This excerpt is taken from Chapter Eight in The Innamorati when Erminia finds herself in the piazza, watching a performance of the Commedia troupe, the Libertini. She is stunned by the magic of Anna Forseti's masks. And their power incite in her the longing to be fully the fantastic creature that she is, threatening to undo the vow of ten years of silence made to Orpheus, as a way of retrieving the voices of her sisters won by Orpheus in a match. But powerful creatures like Sirens can not hide for long behind a mask and in this intersection of theater, poetry, song, and fantastic masks, Erminia returns to herself with terrible consequences.
...Erminia tensed, as her foster brother Nicolo sidled next to her in the crowd, his breath hot in her ear. He pinched her hard, his rough nails trying to pierce her skin.
Tears welled in her eyes and bled into the tiny spaces between her skin and the rough surface of her mask. Erminia turned to face him and he was leering at her as if glad to see her tears. How small he is, she thought, and pathetic, like a mangy cur. What chance has he to know the ecstasy of sublime love? How easy it would be to bestow that blessing and that curse upon him.
Her briny tears weakened the outer shell of her mask andthe dirty skin split open in a jagged line from her breastbone to her cheek. She inhaled, parting her lips and the skin tore over her mouth, her nose, and her forehead, the radiance of her white skin blistering through the dissolving husk. Wind blew the tangled hair out of her face, and her eyes blazed sapphire.
Terror leapt into his face. He struggled to turn away but she grabbed him by the bosom of his shirt, and held him. Her eyes bore into the shallow well of his heart. Now will I sing for you! she thought, drunk with the dust of the masks' magic.
Sound boiled in her throat, filled the cavern of her mouth, pressed against her teeth. She tilted her head back and released one long note in a thin stream of blue light. Somewhere between the tines of her back¬bone she mourned her broken silence, her broken vow. But the flowing sound scraped the hard crust of loneliness from her skin like the sea tearing the mussels from the rocks.
Once freed, Erminia could no more swallow her voice into silence than she could stop the arms of the moon from pulling the sea every night to the shore. It had been wrong to hide it. Silence was a curse laid on a curse. Read more >>>
Photo by Spanish photographer Cristina Otero