In Love Is Courage Reading

Since completing the audiobook of Quest of the Dreamwalker, I’ve been sort of fixated on narrated prose. In my travels, I found a site called 600 Second Saga.  This is a website for authors to have their flash fiction read by a professional narrator. I submitted one of my favorites for consideration and they accepted. I hope I will be able to do more of these in the future.

For now, please enjoy Mariah Avix‘s lovely narration of my heartfelt tribute to my parents, In Love Is Courage. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

 

MidWeek Flash: Poison or Regret

Hello, all. I know I’ve been silent for quite a while.  Real life issues have kept me busy and likely will continue to do so for a few more weeks. However, I did want to set aside some time to write. I apologize in advance for the unnatural darkness of this piece. It has been a hard few months.  This is from a few weeks ago (#13), and hopefully I will catch up with the rest of the MidWeek Flash crew soon.  Enjoy your Fourth of July!


Poison or Regret

From my threadbare cot, I gaze out across the sandy strip of land to the fouled sea. At this time of day, the blue of the sky and sea deceive me, convincing me they are safe like before the War.  But they lie. The intervening junkyard of monstrous gears rusting in the sun accuses me and rightly so. Guilt turns like a nauseous worm somewhere between my gut and my heart.

My world is about to end, has ended already in fact, and the fault is undeniably mine.

I had done this, me and my rose-colored glasses. My blankets carry the sour stench of  my fear. If only I could vomit up the churning mass of rot inside me and be rid of it, this mess of guilt and shame and regret. The torment of knowing how close the end is wracks my soul, pinches in my chest. No God in history, however loving, could forgive me what I’ve done. I will never forgive myself.

I had borrowed from the future to pay for my privileged and lofty ideals, stealing our children’s future as if they wouldn’t notice. Thinking I could pay it back before they realized what I’d done. But I had gambled on bright-eyed hope and love and kumbaya—and lost.

The aliens hadn’t been out to exterminate us. Truthfully, they hadn’t even noticed us at first. Our little blue-green planet had simply been in the way of their galactic feud.

I shiver and my stomach roils as flashbacks shudder through my weakening mind. Giant machines sheathed in sleek oily carapaces of bottle-fly green clash around me.  Earth herself is hard-pressed to tolerate their size and weight. Each footfall, each strike, each crash reverberates through the ground beneath my feet like an earthquake. I imagine myself, pitiful and small, standing between them like a child playing referee to warriors. I try to stop them from trampling the world I love, but they battle on heedless of the fragile life beneath their feet.

We should have attacked when we first saw them, out beyond the moon. We should have thrown everything we could think of at them, but instead I had led a call for contact and diplomacy. I convinced the world to follow me… to our doom.

Is my sin one of hubris, or only short-sightedness? Or perhaps cowardice? A fear of  looking circumstances in the face and calling them by their right name. I’d attributed human processes to the aliens’ actions, thinking that behind the callous destruction lay misunderstanding rather than ingrained aggression. I once thought it was daring and brave to believe in universal Good with a capital G, but in reality I had turned my eyes from the truth. Nature is the only ruler, and she is as blind as Justice. Her rules are simple: kill or be killed.

I swing swollen feet to the ground and teeter on starved legs. Emerging from the sheltering debris where I sleep, I walk my penitent gauntlet as I do every day.  My sleeping quarters had once been an alien diplomat who thought as I did. Or at least that’s what the translators conveyed.  Death found him (it?) quickly. I am not so lucky. Passing beneath the broken bodies of the combatants left behind, I notice rivulets of bright blue and green and oily yellow. Their alien alloys leach into the ground, finding their microscopic way to the water   My gut twists a turn tighter.

Oh, that joyous day when the War ended. Whether by victory or surrender we had no way of knowing, but no one cared. The giant robots simply stopped fighting and one by one blasted off into the sky, leaving their dead and wounded stranded. Such misguided relief, as if Fate was done with us. The simmering backlash of my cause lashed out then and we retaliated with all the spiteful anger of a tormented child, nuking what was left of their number and our world. But it was already too late. The tincture of alien metals left behind and irradiated by our foolishness now poisons us little by little. One cannot survive without water and drinking the water will kill you.

