Long Live the Queen
Caelyn thought that she was going to burst from the weight of it all. The feeling of a thousand eyes on her, the rapid thumping of her heart in her too-small chest, the pressure of the heavy crown resting above her brow. Her vision seemed to be outlined by a steady layer of pulsing red. A faint stinging sensation on her palm made its way to the forefront of her brain. Her fingernails digging into her hand? Most likely.
Her lungs were rapidly tightening. When had it become hard to breathe?
Still, when she stood, her legs were steady and her voice was calm. “Excuse me,” she said. A few of her closest allies and advisors turned to face her, but the majority of the room continued their side conversations. The chatter of the people who utterly ignored her sent a fresh wave of rage and frustration coursing through her body. Her teeth grit. “Excuse me!” She didn’t uell, surprisingly, but her voice was forceful and left no room for disagreement. The other voices in the room slowly died down, each member turning to look at her in confusion.
“This is a council meeting. A royal council meeting,” she said. “We are now starting ten minutes late because of all of your disrespect.”
A few of the people shifted uncomfortably. A masculine figure in the back of the room snorted. “Sorry princess.” Caelyn found the source of the voice. Lord Harshaw, a ruddy-haired, stout member of House Fillamont. He’d been particularly…displeased with her as a girl. She remembered being told off by him on a number of occasions for chasing her male cousins around, being told that her behavior wasn’t “appropriate.” It was funny how they never received the same complaints.
She held back a string of frustrations. “I am your queen, Lord Harshaw,” she said. “Not your princess. You will address me as such. Do I make myself clear?”
Lord Harshaw frowned, his jaw bouncing as it was clenched. “Yes, Your Hi—Majesty.”
Caelyn didn’t know whether the slip-up was intentional or not, but it wasn’t exactly like she could call him out for it. She took a breath, trying to call her father’s words back to her. “Never let them see that they get to you. If they see that they can exploit your weaknesses, they’ll never stop.”
So, instead of lunging across the table and snapping Lord Harshaw’s neck as she so wished to, she pulled a tight smile onto her lips and said, “Splendid.”
She turned to face the room. “I know that a lot of you have your concerns about my leadership,” she said. It was putting the blatant insults and threats that had graced her waking hours since her father’s death lightly, but, well, politics. “But, for better or worse, I am now the ruler of this kingdom. I expect to be treated as such. I will listen to your advice and wishes, but I will not bow to them.”
“No offense, your majesty, but the kingdom has never been ruled by a woman on her own,” said a young lord from the back of the room.
Caelyn had to hold back a bite. Why was it that when a man was forceful in the face of insults he was called assertive, while when a woman did the same she was called a bitch? She sighed. “And how will you ever know what I am capable of if you do not give me a chance to show you? I was named—”
“But how can—”
“—my father’s heir—”
“We know, but—”
“And how will you ever know what I am capable of if you do not give me a chance to speak?” she roared. It wasn’t like the big cats that the trainers had brought to the palace in her youth, but rather like a kitchen fire that had had salt thrown upon its flames. The lord who had been speaking to her jumped back, as if the flickering fire of her words could burn his skin. “The gods have deemed me fit to rule, else they’d have struck me down at my coronation. Whether you like it or not, I am your queen. If I am interrupted again, I will not hesitate to have my guards not only throw you out of the meeting, but out of this castle. Am I understood?”
The table around her hesitated, seemingly unsure of how to respond. Finally, a chorus of, “Yes, Your Majesty,” echoed around the room.
Caelyn sighed, tucking a strand of loose hair back behind her ear. “Now,” she said, waiting a second for the voices to die down. “Does anyone else have something that’s so important that it cannot wait until the open call for discussion?” A moment. Two. No one spoke up, either having no need to or too intimidated to. A small smile graced her lips. “Excellent. Then let us begin.”
Je t'aime (bien)
“Comment ça va aujourd’hui?”
Avi’s brow furrowed. “Comment…that’s how? How…are you…today?” She looked up at the tutor across from her, who was still watching her expectantly. “Oh, uh, bon.”
“It would actually be bien. You wouldn’t say things are going good, you’d say things are going well.”
“Ugh,” said Avi, throwing her head back as she slumped in her seat. “I’m never going to get this shit. French is stupid.”
She caught Taya’s crooked smile. “Not as stupid as English.”
“That’s fair.” She frowned at Avi. “If you still don’t remember ‘how’s it going?’ I’m kind of worried about the things you’re learning in class.”
