Flash Fiction: Records (650 words)

Toar strode in through the gate and sank onto the steps behind the house, falling back on his elbows immediately. He pressed himself into the cold stone, sweating, his rough shirt stuck to the sharp edges of his shoulders. Stretching his spine, he tilted his face up to catch the warmth off the sun, bent his back over the straight line of the step behind him and held it, too long, as if the ache of pulling himself back to comfort was too much to consider. Sitting there, he took four full breaths, and didn’t move.

Across from him, Alek sat under the shade of one of their father’s several wide-leafed trees. The garden continued lazily behind him, pretty and green this late in the spring. The flowers were holding out for warmer weather, but there was still something sweet coming out of the leaves. It wandered on the wind, lightly filling the space between the house and the yard’s back wall. The breeze chattering in the greenery hushed the sounds of the street on the other side, secluding the place, and making the air all the sweeter.

Holding his book against his knee, Alek watched his brother over the top of the page. “Long day?” Alek asked.

A slow smile stretched across Toar’s face, and still he didn’t move. “Good day,” he murmured. But it took him another full breath to find the inspiration to even lift his head.

Alek laughed, and let his book fall in his lap. “You look like a mountain spent the afternoon gnawing on you.”

Toar’s eyes narrowed good-naturedly. He blinked a few times, working some question through his mind, but it moved slower than his usual snapping returns. “How could a mountain gnaw on me?” he asked.

Alek shook his head. “Just imagine that its boulders are teeth, and that an avalanche is just a mountain chewing the cud.”

“So, I look like I was caught in an avalanche,” Toar said.

Alek blinked, and let out a quick, annoyed breath. “An all-day avalanche,” he corrected.

Toar smiled wide. He breathed out, almost in a laugh, then pulled it back in until his chest couldn’t hold any more. “Like I said: it was a good day.”

Alek rolled his eyes. “What did you do?” he asked dully.

Toar straightened, then fell immediately forward with his elbows propped on his knees and his hands limp in front of him. “I made a perfect invisible shield, an arm span across, higher than my head with its feet on the ground, twenty times in a row, breaking it down to nothing in between each one.” He smiled, forced his lips down into a straight line, and smiled again, unable to stop it.

“Twenty times?” Alek repeated. He glanced at Toar’s hands, noting the raw red blooming on his palms. He’d never done anything like it, but he knew that was rough work. “How long did that take?”

“To do it twenty perfect times in a row?” Toar asked. He looked at something over his head, moving his lips in the calculation. “About seven months.”

Alek raised his eyebrows. “Oh.”

“Yeah.” Toar almost grinned, but put a hand to his mouth to force that straight before it took hold.

“Stars,” Alek swore gently. “What are you going to do tomorrow?”

Toar blinked at him. “Do it twenty-one times,” he said, as if it were the only real answer to be found between the two horizons. “Beat my record.” And he hauled himself back to his feet.

He lifted his toes over each step, and shuffled across the stone patio. At the back door, he paused, half to take a breath before he lifted the heavy latch, half to give his brother one more confused look. Then he disappeared inside.

Nodding slowly, Alek pushed his book back up to his knee.

Flash Fiction: Captain’s Luck (1243 words)

Enil used to spend the beginning of every night laid flat on the narrow roof of his family’s home, watching the sky for lucky stars. The unlucky ones fell, leaving their chalky streaks across the growing dark, and the constellations continued their spin around the seasons. The lucky ones appeared here and there, steady, bright, and wandering all alone. He used to save up wishes for when he found them, hanging them on their bright points in order of what he wanted most. The very important wishes, he pinned to two or three stars, and twisted his fingers that one of them would hold its fidelity.

He often twisted his fingers, always avoided the cracks in paving stones, and touched the toes of the warrior statues every time he passed them.

He caught lady bugs, looking for the ones with an odd number of spots. He slept facing south. He wore his red shirt as often as his mother would let him between washings.

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Gwendoogle Part LXXV – 26.5 Toothpicks and .33 Giraffes

GwendoogleAnswers served with the full knowledge that I’m out of town and all the insanity here was baked weeks ago

Kate Kearney searched: Why is money complicated?
Because it’s a giant bucket in the middle of your life, and everything you do has a hand in it, grabbing what it needs. And there’s only one or two hands dropping money back in.

