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Authors: Dana Michelle Burnett

Once (Gypsy Fairy Tale)

BOOK: Once (Gypsy Fairy Tale)
9.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


Gypsy Fairy Tale, Book One


Dana Michelle Burnett



All rights reserved.  No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.


Copyright © 2013 by Dana Michelle Burnett

This book is a work of fiction.  The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real accounts.  Any resemblance to a person, living or dead is completely coincidental.


I would like to, of course, thank my family for their endless support and encouragement, I would like to thank Kristen for her taking the time out of her hectic schedule to be my favorite beta reader, and of course my readers who bring life to my stories.




I remembered the pain then, the reminder of what life felt like. Where was the pain? If I wasn’t dead, where did the pain go?

Pain meant that I was alive, that I wasn’t dead, and that the voices weren’t just some memory that I carried and the next world.

Focusing, I tried to find something in the darkness where I was stuck. Where was the pain? Could I find it? Could I find any sort of feeling to prove that I was indeed alive?

There it is...

Chapter 1



I woke up afraid. It was no dream that roused me. It was the stillness.

No! Not yet... I’m not ready...

I sat up in the chair where I dozed, and listened. All I heard was the steady chirping of crickets outside the open windows, but still I
paused, straining my ears.

Was she still breathing?

I pushed myself up and out of the chair, feeling the immediate ache in my neck and back. I crept across the wooden floor, avoiding the sections of the room where I knew the boards creaked when stepped on.

Across the room, tucked into my old twin bed from the attic, lay my grandmother. I leaned against the wall and looked down at her frail body, focusing on her bony chest until I was sure that it was still rising and falling with her breath.

She was still alive...

I gave up the idea of trying to go back to sleep as the sound of the early morning was growing louder: the garbage truck banging to a stop up the street, doors slamming a few houses down, and far off in the distance the crow a rooster.

I walked over to the window and looked out at the pale, predawn Corydon. The air was still dark and close, but up Capitol Avenue, the early morning light was just starting to turn the clouds from a deep charcoal to a smoky purple color.

Seeing that start of light in the sky, I breathed a sigh of relief. My grandmother survived another night.

As if she too could feel the impending dawn, Grandma began to stir; no doubt she would need more pain medicine soon.

“Grandma,” I whispered just in case she wasn’t awake yet. “Do you need anything?”


I left the window and went to her bedside, “I’m here Grandma.”

“What time is it?” She asked in a hoarse whisper followed by a cough that racked her cancer stricken body.

I waited until she quieted and settled back again against the pillows, then I pulled the blankets up around her.

“I don’t know for sure,” I said softly. “But it’s early; the sun isn't even up yet.”

She nodded, but said nothing as she closed her eyes again. When she became still once more, I got up again and went to the window, pushing back the sheer white curtains to reveal a now foggy dawn.

As I stood there, looking out the window and listening to her raspy breath, I let the panic and the hopelessness I felt ever since the doctor said that there was nothing else they could do, creep out of the pit of my stomach. It settled in the base of my throat so that I wasn’t sure if I was going to start screaming or if I was going to vomit.

I can’t let her die... I can’t let her die...

Those words had become my mantra over the last few months. I said those words to myself when I first heard the diagnosis. I said them again when I gave up all hopes of college to stay home and take care of her.  I said them once again when the chemotherapy and radiation failed. And in these last few weeks, and we both knew it was the last weeks, I must’ve repeated them a thousand times a day.

“Why is it getting dark again?”

Her hoarse whisper brought me out of my reverie and sure enough, the dawn was disappearing behind a thick gray mist.

“It’s just the fog coming in Grandma.”

She gasped. I turned to see her struggling to sit up even though she was far too weak to do so.

“No,” she whimpered, panicked and gasping for her breath. “It can’t be.”

I ran to her side, “What is it? Do I need to take you back to the hospital?”

She pushed me away with her feeble hands, shaking her head adamantly, “No! Go lock the doors!”


“You heard me,” she choked out. “Lock all the doors and don’t let anyone in!”

I took a deep breath and sighed. The doctors had warned me about this. They all said that as she got closer to the end that she would suffer with bouts of dementia, I just wasn’t ready to be there yet. I wasn’t ready for any of this yet.

“Grandma,” I pleaded, even though the mantra was starting in my head again. “I need you calm down. It’s me, Harmony, and everything is going to be fine.”

She grabbed my arm, clamping down on it with surprising strength.

“I know who the hell you are,” she hissed. “Now you listen to me and do as you’re told. Go and lock the damn door.”

“Grandma why –“

“Are you going to make me get out of this bed and do it myself?”

“No ma’am,” I whispered.

I pulled away from her grip and went into the kitchen and lock the back door, even pulling the shade down for good measure. I then went back into the living room and locked that door.

“I locked them all, Grandma,” I said as I stopped to peek out at the now gloomy morning.

