Flash Fiction Friday: Boxed Princess

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Sally Montgomery sat cross-legged on the floor of the attic, like a five-year-old on the first day of kindergarten gazing up with barely contained anticipation and excitement at her teacher who might as well unfurrow her white feathered wings because she knows they’re tucked away beneath the autumn dress. Sally wasn’t five any longer, but she knew that feeling. She had just turned six.

Long undisturbed dust bunnies huddled between cardboard boxes and in corners hoping to escape discovery. A porcelain doll lay in Sally’s lap. Golden brown glass eyes stared up at her framed in long honey silk hair. Rosy cheeks, a small nose, and perfect coral lips were strangers to her, but familiar too. It had her eyes, but the hair was like her mothers. Sally’s was raven like her daddy.

She laid the doll to the side, pushed back the flaps of the opened box before her, and peered inside. Her forearm brushed the fuzzy edge of the box as she withdrew a pair of pink ballet slippers. The toes were a bit worn and faded. A pink ribbon two shades brighter than the slipper coiled around her fingers as she rubbed the soft fabric between her thumb and forefinger. Sally sat back on her pockets. Pulling off her sneakers, she slid her foot inside one of the slippers. She wrapped the ribbon around her calf, like she had seen in pictures of ballerinas. It fit perfectly. Sally rotated her foot to get the full view of it. A little piece of a beautiful dream.

Reaching into the box again, she pulled a blue gown free. It unfolded like waves of the ocean. Realizing she was holding it by the skirt, she quickly turned it over. It glistened in the sunlight from the solitary window far above her head. She suppressed a small giggle and glanced toward the trap door. Her mother didn’t know she was up here. She wasn’t supposed to be in the attic alone.

Sally pulled off her cut-off jeans and t-shirt and flung them on the floor in a heap. She pulled the gown on over her head. The hem tickled the top of her foot. She spun in a circle billowing the skirt. She spread her arms out wide feeling the currents of air flow around her. This movement threatened to transport her far away to a palace surrounded by emerald rolling hills.

Before she fell into the land of the fairy, Sally reached into the box once again. She retracted it quickly upon receiving a sharp poke. She got to her knees and looked into the box. A silver tiara lay before her. A smile sprung to her lips. The sparkle of the gems reflected the joy in her eyes. She unbound her raven hair from the bun her mother had put in this morning releasing the coconut of her shampoo. She placed the tiara on her long wavy hair.

Sally laughed as she pulled the last object out of the box, a set of white feathered wings. She put her arms through the loops and the wings rested against her back like a backpack. She skipped around the room again and again.

The fairy world could no longer be held back, Sally was whisked away to the white spired palace and rolling hills. White wisps floated in the sky stretching until they disappeared into the blue. Towering trees with grey green bark and star shaped lemon-lime leaves fluttering in the wind stood just to her right.

An apricot mare shook its walnut mane and tail below the canopy of leaves and bony branches. Sally wondered whose horse it could be, but then she knew. It was hers. Everything in this world was hers, the violet flowers and baby’s breath. Even each sprig of grass and sparkling crystal was her own. She was after all, the fairy queen.

She swung her leg over the mare’s bare back. Gripping the mane in her fingers, Sally rode into the forest. Her eyes darted across all the wondrous sights. The ground was covered with rotting branches and leaves. A soft blanket of moss covered the trunks of trees. The sun’s rays twinkled across the ground like stars in the night sky. Soon Sally was deep into the forest and wasn’t sure she could find her way out, but that was the child speaking inside her not the queen. The queen always knew the way.

The mare came to a stop before a turquoise pool dotted with Lilly pads. Above the pool, the canopy opened up allowing the yellow warmth of the sun to reach the surface of the water. Sally dropped to the ground from the back of the mare. She breathed in the fresh moist air.

A ripple moved across the mirrored surface as if a drop of water had fallen. Sally couldn’t pull her eyes away.  Something lay beneath the surface. She could see purple and crimson light dancing along the bottom. She took a step into the warm water. She glanced around. The horse nudged her with its velvet nose.

Sally took another step and then another. Her gown rose with the water. She pressed it down. The lights below began to swirl around her feet. The water was to her belly button. She pushed her hands through the water feeling it glide smooth over her fingers. Her movements were slowing. She was getting tired.

Sally slipped below the water. She sank lower. The water pressed in on her chest. She couldn’t breathe. She watched the bubbles rise. Little ones at first and then they became larger until they were gone.

“Sally?” her mother called from beneath the attic trap door. “Sally you better not be up there.”

She peeked over trying to catch Sally in some mischief, but she wasn’t there. Only two dolls lay next to an open box. She picked up the one in a blue gown and glanced around the room. Where was Sally?

