Story-a-Day May will not be stopped.

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Every time I take this challenge on, I’m certain I can’t get it done. Twenty-days left…oh boy.

Anyway, here’s a Fairy Tale Ayslum side story.

The woman wished for a child, and she read everything she could, hoping for magic. Perhaps faeries, perhaps someone more real, learned of her wish. Whoever the good soul was decided to make the woman’s wish come true.

At sunrise the woman, thinking she heard something strange, opened the front door. At her feet, asleep and wrapped in a pastel blue blanket, was a baby.

Her heart soared. All of her talismans and charms and prayers and wishes had worked! The morning sun broke over the world, and the woman scooped the baby up from his basket and held him close.

He, she was certain, would be a prince among men.

But as the afternoon wore on, the woman noticed things. The baby didn’t coo like she imagined. His skin wasn’t porcelain like hers. His eyes were the color of ordinary coffee. The more she watched him crawl around her floor, the more common he seemed. He didn’t seem magical at all. And she realized she had no diapers, no formula, and no crib.

The woman tried a list of princely names, but he didn’t answer to a one. She put him on her hip, but he didn’t smell of roses or sweets. He grabbed at her hair.

There had to be a mistake. They’d brought her the wrong baby.

Well, no one could be expected to keep a baby clearly meant for someone else. She stared out her window and a panic bloomed in her mind. That someone else might have her baby, her special baby, and such an ordinary someone couldn’t be counted on to give back a princely child any more that a pauper could be expected to turn in a goodly sum found on the road.

How could fate have allowed this to happen?

The woman carried the baby to the road and began to walk. Inferior people might have her child, but she wouldn’t be tricked into caring for their unfortunate wretch. She was too smart for that. She had her pride.

She walked the back roads. It wouldn’t do for anyone to see her with this baby in her arms. She walked over the bridge. She walked five miles, and the baby began to fuss. Monstrous, she thought. How could they have thought this was her baby?

Just when she was certain she could go no further, she reached the gates. They were open. Exhausted, she reached the front doors of her destination. She knocked.

A nurse opened the door, and without a word, she took the baby from the woman’s arms. “They got it all wrong,” the woman said.

The nurse nodded.

“Do you know where my baby is? Who has my little prince?”

The nurse smiled. “You can be on your way.”

“But it’s not fair,” the woman said. “I’ve waited so long!”

“And yet you’re willing to wait all over again,” the nurse said, and she shut the asylum doors.

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

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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.