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.”

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

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.

Special

I promised myself I wouldn’t let her words affect my life but quickly realized I wouldn’t be able to keep that promise. They echo in my mind with every step.

“We are special.”

Every family thinks that, right? It doesn’t mean anything; just a simple sentence to make us feel not-so-simple.

But then it became inescapable.

Even as I sit in this room, in front of the computer, with my hands on the keyboard. I hear the conversations from next door, I smell the frying lunch meat from down the block. We are special, we are animalis.

My mother was right.

I can’t sit here anymore, surrounded by the suffocating scent of human sweat and the blinding modern art that flickers on and off throughout the day. Everyone else sees electric green – I see gamma rays. The door slams shut behind me and even the breath of fresh air turns my stomach.

After she told me the truth, I had cursed her. I refused to believe, sent her away from me and my family. The last time I saw her was with tears in her eyes, trying so hard to get me to understand.

Now, she’s gone and it is too late. All I have are questions.

“Hey!” A stranger’s voice bellows in me ear as I slip onto the busy sidewalk. Downtown is no quieter than my office, no less intense, but at least here I can walk. “Lady, slow down!”

I ignore him and keep moving forward. His smell trips my steps though, it’s a mix of sandalwood and familiarity. I think about stopping but the warnings against curiosity ring in my mind. Instead, I increase my pace to a light jog.

The man is faster. At the next block a hand locks around my forearm, pulling me to the side. Some passersby give us an odd glance but I shake them away. He has me now and my curiosity will win.

Plus, animalis means that my claws can descend at any moment.

“I was hoping I’d find you,” he says. His eyes hold mine, silent and waiting.
I watch as his pupils shrink, transforming from a circle to a single line. I know that line, I’ve seen it in the mirror. “You have questions.”

I nod.

“We are special.”

I nod. I’ve accepted it, now.

“I have answers.”

Treasured

The gold means nothing without you here. ‘You’ could be anyone: a lover, a parent, a pet. He lost the will to care about the source of his attention and affection. Not all the gold in the world can buy genuine love.

He sailed into this cave alone and he will sail out quite the same.

“You will be my friend, now.” He told a piece of gold.

Rough stone scrapped where the soles of his shoes wore thin. He’d be able to buy new ones soon, and he tried to let that thought excite him forward, excite him enough to leave the cave and its vast treasures.

Except, he knew he couldn’t take it all. “My new friends, why should I abandon thee?”

The piles of gold were large and endless, towering over him and nearly touching the upper curve of the cave.

The man bent over, untying the laces of his leather shoes and placing them in the boat. He then walked over to the piles of gold, let the cool metal press between his toes. It had been so long since something touched him as sweetly, so long since something this beautiful gave him attention.

He could sail out of this cave with a bag full of treasure and change his life forever.

Instead, he turned to the gold and with a childlike glee he never experienced as a child, he leapt off the balls of his feet and into the treasure.

He could leave tomorrow, too.


Character: Adventuring Sailor
Theme: Rags to riches

Written for last week’s Flash!Friday

Finally

Stumbling out of the library, he noticed blearily that he was missing a chunk of his hair. It probably had to do with the woman chasing him and the grip she now had around blonde curls. He was bleeding too, a trickle from the top of his head down to his chin.

The marble column was cold under his hand. He grabbed it and tried to clear his vision.

“Get back here!” The woman was hell-bent on getting his attention. He didn’t even know her name. He had been sitting in the library, studying for his finals. One minute he was alone and the next he had the woman’s thighs on either side of his legs, straddling him – and not in the good way.

“You’re blood!” She screamed as she ran by the circulation desk. “I need it for my spell. I already have the hair!”

He looked out over the field in front of the library, students sitting on blankets, some threw around a Frisbee. No one noticed the screaming from the library or the sophomore clutching one hand to the marble column and the other to his head.

The door behind him opened and he tensed. He knew it was the woman.

“I have the salt and your hair; now give me your blood.”

“Is this an episode of Supernatural?” He asked through his daze. The woman replied by pressing a vial to the trail of blood.

When she stepped back he could see the lines of age on her forehead, stray white strands falling from her bun. She smiled toothily. “Your blonde hair for my new form, I thank you.”

Then she disappeared, “poof!” right from the spot. He slid down the column, face falling into his hands and wondered if finals had finally turned him insane.


Written for this week’s FinishThatThought.