O, but how bright and beautiful is she, Her mane billows at a toss of her head, Never a prouder horse did you yet see, As stars shimmer in her coat; black as lead. This fine fiery mare of starry night, This creature made of darkness and moonbeams, Her coat a mirror, reflecting all light, Was borne of a mere mortal’s sweet daydreams. Ebony! I reach out, call out her name, She snorts and whirls away, leaving me here. Then suddenly she spins, and as if tame, Comes to me, her eyes soft and dark and clear. I touch silky mane; through it fingers wind, And then, we leap, flying fleet as the wind.
Up the mountain, in that cave, There lives a fierce and fiery dragon, And it’s about time someone caught it.
I shall be the valiant knight, Who stands by to guard with sword in hand. Josephine and Connor shall be the ones To slam closed the gates, once the beast is caged. Tommy will stand by with the lasso in hand, To rope the creature should it escape. And now I think that all is ready— Oh, you? Ah, yes, I almost forgot You can be the bait! ___ Imitation of Shel Silverstein’s “Play Ball”
No diamond jewel could compare To the worth of a raindrop in summer. No emerald or ruby could compare To the brilliant hues of a hummingbird. No opal gemstone could compare To the snowy feathers of an egret. For all they take a million years to make, These things of rock and metal make Some forget nature’s living creatures.
What diamond dropped from the sky Could make a trillion living things grow? What emerald or ruby could defy The laws of science and fly? What opal shaped to feather mimicry Could cloak in warmth a living being? Why do we so value these things of rock and metal, But heedlessly cause other living things to die?
The evergreens buried in drifting snow, Bow their branches, laden with perching birds. This whole place glazed with silver ice, aglow With mirrored light, silent but for the birds. Then through the melting snow breaks brilliant green, And creatures venture forth from winter dens.
Deer roam the fields, the wolf’s no longer lean, Back are the bright hummingbirds, drabber wrens. Flowers bloom in riots of brilliant color, The young pups and chicks of spring have grown. Then trees burst into fire’s brilliant color, The hummingbirds, wrens, buntings have now flown. And so fall shifts to winter, as summer Did fall; as the seasons will forever.
(This story is from a prompt about new beginnings)
Though I knew I had to steal the key, my conscience still smote me brutally. It wasn’t like it had been my idea. The hall was black-dark, but it wasn’t hard to flick open the lock on the tiny box and remove its contents. I could feel everything through my thin gloves, black as the shadows, as if they were a second skin.
The lock snicked shut as I closed the metal box. Ghosting over dark velvet floors, the massive ornate door in view, I was already triumphant. I would get my pay, and he would get his key. The authorities wouldn’t find out who’d stolen it; they never did when I was involved.
“Going somewhere?” The chuckle froze me by the door. Light spilled from a slit in the hall panels, an emerald eye peering through. I stared back through the dark mask across my face. I held my breath, waiting to see what she would do. Not that she knew anything was missing. Yet.
The mahogany panel slipped further open, light spreading toward me but stopping just short. “You do know you aren’t the first.” Her wrinkled lips pursed, eyes narrowing. “But I think I’ll give you a chance.” She stepped back. “Come in! Show me you can use that key, and I’ll let you keep it.”
I stayed motionless, mistrustful of her offer. Besides, it wasn’t my key; I didn’t want it, nor did I particularly want to steal it. “I was hired to take it, not use it,” I said, the words spilling out against my better judgment.
“Perhaps you’d like to change allegiances then.” She grinned. “You’re the best that’s ever tried! I almost missed catching you. And I assure you, I pay much better.”
I wavered, unconvinced, but she hadn’t called for help or tried yet to stop me. Cautiously, I approached, shadows unfurling behind me as the revealing light swirled before my boots.
She sank into a curving armchair, and I saw she was clothed in a riot of colors bright as her eyes. I stopped by the door, and we watched each other until she flicked a hand. “Go on, girl.” Slowly I uncurled my fingers, glancing at the slender key made of irregular wooden chunks fashioned together. Except…it was a puzzle, not a key.
Guessing it was supposed to open some way, I began shifting the pieces. Bit by bit they came apart until the last cluster fell open. Inky smoke spilled from them, unfurling into dark shimmering scales, an angular head, and slender body. I recoiled in shock as a sleek wolf-sized dragon gazed up at me.
“Ha! You thought he’d hire you to take a simple key?” the mage laughed.
