Thursday, November 24, 2011

#FridayFlash 57: When a warm wind blows

A warm wind blew on a cold night right before I died.

It was time. I'd lived long enough to see the rise and fall of an empire. Or four. I'd learned a dozen languages, traveled around the world and through time. I'd even managed to fulfill my childhood fantasy of being a princess. Ugh, what a mistake that was - let me tell you girls, there are much better fantasies out there! Tiaras are just not worth the publicity.

My life was, and I say this in all humility, the thing of stories. I kind of wish somebody cared enough to write it down; it would make the kind of epic tale that would gain a cult following from the fantasy types and puzzled disdain from all the normal people - but it would definitely stir up talk.

The problem, as I see it, is that I've always been a secondary character. And nobody writes about secondary characters - not even me.

I was born to the Aldmere family; ever heard of us? Yeah, I thought not. Like I said, secondary characters. And I was the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter -- I know, cliche right? But it's a cliche for a reason. The whys and the hows were lost before they were ever known, but the end result is the Aldmere family are chroniclers. We provide an unbiased report of all items of importance throughout time -- albeit the definitions of both unbiased and importance are ummm sometimes open to interpretation. And in return, we live long enough to experience things worth recording. Some, like my cousin Agyfen, follow the rise and fall of an entire culture. He did his job exceptionally well! Academics still discuss his work. But sadly the anglo-saxons cared little for the names of their scribes, and so he remains anonymous. Then there are others, especially more recently, who live only long enough for a specific event. And then there are the sevens - of which I'm one. We are to oversee the greater picture - or so I was raised to believe. For me though, the picture's always been rather fuzzy - like those first black and white tvs. So I've always felt I had no real job to do. All the important details had their own chroniclers - cousins of mine mostly. Every time I found something exciting to chronicle it'd already been claimed. And while sevens are overseers, we also only get to write that which goes unclaimed.

To be honest, the only thing I've done that I felt worth recording, was dying. Now *that* was interesting. And I still don't entirely understand how it happened. It was night - the kind of night that's so dark you cannot see your hand in front of your face. No matter how wildly you wave it around in front of you! Not that I did that of course. And it was cold - appropriate for winter. But what was disconcerting was the wind. It had a Caribbean warmth to it - and I was far too far away for that to make any sense at all. I remember wondering if maybe it was a time storm; I'd experienced one of those as a teenager (volatile emotions and all that) - was how I came to know Agyfen. But my brother was three years ahead of me and he claimed story rights to time storms so I couldn't even chronicle that. Not that I'm bitter or anything - just letting you know how it came to be that in an entire life dedicated to telling stories, I have yet to write a word.

Anyways - it wasn't a time storm. I was way too old, and I didn't end up somewhere else in time, so clearly that was not the issue. Wasn't even a storm - no rain, sleet, snow, hail, or anything else. Just the eerily warm wind.

I was there - muttering about the folly of being out without a light - and then... I wasn't. The simplicity of it astounded me. Other chroniclers have covered death before; they come out with stories of bright lights and feelings of love. People love those stories. Some of their names even get remembered! Have to admit, I've always been slightly jealous of those who star in their own stories. I think I'd hoped to do that with the princess stint, but I got covered by a pop-fiction chronicler. It was a sadly embarrassing moment.

But right - exciting death's been done, so a seven cannot repeat it. But I really don't think my death, or any like it, has ever been properly recorded. Just going about the minutia of my boring day-to-day life and then suddenly I wasn't. And there was something reasonably exciting about that. I certainly wasn't bored anymore. And I no longer had to stress about what I was supposed to do with my life. But now, through my death, I know exactly what purpose my life has served. I was supposed to be a below-average quasi-failure... The running joke of the family really. Because, let's be honest here, fifty percent of us ARE below average and usually their stories do not get chronicled.

I, the ultimate secondary character, was supposed to chronicle the lives of secondary characters. A perfect fit really. Obviously I didn't figure it out in time to do anything about it, because as soon as a secondary character gets written about, well then they're no longer secondary and thus somebody else's job. A vicious cycle that. And death's already been done.