Flash Fiction Friday: Tree Wizard

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The sun pierced the old man’s pale blue eyes despite the brim of his grey hat. The frayed hem of his grey robes rustled last year’s crumbling underbrush, as his quick steps pressed into the carpet of damp decaying brown leaves.

Yellow beaked blackbirds swooped low and chortled at his invasion of their woods so near their nest of chicks. Towering oaks and maple trees crowded against the single-track trail zig zagging lazily up the sunbaked side of Mount Klymene.

Abbernak giggled at the silly little feather heads and kept his pace steady toward his ramshackle home. For home was where he was bound, even if it was only for a moment. The rest among familiar smells and sounds would do his body and mind good.

Stopping at the edge of a small clearing, Abbernak listened. A redtail hawk screeched and dove after a cottontail among the purple and white wild flowers. The emerald green leaves rustled in the breeze. Abbernak scanned the world that stood before him and stepped into the clearing.

His tree was cuddled against the bend of a sparkling creek. The melody of water over the smooth stones reminded Abbernak of quieter times long past. He turned and again scanned the clearing, never can be too careful these days.

A glint of light lashed out of the ancient gnarled trees causing him to freeze. Standing stalk still he listened, the morning birdsong continued to drift among the branches, and the far off rustling of creatures scavenging the underbrush reached for his ears. Shaking his head, he placed a wrinkled hand on the equally wrinkled bark of the tree.  Closing his eyes, he whispered the familiar magic words, and stepped into his home.

A wooden staircase wound its way into the earth. With each confident step of Abbernak’s feet the luminescent moss clinging to the walls of the corridor brightened. At the bottom of the stairs stood a walnut door.It swung open without a sound. He stood there a moment and breathed in the sage, rosemary, and cedar.

A simple straw mattress lay to one side of the room along with four trunks, which contained mostly leather bound books filled with yellowed pages of elemental spells and creature conjuring.

From one of his many pockets, Abbernak pulled a set of small black iron keys. He fit one into a trunk. Neglected hinges gave a sigh of relief as he rested the lid against the wall. He was sure that the book he needed was in this trunk. One after another, the books rose from the trunk and rested on the floor in a neat stack. There it is, he thought. The deep crimson book with a charcoal eight pointed chaos star imbedded on the cover stared back at him.

I never thought I would need you, he thought. At least I had hoped I would never have to turn your pages in more than a casual interest. Times had changed indeed, if a son of neutrality was willing to sink his mind into pandemonium for a mere chance of a better life.  Perhaps he was mad, as all the other wizards of his order believed. Madness had a certain strength about it, for within madness was creation and destruction dancing hand in hand.

Abbernak sat upon the dirt floor, picking his teeth with a bit of stick contemplating the runes on the delicate pages. The runes skittered across the page until he placed his bony finger in the center and spoke an ancient word. He spent many hours hovered over the book. Page after page of spells swirled in his mind like a whirlwind. Thoughts careening into one another and weaving intricate nonsensical patterns that threatened to strip his grip on reality all together.

A crack like that of lightening striking a tree reverberated within his skull. Abbernak sunk to his knees, yanking at his matted brown hair, and choking on his own saliva. Then there was silence so deafening, Abbernak thought his ears were stuffed with wax.

A darkness descended upon the forest like a fog as thick as amber tree sap. Abbernak had not noticed until now that he was holding his breath. He let it out and began to climb the stairs to the surface.

The moon shone upon the world in a solitary beam of white light in the small clearing. He felt her presence before he saw her watching him from the shadows. The deep-set feline eyes of the necromancer sent ice dripping down Abbernak’s spine.

“All your brothers have fallen before me, begging for their souls,” she purred.

“You’ve tipped the scales too far, Nightlark,” Abbernak said, a hint of sadness creeping into his baritone voice.

“You and your balance. You are no different than the rest of the grey robes.”

“Balance can only be maintained so long as there is equal effort on both sides.”

“Then you have already failed, because the Shadow realm has made a snack out of the Light.” She stepped into the clearing. Purple robes gently waving in the fog surrounding her. Her golden eyes began burrowing into his heart. He gagged and fought for air. At last, she withdrew laughing.

“What is left for you now that your precious balance has been devoured?” she asked as she sent black mass of nebulous smoke gliding in his direction. He moved toward the heart of the clearing. His body was relaxed and his mind quiet.

“New growth,” he said.

His eyes flashed sapphire and green flames crackled in his hands. The flame arched and morphed into red lightening, and then contracted like a coiled snake. All the air in the clearing pulled into center. The fabric of time was wrenched open and chaos spread its great webbed wings.

Nightlark’s voice escaped her and her golden eyes locked on Abbernak. Thunder rumbled across the deep grey sky as the tree wizard released Chaos into the world.