James and the Tiny Prince

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.

“Ribbet.”

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The Other Side

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

The wind picked up again, pushing her forward, spinning around her so that it became hard to grasp any of it for a single inhale.

She looked back and Val had expected to see her room, the bed she’d had since she was a child, but all she saw was a field of green grass.

And she knew she had made a mistake.

Lost in a Cave

“Merlin’s beard!”

“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.

Hazardous Journey, moderate pay

John’s picked at the side of his thumb where a callus ran from fingernail to palm. He had prepared for this journey, the coarse skin acted as his reminder. Yet the wooden dock still creaked as he shifted his weight from foot to foot; the ship looked smaller in person.

He had read of the journey over a cup of steaming hot water. Tea had been the cheapest option on the menu but John hated tea, so he kept the leaves on the side of the dish. The steam warmed his lips as he read the newspaper over-the-shoulder of a man who could afford three times his cup of tea.

Help Wanted – Hazardous Journey, moderate pay

Under the text was a single image of a sailboat flying over the clouds. John stared, questions falling in and out of his mind before he could even think of answers.

Was it an artistic depiction? A symbol of sort? A fiction? A truth?

He was trained a sailor but hated the sea, a travesty – but the clouds. John’s feet moved before he could stop them. The man with three plates that smelled of honeyed meats and fresh croquette turned to him mid-chew. It was only then that John realized, he had tapped on the shoulder of this other patron.

Except, John was hardly a patron and the waiter glared from the corner at his lack of sense.

It was true, he was senseless, but now he was here.

“May I have that ad,” he added, after a pause, “sir?”

The waiter started towards him and the patron chewed with slit eyes but, after a moment of consideration, he ripped the ad out of the newspaper and handed it to John.

Now he was here, on a rickety dock looking at a ship that was much too small to fly. But what did John know about flying ships?

“Help wanted!” A voice shouted from inside its confines. “All aboard that’s coming aboard.”

John clenched his palm into a fist and stepped forward.

Sailing through time

Tomasz

Photo Challenge #107

New Year

She waits; face painted and eyes aglow.  The hand of the clock moves closer to the next year, a new year.  She’s gathered her apparel, adorned her jewels, and is ready to fly over the merriment. For only tonight does she live outside the minds of those who call to her, only tonight.

“Five!” Someone shouts from beyond.

“Four!” The group gets louder, she spreads her wings.

“Three!” They scream now with raised glasses.

“Two!” She hovers, breath caught.

“One!” She takes to the air as a song breaks out. Below her the humans laugh, kiss.

No one notices her vestige, no one sees her garb. Yet they feel her presence. One man twirls his partner, a lady with a wide smile, and proclaims wildly that he will turn a new leaf. A woman grabs her friend’s hand, pulls the smaller frame into a hug and resolves to laugh more. Another man gets down on one knee with a diamond, another woman throws out her pack of cigarettes….

She flies, for sixty seconds and then she disappears.

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Fairy by Teatro Escola de Pelotas CC BY 2.0

Written for: Photo Challege #93

The Crack

 

"Her Story Written in Disappearing Ink." CC2.0 photo by Michael Shaheen.

CC2.0 photo by Michael Shaheen.

The truth is in the crack. It is the clue. Follow it and you will see, none of this is what it seems. The well-worn pavement, the chipped brick walls, an entryway – an illusion. The grand persuasion because, as is says, ‘a beautiful girl lived here’, an emerald green doorframe beckons, why wouldn’t you peak your head in to see?

What did that beautiful girl leave behind?

But the truth is in the crack. A crack can mean many things: poorly constructed pavement, heavy traffic, a sinkhole underneath. Or, it could mean that something is below, something – and every heated exhale from its scaly snout hits the backside of the pavement, a crack forms and its beady lizard eye can see. It waits, simmering, for you to poke your head in and see what’s through the doorway. Because then, it’s dinnertime.

