We could all use a little more light right now, don’t you think?
The Prompted contest for May was light-themed, partially because of the need for more light, partially because my flash fiction story “Secret Agent Lampshade” was published today only on Havok. (Sorry I’m posting this so late. Marit, my fellow judge, and I had a hard time coordinating schedules.)
As usual, the stories were to be 150 words or less, which is a difficult challenge, to be sure. But they all did marvelously!
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.
The flash fiction writing prompt contest for April 2020 is now officially over! The theme was memory. The entrants were given 150 words to create stories from three prompts, and they all did a fantastic job. Julia Skinner (@litaflameblog) and I had quite a time trying to choose the winners.
Here are the posts if you want to see all the entries:
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.”
Remember my desert-themed prompt contest from last October? This image was one of the prompts I used. Well, it inspired me too! So here is my interpretation of the prompt. I didn’t limit myself to 100 words, though, because I’m allowed to break my own rules. 😉
Bones clattered in Rasul’s sack with each movement his camel took. He gripped the reins more tightly, swaying with the steps of his mount. Though his keffiyeh shielded him from the sun’s rays, sweat dripped from his skin.
“Look ahead!” Baqir pointed with a sun-darkened hand. Not ten camel-lengths in front of them, the tip of a thick white bone gleamed in the harsh sunlight. The rest disappeared into the sand.
“Oh!” Almas peered around Baqir’s broad back. “A new skeleton? Where do you think it came from? Is it a mirage?”
“It seems real.” Rasul let a smile curl his lips. There would be coin in their coffers soon enough. “The wind must have stirred the dunes to reveal this one. Fate smiles upon us today.”
They were lucky that they hadn’t accidentally trod on a skeleton. That could seriously wound a camel depending on if the creature slipped or even impaled itself on the protruding bones. Fortunately, that sort of unfortunate mishap had only happened twice in Rasul’s time of gathering.
Almas bounced, and the camel shifted uneasily at its passenger’s behavior.
Baqir jerked the reins, and the camel settled down. “Watch it, boy,” the stocky man snapped.
“Sorry!” Almas stilled only momentarily before resuming his bouncing. Baqir let out a low growl.
Rasul ignored his companions and gazed at the bone. It was a good find indeed. There had been a time when this area of the desert was rife with tanim skeletons. Everywhere one looked, bones would protrude from the sand, great ribcages and powerful limbs, even thin wing-bones. It was a mass tanim grave, left over from some great battle before Rasul’s time.
But now, moons after Rasul and Baqir had started gathering the bones, the skeletons had become more and more rare. Unfortunately, the demand for bones had not lessened; in fact, it grew greater and greater as their fame grew. For who could resist talismans of luck and protection?