Avi fixed her with a glare. “I remembered it! Way to instill confidence in your students.”
“It’s what I do best,” Taya giggled. “C’est de rien. T’as un beau visage, alors tu ne dois pas savoir français."
“Why do you talk to me in french if you know that I can’t understand it?” Avi pouted as she crossed her arms.
Taya grinned. “It’s fun.”
“It’s really not.”
“Ouais, peut-être à toi,” said the girl, still grinning as Avi tried to translate. “We should probably get started on the actual teaching part of things. What were you working on today?”
“Fuck if I know.”
“Let me see les devoirs.” Avi fished into her bag and pulled out the crumpled sheet of paper. She tried to ignore the slight frown on Taya’s face as she tried to flatten the worksheet against the table. “Oh okay, you’re just working on saying what you like. That’s simple enough.” She grimaced at Avi’s flat glare. “Well, uh, it should be.”
“So you’re using adorer and aimer. Adorer would be the equivalent of saying adore—easy enough to remember—and aimer would be like saying like or love. You’re just writing your opinion on the activities.”
“Seems easy enough.”
“Exactly,” Taya said. “So the first one is jouer au foot.”
Avi frowned. “Football?”
“Soccer,” Taya corrected. With a grin, she said, “We’re the only ones with football like we know it. En francais, we’d call that football americain.”
“Hm. I played soccer as a kid.”
“Did you like it?”
Avi grinned. “I hated it. There was way too much running. Cheer is much better, even if the people kind of suck.”
“So you’d say ‘je n’aime pas jouer au foot’ because you don’t like it.” Avi quickly scribbled down the words. “Alright, next is chocolat.”
“Who doesn’t like chocolate?!”
Avi gasped. “No.”
The tutor grimaced. “It’s too sweet.”
“That’s the whole point!”
“Whatever. Go ahead and write your answer if you’re so crazy about it.”
“Je adore le chocolat."
“Close. You’d say ‘j’adore’ because je and tu can kind of merge with verbs that start with a vowel. There’s some exceptions, of course, but it’s good to know as a general rule.”
“J’adore,” Avi murmured as she wrote it down. She grinned up at Taya. “Alright, what’s next?”
Taya read the next line and snorted. “Oh my god.”
“What is it?”
Avi squealed. “Arry Styles.”
“Is it bad that I don’t really get the appeal?”
Avi’s jaw dropped. “First chocolate and now Harry Styles? You’re breaking my heart Taya.”
Taya giggled. “Les hommes ne remplissent pas mes besoins.”
Her head tilted. “What does that mean?”
“Men don’t fulfill my needs,” said the tutor with a smirk. “Je suis une lesbian.”
“Oh,” Avi said, a slight blush rising to her cheeks. “Um, how did you know? If you don’t mind me asking?”
Taya shrugged. “I just kind of always knew. There was no grand moment of discovery for me. Why? Are you questioning things?”
Avi shifted uncomfortably. How was she supposed to respond to that? How was she supposed to tell the girl that she’d spent more than a few nights laying awake and thinking about that she was questioning things? Questioning things that had no place in her life. She was popular, religious, and head of the cheerleading squad. Feeling like that…it would ruin her. But the feelings wouldn’t go away, no matter how much she tried to shove them down. She frowned. “Something like that.”
Taya must’ve sensed the other girl’s discomfort. “Well, I’m not sure if you’re a lesbian with how you reacted to Harry Styles,” she joked.
She was giving her an easy out, one that Avi took graciously. “Oui. J’aime il.”
“It’s easier to use your indirect objects. Me, te, etc. For this it’d be him so you’d say ‘Je lui aime.’”
“Oui. Je lui aime beaucoup.”
“You used it correctly that time!”
“Let’s go!” Avi pumped her fist in the air, almost screaming the words.
“Shhh, you’re going to get us kicked out!” Taya giggled.
“I’ve finally learned French and you expect me to be quiet?”
“Tu ne sais pas francais. Pourquoi tu penses que je suis ici?” At the tilt of Avi’s head, she smirked and said, “Exactly.”
“Hmph. Whatever.” She bent over her homework, almost jumping out of her skin when her alarm blared. “Fuck that startled me.”
“Me too. What time is it?”
Avi checked her phone. “4:30.”
“I don’t know. I completely lost track of time.” She picked up her bag, shoving her homework in without much care. “I’ve got to get to cheer practice.”
