Ella

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She opened the front windows and let in the fresh spring wind.  The house was finally empty.  The night before, she’d returned from the ball and cleared the dwelling of her stepfamily’s belongings, dumping them in the garden.  The bailiff was waiting when her stepmother and stepsisters arrived home, ready to escort them off the land.  This had been her father’s home.  Now it was hers.

Sitting on the window-seat, she leaned outside, inhaling the aroma of fresh flowers and sweetgrass.  She was finally free.  Then she heard it.  The sound of galloping horses, men yelling, a loud arrogant voice rising above the din, commanding them all, the job he was born to do.  The Prince.   Groaning, she opened the front door and sat in the garden among her former family’s belongings as they came up the lane.

“Saskia!”  The prince yelled, calling her by the false name she’d given him at the ball.  He jumped from his horse with a flourish, pulling a sparkly shoe from his royal coat.  His golden hair fell into his eyes as he approached her, extending the shoe in his gloved hand.

“Thank you for returning my shoe.”  She took it, sliding it onto her bare foot a moment for his benefit.

“Aha!  It fits!”  His deep baritone laugh filled the air and shook the earth.  Frightened birds took flight from the nearby trees.

“Yes, as I said, it’s my shoe.”

The prince immediately kneeled before her, proposing marriage.

“Have you gone mad?” She asked, motioning for him to stand.  “We’ve only just met.  You don’t even know my name.”

“It’s not…Saskia?”  She shook her head no and he looked crestfallen.  Life’s first disappointment.  “But…but…you and I…the ball…”

“You’ve come all this way.  You must be parched.  I can offer you a drink.”

She turned to go back into the house and he followed, confused.  He looked ill at ease sitting in her humble parlor, sipping from a tumbler.  As she sat across from him, he offered her a modest smile.

“So,” he said, removing his hat.  “If we’re going to get better acquainted, may I at least know your name?  Your real one this time.”

She smiled back, pausing for a moment as she brushed a strand of dark hair from her eyes, thinking of the cruel nickname her stepsisters had given her.  She wasn’t that girl any longer.  “Ella.  My name is Ella.”

 

For today’s Story A Day prompt – Write a story in the voice that came most easily to you this month.

 

 

 

Sweet

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The crumbling old building that once housed the chocolate factory still stood.  She smiled, remembering sneaking out to meet Mark there as a teen.

Her parents were asleep.  It was the last night of her visit.  She looked out the window, noticing movement in the old building.  Could it be?  She closed the door quietly behind her and tiptoed into the cold night.

Mark stood in the doorway of the building, smiling slyly.

“I heard you were in town.”

He pulled her close before she had a chance to respond, the smell of chocolate still hanging in the air.

 

For Friday Fictioneers

Green Eyes

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The cows did her in.  All through dinner with her daughter, her ex and his new wife, she’d been internally patting herself, and her ex, on the backs.  What mature parents they were, still getting along years after their divorce.

Now that Sean had remarried, to a girl 10 years younger than she no less, everyone asked Sonya if she was angry, or jealous.  Her answer always was the same – she was thrilled for him.  Madison made Sean happy, and she was a wonderful stepmother to their daughter.

They moved to the living room, Sean’s and Madison’s living room, for dessert and there they were, sitting on the mantle.  The pair of psychedelic ceramic cows, the ones she’d found in a flea market on their honeymoon.  She loved those cows.  They’d gone missing during the last years of their marriage, and at some point she’d just stopped looking for them.  But now they were here, on Madison’s mantle.  Her heart caught fire as she blinked back tears, staring at Sean’s hand on Madison’s slim thigh.

 

For Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers  and inspired by one of my favorite songs about heartbreak, Green Eyes.

Maybe

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He was the first guy Lily’d looked at in a long time and thought, maybe.  Sam took her hand as they meandered down the trail and silently took in the view – the tourists, the water, the imposing medieval castle looming ahead.  They were going to spend the day sight-seeing in an unfamiliar city, her idea of the perfect date, something she’d revealed to him shortly after they met.

“Sam?!”

A woman approached them, glaring.

“Georgia?”

