The Good Girl

I wasn't looking for trouble, honestly. I'm not that kind of girl. If you ask any of my teachers, I'm always the student who arrives before the gong sounds across the valley, and I'm always the one who has all her books and never fails to listen. It's not because I'm trying to be good to please anyone. I have just always loved learning and couldn't see the point of mischief if it getting in the way of discovery.

I know witnesses describe me as aloof and intolerant of my classmates, but that's only because I see them as mosquitoes or march flies. Honestly, the noise they make! The pointlessness of their gossip! Their concern with small things, like who snogged Jez at the Harvest Ball. I know, I know. I'm being intolerant again. But that does not make me a murderer.

This winter past we were learning about shadows. Whilst the other students giggled in that first lesson, making shapes with their hands to cast odd animals on the wall, one with a protruding member with a barbed end they attributed to the headmaster's dongle - oh come on, I'm allowed to joke, aren't I? It's a ludicrous situation! - I sat straight as pine tree competing for sunlight and waited for the material that would set the pace of my days until exams in the Spring. The theme set the material for each subject area. Literature made me impatient - we studied snippets and sonnets, passages and poems, of love and life and death that brought the shadow world into light, so to speak. 'Life is but a walking shadow', Shakespeare wrote 'a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more.' Such pompous explorations into the regrets of despots and sighings of the lovelorn were a waste of time, although granted, I understand what it means to have my fretful hour on the stage now. Physics was boring too, even if it made sense, with it's unambiguous definitions: the umbra was the darkest region of shadow, penumbra the partial shadow. I liked to think of the people of old cowering in the shadows of an eclipse, unable to understand that this was not magic at all. Like watching my classmates struggle with their sums, I delighted in thoughts of brave men cowering in the shadows, unable to wield swords against what they believed was supernatural. Ignorance of others made me feel better about my life, I can admit here to you, dear ladies and gents in charge of my life. But it didn't make me a bad person. Not the bad person people would like to paint me. No - don't silence me. I have a right to defend my own character, just as I will tell this story how I choose.

The relationship with my parents, you ask? My mother was cast in darkness, as if the ball of sunlight she used to carry in her chest had been snuffed out when my sister died at my father's hand three years hence. No one could quite point the finger at him, but we knew. The bruises around her neck were his work, not the seaweed wrapped around her fragile frame where they found her body in the bay. We couldn't get past the frantic tracks left by her boots scuffed on the coastal path, and his big hoofprints coming up behind, and the boots missing from the porch. My father was a powerful man, and no one would accuse him, let alone bring him to justice. I was a good girl, and never feared his wrath. I just sat straight as the pines and he never messed with me. My mother stopped standing up for anything after her daughter died. She never danced again. It was easy to see why - my father cast a dark shadow. But as my mother used to tutor us, if you kept your face to the sunshine, you couldn't see the darkness. A shame she only saw her first born as this brightness. Why you all failed to see him as the murderer was beyond us both. Powerful men have their ways of staying in the light, I suppose.

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You don't believe me about the book, I know. But I insist it was real. I was looking for something about shadows that would be interesting, you see. Worthy. Useful. It took til the end of the week to discover where the real lessons in shadows would come from that semester. Not in Religion and Philosophy (God is DEAD! screamed Nietzshe - and yet his shadow still looms!) and not in Tolkien: ('in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.') nor in Greek myth and Erebus, the personification of deep and dark shadows, or the shades of the underworlds, nor in the dark photography rooms where we captured photographs of light and dark in subjects as banal as one's dinner or as obvious as the shadow cast from the oak tree in the courtyard of the school. No, dear jury, the real lesson came from a book in the library, a forlorn journal forgotten about, ironically enough, in the shadows of book stacks and dust.

A book that I stole, though I am a good girl. I know that the court uses this fact to defame my character: that I was a person that would steal books, almost worse than being aloof and intolerant. Nevermind the men that wrapped girls necks in seaweed and left them to float in the water. I was a book thief. But what about my father, the daughter rapist, the one who - oh, I know, he is not hear to defend myself. Forgive me for being angry and trying to deflect blame to where it is truly due.

This small and unassuming book was one of magic, not a book I would ordinarily read, for magic was the realm of the ignorant and needy, the ones who believed in the devil whilst I did not even believe in God, not even Nietzche's dead one. But when I curiously opened the pages, the drawing in the third chapter looked so like my father that I had to stop a while and read some more, and thus was late for class, and thus was ordered to detention, and thus was home to see my father raise his fist to my mother for the third time this week, and whose shadows could not protect her.

