Legal Theft: Welcome Back

She blinked. Then she filled her empty lungs. The air went down rough at first, her chest rising from the granite slab with a clumsy start.

A cacophonous thunder swelled around her and she jerked upwards, staring out over her audience. Her breathing came fast and unthinking now as she stared around the auditorium and the hundreds of people clapping for her.

Except they were not. Blinking again in the bright lights of the stage, her eyes finally focused on the person standing next to the granite altar. The applause was for him, the man standing between her and the dark crowd. He bowed to them, his crimson robes swirling over the tips of sleek leather shoes.

She stared at him, and the swath of people beyond him, and then the legs peeking out beneath the white shift she wore. Her legs. All of it was strange.

The crowd fell silent. She looked up at the sudden silence to find him turned to her and holding out a hand. His face was angular and lined, grey fanned from his temples into the rest of his dark hair.  He held out a scarred hand. “Welcome back My Love.”

Their audience held the breath they’d been keeping, waiting for her to move. She looked at his hand, feeling her hollow stomach begin to rebel. But the silence stretched and she caught a twitch of something dangerous in the strange man’s eyes.

Knowing nothing except the unpleasant depth to his gaze, she accepted his hand. The man pulled her off the altar and caught her deftly when she stumbled on her unfamiliar feet. “Smile.” He whispered, his breath tenderly at her ear.

It was as jarring as her first breath, but she pushed the corners of her lips into shape. The man smiled and held her close as the crowd erupted into a storm of noise.

A thief always, but especially today as I have stolen the first line She Blinked from the slightly more than moderately mad.