“What are you…?”

Sam cut the woman off in mid-sentence, taking her arm roughly and leading her away.  They spoke in whispers, both gesturing widely.  Georgia finally turned and left in tears, giving Lily a final death glare before departing.

Sam looked sheepish when he returned to her.  “Lily, I…”

“I’m so excited about touring the castle.  The history behind it is so romantic…”

Sam looked confused, but Lily kept babbling on and on, afraid for him to speak.  She wanted to hold on to maybe a little while longer.

For Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

 

Solitude

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I throw a handful of breadcrumbs from the bridge to the duck pond below.  The park is so beautiful at night.  Just me and the stars, the pond, the ducks, the wind, the moon, and the trees.

“Park’s closing, ma’am.  You need to leave,” says a voice to my right.  A bright flashlight shines in my eyes.  I turn to face him and he shrinks back in horror.  I wonder what my face looks like to him bathed in that harsh light.  For a little while I’d forgotten.  What I must look like to other people.

“I’m sorry…I…” he sputters.

“It’s okay.”

“What happened?  If you don’t mind my asking.”

I turn to face the pond again.  “An ex-boyfriend and a container of bleach.”  I don’t feel like telling the whole story.  Living it was enough.

“I’m sorry,” he says for the second time.

I nod.

“The park is closing, so…”

“Five more minutes?  It’s so beautiful.”

He looks at me again, without cringing this time, and I think he understands.

“Five more minutes,” he says, turning off his flashlight.

I give him a small smile and look up at the moon.

For Sunday Photo Fiction 

 

MWC – Breakup

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Miniature Writing Challenge #26 is hosted by An Artist at Heart.  Find the challenge rules here.

Music surrounds us wherever we go. It reflects our emotions or elicits feelings from deep within our souls. Write a short story, poem or haiku about a music-induced experience.

“Work!  Work!  Work!”  Britney sang over the loudspeakers.   It was a song to which Callie loved to sing along in her car on the way to work, but during a spin class, she found it quite obnoxious.

“You want a hot body?  You better work!”  Britney ordered.  Callie trudged along, knowing her melting legs didn’t have another 50 minutes in them.  And to think she was here because of a boy.  She’d begged Adam to be honest.  “Tell me the truth. I can handle it.”

He looked away.  “It’s just…I like girls who are…you know…athletic…fit…”

“I get it,” she said.  But she’d been devastated.

Now, however, she realized she didn’t care what Adam thought of her or her body.  He didn’t matter.  She liked the effects working out had on her health, but she detested spin class.  She left her bike and never looked back.

Maybe she’d try Pilates.

 

 

 

 

Journey

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They were within a mile-and-a-half of the service roads when they found it.  The trail.  They’d been wandering aimlessly for hours, chilled to the bone, so hungry their stomachs churned and groaned.  And something miraculous had happened.  They’d fought.  Dara had accused Jackson of not paying close enough attention to the trail markers.  Jackson had told her she was frivolous for wearing her pink gym sneakers instead of hiking shoes.   It had devolved into more petty sniping back and forth.  Now that they’d found the trail again and were certain they weren’t going to die of exposure, Dara couldn’t have been happier about their silly argument.

Jackson was always so perfect.  It was unnerving.  Always chivalrous, always saying the right thing, never irritated.  But now she’d seen him at his worst.  If complaining about her shoes was as bad as it got – she could live with it. She would love living with it.

“So, do you still love me?”  Jackson asked as they rounded the last curve, headed for the parking lot.

“Ask me when I’m fed and warm,” Dara said, with the slightest of smiles.

For Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner

I Hate Romantic Comedies

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“So tell me again why you hate rom-coms so much?”  My guy best friend Wyatt is stretched out on my couch as I lie on the floor, throwing popcorn in my mouth.

“Because,” I begin, “they’re ridiculous.  Each one follows the same formula.  Act One – two people who are absolutely perfect for each other but are too stupid to know it meet, or maybe they already know each other, who knows.  There’s some dumb obstacle to keep them from being together.  Finally, they hook up.  Act Two – bliss, we’re treated to romantic montages of them rolling around in pristine white sheets…”

“Ew!”

