Memory

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“No!” Izzy screamed, running to hide behind Rebecca’s legs. Rebecca ruffled her daughter’s hair as her great-uncle, Otto, continued to demand a kiss.

“Leave my daughter alone!” Rebecca growled.

“Brat!” Otto spat as he left the room.  Rebecca scooped Izzy into her arms, nearly knocked over by a long-forgotten memory.  Another uncle, another family gathering, another girl.

Give your uncle a hug!

She felt his wet lips against her cheek, his hands hidden from view. Her stomach flipped, her anger turning to sorrow.

“I don’t like kisses,” Izzy tearfully whispered into her hair.

Neither do I.

 

The Moral Mondays prompt this week is WHEN YOUR BLOOD IS BOILING, SPEND AN EVENING IN THE COOLER.

Thursday Thriller – Banished

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Read Part 1 – Calla

Read Part 2 – Tower

Read Part 3 – Beast

Read Part 4 – Rose

Read Part 5 – Quest

“We’ll look into it, ma’am,” said the police officer, in a tone that indicated he’d do the exact opposite, tossing the form Calla had just filled out atop the messy stack of papers at the edge of his desk.

After Calla and Rose escaped the mansion, they’d split the money Edgar had given Rose for supplies and tearfully gone their separate ways.  Rose wanted to forget.  To drive miles and miles away, change her name and start over in a beautiful place.  Calla knew she was never going to forget.

Calla could tell the officer was trying to dismiss her, but she refused to move. “You aren’t going to go out there and arrest him?!”

The officer sighed deeply, folding his hands and staring at her as though the sight of her caused him pain.  “That’s not how it works, ma’am,” he said through gritted teeth.  “There has to be an investigation.  Is there anyone that can corroborate this…story?”

Calla thought of Rose, hoping she was sunning herself on a beach somewhere with her nose in one of her beloved romance novels, a pink beach rose tucked in her wind-tousled hair.  “No, there’s no one else,” she whispered.  “But I was held there against my will!  For months!”

“Yes ma’am, I heard you.  He took you and locked you away and attacked you and made you wear…” he glanced at the report “…Victorian gowns.”  He stifled a hiccup that sounded suspiciously like a giggle.  “No one has even seen Edgar Henry in town for years.  He’s a bit of a recluse and quite…errr…sheltered…by his mother.  It’s hard to imagine him pulling off something like this.”

“I know it sounds insane but it’s true,” Calla’s knees weakened, and she gripped the edge of the desk for support.  “I need you to believe me.  That man…is a monster.  You have no idea what I’ve been through.”

He sighed again, leaning back in his seat.  “I’ll send someone to bring him in for questioning.  But I can’t promise anything.”

Calla’s spirits lifted, but the feeling was short-lived.   Another officer called her that night, in the dirty motel room she was staying in at the edge of town.  She didn’t sleep, keeping her eyes on the flickering television screen, listening for sounds of movement outside.  The call with the officer was short.  Edgar had told the police that he was a friend, helping Calla with her sobriety by letting her live with him for a short time while she got back on her feet.  She’d been free to leave at any time, according to him.  Calla was unfamiliar with the town, hundreds of miles from her home, but apparently the Henry name was influential, even though their mansion was decaying, and the neglected grounds had to be an eyesore among the other fine homes surrounding it.

“Ma’am,” the officer said through the phone.  She’d been called ‘ma’am’ more in the past day than in her entire lifetime.  “We do see that you have multiple arrests for drug possession, public intoxication, drunk and disorderly…”

“I get it,” Calla interrupted.  “Thanks for calling.”  She hung up without saying goodbye.  She had to move quickly.

During the entire cab ride to the bus station, she kept checking the back window, looking for headlights, a shadow lurking in the trees.  She was certain the driver thought she was paranoid by the time the car came to a smooth stop in front of the well-lit terminal, which was still bustling with activity despite the late hour.  Maybe she would track down Rose somehow.  They could start over together.

As she was nearing the ticket counter, she felt someone grab her arm, squeezing so tightly she was afraid her bone would crack.  “I’ll always find you,” he whispered in her ear.

She shrugged her arm away, surprised at how easily he released her.  He was wearing the mask.  She stepped backward on trembling, watery limbs, hoping to put as much distance between them as she could.  He didn’t approach.  “No one gets away with humiliating me, with humiliating my family, the way you did today.  You can leave town, walk away right now, and look over your shoulder, every day for months, years, wondering if I’m following you, if I’m watching, biding my time.”  He slowly stepped forward.  “Or you can come back with me now.  Be my wife.  Give me an heir.  Live a life you could have only dreamed of before.”

“Or I can scream and have every security guard here running over in seconds.”  She squared her shoulders, hiding her shivering hands behind her back.

He nodded, taking another step forward.  “You could.  But you saw how that worked out before.”