“Will you be alright to finish it on your own?”
“I’ll figure it out. I’ve got Google Translate and all that.”
“I will not be replaced by Google Translate,” huffed Taya. “Seriously. If you have any questions just text me. I’m sorry that I couldn’t help you more.”
“It’s all good.” Avi paused as her bag was thrown over her shoulder, her brow furrowed as she tried to translate. “Je te aime? No, je t’aime. Right?”
Taya glanced at the ground. “Oh, well, not exactly. Grammatically yeah it’d be je t’aime but not to me. Je t’aime…it’d be more like saying ‘I love you’.” Avi’s eyes widened. “Which is weird because we use aimer to say ‘like’ all the rest of the time. French is weird that way. Maybe it is stupid. Sorry, I’m rambling. You could say, like, ‘je t’aime bien.’ That’d be like saying ‘I love you lots’ or something. More friendly. And that’s us. Friends. You know?”
Avi, who had been watching the rambling girl with mounting horror, nodded. She wanted to crawl into a hole, bury herself, and die. She wasn’t sure whether all of the color had drained from her face or whether it was bright red. “Right, right, sorry. Uh, I didn't mean to make that weird. Je t’aime. Bien.”
“It’s alright. You too, heh, Je t’aime. Bien.”
TW: Implied emotional abuse
She was beautiful. She was perfect even as she flamed: a wildfire burning down anything she touched. Even as the fire burned, licking at their soul, scorching them, they couldn’t help but admire how beautiful she looked in the light of the flickering flames.
“Fuck you. I hate you.”
“I’m sorry,” they said, still unsure as to why they were apologizing for being burned.
“You never listen to me.”
They did, they did. How could they not listen and watch and be completely enraptured by the dancing fire? They didn’t know why the fact that they didn’t have the answer she wanted was the same thing as not listening to her.
“Just shut up. Shut the fuck up. I’m talking.” She was desperate, flames reflecting in the pool of tears in her eyes. How? How had they been the one to make her cry, to make her scream, to make her burn?
No, that wasn’t fair. She had always burned. Tending to her was like tending to a loosely contained fire. Any mishap, any mistake, would send the inferno to new heights. It wasn’t hard to fan the flames and set her off. The slightest misstep from them was like gasoline.
They didn’t know how they kept messing up. She was an angry, fiery person. But that’s what made her so beautiful. Shouldn't they have learned how to avoid it by now? Shouldn’t they have learned how to just suck it up and make her happy? That’s what she said they should’ve done, anyways.
Was there any way to appease a wildfire? They weren’t sure. A wildfire wasn’t happy being contained, held back, and cursed for its nature. It wasn’t her fault that she had to burn and consume everything around her. It was the way a fire worked, afterall. Without fuel, she’d die off. It was in her nature to destroy.
But what of the forest? What of the towering, centuries-old pines who met their end at the hand of the blazing inferno? What of the bushes and the brambles who’d spent their entire lives trying to grow, only to become mere kindling for the wildfire? What of the creatures—birds and critters and hunters—who had to flee their homes, their safe places, to escape the choking heat of the flames?
Why didn’t they matter?
It wasn’t the fires’ fault. They knew that. She couldn’t help but burn and scorch and destroy. But why did they have to stick around to be the kindling?
The Ghost of Jane Veckter
TW: death, depression
The Veckters died three months, two weeks, five days, twelve hours, forty-seven minutes, and eight seconds ago.
It had been a car crash. Well, more like a car accident. Wilson Veckter in the front seat had to cross the railroad tracks in order to get to the grocery store. They were already halfway across them by the time they realized the train was coming. By that point, it was too late. The train took off the front half of the car. There wasn’t even any blood left to wipe off of the gravel. The back of the car was left completely unscathed, as if a knife had cut it in half. The paramedics came, took in the scene. There’d been two people in the car. They only pronounced one as dead.
Jane knew that was a mistake. She may have been sitting in the back of the car, but she’d died as if she too had been taken away by the train.
She looked down at her body from the outside of it. The body ran through the motions just fine. She ate, even though she couldn’t taste the food. She showered, even though she couldn’t feel the heat of the water on her bare skin. She talked, even though the conversations were never able to linger in her memory. By all accounts and purposes, she should have been alive. Anyone who looked at her from the outside certainly thought so. Unless they could see the emptiness behind her eyes, that is. Everyone thought she was alive. Hell, she’d have thought it if she wasn’t floating outside of her own body
For the first bit of it, she hadn’t minded so much. She was so caught up in her grief that it was okay for her to just float outside of herself, to let some other entity take the reins for a while. It gave her some much-needed peace, to not have to take care of herself.
