Something Blue

“Something old, something new,” Lively intoned, letting her fingers complete the work while she hummed the rhyme. She folded up her spare shirt and tucked it into her rucksack. A frayed scarf and copper necklace followed it as Lively mouthed the spell’s words, “something borrowed, something blue.”

Lively twirled a coil of her hair around her finger as she eyed the bag. It was barely half-full, sagging on the straw cot Lively shared with her sister. There was nothing else to pack. Everything else Lively owned, she wore now. Her canvas work pants and thick-soled shoes would do well on the road, the warm flannel shirt would hold off the chill when she wasn’t with her new husband.

They were set to leave this morning, before the sun could rise behind the clouds and turn the black night into another grey day. The harvest would continue then, after she left the neat rows of pear trees and near-wild blackberry patches behind for others to work. Lively’s betrothed was anxious to get back to his home.

“A sixpence in your shoe.” She finished the rhyme with a small huff of breath. The spell was supposed to bring a bride luck, a silly assortment of words to protect Lively as she left her fields for his chugging factories and ruins of the old world. Lively pursed her lips and grabbed the strap of her rucksack. It was light. There was room for more.

Whatever a sixpence was, Lively wanted more assurance than a whispered rhyme to an empty cot and a near-empty rucksack. She took the pack with her and left the cabin. The new morning air tasted wet and the path was dark, but Lively knew the way to Ozair’s workshop well.

Flash Fiction: She Soared

She soared, barging out the front door and taking the building’s stoop with a single leap. Her yellow high-tops hit the sidewalk so hard the ache echoed up into her ankles. Above her, two stories up, a bare-chested man leaned out the window to holler down, “Baby, don’t be like that.”

She raised her chin to the sky and the rumpled man ruining her view of the blue expanse and the downtown towers. The people sharing her sidewalk turned their attention towards the brewing storm on the pavement. She basked in it, knowing he’d bake. Words coiled on her tongue.

She bit them back. She’d save her sinning for someone who’d appreciate it, use it to warm a bed they wouldn’t bring another into. Silently, she snapped her heels behind her and started walking, the bounce of her steps sending her sundress swishing around her hips. The afternoon wind lifted her hair, sunning the back of her neck.

She swished away and he called after her, “Baby– .” The bystanders waited a moment longer to see if they’d get their show. They never did. The block ended, she turned, and they never saw her again.

Music Challenge time again, Raw Rambles asked me to write something to or inspired by Lake Street Drive’s Saving All My Sinning. This is what I wrote, see her’s here. 

Flash Fiction: The Hocus

Usually, Momo didn’t have to press her way through a crowd. Carrying a gleaming, sometimes bloody, machete typically cleared a quick path. No elbowing necessary. But the rolling sea of unwashed bodies around Momo did not shy from the metal covering her face, or the wrapped blade on her back.

Someone bumped hard into her shoulder, Momo snarled beneath her mask and lashed out. The offender left a grimy blood stain across her pauldron but continued their gape-mouthed stumble forward, wheezing and transfixed on the distant stage. Momo blinked. She was unused to this kind of invisibility.

No one recoiled or winced or refused to look at the twisted metal obscuring her features, she was just another person to shove as everyone pressed themselves forward against the makeshift stage. Any fear was gone, replaced with a blind and growing fervor for whatever was about to appear on the cobbled-together stage.

A group of hooded people finally broke from the crowd. The bottoms of their pale robes were heavy with mud as they climbed the stage. From their ranks, a short woman emerged. The crowd surged with a collective inhale, breathing out mutters of Always.

White cloth draped off the shelf of her breasts and clung to the wide arches of her hips. This woman, called Always if the chanting of the crowd could be trusted, raised her hands to the sky. She kept her eyes locked across the swelling crowd at her feet though, gazing down at the crowd like a mother at her precocious children. Some of the masses reached grimy hands towards the pristine hem ruffling her brown toes. They were kicked back by the woman’s hooded handmaidens.

“We have a guest tonight.” At Always’ words, silence bound the crowd. The white drapped woman breathed in the hush, a smile unrolling in her curved lips. “From Haven. From the wolves.”

Always lowered an arm to point through the crowd, drawing a line between herself and Momo. The crowd parted from that line, spreading space between them. Always smiled. Momo’s eyes darted behind her mask, searching for a break in the crowd that didn’t lead to the stage.

“Welcome Momo. ” Always’ leaned forward and swept a look over the crowd, weighing their shifting unease and its potential. Her eyes locked back to the sockets on Momo’s mask. “Grab her.”

UnSTABle Wounds

Getting stabbed hurts very much, and then if you are lucky, surprisingly very little.  The thin knife hadn’t even chipped a rib, but had slipped the hairsbreadths between his vital abdominal organs, quick in, smooth out.  Despite this,  and the doctors telling him so, Lark did not feel lucky.

Instead, Lark emerged from each painkiller induced haze with distinct unease. This anxiety was only sharpened by the indignity of his scratchy hospital gown and the grating noise emanating from the room’s television. Lark suspected the daytime programming was switched on by vindictive nurses while he slept, retribution for his own unquiet displeasure at being in their charge.

It wasn’t enough that strangers had invaded Lark’s home, attempted to kill Lark’s wife, whom he was fairly attached to, and placed him bedridden at the whim of humorless doughy-faced nurse staff. Lark wished any of that had been the strangest thing to happen this week.  No, it was the conversations after those events, which left him wondering how much he really knew about anything.

