1. erotic karma

2. chicken bones, fake ID, book of matches (any or all)

3. half time


Despite the dire warnings of my brother, I went again to Castle Morley. I thought that perhaps he was right, that it would be more painful than I expected, but I knew deep inside myself that I had to go.

It was almost two years to the day since I’d packed the remnants of my life and walked down the steep path. Now I contemplated that sad and tormented journey in reverse.

The castle’s towers still stood where they had for nearly four hundred years, but now they looked sinister against a fading sunset. It hadn’t always been that way.

I could remember every moment of that day I first came to the castle. It was May, a time of rejuvenation, and in the bright early morning sun the castle fairly shimmered, as if the stones of its construction were filled with gold and silver. I was thirteen then and my young mind had visions of the wonders I’d find inside the remarkable edifice. But even my own imagination couldn’t predict the future. Just as well.

She was already at the castle when I arrived, a cousin of a cousin, visiting for a few months. Her name was Isabel, and I loved her before I ever heard it spoken. She was my age, a golden child who hadn’t yet lost the joy of childhood, yet curiously serene. Her manner bespoke the rigid training she’d had from a family whose history preordained every facet of her life. In her it softened, though, and became a simple grace.

They almost kept me from seeing her, those temporary custodians of her person. I understood that I was at that place not because I was welcome, but simply because my side