She bit down on her bottom lip, hard, tasting blood, to keep it from quivering.  She looked at the ticket counter and thought of Rose, the warmth of her friendship.  Maybe they’d find a small apartment together, somewhere near the water, a healing place.  But it would be a life of restricted freedom – a life of fear and checking rearview mirrors and dark corners forever.  She turned, with a pained sigh, as Edgar extended his hand.

Read Part 7 – Transformation

My favorite prompt during Story A Day in May was Rewrite a Fairy Tale, so I decided to tackle it again, this time with Beauty and the Beast in a serial form. 

Purple

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The room was decorated in Marnie’s  trademark girlish fashion – bursting with pink and lace.  I stood out like a fly in the punchbowl.  I wasn’t invited.  Not to the bridal luncheon, and definitely not to the wedding.  Our friendship was long dead.  I was only there to show Marnie there were no hard feelings.  I smiled warmly as she gratefully accepted the wrapped gift from my arms.

When I heard the loud burst from the hallway, imagining Marnie’s ivory dress dripping with purple ink, I smiled wider. On second thought, I’ve never been that forgiving.

 

A sort of sideways take on the Moral Mondays prompt, which is Bless Those Who Curse You.

 

​​Thursday Thriller – Quest

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Read Part 1 – Calla

Read Part 2 – Tower

Read Part 3 – Beast

Read Part 4 – Rose

I’m such a fool, Calla whispered as the cellar door slammed.   Edgar had grabbed her before she’d even made it out of the dining room, growling in her ear about how dearly she would pay for her mistake.  His arm gushed blood as he dragged her down the stone steps to the cellar, flinging her inside and locking the door.  Why couldn’t she bring herself to do what needed to be done?  Why didn’t she grab the knife and drive it right into his neck?

The cellar was smelly and dank, with just a tiny window so high up she’d never be able to reach it.  Rose brought her food and snuck her the occasional book, but she could never stay long.  When she asked if Edgar would ever let her out, about the things he was doing, saying, while she was locked away, Rose said that he was very angry, but that his mother would be returning from her travels soon and would be coming for a visit, expecting good news.  She stared back at her tellingly.

The next day was special.  The only day of the month when Rose got to leave the property, a large portion of Edgar’s allowance for the month, carefully controlled by Catherine of course, filling her small purse, keys jangling in her pocket.   She usually lingered in town before finishing her errands; she’d have a coffee at a sidewalk cafe, browse a bookstore, people watch.  It was so rare she got to see anyone besides Edgar and Calla.  But today, there’d be no time for that.  Today would be different from any other day Rose had since she’d come to the mansion.

Edgar didn’t look up at the woman who passed his door in the hallway that rainy morning.  Every inch of her skin was covered.  She was wearing Rose’s worn raincoat and gloves, with galoshes that came to her knees.  Her head was down and covered by a hood.  She walked quickly, purposefully.

Tears filled Calla’s eyes as she opened the front door and ran down the front steps to the drive, where Rose was waiting with the van.  She’d ducked out of the house earlier undetected, leaving the doors unlocked for Calla to follow.  Calla laid across the back seat, keeping her head low as Rose sped down the drive.

Read Part 6 – Banished

My favorite prompt during Story A Day in May was Rewrite a Fairy Tale, so I decided to tackle it again, this time with Beauty and the Beast in a serial form. 

Formalities

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He rode up on a dark horse.  So dramatic. I was sitting under an old oak tree on a blanket, sipping sweet tea and reading, my hair falling into my eyes. My parents stepped onto the porch.

“Mr. Powell – I have a question for you, but Mrs. Powell, I want you to hear this too. I love your daughter more than anything. I’d like to ask you for her hand.”

I choked on my tea as Dad shook his hand.

“Helloooooo!” I shouted. “Sean! We broke up MONTHS ago. Before I moved away.”

“But…I thought…if I asked your father…”

“So my dad is the one that gets to decide who I marry?  Not me?

Mom began to wail. “Savannah Elizabeth Powell!!  Do you want to die alone???!!!”

“You people are insane,” I declared, rising from the blanket. “I’m going inside.”

I watched my parents console Sean through the window and rolled my eyes.  I looked to the sky, reminding myself that soon I’d be on a plane, far, far away.

 

For Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Bonds

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A warm, sweet-smelling bundle stirred in April’s arms.  Her precious baby girl.  She thought of her own mother, of all the things she didn’t know. The wild nights, stolen kisses, bad boys, ill-conceived romances, spontaneous road trips, the wind blasting her hair. The hidden scars.  She pictured her daughter years in the future with a head full of secrets, a chasm between them.

“What’s on your mind?”  Her husband asked, playfully tousling her hair.

“What she’ll be like when she’s all grown up.”

He grinned.  “Let’s just focus on today.”

 

The Moral Mondays prompt this week is THERE IS NO FEAR IN LOVE.