Flash Fiction: Bouquet (213 words)

There was an old bookstore on the corner. Dev saw it, noted the stacks of colored spines in the window, blinked and laughed to himself. He had found Kaylee. Whether he could see her or not, he knew she was tucked away somewhere inside.

He crossed the street with his hands in his pockets, careful of the crowd that wandered one way and the other. Then he slid through the door, beneath the bell that announced him to the shaded, quiet shop.

The air smelled like yellow paper, and wood, and shut windows. His shoes scuffed against the floor. Bending his head, he glanced down the first row of shelves. There were two people, heads bent over some precious word, but not Kaylee.

He moved on.

In the sixth row, she stood, shoulder leaned into the shelf. She held three books, one open, two comfortably bundled in her hands beneath it. She held them close to her chest, close to her eyes, not really reading, but idly turning pages to scan down the lines. She paused, and breathed, then looked up to see Dev smiling at her.

She smiled back, caught.

“Sweeter than roses,” she said, with a shrug that was only half an apology, and she flicked through the next few pages.

Flash Fiction: Strange Enough (271 words)

Winter was deepening, the air turning dry and biting. The first snow was creeping closer. Every day, it seemed ready to break through by morning, and every day it came closer, but the distance just seemed to stretch. As if the world had decided to run from it. As if the snow had not quite realized it would have to give chase.

Jedda watched the windows as she blew out the lamps for the night. The pitch black outside blew away with the light, until the outside world wasn’t quite locked away behind the glass. The shadows of the trees spilled inside. The wall of her neighbor’s house stood, flat and gray. The clouds, pale and heavy, hung low. The wind-wheel hummed softly, spun lazily.

She caught the spark out of the corner of her eye. Flashed, and gone.

She turned her head, and the cat turned too, faster. His ears were high. His eyes reflected brighter colors than it should have, for just a moment. He kept one paw raised, halfway through his next step before she had startled him. She almost laughed at him.

When he had remembered that Jedda lived there, that she often turned her head, and that there was no danger, he looked away from her. He took another step across the plush rug, and sparks flashed around his feet.

Jedda smiled.

The cat leaped onto the back of the couch, landed with a crackle, and his fur stood on end.

She laughed silently, and kept watching. There was no magic in it, but it was strange enough to enchant anyway.

The snow was coming soon.

Gwendoogle – My Least Favorite is the Jive

GwendoogleAnswers served with a side of cotton candy

Kate Kearney searched: Thoughts on state fairs?
First of all, state fairs usually take place late in the summer, the time of year when all respectable Gwendolyn’s are hibernating in deep, cool holes to outlast the outrageous heat.

Second, they usually involve some sort of sunburn. It’s not actually a problem until twenty-four hours after the fair, when it’s hard to sleep because your skin is nearly neon, but scientists have assured me there’s a correlation.

Third, they have absolutely beautiful things in them. Paintings and photographs and baby sweaters that people near you have lovingly created. Pies that look too elaborate to eat, and too delicious to leave sitting on the table. Cotton candy whipped into tornadoes that small children can pull apart with their hands. Ferris wheels that spin slowly, and carousels that spin quickly.

It’s not hard to talk me into going.

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Legal Theft Flash Fiction: Lucky in His Hands (461 words)

The taproom tumbled into cheers as soon as the dice finished their manic skitter up to the back wall of the table and bounced backward. Two more sixes. Another untidy stack of silver coins in Declan’s pocket. The server – a stranger an hour before – gave him a fierce one-armed hug around the shoulders. Another dozen had slowly packed themselves around the table, goaded into watching by the absurdity of luck. They laughed with each other in shock and awe, grinned at him, shouted for him to roll again.

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Friday Serial: Farther Part CX

Anie fire_handANIE

 The encampments were on fire, Thea told Anie. Before long, Anie could smell the smoke, rich as a hearth fire and sharper in the wide night air. There was something else in it, something choked and choking, and Anie breathed in deep trying to decide what it was. Sharp. Acidic. When she started coughing, she stopped, and pulled her shirt up over her mouth.

The smoke stayed with them longer than Anie thought it would have. Thea slowed to walk and called for the others to stay close. Chas caught Nessim by the shirt, forcing him to walk as well. Darien swung wide, disappeared and appeared again at the front of their little pack. His short strides forced them all together, and Anie glanced around at the haze that brightened and obscured the dark.

They walked for hours. Anie’s eyes stung. She blinked them shut over and over.

Then, finally, the air cleared. The trees gleamed under the starlight, and the breeze cut deeper between them. Anie pulled her shirt closer around her, and shuddered a little.

Vetlynn pressed in close to her shoulder.

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Flash Fiction: Lost (389 words)

The first time Ashlynn heard it, ‘lost at sea’ sounded like a fake way to die.

Her mother had sailed across oceans a hundred times, and the water never managed to steal her away. A chest-carving cough had taken her little by little, bloodying her teeth with unseen fists. But the ocean always gave her up with a sigh, as if it missed her when she wasn’t there to make ships dance on the waves.

Ashlynn’s father had only sailed out two or three times. Ashlynn’s memory was too young to give a real count. It seemed absurd that he could get lost so easily.

Heroes in plays were lost at sea. Very old ships in very old poems were lost at sea. A great-grandfather she couldn’t remember the name of was lost at sea.

The Captain that arrived to say her father had been swallowed by a wave was joking.

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Flash Fiction: Midnight Promise (133 words)

“Tomorrow,” he promised. “The wind’s going to turn and it’s going to be that breath of fresh air we need.” Tucking her hair behind her ear with one hand, holding her close with the other, he waited for her to look up at him. “The sun’s going to come up. There will be something stupid to laugh about. We’ll still be here. Everything will be all right. I promise you. By the name of every star I know and don’t know, it’s going to be all right.”

The phrases twisted around his tongue, and he only hoped that they were weaving themselves into something like truth.

She laid her hand over his, squeezed his fingers. “Tomorrow,” she promised him.

In awe, he stared at her, wondering how she fit it into one word.

Flash Fiction: Marble (148 words)

The hall was filled with silks and satins and sweeter fabrics, fluttering and snapping in the rush of the music. A heavy pull on instruments strings, and skirts belled and twisted. They moved, woven water, in all the colors of sky and ocean, but Braelyn wore a gown carved out of marble, swaying only at the quake of her step.

If she had smiled, any number of the men and women she stopped to speak with would have called her beautiful. She had been beautiful since she was very small, and had seen enough mirrors to understand the statement was half compliment and wholly fact.

And she had no need to be beautiful.

Stepping along the length of the room, deep in the music even while the party seemed to eddy around her, she wanted to be stunning. She wanted to be arresting.

She wanted to be powerful.