**scroll past this lame intro if you want to dive straight into the short story**
The “Deleted Scene” series will be a collection of scenes that do not appear in The Edinön Trilogy. They will contain zero spoilers. What they will provide is a deeper insight into the characters. You don’t have to read the books before reading these to understand what is happening, although they may raise unanswered questions. Deleted scenes narrated by Juan and Kandi will be in first person, like in the books, whereas deleted scenes narrated by secondary characters will be in third person.
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The next “Deleted Scene” will be posted on December 3rd in Jeremy’s (Deinor’s) POV.
Deleted Scene #2:
KANDI: THE WIDOWER
Oct. 31st, 2003 | Salt Lake City, Utah
I did not plan on wearing a costume to school. I walk into the kitchen for breakfast wearing regular clothes, flashes of the previous night’s torture occupying my mind until Mom snaps me out of it:
“Kanidie, where’s your costume?” she asks as she sets my favorite box of cereal on the table.
I sit in one of the chairs and watch her pour the milk and cereal with my chin in my hands. “I don’t have one,” I say morosely, watching the clock’s fork- and spoon-shaped hands tick on the wall to my right.
“Yes, you do. I bought you one yesterday, remember?”
I look up at her. Her blond hair is clipped back, and she is still wearing her silky white robe over her nightgown. I shrug, recalling the day before when she returned home from the store and proudly showed me the princess costume she purchased. “I remember.”
“Why aren’t you wearing it?” Mom asks, pushing the bowl toward me.
I pick up my spoon. “I don’t want to be a princess.”
She tucks her hair behind her ear and sits across from me. “Why didn’t you say so yesterday? I could have taken it back.”
I feel Dad’s knife cutting under my ribs and shiver. “I didn’t want to make you sad.” I swirl my cereal around in the milk.
“Well, you don’t have to go to school for a few hours,” Mom says, checking the clock. “I can exchange the costume for something else. What do you want to be, honey?” She rubs my left hand on the table.
My core cries with visions of pain in my adopted mother’s past. I scoot back from the table to come up for air.
Mom retracts her hand to her chest. “Honey, what’s wrong?”
I remember Dad warning me to say nothing about the pain. I swallow the truth and answer, “Nothing.”
“Did you have another nightmare last night?” Motherly worry moistens her blue eyes.
I cautiously take my first bite of cereal despite the nausea creeping up my esophagus. “Is Dad going to be home tonight?” I ask, ignoring her question and chewing slowly.
She sighs. “Yes, he promised to take you trick-or-treating while I stay home with Traci. Is that okay?” She raises her eyebrows and offers a closed smile.
I force myself to nod.
I wear the pink princess costume to school because I felt guilty about the thought of making Mom go back to the store. She curled my light hair into ringlets, dusted glitter around my eyes, set a plastic crown on my head, and applied flavored gloss to my lips to complete the look. I enter my Kindergarten class at precisely noon, flooded with relief at the sight of the other kids in costumes as or more ridiculous than mine. I won’t stand out as much as I thought.
In fact, with this disguise, I stand out even less than I normally do, since my glowing eyes actually contribute to the costume. I hang my backpack on one of the hooks next to the cubbies and take my seat in the back of the first column of desks just as the bell rings. My teacher, an overweight young woman named Miss Rain, stands from her desk at the front of the room to greet the class.
I notice a few kids staring at me, even from as far as the other side of the room, and shrink in my seat.
“Good morning, class!”
“Good morning, Miss Rain!”
“You all look amazing in your costumes today! I hope you’re ready to play some awesome games we have planned for Halloween. First, we’re going to start with the Pledge of Allegiance. Kandi, would you please lead the class?”
My face flushes with extreme heat, which contrasts sharply with the awful cold lingering under my skin from last night. I stand from my desk and whisper, “Please stand.”
The class stands. A couple of boys elbow each other in front of me and giggle.
