Through the Thorns

Image by Manfred Richter from Pixabay

It started with a rattle.

Jessie’s eyes shot open.

A building panic, the inability to breathe as she curled into a ball and her telekinesis reached out, seeking the source of her tormentor, not realising itself – herself – was the cause.

High gusts broke against her little home and she receded further under the blanket. The windows squeaked as the bare tendrils of the dead tree scraped against the pane, against the pain. Grating, swirling, the intrusive barbs raked at the raw skin of her mind.

The rattle intensified, Jessie wrapped the pillow around her head. The walls, the floor, the bed upon it jittered, shaking her from her refuge as the dresser, the mirror and the light fixtures began to tremble themselves. The keening ring of vibrating glass tore deeper into her awareness.

She bit down on a scream, gouging at her face through the pillow until the attack subsided, until the walls and ceiling stopped closing in upon her, and her power ceased the slow destruction of her room.

With a gasp she tore the pillow from her face, greeted by the constant howling of the wind, the faint scrape of the dead tree against the window pane, the pale light that filtered in and her room which was shook to shambles.

She sighed.

“I hate myself.” She muttered.

But the panic attack had subsided, and her telekinesis had not done too much damage this time. Thank God.

She checked her phone. ‘6 missed calls’.

She scrolled down the call log: One from her brother, one from her friend… four from her aunt.

She slumped back against the bed and felt the pull of comfort to keep her from the day. With the effort that forges mountains, she slipped from her bed, pulled her gown on before she could fully take in her scarred arms and shoulders and donned her slippers.

After a beleaguered excuse of a morning ritual she stood by the glass sliding door at the back of her house, steaming mug of coffee in hand. Her hand frozen before she gripped the latch.

She was an actuary, but due to crippling agoraphobia and her penchant for unleashing telekinesis when she was panicked she worked from home. Her therapist had suggest she at least try and go outside. She prompted this by lining the path to her granny flat office with two wall murals. She commissioned them to be done by her favourite street artist on instagram, with deliberately soothing images – He was a psychic, and could gleam into her mind that rolling waves calmed her.

She had not frozen because of the high winds abrasively scouring her yard, but because the murals were obscured. Someone had lined the path with rose bushes in the night. They were tall and overbearing upon her space, swaying wildly in the wind.

Who could have done this?

In answer, her phone rang. ‘Aunt’.

“Lily?” Jessie was breathless.

“Happy birthday my love!”

“Lily, what have you done?”

“I hired a landscaper to come by your place early and line your walk with roses without waking you! Aren’t they lovely? Roses are always so calming!”

The sliding glass door was beginning to rumble, and Jessie knew it was not due to the howling wind.

“Jessie?”

“You know I hate rose bushes.”

“But they calm you down? I thought it would help you to get out more to be surrounded by soothing plants.”

“They calm YOU down Lily!”

“What have you got against rose bushes?”

Jessie bit down a string of swears as she was hit by the sudden flash back, of her brother pushing her into a thorn bush as a child with his own telekinesis, of the barbs that tore at her skin as he ran away, too scared of reprisal to seek help. She resisted the urge to gaze at the thorns in the bushes lining her path now, tried not to imagine the glinting barbs tearing into her already scarred flesh.

Lily never did get rid of that thorn bush.

“Lily, we talked about this. You’ve violated my space again.”

“How about, ‘Thank you Aunt Lily! For the lovely gift?’”

Jessie sighed.

“I’m coming around later.”

“Lily-”

“Good bye!” She hung up.

Jessie sighed again, “You can do this, just don’t think about it.”

She slid open the door and soldiered out into the gusts, making her way down the path. Was it narrower? No, it was just the crowding rose bushes. She tried to peer through them, to see her soothing images, and instead saw the twisting labyrinth of stems and thorns.

Her chest seized, a stronger gust hit the corridor and she spilled her coffee stumbling off centre. The bushes were twisting, writhing, was that the wind? Or?

No…

She turned as her telekinesis reached out in a misguided attempt to protect her from a perceived threat. The bushes shook in the wind and huddled closer, suffocating her path as she struggled to get back to the house. The stems and tendrils reached out for her, tearing at her gown, her hair, her skin.

She would have screamed if she could draw a breath, if the wind wasn’t billowing into her face. The thorns pulled in closer the more she struggled through, wrapping limbs and strangling her movement.

Just push through, she told herself. Just hold out. Reaching for the handle of the sliding door, with a window pane which rattled. She gripped the latch and tore from the thorns, stumbling into her home in a heap.

Lily found her in the living room that afternoon, dabbing at her fresh, deep gouges with a salve. She winced as each new wound tore deeper into her psyche.

“What happened?”

“I freaked out and-”

“Well dear, you shouldn’t freak out. This is how these things happen.” Lily tutted.

Jessie bit back a retort, swallowing her pride as she dabbed more balm onto her skin.

She would wait for Lily to leave, then burn the bushes down. The fires caught in the winds, engulfing the house too. Jessie made no attempt to flee.

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