The bleak landscape of my mind is torture. Guilt, regret, sorrow, isolation. I want to die and I surely will along with everything I tried to save. The question is: Will the alien poison or my own regret kill me first?

MidWeek Flash: Reiterated Love

Since I was late on last week’s MidWeek Flash, it’s already time for another one. But this simply gorgeous photo clicked with a thought and voila. 


Reiterated Love

I stood on the old pier watching the beginning of the end. Conflicting memories danced in my head as the sky turned molten around us. Lilia’s fearful whimper tugged at me and I tucked her in close. Her body trembled against my side. Whether the result of my presence or the sky, I couldn’t be sure.

“We have to go,” I urged.

“I’m tired,” she said, “tired of … all of you.”

“The ship is waiting.”

“Maybe I don’t want to go.” Though soft and halting, she cast the words at me like a challenge.

I gazed down on the face I’d known all my life, the face of my purpose. This woman was very reason I was alive. Her guarded hazel eyes met mine, testing my resolve. Haunted by a hundred deaths, she silently dared me to argue. Her lips were a hard line, yet I couldn’t resist reliving the memory of them playing over my skin, kissing me in ways that heated my blood. Continue reading “MidWeek Flash: Reiterated Love”

MidWeek Flash: Lighting the Way

It’s been more than a week since I wrote some flash, and feels even longer. But I’m back. As usual, I made an effort to kick back against the obvious and take this piece in a lighter direction. I leave it to you whether I’ve succeeded and still managed to write something intriguing.  

Thank you again to Miranda for her weekly prompts. And if any of you out there think you might have a story inside you waiting to come out. Come write with us! Really we don’t bite (much). 


Lighting the Way

“I see dead people.”

My husky imitation echoes slightly in the dim hallway as a wry smirk plays across my lips. Unfortunately, anyone who could hear me now probably won’t get the reference, or appreciate the humor. Still, the irony makes me chuckle.

Even though the sun hangs in a cloudless sky outside, the hallway feels dark, shadowed, oppressed. I take slow, deliberate steps, stowing the humor and breathing deeply. Settling into my purpose, I reach out with my inner sense, inviting contact. Many are still here. Too many. They know I’ve come but they don’t trust me. Yet. Continue reading “MidWeek Flash: Lighting the Way”

MidWeek Flash: Spirited Away

Mid-Week Flash is up.  Thank you Miranda Kate for an interesting, if unsettling, photograph. Here is my take, with the help of a writing challenge “offered” by a friend. Have I mentioned my susceptibility to dares? 


 

SPIRITED AWAY

Sister Elspeth burst from the Council chamber, the doors banging open. Her dark robes fluttered behind like storm-tossed sails.

“What news?” I trailed in her wake.

“Mewling brats!” she seethed, whirling around to spit at the closing door. “There is no wisdom left in all Urtland!”

I dodged out of the way, trying to follow her. But she turned on heel and strode forward again, leaving me scrambling after her.

“The plan,” I repeated. “What about the plan?” But she didn’t hear me.

“The invaders have struck a mortal blow,” she mused, “killing those men whose years brought wisdom.  Now boys play king of the hill and all the while our enemy eats us from inside.” Her muttering burned with anger as she pushed open the main doors and swept down the stairs taking the path to the Coven House.  

“Sister,” I begged. “Did you tell them?”

She turned on me then, her eyes sparking with hate. Magic crackled around her. A warning. “They wouldn’t let me speak.”

“What?” I stared in shock. How could the Council disrespect her so? The Coven had advised Urtland’s kingship for a century.

“A woman has no place in war.” She mimicked a deep voice.  “As if swords alone determined which battles are won. I’ll show you war!” she shouted at the castle, then turned and strode into the trees.

I could do little but hurry after her.

“A woman knows strength is not the only weapon worth wielding” she said to me. “We will behead this snake before its forked tongue corrupts Urtland any further.”

The plan, it seemed, would proceed without kingly permission.

Moonrise found us in the forest. A dozen Coven sisters stood in a circle, Sisters Elspeth, Yadha, Deara, and myself waiting skyclad in the center, athames at ready, faces grim. Chosen warriors for Urtland. Assassins, if you will. One for each invader chieftain.

