Faith. She considered herself lucky, in as far as luck goes. Lucky, but not blessed. Her parents may have be Christian through and through, but Faith had no intention of following in their footsteps. Much to her father’s disappointment. He left not long after her thirteenth birthday…
At birth Faith had tussled with the clutches of Death, his taught skeletal hands wrapped around her feeble neck. It was the umbilical cord, a serpentine creature that writhed and squeezed the life from her oh so tiny lungs, that Death had sent as his emissary. But he’d failed in his harvest. Faith was freed by events so bizarre that neither mother nor midwife nor doctor could figure just exactly what had happened. There was a flicker of light, the heavy thrum of electrics and then all fell to darkness. A hospital, far from a pleasant place at the best of times, is all the worse in the dark.
The doctor had been urging everyone to remain calm, advising that the back-up generator would kick in soon enough. Faith’s mother, Gabriel (God rest her soul), had been screaming for someone, anyone, to please help her dying daughter. The midwife, a young man by the name of Jenkins, reached out for Gabriel’s hands, hoping to calm the troubled mother. Somehow (Gods only know how) he’d stumbled upon the choking cord and clasped it tight between his palm. He slipped, on something and nothing, falling back and tearing the cord from Gabriel. There was a horrifying shriek of pain, followed soon after by faint coughing and wheezing, then the sounds of a small child crying.
By some miracle the cord had loosened off when torn from the mother, freeing Faith’s throat. And with Faith’s first breath came Jenkins’ last shift as a midwife, he would never again step foot inside a maternal ward. That was, until the day his own daughter was born, and all was long forgotten.
At the age of three Faith had been outside, playing in the snow with her mother Gabriel. Her father, Alias, watched sternly from the warmth of their home, a lone thought occupying his mind. A terrible thing, it would be, to freeze to death twelve nights before Christmas can come.
It wasn’t Death that sought young Faith this time, he had long learnt his lesson in pining for Faith. This time it would be Mother Nature, her wrath eternal, seeking to take Faith into her bosom. This night it was through snow and by ice that Nature intended to take the child. A pick up, rusted maroon, charging its way through the neighborhood, twice the speed limit and drunk for good measure. Nature cast her touch gently over the scene, a slick patch of black ice beneath the rear wheels, an embankment of snow solid enough to act as a ramp, and a ground soft enough to see Faith and Gabriel thrown to the ground if they chanced to see the truck and tried to run.
Again there was a flicker of lights, this time from the lamps decorating the streets. Then came the groan of an engine, sputtering smoke, sounding none too healthy. The scene was obscured by a great flurry of snow. Not even Nature could hope to see what would come. As it happened the driver fell asleep at the wheel, his truck veered wildly on the ice, his foot clearing the accelerator and just happening to buckle on the breaks. Jacks, left behind by children that had earlier been playing outside, punctured all four of the trucks wheels. Then the engine gave out with a smoke-laden shout. The truck slipped into a spin, and crashed against the solid banking of snow. Not a soul was harmed, not even the driver.
Mother Nature tried equally deplorable things in Summer, Autumn and in Spring. But each attempt at collecting the girl failed without explanation.
Come the age of seven there was a terrible fire in Faith’s school, a fire that saved her life. Greed was next to make a move on the girl, hoping that temptation of more, more, more might send the girl running to his arms. It was a simple yet clever idea. Greed had ensured the school’s kitchen was left unattended, and manipulated Faith’s teacher into sending her down for a bottle of brown from the chef… he’ll know what I mean.
It was here that Greed hoped to lure Faith to him with no more than the promise of candy. Just a strawberry bonbon to start, then a frazzle or two, a string of fudge, a toffee penny, then more, more, more. Until poor Faith found herself at a window overlooking the sudden dropping hill that the school stood proud upon. There would be a final treat, something so sweet you’d dare not resist it, waiting upon the ledge beyond the vast glass sea of windows. Just one would be left open, looking out over the edge. Faith would come, and Faith would fall.
But is was not to be, for by the time Faith came upon the kitchen and the candy a fire erupted from within and sent the school into flames. Faith made it out without so much as a burn. There had been a moment in which she thought herself lost, when she tripped whilst running, the crowds stampeding past, paying no mind to the girl on the floor. The lights again began to flicker and a single foot trampled her being. It was the chef, who had been otherwise occupied and not lost in the kitchen’s fire (why thank you, Greed) that gathered Faith up in his arms and carried her out, a hero.
It was at the age of thirteen, the day her father left, that cruel justice was served. A long awaited tragedy, a twist of fate. Her father had given the ultimatum, Faith was to submit to their Christian values, or he was to leave. Mother and all. Faith refused. She tried to explain – it’s not that I don’t believe, it’s just I don’t believe in that. And I can’t. I won’t.
Alias fled in a fit of rage, but as he backed up out of the drive his car stalled. That’s odd. He thought. Never done that before. Faith was running from the house, shouting for her father to wait, begging he try to understand. She ran behind the car. Alias turned the key, the engine rattled into life. Gabriel watched in horror, a motherly instinct flushing through her. She ran to her daughter, but slipped on black ice. Alias took a cursory glance in the rear-view mirror, but saw not a thing. Faith had spotted the sweetest looking liquorice lace she’d ever seen, lying just beneath the car’s exhaust, squirming like a snake bathed in black. She ducked down at the very moment her father checked the mirror.
All this Lady Luck watched with a silent scream wrought upon her gaunt and golden face. Not a thing she turned her hand to seemed to listen. What influence she’d had on the mortal World was lost.
The sound of laughter rang loud in her ears.
Alias backed out of the drive, speeding up as he raced to be gone. The right-side wheels jerked up and over something solid, something soft. He hit the breaks, wheels resting on and over Faith, the air forced from out her lungs, the weight of the car crushing down upon her.
Faith’s eyes flickered white, the light of life fading to the cries of voices from a World to which she no longer belonged.
I am sorry. Luck whispered. Perhaps my love was not enough.
But it was! Faith smiled, and to Luck that smile embodied the beauty of the World, the beauty of life. Thirteen years you bought me. Thirteen more than I deserved.
Luck fought back tears of crimson-ash. I did try, to save you.
For a moment Faith was whole, standing true to life before Luck. They took each other’s hands. I know. Faith’s lips met Luck’s in a brief embrace, already the girl was fading. But not even the Lady Luck herself can cheat Fate forever.
Copyright © K R Perry 2019