Flash Fiction: The Best of Them (723 words)

A long time ago, Caled thought it would be the joy of a lifetime to watch the two best swordsmen in the world clash together. There was beauty in a blade. There was grace in the way it flowed into an arm that knew how to carry it, one limb that spun faster than bone should, fell sharper than flesh ought to. It was the perfect weave of power and skill and elegance. It was a dance that he couldn’t look away from, caught on the knowledge that the ending might literally steal a breath away.

Caled had touched enough blades in his life, spun them through fingers that understood the metal as firmly as a child understood his imaginary friend. He fought enough times to know the feel of a cut, the rush of the run to give one faster than he received it. He knew what it should look like.

And then he saw it.

It wasn’t a dance. It was an instant. It was a moment, spun together not in a braid, but a single, tiny knot. If he’d blinked at the wrong moment, he would have missed it. It was only three steps forward, one long stride to meet it, and one man bowing over a blade that had already been pulled out again. His fall to his knees took longer than the fight did.

Continue reading

An Open Letter from the Woman I Want to Be to the Woman I Am

There are many things I could tell you, maybe half of which you would believe, because that is our way: to chew before swallowing, to decide for ourselves whether we like the taste of a statement before we accept it. But please, let me convince you of this: it’s better to grow a calloused skin than a calloused heart.

It’s not the fashion, to wear this evidence of wear and tear on the outside for everyone to see. Baby soft skin is prettier. It’s more inviting, more pleasant to touch. You’ve even been told that it’s easier to love, and that any display of past imperfection makes you weak. It’s better to keep your scars tucked inside your rib cage, etched on a heart that few can see.

But ignore the person who asks you to make it easy for them; you are worth earning. Ignore the person who thinks they can read weakness in a marked skin; they don’t know what left those marks or the strength you used to reap them. There is beauty in experience and in perfectly fitted armor.

Continue reading