“You’re a good girl,” she said in a raspy whisper.

When I turned from the window, I took one look at her vacant stare and I knew that she was gone.


* * * *



I taped a piece of paper with those words written in my shaky scrawl in the window of my grandmother’s  feed store, hoping it would save me from having to make the uncomfortable calls to our customers and our one employee. It just seemed wrong to do that when the funeral home took her body away less than an hour ago.

“Sorry to hear about your grandmother,” a woman called from the sidewalk when I stepped outside.

I didn’t even turn around to see who it was; I just nodded and continued struggling with the antique lock on the door. I was exhausted and bleary-eyed, and just couldn’t seem to get my clumsy fingers to work right. I told myself my first order of business would be to replace the troublesome locks, but then I immediately felt guilty as if I was being disloyal to my grandmother.

It was when I stepped away that I heard the music, a strange whistling type of sound, coming from further down Capitol Avenue. On any other day, I would’ve welcomed the happy tune, but today I just wanted to get back to the little house next door and get some sleep.

Despite that, I walked down to the corner where crowd was beginning to gather.

“What’s going on?” I asked to no one specific.

It was Mrs. Jennings from the diner that answered me.

“Looks like the circus is coming to town,” she said as she craned her neck to see down the street. When she turned and saw that it was me that she was speaking to, she blushed. “So sorry to hear about your grandmother.”

I nodded and tried not to flinch. I wasn’t ready to face any of it yet, but people just kept bringing it up. A few others turned and mumbled their sympathies and all that I could do was just look at them stupidly.

What did they want from me?

Just when I thought I would scream from the pressure of all those eyes on me, everyone turned back to the approaching parade.

I could just now make out the line of color and movement coming up the street. People further up the street began to crowd the sidewalks, cheering at random moments and clapping loudly.

As the parade moved closer, over the heads and shoulders of those around me, I could see the tall man out front. He was dressed in all black; his salt-and-pepper hair belied his wrinkle free face. He looked from side to side with stunning green eyes, tipping his hat now and then.

I shrank back as his eyes met mine. He seemed to slow his snail-like pace even more; he reached up and touched the brim of his hat looking directly at me, and then moved on without ever changing his expression. No one else seemed to notice the exchange and merely clapped as he walked by.

Walking behind him was an assortment of tumbling and flipping men and women. Each one painted and costumed as clowns of various expressions. Just as they passed, a ball of fire shot into the air. I jumped and so did those around me as a beautiful girl with bright red hair twirled so that her black dress fanned out around her legs. She waved the torches in her hand before blowing on them again to send a burst of flames up into the air.

She smiled widely, seeming to enjoy the way that people shrank back away from the heat. She even went so far as to wink at a few of the men standing near before dancing on down the street.

At the end of the parade, plodding along and shimmering in the sun, came the purple and gold calliope wagon pulled by two massive gray draft horses. At their heads, leading them along was a younger version of the man at the start of the parade and a slender girl perhaps just a few years younger than me. Even over the music I could hear the two of them speaking to the horses softly in words that I didn’t understand.

How odd...

“I haven’t seen a parade like that since I was a kid,” one woman said as they went by and the crowd began to break up.

I did what you’re supposed to do in a situation like that, I smiled as if I agreed with her and then walked away as quickly as possible.

When I reached our small house next to the feed store, I could see that the parade reached the fairgrounds across the street and the participants stood in the field talking in groups. I was too tired to wonder what they were doing or when they would be setting up the big top.

I went inside and closed the door, hoping they would at least be quiet enough that I could get some sleep.

I went straight upstairs, not wanting to pause in the main room where my grandmother’s bed lay empty. I crawled into my bed and fell asleep, still in my clothes, with the afternoon sun shining through the windows and over me. I slept for the next twenty hours.


* * * *


The sun was shining defiantly the morning my grandmother was buried. I had hoped for rain, that way maybe everyone else would stay away and I could do this alone, but instead it was a beautiful day. Even though it was only mid-June, the air was already taken on the burnt smell of dying vegetation and baked earth that it would hold until autumn.

Despite the miserable heat, most of the town was gathered in the cemetery to pay their respects and say their final goodbyes. We were bunched together in our dark mourning clothes in the sparse shade, uselessly fanning ourselves with our hands.

The minister’s voice droned on and on, low and soothing. I didn't listen to his words only the sound of his voice as I tried to make myself believe that this was really happening, that my grandmother was really gone forever.

I looked back down at the casket, hovering above the gaping hole. I hated to think of her going down into that hole, filling the empty space between the slender headstone of my mother and the plain gray marble marker of the grandfather I never knew.

I didn’t want to look at that wooden box and think of my grandmother inside it all dressed in her Sunday best. Just the thought of her being put away forever made me want to cry.

BOOK: Once (Gypsy Fairy Tale)
9.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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