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: 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.”

Robotics, Rage, Reprisal

The Monae High School engineering club didn’t know what to make of Simon at first. His first day in the workshop was filled with the scratch of sketch pencils and the occasional buzz of machine while the members cast silent glances behind their glasses. Simon ignored the quiet and sat down to begin his design.

Eventually the club relaxed and chatter returned. Even if the varsity soccer player didn’t add much to their discussions of anime, message boards, and obscure video games, Simon was always willing to look over a sketch or muscle open a broken saw. Hunched over the workbenches, the club could forget the separate lunch table Simon frequented during the day.

Simon’s projects joined the others, their portfolios expanding over the year in preparation for the summer fair. The mix of robotics, electrical circuits, and civil planning models, grew in the locked cage in the corner of the workshop. Colleges and companies paid attention to the fair’s competitions, a winning design could do wonders for a career. Frustrated outbursts became common place in the workshop as the members perfected their entries.

Simon alone was largely immune to the tension and the resulting tantrums played out in those weeks. His project was finished, and while solid and well-made, everyone knew Simon was entering it for solidarity’s sake. Now he spent his time helping others work through last minute bugs and malfunctions. Outside the club, he finally joined them on the weekend for the newest superhero movie and attempted a cameo role in their dungeons and dragons game.

A week before the fair, the club left the locked workshop on a Friday afternoon, gently ribbing Simon for getting stuck going to prom. While he was imprisoned in a tuxedo amidst an exhausting crowd of drunk peers, they would be enjoying themselves in the final session of the D&D campaign.

The weekend passed and Monday morning brought disaster. Everyone in the club received text messages. They arrived at the trashed workshop and stepped in with choked horror. Shattered bottles covered the floor with sticky glass, ripped design books littered the tables and the project locker had been pried open. Their projects were played with, broken, and discarded around the lab.

Simon didn’t swear or rush to his ruined work like the other distraught members. He walked to the white board to read the inebriation fueled messages. The scrawl accused promiscuity, crudely discussed people’s sexuality, boasted the superiority of their graduating class, and announced exactly who’d been here two nights before.

The members shuffled around Simon, picking up the remains of their shattered work. As they cleaned someone managed a joke, a few laughed, albeit hollowly. They gathered and put away their projects to be scavenged from later, the fair would come again next year for most. Eventually, someone left to find a teacher.

Among them, only Simon was new to the casual cruelty that had invaded their workshop, painful now but ever present in the world outside the diversions they built and cultivated for themselves. The rest of the club picked up the pieces while Simon could only stare at the whiteboard and the names there, the tips of his fingers digging into his palms.

Simon might have been unfamiliar with the cruelty inflicted on the workshop and his friends’ work, but he knew things they didn’t. They didn’t have older brothers that dragged them from bed for early runs, or soccer practice after sixth period, or boxing matches on weekends. They didn’t know where the school elite, the people who’s names marred their whiteboard, went to smoke at lunch.

Simon left the workshop the way he’d entered it a year ago, silent and immune to the worried glances thrown at him.

The resulting fight was all anyone talked about for a long time. The engineering club even experienced a brief flash of popularity that none were comfortable with. Expelled, Simon never was allowed to come back to the workshop, but he caught a movie with the club occasionally over that summer.

Legal Theft: Grey Silk

Careful so the guard wouldn’t notice, he tossed his handkerchief over the side of the cart, someone would find it. The cart continued to trundle forward down the forest road. Reid watched the grey square go beneath a horse’s hoof.

Riding at the front of the cart, Reid’s captors remained unaware of the small defiance. The small patch of sullied silk disappeared as they left it behind. Reid sighed and settled back on the grimy cushion they’d fashioned for him. His bound hands and feet made anything more impossible. As the cart’s uneven gait rocked him back and forth, Reid just hoped that the right someone found it.

*******

Rone pulled her horse up short at the fork. The rain was coming strong now, hard enough to make its way through the branches above them and turn the trail to mud. She twisted the reins one way, then the other, before swearing. The tracks were lost.

“Such language, and with a gentleman present.” Behind her, he clicked his tongue.

Rone stiffened in her saddle and bit back a second, more inventive, curse. Thus far the young lord had brought no help, only derisive comments and a foul mood. A mood he had no right to. It was her brother that had been snatched up. Still, when he’d offered to help Rone search, she’d been in no position to refuse.

Now though, without direction and hope fading, Rone wished she had.

“You’re no gentleman. People talk, you should hear the things they say about you.” Rone snapped. Their family’s common room was filled with rumors of the castle, in which the lordling in front of her featured prominently. Already half-sick with worry, she was finished swallowing his barbed words.

The lord looked at Rone as if she was some beast who’d learned to speak, and had just done so for the first time. The rain weighted his dribbling black hair over his eyes. She could only see his mouth, which crooked into a wound of a smile. “I do.”

