Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 2.36
Welcome to the Mid-Week Blues-Buster Flash Fiction Challenge, Year 2, Week 36.
This is a flash fiction challenge. The prompt is a song. You are not required to write about or even mention the song. It’s there only to get the ideas moving around in your brain pan. If you want to write about the song (or the video- it’s all good here) go for it but don’t feel like you have to.
500 words, but it’s a slushy 500, meaning you can go up to 700 or as low as 300.
Post your entry right in the comments section of this post.
MAKE SURE TO PUT YOUR TWITTER HANDLE NEXT TO YOUR WORD COUNT AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR POST. IF YOU’RE NOT ON TWITTER GIVE ME AN EMAIL ADDRESS OR SOME OTHER WAY TO GET A HOLD OF YOU!
The challenge starts whenever I post this on Tuesday and ends at MIDNIGHT PACIFIC TIME on Friday. You read that right. Pacific Time.
We’re going to switch gears on the tone & tenor of the song prompt this week.
This week, we’ll be writing to the ethereal, fae-kissed music of neo-pagan band Tuatha Dae.
The song is, “Long Black Curl”. Here’s the link; http://youtu.be/4R8HJYUXw4A
This week’s Judge… well, she needs no introduction. Who else would be judging the stories inspired by this tune?
Straight from the mouth of the Wombat Cannon… it’s the Dark Fairy Queen herself… Anna Meade!
The challenge opens the moment you read this post and runs through MIDNIGHT PACIFIC TIME on Friday February 6th.
Now… Go write!!!!! (This means you, my lost, lamented MWBB regulars!)
Posted on February 3, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.
Darkness envelops me in its warmth, the shadows calling me I drown in its embrace. I avoid mirrors these days because my reflection jeers, bitterness etched in my face. A long black curl in my sheets grabs my attention, one of my conquests too many to mention. It would of being a woman back in the day, and I’d smile and probably in her scent, lay. These days it’s from the dog still sleeping like a log. I smile sardonically, woe is me, what used to stand up and open the door now stares mournfully at the floor.
I pick up the curl and let it carry back to yesteryear, to a face I still hold dear.
She was my fountain of youth, stopped me from being a brute. She kept all my demons at bay from her I never let my mind stray. Now that she’s gone I chase my darker days, drug induced, I’m constantly in a haze. No longer areas of grey just black or white and I hide from the light.
The long back curl has caused my emotions to unfurl. She would have hated seeing me like this, would have said I was taking the piss. Today at some stage I’ll cut, just so for that moment, this memory I can shut. I’m too much of a coward to end it all but revel in watching the blood fall. See, she died running away from me, trying to remove her vision of me, me, wrapped around our friend, both nearing the end.
Her face I’ll never forget, it makes my pillows wet. I’m torturing myself daily, memories haunt gaily. The car flung her into the air blood matted her long back hair.
She was an angel, a sweet soul she’d hate me drowning in this hole. I hope she has forgiven me but I’ll never know so I live in misery.
Around my head emotions twirl, brought on by one long black curl, I am forever bound, searching for relief that’s not to be found.
word count 341
don’t know what this is?
When darkness falls, I am free from you. In the light of day I’m trapped and must do everything you do, echo every move you make, mimic you. So you don’t know, so you can’t tell, so you won’t see the truth of me.
When darkness falls, I am free to move on my own. Without you.
Tonight, there is no moon, the sky is black, the stars are hidden behind the clouds of a storm. There are no shadows anywhere. I am free to move, walk, run, crawl, jump and dance.
In the darkness, I am free.
I wait beside you, on your bed, as you read stories of space ships engaged in magnificent battles, of fighters zinging through the vacuum, guided by heroes. I wait until you’ve had enough, and can’t hold your book up any longer. I wait as you lift your hand, and flip the switch on your bedside lamp, and the room goes dark.
And I am free.
I start by moving down the side of the bed, to the floor. I walk beneath you, looking up into the box springs, checking where the covers touch the carpet, Slip beneath the cedar chest at the foot of the bed, but nothing’s there.
Beneath and behind the chest of drawers, I find nothing. I didn’t expect to. If they are here, they will wait, hidden, until I leave the room, then they will come out, and whisper in your ear as they twist your dreams.
I check behind your bookcase, beneath your desk and chair. I carefully examine the pile of clothing you collect in the corner of the room each week, and the miscellaneous items, mail, papers, empty soda cans, and other things, you leave randomly scattered through your room and still I find nothing.
I slide beneath your closet door, into the dark world inside. I check the corners of the room, the insides of your shoes and boots, and the box of wrapping paper, looking for any signs of them. I find none.
