The fabric caught on the callouses of his hand but James didn’t care, he just scrubbed harder. He wanted to look perfect, needed to look perfect; and he wouldn’t let the smell of bleach distract him. The prince was coming and James couldn’t help bouncing his feet as he stood by the sink.
When the white shirt was clean, or as clean as a farmer mid-season could make it, he pinned it to the line and rushed back inside. His wood cabin was small, but tidy, and he could offer the prince variety of cushions to sit upon. As he patted a gold and red one, a flush grew in his cheeks. He hoped they weren’t too big for his majesty.
The sun fell over the horizon, the colors of sunset shining into the cabin through the window. He was almost out of time.
James was panting by the time he made it back outside, the shirt damp as he slid it on. And then he was standing at attention by his front door, his farm on display and his house tidy. James knew there were better, more affluent subjects in the prince’s kingdom, but he chose James and who was James to question it?
The trumpets were the first thing he heard, followed by the rolling carriage wheels. The carriage was large, larger than James’ cushions, so some of the stress eased from his shoulders.
The carriage came to a stop. A man hopped from the front with another brass instrument. “Presenting!” He blew into the horn. “His royal highness.”
When the door opened, James fell to the ground. A sign of respect, to lower himself under the prince. Above he heard the sticky steps as the prince hopped down, made his way to James.
“Rise,” the prince said.
James did, grasping the princes hand to place a kiss on the slimy, suction cupped skin. “Ribbet,” James saluted.
It was windy on the other side. With each step, Val’s hair whipped around her head, lashing at her cheeks and neck.
“Just another three steps,” the voice in her head said. It was a deep voice, a male voice. The timbre was one she had heard before but could not place. “Through the mirror and you’ll be free.”
And a part of her knew it was a trap. Following a voice that had no body, one that had called to her as she sat curled in a ball by her bed, crying. Her mother had warned her not to follow the voices as she was carted off to the asylum. Yet here she was, following
Sunday is for writing.
A bit about week 1:
As with any skill, approaching my fourth NaNoWriMo is indescribably easier than my first or second or third. When I first started, formatting a single scene was difficult. Now, that comes naturally. My current pitfalls are more nuanced: Is this character arc authentic? Is this romantic subplot a crutch? Is my main character a Mary Sue? My most reoccurring question is – WHY IS THIS SO BORING?
And in reality, I know it’s not. It’s just that now I have two other works in progress that I’m more invested in. This story, though growing, is not at its most exciting parts yet while my other two are. But, that’s okay, this one just needs to get there.
What is my NaNoWriMo story about, you may be asking. Well:
A 33 year old woman making 40k in a city that requires 80k to eat– she works two jobs, barely has time to breathe let alone date– gets superpowers.
Current word count: 8,106
But she couldn’t finish her sentence because a person too drunk to navigate down a hallway bumped into her. She tilted forward, off balance, hands reaching out to grab anything nearby to stabilize herself, which ended up being the man waiting in line in front of her.
He gripped her elbows as she knocked against his stomach and chest, hand gripping into his shirt. Man he was tall, and then he was turning to the person that knocked into her and snapping, “Hey, man, watch it. People are waiting here!” The drunk man’s friends escorted him away as the man currently holding her up balanced her back onto her feet. “Are you okay?”
“Fine, fine.” It felt warm this close to his body and her head had curled in, resting against his muscle and she told herself to push away. “Thanks for, uh, catching me.”
The corner of his mouth lifted into a half-smile. “Anytime?”
Amelia chuckled. “Least I can do is let you keep your space in line.”
The man grinned, reaching out a hand between them. “All right, that’s fair. The name’s Jeremiah.”
“Amelia,” she said. “But I’ll keep my hands to myself, I’m pretty sure I already–”
And that’s when they both noticed that his once red shirt had turned blue.
“Yes?” The man grasped at his mane of white, wispy hair. He pulled it to his eye for inspection. “What about it?”
My gaze was not the only one that moved towards him. I was the only one that stepped forward and asked the question we were all thinking. We were a lost tour group in a cave and there was a man perched behind the railing with a tall, triangular hat and billowing robes.
“Is your name Merlin?” I ask.
The man pulled a twisted pipe out of his chest pocket. “Sometimes.”
“Can you help us get out of here?”
He kicked away from the cavern and in two long paces he was leaning against the railing that kept us from the cave’s natural terrors. He leaned over so our eyes met. I wondered, briefly, if he was one of those terrors.
“How old are you?” he asked, instead of answering my question.
“What does that matter?”
“You’re tiny, are you an undeveloped human or have I been here for longer than I thought?”
“I’m not undeveloped, or whatever, I’m twelve!”
“Well, that explains it them.”
I wanted to kick him, but kicking people was not the way to get what I wanted. “We need help.”
“So you’ve said,” his eyes narrowed, he blew a tendril of smoke into the space between us. “You’re very brave for asking.”
I step back. “Why? Are you dangerous?”
“Sometimes,” he winked then put his pipe back in his pocket and pulled out a long, long, wand, far too long to fit in a pocket. “But I will help you.”
With a flick of his wand, the cave around us fell away. I flinched at the light, hand rising to my eye in instinct. When I lowered it, he was gone.
It began with a whisper. Sweet nothings breathed in my ear, their meaning sent goosebumps down my neck. I pulled you closer and whispered the words back. We made love.
It ended with a gasp. Your admission told to my face, the weight of your eyes buckled my knees. I pushed you away and screamed admissions of my own. We scorched earth.
It changed with a heartbeat. Proof of our love growing inside, the life of our child transformed my mind. I paved you a path and sobbed tears of joy. We made amends.
It transformed with a cry. The birth of a person, our tangible connection entered the world. I pressed you into my soul and made a small family. We lived life.