He spurred his horse past her and down the left fork. She almost left him, edging her mount to the right. What did she care if the spoiled noble got lost on the twisting forest roads?

Through the rain she saw him dismount and bend to pick up something from the mud.  Hope twisted painfully in her stomach. Rone’s boots hit the ground and she stalked over.

“What is it?” She asked. He held the bit of ruined fabric up to her. A grey silk handkerchief.  Rone set her teeth hard against each other. She shook her head. “Its not his, he doesn’t have anything so fine.”

The lord folded the ruined silk and pocketed it almost reverently before pulling himself back into the saddle. “No, but I do. Come on, they went this way.” His horse’s hooves kicked up mud and he vanished down the left fork.

Rone balked for only a moment before scrambling to her own mount. She dug her heels hard and raced forward, hopefully towards her brother and some sort of an explanation.

A thief, always. A victim, perhaps. Stay tuned to see if any enterprising rogues took this first line and did something with it.  One Thief- Arrested,… Two Thief- Should Have Known Better,… Three Thief- Trumpeter

Sick Strange Darkness

She’d always resided behind his eyes. In the darkness floating above his bed, the space between his waking thoughts and the blurred abyss of sleep. Since his twelfth birthday, when his father had passed the binding to him, she’d found him in his dreams.

Now watching his own son turn fitfully beneath the bed covers, plagued perhaps by her warm sepia eyes, he turns away. “Come home.” Her voice hums deep inside his skull.

He’d thought to be free of her. He’d even thought himself clever. If the cursed cuff, that evil twist of metal, was her call, her beacon, surely it’s departure would free them? He’d pushed it over across that velvet table himself when the cards had spoken. Won by another in a poker game, he was done with the thing, with her.

That night she came to him as she’d never before. With hair like webs and skin that burned at its touch, he drowned that night in his sheets. Three days later he was able to wrest himself from the warm depths of her arms. He woke up to a brilliant morning in a hospital bed. The doctors did not understand, but his father, now old and white-eyed, did and would not speak to him.

He leaves his own son’s room and walks the hallways to keep her at bay. One by one they’ve succumbed to her. Half his house sleep. He no longer bears her alone, she spreads like the inky silk of her hair into everything.

He comes to his bedroom door. It is locked, barred from within so the bed cannot tempt him. It does. He is tired, every blink is a small fight to stay away from her warm black depths. “Come home.” She whispers, her breath against his cheek.

His sheets would be cool, unused and soft. She would be so very warm. He leans against the door as if he could fall through the wood and into the hazy depths of her realm.  “Come home,” says the voice inside his head. He closes his eyes.

Raw Rambles picked this amazing cover by PHOX for us to write to for the Music Challenge this week. See what she wrote with their rendition of “I Miss You” in mind here. 

Audacity and the Arts

The clumsy notes stopped, dropping the music room into silence. Miss Devitt exhaled through her nose. She slapped the small fingers resting inactive on the piano keys next to her. Only one person in the world could make her this angry. Teaching an idiot child the masterpieces was proving aggravating. “Theodore, pay attention.”

The boy winced and quickly resumed his graceless practice scales. Miss Devitt corrected his lazy wrist and a misplaced note with another rap on the knuckles.

Satisfied, though hardly pleased, she swept up from the bench and went to check on Theodore’s sister. The young girl was faithfully copying from a composer’s book at the center table. Miss Devitt sniffed loudly and the girl sat a little straighter, eyes widening in panic as she wrote.

Miss Devitt nodded at the girl’s elegant, if novice, script. There was hope for her at least. She was about to say so when the ungainly piano notes stopped again. Miss Devitt whirled.

With his back to her, Miss Devitt could not see his distant gaze but she knew it was there. His fingers hit a random key, and then another, moving between them dreamily.

“To your scales.” She commanded. The boy, lost in his idle thoughts, didn’t respond and Miss Devitt cursed the day she was ever charged with these impossible children. Next to her, his sister groaned audibly.

“Theodore!” Devitt snapped and charged, causing Theodore to rouse from his daydream and hit the keys with a burst of frantic noise. As Miss Devitt snatched his wrist and loomed, devising a punishment to definitively put the boy’s indolence to rest, he stared up at her in terror, sensing the last of his teacher’s patience dissolve.

The scrape of a chair interrupted them. Both looked over at Theodore’s sister as she stood. The girl leveled a finger at the music teacher. “Leave him alone!” She ordered, then squeaked at her own daring.

Miss Devitt blinked. Theodore took the opportunity to free his wrist while the she stared down the two seven-year-olds and the audacity of the whole situation. This was precisely why this country was going to shite. No respect for authority or the arts.

A long moment passed silently in the music room. Finally, Miss Devitt sniffed. “Very well, but be assured. The reasons for my resignation shall be communicated to your parents. Good day.”

And with that, she swept from the room and the twins were left without a music teacher. They looked between each other, until one nervously giggled, causing the other to burst with laughter.