Gardenias and Graveyards

Hi, friends! Normally, I post on the first Friday of the month, but my prompt buddy, Laura, was out of town during that time. So, she and I decided to postpone our stories for a week. Thanks for waiting!

I found this picture on Pinterest.

I always make sure to leave roses on the bush.

Glancing around furtively, I snip away the last stalk I’ll take tonight, cradling the snow-white rose in my gloved hands. Moonlight casts the garden in an eerie glow. It’s a night fit for ghosts to walk, which is sort of fitting, I guess.

The lights are off at 2467 Yarrow Lane, just as they are in the rest of my part of the world. Delilah always liked this time of night, said that this was when you could be free because the only ones watching are God and the moon. I gaze at the moon, a thin, pale crescent in the pitch-black sky, and my heart cracks. Can you still see the moon, Lilah?

My eyes catch on another part of the garden, the plants pale with dark green flowers. Are those gardenias? How did I never notice them? I mean, I’ve been taking from this garden for weeks.

Delilah loved gardenias. Whenever she saw one, she had to buy it, no matter where we were or how inconvenient it was. I never really understood the appeal. I mean, they smell nice but feel weird, kind of like wax, and they look fake.

But suddenly, they’re the most beautiful flower in the world.

\With another glance at the darkened windows, I creep across the garden, trying not to crush any plants. Holy crap, how big is this garden, anyway? It’s like a jungle in here––massive plants swallowing my dark-clad form, brightly-colored blooms I don’t recognize.

I should probably switch things up, try a different garden. Then these people won’t get suspicious about their flowers disappearing. But 2467 Yarrow Lane has the biggest, most elaborate garden I’ve ever seen.

Snip snip go the shears, and three gardenia stalks drop into my waiting hands. I stare at the waxy flowers for a moment, my heart seizing. Just for you, I think.

Okay, maybe I’ve taken too many this time. But they’ve got plenty of flowers. They won’t notice.

“So, who’s the girl?”

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Eliza

This decade, my name is Eliza.

Last decade it was Beth, the previous one Elisabeth, Betty before that. I reuse the names over the years; one can only acclimate to so many variations.

But today, walking through the new art museum, draped in violet silk, I feel like Lisbeth, the girl who loved beautiful dresses and couldn’t bear the thought of settling down. The elegant golden archways and detailed murals on the ceilings bring me back to the days when servants came at my call.

My heels click against the tile as I make my way down the ornate hallways. Paintings always bring me back to my childhood. I stop to study one that so clearly resembles our summer estate. I can almost feel the sea against my toes, the salty air against my skin; can almost hear Mum telling us to slow down, to be good girls.

I shove the ache deep inside and stroll through the museum. Lovely quality, priceless things. They really have improved the museums over the years, though part of me misses the time when carriages clattered down cobblestone streets.

I almost pass the painting, lost in my thoughts, but the dress catches my attention—pale pink chiffon, cinched at the waist, lace draping the neck, silver threads glittering throughout.

My feet stop of their own accord, and I turn my full attention to the painting. The Adoration of Lisbeth by Claude Heron.

The girl depicted is pretty, late twenties—an old maid—dark hair caught up in tight coils. Her smile is mischievous, her gaze playful, even transmitted through brushstrokes.

Her smile is mine.

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To Kidnap a Princess

Picture from Pinterest.

My day was going quite nicely until the human walked in. 

Male, female, it doesn’t matter––I don’t want any of them in my swamp. Though I will admit that females are rarer, so I don’t immediately growl, bare my teeth, or threaten death upon her and her children’s children.

She’s what the humans would consider beautiful, with her honey-brown skin and long, night-black hair. I don’t see how having such soft, unarmored skin is in any way appealing, but then again, I don’t understand humans, not a bit.

She kneels, her dress dragging in the muck. Most females wouldn’t go near a swamp, let alone a dragon. I’m intrigued.

“Sotirios, great one.”

Fire smolders in the back of my throat. She knows my name? I thought I’d been doing the whole hermit thing quite well. But if this human has heard of me, then I’m not doing it well enough. I need to find somewhere even more secluded than a swamp, which will prove to be difficult.

“My name is Casimira, and I desire your assistance.”

I am not sure why she wants me to know her name. I have better things to do than get caught up in the meager lifespan of a human. “I am not interested,” I say. “Now, if you please, this is my swamp, and I would prefer that you leave alive.”

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Bloodrose: Part 4

This picture came from Pinterest.

Here it is, friends––the final chapter of “Bloodrose.” Check out Parts 1 (here), 2 (here), and 3 (here) before continuing.


Raisa

Everything about me is pain. Severe pain. Maybe I’ve been stabbed.

But why on earth would I have been stabbed? That just doesn’t make sense. Dumb Raisa.

Other guess––I’ve been cut open and stitched together again. Not like that’s realistic at all, but that’s just what I imagine that would feel like.

Okay, seriously, what is going on?

I force my heavy eyelids open. The world is a blur, a very white blur. Lots and lots of white. Snow? What is that beeping?

“Oh my word, Raisa, you’re okay. I can’t believe it.”

I know that voice. I know that face––Peter! My neighbor!

“Oh, Raisa!” That’s Mom, running toward me, throwing her arms around me. Pain jolts through my arms, and I moan. What is this weird clothing I’m wearing? Why does it seem like it’s gaping at the back?

“You’re alive!” Mom cries.

Dad swiftly joins her, forming a group hug. Wait. Are those IVs in my arms? Am I in a hospital?

Images flit through my brain––snow, the silken rose, touching the thorn, a forest of red stalks all around me. Goodness gracious. Did that all happen? And why can’t I remember how it ended?

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Bloodrose: Part 3

This picture is from Pinterest.

I would highly recommend reading Parts 1 (here) and 2 (here) of “Bloodrose” before continuing. But I suppose you can make your own choices, and if you choose to start in the middle of a story, I can’t exactly stop you.

I hope you enjoy Part 3!


Peter

Holy crap. Did all that come from her finger?

I was just doing a midnight tractor run, checking on the heifers to make sure they weren’t calving yet. That’s it. I didn’t sign up for giant demon roses coming out of nowhere and trying to kill me.

Raisa’s scream jolts me from my panic. “Raisa!” I shout. “Are you okay?”

No reply, just wails. And all the while, the roses are growing and growing and growing. I can barely even see Raisa anymore through the tangle of thorns. But seriously, where did the roses come from? Could they really have come from her blood?

I hope the heifers aren’t anywhere near. I don’t want them or their unborn calves getting close to these things.

But now what? The sane part of me wants to hop on my tractor and run the heck away. Also to call the cops. But I can’t just leave Raisa here. Why did this have to happen in the middle of nowhere when I don’t have my phone on me?

Muttering all the reasons I shouldn’t do this, I grab my axe from the floor of the tractor’s passenger seat and stare up at the roses. They’re even taller than I would’ve thought. Wow. Um. So, what now? Do I just, like, chop them down?

I swallow, staring up at the giant rose. I’ve never been able to kill an animal. It just freaks me out, watching them squirm and die. Never been able to kill our chickens or anything. Nate always makes fun of me. But my all-powerful brother isn’t here, so I guess I’m gonna have to do this myself.

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