As things were currently, however, she was incredibly bored and incredibly tired of not being in control of her own being. She was ready to take it back.
The only problem was that she had no idea how to get back to herself.
It wasn't a lack of trying, not really. It was just that she’d never had to force her soul back into her body before. Her body and soul had always been one united force. She’d spent such a long time away from her body that she had no clue as to how to get back to it.
And then she met Rylan.
Rylan was everything that Jane had been missing in her life. He was so full—full of emotion, full of care, full of love. He was gentle, understanding of her in a way that no one since Wilson had been. He was warm, a warmth that she could feel on her skin, in her bones. It brought her happiness, it brought her warmth.
It also brought her guilt, the guilt that only comes with loving another after you’ve lost one that you loved. Was it not wrong to love someone so fully that she became distracted from the pain of losing those that she’d loved before? Was it not wrong to give her heart to someone else when it had been so thoroughly beaten and damaged before?
But then she would think of Wilson—because, although the warmth distracted her, she never forgot about him, could never forget about him—and his shy smiles and his gentle hand. And she knew what he’d want for her.
So slowly, Jane Veckter began to come back to herself.
It was a painfully slow process. It seemed her progress had to be measured moment-by-moment, hour-by-hour. A brush to her hand brought her shooting back into herself. A plate crashing against the floor sent her richochetting back off of the walls. It took time. Rylan’s gentle smiles led her way. He did not bring her back to herself. That effort was all hers. He was rather a cast, holding her broken bones in place while her body sealed them back together.
The Veckters died one year, six months, one week, four days, twenty-two minutes, and fifty seconds ago.
And Jane Veckter’s ghost had finally returned to its body.
Writing Prompt Wednesday #116
The person whom you have been trying to talk to for ages finally answers the phone. Who is this person? How does the phone conversation progress?
His voice was as rich as I’d remembered it to be. Deep and full, warm enough to heat you head to toe. It sounded groggy, as if he’d just woken up.
“Hey Harley,” I replied, painfully aware that my own voice squeaked as I said the word. “Um, I’ve been trying to get a hold of you.”
“I know.” A sigh from the other end. The tug of a lamp cord. Shuffling, as I assumed he was sitting up. Was he in bed? In his living room? At someone else’s place? I didn’t dare to ask. “So what did you want to talk about?”
I sighed. “I just…I don’t…” I guessed months and months to think about this conversation hadn’t made me as smooth as I’d hoped. “I miss you.”
The end of the line was silent. I tried not to make myself sick over the tension coursing through my body. Finally, he said, “I miss you too.”
My heart soared. “Really?” I asked, unable to keep the shock completely out of my voice.
“Yeah, I do.” A pause, more shuffling. “So what do you want to do about it?”
“Well, I’ve been doing the things we talked about. Managing expectations and demands and such.” I knew that I sounded over-eager, but I couldn’t stop the words from tumbling out of my mouth. “I know that I wasn’t treating you fairly. I get how you felt judged and stifled. I know things aren’t going to be perfect, and I don’t expect them to be.”
“Not anymore,” I confirmed. “I just…I really need you to listen to me—”
“Here we go again,” came his sigh. I flinched. “Listen, Vic, I want this as much as you do. If not more. But I can’t go on and on with all of this ‘you need to listen to me’ bullshit. I’m not your pet.”
“I…I know you’re not,” I said, stricken. “I just…communication is really important….”
“I know it is to you,” he said. “But that’s just not the way that I roll. I need some space. Some privacy. I can’t just share every little detail of my life with you, you know that.”
“And I don’t expect you to!” The right thing to do would be to shut up. To stop talking. To agree to his demands, to apologize, and to move on. But I couldn’t stop myself. My big mouth had always gotten me into trouble. “But if we’re going to share a life I want you to trust me. Trust is so important and I know that you have your issues with everything but I don’t think I’ve done anything to make you think that you can’t trust me. And if I have I can work on it, but I just really want us to—”
“Who’re you talking to?” said a groggy voice on the other end of the line, a man’s voice that I didn’t recognize.
“No one,” Harley said. “Listen Vic, I’ve got to go. I—”
“The other person you’re talking to. Who is he?”