That night, under candlelight, after dressing my mother's bruises with salve and calming her with tea, I read a little more. The instructions were simple - one only needed candlelight and something sharp. It was how I came by a pair of scissors, loaned from the sewing room at school. No - loaned. I intended to return them. Am I really on trial for thieving scissors and books? I would argue they were my only real crimes, but I'm forced to tell a story to defend myself. Shall we go on? I know you are already impatient to hang

The following evening, I was home early, tending dinner and lighting candles, and muttering a mantra under my breath, or perhaps a spell. I do not remember the words now - they are in the book, which you say you cannot find. No one but my mother was there to hear them, and my father, who was soon to be dead. Once his shadow was cast upon the floor and lengthening across the floor, it was easy to reach out and snip. His shadow fell away from him like an old scab falls from a wounded knee. Within minutes, he had picked up the blades of the snips and drew them across his own throat. I did not kill my father. I must insist yet again. I only severed that dark, dark shadow that bled from him like fingers of black mould.

There is something I will accept responsibility for, however. It is a mystery to me how I, such a good student, had failed to finish the chapter which instructed the process of removing a body's shadow, and then went on to warn that by doing so, the shadowless victim would use the blade himself, rendered unable to live with only one half. In removing my father's shadow, I had not restored him to the light, but delivered him to death. But I did not raise the scissors to his neck. That was his hands, just like his hands killed my sister.

Today I look across the courtroom and smile at my mother's light, without his shadow swamping her or his fists to beat her. Do I regret snipping my father's shadow? I do not. So sentence me to the shades if you like, but know that I am a good girl, as I have said all along.

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This was written in response to The Ink Well's prompt of the week, 'Shadows'. I hope you enjoyed it. Images all from Unsplash.



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Heheh I know, I know 😅
Nice blog, sharing on #listnerds

Have a nice day!

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Thanks, what did you like about it? What do you mean by 'hehehe I know' - what do you know? It doesn't make sense with my story. I can tell you didn't read it.

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Naa, there are different type of people dear,
I am not talking about myself right now...
As you shared about yourself... what you like and what you didn't/don't care about...

For me, I have little words vocabulary in my mind
and Whenever I try to explain something, its gone very hard for me 😅

Conclusion : I read your Blog and enjoyed it, but after getting your reply I am little confused if these are true story lines or no...

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It's a story. I'm sure the language barrier made that difficult for you, thanks for trying anyway.

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(Edited)

To investigate the nature of shadows, one needs to realise that there are those cast by deed, action and form. Darkness has many parts, and you’ve explored its worst manifestations.

This is a heartrending tale of subconscious retaliation, a mind blocked by shadows, that had to find its way to the light.
As always, you deliver an excruciatingly,stunningly gorgeous read. So devastatingly 😞 sad. Oh my I’m on emotionally overload once again.
😊❤️🤔💓💓💓💓

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Aw, thanks again for your lovely commemts. Whilst on one hand the magic of it is a given fact - she snipped her fathers shadow, causing him to kill himself - it's more likely she has constructed this reality to dissociate from what she did. Who knows - one thing ve learnt about storytelling is there's much the author DOESN'T know - it's the reader that must figure that out.

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If only magic could intervene, that would be the perfect trick.
It’s so true, the reader is so much a part of the story 🤗❤️💕💕❤️🤗

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What an amazing piece, I got hook to the end to find out how the good girl would end her story to us 😅.

It's so sad her sister had to die because of the kind of father she had, she could only save her mother but she had to soil her good name.

Nice piece @riverflows, thank you for sharing this with us.

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Thanks so much! Appreciate it. I don't think she had a good name to begin with - she was trying to construct that.

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Yeah that is true. A good girl will never call herself one, people will.

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I think she does because she wants them.to see her that way, and I think she genuinely sees herself that way as she doesn't get into trouble or go looking for it. But killing her father or being aloof and seeing herself as superior to others is certainly not 'good' in the conentional sense..

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Yes, it's good when we affirm good things to ourselves but sometimes we go out of track and that was what happened to her. Taking her father's life was really not the right thing to do but she did it and she was still not feeling guilty. How sad😢.

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You completely did justice to the prompt. You used the word “shadows” figuratively and even literally in so many contexts. I like the narrative voice. People tend to view people that keep to themselves and keep out of trouble as boring, but with your story, it’s evident that most of them aren’t because our main character is so interesting. Reading about what she thinks of people and things that have happened, you can tell she’s a fun person. Only if her mates know. Honestly, it was fun being able to hear her thoughts. I enjoy stories told in the first person and this was more than enjoyable.