Because it’s a bed sheet, and unless you’re careful to remain content on the bed that fits under it, you’ll spend most of your time pulling the sheet back and forth to cover wherever you are at the moment.

Because it’s the one thing that everyone on the block agrees you need, which means we’re all trying to spend as little as possible, and earn as much as possible. It’s a tug of war, not a merry-go-round, and we’ve all got a competitive edge.

Kate Kearney searched: Did my cat steal it?

Your money?

 photo Deanspatentedblinkandturn_zpsdee7c245.gif

Is your cat a world-class criminal mastermind seeking to undermine your effectiveness as stop-gap between it and the rest of the world?

Then, probably.

Sandieandieandie searched: How tall are you?
I am taller than Prince, Bruno Mars, Daniel Radcliff, and Seth Green. I am shorter than Jeremy Renner, Elijah Wood, Jason Momoa, and Gwendoline Christie.

I’m about 26.5 toothpicks tall.

I’m about .33 full-grown giraffes tall.

This seems like a valid solution to the foot versus meter debate.

Kate Kearney searched: What are three ways to instigate positive change?
1) Make a plan. If you’re a Big-Picture person, make a Big-Picture plan. If you’re not, skip directly to step two: make a plan for tomorrow. What is the number one thing you can do better tomorrow? Mark it down. Then mark down the second most important, and the third. Then stop. Get up tomorrow, and do those three things. Expect nothing of yourself above those three things.

2) Congratulate yourself. Unless you are in the process of making your next List for Tomorrow, don’t tell yourself all the things you didn’t do but should have. Remind yourself of what you did do. Do it over and over, until you are honestly proud of yourself. Set up rewards, if that will help you pat yourself on the back. Just make sure that your rewards aren’t counterproductive to your goals. ;)

3) Recognize when you make excuses for yourself. If you’re making them before you’ve even failed at your goal, stop. You’re only giving yourself permission to not do something you want to do, and when it’s done, that’s a note-to-self that won’t read well.

Kate Kearney searched: Why is changing for the better harder than changing for the worst?
I imagine a more technical mind would answer with the word entropy somehow, but I’ll say it’s because we all tend to settle.

Even if we’re not exactly lazy, we will constantly calculate the value of our time, and whether the gap between “good enough” and “that’s right” is worth spending a little more. We settle for what is almost what we want, and for what is sufficient, and what works for now. One step at a time, we veer off the track we had originally aimed for, and after a while, when we are far enough along to see that we have changed, momentum is never on our side.

And momentum is what we’re really looking for. Because change happens all the time. Direction and speed are what shifts.

Olivia B. searched: What is the nearest orange object to you right now?
A one foot fish, about two feet in front of me, hanging on the window. I use a tropical shower sheet as a window curtain, and there’s a bright orange fish swimming right in front of my nose when I sit at my computer.

I had not noticed it before this exact moment. Thank you for forcing me to be observant.

Boomshadow searched: What is more smile-inducing: a child’s laughter or the sneeze of a baby koala?
It probably depends on the child, and the koala, and the person doing the smiling, but I’d vote for the child’s laughter. Personally, I have a hard time walking past a kid without smiling at him or her, even when they’re just bouncing against the wall in that bored way that they do. If they’re doing something silly, and enjoying it, and laughing like little imps, I’d smile before I thought to stop myself.

But I’ve never hear a baby koala sneeze. That might be magical, too.

Kate Kearney searched: Why can’t I finish this project?
Because your grandchildren keeping sneaking back from the future and unraveling your work. Apparently, if you finish it too early, you will have enough free time on your hands to start a new fashion trend called Socks-For-Hats.

Your grandchildren really don’t like Socks-For-Hats.

Plus, it’s a school project to change a minor point in history and examine the consequences.

Flip the Otter searched: If you had to spend three million dollars in a month – and you couldn’t give it all away, and you couldn’t give people exorbitant gifts, and you couldn’t have any assets at the end of the month – how would you spend it?
Did you mean: How would you spend three million dollars in one month, being guiltlessly selfish about it?