I slip back into your room and stand at the foot of your bed, “I wonder where they are hidden tonight.” I consider staying in the room, standing guard all night. It is the only way to make certain they don’t twist your dreams. But I can’t stay. Freedom calls me. It drags me away.
Through the door, down the hall, to the living room, where my family members wait for me. My father shares the story of his battle last night, against one of them. He found it hidden beneath your father’s pillow. He shows us the new notch on his sword’s hilt, “Another one that didn’t get away.”
My mother hugs him, “My hero.” She kisses him. He blushes.
My sister suddenly looks nervous, “I haven’t checked beneath her pillow!” She dashes from the room, racing to your sister’s room. She draws her sword as she runs down the hall.
If they have hidden beneath your pillow, I will have to deal with them when I return to your room. For now, I stay with my parents. We walk to the front porch, then the foot of the driveway. It’s time to visit the neighbors. More of us, from each house along the street. We gather in the street each night, and tell our tales of glorious battles with the demons of the dark. I find I like visiting the girl three houses north of yours. I like her smile. And her growing curves. I especially like holding her hand, and dancing to the music of the birds singing in the night.
I never will forget the first night she kissed me.
Too soon, it ends. Dawn will arrive shortly. We have to return to our duties. I have to return to you.
I slip into your room, my sword drawn and ready. I sigh with relief as I see no shapes beside you, nothing whispering in your ear. I slide beneath the covers, and I wait for you to wake. And when you rise in a few short minutes, I’ll be your shadow once again.
I found myself hopelessly lost. A trip that should have taken fifteen minutes had now lasted more than an hour. When I lost the trail, I tried to back track toward home, but it was as if the living woods closed its door behind me to selfishly keep me for herself. I had walked the trail to my aunt’s house a thousand times and twice with my eyes closed. With night falling soon, I knew I would be in trouble should I not find my way.
I closed my eyes and listened hard for the creek. I knew if I could find the water then I could rediscover the trail. My ears strained for the familiar sound of giggling waters, but instead they caught something else from the gentle winds. Music. Confused, I opened my eyes.
There weren’t any homes between mine and my aunt’s. Furthermore, no one ventured into these virgin woods this time of year. The height of spring brought all sorts of beasties from their lairs to fill their starved bellies. I closed my eyes once more to catch the melody.
It was soft and hard to distinguish. Maybe it was always there, much like the crickets’ song that becomes apparent once you focus on it. Then again, maybe it was something new. I had to find where it was coming from, and I set my foot toward mission.
With each step, the song grew. I could place fiddles. Then guitars. Each step added a layer to the music and an increase in the volume. Before long there were mandolins and tambourines to the symphony. I unconsciously smiled at the upbeat and joyful sound coming from somewhere in my woods. The drive to find the source was overpowering.
I came upon a tiny clearing. In all the years of exploring here, I don’t believe I’d come across this place before. The music was soaring. And, ah! The ladies voices did ring so! I crept closer to the open space between the trees. Suddenly, I realized a figure was standing there. A man. His back was to me, and I inched closer. He was standing with casual posture and his head bent down. It appeared that all the music was coming from the man.
I approached with caution. “Uh’low?” I said, trying to keep from startling him.
He turned, and was he a vision. Unlike anything I’d seen before, certainly. Soft brown waves of hair swooped across his brow. Deep chocolate eyes caught mine. His clothes were odd and the plaid’s weave was an unfamiliar pattern. Certainly he was from no clan nearby.
He held in his hands a tiny box. I looked hard at it and realized that it was the source of the music. All the instruments, all the voices, all the emotions were somehow contained inside that box. Wide-eyed, I felt caution fall away. I walked into the clearing. The man didn’t move. He just looked at me as deliberately as I looked at him. Neither of us sure what to make of the other.
Then suddenly he spoke. “Peigi.”
I flinched when he spoke my name. How did he know me? Who was this man?
Without warning, everything started to fade. The music fell away, and the colors drained like a ruined watercolor canvas.
“PEIGI! WAKE UP!”
My brother came into focus before my eyes. The only thing I was able to take with me from what I’d experiened was the drive to find the unknown music and the stranger who owned it.
“Ye’ve hit yer head. Let’s go back inside.”
Head still swimming from what must have been a dream, I let my brother guide me by my shoulders back to my home. I turned for a moment to look back over my shoulder. If my beautiful stranger was still in the woods, I would find him.
Dark clouds hung low, ominous and menacing. It looked like a low ceiling, with too many people in a room. Clarissa flicked her eyes toward the sky, and gathered her jacket tighter around her body.
