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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Light-Themed Prompt Contest

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!

Here are the Instagram posts:

Now for the winners!

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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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Guess who’s posting two stories this month?! I know it’s quite a shock. But I decided to add another story to my plate when I saw the Intuitive Writing Guide prompt for January.

I’ve always wanted to write a retelling of the Snow Queen, so I had to try the prompt. Now, I haven’t actually read the original story or anything, so I guess “Statues” is more of a story inspired by the Snow Queen than a retelling.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy “Statues.” Sorry if I break your heart.

The icy curve of Gwyneth’s cheek was as pale as it had been in life. Eirwen let her fingers linger on her half-sister’s face as she stared into the blank eyes of the ice statue. “Good day, Gwynni,” she murmured.

Gwyneth didn’t answer, of course. But if Eirwen stared at the statue hard enough, she could almost imagine a gleam of life in the eyes, a warm breath coming from the lips, a breeze stirring the hair.

Eirwen squeezed Gwyneth’s hand, forever stretched forward, desperate for touch. And that was what had killed Gwynni in the end.

Tears did not accompany the sudden surge of emotion, but Eirwen wished that they had, impossible as that was. At least her heart was still capable of feeling. She turned away from Gwyneth’s statue and fastened a glare on the other two statues at the edge of the throne room. “Hello, Father, Stepmother.”

Father’s lips were stretched wide in a never-ending scream. Stepmother’s were curled in a sneer, her eyebrows arched with disdain. The statues did not melt, perhaps because of the coldness of the air, perhaps because of their magical essence.

Some said that it was the coldness of the palace that had frozen Eirwen’s heart, simply ignoring the fact of Stepmother’s decree. They were lying to themselves, blaming an external factor instead of their beloved former queen for the wreck that was the bastard princess.

“I can touch you now, Stepmother.” Eirwen’s nails scraped against the former queen’s frigid form. “You cannot stop me.”

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