The Devil Hath Charms By: Elise Skidmore


The Devil Hath Charms
By: Elise Skidmore

I lose things. My glasses, my keys, my job, my spouse, my child.

My mind.

That's not the right order, of course. I started losing my mind somewhere between my glasses and my job. My husband escaped with my son not long after that. I don't blame him for going. In fact, I'm glad he did. They're safe now. At least I hope they are.

Not that I'd ever hurt them. I love them with all my heart, which is why I'm not angry at Jim. He had to keep Billy safe. It's not me I'm worried about. It's the devil.

I know what you're thinking. She really is crazy. I think so too. I mean, no one in their right mind believes the devil is real. They believe there's evil in the world, but the guy with the red tail and horns, who barters for souls, well, that's just fairy tale stuff, right? What they tell you when you're little to scare you into being good.

That's what I thought too. Until I started to see him.

The first time, I was walking in the woods behind our house. We have a big piece of property; the house and backyard sit on one acre, but there are ten acres of woodland behind that, with a small stream running along the far end of the property line. I've always loved walking there. It's so peaceful and pretty. Spring and fall are my favorite times because of the colors, but summer and winter are lovely too. I taught Billy how to catch frogs and salamanders down by the stream.

But that first time I was alone. It wasn't quite spring; the trees hadn't even begun to bud. The air felt like it might rain, but I'd just had a big blow-out with Jim over finances and I wanted to be alone for a while. I was deep into the woods when I noticed a column of sunlight drifting between the trees, the way it always looks in the movies, almost like you'd expect to hear a choir of angels or the voice of God.

I remember wishing I had a camera with me, because it really was beautiful. Since I didn't, I decided to take a closer look. I thought I'd stand in that stream of light and let it wash over me like a shower. Maybe it would clean my cluttered mind.

When I reached the place where the column of light touched the ground, I saw the most incredible thing. Where the light fell, there was a circle of blooming daffodils, about ten feet in diameter. It was the damnedest thing. Impossible, but there it was. I stood staring at the flowers for I don't know how long, but I turned when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye.

A man stood leaning against one of the big oaks. He was tall, dressed in jeans and a green cable knit sweater that matched his eyes. His dark hair fell over his collar, and when he smiled I thought my heart would stop. He was the most beautiful man I'd ever seen.

"Hello," he said. His voice was soft and sexy, like a caress. I couldn't speak. I just stood there like an idiot.

He stepped away from the tree, slowly coming toward me. I wasn't afraid, but I couldn't seem to move. It was like I'd taken root.

He stopped in the middle of the daffodils, spreading his arms wide. "Aren't they lovely?"

I nodded. When I finally found my voice I started tossing questions at him like I was a reporter for USA Today.

"Who are you? What are you doing here? Where did you come from? How did these flowers get here?"

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About the Author

Elise Skidmore has been writing poetry and short stories for many years, with some previous success at publication. She was the senior section leader of the Writing Exercises in Compuserve's Writers Forum for nine years, and in July of 2004, my partner and I started our own writers's website, where membership is by invitation only.

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