Let There Be Light!
Basics of Composition
First Thoughts when choosing a Costume
The Sun, Part 1
Do I Make You Happy?by Camilla Grow and Eden Celeste
Mazarine's eyes focused on the goblin just in time to see the blade sliding through her defenses, in that tender place between her ribs...
... and she woke up. The room was the same as it was when she'd fallen asleep, a strange mingling of a laboratory and a sleeping place. Strange instruments sat on the cold tables about, but she was in the soft single bed in the corner close to the window. The boarded up window.
Sighing, she slid out from below the covers, walking to peek through the wooden planks haphazardly nailed across the glass at the cemetery outside. It was always a wonder to her how the sun could shine so brightly in a hopeless place like this.
The click of the lock alerted her to another presence. It was Niflim. The good doctor was following his favorite skeleton, Nathan, into the room, clad as was normal in a big brown coat and matching hat. He smiled slightly after closing the door.
The scent of various delicacies from her home and this world wafted to her nostrils. Nathan was carrying a tray. She could guess easily what was on it before it was set down on the bed. A cup of that drink he called "coffee" shared a place besides one of water. She noted with amusement the salad she remembered Niflim referring to as "weedwhacker salad" besides a hot bowl of soup. A brief pang hit her when she glanced at the main course. It was a fish, but it was prepared in spices like those of her land. They'd never had this "salmon" there, but he was showing effort.
"I thought you might be-" Niflim began, but she didn't give him the chance to finish.
"I'm not hungry."
Niflim frowned, staring at her for a minute. She could not see his eyes behind the sunglasses he wore to hide them, but she knew them by now. Golden and reptilian, a leftover of his encounter with a serpent. "Why must you always be so difficult?" he asked.
She smiled thinly, albeit a nervous hand lifted to her neck, absently scratching at the orange, red and yellow scales that pattern it. If she was difficult enough, she figured Niflim'd set her free.
"As kind as you've been to keep me as your guest, Doctor..."
And he had been kind. She stayed in Niflim's bedroom safely as his adopted child, Mia, prowled. Her and that boyfriend of hers, Khar'zt. Both were as mad as hatters, although after he told her about where his daughter came from, she couldn't blame her.
Niflim fed her personally as often as he could. As a doctor, she could understand why he didn't come more frequently. Those were valued on this world where a simple spell cannot raise a dead person, though he had his own methods for after death.
Lawyers were valued, also. Her blue eyes adopted a slightly dreamy look as she thought on that. Niflim had, despite her being not of this world, used his money and pull to get her into law school. He still brought her books up here from her classes, and her homework as well.
It felt like ages since she met him in the garden. She'd been performing her trade, simple acrobatics with a touch of thievery. She'd entertained him by balancing, jumping and tumbling into his heart before stealing a twenty. She ran, and he'd pursued, as anybody would. And she'd just gotten him in more trouble when he caught her, crying that he was making unwanted advances. It was amazing he hadn't pressed charges when he'd found her again.
Time and time again, she visited the graveyard after that. She attempted to cook something for him to replace his lost cash, but discovered belatedly that placing it directly on the fire was a bad idea.
When she'd shown up dying a couple weeks ago, he eased her pain using modern medicine before bringing her in to heal her. She hadn't left after that. She'd tried everything from breaking windows to kicking him in the shins.
"I don't do well in confinement," she finished, returning her mind to the present.
"You can't go." Niflim wrinkled his nose in familiar dismay. "You'll just get yourself almost killed again. What is it going to take to get you to eat?"
They'd danced this dance before. Niflim trying to tempt her with her favorite foods, and her rejecting them. Turning back to the window, she said nothing for a couple minutes.
Then, he asked an unexpected question.
"You wanted to ask me something, didn't you?"
She almost swallowed the truth in her throat, but ended up asking anyhow. "Why, Doctor? Why don't I make you happy?"
She had a sinking sensation that she knew the answer. She complicated his life, which had, up till now, been black and white. She'd added shades of gray he didn't know existed. However, he was good to her despite all the wrongs she committed that turned up the difficulty setting for him.
Niflim stared again. She could feel his eyes burning into the back of her head. She'd be happy here if she only knew that he felt something more than the vague annoyance he expressed with her presence. A moment later, she heard him stepping up behind her. She could imagine his pained expression as he touched her shoulder, albeit she did not turn to see it. "You make me happy. In some small way. Something different, something living to care for. Sometimes. When you eat, and you don't give me trouble."
"You don't have to lie just to get me to eat, Doctor." She turned to face him again. "Some patients just don't want to be helped." Reaching a hand out, she almost touched Niflim's cheek before remembering how he hated that. Instead, her hand just passed an inch from his face. "You've done your job."
This time was different, though. He reached out, and he touched her hand briefly, pressing his fingers against hers. "Sometimes. Rarely." He said, retreating towards the door again. "I'm going to leave Nathan here till you eat." He disappeared, and the lock clicked.
She was left gazing after him, feeling a strange sensation spreading through her. An almost foreign, distant happiness. Maybe he did care. Perhaps.
Raising her head, she walked by Nathan only to settle herself easily on the bed, picking up the utensils. Now he'd be happy, too.
Camilla Grow is a happy, not starving writer who boasts the reputation of an angel. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anybody interested in her unique characters is welcome to write with questions they would love answered in future works.
Eden Celeste created her first website for character portrait art back in 1997. Since then she has illustrated game manuals, book covers, cover and tee-shirt art for gaming conventions and her work has even appeared in film! Please visit www.edenceleste.com for examples of her work.
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