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The Woman at the Well

D&December, 2017

She meets him a mile from the marble fountain when her shoulders are stiff and sore from the weight of the water buckets stretched across them. He is as beautiful as her sisters told her, with a strong jaw and eyes like chipped shards of jet. From his crown of coal-black curls rises a single jeweled horn---it shines in the sun even through the shimmering haze of heat and smoke.

He smiles, sharp teeth sparkling and straight, and casts a frayed fly whisk across the sheen on his chest. She does not smile back and carefully maneuvers around him, strings of pearls and painted beads click-clacking when she moves. Her pierced nose wrinkles daintily when he takes a step to block her path again.

"I must be away." Her voice is strained. Her patience is thin.

His laughter is a deep rumble that sets him shaking and he tosses that magnificent mass of hair to and fro. One of his hands curls around her elbow and sends clear, cool water splashing her silk sashes and sloshing down upon the sand. "There is a toll, my dear."

Now she bears her own sharp teeth and purrs when her lacquered nails snake past his arm and pluck one of those beautiful eyes from its socket. He screams and scrambles away, bleating and bellowing like a lamb led to the slaughterhouse. She drops his eye in the dust and steps around his flailing hands and feet.

"Consider it paid, my dear," she calls behind her, laughter chiming like the bells on her ankles all the way home.

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