May 4th

the doorway

I spent most of my day working an art festival. I don’t really consider this much of a story, but it gives a bit of fairy tale detail and adds another complicating factor. Hope I can sort all this out eventually.

Meredith made sure the rest of the patients were asleep. She dropped the empty vial and syringe into the hazardous material waste can. She washed her hands like she always did. Routine was important. When things were wrong, routine hid secrets.

She took a deep breath, and turned down the hall that broke her routine, but it couldn’t be helped. To find the boy she had to look where the boy would go. It never occurred to her to go to the attic. Nothing but the roof and a neck-breaking drop.

The basement was where the things were kept. In special lockers were all the things the patients wanted back. The management wouldn’t sell or burn the items, but they would never give them back. Meredith didn’t see the point of keeping such random bits when no one could ever use them. She disliked the waste.

But she wasn’t allowed to look in the lockers. No one was. But she knew what was in many of them: the glass shoes taken from a girl determined to run away with a boy she barely knew, the red coat from a girl found lost on the road, a packet of seeds taken from a boy who began gambling before he was old enough to drive. Meredith tried to remember what the missing boy had brought with him. Of course, he’d want that back.

A few steps away from the basement door, an alarm sounded. Someone was pounding on the front door. Meredith cursed. That’s all she needed, a new patient to deal with and no telling where that damn child was. He could be just a few steps away. She straightened her collar and turned away from the basement. She was so angry, she might give the new patient extra jabs with the needle. Sometimes she found the patients charming. Other times they drove her mad.

The Princess Detective: Excerpt Five

The Princess inspects her knives before she leaves her home. The one she keeps in her boot is dull, and she takes the time to sharpen it. You can’t be too careful at the edge of the woods.

When the Princess approaches the candy-colored house, music drifts through the windows. The woman the Princess wants to see works in her garden, thrusting the spade into to soil, a pile of lilies waiting nearby.

“Hello, Cordelia,” the Princess says from the gate. She doesn’t enter without being asked.

Cordelia, frail and fair, nods, but she doesn’t stop the rhythm of digging holes in the earth.

“Your garden is beautiful as always,” the Princess says. The garden is always beautiful. The flowers there never stop blooming, even in winter.

“I know why you’re shadowing me, Princess. I’ve nothing to say about the Prince.”

“You were the last to see him alive.”

“You were the first to see him dead,” Cordelia says. “And I’ve never had blood on my hands.”

The Princess looks away, and Cordelia stops her work. She walks over to the Princess. She reaches up and pulls a strand of hair from the Princess’ neck.

The Princess flinches. “You’re not innocent, Cordelia.”

“I only said I don’t have blood on my hands.”

“You don’t know anything about my hands.” The Princess resists pulling back on her hair.

“I know when I dream my hands are clean.” The flowers around Cordelia are bright.

The Princess doesn’t know where she wants to look, but she forces herself to look at Cordelia.”That’s because when you dream nothing but lies.” She holds Cordelia’s gaze. “And you were the first person to see the Prince dead. You and I both know it.”

Cordelia laughed. “There’s so much you don’t know, Princess. The Prince was right about you.”

*

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