But there's one part of my story that to the best of my knowledge has never been chronicled. And from that I leave you with one simple warning:

Beware the warm wind.

You're welcome.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

OneWord: Given

I was given the chance and I didn't take it. Fear - of failure, of success, of what others would say, of what others would think... These all stopped me. I was so young then. If only I'd realized what I'd really been given. If only I'd taken the opportunity presented. How different would life have been?

Friday, June 24, 2011

#FridayFlash 56 - Home

Slightly different style of Flash this week, drawn as much from memory as imagination and with a much younger MC than I generally try to write. Did it work? Let me know what you think!

Please note that all characters and events in this work - even those based on real people - are entirely fictional >;-P

Thanks for reading!

Alana was grounded. Again. And this time it really wasn't fair! All she'd done was mention that it was Jessi's turn to do the dishes and ask why she should have to do them. Jessi would certainly never have to do her chores. But now she still had to do the stupid dishes for her stupid sister AND had no access to her phone or computer for a week! How was she supposed to do her homework? Did they *want* her to fail? Probably. Then they could ground her for that too.

She finished the chore and fled the house, slamming the door as she went. They'd hate that, but she knew by the time she got home it'd be forgotten. Hopping on her bike she peddled furiously to the one place that was hers; the one place her siblings and parents never interfered. The barn.

Alana ditched her bike and went into the barn, the smell taking the edge off her temper as quickly as it would've made her younger brother cringe and whine. The horses were all outside, and the barn was spotless - her coach was insanely picky about that. It's just a barn after all. But the girls all knew things just went much better when you smiled and did it the way she wanted.

She quickly cut through the barn and, grabbing a halter and lead line, headed out to the paddock; she could hear a lesson going on in the distance, but that wasn't why she was there. As she approached the gate she called her pony's name. He looked up from his grazing, nickered, and trotted away from the herd towards her. 'At least somebody loves me', she thought as she fed him his carrot and wrapped her arms around his neck.

They'd told her she'd have to sell him -- she was growing too tall and needed a bigger horse. But how could she sell her best friend? She buried her head in his neck and wiped the tears with his mane. He turned his head around and nudged her shoulder with his muzzle as if to tell her it'd all be ok.

Haltering him, Alana led him out of the paddock, closing the gate behind her. She contemplated hopping on him bareback and riding him back to the barn. It'd be fun. And he'd let her do it. She knew he would. But she had no helmet. And her coach just *might* kill her if she found out. Or worse, kick her out! And she would find out. There was no doubt about that. So she dutifully led her pony back the way she'd been trained.

She groomed and tacked up quickly. Usually a task she enjoyed and spent endless hours doing, today she just wanted, needed, to get out. And he understood – picking up on her mood and fussing in the cross ties instead of standing quietly as he’d been trained to. As quickly as possible she and her pony were back outside, dressed and ready to go. She vaulted into the saddle, a move she was quite proud of, and turned away from the lesson still going on in the background. Still mad at her parents and devastated that they’d even consider *mentioning* selling her beloved Prince, she turned and headed out to the field. He started to dance underneath her, picking up on her distress and knowing a calm walk through the woods wasn’t going to be the answer for either one of them.

They picked up a power trot, the pony straining at the bit, eager to go faster. She started to relax as she smiled at his antics. “Not yet Prince,” she told him out loud, “you have to warm up first.” They trotted two laps around the conditioning trail; she laughed out loud when he used a squirrel racing up a tree as an excuse to bolt. “Not yet,” she repeated as she checked him. Half way through the third lap she let him roll into a canter, and by the time they hit the start of the fourth he was flying.

Her heart pounding she raced with her pony; they flew around the track – he stretching as fast as possible, she leaning low to his neck, loving every minute of it. The only sound was his hooves crinkling the grass as they hit, and his breath matching his stride. She couldn’t see – the wind was too sharp in her eyes. But she trusted him completely. And so they flew.

