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: Good and Bad Children

They warned against wandering in the willowwacks. The great rises of wood, fen, and moss-covered stone held dangers for the lone adult, more for an underfed child. But she was a sharp and foolish creature, not yet consigned to being a small thing in a great and terrible world.

Their warnings were routinely crafted and deployed, figments to entangle her with the dreaded lesson of or else. The good children escaped the shadows between the trees, clever yet always abstractly obedient, the bad ones did not, and were rarely mourned.

But she was more cunning than most children, and some adults, and could see the webs they wove with their stories. Be good, be kind, be obedient. All qualities that benefited them more often than her. Soon, she began to wonder if circles of ghosts, their eyes liquid with need, really convened beneath the trees. Or if worst creatures really jumped between the curls of mist, metal glinting beneath their hoods as they lured children astray with memories of chocolate and butter.

She was sure she could resist both, having tasted neither.

The willowwack’s fog and trees and glens were great towering things, that could bestow a quick death at the bottom of a swamp, or draw a long one of wandering starvation between the endless black trunks, or a lingering addled end from the yellow air that rested along the ground, but those fates came for both good and bad children.

It was with this in mind she watched the fog veiled trees of the willowwacks, with neither reverence or challenge. As other children strove to be good, lest the metal wolves and ghosts pluck their minds away in the night, or darted as close to the dark trunks as they would dare, shrieking all the while, she contented herself with being right. At least until her shoulders grew strong enough for a pack, and her legs long enough to climb the moss covered stone.

Wrote this one from Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s Wordle Prompt. 

 

Flash Fiction: We Move Lightly

We are of a different kind. Unlike others that spread over the ice, and mud, and into their sprawling clay hovels and towers of metal and glass, whose births and deaths come and go in mere cycles of the sun, a simple exhale of our breath may summon hurricanes. Our steps sink deep into the shifting snow and hit the ground beneath. They exist blinded and swathed by snow, never knowing or touching the earth below it.

Do not hold yourself above them, we matter no more than these quick-lived beings. The value of a life is not measured in its length. Instead, watch where your steps will land and understand the weight with which they do.

They are lucky, and may throw themselves into passions and down many paths, dipping about like swallows on summer winds.  We must be cranes, still and deliberate lest our steps upset the waters.

So, my daughters, as you leave the cradle of our realm to walk amidst them, be kind if you can, and harsh if you must, but move lightly.

For this weeks Music Challenge, I asked Raw Rambles to write something to or inspired by City of the Sun’s Everything. Without lyrics to rely on, this was more troublesome than I thought it would be. 

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 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.”

Oversized Sweatshirts

Rich didn’t exist where she was from. You were either trash, wearing never washed hand-downs, or lucky enough to have someone buy you new scratchy clothes from the dollar store.  She didn’t lay eyes on a department store until she was eight, a year after the system combed through her trailer park, plucking up kids and sending them all over the state.

Designer anything only lived in the torn pages of magazines set in the corner of social workers’ offices, worn and peddled by the sleek women who pouted out from the glossy ads. It was a talent, she thought, to look so unhappy draped in breezy cloth that cost more than six months trailer rent.

Her clothes came and went, changing as she passed from home to home. At ten she wore never touched t-shirts from some forgotten choir, boxy, stiff, and donated by a church. At eleven, she developed a fondness for lace amidst thrift store racks and learned to ignore the smell of the elderly that clung to heavy thread. Twelve was spent in the ill-fitting jeans and oversized sweatshirts the group home managed to guilt out of the community.

With big eyes, dark hair, and spindly limbs from formative malnutrition, she looked like a doll. And in each foster family or group home, she was dressed like one, in the bits and pieces no one wanted for themselves.

It wasn’t until she was thirteen, that a new foster family handed her sixty dollars and dropped her off at the mall. She returned with a jean skirt, black boots that made her feet look bigger than they were, and a soft lavender sweater with a hood that wouldn’t fit over her hair. She laid them out over the bedspread that wasn’t hers either and reminded herself not to become attached.

As part of our ongoing Music Challenge series, Raw Ramble‘s challenged me to write something to or inspired by Hollis Brown’s cover of Oh Sweet Nuthin’.