Category Archives for "Stories"

Nov 04

Fantasy Friday: Two Girls and a Fountain

By Melinda VanLone | Stories , Thoughts

Katy crouched in the shadows behind a shrub next to the center fountain and waited. Stickers itched her bare legs but she didn’t scratch. She didn’t want to give herself away. The water crashed so much she couldn’t hear anything but the roar. From where she knelt, she could just see the star pattern etched in the stones under the water. It looked just like the story said. Her sister had pointed it out weeks ago, and she had to admit that for once the pipsqueak was right. It was the same one. It was a gateway. She just knew it.

Her back hurt and her legs burned. She’d fall over if she didn’t move soon, but she didn’t want to give away her position. She was ready to follow whoever it was using the gateway. The weeds in this corner were stinky. She wrinkled her nose, but it didn’t help. It made her want to sneeze.

She looked at the fountain. Six orbs surrounding the star spit water into the center. The water, joined with sunlight, created ripples in the air. She knew that whoever made the gateway was trying to hide it in this ordinary garden. But she wasn’t fooled. She was smart. The teacher said so. So smart they were letting her skip a grade next year. While the other kids would stay in third grade like babies, she’d be in fourth. She could see things they couldn’t.

She knew that the planters around the edge of the stones were really fire pots that would be lit late at night. And she knew from her book that fire mixed with the water circle was a dangerous thing. She had to catch whoever was using this place and stop them before they hurt someone. She had to, because nobody else could see it. She rubbed her thighs, trying to make them stop hurting.

She heard a crraaack! and froze. She slowly turned her head to the right, looking for the source of the sound. Around the curled leaves of the bushes she saw the empty breezeway. She turned her head slowly to the left and had to stifle a scream as her gaze connected with a pair of big blue eyes.

“Rachel,” she hissed. “What are you doing here?”

“I wanted to see what you were up to,” Rachel whispered, and shrugged her shoulders. “I’ve never seen you sit so still.”

“You shouldn’t be here. Go back home.” Katy pushed her sister.

“Can’t make me!” Her sister crossed her arms, a stubborn look settling in on her face.

“Go home, Rachel, this is dangerous!” Katy glanced back at the fountain. The water twinkled. She wasn’t fooled, she knew something was going on here.

“You waitin’ for something?” Rachel asked. She tilted her head to one side as she looked Rachel up and down. “You know what Mom said. It’s just a silly fairy tale.”

“It’s not. Go away. I don’t want you here.”

“You’ll be waitin’ all day.”

Katy refused to look at her sister again. She stared at the fountain, pointedly ignoring her.

“You’ll be in so much trouble.” Her sister’s sing song chant rose.

“Shhhh.” She turned to push her sister away again but her sister danced away and into the sunlight.

“Water, water, coming down. Turn this world upside down! If you take me, I won’t frown. Water save me, don’t let me drown!” She sang, and danced right into the center of the fountain. Her yellow sundress turned almost brown, and rivers of water cascaded off her hair. She lifted her face and arms to the sky and giggled.

“Rachel, stop it! Come out of there.” Katy ran after her sister, frantic to reach her. The air shimmered just as Rachel spun around. One second Rachel was there, laughing; the next, she was gone. Katy reached out a hand but found only air. Water ran down her dress and into her shoes. Her hair, immediately soaked, clung to her. She could barely keep her eyes open against the rush.

“Rachel! Rachel!” She screamed. Her heart pounded, and she gasped for air through the water pelted her face. The water roared, but Rachel didn’t answer. She spun around, looking for any sign of her sister. Water poured into her mouth as she called, and she choked on it. Sputtering, she stopped and stood still in the cascade of water. What would Mom say? She’d never believe it. She didn’t believe in fairy tales.

She had to get her sister back. But how was it done? How had Rachel managed to make the gateway work? She thought hard. Goosebumps made her skin tingle and she rubbed her arms while she thought. Rachel had sung something just before…that had to be it. She thought hard, sure she could remember the words. Then she started to spin as she sang out “Water, water, coming down. Hope I don’t drown!”

She felt ridiculous. No matter how loud she chanted the words, she remained firmly in the courtyard.

“Katy Ann! What are you doing? Get out of the water!” Her mother’s shout rang through the courtyard. She stopped spinning. She stared at her mother from the center, and her heart sank. How was she going to tell her?

“Get out of that fountain this instant, young lady. Have you lost your mind?” Her mother glared as she gestured for her to come. “Where is your sister? You were supposed to be watching her.”