I could feel the tension rippling from the other end of the line. Harley swallowed, hard. “Someone.”
A sigh. Then, “My boyfriend.”
Everything inside of me froze. The whirling waves of anxiety that had been grappling my chest stopped. It gave me whiplash. The whole of my insides clenched as my brain tried to process the words. “Your….”
“Boyfriend,” Harley repeated. “I didn’t want you to find out this way.”
“I know what you thought,” he said. “And I want to work things out too. It’s just—”
“So you found someone else?!” I asked. “Seems like a pretty great way to work things out.”
“No, I’m done.” The whirling waves of anxiety were back, and they were threatening to make me sick. It was high time to get out of here, before any of that happened. “Goodbye Harley.”
Writing Prompt Wednesday #107
2. Dancing in the snow https://mirclealignr.tumblr.com/post/669674956399017984/xmas-prompt-list-scenarios-decorating-the
Christmas was ruined.
There was no point to it anymore. They had been driving home—they needed to get home before midnight so that they could have the perfect Christmas morning. Throughout the car breaking down, an insane amount of traffic coming back from his parents, and every single thing that could have possibly gone wrong, Lance was just beginning to finally believe everything would be alright after all.
“Ugh!” he groaned in frustration, kicking the side of their house. “I can’t fucking believe this.”
“It’s alright baby,” Pine said. They placed a hand on his back, rubbing soothing circles. “It’s not the end of the world.”
“Of course it’s the end of the world! How on earth did we forget the key?”
“Things happen,” they shrug. “We can get a hotel or something.”
“A hotel?” Lance asked. “A hotel won’t work! All of the presents are in there, and the landlord can’t come in until after Christmas.”
“We can open the gifts then!”
“But then everything will be ruined,” Lance said, putting his head in his hands as he crumpled to the ground.
“Sweetie, what is it?” Pine said, inching over and leaning down beside their boyfriend. “It’ll be alright, what’s wrong about opening gifts a day late?”
What was wrong about it was that Lance was going to propose, and now his plans were fucking ruined. Afterall, Christmas was magical and merry. Nothing was special about the 26th of December. But of course Pine couldn’t know that. “I just wanted our first Christmas living together to be perfect,” Lance mumbled.
“Oh sweetheart,” Pine said, taking his face. “I’m with you, of course it will be.”
He leaned into their touch, and the clenching around his heart was starting to ease up. All too soon, though, the warmth of Pine’s hand was gone, and they had disappeared into the car. “Pine? What are you doing?”
“One second,” Pine said, murmuring, “Impatient baby,” under their breath. Lance huffed, but stayed put as Pine sifted through their belongings. They must’ve retrieved whatever they were looking for, and, satisfied, came back around the front of the car.
They were carrying a speaker. Lance tilted his head in confusion as Pine shuffled through the songs on their phone. A soft holiday tune blasted from the speakers, and Pine shot him a small smile. They offered a hand. “Come on, dance with me.”
Lance hesitated a moment before climbing to his feet and taking their hand. Pine pulled him in close, twirling him in slow, careful circles. “See, this isn’t so bad.”
“No,” Lance said, a smile splitting his face. “It isn’t.”
“What are you smiling for, weirdo?”
“I just,” he hesitated, trying to find the words to explain what was going on in his head. “I don’t know how I got lucky enough to have you.”
Pine chuckled. “I love you too. Now focus on dancing with me.”
He did, and they danced in the snow.
It Started With a Smile
It started with a smile.
Her grin was so bright. Her laugh was a melody, a siren’s song. I couldn’t help but listen. I couldn’t help but be drawn in by her sweet song.
She would always look at me. Her eyes shone with mischief. I followed her: sharing her smiles, sharing her time.
Before long she began to share mine.
The first time she talked to me--like actually talked to me--I was utterly entranced. All she had wanted was some homework answers, but that couldn’t matter less to me. Not when she was standing before me with her shining eyes and her bright grin. It was blinding. She was blinding. Blinding me of my senses, of common sense. Even if I had known then, known what would’ve happened, known what would become of us, I doubt I’d have cared.
For some unknown reason, she stayed. Her grins became more common. Her laugh only got sweeter as I committed the sound to memory. I would catch her eye in class and my heart would stop. If I had died from it I would have died ecstatic.
