Josephine and the Book of Secrets

By @skaiwrites

Chapter 1

Prologue

•❖•

February 10th 1882

The old man was in a seething rage. It was almost tangible, the way that it vibrated through him. Whatever had happened hours before only fueled his anger. The heat expanded with every word he spilled from his pen. The rage bubbled up like lava flowing from the center of the earth, the molten liquid flowing through his veins and hardening around his bones. His words flowed until some pages lit with flames and burned his ink stained fingers as he tried to put them out.

There was an edge of certainty that this was his end. Everything that he was, all that he had created was taken up in scalding flames. He was too angry to even cry. They were ending him, burning all evidence of his existence away. 

With quick urgency, Eli stood up from the burning desk and held the last surviving pages in his hand before turning towards the door. They would not take these words from him. They would not take her from him. He rushed down an extravagant spiral staircase to the servants quarters and rushed out the servants entrance. All of the servants and his son, Alfred were standing on the lawn watching the flames climb higher. He folded the pages neatly before stuffing them in his coat pocket. All were too distracted by the sense of loss to notice the hooded stranger silently watching all of the chaos. He tossed the empty matchbox into the bushes before disappearing into the shadows.

Eli stood for a moment, struck by the loss in front of him. All of their lives, past, present and future were soon to be ashes. The only evidence of their past grandeur were the clothes on their backs. Seconds passed before he snapped back into focus and ran to his son. The smoke was debilitating and many were coughing uncontrollably. He cried out a name and searched the crowded yard. 

“Jessa, Where is Jessamine?”He shouted as he searched frantically through the group for his youngest child. But, she was no-where to be found.

“She’s still in there!” Alfred shouted back as he ran towards the crumbling building. 

Eli grabbed his son by the arm before he could enter the smoke.

“Stay here.” And without looking back, Eli pushed through.

  He could hear her voice screaming through the roaring flames. His youngest daughter was still in the burning house.

“Papa! Where are you?” She cried. 

He tried to follow the sound of her voice. But the smoke was suffocating and the heat was overwhelming him. He was weak. He could feel his own body slowing down. Her face flashed through his mind. He could not lose her again. He continued pushing through until he felt like every step was heavier than the last. 

His skin was suddenly made of fire and his lungs were screaming for air. Worlds were colliding in his mind and his soul was tearing from his body. He tumbled onto his knees and began slipping away. He was seeing the past and the future. And everything he had created would die with him.

Her voice rang sweet as a bell in his mind. It was the words to an old nursery rhyme her governess had taught her while she brushed her hair. 

“Ring around the rosy!

-A pocket full of Posy!

-Ashes, ashes!

We all fall down.”

 The images around him shifted and it was Jessamine’s bed time. Her untamable caramel curls were tucked into a braid and her blue eyes were flashing. Reluctantly, she crawled between the down comforter and settled in.

“Read a story, Papa! Please…” She pleaded.

He always gave into her, every single time. 

And so, he read to her stories of princesses, castles, fairies and mermaids. Sometimes he would write them for her. And tiny fairies, barely visible to the human eye would flash into existence and she would laugh, giddy with delight. Her laughter was his medicine; her love, his most prized possession. 

He lay at the last step at the top of the stairs unable to move. his mind was already gone and he would not save his little girl again.

The remains of Eliezar Wizeman were found in the days following the fire.

However, the remains of his beloved daughter were never discovered.

Jessamine Wizeman was never seen again.

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