🤗Keep writing, Riverflows!

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Thanks, I purposefully chose first person asN experiment this time and it was fun to write.

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You made great use of the prompt, shadows. Very good story. Thanks for sharing.

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Well told, and a fair philosophical/spiritual point, that we need both shadow and light to live, or that life is necessarily dark and light. It could also be argued, however, that duality is imposed on unified reality by the human brain, that dark/light, moral/immoral, etc., is an interpretation of our mind that can be unlearned, the same as any other taught perspective, in order to free us so that we might know the Whole, end conflict and live in peace.

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duality is imposed on unified reality by the human brain

Yes, it is, because we extend to judgements and preferences based on these dualities. Couldn't agree more.

However, the prompt was shadow, and I was talking about human experience, so...

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You certainly did get it in on time. And we made certain that your story this week would not be a 'loose end' :)

However, this story, brilliant as it is (yes brilliant) deals with subjects that are off limits in this community. Some time ago we made a decision to not allow stories that feature rape, violence against children and violence against women. Also, graphic violence of any kind is not allowed. It would probably be impossible for you to edit this story and yet have it meet the community standard. The story is about violence and the way it has distorted the perspective, the morality, the psychology of the narrator.

Please read our post on violence, which spells out our rationale and standards.

Your story has been read, and appreciated. It is sensitive and insightful. Unfortunately, we must be consistent in applying the rules and in this case your story does not fit the community standard.

We hope you will write for us again. You have a lot of talent. We do love that.

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(Edited)

Thanks. Yeah the story got away with me and I wasnt think it was about violence at all - it was more about being understood and heard in a world where preference is given to the powerful or indeed liked.

I went and read the post on violence - there's parts I baulked at. For example, as violence is inevitably a part of life, there is indeed NEED sometimes to write about it, like, say, The Zookeepers Wife, The Kiterunner and any number of books that pop into my mind. The central act enables us to explore other themes such as power and oppression. However, I imagine that in your roles, you would often read more gratuitous violence, which I also loathe, and it's very hard to explain to people the difference. I also feel it's a bit limiting as it removes a lot of the human experience, as this is who we ARE - we can't simply pretend this isn't part of the human experience.

But I just went in the direction the story took me - and I have very little control of that as I give in to whatever stands in for a muse.

Totally get that you'd hate reading about violence - that point made sense. And I didn't think about this being a community for children either. You guys have to sift through a lot of mud and gems, so I get it. A curators job is not easy, and I wouldn't be an Inkwell curator for squids! So I get that, don't get me wrong, and I wasn't blatantly breaking the rules .. I never do.

I hope you haven't gone as far to mute my story! That would be a shame. But I do understand where you are coming from. I very rarely, if ever, write about this stuff, but as I said, I didn't see it as a story about that anyway, it was about how the character sees herself, or constructs herself, and how others see her.

Who am I talking to here? ❤️

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Hello @riverflows,
I will confess. I wrote that. It does not surprise me that you understand the essential problem here: How do we explain to potential authors the difference between violence that exploits and violence that explores the human condition sensitively and in a way that offers us insight into ourselves? Stories that were coming across our desks were horrendous. Actually disgusting. So, we had to set a rule that all could understand and we have to apply it across the board.

The story is wonderful, from beginning to end. I say this as an individual, not a curator 😇.

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Thanks so much @agmoore, it's reallllly nice to speak to a person - although the Inkwell (I presume it's different curators?) does a fab job as well. I can only imagine what you have to read. There's a lot of people having fun with writing which is fabulous, but also many who may not understand the nuances of the writing craft. I'd like to think I know a little bit, right - not coming across as arrogant - so it's nice to have this conversation about your reasoning and say again, oh boy, I totally get it! :) I can't even imagine the horror you've had to read! Thanks for your support and for coming back to me, it's appreciated more than you could possibly know. Keep up the tremendous work.

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(Edited)

It has been a while since a read got interesting that fast. You carried me wherever your words went.

It didn't occur to me that the narrator was in a courtroom at the beginning of the read obviously but it is how you took me there that left me yearning to read on.

What happened after the jury listened to this liberal spirit? Did they extend their thoughts having in mind the horror of finding one's sister's neck wrapped in seaweed? Did they think about what it would be like to witness your entitled father raising his hand to hit your mother the third time this week?!