“Looks like it’s going to be a lovely day,” she said.
“How do you figure?” Johnny’s tone held more than a bit of incredulity. “The weather man give you hope?”
They strolled through the mist on the wharfs in Downtown San Francisco. The sound of their footsteps against the wood planks echoed, and the bark of sea lions returned welcome.
Stepping to the railing, she gazed out into the unknown. Beside her, Johnny’s warmth and friendship offered a soothing companionship. He had a good thing with Clyde, and she hoped he was able to stay in this country and not go back to India.
Moisture settled on her skin, and she lifted her face, letting it wash her fears away. “You see the light out there on the horizon?” she asked. “The slightest glimmer of sunshine?”
Johnny followed her pointing finger. “Sorry hon, but I don’t see it.”
“Weather is transitory. What we have now, will change. The winds are blowing, and soon this cloud cover will pass, and the sky will lighten.”
He placed a hand on her arm. “Are you talking about the weather, or your relationship?”
“Maybe a little a bit of both,” she said, “but sometimes there is only so much control we have.”
Laughter sounded behind them, and they turned to watch a school bus filled with children let out. Giggling, the kids skipped down the pier, excited for the adventure.
With a shrug of his shoulders, Johnny said, “Maybe we can’t control it, but we do get to make decisions. We can wear a jacket, or bring an umbrella. We can protect ourselves. We don’t have to be controlled by the weather, or the people we love.”
Clarissa felt the smile on her lips, but not in her heart. She didn’t want to think about the loves she’d had, and lost. She’d made her life complicated, and she possessed the power to un-complicate it—only so much.
“Easy for you to say. You have a great relationship with Clyde.”
“Now, but it hasn’t always been like that, and we still have our moments. Some days … well, let’s just say that some days are like a hurricane watch. I’m on edge to what’s going to happen.
“Plus, I’m not the one involved with two people. You made things extra hard.”
A blanket of pain engulfed her heart, and squeezed. Every time she paused what she was doing and thought about them, let herself feel, it hurt. “Ready to move on?” she asked. “I need to get a glass of wine.”
It’s been a long time, but it feels like nothing’s changed. The shadows fall across the street, stretching their dark fingers, reaching, grasping at nothing. The lone stop light swings lazily across the town’s main road.
She shoves her hands deeper into her pockets. Her spine tingles. She can’t shake the feeling of being watched. The windows of the run-down storefronts she passes reveal nothing as the late afternoon sun reflects off them. But she imagines stony faces stare out at her, recognizing, remembering, resenting.
Everything looks the same, and there’s no hint of the decade and more than have passed since she’s stood here. The thought is both comforting and frightening.
Resolutely, she ducks her head and wills her feet to go forward instead of turning back and running far away as she’d like to. She’s determined.
At the end of the street she turns and makes her way down the tree-lined street she’s been down a thousand times before. The familiarity only makes her hands shake, and she shoves them further into her pockets. Her palms damp as they strain and slide against the fabric.
She can do this. She must do this. She’s repeated this to herself at least once every minute since her train arrived. It seemed much easier when she was on the edge of town. Now that she’s almost there, she’s not so sure.
Before she has time to test her thinly stretched resolve, she’s standing in front of the old red brick house. It’s stately and solid, and beautiful. And it’s a testament to everything in this world she fears. If these walls could talk…
She pushes that thought down and takes a deep breath as she approaches the front door. With trembling fingers, she presses the doorbell, uttering a silent but conflicted prayer that no one will answer the chimes she hears echoing through the hallway.
But her prayer goes unanswered as the door swings open. A tiny gray-haired woman greets her with a wide-eyed and disbelieving stare.
She tries to smile, but she’s trembling so badly, she’s sure it looks forced. “Hi, Grandma,” she says quietly. She attempts a little half wave, but her hand flutters uselessly in front of her.
The woman’s eyes turn hard, and her expression slides from surprised to hostile. “What are you doing here?”
There will be no formalities, apparently.
“I…” She’s unsure what to say. “Surely you knew I’d come when I heard… Can I come in?” Never in a million years would she have believed she’d be asking for admittance back into this place. It feels like a waking nightmare.
The woman considers her for a moment, her hard eyes appraising her. Finally, she nods once.
A mixture of terror and relief flood through her as the old woman lets her past.
If the sight of the house, or the town, or even her grandmother were too much, they hold nothing compared to the scent that bowls her over as she steps into the front room of the house she once called her own. It’s the smell of her childhood, and it brings tears to her eyes.
