The Princess and the Pen

 

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“What are you doing?” Her sister swished into the room, gown brushing the floor.

Without looking up, Keira sighed. “Brea, leave me be. I’m writing.”

Writing!” Brea gasped.

“Well! There’s not need to say it like that!”

“But…” Brea fanned herself. “That’s what crazy people do! You’ll be locked up!”

Keira tapped her pen on the desk, “Uh-huh. I’ll get on that. Now, if you please…”

“Are you even listening to me? You’re always with your nose, unpowdered by the way, inches away from a paper with scribblings on it. Why, you’ll get ink on it! Think of that! This…this…writing…” Brea waved her hand at the desk, “it’s indecent. Absolutely improper for a princess.”

“I don’t care,” Keira sulked.

Brea stood straight, accentuating her incredibly impossible height of 4 feet, 2 inches. “I’m telling Father.”

“Oh, Brea! You mustn’t!” Keira turned to see her older sister wasn’t angry but scared. “Please.” She stood up, pushing a loose hair from her face.

Keira’s eyes widened. She pointed. “You’ve got ink on your cheek now! How will you explain that?! Oh, Keira, this isn’t proper. It’s dangerous.”

“Iridescent,” Keria said.

“Pardon?”

“Iridescent,” Keira repeated. “I’m trying to think of something iridescent to put in my fairy tale.”

“But…” Brea tapped her chin. “That’s easy. I mean, honestly, have you lost your ability to think, sister? Iridescence is everywhere. There are numerous…”

“Such as?” Keira bounced on the balls of her feet.

“Well,” Brea inched closer to the desk. “Whatever the story is about, you can always add a dragon. Their scales are iridescent. Of course there are fairy wings, moonstones, mermaids’ tails, unicorns, sea serpents, and…um…” she giggled, “troll snot. Oh! Then there’s the rare…”

“No,” Keira slumped. “I’m writing a fairy tale. I need something that doesn’t actually exist.” Her sister’s eyes filled. “But thank you. I mean, those were excellent suggestions, Brea. You’re wonderful, helping me braincloud this way. You remember the fairy tales Mother read to us as children? The fantastical creatures and items in those worlds? That’s what I’m trying to remember.”

“Oh,” Brea dabbed her eyes with a lace-edged handkerchief. “Well, I seem to remember something…”

“Yes? What is it? What did it do?”

Brea shook her head, “I can’t quite place it.”

“I know,” Keira returned to her desk and plopped down. “It was like a sphere but not quite. A flying…thing. I don’t recall its purpose.”

“Yes! That’s what I’m thinking of. A sort of blobby, floating, purposeless creature. It…popped. On its own. Maybe that was its magic?”

“Popped. Yes… There was air inside, if I’m not mistaken. And it flew. Or, as you say, floated. Oh, blast it all!” Keira put her head in her hands.

Brea absentmindedly twisted her moonstone ring. She straightened her pink gown, tucked her hair into its ribbon, and turned to leave. “Well then. I’ll just tell Father you’re working on something for his grandchildren, shall I?” She smiled over her shoulder, “It’s called a ‘bubble’.”

 

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#BlogBattle is a weekly writing prompt for flash fiction/short stories (with a word AND genre theme) hosted by Rachael Ritchey 

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Week 4 Prompt: Iridescent
Genre: Fairy Tale

 

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Thorns

 

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“Spike!” Buffy caught a kick, flipping the vamp on its back.

Xander held up a cross and looked around. “What?! Where’s Spike?”

“You nincompoop,” Willow slapped Xander’s head, “get her the stake.”

He looked at Willow. “Um. Ow! Was that necessary?”

“Well,” Willow nodded, “I think it was.”

Buffy dodged a punch. “Could you two deal with this later? In case you haven’t noticed, I’m kind of in a fight here.”

“Told you,” Willow murmured.

Xander grabbed the stake, gave a sideways look at Willow, and tossed it to Buffy. “Oops…”

Buffy vaulted over a nearby gravestone. “What do you mean “Oops”?”

“It sort of went in that bush,” Xander chuckled.

“Which one?”

“Sorry!”

“Huh?”

“Berry!” Willow shouted.

“You know…oomph! I can’t…bury this thing!”

“The berry bush,” Willow gestured. “Oh! Hey! Use the berries!”

Both Buffy and Xander stared at her. “What?”