I would immediately fly to Greece. I would rent a boat, and tour the Cyclades, and go north to Thermopylae, and eat in every restaurant in Athens. I would take as many of my friends and family as I could with me. And no, that wouldn’t be a gift to them. It would be a gift to me, because there is some freedom in being alone, but there is greater adventure in being together.

Then, I would consider buying a library. Then wonder if there was such a thing as a privately owned library anymore, and determine that what I probably meant to buy is a bookstore with an interesting return policy. Then, I would remember that I am not supposed to have any assets at the end of this month, and stay in Greece a while longer, feeling understandably, but only slightly, disappointed.

I would donate money to a few of the colleges that I thought looked amazing when I was applying at the end of high school, and ask them to use it to either bolster their English departments or start a Creative Writing program. Because their lack in the latter department is most of what kept me from attending them.

I’d give a nice chunk to the school I did attend, too, because I like that place, and I very selfishly want that school to continue doing what it’s doing. It was exactly the kind of space to breathe which I needed at that time.

Then I’d spend the rest of my month in Greece, writing, going out, eating well, enjoying the sunshine, and trying to think of funny names to make those colleges give their new Creative Writing departments. If I spend all the of the three million before I buy return tickets, and I get stranded there, so be it.

Kate Kearney searched: How often does the blue moon occur?
Blue moon commonly describes the second full moon to occur inside a single solar calender month, which occurs once every 2.7 years.

If however, you use blue moon to describe when the moon actually turns blue, you’ll have to wait for a large volcanic eruption, or widespread fires. It’s the dust and debris in the air that causes the color change, not any repeating celestial cycle.

Have a question for Gwendoogle? Leave it in comments below and I’ll be back next week to answer it.

The question bucket currently has: 74 questions

Flash Fiction: Turned Gold (1249 words)

Kadelyn was tired, and not in any of the easy ways that could be cured with something sweet or bitter. She wasn’t yawning, and her eyes stayed open all on their own, but she moved slow just because she couldn’t find a reason to move quickly. Behind her, her bodyguard, Noach was keeping his same even stride. She could feel him slow to keep his heavy boots off her skirts, and she’d felt him slow a dozen times so far that morning. She considered picking up her feet, lengthening her stride, and decided not to pretend.

“Any further business this morning?” Noach asked gently.

Kadelyn took a breath, and shook her head.

“So, we’re headed home?” he asked, uncertainly.

She smiled a little. They did not always head home when she said they were finished. Sometimes they just kept working on whatever came to her mind, forgetting about the idea of appointments. Not today. “We’re going home,” she confirmed.

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Flash Fiction: Child (1482 words)

Kadelyn allowed her bodyguard to step through the door ahead of her, let him sweep the hall for all the usual dangers, then gently dismissed him. He looked at her questioningly and glanced over his shoulder as he went. She left the door open, and stepped farther inside.

“I called for your brother, not you,” Damion said, sitting at the long redwood table under the windows. He was leaning his chin against his bent fingers, one eye lit by the afternoon sunlight and the rest of his face cut by shadow.

“I know,” she said, without looking at him.

She stopped in front of the servant standing at the ready near the door. “You can go,” she said. The girl bent in a quick bow, and hurried out.

Kadelyn turned, eying her father over her shoulder. “But I know what’s coming.”

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Legal Theft Flash Fiction: Through Walls (563 words)

The door thudded with heavy security, but the boy on the other side of the bars still shivered as he faced me. I rammed my shoulder into the thick wood one more time, more for the satisfaction of the motion and the way the boy jumped and closed his hand around the hilt of his sword, than for any progress it made. I gripped the bars in the little square window, and gave them one last tug as I turned away.

I took three steps and my shoulder brushed the far wall.

“You know,” I called to him. Rocking back on my heels, I looked up at the stone ceiling then glanced at the shadows in the corners. “From the looks of it, you don’t actually have to stand there. These four walls are holding me just fine.” I put my shoulders to the wall and slid down. I intended to sit, but half way, I just stopped, settling into a rough crouch. Rest suddenly didn’t seem appealing when I came that close to it.

