Other Things on My Mind, But Day Eight Is Here Anyway

BringBack

I’ve spent almost all day working on syllabi and lesson plans for my summer term. But I still wrote. That’s what most of this month is–squeezing in that little bit of writing here and there.

I hope I write strong female characters. I want to write about girls who save themselves. Or maybe who save the world. Or just their best friend. We need more stories like that, don’t you think?

So, for Story-a-Day May…

Meredith wasn’t used to anyone else in charge. Certainly she wouldn’t listen to an old woman and a teenager. But she couldn’t walk away from them.

She wanted the bag. The girl didn’t know what she had. If she reached into her bag the wrong way, she could be dead. Meredith kept that to herself.

Her determination to burn the Asylum to the ground hardened in her heart. She needed only a plan and an opportunity.

The old woman was whispering in Hannah’s ear, and Meredith’s mind raced. There wasn’t much time. Gasoline would work. She kept her gaze on the old woman and the girl, but her mind searched through her knowledge of the Asylum grounds, the outer buildings, and the odd hidden storerooms.

A tank of gasoline was usually kept in the garage where the Night Ambulance parked. A lighter or matches were harder to find.

“Oh, Nurse,” the old woman said. “Are you listening?”

Meredith snapped out of her thoughts. “Of course.”

“So, you’re going to help?”

Meredith nodded. “Of course.” She looked to the girl for a clue for what she’d agreed to.

But Hannah smiled back at her. “Thanks,” the girl said. “I’m glad you’re willing to make a difference.”

“That’s my purpose in this life,” Meredith replied. “To make a difference.”

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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The Princess Detective: Part Three (an excerpt)

The Princess keeps her knives sharp. She’s been caring for her own knives since she was nine. Her mother says the Princess was a late bloomer.

The knife dealer watches the Princess walk past his shop, and he thinks of marriage. But a princess doesn’t marry a dealer of any kind. This Princess is even better at shining up a knife than he has ever been. He keeps his eye on her anyway. The Prince, after all, is dead.

The Princess Detective…continues

This series should alternate–in no planned way–between a narrator and the princess. The introductory passage was from the narrator. This bit is from the princess.

My grandfather told me that in his day a princess had to be pretty and nothing else. A good princess, he said, is ornament. I think he’s making it up.

Everyone knows a princess is meant to lead the fight.

The princess sharpens wits as well as knives. Yes, beauty is for the first day of the year, the first day of her reign, but the wolves never wait for a girl to pin up her hair. How romantic that would be.

People ask if a wolf or jealousy killed my prince. The rumors could wrap the forrest a hundred times. I found the body. Of course, I did. Who else is allowed to approach a prince in the woods? Only a princess. And a murderer.

I guess I shouldn’t joke. When I saw his body, I couldn’t tell where the blood spilled from. Then I stepped closer. The gashes could’ve been from a wolf. That seems the easiest answer, but many different knives have owners in these parts. I know exactly which blade looks like a wolf bite and I know who owns it.

But that man was drunk at the time of death–drunk and passed out on my mother’s floor. Oh, pretty rumors surround that, I can tell you.

I inspected his knife and it was clean. Shining even. Only a fool though keeps her knife dull and spotted. Clean knife, clean kill.

Too many people around here know how to imitate a wolf bite. I suspect I shall have to go to the wolves and see what they know. Providing they don’t see me.