REBIRTH BlogFest: “Wishmaker”

Behold, my entry for the REBIRTH BlogFest (running from this past Tuesday, May 12 through next Saturday, May 23. Interested writers, take note). Enjoy!

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The summer night was warm enough to drive with the top down. Heavy with the breath of stars. Maria Luna’s hair sailed behind her, a silken black banner, as she maneuvered the car ‘round a bend in the otherwise empty road.

A periwinkle blue car. She had always used to talk of wanting one.

The dream ride lurched with its driver’s surprise as a slim shadow separated itself from the silhouette of treetops at the roadside, sailing a wide arc that brought it down and around to cruise abreast with the vehicle.

The one who flies, Maria Luna thought in awe. She hadn’t expected to ever meet any of the old wishes face to face.

“Hey, a new one!” said the shadow that was a girl – her face, form, and voice much like an early-teen version of the young woman in the car. “What brings you out here at this hour?”

Affecting composure, Maria Luna said, “It’s a full moon.”

“So?”

“So come and see.” Maria Luna tipped her chin toward the passenger seat. “Want a lift?”

“No way,” said the girl, tumbling a loop in the air before offering her hand. “Do you?”

After a moment’s hesitation, Maria Luna shook her head. “The drive is part of the wish.”

“Same here for flying. It’s cool.” The girl shrugged carelessly. “I’ll follow along.”

Maria Luna nodded, a-tingle head to toe with an unspoken excitement. It seemed the night held more wonders in store than she’d first supposed.

In time, the travelers by wheels and flight reached the edge of a field of wild grasses. Rolling to a stop, Maria Luna cut the glare of the headlights and noise of the engine, plunging the space into silvery silence.

“All right,” said the girl, arms folded, feet hovering well above the ground. “You had your drive. Are you allowed to fly now?”

Maria Luna shut the car door behind her with a smile. “The wish was a drive to see the moon. It never specified the view had to be from the earth. Take us up, Maria Pan!”

With a crow of delight, the girl seized the woman’s hand and rose higher, the pair’s path doodling invisible designs over the meadow. Maria Luna’s blood raced and thrilled. This was utter magic!

And then, above them – So close!, Maria Luna’s eyes told her, even though her head knew better – there hung the sphere of white, vast and glowing, drenching the heavens in otherworldly light. The biggest, brightest full moon in years, news sources had predicted, and it looked like they’d been right. For a lover of the moon, as she was, it made for a sight not to be missed.

“Why didn’t she just come out and see it for herself?” The girl’s voice poked through the edge of the young woman’s awareness.

“Hmm?”

“Y’know. Her,” said Maria Pan. “The Mother Maria. I mean, I get that she doesn’t like to drive. Or to leave the house much at all, really. But look at it.” She gestured with her free hand to the celestial beauty before them. “How could she not think this is worth it?” Her mouth twisted down with disdain. “How can she be so lame?”

Lame. Maria Luna conceded the term fit the circumstance Maria Pan referenced all too well. A pity, too. A disgusting waste. A life that could be so much more, if only she – Maria, mother of wishes – would actually live her dreams. Instead, hers was the bad habit of creating dreams to do all the living for her.

“She doesn’t wish to be lame,” Maria Luna murmured.

At her side, Maria Pan muttered, “But does she wish not to be?”

Eyes on the moon, Maria Luna said nothing.

They stayed in the sky for as long as the night’s light shined, returning to the ground with the sunrise. That’s gorgeous, too, Maria Luna thought, drinking in the delicate dawn. Fit for a Maria Soleil.

Of a sudden, she noticed Maria Pan’s hand still clung to hers, more tightly than before. A furrow of anxiety appeared between the girl’s fierce, bright eyes – green with an inner ring of purple. Her maker had once thought that would make the coolest combination. “What will happen to you, now that the moon’s gone?”

Touched, Maria Luna ran her free hand through the pixie cut of the wish to fly and never, never grow up. A forever sort of wish, her purpose and existence secure. Not all wishes were made to last so long. The girl will have seen countless sisters come and go. “What happens to the others, when the wish is fulfilled?”

