The night my life began was not the night I was born.

I had fallen asleep in the grip of that pox which almost all children catch; my face swollen and hot, finding no relief in cool sheets or in the hand and voice of my father. He had stayed long after the doctor came and went , stayed to repeat reassuring things and to draw my fingers away from my body when I might have scratched. The frustration of my hands above the sheets, while my skin writhed beneath, slowly exhausted me. I wept and thrashed my legs and closed my eyes.

That sleep was heavy and troubling, but seamless was my move from oblivion to sitting up against my pillows, and looking into the courtyard beyond my bedroom.

I saw the small flashes of silver in the moonlight, quick and perfect as fish in a night sea, a waking dream that drew me from my bed. They came and went in a heartbeat, and I was gazing at a tall man. He tilted his head back to look at the sky, but his hood did not yet fall, and I moved without volition across the cold stone.

In a sudden movement his hidden face was turned toward me. I heard a sigh, a long, deep sound that reminded me of the wind in a doorway, and he walked toward me.

I was transfixed by the scene in the courtyard as I had first seen it, and I imagine that as he approached I stayed still as stone from my eyelids to the soles of my feet. He paused before me and I waited for the world to fall away. Yet he crouched down, so that he was of a height with me, and he drew back his hood. His great eyes exchanged silent thoughts with me. He smiled.

“If one day,” he said to me, “you are the one to send me to my grave, I will count it fair and true.”

He took his vivid smile away, over the courtyard wall with his hood raised once more.

From stone to grass I went to my father. I knelt and brought his hand between mine, and across my mind I etched the flashes of those steel fish in their night sea.

Later I learned that the assassin who would uncover his face, and speak to the kin of the dead with a smile, was the one called Orison.


This is the prologue to my most recent work in progress. Thank you for reading!

© 2012 Elizabeth Cook

34 thoughts on “Orison

    1. Thank you, I plan to finish it in the summer! I’m afraid it won’t be very plot-driven, and will probably be a novella with a sequel. But fingers crossed 🙂


  1. To me this is a prose poem. I first thought I’d quote some sentences (lines),to prove my point but once I finished I realized, I would have to quote the text. ,-) .
    Ok, my favs:

    “The night my life began was not the night I was born.”
    “fallen asleep in the grip of that pox”
    ” The frustration of my hands ” !!
    “from my eyelids to the soles of my feet.”
    ” waited for the world to fall away”
    “eyes exchanged silent thoughts with me”
    “From stone to grass I went to my father.”

    1. I think that this is as close as I’ve gotten to a prose poem, and I was definitely attempting to make some lines poetic! Thank you very much. The whole novella will probably be like this! If only I had less school work right now, haha

      I really appreciate this feedback 🙂


  2. Intriguing. Is this work to be a short story, novel, something else, or as yet unknown?

    Oops, I scrolled down and saw that you already noted it as a novella. I look forward to reading more of it. Summer will be her soon enough.

    Do you do NaNoWriMo?

    1. Yep, it’s looking like a novella, probably with a sequel called Aria. But I’m getting ahead of myself 🙂 I don’t, school is generally the pits in November! I can’t wait until I have the chance though

      Thanks so much for your interest!


  3. Fabulous Lily. Lovely lyricism. The poetic quality reminds me of John Gardner’s “Grendel”, which I think you would greatly enjoy if you’ve not read it. Much different tone but…
    It’s a re-telling of the Beowulf epic from the monster’s POV. Gardner breaks into pure Anglo-Saxon prosody in spots.
    I too cannot wait to read more of this story.

    1. I haven’t read it, that sounds like a wonderful recommendation. I’ve always been fascinated by mythology, but who isn’t!

      Thank you, I really appreciate your visit and comment on this prologue to the story!


  4. Now that its the weekend here and I’ve got time to comment a bit more rather than just express appreication for writing artistry by pressing ‘like’ I want to say this is one of the best introductions to a work I’ve read in ages…I am very much waiting with baited breath for more of the story as it unfolds! 🙂

    1. Thank you, I think that I will post a bit more of this story as time goes on, but like the novella I just finished probably not the whole thing! I will be looking for beta readers though


        1. I think I’ll be posting more of Orison soon, I’m on a story writing kick! I just have a crazy school week ahead so it might have to wait a litttttle bit longer 🙂


    1. Thank you, that’s so encouraging to hear! 🙂

      I am revising the ending – its grown to 132 pages! – and then I will work on formatting it as an ebook and making a cover. Since it is the first time I’ve done this I’m not sure how long it takes. But if you would like to do a beta read of the book and provide feedback/suggestions for improvement, then I could email it to you!

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