For a moment she wants so badly for this to be her home again, to be welcomed. For the past fifteen years to have just been a horrible nightmare. But the cold look from her grandmother brings her back to reality.
She follows her down the long hallway to the sitting room located at the back of the house. It’s silent, but it doesn’t matter. The blood rushing in her ears is deafening.
Nothing about the room has changed. The late afternoon sun streams through the windows and falls upon the large rectangular box occupying the middle of the room. It’s an old fashioned tradition, but one she’s not surprised they’ve upheld.
She approaches the box, heart pounding. He’s still. Serene even. But she can’t help fearing he’s going to jump up and grab her at any moment. The logical part of her knows he’ll never hurt her again. But the scared little girl inside her is terrified. That little girl will never fully escape this monster. Even as he lies before her in his homemade coffin.
700 words (not including title)
Narrow, dark green leaves coupled with deep pink flowers, rustled in the breeze above his head and Isaac’s chest softly rose and fell. Heavy, rheumy eyes, tinged pink with fatigue, fluttered open and through a glassy haze he gazed. Orange sunlight flooded the bower, as scattered evening sunbeams danced upon the flora, and a whisper lightly waltzed through the expectant crowd.
Isaac stroked the silken coverlet overdressed with gossamer lace, with gnarled, freckled hands and felt his heart whimper beneath his ribs. Time was running out.
Deep beneath the trees that surrounded his bower, whispers made it to his ears and he chuckled, a coughing and half choking sound that alarmed his family and made him want to laugh all the more. His muscles ached, a fever left him barely the right side of conscious, and his heart fluttered like the butterfly that settled on the clusters of pink flowers above his pillow. He closed his eyes and courted the sigh that rippled in response.
He felt a hand, a strong hand, grip his. The warmth of the hand pumped life into his cold fingers and his heart raced, leaping and bounding within the cage of ribs. His other hand was grasped with the same vigour, as his other son lifted his father’s hand to his lips and kissed it gently. Not to be outdone the first son placed a kiss on his father’s hand too and gently plumped the duckling down pillow behind his head.
As the two sons fought to outshine each other the sun slipped below the horizon and took its gold light with it. The moon’s silver touched the trees and sent glittering rays through the canopy. As Isaac opened his eyes again, he shook away his sons and painfully lifted his hands to his face. He rubbed his eyes and gazed across the glade.
Despite the warring clans, the neighbouring fae had sent an honourable representative and he stood beneath the sweet oleander and holly trees. He stood tall and unwavering and accompanied by his young wife. Isaac smiled, and nodded in recognition and then gazed at his sons.
Two golden-haired boys sat either side of him, both tight-lipped and taut, and instead of watching him they watched each other with glares of righteous arrogance.
Isaac sighed and both sons turned to stare, breath bated, hands again gripping his tight. Their expectant gaze vexed the fairy-king and he decided the choice would not be made.
He cleared his throat and watched the greed and hunger pool in their eyes, before averting his and speaking softly. He spoke so softly the boys had to lean in close to hear. They both sprang away in disbelief dropping their father’s hands like hot coals.
Isaac lifted his heavy head and touched his beard. His fingers ran through the thick grey hair, and he let out a laugh. He beckoned across the dell and the young fae knight dressed in embroidered silver frowned and stepped forward.
“Not you…” croaked the king, “Your wife…”
His wife, not yet out of her teens, started like a deer and fingered her long ebony locks in nervous unease. Isaac nodded and she stepped lightly across the grass to his mossy bed.
She held out her hand as the king again ran his through his beard. “Your hair,” he murmured, “black as the night, ebony like the raven, as dark as mine once was.”
She nodded, anxiety clouding her face.
“You’re as beautiful as your mother, and not a product of your unseeded father…” He chuckled coarsely. “My sons can fight, can gouge each other’s eyes out, but neither are worthy of my crown. You, my dear, are married to an honest man, a man who can bring peace to the vale. And as my crown once sat upon my head of curls, it will spend its days upon your long black curls… It is fitting, young Daphne, that, along with my crown, the fragrant clusters above my head are yours, sweet daughter…”
As the dark, burnt orange colour of the rock turned to a lighter shade with the rise of the sun, Ariel took in the magnificence of it. She’d started out early when the sky was just turning into dark blue velvet, and crossed the place where foolish people dared to climb it as a hint of light broke the horizon. She wanted to avoid the tourists and take in the sacred place, breathe its scent and hear its whispers without any manmade disturbance.