Soon she began to linger. A touch to my arm, fire under our skin. I craved her like I craved air, water. Her slight brushes of a hand were a narcotic, morphine, taking all the pain away. I had withdrawals at her loss, my mind and body screaming, begging for more of her.
Of course I became an addict. How could I not? With something so sweet, soenraturing, someone like me could have no hope to resist. I didn’t even try.
When she first kissed me, I thought I had ascended.
Things were good for a long while. She had brought me happiness, brought me joy. It took me a while to realize that there was no love there. None that she had given to me, anyways.
I lived in the light of her caress, blind to the fact that the rest of my life had gone dark.
But just when I had grown most reliant on the light, just when I was sure I couldn’t live without it, it dimmed.
Her kisses became quick and shallow. Her touches didn’t linger. Her eyes only shined with tears. Her smiles were no longer bright.
She was fading from me, and I faded right by her side. I didn’t know what else to do. I was her faithful servant. It had been so long since I’d acted on my own. How was I supposed to stay whole?
Somewhere along the way, I realized that if I stayed by her side, I would fade into oblivion, into nothing more than a shadow to grace her presence. I started to see them, the shadows of all the others she had left in her wake. Bright and beautiful she was, cloaked by the shadows of those who obeyed her every command. I was to be one of them before long.
I took a leap. I knew that I had no other choice. I was a moth, drawn to the flames that burned my wings. But I would not be a shadow.
I left the warmth, the shelter of the lantern that had guided my life since I had lost myself. I took a leap to the shore.
It started with a smile.
And it ended with a broken heart.
Writing Prompt Wednesday #97
Someone must have seen him, because the police were at his door https://writingexercises.co.uk/firstlinegenerator.php
Someone must have seen him, because the police were at his door.
It was supposed to be a simple job. In and out, that was what they said. The guards were supposed to be few and far between, sparsely spread out and lazy. No need to even wear gloves as long as everything went according to plan.
Everything did not go according to plan.
They had a mole. Of course they had a mole. Half the town’s officers were waiting at the site when his little group arrived. It was a shitshow. They bailed on Plan A almost immediately, but someone must’ve spotted him anyway.
“Police open up!”
“One moment!” he called, taking his sweet time getting to the door. He cracked it open. “Yes?”
“Jordan? Open up.”
“Ah, Officer Edwards. So good to see you again. I’ve told you time and time again, you can call me Finley. To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“Can we have a look around?”
“Well I suppose you have a warrant.”
“Listen here boy--”
“So that’s a no on the warrant?”
Edwards grit his teeth. “I want to talk to you about last night?”
“Where were you?”
“Right here in my humble abode,” he grinned, gesturing to his living room.
“And what were you doing?”
“Watching an episode of Friends. I’ve got to tell you, officer, what a marvellous piece of comedy that is.”
The officer sighed. “Are you aware that there was an attempted break-in at the jewelry store at 1993 Grend Street last evening?”
He feigned shock. “No I was not. I bet you boys are in a hurry to recover the stolen property.”
“Well nothing was actually stolen.”
He tilted his head. “I don’t understand.”
“No property was found to be missing as of last night.”
Finley frowned. “Well then I don’t quite understand why you’re here.”
The officer squinted at him. “Our boys got a tip from a member of the Burns.”
“A gang here in the city. A gang my boys have good intel that you run.”
He barked a laugh. “Me? Running a gang? That is a good one.”
“So you have no association with the Burns?”
“None at all. Although if you could inform me as to who gave you that tip I would be highly invested. I have a sore spot for drama.”
“Likely,” the officer said. “Our anonymous tip gave us some information that the Burns were conducting this heist.”
“Well, I can assure you that I neither have association with the gang nor heist. Now if that’s all--”
“I’m not done with you yet,” the officer snarled, throwing his hand in between the door Finley was trying to close. “Listen here Jordan, I know you’re a part of this and I’ll do what it takes to prove it.”
He laughed. “Oh officer, you amuse me,” he said. “Let me ask you this: If I was indeed the leader of this dangerous gang and had orchestrated this heist, why would I try to steal things from a jewelry store when there are much, much bigger spoils in this town.”
“Officer Edwards,” said one of the officers in front of him, rushing up to tap Edwards on the shoulder.
“What is it?” he snarled, whirling on the female officer.
“We just got a call. There was a break in at the bank on Ranlit.” Finley checked his watch. 1:15, right on time.
“Did we get anyone on scene?”
“Why the hell not?”