As they weaned him off the drugs, the hours between his visitors stretched longer and the malaise pressed more acutely with every solitary minute. In these gaping moments, left with nothing but the long abandoned book in his lap and the pallid green wall across from his bed, Lark began to wonder once again how much of what happened he’d built up around himself, fueled by an admittedly impressive amount of self-importance.

In those long nighttime hours, Lark came to the conclusion that either he or the world was dangerously unstable. Neither was good, but one was decidedly better for him.

Lark sniffed at the empty wall and pressed a palm to his bandaged side. Tomorrow he’d speak to Arianna about finding him a hotel. He’d still be alone with his thoughts, but free from daytime television.

Practiced Excuses

“It’s not my fault, there was a sale.”

Lane lifted her nose from the textbook. Her mother’s voice murmured something else from the bedroom, muffled from across the mobile home. “Mom?” Lane asked aloud. There was no answer so Lane abandoned her homework on the kitchen table.

The scratched laminate crackled under her diminutive weight as she padded over to the ajar door. Inside her mother practiced excuses in front of the mirrored closet. “I’m going to return most of it anyway,” she cooed, running a hand down the front of her pearl-buttoned blouse.  Shopping bags covered the bunched coverlet on the bed.

“Who are you talking to?” Lane asked.

Her mother jumped, hand vibrating over her heart. She pursed her lips when she saw Lane. “Baby. What the hell? You need to stop sneaking around like that.”

Lane stepped half into the room. She flicked her eyes to the bags and new clothes.

“There was a sale, and it’s been forever since I’ve done anything for myself. I’ve been so busy taking care of you. But I got you something.” Her mother grabbed one of the shopping bags and brandished it at Lane, the woman’s gray eyes fever bright and dilated. Lane didn’t move, though her expression crumbled. Her mother huffed and dropped the bag. “And you’re always ungrateful.”

Lane’s fingers went white and bloodless curled around the bedroom door. “There’s no food in the kitchen mom. There hasn’t been any in days.  How much did all this cost and what are you on? Ms. Alders–.”

Her Mother interrupted her with a furious wide eyed stare, like an enraged bull. “–Your caseworker can’t tell me how to be a mother. I’ve seen her handbag and those Coach boots, who’s she to tell me what I can spend my money on? I’ll just explain.” Lane’s mother went back to the mirror, smoothing her blouse again and angling her narrow chin at her own reflection.

Lane watched the woman mutter agitated replies to some unknown critic before Lane gave up, massaging blood back into her fingers and leaving the bedroom.

Flash Fiction: A Celadon Escape

Thick sunlight permeated all corners the salvage yard, shimmering above the towers of shining metal and cracked rubber in waves. I sagged against one of the rickety piles. The twisted frame of an old car door dug into my spine as I hid from the noon sun. The bit of shade was worth the discomfort.

Not so far off, but barely audible over the grating hum of the machines through which the industrial offal was made useful again, Alan argued with the yard’s owner. It didn’t sound like the negotiation was going well for us, but it was hard to tell. Everything was hazy amidst the bloody tang of iron. The smell was baked into the dust at my feet and the air in my lungs.

The arguing stopped. Alan rounded the scrap tower, his steps clipped and full of a nervous energy I’d never seen before. I smiled at him vacantly, which only caused Alan’s nostrils to flare with worry. “I’m fine,” I muttered, abashment pulling more color into my face than the sun could.

Alan pulled me from my hiding spot to where the yard’s owner drove over a mud-splattered junker. Painted celadon-green beneath the dirt, the car didn’t look as if it could get us out of the lot, and certainly not the hundreds of miles we needed to put between us and this place.

He leaned me into the passenger’s seat, ignoring the narrowed-eyed suspicion of the man who’d sold us the car. Money exchanged hands and Alan swung himself into the driver’s seat. The engine started with a wheeze that shook the car, but it started. I breathed deeply when we passed under the barbed-wire gate, and more easily when the dappled shadows of the forest overtook the road.

A weird piece from a fun Wordle Prompt. Make sure to check out Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie‘s other prompts as well.

Flash Fiction: A Dry Brand

She almost didn’t answer the call.  The singsong chime cut through the other audio playing from the speakers, interrupting both her game and the show playing in the background. While she found the small application easily enough, with its window vibrating eagerly on her screen, Sara hovered her mouse over the red hang up button.

It wasn’t that she disliked Bell. They were friends of the odd rare sort Bell allowed herself. Sara enjoyed Bell’s stark and off-putting honesty, often simply for the novelty of it.  But the other girl never called to say hi or propose anything normal, and Sara had a CS final project to procrastinate about and little time for Bell’s dry brand of shenanigans.

She pressed the green button instead.”Hey, Bell.”

“Hello,” Bell’s voice, without video, sounded buffeted from the computer speakers. Sara suspected Bell was hovering her chin too close to her phone. “I need a rifle.”

Sara rolled her eyes. Alone in her dorm room, no one saw. “Of course you do. Do I get to know what for?” There was a pause on the other end of the call.

“To shoot someone with,” Bell said.

Sara pursed her lips and exhaled through her nose. That had been a stupid question, not because it was inherently vapid to want know what someone was doing with high-power sniper rifle you illegally procured for them, but because Sara had expected a sensible and un-literal answer from Bell. “Sure. Send me what you want, I’ll see what I can do.”