She watched its changing surface as the sun took up its dazzling blaze, and paused in her walk every now and then to observe the different markings etched into its fabric, wondering at their intention and meaning. A part of her knew; they were engrained in her soul as part of a previous life, but it was like a wisp in her memory, she couldn’t quite catch it. She saw the tendrils of the idea and tried to follow it, but it disappeared in the haze.
Then she saw it, a waterhole right up against the surface, washing it clean of the rust that had aged it and revealing its youthful silver beneath; the gleaming reality of the mountains soul. Ariel stood mesmerised, and a part of her opened inside, revealing the memories she’d lost as a child.
Then the sound reached her, the music of her childhood – but not in this lifetime. She looked up to the sound and saw him standing on a shelf in the rock, the didgeridoo deftly balanced close to the edge. He took a pause from playing and looked down at her, waving. She waved back, filled with eagerness and wanting. Then he beckoned and she looked around, wondering how she could possibly reach him.
Ariel saw the opening, behind the tree, it looked nothing more than a crevice, but when she drew closer she saw the ground had been well trodden. She followed the path that led through it, the tunnel ever bright with the light at the end, which turned out to be a clearing inside, an expanse of ground enclosed by the surrounding rock, but open to the sky.
He was there, waiting for her. He held out his hand and she took it, running into his arms, a daughter greeting her father from another lifetime. She was home.
Ties That Bind
‘Tis not often the heir to the throne goes lurking about in the hedges but the heir in question is no stranger to hedges and in this case, and for the first time, his hedge hopping intentions are honorable.
The evening is littered with stars and heavy with honeysuckle. The heir, Fergus McCormack, crouches in the ample shadows afforded by a sturdy hedge, his attention focused on a door at the head of the alley.
At precisely fifteen minutes before midnight, the door opens and a raven haired satyress emerges, the pleasant clatter of her hooves echoing on the blacktop. She crosses the street and moves down the sidewalk, her gait smooth and unfettered.
When she reaches the dark beneath the burned out streetlight, he steps from his hiding place and greets her. “Good evening, Aisling.”
She startles, sidles towards the curb, her whinny high and shrill.
He bows and holds his ground. “Calm yourself, my lady. I mean no harm.”
“You did when last I saw you. You made a drunken pass at me. At your uncle’s funeral, no less.”
“Still angry after all these months? The funeral was unavoidable, the drunkenness necessary, but the pass … well, that was the most genuine fifteen seconds of my life.”
She prances away, legs and hooves restless, eyes darting behind him to the open park. “My sisters are hunting for you.”
“They had only to come to my door to find me.”
She tosses her head and her long chestnut ponytail shakes free of its band. “In any case, I can’t talk to you. They wouldn’t like it.”
“This doesn’t concern them. A moment more of your time is all I need.”
“Nothing’s ever that simple with you, Fergus.”
“One spell. On my honor.”
“To what purpose?”
“Truth between us.”
“It’s not my truth I hide from you,” she says, leaning in.
“Ah. It is another’s truth that thwarts me. And that complicated truth is the reason your
sisters hold fast to their deceit concerning me?”
She nods. “They will not relent.”
“Will you? But already I have your answer. You are still here. Trust me yet a while longer. Let me speak the binding spell and leave you to interpret the results as you will.”
“I know what it will say.”
He pauses, lets her words hang in the midnight air, watches the breeze toy with the dark hair of her head, mane, and tail. “There was a seelie fox in the unseelie henhouse.”
She lifts her face to his and her eyes glitter with fury – or perhaps tears – but her voice is steady. “It is as you say. I am my mother’s disgrace.”
“You are no such thing,” he says, tucking an unruly curl behind her ear, his touch more chaste than his intentions. “You are the queen your people need. Dark and light dance in your veins. That is strong blood. Would be a shame to deny its power. When you are ready to access it, you know where to find me. Until then, I’ll be up to my ears in protocol and paperwork.”
Her fingers clasp his wrist. “You’re leaving?”
He put his hand over hers. “Nothing I’d rather do more than stay and chat but my advisors have me on a tight schedule. Another month to settle my uncle’s estate and then we’ll be ready to file my claim to the throne.”
She breaks away and looks at her feet. “Oh, I thought -”
Now. Now he can indulge himself but just for a moment. He presses his cheek to hers, inhales her scent, and steps back. “Goodnight, my lady. May your dreams be sweet.”
He takes several steps down the sidewalk before turning to look back at her.
Still off guard, she waves to him, all pretense of decorum and deceit forgotten, and heads into the park on two beautiful and utterly human legs.
He smiles to himself and allows himself to daydream about a future more promising than ascending the throne.
– – – – – – – – – –
@bullishink / 670 words
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