The Small One

A small cough revealed her hiding behind a chair. I pretended not to see her, even looked away, but the flash of her eyes pierced the room’s midnight. Why she was here, who knew, perhaps fate or fragility? But when I opened the window that a stiff breeze had slammed closed behind her, she simply flew away.

I have never told this tale to anyone, not family, friend or foe. People would’ve thought me mad to speak of the little people, those we call faerie. Reputations are tarnished by such things and I was never a brave man. So why, you ask? Why now? Why us? Know this, my dear, dear readers, I’m telling you because tonight she’s back. And I won’t be.

The Flower Girl

She’d braided daisies into her hair with the skilled fingers of a seamstress.

“How old?” I’d gasped.

“She’s five.”

“Where did she learn?”

“Not from us. One day, she just wandered into the meadow behind our house and started picking flowers. We watched from the garden gate with smiles from ear to ear. She left us dumbstruck when she began weaving them into her hair.”

Colleen placed her cup back on its saucer as the little girl laughed and danced and sang her chirping songs.

“Well, I’m staggered,” I said. And I was.

“Everyone says the same. She’s a very talented child.”

“You must be very proud,” I commented.

“Oh, we are. The best thing that ever happened to us was planting her.”

“Planting! I’ve never heard it called that before.”

“She still sleeps in the same pot,” Colleen continued as though in a dream. “We fear for her every frost.”

I don’t know what it was about the little girl but whenever the weather grew cold, I feared for her. The sun never seemed warm enough after that.

50 Word Stories: How Lost is Lost?

“No!” She grabbed my arm. “There’s no place for you here.”

“I need a room.”

“We house the lost, the damned and the dead.”

“Did you say dead?”

“You hear what you need to hear,” she hissed.

She was right. I jumped in my car and left. I’m still driving.

#VignetteSeries – In Fluid Runes are Entrances Found

Author’s Note: From a work in progress. The great investigator Mortimer Headlock and his companion Miss Grace Grace have found the Theatre of the Moon. Getting in, however, is not so simple.

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The symbols on the great, ebony doors ghosted in and out of existence. In a continual swirling as of spectral leaves, the runic insignia sought to settle, but like all ghosts, never could. Grace watched as like milk spilt on a carried tray the lettering never solidified for more than a fraction of a second; no one would decipher them.

Headlock appeared to have taken a different approach. Instead of staring at the doors, he placed a finger to the fluid runes and allowed something other than his active senses to follow them. His index revealed by his removed glove rode the waves of whatever manipulated the door’s protection until when his fingertip turned blue, he removed it.

“Any idea?” Grace quizzed.

“None at all.”

Promising the Moon and Stars

“It lies just over the next hill.”
“Thank you,” I’d said, hoisted my backpack over my shoulder and moved off down the road. This was the fourth time I had done so.
It wasn’t that the people had been rude to me, far from it, nor that they’d deliberately caused me distress, they hadn’t, just that no matter how convincing they sounded the village never appeared. Every person knew of what I spoke. Like automatons, each would scratch their head, mull over the best way to arrive at said destination and then simply advise following the road. I had no reason to doubt them, they were local, I was not.
I made up my mind that if I crested the next rise and the village did not appear, I would go back to the last visited, find an inn and take a room. I had walked for far too long, for far too many miles and my patience wore thin.
“I’ll meet you at The Village,” the girl had said.
“What’s its name?” I’d replied.
“That is its name.”
She’d kissed me on the cheek, beaming from ear to ear, and set off up the road; missing her hurt before she’d even left my sight.
We’d met at a youth hostel that bulged with eager young adventurers. I wanted her the moment I saw her, there was just something about her, something ethereal, otherworldly. I’d promised her the moon and stars and she’d believed me. I had, too, at the time. The next day the other travellers had all gone off in one direction, whilst Celestine and I had gone in the other. She’d set off before breakfast saying her parents would be expecting her for dinner, whilst I had remained to stuff my face with a fry up; eggs, bacon, beans and fried bread, I loved a warm meal first thing in the morning.
The problem had come when the so-called Village never appeared and now it was dusk. I stepped onto the brow of the hill the road swept over and looked down into a valley of sparkling silver. The village was there, spectacular, the valley it sat in, more so. It was as though the place existed in a realm of its own, somehow apart from the road behind me, somehow unique. I forgot all about Celestine that very instant, lust and desire set aside in favour of starlight.
When I reached the first house, the rest vanished. I rubbed my eyes, but they did not reappear. Too tired to care and blaming that for the illusion, I knocked on the silvered door. Celestine answered.
“Hello, can I help you?”
“It’s me,” I’d said.
“Who’s me?”
“Me, from the hostel, Richard.”
“I don’t know you.”
“Look this isn’t funny. I’m tired and need somewhere to sleep.”
“And?”
“Can I come in?”
“No.”
“But there isn’t anywhere else.”
“No, you’re right, there isn’t.”
With that, she shut the door in my face and no matter how hard I knocked wouldn’t answer it again.
I turned back to the road, which had gone, replaced by stars. The effect was like vertigo, as I swayed in the nothingness. My feet touched the ebony-sprinkled ground, and much to my surprise, it held. I moved off reluctantly, I knew not where. Wherever I looked all was the universe, all was night.
So what happened next?
Nothing. I wandered the stars, nothing more, nothing less. Occasionally, when time allowed, I’d remember Celestine. When I did, I’d hear her groans of contempt in the moonshine and comets, her anger at my preferring their beauty to hers, then I’d wander off again.
So, if ever you should promise a girl the moon and stars, when your true motives are less chivalrous, remember me and Celestine. I got both, but I won’t be getting them again.

The End.

Seesaws and Shadows

There are shadows in the playground where the children used to laugh. I see them. Others don’t.
I skirt the wrought iron fence, green paint peeling to the concrete like makeshift grass, and edge my way towards the swings. The seats are empty, but the chains still lurch pendulum-like back and forth. This place spooks me, and I’m used to being spooked.
A man with some rattish dog sweeps by without looking up eager to be anywhere but here. If only I had that choice.
The shadows move with the sun flitting between the angular school buildings, so long deserted, edging towards the things they wish to play upon. Soon it will set, darkness will consume this place and the children shall, at last, get their wish. I wonder, will they ask me to play this time?
I lie back on the seesaw, take a bite from my pastrami sandwich and wait. I always wait, as I’ve nowhere else to be.

Once

I loved her once, I realise this now. As I sit here watching the leaves turn, Fall scratching the colours of Summer from the wood behind my home, it is her hazel eyes, her ruddy cheeks, her chestnut hair that I see in every hue of the season.
It was not always this way, but one forgets what one wishes to, and remembers what one does not. I remember too much. It hurts. I am forever in torment.
I stroll through the wood daily. It is more than a habit yet less than a dare, it is a ritual, no more and no less. I count the dying dandelions in the seeds that take flight on the cool, north wind. There are many, but I have nothing better to do.
I cross the stream with the migrated shopping trolley still buried in its half-filled depths. I ponder on how it got here; I still don’t have an answer.
The deeper wood is lined in oaks, silver birches in various states of disrepair and a rogue maple it’s leaves burning in claret. I love the colour, it reminds me of her lipstick.
I waft at my own lips involuntarily and bow my head. I think she would like this. I hope she would, as I put another flower on her arboreal grave, turn and walk away. I no longer smile when I do so, but there is the occasional sneer.