“They’re blackberries!” She smiled proudly.

“Wow, Willow,” Xander rolled his eyes, “can I just say how not helpful that is. You want her to dust a vamp with fruit.”

Willow glared at Xander. “Buffy! The blackberries! Trust me!”

Buffy somersaulted over to the bushes, grabbed a handful of vines, and shrugged. “They do have thorns.” She jammed them into the vampire’s chest. He looked confused then lunged at her. “Well,” she punched him, “it was worth a try.”

“I can’t believe you two made it through sophomore year,” Willow snuck over to the blackberry bush, held up a vine, and pointed. “I meant the wooden posts. They hold up the vines.”

“Oh, right,” Buffy ran over and yanked a post from the ground, “I knew that.” She turned just as the vamp attacked, driving the splintered wood through his heart.

Willow coughed. “Ugh,” she waved her hands, “do they have to do that? They’re so…dusty.”

Buffy smiled. “Beats cleaning up goopy goodness!” She drew her eyebrows together. “That did not sound right.” They started out of the cemetery. “So, who’s up for pizza?”

Willow smiled. “Ooh, me!”

Xander stopped walking. “Do you have to ask?”

“Cool.”

 

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Week 2 Prompt: Thorn
Genre: Fan Fiction
*

* This was RIDICULOUSLY difficult as I’ve never written or read any fan fiction. But it’s fun to step out of one’s comfort zone every so often.

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Summer’s Song

 

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She ran barefoot in the grass, hair streaming behind her in strands of moonlit ribbons.

Her mother called her inside but she wouldn’t go.

She was searching for fireflies.

 

Last year, right before her father died, he pulled her aside and asked her to listen to the crickets. Summer’s song, he called them.

They had iced tea that night in late July, the ice melting, glass beading up with droplets of water in the humid heat.

The sun cast desperate rays through tree branches, glowing orange fingers reaching out for someone to hold them. But she didn’t. And they nestled in the bushes waiting for morning.

Fireflies danced around their heads, lighting up the porch, and her father beamed with them. Nature’s nightlights, he said.

They sipped sweet tea to a chorus of insects.

She traced a line down the side of her glass, peeking through her hair at her father. Will you be here to listen to the chirping and watch the blinking bugs tomorrow? she wondered.

Her father was dying.

She was old enough to know he would be leaving soon and young enough to ask him not to go.

He had laughed. She remembered that vividly because it startled her and the sweaty, cold glass slipped from her hand.

And it felt so good to cry. For the lost sweet tea that pooled near her toes and for her father who was being forced from the world he loved with a smile on his face.

 

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Week 67 Prompt: Tea
Genre: Drama

 

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Fading

 

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She flipped through the photo album. Empty.

She stared at it, wondering again what kind of flower decorated the cover. Her mind tried to find the word for its color then thought about the emptiness again.

Running her fingertips over the delicate petals, she closed her eyes and started humming a lullaby she used to sing to her daughter at bedtime.

Notes floated around her room and she frowned trying to recall the name of the song.

Round and round like the seasons. Cycles of summer, autumn, winter…spring.

Yes. Those flowers blossomed in the spring.

In and out and back again. In the dirt, planting seeds, watering can sprinkles the earth. Stems push through the soil, leaves grow, petals unfold.

Peach. It was peach, that hue. The cover.

Pink.

And the flower, a rose. Carnation. Daisy.

Emptiness. Pink. Flowers. Spring.

With things that are alive trying to sprout from things that look dead.

The album was closed but she knew it was empty. They took the fading photos—black and white memories she was starting to lose.

 

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Week 62 Prompt: Photograph
Genre: Drama

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Guides

 

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She’d always welcomed the voices.

Though Greta knew not to let on she was hearing people speak inside her head, she didn’t think it was a bad thing. They were her angels. Guides.

Despite her family’s worry that she would end up alone, Greta was far from it. She had friends, a job, and her books. Admittedly, she was by herself quite a bit of the time but she liked it that way. And, with her guides, she never felt lonely.

She didn’t have a boyfriend, as her brother predicted. They were teenagers when he had teased her about it. It had hurt then but it was a distant memory now, like looking back at an old friend and feeling a remote sense of pity. Greta wasn’t a pretty girl and she didn’t “grow into her looks”, as her mum used to say. But friends often described her as having a “Mona Lisa smile”.