You write so elegantly and have had your way with this story that would have otherwise been a very difficult read for my persona to enjoy. 🔆

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otherwise been a very difficult read for my persona to enjoy

Now that's a compliment! I wanted to make her more interesting than a murderer of her father and whilst I accidentally broke the community rules about violence, this wasn't a story ABOUT violence, it was a story about being understood and heard. So the outcome would be whether they truly heard her or not, and given the town seemed to protect a man that committed violence, I'm not sure they'd support her, especially as her MANNER isn't particularly likeable. I think they'd focus more on how she is unconventional, aloof and spirited, and hang her for that rather than truly empathising.

Your comment means so much... Thankyou @tezmel xx

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A very nice one indeed. Fabulous. No one could interpret the meaning of the title or how shadows can be portrayed in such a twisted manner. Such a beautiful threatening piece. I am speechless.

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Wow, thanks so much. Beautiful and threatening is the vibe I kinda wanted so that's a great thing to read. Glad you enjoyed.

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one with a protruding member with a barbed end they attributed to the headmaster's dongle - oh come on, I'm allowed to joke, aren't I?

This part made me giggle on the inside, protruding member ... dongle ( it awakens the teenage boy inside of me! )

Aside from jokes like these, the story is pretty dark but, in the end, I know that you are a good girl.

P.S. Did I sense some Twin Peaks / Laura Palmer vibes in here?

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No Twin Peaks! Interesting.. in fact its interesting what people have read into that one. Haha I was just watching Ricky Gervais and he was talking about barbed cat penises. Must have crept in somehow 😂 Trust you to pick that out 😂

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Good Morning River;
Always delightful to read a good piece of prose. It's funny you know - that as English teachers we probably quite naturally write in techniques, and when we read, pick them out and take not. The crafting in the piece was delicious, and the language tricks you were using had the effect of creating a really very engaging voice.

It nearly felt like an Abigail moment (will let that one sit with you, and see if you could pick it).

For me, the highlights of the piece was the way you set up the books - the Scientific explanation, moving into Nietsche and the myths. It all gave the piece a whole lot of credibility. Perhaps, talking allusions, I should be drawn into a Liesel moment too.

Now - in a moment of confession. The book you recommended for me to give a whirl - I forget its name, the Scandinavian one, with the woman murderer, who had to be taken as a prisoner to the farm house - it will bug me that I can't think of the name. Anyhows, I confess, I couldn't finish it. I got the physical copy from the library and got 1/5 of the way through it, and then I thought that it was perhaps me - so I got the audiobook, and didn't last longer than 20 minutes. But tell me - by the end, the woman - was she hung, or saved?

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Oh Burial Rites? Totally get if you couldn't finish it. That woman sure can over work a metaphor!

Oh Abigail.. you know, it wasn't intentional but I DEFINITELY thought of her when I read back over it! Perhaps just because she's shunned, and ends up with a sliver of power and her dabbling in the dark arts!

Liesl? I can only think of The Book Thief. Not sure here.

as English teachers we probably quite naturally write in techniques, and when we read, pick them out and take not.

I'm sure! And as students of literature, and lovers of it. I think I could write before I became an English teacher but teaching it has helped me hone it a bit. The biggest indication of this was when one of my Year 12s pinched one of my pieces from a blog I wrote for them, and wrote it for her creative Sac. Luckily I happened to be the one cross marking and went - hey that piece is familiar! Funny. She got an A on the first marking thank god, otherwise how embarrassing .. 😂 Needless to say she had to resit with her own work.

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Yep - Burial Rites, that's the one.

That is an absolutely cracker of a story though, I imagine it provided for many laughs many times over. I used to work with a lady who used to write down the funny shit kids wrote in their creative pieces - and she would pull it out occassionally - it was actually good to lighten the staffroom at different times.

  • Her favourite was a creative piece, which came under the thematic 'Belonging' study. The line, 'In every threesome there is always a twosome and a onesome'. That clanger is probably ten years old, and it still gets mileage!
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Omg that's a classic.

I always loved the Macbeth analysis: 'he went around butchering like it was his day job'.

Wish I'd kept my funny list..

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This was incredible. Truly. I was devouring every last delicious word and construct. I love first-person narrative and write in it frequently myself, so I settled in quite comfortably to read your story. But it wasn't all warm cozy blankets and cups of hot cocoa. It was anything but that and I felt justly rewarded. Forgive me @riverflows, usually, there is a line or paragraph in a writer's post that stands out for me above the rest that I want to single out and comment on specifically, but with this piece, the entire story sings; a dark shadowy harrowing tale, but it sings it beautifully, and I find it difficult to focus on any particular element... although I guess I already mentioned the first person narrative which I think you executed with precision. Your Good Girl positions herself as the innocent, but she cannot remove herself from the dark shadow and stain that without her actions, her father would still be alive and that she has therefore taken the law into her own hands and committed murder. It all hinges on her intent of course and regardless of where the chips fall, some may still presume to call her good. !LUV !ALIVE

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Oh goodness, I'm so blushing! Honestly I love Hive for helping me hone my craft and I'm all up for feedback, but it blows me away when people say such nice things.