I place my hand on my heart and look at the American flag next to the whiteboard. I shakily recite the Pledge of Allegiance and collapse back into my seat, stomach churning.
Miss Rain passes coloring sheets down the rows, and we color a cluster of cartoonish monsters for the next ten minutes. I color the entire page red, as that is the only color I can currently see.
The teacher and her assistant walk by each desk and compliment the pictures before handing the students a piece of candy. When Miss Rain gets to me, she struggles finding the right words.
“You stayed in the lines so well, Kandi,” she says. “Why did you only use one color?”
I stare unblinking at my neatly-colored picture.
She awkwardly moves on when it’s clear I won’t respond, leaving a Jolly Rancher behind.
We eat pizza for dinner. Traci sits on her booster seat tearing her food apart, while I roll mine up and eat it like a burrito. Dad and Mom look at each other and smile. Dad is wearing his customary black suit and tie. Even as a five-year-old, I can tell he is handsome, though his good looks do little to mask the monster within.
“Are you not going to eat?” Mom asks him, gesturing to the pizza.
“Oh, no, I had a big lunch at the hospital,” he says, feigning fullness with his hand on his stomach. He grins at me, green eyes shining. “How was school, Kandi?”
I lick sauce and grease from my lips. “Good.”
“Did anyone compliment your costume?” Mom asks hopefully.
“Mrs. Jackson liked it,” I say, biting into the garlicky crust.
“Are you excited to go trick-or-treating with me?” says Dad, flashing his straight row of white teeth.
The pizza is making me feel better. I think about all the candy I will collect tonight, and my mood marginally elevates above abject despair.
The night air is only slightly crisp, warmer than it has been in a week. Dad takes my gloved hand and leads me down the short walk from our house to the sidewalk lining our side of the street. The neighborhood is already full of children and parents walking to and fro, knocking on doors, and screaming at the animated decorations on the front steps. Dusk brings a stinging chill to my cheeks.
We follow a group of kids going left from my house. Our first stop is the house next door, where Mrs. Busby is handing out candy on her front porch in her cobwebbed rocking chair. Her wrinkly face pulls back in a wide grin when she sees my father, then me ascending the steps.
I look at my father for a signal. He smiles and nods, and I hold out my empty sack. “Trick-or-treat,” I say timidly, reassured only by Dad’s strong hand supporting me. Our neighbor leans forward in her chair, dressed as a wicked witch, and gushes over my costume for half a minute before finally giving me what I came for.
As soon as I acquire the treats, I turn and weave through another group right behind us. Somehow I lose Dad’s hand in the process and look up in fright. He swoops beside me on the grass, grabbing my hand and swinging me forward. I continue my trek down the sidewalk, the brief bout of panic ebbing with each squeeze of my dad’s hand.
On our way to the next house, Dad asks, “Why are you so afraid, sweetheart?”
I glance up at him. I know that he can read my mind; therefore he should know the answer to his question. “People, Dad,” I tell him. My eyes move about the crowd of strangers and friends.
“You have nothing to fear from them,” he says as we turn left again. “You are a princess, and they are your subjects.”
I pull at my sparkly dress. “This costume was your idea, wasn’t it?”
“I thought it would be appropriate.” He chuckles. “Tonight is your chance to be who you really are.”
I ponder that quietly. We walk up to the next house, made of brick and stone with a small, dusty porch and oaken door. If not for the light in the window, I’d assume this house was unoccupied. Dad uses the door-knocker to rap the door thrice before stepping back and waiting with me at his side.
A teenage boy with a ponytail and ratty plaid shirt answers the door.
I am a princess, I remind myself, holding up my bag. “Trick-or-treat,” I say, this time with a smidgen of confidence.
The boy’s smile appears unnatural on his sickly face. His glazed eyes tell me he is probably high. I have cured the condition before, so I know what it looks and feels like. “Here you go,” he says, dumping a Snickers bar into my sack.
“Thank you.” I turn and hop down the steps.