Katy walked slowly out of the fountain. She’d never get through the gateway now. Rachel was gone. Her baby sister. She stared hopelessly at her mother.

She heard a giggle behind her and turned to see her sister standing in the center of the fountain.

“Rachel Marie! Both of you, you are soaking wet! What have I told you? Get inside this instant.” Her mother grabbed her by the arm and gestured for Rachel. Rachel skipped over to where they both stood.

“Mommy, it’s just water. It’ll dry.” She poked her head around her mother to wink at Rachel.

 

 

Oct 28

Fantasy Friday: Just a Piece of Glass

By Melinda VanLone | Stories , Thoughts

Jeneka stared at the necklace in her palm. It appeared to be just a rectangular piece of green glass, with gold, black and silver flecked through it. It was strangely heavy, but she was certain it wasn’t made of gold or anything else worth credit.

“This is it? That’s all there is?” She looked in the box safe again. Velvet lining stared back at her, defiantly empty.

“I’m afraid so, sweetie. Want me to help you put it on?” Her guardian stretched out a hand to take the necklace.

Jeneka shook her head, folding the piece of glass tightly in her fist. “I want to look at it a bit more, Nina.”

“I’ll go make us some tea.” Her guardian gave her a nod and a sad smile, her eyes shining with repressed tears, then stood and left the bedroom.

Jeneka opened her fist and looked again at the rectangular piece of glass. After all these years, after all the nights spent lying awake thinking about what might be in the safe, after all the build-up over what her famous inventor father could possibly have left her; it all came down to this. A piece of glass on a silver rope chain. She wanted to laugh hysterically, but it wasn’t funny. Not in the slightest.

“Gee, thanks Dad,” she whispered. She looked again in the small safe. Empty. She put the necklace down and felt around at the lining of the box. Her fingers struggled to find anything to grasp, but eventually she located a small loose thread in one of the corners. She tugged, working it away from the base of the box. When she had enough fabric loose she tugged on it. After a moment of intense pulling the fabric suddenly broke loose from the container. Her fist flew up and hit her in the chin. She rubbed the sore spot, then looked under the fabric.

Nothing.

No secrets, no last letter to his daughter. No plans for her future. Nothing. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

She sighed, and pushed the box away. The necklace gleamed at her from the bed beside her, the chain entwined around the block of glass. She picked it up. Her father had locked this away for 12 years. He’d put security on it that nobody had been able to breech. Her own DNA was required to open the box, on her 16th birthday. It had survived court challenges, attempts to steal it and one small fire. After all that build-up she couldn’t believe this was it.

She put the chain around her neck and clicked the clasp shut. The rectangle hung low on her small frame, a heavy weight between her breasts. It felt strangely warm against her skin. Almost too warm. She put her hand up to it, and felt heat radiating from it. It hadn’t been like that a second ago. Startled, she tried to take the necklace off. The clasp would not come undone. She swallowed, and pulled at the chain to try to slip it off over her head. The chain wasn’t long enough, it was too tight. The heat from the glass singed her skin and she lifted it quickly away from her chest.

It felt even heavier than before, if that were possible. And she felt a strange pull in her chest, as if something were trying to get out. Holding the glass as far away from her as possible with one hand, she felt her chest with the other. A lump had formed there, small but noticeable. It was warm to the touch and hard. Panic set in as she raced to the bathroom.

Standing in front of the mirror she could see the skin turning red on her chest where the glass had touched. The glass itself strained to reach her chest. Like a magnet, drawn by polarity. The heat seemed to have leveled off. Curious, she dangled the glass on the chain and watched as it angled toward her chest. She tried pulling it away and noticed the heat increase and the angle intensify.

She took a few deep breaths.

“Jeneka? I have tea ready.” Her guardian’s voice sounded so cheery beside her panic.

“I’ll be there in a minute Nina.” She quickly shut the door to the bathroom and locked it.

“Are you ok dear? I know this had to be a shock.” The concern was palpable.

“I’m fine. I’ll be out in a minute, I just need to go to the bathroom.” Jeneka listened until she heard her guardian leave the room.

She took a deep breath, and then let the glass drop. It snapped down on her chest. She felt a corresponding snap from deep inside her. What the hell? She watched in the mirror as the necklace started to glow. It pulsated, and a strange green light shot out from inside it, blindingly bright. She closed her eyes against it and tried again to move the glass away from her chest. It wouldn’t budge. Panic made her open her eyes once more. In the mirror she saw the green light had resolved into an image. Her father stared back at her, his image blended with the reflection of herself and the necklace. Her eyes opened wider, and she gasped.

“Daddy?”

