Cecilia was seventeen-eighteen soon. Everyone in her town loved to look at her.
The mothers would sit around and talk about who's son would fair better.
The fathers hoped she would choose their son.
The girls hated her, but couldn't help being her friend.
And the boys...well, she paid them no mind.
She only had eyes for Frankie.
Frankie just turned twenty one. He worked for his father at his automobile shop and always kept to himself.
The mothers would sit around and complain about their girls always talking about Frankie.
The fathers knew he might have defiled a few girls here and there.
The girls...hated him for being in love with Cecilia.
And Senorita Corle watched everyone watching Cecilia and Frankie.
Strange things would happen soon.
Strange beyond comprehension.
First, Cecilia turns eighteen and her mother sees that Frankie has decided to make a move. Mariposa married younger than her daughter. After only having Cecilia at fifteen years old, she and her husband Alejandro, were blessed with a baby boy.
Baby Alex was chubby, sweet, but very meddlesome. And somehow, some way...Mariposa directed all of her attention to him. She told herself, deep down inside that a son would be better.
"Can you carry on our family name? Beauty doesn't carry anything," Mariposa would say to Cecilia.
Cecilia always smiled and said, "Beauty carries me enough in this life."
Her mother clicked her tongue and scooped up Baby Alex as she left the room. Being eighteen had its perks, but Cecilia was living in a fantasy world.
She shifted her thoughts to Frankie, who was sitting outside of the front door. Her father swept past her, asking in a mannerable tone what Frankie wanted.
"Well...Frankie..." her father started slowly.
Alejandro was excited to know Frankie wanted his daughter's hand in marriage, but he knew Mariposa would object.
"I make enough money, and can find extra work if it's covering her head you're worried about. I've only been with one woman and I have no children. And I attend Sunday Mass with my mother every Sunday-"
Alejandro help up his hand and smiled sadly at Frankie. Mariposa wouldn't care for any of this. He pulled Frankie closer and took a deep breath before whispering.
"You have my word, Francisco...give me a weeks time...." Alejandro said.
Frankie beamed at the older man and nodded. His word was good enough. But as Cecilia was listening intently, she knew very well that her father's word meant nothing against her mother's ignorance.
Cecilia then moved to the window and pulled back the stained, sheer fabric. She watched Frankie walk down the street, hands in his pockets, steadily looking back and smiling. She would give anything to be with him.
"Ha!" her mother mocked, "Frankie is as good as those heaps of junk he fixes. Child, you obviously don't know any better."
"Mariposa," he father cooed, "it is time for her to find a husband and move out. You were married at fifteen to me...surely you realize the severity in keeping her here."
"She should earn a living..." Mariposa mumbled, sipped her coffee.
Cecilia blinked back a few tears and turned her head. She knew what her mother was playing at.
Or did she?
From the door came a sturdy knock. Whoever stood there shook Cecilia's core without even being seen. She hoped deeply it was Frankie. Instead, Senorita Corle stepped over the threshold, smiling gingerly at Mariposa and Alejandro.
"Can we help you with something?" Her father asked.
He seemed more disturbed than Cecilia was.
"I come on business of..." she paused, noting Mariposa signaling her to stop.
She nodded, her eyes traveling along the floor.
"I need an apprentice. Young, but not too young. Smart, but wise at least. Mariposa has informed me that Cecilia is in need of work..."
"You play with dark magic, and waste souls!" Alejandro screamed, "obviously...you come here to congratulate..."
"Cecilia cannot marry under Corle, Alejandro..." Mariposa interrupted, "Sorry Senorita."
"If Cecilia has had a young man propose to her...why then would you ask her to work for me?"
Senorita Corle gave cutting eyes to Mariposa, then nodded to Alejandro.
"Frankie is good for Cecilia. He is hard working, and shows signs of his love deeper than the hues of a rose in June..." Corle started, "if something were to happen to Frankie, then I would seek out Cecilia."
Mariposa turned, walking to her bedroom. Alejandro nodded, quick to shuffle Corle out of the door. Then he looked to Cecilia and grabbed her hand.
"That woman," he said softly, sounding sadder than ever, "you must go to the cardinal of the church with Frankie tomorrow, let him hear you out. Chances are, he will allow you to elope right then and there. Once that's done, come back to me so I can give you your money and send you on your way...."
"What about madre?" Cecilia asked, still blinking back tears.
"She will be the death of me."
Alejandro spoke too soon.
Since the cardinal agreed, married the two young lovers, and since Cecilia's father kept his word...
They lived with Frankie's family until Frankie could afford a better home. When Cecilia suggested she could work, Frankie always turned her down.
"Why would I put so much effort into having you...to make you work?"
She always blushed, and snuggled her head into his chest. He was generous and kind beyond comprehension.
But his kindness would not save her from lies, deceit, gossip.
And Senorita Corle.
She needed Cecilia because she was young and simple minded. It was Mariposa she sought to get over on. And the fatalities that would occur on both sides made no matter.
