‘You know I don’t deal with fragile little birds.’ Hanson gripped the girl by the chin and pulled her closer. Her forced her head up and grinned when she flinched away from the lantern he held. ‘She’s no fragile bird,’ Raven told him. ‘Took out two garrisons all by herself. She was about to take out a third when we caught up with her.’ ‘Yeah,’ said Hanson. ‘And doped her up on opium for good measure did you? The Chains not enough?’ He dropped her face and yanked the chains connecting her feet to her wrists. ‘For her?’ said Raven. ‘Even this might not be enough.’ Playing around with some new characters for my novel Darkened Daughter. Not sure if I’ll be incorporating Raven and Hanson yet, but this might be an interesting chapter to write on my next accountancy exam is out of the way and I have a couple of weeks free time.
She put it to the back of a wardrobe, in a bag of mismatched things, none of any use these days but none the sort you throw away. The sort you keep until they’re found by curious small hands cooped up by the rain on window panes. Discovering you before them.
Cup the whole of me in one hand. Hold my belly up to a light, judge my origins, if I might be the real deal. Examine my spine carefully through this sheen of skin while I burn like paper, edges curling in as I smoke. Test the me between teeth, bite down, heads up, crack your enamel on my silver forked tail. Spit me free with blood and tooth and every question asked to test the mettle in me. Wonder why I leave with a word like love so sour in my mouth I choke.
I remember you tiny, barely a handful yet fully formed. Face screwed into a perfect grimace. So put out that you were here again to do this all over with this unimpressive lot.
This weekend the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge is taking place. Last month I posted my entry for the second challenge of the first round: Stolen Silence and at the moment I’m working on redrafting my submission for the first challenge of this year’s first round. Redrafting is the part of the process where you quite often find yourself doubting that you have any ability to put one work in front of the other at all. You find typos, spelling mistakes, words that you didn’t even know existed. Tenses switch back and forth, character names suddenly change, and out of nowhere you move from mountains to city surroundings. Editing is where all your mistakes come to the forefront and you have to go back and fix them. If you’re luck you will have brilliant people who will help you with your redrafts and edits. These people (if you can find the ones that will give you an honest review rather than just ‘yeah mate, good job’) are invaluable for getting your past that snow-blind stage …
It’s an odd moment when you recognise his fingers for pins pressed through your skin, and into the wall behind. Must be the same panic, as an insect caught up in spider silk. Not all shimmer is gold. Too late to be free without loosing something perhaps all of you, yourself, in the struggle.
You shed it all despite my begging, and became so light I lost you.
In some cases, the letter won’t translate. Specified language is always a little tricky, not like asking for directions to the swimming pool, or how much for the loaf of bread behind the counter. You craft an art-form of assumptions. Cut loose the odd words, ones which clearly don’t fit in the rigid confines of business, ones surely not meant. Leave a framework of mundane. Puzzle a meaning from the scraps, a rhythm for the found poem butchered out of miscommunication. Send a response in English, cringe a little for the recipient, know they will likely do as you and turn to an app, a browser tab, punch in the words, frown at the nonsense.
Flesh parts so easily when pressure is applied. Tongues often prove more effective than crowbars. They break past words like ‘No’.
Someone had strung lights from the trees, making up for the clouds creeping across the moon’s face. They drenched the clearing white, bright enough to illuminate the flakes of bark littering the feast table and the bad icing job on Elizabeth’s cupcakes. ‘There were more of us last year,’ Malvoc commented, hand hovering over a plate of pink wafers. ‘You always say that,’ replied Grot. He was perched, his feet hanging an inch above the ground. ‘It makes no difference, we’re still enough.’