Day 28 and another day closer to the end!

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Today’s prompt was to tell a Cinderella story. So, I started like I usually do with a character and not much else. But little ways in, I realized that this was going to be a long short story and not finished today. Right now the story has no time travel or witchcraft. Not yet! Maybe it won’t. We’ll see.

Thanks for reading.

Della Farsoon bit into the overly sweet donut and hoped none of the adults would suggest she go outside to play with the other children. Last Sunday, Mrs. Quiffmore had spotted Della standing alone in a corner sipping punch, and the mother of five had ordered the sixteen-year-old to go out with the others. The only teenager of the group, Della had dragged her feet outside in the muggy air and spent the hour sitting on a swing.

Ten-year-old Ricky Teamark had told Della that if she wasn’t going to swing, she should find somewhere else to take up space.

“Shut up, turnip face,” she’d said. “I can sit or swing as I damn well please.”

Ricky went inside and told she’d called him names and said bad words.

This Sunday Della hoped her days of being sent out with the children were done now she’d revealed herself to be a bad influence. She licked the bits of honey glaze from her fingers. The adults were busy talking about famous TV minister coming to lead a week of sermons. Their talk of how to find enough chairs and tables was easy to ignore.

Bored, Della eyed the remaining donuts. No explicit rule stated only one donut was allowed per congregant, but a second donut meant risking a lecture on gluttony from Mrs. Quiffmore. She shrugged. She was probably doing the woman a favor, giving her someone to lecture before all those words blew up in her head.

Della took the second donut and ambled over the dining hall doors. No one noticed when she wandered into the vestibule. She sat on a cushioned bench against the wall and took her book from her purse. Within minutes, her donut polished off, she was lost in a novel of murder and mayhem. She didn’t hear footsteps of the young man walking in from the hall.

“Hey, Diana! It’s you,” he said.

Della almost dropped her book. “Della,” she corrected him. “Hi Mark.” She had his name right, of course. Even though he’d been gone for a year, she wasn’t likely to forget Mark Hackman, local golden boy, practically a prince in everyone’s eyes.

Grudgingly she made room for him and he sat down, but she went back to her book.

“Your dad sold me my first car,” he said as if she’d been waiting for him to speak.

Della looked up from the novel in her lap. “That’s nice.”

“Gave me a good deal. You should see the car I traded it in for. It’s a beauty.”

She sighed. “What brings you here?” she asked. Last she’d heard he was winning football trophies somewhere. Or maybe it was basketball? Baseball? He’d gotten so many trophies in his life, she was sure even he couldn’t keep track.

“Concert tickets. I bought my girlfriend tickets to the Finn Girls.”

Della sat up straighter and her heart pitched forward. Of course he had tickets. Tickets had sold out in five minutes months before. “Have fun then,” she said, wishing she had tickets to the Finn Girls. She had all their lyrics memorized and their pictures cut from magazines and taped into her journal. She’d have had their posters on her bedroom wall if her parents allowed such idolatry.

She flicked the pages of her book, wondering whether it was worse being stuck listening to him or going back into the dining hall and being stuck listening to the adults. At least he couldn’t order her about.

“My girlfriend’s sick though. Throwing up like crazy,” he said.

“That’s too bad.” Was he still dating Cassie Quiffmore? She narrowed her gaze at his beautiful profile. Cassie was pretty and all, but surely he could find prettier girls in college.

“Anyway, you want her ticket?” he asked. “I don’t want the ticket to go to waste.”

Della stared. What was he really saying?

“You don’t even have to pay me the full price for the ticket. I’ll let you’ll have it for a fraction of the price. A hundred bucks and it’s yours.” He patted the shirt pocket over his heart.

Her voice almost escaped. “I don’t have a hundred dollars.” If only she could see the Finn Girls. But her parents would never allow it anyway. Her heart pitched forward again. Genie was her favorite. She played drums and wrote most of the songs. Genie Finn understood.

“You can’t get a hundred dollars?” Mark asked. “I thought your dad was loaded. Like, he owns that dealership and Southgate Plaza, doesn’t he.”

Della stiffened. “I don’t have a hunded dollars.”

“Concert’s Tuesday night.” He stood.

“Why me?”

He looked down at her.

“We aren’t friends, Mark Hackman. Our parents aren’t even friends. You date Cassie choir girl because she’s pretty and not the least bit interesting. Why would you give a damn about me going to a pop concert?”

He laughed. “I can’t go with another guy. C’mon. Get real. Cassie told me to sell you the ticket.”

That made no sense to Della.

“Just so you know,” he continued, “Cassie called you Della the Dork.”

“Everyone’s called me that since third grade.”

“Yeah well…” He patted the ticket in his pocket. “She said you’d want the ticket and she doesn’t care if you sit next to me.” He walked away, and reaching the main doors to the church, he called back over his shoulder, “Call me!”

Day 26 and Letter Writing

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Today’s prompt is to write a letter. So, here we are. Thank you for reading.

To whomever finds this,

I hope you are well, that you know the way out, that things are different now. Could my sister and I walk with you? Would you help us? Perhaps not. It’s unreasonable to ask since we haven’t even met.

But you’ve made it this far and have taken the time to look in the hiding places, the cracks and crevices. This means either you have all the time in the world, nothing is after you, and you’re just curious about this strange old place. Or you’re much like us and have nothing but time because you can’t go forward or back. You’ll find out soon enough the choices. I’m still not sure how much I want to influence you.

Are you the sort to be change your mind because of what someone like me writes? Do you listen? I didn’t. My sister listened but only to me, but she was always silly that way, thinking I knew best because I was older. She always wanted to tag along and usually I said no. Usually I shouted at her to go away. When you tell someone to go away, why don’t they listen? I’ve never been a little sister, so maybe that’s why I don’t understand.

I’m wasting your time and I don’t even know how much time I have to write. You don’t even know how much time you have to read. But I’m sure if you’re reading this, you’ve made a mistake. You’ve taken a wrong turn, ignored the signs, forgot the time. That’s the only way you end up here unless things have really changed. Would you even know? Do you know your history?

Why am I even writing when I don’t know the secret or the code? I don’t know where the key can be found or where the knives are hidden. You’ll need both. Trust me. Trust me unless you find me. Then I make no promises.

I’ve no right to ask, of course, dear reader. No right at all. But if you’ve kept reading, maybe you’ll keep searching. Only a hero would find this, isn’t that right? If you can’t save me, save my words. Maybe I’ll know.

Bye. Or hello. I’ll leave that up to you.

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And if you’re so inclined, my novel is here.

Day 2 of Story-a-Day May!

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I’m not posting entire stories, but here’s the beginning of what I worked on today. This is back story for a manuscript in progress–The Book of Astrophilia. It is my sci-fi fairy tale. And this bit tells about a few of the passengers (secondary characters) on a ship traveling the stars.

The sisters, Jezebel and Skye, smuggled food from the kitchens to the boy they kept hidden in their room. Fabule Earl didn’t eat much, and between them, the girls provided just enough food to keep him quiet. Although he would’ve stayed quiet anyway. He’d do anything for the twins, especially Skye, whose blank, black eyes never saw him but whose hand always held his when he had bad dreams.

The backstory isn’t actually very long. I just explain their motivations and why Fabule loves one sister more than the other and why they’ve hidden him away in their cabin. Of course, they aren’t the main characters of the novel, but I like knowing why everyone in my stories is doing whatever it is they’re doing. Who knows how much of that backstory will make it into the final draft.

Thanks for reading! Tomorrow I hope to work on another story.

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

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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.