We stop by many more houses, and with each one my confidence grows. I forget about the knife in my chest and feel the weight of my sack with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
Our last visit is at a grumpy old widower’s home four blocks away. He doesn’t answer on the first ring. Dad informs me while we wait that he served in the Vietnam War and lost both legs. Ten years later, he lost his wife to cancer. They had no children. He has been alone ever since.
I feel the sadness approach like a speeding train. The man eventually answers the door, rolling up in his wheelchair.
“I don’t have any candy,” he grumbles around a cigarette balancing precariously on his lower lip. “Go away.”
I look at Dad, fear piercing my heart.
“We did not come for candy,” Dad says, holding the door open for the man. Dad then looks down at me, pointing at the man with his eyes.
I drop my sack as tears fill my eyes and spill over my numb face. “Daddy,” I cry, grabbing his suit coat.
“Go ahead, sweetie,” he says, nudging me to the confused old man.
He might as well have nudged me toward a fiery furnace. Terror freezes my lungs. The ache spreads from my chest to my stomach.
“Come now, it’s getting dark out.”
In spite of how I feel inside, my hand is drawn to pain like a moth to light. I step forward and touch the man’s dry, crooked hand. His grief and loneliness wrack my soul and immediately cripple me. A bitter cold branches from my core and burns in my veins. I curl on my side, long golden ringlets covering my eyes as my temple meets the scratchy welcome mat. I shake like I have never shaken before.
Dad erases the man’s memory of me and carries me home, expressing his pride in my abilities. He takes me straight to bed and lays me under my covers, still in my costume, kissing my forehead goodnight. He whispers to my mom in the hall that I am tired and need to rest.
Hours later, in the dead of night, Dad returns to my bedroom. I wake to the door creaking ajar and sense my father’s aura through the crack.
“Wake up, Kandi,” he says. “Outside.”
I feel as though my head has grown attached to my pillow. I groan.
The cold outside does not nearly compare to the frost prickling in my body. Dad leads me across the damp autumn leaves in the backyard to the shed. We meet Leyla Hendricks under the floorboards as she’s slapping on a pair of medical gloves.
I see the widower whom we met earlier lying unconscious upon one of the metal tables. Dad tells me to strip and lie down.
“You really think she can heal amputated limbs?” Ms. Hendricks asks, arranging the sharp instruments on the mobile tray.
“I don’t have a doubt in my mind,” replies Dad.
Once I am naked, I lie on my back while Dad secures the leather restraints to my wrists and waist. I am encased in a block of ice. My cells are raw. I try summoning power from my core to warm me, but it is too busy dealing with the pain I absorbed at the widower’s house.
“Daddy?” I whimper, tears turning to ice on my face.
He is donning a white coat over his suit. “Don’t worry, honey. We’ll make it quick tonight.”
I envision a better place: an ornate structure sitting in a field of tall, teal grass, illuminated by a velvety tapestry of a billion stars. I feel the soft, silken sheets under my back, the warm fire in the hearth, and flowery breeze wafting through the gossamer curtains. A voice tells me I am home. He tells me I am safe, and I will never feel pain again.
I scream when the ax comes down. I scream like I am trapped in eternal hellfire, no hope on the horizon.
“Heal, Kandi!” Dad calls through the impenetrable mist of misery. “You can heal!”
My core ignites and overflows. White light blasts through the pores in my skin. It fades gradually with the pain. My relief lasts but a moment as I wiggle my freshly-formed toes, interrupted by violent coughing. I melt my restraints and turn over to vomit blood. Blood drips from my hairline, nose, eyes, mouth, and ears, coating my skin and vision in bright, hellish crimson.
“You did it, Kandi!” Dad exclaims. “He can walk again.”
I sob as the hot, metallic liquid seeps from my lips. “Take me home, Daddy!” I cry, lifting my arms. “Please take me home!”
Happy Halloween, everyone! Have a safe, spooky night! 👻