It was the voices that formed her knowing grin. They moved with her in a steady rhythm, galloping alongside her own thoughts.

Until the day her father died.

The voices began growing urgent, aggressive. They became a stampede that trampled her mind.

 

#Blogbattle is a weekly writing prompt for flash/short stories hosted by Rachael Ritchey – Join the fun every Tuesday

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Week 59 Prompt: Voice
Genre: Drama

 

This is a piece I extended from a 99 word flash I wrote in February.

 

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Roots

 

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She spent seven years looking for an anchor.

That’s what everyone said she needed. A partner who could ground her, keep her rational, responsible, sensible.

Keep her from herself.

She found him and attached herself to his sanity. His kindness soothed, his composure balanced. He tethered her to this world like a kite string.

Often, she thought of him when she gardened, digging her hands into the soil, marveling at thin strands stretching, reaching down to set themselves.

She daydreamed about roots reaching up. Why not? Into possibility? Into open sky where they might breathe? No, the fragile flowers grabbed earth and wrapped around and held so tightly it took great force to rip them out.

Like the plants, she lived because she was smothered.

Yes, he tethered her—and that is the only way she existed at all.

In early spring, temptation decided to push its way into her pretty life. It shone not like the soft streaks of sunlight through tree branches, but like a flashlight—its beam bright and unforgiving. It exposed her. And the delicate ribbon tying her to him morphed into a thick chain. A leash.

She wouldn’t be a dog, even a beloved one. She was a bird and needed to fly.

Wiping her palms on her jeans, she picked up dirt-caked shears, cut the cord, and walked away. Away from comfort—the home, the garden, and him.

She brushed off dust from the place where she had established respectable roots and danced to a place where her thirst for what she wasn’t supposed to want could be satiated. Because what she needed wasn’t an anchor, but an oasis.

 

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#Blogbattle is a weekly writing prompt for flash/short stories hosted by Rachael Ritchey 

For Week 53, Rachael is celebrating one year of #blogbattle fun by having participants choose a post and re-enter it. I haven’t been participating that long and I don’t get a story in every single week, but I’ve written a few. It really lets me stretch my writing muscles. Thanks, Rachael! 

This one, from week 23, is my first flash for #blogbattle. 

View all the wonderful stories and vote for your favorite here. 

The prompt: Oasis

Genre: Drama

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Split Ends for Prince and Rapunzel

 

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Photo taken (by me) from Treasury of Fairy Tales

 

Rapunzel, famed for her long, golden locks, was dumped last week by her long-time boyfriend.

“I know, it’s hard to believe anyone would break up with me,” she braided a piece of her hair. “But, no biggie. I mean, I know he’s a prince and all but he’s kind of a jerk.”

Reports from the kingdom paint Prince as a kind and generous member of the royal family, often donating to the local animal shelter and helping out at soup kitchens.

“Everyone loves princey-boy. But he pulled my hair! He climbed it like a stinkin’ ladder! And he likes macaroons. I mean, seriously, who likes macaroons?”

When asked if she had any plans to get a haircut, Rapunzel answered, “I cut my hair one time, you know, to get down from this tower because,” she swung her arm in a circle, “no stairs! Then princey suggested I donate it to Locks of Love. I felt good for, like, five minutes. Then I shut myself up here until it grew back.”

When asked about Helga, the owner of the tower Rapunzel now rents, Rapunzel replied, “She’s a witch, you know, always brewing concoctions in her cauldron.”

“I believe the term is ‘Wiccan’, now.”

“Whatever. Anyway, it’s not ‘real’ magic stuff. She makes awesome hair products and I model them for her through there,” she tilted her head toward the window. “I just smile and,” she laughed, “let down my hair! She’s making boatloads of money.”

“So, just for the record, Helga doesn’t force you to stay here?”