Frankie did not believe in voodoo.
Cecilia paid it no mind.
So Corle made her move upon the young lovers.
Cecilia jumped, not realizing Senorita Corle made it into the shop.
"Del LaRosa," she said darkly, "I have news for you both."
Frankie felt the hair on his neck rise at the sound of her voice. He had never wanted to evade an older woman so bad in his life. Her presence seemed to darken the sky-blot out the sun.
"Senorita Corle," he said, trying to sound happier than he felt, "What brings you here?"
The sky indeed had grown darker. A wind had picked up, and the smell of rain blew strongly into Frankie's family shop.
Cecilia stood next to Frankie now, frowning at her reply. What could she possibly be after?
Corle sat them down at the kitchen table, avoiding eye contact with everyone else in the household. Frankie's parents took time to remove everyone from the kitchen, and closed the doors to allow them privacy.
Frankie gestured to Corle to speak, becoming even more nervous when she placed a large piece of Onyx on the table.
"Your mother promised you to me," Corle said, "and I cannot take the baby. But I am in need of you..."
"You cannot take her either," Frankie said quietly.
"This will benefit you both."
Her words echoed throughout the kitchen, reverberating off of pots and silverware. Her cold eyes locked with Frankie's as she pushed the Onyx his way.
"What do you want to see happen to a woman who attempted to refuse something you were promised?" Corle asked.
"Sounds like a question you should be asking yourself," Cecilia said clearly, "as for my mother, she has always been foolish."
"She seeks to destroy what you have," Corle said, planting a seed, "she will say things. Do things. She will try to pry you from him."
"Let her," Frankie said shrugging.
"Then of course...you are without child. You should have been pregnant by now-it's been nearly two years...."
The couple sat quietly, both looking down at the table. Corle may have been right.
"Do not allow what would seem to be a scandal...drift you two apart."
Corle was correct in most of what she said.
It was unsettling how it made them both feel. Cecilia looked to her lover whose eyes were beginning to tear up. Then to Corle, her eyes traveled until they were locked upon hers.
"The onyx is a totem for Frankie. What you need to do is look for a man unlike any other..."
"A being with piercing green eyes, who is uneasy..."
Corle's voice drifted further into Cecilia's mind. And almost as if she made a verbal agreement, the stinging air of purgatory could be felt.
"Romance him..." Corle continued.
Cecilia looked across the singed grounds of what used to be a meadow. Illuminating against the black and gray scene stretched wings. They stopped now, as it's owner turned slowly, feeling Cecilia behind him.
"Remind him of his ignorance..."
Frankie was clutching his totem now, for not only Purgatory but the angel in his presence.
Cecilia pressed her hand to the angel's mouth, his eyes transfixed upon her. She brought his head closer, and began to speak. Not knowing what she was saying-yet being utterly bent on reciting her message.
"My fall is yours, the curse to keep you bound. To what you love and hate..."
The angel frowned at her now, as he was sure the bare naked woman whispering to him had other intent. Then he looked over the field where poppies used to be and saw Corle smiling whilst still in her trance.
He knew what had happened, but wouldn't know who hated him so.
When Cecilia came to, she was laying on the floor of Corle's shop, feeling the heat of a fresh fire boiling the air.
"Frankie!" She screamed, hoping he would come to save.
All of Corle's totems and talismans were burning. Her potions, concoctions. Her tablets, scriptures.
The house was vibrating with waking and escaping spirits.
"Frankie!" She screamed again.
The swirling mix of paper, wood and flesh caught up to her as a breeze begin to twist through the burning home. Cecilia stood, realizing she was still naked. As her eyes leveled with the wall, she saw Senorita Corle seemingly trapped on the wall, as if she were melting into it it.
Her eyes had rolled all the way back and she was whispering as her head rocked back and forth.
'Where is Frankie!" Cecilia demanded.
Corle's head twitched and switched sides a few more times before it stop, her eyes now looking to the young girl.
Her eyes, now a smoky black. Cecilia jumped as she moved back, stumbling over a leg. There on the floor, lay Frankie, with the majority of his left side burned badly. She knew because he was motionless...there was no point in waking him.
Naked and in full realization, Cecilia wept on his chest, cooing ever so softly.
That she was sorry.
That she loved him.
When her ears caught that her tears were echoing, Cecilia lifted her head slowly, no longer surprised of what could possibly happen next. The two lovers had returned to Purgatory. Their only reward for listening to Corle'.
Cecilia stood, looking over Frankie, who began moaning and attempting to move.
"Fifty years of service to Corle, with your souls chained here..." a raspy voice started, "and the rest here...for an eternity."
Frankie managed to stand to his feet when the couple realized what the chariot they were standing on meant.
Cecilia looked tearfully to Frankie who in turn gave her a sad smile. He reached for her hand and kissed it.
"What comes after is worse," Cecilia whispered.