The truth is in the crack.

~~~

Written for the final Flash Friday. The prompt was to include the photo and a dragon.

Allen

 “Take a step back and look.”

Written for: Cracked Flash

“Take a step back and look,” Allen grabbed her hand.  She brushed him off, again.

“Don’t tell me what to do,” Charlotte said through clenched teeth.

Allen heard the same noise from before – a creaking that was indistinguishable to human ears.

“Charlotte, please. Trust me.”

The sunlight filtered through the window, lighting up the floating dust that danced throughout the abandoned building.  Charlotte watched it, transfixed.

“This building is going to collapse,” Allen warned.

Charlotte laughed. “This building has been here my entire life. I wanted to show it to you and here you are ruining it.”

Allen watched as Charlotte pressed her lips together, eyes looking everywhere but him.  His stomach tightened at her words, at the glimpse of vulnerability she rarely let slip.

The creaking made itself known, again. He knew Charlotte still wouldn’t hear it.

“My parents were married in this church,” Charlotte told the floor.  “They stood under that stain glass and said their vows.”

A gust of wind came off the mountainside; Allen held his breath and waited for it to be the final straw.  As it passed, the building still stood for now.

Charlotte walked down the aisle between the pews. She was walking too far away, he couldn’t monitor the creaking from there. He couldn’t ensure her safety.

Another step. A louder crack. The wood under her feet split into two and Charlotte’s scream cut across the abandoned building.

Allen flew.

After all the hiding, after centuries of secrets – he was in front of Charlotte before her scream could end. Lifting her higher and higher. Her head turned towards him, familiar eyes squinting in fear.

“Please, trust me,” he said, again. Only this time the words were lost amongst the rush of air.

With Him

From Heaven, I observed my charge

and felt through him; everything.

For the first time, the cold dissipated.

With him,

a summer breeze on the river;

with him,

seasons turning around a love-seat.

.

As an angel, I fell for my charge

and felt through him; everything.

For the first time, I chose.

With him,

Heaven exchanged for an embrace;

with him,

time stood still, and yet whirled by.

.

On Earth, I watched my charge age

and felt through him; everything.

For the first time, I loved.

With him,

Touch, nights, silence;

With him,

Words, laughter, sunshine.

.

In soil, I buried my human

and felt through him; nothing.

For the first time, I grieved.

Without him,

I turned to stone;

without him,

I have reached my end.


“I turned silences and nights into words. What was unutterable, I wrote down. I made the whirling world stand still” Arthur Rimbaud

Collage 6

Collage #6 Prompt

Best Practices

The detective cleared his throat. “I am the Great –”

“We know who you are.” The Master of the House interrupted.

“That’s why we invited you to sit on our couch.” The Lady supplied.

The detective’s hands tightened around his tools of deduction. “You must let me finish my introduction.”

The Lady’s eyes slipped into slits of displeasure. “We must do no such thing.”

“We called you here to solve a murder, not stroke your ego.” The Master stood.

“We will proceed immediately to the scene of the crime.”

“But you do not understand, my introduction incites fear in the spirits.”

The Lady looked to her husband. “You said he was sane.”

The Master flushed. “All detectives are eccentric.”

The detective continued murmuring his introduction as he followed the Master towards the kitchen, where remnants of murder remained untouched.

“What did you say, lad?” The Master asked.

“I am beginning my investigation. Continue onwards.”

The Master detested anyone ordering him around his own house. But, with his wife waiting in the sitting room, he did not feel the need to exert his superiority. Instead, he watched the detective crouch to his knees and investigate the carcass.

It all seemed above-board until the detective removed a straw from his pocket and began slurping the blood.

“Now, what is this?” The Master demanded.

“You want me to solve your murder?”

“Of course. But surely –“

“I am the Great –”

“I’ll just return to the sitting room,” the Master interrupted again.

He suddenly felt defeated in his very own kitchen.


A Flash!Friday Tale: Conflict: man vs man; Character (choose one): arrogant detective

Living Forest

I cannot see. I feel the cold, wet, air on my skin. The heavy taste of it chokes in my throat. I hear the rustling of the things nearby – predators, prey, maybe the wind; but I cannot see.

The ground gives under my feet, the mud encloses me with each step. It wants to pull me into its grips, it wants to take me and suck out every bit of nutrient within my body for its nearby roots. This forest is alive, every forest is alive, and anyone who thinks otherwise is vulnerable.

I am walking to the Tree. It is a journey we all take. If we fail we die; if we succeed, we are welcomed back as Grown. I want to be Grown, then I’ll receive a similarly Grown partner and we will be assigned a family unit and –

My ankle curls and I reach out into the darkness to stop from falling but there is nothing to brace myself against. I hit the mud. It curls around my hands and knees. I blink away the tears and struggle against the sinking. Fear sparks and it races my thoughts, this creeping fear can take over my focus and cloud my judgment. Then, I’ll be lost.

“The Tree is located in a straight line from here,” the Grown had told me. My direction must stay the same even as I flail against the mud.

I lunge left, then right. Then, finally, my hand finds the root of a tree. Not the Tree but something in the darkness that I can pull against. I pull too hard, though. I flip over the root and land on my back. I am facing a different direction now. I know this, just as I know I cannot distinguish which way I was before. The mud is creeping again, crawling over my neck and into my ears, up my nose. I am sinking.

I close my eyes. I see the family plot and my very own partner and she is reaching for me. I close my eyes to see better, to see and feel and –


Use this three-word phrase in any part of your story:

“this creeping fear”

Anthropomorphic Roots