Flash Fiction: The Old Halls (391 words)

Kadelyn’s father worked in the largest rooms, in the oldest parts of the palace. It had been a castle once. The outer walls had been torn down a long time ago. Only one tower was left. Porches and paths and stairs had been stuck around the outsides. Other buildings had sprung up, leaned in, and towered over. But here, in these halls, it still felt like the bastion of defense.

They echoed. Too large for the simple sounds, she could heard shouts and claps and thundercracks come crisply back to her ears, but every voice resonated a little more. High voices like her mothers almost sang between these walls. Low ones like her father’s tapped skin on their way to the ear. The day she first spoke in those halls, and felt her voice spin as a mix of the two, was the first time she thought she’d ever heard herself.

Her brother, Brance used to run the length of them, after dark, after they should have both been asleep behind their locked doors. But he crept out of his bed, dragged her from hers, and ran from one end to the other, faster, faster, until his lungs forced him to slow enough to pull in a full breath. She always hung back, shoulder pressed to a door frame, whispering for him to come back. But when he put his hand in hers and grinned and demanded she come in, she couldn’t argue: these halls were built for motion. In daylight, the feeling stayed, and even walking felt like winning a race.

Maybe it was the walls, with the long thin windows that painted the room in stripes of fierce sunlight and sturdy, dark stone.

Maybe it was the air, the sweetness of it, the hollowness, the space to move. Maybe it was grand sweep, the clattering stairs, the wide doorways, the deep corners, sharp turns, broad floors, the age of a castle that had survived breakings and burnings.

And maybe it was just the sudden way her father smiled at her when she strode across the room, body guard at her back, skirts sweeping the floor around her, and took her seat at his council table. Maybe it was the way she smiled back, because they both felt the triumphant pressure between those walls.

But Kadelyn belonged to these old halls.

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