“Ha! No! I’m not going out there.” She examined the ends of her hair through a small telescope. “Do you have any idea what sunlight and humidity can do to your hair?”

~~~

We visited the palace to speak with the prince about the infamous break-up.

He said, “I couldn’t support her shampoo habit any longer. Nearly all the gold from my kingdom is with the barber who closed shop and retired to Hawaii.”

When asked if he regretted his decision, he responded, “Nah. She’s pretty vain. And selfish. I’m happy she’s gone. Macaroon?”

 

 

#Blogbattle is a weekly writing prompt for flash/short stories hosted by Rachael Ritchey 

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Week 52 Prompt: Hair
Genre: Satire/Humor

 

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Will Power

 

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We never have candy at home. “Waste of money,” Ma says. And there was some just sittin’ in a bowl, askin’ me to take it.

It was the kind I love, too. Those round lollipops wrapped in white paper with the flavors on ’em in different colors.

I wanted one real bad.

I tried to make myself small. Which isn’t that hard. I’m already sorta small. “Scrawny” some kids call me. I don’t get mad.

My teacher says I have no muscle tone. Can’t even ride a bike right. It always falls over ‘cuz I can’t pedal fast enough to keep it up.

I snuck a look over at Ma, then slid down in the chair a little. I kept my eyes on her and stuck my hand out to get one. She slapped my hand away without even lookin’ at me.

“You didn’t ask for one of them pops and, anyway, the answer woulda been ‘no’ if you did.”

“I’m sorry?” The man in the suit said to Ma.

“Are you?” She spat at him.

“What I meant, Mrs. Carter, is that I didn’t understand why you said…”

“I know what you meant,” she leaned forward so her chest was squished into the front of the desk. “I’m not stupid like you think I am. I know what’s goin’ on here.”

“I never implied you were…unintelligent. Nor did I say you were incapable of understanding the situation.”

This was not a good time to open my mouth. I knew that. But I did it. “Ma? Please can I have one of them pops?”

Now she did look at me. Not even out the corner of her eye. No. She turned her whole self to stare me down. I knew that look. Was expectin’ it even. But it still made me shake a little, sorry to say.

“Here you go,” the man reached across his desk and gave me a lollipop with little red fruit on it. I think it was strawberry. But I never tasted it.

Ma snatched that thing outta my hand so fast I didn’t barely feel the stick. She smashed it down on the desk so hard the thing musta cracked and I thought what a waste as I coulda’ been eatin’ it. Made me wanna cry.

I didn’t cry, though. I never cried. That’s a thing about me.

“You wanna give him candy?” Ma stood, palms spread out on the man’s desk staring him down now. “You think that’s makin’ up for what you’re doin’ here?”

The man held his hands up like he was tryin’ to catch raindrops on his fingertips. “I was only trying to give the child a treat, Mrs. Carter. There’s no need for dramatics. Please,” he poked his long nose to the chair, “have a seat.”

So then this is when it happened. All of it.

Ma walked over to the man, raised her arm like she was gonna hit him. She called him somethin’ made my ears go red. The man stood up so fast he dumped his chair right over, crashing into a shelf loaded with stuff that looked real classy, knockin’ some of it on the floor. And I took a lollipop. A fresh whole one with brown spots on the paper that I hoped so bad was root beer flavor.

The man shouted to the big windows behind me, Ma grabbed her bag, I stuffed the pop in my pocket and ran after her.

When we got outside, Ma was cryin’ big, fat tears. She was suckin’ in air. I thought she was gonna throw up. “He’s gone!” she hugged me so hard it hurt a little.

“I know, Ma. I know all that.”

“You don’t know,” she kept those tears goin’. “There’s no will, you understand? No paper sayin’ we get money now he’s gone. Your papa went and left us nothin’. We got no money.”

“I know, Ma.” I wanted so bad to cry with her. But I didn’t. I wiped her face with my sleeve and handed her my lollipop. “I think it’s root beer flavor,” I said. “Your favorite.”

 

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Week 49 Prompt: Lollipops
Genre: Drama

 

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Election Day Causes Many U.S. Citizens to Consider ‘The Cave’

 

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In the United States of America today, people have one thing on their mind: The Cave.

That’s right. According to the Study of Bizarre Election Day Phenomenon by the University of Wicked Smart Students and Pompous Professors (WSSPP), citizens are thinking seriously of ditching the suburbs and heading for the hills. Literally. Some have even started preparations for a quick exit to The Cave in early 2016 after the primary election for president.

