Intermission: Tales from Cliffside – The Kettleworth Files 2

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They had been married in that church. Marta had seemed like an impossible blessing to John. He had never been one for socializing, or wooing the women of the town. He had left Kettleworth to apprentice as a doctor and scientist in Cliffside some time after his fourteenth birthday, but when he returned to Kettleworth to begin his practice he realized that very little had changed. He found himself thrust into High Society by his profession, and it was confusing to him. The women still demanded gifts and artful choreography that John simply had neither the skill nor inclination to learn. Instead, he focused himself on his work, alternately healing the sick or tending to the wounded, and sketching diagrams and chemical formulae that someday might make him famous.

Then he met Marta.

In a fit of what must have been madness, brought on by hours alone, John had left his house to take part in a town festival of some kind–even now he could not remember its purpose. He wandered from tent to stall, nodding hello as quickly as was polite, and moving on, fearful that someone might want to speak with him about the weather or some equally confusing subject. Finally he found a lone and ragged tree to sit under and think, whipping out his notebook to work on his cavalcade of projects that were constantly simmering in his head.

After a few moments of relative peace, he realized he was not sitting alone. In his eagerness to have found a quiet spot, he had thrown himself next to a thin young lady dressed entirely in deep purple. Her skin was quite pale, and her black hair was tightly drawn up in two small balls that sat on the back of her head. She was staring intently at a small thin book that she gripped tightly in her fingers, her eyes slowly and steadily scanning the pages, flicking back and forth like clockwork.

Even now, he did not remember who spoke first.

She was as reclusive as he, and as driven. She wrote poetry of the most beautiful rhythm and melody, that John was enraptured. She too was fascinated by John’s work, finding much to admire in his steady piecing together of the laws of the universe.

“We do the same work,” She said to him once, during supper, “but with different metals. You use the blood and bones of the earth, and I use the meter and tone of the mind, but we both put them together in new and frightening ways to make something true and beautiful.”

They were married soon after in the Church, with few attendees–just how they wanted it.

Marta died of consumption half a year later, despite John’s best efforts.


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