I’ll get them.”
“You should stay away from the car,” Tristan said. “Catherine’s power lingers there. I’ll get what you need.”
Adam paused, then nodded. “The keys are still in the ignition. You’ll need them to open the boot. Bring me the blue bag. Oh, and there’s a rug, and the sleeping bags. Bring whatever you can carry.
Tristan nodded, and headed for the car.
Five minutes later they were sitting huddled around a bonfire. Ash was swaddled in sleeping bags and blankets, but they had done nothing to warm him.
“Nothing you do will warm him,” Tristan said, sadly. “Nothing anyone does can warm him. It’s an unnatural cold, a poison with no antidote.”
“Why are you always so negative? You sound as if you don’t want to find a way; that you don’t want to beat her.” A thought occurred, and Emma recoiled in horror. “You’re with her, aren’t you? You’re not helping. You’re leading us deeper into her web.”
“No, no I swear it. I’ve spent three hundred years looking for a way, trying and failing, How can I not be negative, when I have failed so many times?”
“You’ve given up.”
“No. I’ll never give up; not until I see her in hell, where she belongs.”
“You don’t have to give up, do you? After Ash, there won’t be any more. All you have to do is wait.”
“Unless you have a son.”
“What? She said it’s over, that it ends with Ash.”
“She lied. It doesn’t. You’re as much a Loughbridge as he is, and if you have a son—”
“Why would she lie?”
“To fool you? To lull you? Who can say what Catherine’s motives are?”
Emma fell into silence, stroking Ash’s face and hair, the only things visible in the cocoon.
“Back in the summerhouse,” she said at last, “Catherine said you could have ended it; you could have saved them all. What did she mean?”
“Catherine twists things.”
“But there must have been a kernel of truth. Please.”
“It’s not about saving them; it’s about dooming me.”
“I don’t understand.”
“It’s true. I can save Ash. I could have saved them all – by binding myself to Catherine. There would be no peace for my soul, ever. We would exist in our own personal hell – for eternity.
And now, there are other tidbits, sweet flashes for your Wednesday delectation. You can find them all at the Wednesday Briefs website