“Depends.” Maria Pan shrugged a shoulder, then cast a grimace behind it. “For some, the end can’t be worse than the start.”

Maria Luna’s gaze followed the girl’s to where the field met a patch of suburban woodland; settled on the collection of graves in scattered rows among a tangle of brush and wildflowers. Though the dates on the headstones varied, each bore the same name: Maria Morte. Every one a testament to a time the Mother Maria had wished to die.

Too many times.

Too much wishing to die. Too much wishing to live. Past time to stop wishing and start doing.

“There will be other full moons,” Maria Luna said. “Other sunrises, and sunsets. There will be music and dramas and people and places. And I’m going to make them mine.”

Maria Pan looked up at her in puzzlement. “That’s not what you’re made for.”

“What I am,” she said, “is what I make me.”

“What you— Wait. Are you…?” Purple-and-green eyes peered closer, then widened as understanding struck. “You’re her,” the girl gasped, startling into the air. “You’re the Mother Maria!”

“I was,” Maria admitted. “But not anymore. Maybe I can’t fly on my own power or change my eyes, but I can become the me I want inside – one who takes hold of the magic within reach. This time, the magic was the moon. And better, as it turned out: It was a friend.”

Taking once more the hand that had lifted her to the skies, Maria smiled widely, the expression mirrored in the impish face above.

Wishes on their own might not be enough. But some were too precious to let go.

REBIRTH Banner BLUE

“Scarytale” or “Tomorrows’ End”

Once upon one of too many minutes spent puttering around online, I happened across the following Tweet:

Bree Ogden Tweet

#Flashfiction #writing #contest?, I thought. (What, you mean not everyone thinks in #hashtags?) After checking out the link and the rules and the swiftly approaching deadline, I replied in classic Danielle E. Shipley, Author style.

Bree Ogden Tweet, my reply

For this, the first in a series of #31DaysofHalloween flash fiction contests hosted on her blog (This Literary Life), Bree Ogden provided an image to inspire…

Ghostly Dancers, via Bree Ogden

a song to write by, and a word to include any way entrants saw fit: “Hoard”.

Skipping ahead to the end of this little episode, the bad news is that I didn’t end up winning the contest. (I WAS ROBBED! Lol, whatever; you win some, you lose the rest.) But there was good news, too: Win or lose, I now had an eerie little story to share with all of you guys!

So here it is – my quick trick with words, served up as a Halloween treat for you. ‘Cause this fairytale author isn’t so light that she can’t pull the occasional scarytale out of her darkened soul. Presenting… “Tomorrows’ End”.

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“Will you dance with us tonight, Taylor?”

The young woman hadn’t known she slept until the whisper woke her. Her eyes opened to the shape crouched on her windowsill, an unmoving silhouette behind white curtains fluttering in a breeze that didn’t blow. To think that, as lately as one year ago, she did not believe in such beings as these.

“Tomorrow,” she answered, as always. Her quiet voice grated hoarse, but she didn’t dare clear her throat. The night her daughter’s sudden cry startled the crouching creature had been the baby’s last. A coincidence, some might say. She did not believe any such thing. “Not tonight. Ask tomorrow.”

The creature’s eyes burned black against the window’s shroud of snowy linen. “How many tomorrows do you think you have left?”

As many as I can hoard, Taylor thought. She would put off a decision as long as she could. As long as the creature allowed, or until she could find a way to stop the invitations coming. If she could last just one more week, she’d be on a train speeding far away from this accursed house. Surely that would end it. Surely she would be given a chance to start again. She tried to believe she would.

“Please,” she begged softly. “Tomorrow.”

“Tonight.” The word stilled the curtains; for half a beat, stilled Taylor’s heart. “Tonight, or never.” The silhouette vanished, only an echo of its words left behind. “You have until the sunrise. We will not ask again.”

No longer a request. A command. Her time was up, too soon. It was dance or die. Or so some would say. She did not believe in the “or”.