“Our officers have been investigating the break in from last night, sir.”
“Well, if you don’t mind me,” Finley said, squeezing out his door and pushing past a now-fuming Edwards. “I’ve got to get going. Seems like it’s going to be a very busy day today. Pleasure talking to you, officer.”
Edwards slammed his fists on the front door. “Jordan!”
“Watch the door, officer, you’ll chip the paint,” Finley said, starting to walk away. “Oh, and officer?” he looked over his shoulder. “Like I said, please, call me Finley.”
Hidden Behind Light
Nikolas Scott dragged his load along, hefting it up over his shoulder. It was incredibly heavy, and it was already taking quite some effort to breathe by the time he got to the park. He was only halfway there and already he was exhausted. How was that fair?
Some people gave him weird looks as he continued along, but they took one glance at his face and went along on their way. No doubt his reputation had reached this town, just as it had in every other place he’d been in. The people would leave him alone.
In the last few years, a string of murders had been appearing all across the country. Murders were not uncommon in themselves, it was a cruel world afterall, but something about these were different. They were much more frequent, in smaller, localized areas, for one thing. And even besides that, there was something that was just...off about them. The local police were always unable to find any evidence connecting the killings back to anyone.
And then Nikolas would arrive in town. During his first few ventures, no one would pay him any mind. Now that his reputation was growing, it was more difficult to go along unnoticed. It was annoying, but thus far it hadn’t impeded his work.
A month, a week, maybe even a few days after Nikolas would show up in a town, the killings would stop. A few days later, the authorities would find a body dumped in the woods or in a dumpster. A signature N-shaped slash would be carved through the chest, along with every single piece of information that Nikolas had been able to find that tied the killer back to the murders.
The people would no doubt be amazed and relieved. They hailed him as a hero. Some had even devoted a religion to him. The local authorities would sigh and shake their heads. “What can we do?” they’d ask. “He’s a genius investigator. We wouldn’t have figured it out anyways. Who cares? Makes our jobs easier.”
And so it had gone for the last two years, as Nikolas jumped from town to town, slowly becoming a hero of the people.
He finally made it to the bridge. With a groan, he hoisted the load up and over the barrier and watched it sail into the coursing river below. They would find her in a few days, along with all of the evidence. By then, Nikolas would be in a new town, with new people to save.
No one had been able to tie the murders back to him yet. No one thought he was involved in an even closer way. And why would they? He was a genius, and more careful than any killer that had come before him. Who would see him as a villain when he was hailed as a hero?
Who would view him in darkness when he was hidden behind light?
Writing Prompt Wednesday #93
Write a story that weaves together multiple lives through their connection to a particular tree. https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/general/write-a-story-that-weaves-together-multiple-lives-/
I've seen many things since the time of my planting.
I've seen good men die, I've seen boys and girls grow up. I've witnessed marriages, and funerals, and celebrations of life alike. I've seen these creatures that are called "human" or "people" hold hands and celebrate. I've seen them shoot each other down with their guns, all in the name of peace. I've seen them create, and destroy.
The first human I ever met was an older man. I know him only by what his saplings called him, "Pop-pop". So that's what I came to know him as.
Pop-pop was the man who planted me. Sprung from a tiny little acorn found in his son's property. I heard the story that he'd tell his saplings as they ate and drank beneath my branches.
"Well I was walking around ol' Jamie's land and that's when I saw it," he's say in that voice of his. It sounded like the shutters on the house knocking against the walls when the wind ruffled my leaves. "It was this little acorn, underneath one of the most magnificent oak trees I'd ever seen in my life. Well I thought to myself, 'I can't let such a beautiful sprout get eaten by the squirrels, now can I?'
"So, I bunded him up and took him home and planted him in my backyard. I wasn't sure if he'd take, but here he is. And isn't he beautiful? Prettiest sapling I've ever seen in my life." Whenever Pop-pop would reach that part of the story, he'd reach out and pat my branches with a look of what I now know is love in his eyes. This was back when I was a young sprout, when I didn't know what the world had to offer. Things were nice then.
"It's a shame," Pop-pop would always finish. "That I won't get to see him grow into a full oak."
I never knew what he meant when he said that. Afterall, I was just a sapling. I didn't know about the humans; how much shorter their lives were than us trees. The trees don't die; not unless the earth decides our time is up. But these people, they weren't built to grow and stand tall for forever. They were built to love and to create and to destroy, and their bodies soon expire.