“That is magic, my dear. Never ask of magic ‘how.’” She waved airily. “Don’t worry, that dragon won’t hurt you. She’s yours remember!” I looked from the dragon, tail neatly wound around her feet, to the woman, who chuckled again. “I told you I pay better.”
I have been one acquainted with the light. When I wander, I do not walk alone Even in the deepest depths of the night. I do not need company but for my own. I exalt in walking down a fractured street That’s rife with seeds last spring has sown.
And should a passerby I never meet, Then in the solitude I will not pine For my happiness shall be complete. I do not like a road covered in civil signs, I prefer the spires of nature to be my only sight As I wander down the paths of crooked lines, Here my mind can soar to its fullest height; I have been one acquainted with the light. ___ Imitation of Robert Frost’s “Acquainted with the Night”
(This story is from a prompt about getting an undeserved, unwanted, accolade)
It had been a tranquil summer day until my sister stepped on the snake. She hadn’t seen the long black creature in the grass until it reared up and struck at her. I couldn’t really blame it. After all, my sister had stomped her foot down on the thing’s back. I probably would have struck at her if she stepped on me like that.
The scream my sister let out could have woken the dead. Mom heard her from all the way up at the house and came running. Sophie was still screaming and dancing around when mom finally got there. She’d been smart enough to jump away from the snake, but instead of turning and fleeing like a normal person, she started running around in circles. The snake, who didn’t want anything except to not be stepped on, had subsided into the grass and slithered away under some spiny bushes. At least there it wasn’t likely to get stepped on again.
My sister, teary eyed and pale faced, was standing trembling in the yard when Mom rushed over. “Honey, what happened?” Mom asked.
Sophie pointed toward the bushes. “I—It—s—snake—b—bit me!” she stammered before collapsing into sobs again.
Mom put her arms around Sophie and looked over at me. “Sasha, what happened?”
“She stepped on a snake,” I said.
Mom’s eyes widened. “What kind of snake?”
A thousand tiny twinkling lights, In the blue-black velvet night, A thousand glittering brilliant pin-pricks, In the arching dome of sky. A million glowing points of light, I see in the blue-black velvet night. So clear and bright, a swirling white, In the deep black velvet night.
(This story is from a photo prompt, included below)
Wind whispers through the soft feathers of my wings. I swoop down, landing before the wooden building half buried in pristine snow. The place looks strange in the pre-dawn light, as if it really is haunted.
I was sent to investigate this place, as rumors were spreading that it housed a malicious or ghostly presence. Standing in front of the old gray church, I can start to believe the rumors, though it is still hard to imagine anything mean enough to take down a dragon. I crunch closer, past ice glazed trees, feet sinking through ice to soft snow.
Movement flickers at the corner of my eye. I stop, staring through a broken window. Nothing. I move closer, through snow the color of my scales. Just as I reach the steps up to the door, a blur of movement explodes past me. I jump as an unearthly wail rends the air. I stagger as the thing charges in front of me.
Black is the first thing I notice, stark against white snow. Black hooves thrash the air, tangled black mane whips in a non-existent wind. Before I can react, the creature screams again.
“Antira!” he wails. My eyes widen. I haven’t spoken, let alone said my name.
“What?” I ask.
“Beware, Antirrhinum! Our kinds have not met in a thousand years, but the time is soon that they will meet again!”
I stare. “Your kind?”
“The Myrjieque Chevala, the Magic Horses,” he says.
I snort. “What dragon fears a horse?” The stallion stills, only his forelock billowing slightly.
“None, but the one who took my life. For I think she has learned the curse of the spirit form.” Quick as he’d come, the ghost horse whirls and disappears back inside the building. I stand and stare for a moment, realizing…
I leap into the air. I will tell the others of the horses approaching. But no more. I do not belong with them. My old enemy is right—even in life, I had not truly belonged in the land of the living, but in this surreal place of spirits.
Well, after another year of randomly disappearing from my website (blows cobweb off keyboard) I have returned again! I have a backlog of candidates for the Writer as Reader’s Corner I’m hoping to get around to reviewing, but in the meantime I felt it might be nice to get back into some short fiction writing of my own. Some stories will likely be reposts of works I did over on the Confabulator Café before its demise, though with some edits to clean them up a bit better. Some may also be stories I’ve shopped around to enough magazines I feel comfortable letting them retire after collecting a long pedigree of rejections.
So, we’ll see how long I keep this endeavor up! Hopefully I will have edits finished on the book in the next few months, and while it’s off tormenting agents I’ll spend some time on here, cleaning the place up a bit. Maybe I’ll even manage a little more consistency while I’m at it, haha.