“It’s a viable option,” says Carol Fixit of Florida. “The Cave is actually very nice. There are tile mosaics and natural hot springs.”

The Cave is an underground community designed by architect, Neo Opportune, who said in an interview last month that “The Cave is a fully-developed area with all the amenities”. It is currently under construction after a grant from the FFCC (Frantic Foundation of Concerned Citizens) funded the final extension of the sewer system lines.

When the DICs (Desperate Indecisive Citizens) questioned Opportune about the rumors that developers didn’t have the proper building permits, Opportune responded, “After the election, it won’t matter.”

It is uncertain whether any legal action will be taken against anyone involved in the building of The Cave. However, as of today, housing has been increased to accommodate 15,000 residents.

“There is no ‘lesser of two evils’ this time around,” says Nick Bottom of New Hampshire. “Not when the candidates don’t know the difference between a stalagmite and a stalactite,” he shook his head. “It’s just not right.”

The confusion Nick refers to occurred during a televised presidential debate last Tuesday. When a candidate was asked what he planned to do to about the national debt, he pointed to the wintry scene through the window, making a comparison to the stalagmites in The Cave. He said they were too dangerous to allow families to consider a move there. Another candidate chuckled and called him on his mistake saying that he was pointing to stalactites, not stalagmites. Yet another candidate chimed in with the observation that they were, indeed, neither of these things and were mere icicles. Someone in the audience shouted that all this Cave talk was just a red herring and the moderator continued the debate by asking the candidates their stance on the regulation of Wall Street.

 

 

#Blogbattle is a weekly writing prompt for flash/short stories hosted by Rachael Ritchey 

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Week 34 Prompt: Cave
Genre: Satire

 

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Love and War

 

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“Keep it down!”

“Can’t hear you!”

“What are you doing up there?”

“Practicing battle techniques!”

“That’s it!” Jupiter stormed to the throne room. “Juno! Make your son stop this at once!”

“He’s your son too, dear. And, honestly, who made him God of war? Let me think…” She tapped her chin. “Oh, that’s right. You.”

“Nice. And who gave him his own holidays?!” Jupiter shot back. “You!”

“At least I didn’t name a month after him! By all the Gods, what did you think that would accomplish!”

“Hey!” Mars shouted, “Keep it down!”

Excuse me?!” Juno spat. She rose from her throne, gown trailing behind her, striding upstairs into Mars’ room.

“Gods, I love that woman,” Jupiter chuckled.

“Mars!” The door swung open at Juno’s voice. “You had better…” She gasped. “WHAT is going on up here!”

“Mother. Calm down.”

“Do NOT tell me to calm down! Greeks are not welcome in my home! Especially her!”

Jupiter cringed and bolted up the stairs. “Okay, okay. Let’s everyone just… Blast it, Aphrodite! I told you not to come back here! We’ll have to call over to Mount Olympus again.”

Juno turned slowly, eyes blazing. “She’s been here before? You…KNEW!”

“I…just the one time…I was going to tell you, love, I just…” Jupiter took a step back. “Mercury!”

“No need to call Mercury,” Hermes smirked, “I’m here now and all is well.” He turned to Aphrodite, “I’ve been looking for you, sweets.”

“Of course you have,” she purred, cleavage heaving.

“Oh, please,” Hermes gagged. “Get over yourself. Zeus sent me.”

“I’m here,” Mercury appeared, out of breath. “What’s he doing here?” He flung his arm toward Hermes.

“Just leaving, message boy,” Hermes grinned.

I wanted to send for Zeus,” Mercury whined.

Aphrodite twirled her hair, “Why don’t you both bring me home?”

“Hey…” Mars whimpered.

“You don’t own me, little God-ling.” Aphrodite sneered.

“But…”

“Oh, alright.” She ran her fingertips over his chiseled chest, “you are my favorite.”

“ENOUGH!” Juno screamed. “Get! Out!”

“Hermes,” Jupiter pleaded, “take her back to Mount Olympus.”

Mars wrapped his arms around Aphrodite’s waist. “No. I love her. She stays.”

“Aww…that’s so sweet,” she turned and kissed him. “And expected.”

“Hermes…Mercury…I don’t care who takes her home. She goes.” Jupiter glanced over at his wife. Juno’s eyes bulged, her face red. “Now!”

 

 

“Hey, did you hear that?”

“What?”

“Sounds like thunder.”

“Oh, mother says thunder is just the Gods fighting.”

 

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Week 32 Prompt: Mars
Genre: Humor

 

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Roman

Mars – God of War
Jupiter – King of Gods (Father of Mars, Husband of Juno)
Juno – Queen of Gods (Mother of Mars, Wife of Jupiter)
Mercury – Messenger of the Gods

Greek

Aphrodite – Goddess of Love
Hermes – Messenger of the Gods
Zeus – King of Gods (Father of Aphrodite)