Eventually, after what seemed a lifetime and only a split second all at once, she knew he’d gone far enough and sat up to slow him down to a more reasonable pace. They trotted for a little while down some of the side paths, just enjoying being together. When they got to the pond, she hopped off and let him have a drink and a graze, enjoying just being with him.

She had all but forgotten what had sent her fleeing to the barn in the first place, and knew deep in her heart her parents would never really make her sell him. They could be totally horrid and always favoured her sister, but that was a line not even they would cross. She picked a dandelion and fed it to her pony who accepted it with quiet grace before she remounted to head home.

The ride back was quieter than the trip out, but the grin from the wild gallop remained on her face as they sedately strolled back, reins on the buckle, Prince a calm old school pony once more. Back at the barn, carefully controlled chaos reigned, as the lesson had finished so the students were all gossiping and reliving their lesson while untacking and bathing their horses. “Have a good ride?” one of the girls asked Alana as she and Prince joined them. And as easily as that, she was welcomed home.

OneWord: Failed

All I could think was what would happen if I failed. How had it come to the point that I, simple little average me, was the only thing standing between us and total annihilation? I wasn't trained for this. I wasn't trained for anything. But now, if I failed, we would all pay. I took a deep breath, and started...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

OneWord: History

As I fell asleep on my history textbook, my mind numbed by details, I was taken back to a time before the books were written -- a time when there was still a chance either side could win.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

OnewWord: Intense

She stared intensely at the screen, having no idea what to write. Her entire future depended on her answering this one question correctly, but all she could think was "why would anybody care?" The question was ridiculous, and she knew it. But to write that would ensure she'd never get the job.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

OneWord: Corner

I met him at the corner of walk and don't walk, while trying to decide whether to walk. It was one of those days -- anything that could've gone wrong had. I certainly wasn't in any position to meet or acknowledge the person who could change my life. But there he was, helping me retrieve the small mountain of stuff I accidentally deposited in the puddle by his feet as I tripped off the curb. And I was so frustrated and so frazzled I could barely bring myself to civilly meet his eye and mutter a thanks. But when I did, the look I received had such warmth and grace it faded the petty challenges of the day into nothing.

Monday, June 6, 2011

OneWord: Painted

The painted pony raised his head and looked alertly towards me. Deeming me of no interest, he returned to grazing in the lush pasture while my mind transported me back to childhood. How I had painted markings on all the otherwise boring horse toys and dreamed of the day I'd be able to ride my very own paint horse, bareback, through the fields. And now it looked as though that day might be nearly here.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

OneWord: Plaid

I stared at the plaid kilt, fascinated, before realizing how very rude I was being and belatedly lifting my eyes to the amused Scotsman's face. I blushed bright red, a curse I've been haunted by forever, causing him to give in to laughter. Not my best first impression.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

OneWord: Montage

The montage of photos was chaotic. Created by slapping too many together any which way - or so it seemed at first. But as I looked closer, a story started to evolve. A story that suggested there was more to this montage than first appeared. One that showed careful consideration had gone into the photos. In fact, it looked as though the montage might well hold the answer to why my sister was murdered.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

OneWord: Despair

What an unhappy topic. Sheesh. Oh well - here's my 60 second effort:


I looked out the window despairing of ever seeing the sun again. The clouds so closely paralleled my mood it seemed there was no escape. With everything gone, how could the sun dare to peek through? How could I ever hope to smile?

Friday, May 27, 2011

OneWord: Mint

She could smell the mint on his breath. He'd been smoking again - and worse, trying such a pathetically obvious cover up. She was about ready to give up. How could she care so much for somebody who didn't even care for himself? Was it even worth the battle? In the end, it was his choice after all. And yet, how could she not fight for his life?

(sixty seconds to write about OneWord:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

OneWord: Canteen

The canteen glowed eerily. I eyed what was supposed to be a healthy drink warily. What had they put in in this time? My boyfriend assured me it was good for me, but could I trust him? With eyes closed and heart in throat, I lifted the canteen and drank.

