Flash Fiction: More Grown Up Children (99 words)

The power went out. The apartment went dark and silent on an exhale, as the television blacked out, the refrigerator creaked and gave up, and the hush of the breeze suddenly touched on windows that had seemed concrete before.

In the glow of their laptops, Sadie and Dana glanced around the shadowed room, then at each other.

Sadie’s mouth was open in an unformed question.

Dana’s eyebrows were folded together.

Sadie looked at her hands, still poised over the keys, now all blue and white strange. “So…” she murmured. “What do we do now?”

Dana hesitated. “Tell ghost stories?”

Friday Serial: Farther Part CXI

Anie fire_handANIE

It was still dark when Anie started to hear heavy feet ahead of them, though the sky was turning promisingly gray. The trees were spreading apart, and their little band moved more easily. Mel kept up with her better, and Thea wasn’t far behind while Chas and Darien stayed to either side to keep them all together. When the voices petered back through the air, they drew in closer. Anie listened hard for armor, for the clink of metal that she had heard around the soldiers at the fortress. They only sounded dull, thudding along under the thin tones of their speech.

Chas slipped ahead. Anie watched him go, and almost moved in next to him. Long-legged as he was, she would have bet half the moon that she could keep up with him. But glancing at Mel, she stayed close, dropped back and threaded her finger’s through Thea’s.

“Hey!” someone shouted ahead of them. Not Chas, and not as far ahead as Anie would have expected from the rest of the rumble. There was a following thud, and a gasp, like someone forgot how to breathe.

“Hey, hey, stop,” Chas said. Quick, sharp. Not quite as loud as he usually was, as if he didn’t have the lungs for it.

Anie peered forward in the dark. Thea kept her close with tight fingers. Darien padded forward into grayer shadow.

“Where did you come from?” the woman asked.

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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.

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 a 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: 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.

Legal Theft Flash Fiction: The Noise in Waiting (529 words)

Virden wrapped both hands around his cup, twisting the cool clay between his palms. The wine inside teetered, sliding up the sides and he moved slowly enough to keep it off his fingers. Kenze watched him watch the thin shadow of his cup on the table in the dim room. She had only taken a sip of her own. Alidon had downed his in a gulp, and poured himself two more without a word.

From one moment to another, they glanced at the door.

“It might just be us,” Virden murmured.

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Flash Fiction: Day Breaks (127 words)

We stay up too late – you, and me, Jezi, Tomas, and Ana. Everyone else on this island seems to have better things to do at midnight, but we sit out on the old docks and forget to count hours. Sometimes we talk too loudly. Sometimes we just sit close enough in the dark to remind each other that there’s still heat in the world.

We’ve seen enough sunrises together to memorize all their colors. If we stay up long enough, we place our bets on what color will come first. Yellow, white, orange, red, green.

“Raging blue,” you always say. We beg you to pick a real answer and you shrug and pay the winner with a grin.

The morning you win, we forget to pay you.

Flash Fiction: Kiss (146 words)

The rain arrived, late, after the heat of the day had bled out and the evening breeze had sunk in deep. The sun had not set, but it had abandoned its strength, filling the last hours of the day with cool light. The air had smoothed and thinned, no longer dragging at lungs and skin as people moved about.

Though Toera had decided against moving. Her day had gone on long enough. She sat on the stone bench at the end of her street without any real intent, and felt the first raindrops on bare arms.

Cold.

Like heavy mint or the kiss of gold.

Looking up, Toera watched the rain fall and gleam from old, gray clouds. It steadied, thickened, moment by moment. Hands wrapped around the front of the bench, shoulders braced, she shivered. She blinked it out of her eyes. Slowly smiled. Grinned.