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Wednesday Serial: Part XLVII

Eoin fire_hand

EOIN

Rhian pushed them back, slowly, but with all the elegance of a barroom punch. Over her shoulder, she snapped a command to the line behind her, and they raised their hands. When energy poured out of their palms it was not the shining sheet of hot ice that it had been the night before. Their horses reared back, eyes going white. Then they sent their horses running into the trees.

This was a flood, something that spread and tumbled in front of them, and ate through the grass in the half moment it took them to take their first step forward. Each person’s cloud of twisting, crackling flame met with their neighbor’s, and knit together. They set their heels down on blackened ground, barely even smoking, and drove the ash-blue conflagration in front of them. Ahead of that, orange fire caught in the grass, coughed out smoke as it if were choking on its first breaths, and the whole line rolled forward, one living, reckless thing.

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Flash Fiction: In the Dark (1364 words)

Brance once told Ineli that it didn’t matter how large a ship was, it was always too small to keep secrets. The masts might have stood far apart, but the lines and canvas tied them neatly together and the decks were stacked neatly together, with just enough space to walk between them. The open sky seemed wide, but the water stayed close to the hull, better walls to echo words back than anything man had built. Her brother smiled down at her as he spoke, rustled her hair, lying in his usual friendly.

There were more doors than Ineli cared to count onboard The Wave Crest, and they had a habit of swinging shut when she walked by.

Ineli paused, sliding her gaze along the straight panels of the Captain’s door. Her father had been locked inside the cabin for hours now. That wasn’t usual, but she would have to have been deaf and blind not to notice the flurry of people that came and went on his orders, and the quick way they open and shut the door.

“Are you ready?” Donnemey asked. He touched her elbow, gently retaking her attention, then let his hand drop. He was almost a foot taller than her, and she rocked back a step to put the sun behind his head so she could meet his eye. His hair was combed back from his face, cheeks freshly shaven. The high collar of his sleeveless keimon’s coat was buttoned tight, while his shirt cuffs had been loosened and rolled back from his hands. Clearly, he was ready to go.

Ineli rubbed her thumb across her palm, slow.  “I don’t know how I could be,” she murmured.

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Flash Fiction: The Best Thieves (1087 words)

Caled liked Heydi, the same way he liked any of the kids that turned up under his roof. She was young, maybe six and short for that, but she’d already lost the uncertain weight that most kids carried in their hands and feet. Her hair was dark, her skin was a sun-turned bronze, and she looked as if she had been shaved out of a shadow.

Jerdan brought her in, took her straight into Caled’s office. Her head stopped a little higher than the boy’s elbow, and she stayed behind him, not to hide, just following him smoothly, turning when he turned, stopping when he stopped.

Jerdan glanced back at her, nodding when he found her waiting just inside the door. Looking to Caled behind the desk, he met his eye questioningly. The fact that she was with him was the most eloquent recommendation Jerdan could offer. He knew he couldn’t say anything more.

“What is she?” Caled asked.

Jerdan shrugged. “Nothing. Yet.” His mouth tilted into a smile. “But she could be a sneak.”

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Gwendoogle Part LXXIV – A Lucky Number, A Favorite Color, and the Sweetest Serenade

GwendoogleAnswer served with several silly ideas used as packing material to keep the good ones safe

Kate Kearney searched: When will I receive my next assignment?
Madam. I thought we had already determined that I am not the operative you are looking for. I am not, nor have I ever been, involved in any clandestine workings.

But if you were to take a walk tomorrow between ten thirty-five and eleven ten, you might encounter a man walking two poodles and a chihuahua. If you told him that you were in town visiting your great-uncle Nevukhadnetztzar, the man might say, “What?” If you then were to pet the chihuahua, you might find what you were looking for hidden under the lowest strap of its harness.

But I am not any kind of secret agent. I’m just a blogger.

Rivkah searched: What’s your lucky number?
I don’t have one.

I like odd numbers better than even, and that I like larger numbers better than small. I know the best number of cookies is infinity and the best number of friends is all of them. I born on the ninth, so I kind of like nines, and I was born at midnight, so twelves are pretty cool too. I grew up as one of five children, and a full house is made with seven heads under one roof, and having ten fingers and toes to count on has always been good for me.

But none of those numbers have been any luckier than another.

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