I throw a popcorn kernel at him.  “…running through fields of daisies, having long romantic dinners, sunset walks on the beach, then he does something that the airhead female character deems Unforgivable, but really isn’t that big of deal.  Act Three – all of the female character’s friends tell her to take the guy back, which she stubbornly ignores.  Until the male character performs A Declaration of Love so stupidly melodramatic, she can’t ignore it.  It usually ends with them kissing in the rain.  A perfect way to catch pneumonia if you ask me.”

“So, Lil, since you’re a movie expert, what movie should we watch this evening?”  Wyatt and I have a standing Monday night date, a platonic date, mind you, to watch movies and veg out.  It’s my turn to pick.  It’s been the same tradition since we met in college 10 years ago.

“My favorite,  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

He groans.  “Is this another one of your psychological thrillers?”

“No!  It’s a love story.  An imaginative love story.  Not some brainless rom-com.”

I put the movie on and Wyatt sits up to make space on the couch for me.  He moves close, our hands are touching.  My stomach swoops, but I turn to him to make some sarcastic remark, asking him to move over, when he kisses me.   It’s gentle and sweet and perfect and I say nothing when it’s over.  I just lean into him and watch the rest of the movie.  He smells like his favorite spearmint gum and aftershave.  We’re quiet until the end credits roll.

“So, what did you think?” I ask him dreamily.

He sighs, “Meh.”  Then he reaches for me again, presumably for another kiss.  I jump up from the couch.

“What do you mean, meh?  This is my favorite movie!  It’s brilliant.”

“So the two main characters get back together in the end knowing that the relationship is just going to probably lead to another disastrous breakup?”

“It’s profound.  They love each other enough they’re willing to risk it.”

“Whatever, I don’t get it.”  He rubs the space on the sofa where I was just sitting.  “Sit down.”

“Get out!”  I point to the front door.

“Seriously?  You’re throwing me out because of a movie?”

“Not just any movie.  My all-time favorite.

After he leaves I text my girl best friend, Roxy.

Wyatt kissed me.

What!  I have been waiting for you guys to get together since forever.  You’re perfect for each other.

Well, don’t hold your breath, I just threw him out.  He hated Eternal Sunshine.

Lil, you are so ridiculous.  You can’t just dismiss a guy because he has a different taste in movies.

Not just any movie.  The movie

Whatever, Lil.  I have to go.  You’re on my nerves.

I put the phone down and think.  Am I the stupid girl in every romantic comedy ever made?  If people were watching the movie of my life right now, would they be screaming at the screen in frustration?  I text Wyatt.

I’m sorry.  I guess I like, love you or whatever.  Don’t lose your mind.

He doesn’t respond.  I put the phone down again, dejected, and turn on the television.  Only I could manage to piss off my two closest friends on the same night.  Once I settle in for a night of Netflix, I hear loud music coming from outside.  He didn’t.

I run to the window.  Wyatt is holding his ipod speaker over his head, which is playing my favorite song, And I Love Her.  I burst through the front door and fly down the steps, leaping at him, causing him to stumble and drop the speaker on the ground.  He laughs and kisses me again, just as raindrops begin to fall.

“Are we really kissing in the rain?”  I ask, chuckling as droplets splash against our faces.

“Looks that way.”  He smiles at me.

I shrug and lean into him again.

Hope I don’t catch pneumonia. 

 

 

 

 

Friend

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I think it’s really over this time, Mom.   He dumped me.  He’s engaged.” Susan sobbed.

“I think it’s really over, Mom.  He’s moving out,” Casey sobbed.

“Oh, honey, I’m so sorry,” said Susan’s mom.

“That lowlife scum!” Casey’s mom shouted.

“Can I come over?”  Susan and Casey asked their mothers in unison, in separate conversations in opposite parts of town.

“Of course,” their mothers responded.

An hour later, two grown women, who were really just little girls on the inside, were tucked in by their mothers in the sweet-smelling bedrooms of their childhoods.  They both drifted off to sleep secure in the knowledge that there was one woman in the world with whom they could be honest.