I often DON'T do first person, but this was the perfect voice to do it in and I really got into her character. In the end it couldn't be anything but - acerbic, aloof, defiant, bitter and intelligent, she HAD to speak to the jury for the story to work. I love playing around with this stuff - I mean, it never goes anywhere but I have fun experimenting with words and whatever comes out of my imagination, which always surprises me! Thanks so much again. You made my day.

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@riverflows Wow. I really liked that used the first person narration.However, there’s a part of your story that is kind of confusing . “Not in Religion and Philosophy (God is DEAD! screamed Nietzshe - and yet his shadow still looms!) and not in Tolkien: ('in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.') nor in Greek myth and Erebus, the personification of deep and dark shadows, or the shades of the underworlds, nor in the dark photography rooms where we captured photographs of light and dark in subjects as banal as one's dinner or as obvious as the shadow cast from the oak tree in the courtyard of the school”. Please, Bolddo well to explain.

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It's a very long sentence with lots of punctuation lol. She was talking about all the subjects and areas of study for the Shadow theme, and there was nothing useful or interesting for her there. She's quite intelligent and feels above the rest of her classmates, and it's not until she finds the spell book tht she gets interested. Is that what you meant?

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As I live and breathe...

It seems as though you have an affinity for breaking community rules every now and then River. I dig it! Turns out you're not such a "Good" girl after all :)

Laughs in Goblin Voice

Aside from the obvious gore which I actually enjoyed(although they didn't seem to think so👀), this was an incredible and very thought provoking story.

Ouu... I had no idea you wrote fiction. This is my first time reading one of your pieces. It's usually plants, and herbs, and the earth with ya lol. But I enjoyed this.


Hmm, it's not often you come across a story with such a distressed, disabled, and ominous character like yours. I see, she must've suffered so much from her own demons so much so, that it has deceived her subconscious mind to believe that she is "Good".

We the readers all saw what was wrong there, but I don't think SHE did. Hmm, or maybe she did see...

Brilliant story again Mrs Flows🦛!
Also, I quite enjoyed those fourth wall intrusions you did with the story. Threw me off a little but, was still fun to read.

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I honestly have no idea how I keep breaking rules lol. I honestly think I've read them all and then.. oopsies. Facepalm. Maybe my subconcious does it. In some ways I'm like my narrator... She doesn't read the whole spell before she snips her fathers shadow, and thus the consequences are his suicide, which could be seen as murder.

Oh she feels totally superior to everyone, she's so smart. And she's so pissed off with them all for believing the father, I don't think she can connect with anyone. Even when she stands accused she can't stop expressing contempt.

I swept back through and edited it for the fourth wall, as it changed the whole tone to have her speak directly to the jury. Super fun to write.

Funny you haven't read my fiction... I do have long breaks but seems the Inkwell prompts have unleashed the beast again. I've got another one ready to publish tonight lol. And another at some point in drafts 😂 Not questioning the process, just flowing with da muse! 😂

Thanks so much for your praise, means a lot!

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A suicide huh?

Oh, I read the ending again and yeah signs point to suicide! I'll just take it as a homicide.

I don't see what's so funny about that, I should've discovered your work months ago! Truly brilliant.

Ahh... Way to Butt Kiss Zera

Ouu... Another one. I'll like to read it actually. And ah... Say no more! You flow with that muse.

Wait a minute... "Flow with that muse"... Uhh, Genius!

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AHaha thanks!!! So, what happens is she snips his shadow to disable him I think. She's read the spell book, thinks it'll bring him down or at least cripple him so he can't cause harm. But she doesn't read the second half of the spell, which basicallly says that it'll cause the shadowless person to end their life. HAD she read that, it'd be murder for sure - but she didn't intend to kill him. The fact the book disappears either means a) there was no book and she is lying or b) the townsfolk that don't like her have hidden the book or c) the spell book just disappeared.

I'm soooo glad you loved it, that's so awesome - you might have encouraged me to do another now!

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Wow, really liked this, really well written, fantastically dark in places and I loved the way it flows and weaves the threads all the way to the end. Thank you for posting it 🙂

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This is such an intriguing story. It had me glued to my screen from the start to the finish. Although I was a bit sad she lost her sister all because of her dad but luckily she managed to save her mum.

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