“You are my legacy. Embrace the changes. Learn who you are. Remember I love you.” The voice was a whisper, faint and gone almost before it began, but she knew it was his voice. It sounded comforting and familiar. The image in the mirror matched the picture she kept hidden in her drawer. It was definitely him.

The image faded as the green light disappeared.

“Daddy? What changes? What?” She leaned forward but the image was gone. The necklace was cold once more, just a piece of glass. She pulled at it and realized it no longer clung to her skin. The lump under her skin was gone. The glass was still a bit warm, but nothing contact with her own body heat wouldn’t have caused. The clasp still refused to budge, but the necklace hung like any other. Just a pretty piece of glass. She blinked, then rubbed her eyes and looked again.

Just a piece of glass. Yeah right.

She turned on the water and splashed some on her face. It always looked refreshing in movies, but it didn’t help one bit. Her face was red from the rush of adrenaline. Her hair was tangled in the necklace chain and her eyes were puffy as if she’d been crying. Well, they’d expect that anyway. Here everyone thought her father would leave her his last great invention. The one he swore would change mankind forever. Here she thought he’d have left her with something she could use to make a future. What a joke he’d played on them! And on her.

She’d just have to make her own way. But she’d keep the necklace.

Not like she had a choice.

Oct 21

Fantasy Friday: A Bit of Magic

By Melinda VanLone | Stories , Thoughts

Courtyard, PatioWelcome to Fantasy Friday! As I launch my blog makeover, I want to make a few promises to keep me honest: 1. I promise to post something new three times a week; 2. I promise that I will try to include a photo, which will continue my traditional photo blog; 3. I promise that I will fail miserably on all promises at least once or twice. Hey, nobody’s perfect! That said, I’d like to start by instituting Fantasy Friday: a day where I let my imagination run wild and ask you to do the same.

Today’s post was inspired by a courtyard where I live. A stone walkway meanders through it, and nestled amongst green, purple, and yellow growing things are iron lattice tables and chairs. I love patio furniture. I love how it always looks as if someone has just been there, or might still be there. Who sits there? What do they talk about? Did they find a bit of magic there hidden among the plants? Imagine, for a moment…

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“Beautiful. You could feed a small country with that.” Beth took a long drag off her cigarette. She inhaled the smoke deeply, letting it penetrate every fiber of her being before turning her head to blow it out.

Sarah frowned, and pulled her hand back. She examined the ring on her left hand and giggled. “Well, if it doesn’t work out at least I’ll be well fed.”

“So I take it you said yes.”

“Of course! I’d be silly not to. I mean, look at this ring. Look at it!” Sarah held it out for inspection again. She turned it this way and that in the sun. It twinkled and split the sunlight into a kaleidoscope of colors.

“Does he see you?”

“What do you mean?”

Beth held the cigarette out to the side and leaned forward. “Does he SEE you.”

“We are going to have the most beautiful children. I’d like two, a boy and a girl.”

“Sarah.”

Sarah looked at her. The happy smile crumpled.

“Sarah, does he see you?”

Mary’s eyes filled with tears. “Not yet.”

“You have to show him, Sarah. It’s not right.”

“I will. When the timing is right.”

“I’d say the right time has long since past. You can’t marry him without telling him. You can’t marry him in a church at all. What’s he gonna say about that?”

“It’ll be fine. I’m sure it will.”

Beth took another long hit on the cigarette, then dropped it. Her heel crushed it into the stone under them.

“Sarah. You know I love you. I love you like my own sisters, all 12 of them. But you have to tell him. Before the month is out.”

“I know. I’ll…tell him. I will.”

Beth looked at her friend. It hurt to see the unhappiness scattered across her face. She felt like she’d kicked a puppy. She stood up.

“Give me a hug.”

Beth squeezed her friend tight, then whispered in her ear “see you tonight. It’s half-moon tonight, you know what that means.”

“Half Turn, I know. I’ll be there. I’ll…bring him with me. It’ll be easier to show him anyway, and I’d like you to be there when I do.”

“So he can’t run?” Beth grinned.

Sarah flashed a watery smile.

Beth took her friend’s hand. “It really is beautiful, Sarah. Can’t wait to meet him.”

She gave her friend a final hug, then stepped back. Her eyes flashed blue fire, then the rest of her lit up in a column of blue flame.

When the fire was gone, Sarah stood alone in the courtyard. She sat down at the table and looked at her ring again.

“Maybe I’ll bring him next month,” she whispered.

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Now it’s your turn! What do you see when you look at this simple scene? What do you imagine happened there?