( - you have 60 seconds to write about their word)

#FridayFlash 55 - The Thunder Rolled

It's been entirely too long since I've written a flash, and I've very much missed it. Thanks for reading! Comments very welcome :)


The Thunder Rolled

It was raining. The kind of rain where you shut off the tv to just listen to Nature play her song on the window pane. The kind of rain that makes you pity any man or beast caught out in it. The kind of rain that makes you want to go out and play in it to be a child once more.

And then the thunder rolled. It called to me. And I knew I had to be a part of it. 35 years old, a successful professional, and generally responsible adult, and I didn't even stop to question the urge to go play in the rain.

I stepped outside to a darkness so intense I couldn't even see the giant tree I knew was only a dozen feet from where I stood. Before I'd even managed two steps, I was soaked through with the kind of jolting cold that temporarily takes your breath away and then makes you feel hyper-alive for having survived it.

I walked farther into the yard - the lights from the house eerily blurred by the rain and not strong enough to cut the intense darkness and illuminate my path. The thunder, no longer inviting, roared a warning. A suggestion I return to the known. The safe. A suggestion I ignored.

My hand outstretched in front of me found the tree my grandmother had planted a lifetime ago. The thick canopy above seemed helpless to stop the onslaught of drops. The thunder crashed angrily, making me jump. I could feel it shaking inside me. Yet I felt the need to be out there - to be a part of it.

I leaned against the tree, looking away from my home to the darkness that seemed unyielding. Huge drops continued to sharply pelt my skin; yet somehow it was revitalizing. I felt alive. Refreshed. I considered briefly what my coworkers would think if they saw me here, and knew they'd be stunned. And then I considered what my friends would think, and knew they'd simply smile and roll their eyes -- never entirely understanding, but always accepting. And the thought made me smile.

The next crash of thunder was joined in a heartbeat by a vividly powerful bolt of lightning, close enough that I could feel the electricity shiver in my veins. And in the moment of clarity before I was blinded by the light, I could've sworn I'd seen a man standing in the street in the rain. I felt like our eyes locked and I *knew* him. Knew him as well and as deeply as I knew myself. But it was impossible. I wasn't even sure I'd seen anything, much less a recognizable person.

The rain continued pounding out its message on the leaves above my head. The darkness seemed even thicker after the flash of light. And the sound of his voice, directly beside me, more terrifying than anything I've ever experienced.

"Don't you know enough to go in out of the rain?" he asked in a low voice that seemed to roll as the once inviting thunder had.

My response was delayed while I waited for my heart to restart. I couldn't see his features in the darkness, and his voice was not familiar, but somehow I still felt I knew him. And that I shouldn't be afraid.

"Nothing extraordinary ever came of doing the expected." I told him. The thunder rumbled, moving away from us. I felt his gaze on me and wondered how he could see better than I.

"So you're an extraordinary woman then?" I could hear the smile in his voice, but couldn't quite tell if it was sincere.

"And you sir, I'm quite certain, an extraordinary man." I answered, trying instinctively to match his tone and feeling slightly lost, as though I were the only person in a group who didn't get the joke.

"Indeed," he said formally. The rain was fading. The canopy above becoming more successful at catching the drops before they hit us. But the nagging feeling that I knew him grew stronger.

"You're right," he told me. Before I could question him he elaborated, "you do know me. You just don't remember. But it's almost time. You're almost ready."

"Ready for what?" I couldn't stop myself from asking, although I regretted it the instant the words were out of my mouth.

"Ready for the extraordinary," he replied seriously. "There's more to you than you acknowledge. The power calls to you. And tonight you answered. Consider what that means."

And before I could even begin to digest that sentence and deem it all garbage, he was gone. As quickly and silently as he'd arrived, he disappeared. And with him, the storm.

The air held a crisp freshness that hinted of energy and the lights from the house now shone clearly well past my tree. I looked around but could see nobody. I returned to my house feeling both foolish and intensely intrigued, for you see I felt instinctively as though he was right. There was power there. And all that was left was for me to figure out how to use it.