The spell was already in the casting. Our witch-sisters chanted, hands clasped, and magic tingled along my skin, hot and eager. All that was left was to call our allies. We four lifted our arms and carved the symbols for our chosen trees in our flesh. I chose my namesake – hazel – and carved four bloody lines to the left of a vertical one in my arm. Elspeth’s arm bore three marks beside the straight. A warrior tree – the holly.

I felt a pull in my belly. My call was answered. The Coven opened the circle and we four walked in a daze into the forest. A beautiful hazel tree, robust and green, beckoned to me. Lifting my arms, I pressed against her smooth trunk until my arms became her branches, her leafy crown my own head.  Behind me, the witch-sisters sang and I pulled my feet from the earth to dance, slow at first and then faster. They followed me as I cavorted like a satyr in the moonlight, heading toward the enemy encampment.

The Coven wove spells of fog and darkness to hide us as we infiltrated the foreign camp. My fingers rustled and my body ached as branches took the shape of lovely limbs. The glamour complete, I twirled into the tent of a barbarian general. He woke with a start. I smiled at him, beckoning him with my naked body, youthful and firm. The witches spun a spell of love over him.

When he rose to claim me, I let him kiss me. My toughened bark immune to his rough hands.

“Not here,” I whispered. “Come, my love. Away to my bower.”

He grabbed for me, but I spun away, ever just out of reach. I allowed him to kiss me now and then to keep his passion fresh, leading him out of his camp and into the woods.

In a place far from the beaten path, I stopped and surrendered, opening my arms to the brute. He grabbed me then, thrusting himself upon me with ravaging intent. I did not resist, but clasped him closer, opening myself to his plundering. And as we coupled, bodies twined together, the magic changed me once more. My leaves returned. Feet became roots, arms became branches, and my violent lover was trapped within the thickened bark of my trunk…

                                                                 …never to be heard from again.


You can find links to the other entries HERE.

 

 

 

MidWeek Flash – Rumors of Yumon

It’s that time again!  MidWeek Flash and a new photo. This time a historical photo of bomb-blasted Italy.  Again, I was avoiding the dark post war images that immediately sprang to mind. The what if time stopped postulations…

And then I set myself a challenge. I picked something silly and told myself (via a friend) to write about it. Here’s what ended up happening. You’ll have to let me know if it produced a worthwhile piece or not. Again the challenge is here on Miranda’s blog.  And you (yes, you reading this right now), you should go write something yourself!


Rumors of Yumon

We walk the haunted forest in the late afternoon, my daughter and I. The rain’s aftermath is sure to leave us mud-speckled, a disappointment to her mother, but I’m not bothered by such things. I firmly believe an adventure without dirt is just a stroll.

Oh, how I used to race rings around my own father here, ages and ages ago. The tower hasn’t changed in all that time. I love to see the delight in her brown eyes, the skip in her step. She finds this place as magical as I did… I do.

 Skeptics abound in this day and age, but I believe the tales. I believe in things unseen.

As we climb, the tower greets us first. Its gray façade of even stones lifting up out of the summer-green leaves, pointing to the sky. She has to crane her head back to keep the top of it in sight as we emerge from the dense trees to the small meadow where the building sits. At least, what’s left of it. Continue reading “MidWeek Flash – Rumors of Yumon”

MidWeek Flash – Summoning the Muse

As I read the other stories this week, I realized that I too was thinking of aggression and revenge. I would have written about hunters and death. But I looked again at the picture and thought of how beautiful this creature was. Why couldn’t this be about love? 

Again the rules and the challenge are here on Miranda Kate’s blog.  And again, please join in.  It’s better with friends. 

Summoning the Muse

She soared the night sky as clouds tiptoed across the moon’s face. Her sharp eyes pierced shadow and branch but nothing moved. Unsettled, she dropped lower, gliding a mere featherbreadth above the treetops to search again; it was nearing moonset.

Perhaps he wouldn’t come.

Perhaps he’d broken free.

The thought pinched inside her. When he’d first summoned her to his little isle of green in that plastic world, she’d been irritated. That he had the power to do so was unnerving. That he dared to … angered her. But she no longer hated him.

She felt a tug of energy. He had come after all. Continue reading “MidWeek Flash – Summoning the Muse”