Red

the_heart_of_everything_ii_by_nelleke-d37eono

Emily paused to catch her breath. A backwards glance revealed only trees and shadows. She lowered the hood of her cloak; felt the cool breeze on her face. Maybe she’d lost him?

A howl echoed through the trees. Emily inhaled sharply.

“Grandmother!”

 


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Come check out this week’s gargleblaster over at yeah write.

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Image credit:  Nelleke @ deviantART

The Princess and the Progress

old spinning wheel

The Princess and the Progress

Once upon a time, in the Kingdom of Bygone, a royal baby was born. The king and queen had tried for many years to have a child, but with no success. As their frustration and sorrow grew, the kingdom prayed. And then, after five long years, Queen Sophie discovered she was pregnant. For nine months, the kingdom held its collective breath and King Antioch hovered nervously.

Finally, one bright spring day, the baby was born. The king and queen were now parents to the most beautiful baby girl they had ever laid eyes on. They named her Aurora and the kingdom exhaled.

When Aurora was one month old, her parents held a celebration. Everyone in the kingdom was invited, and some lined up for hours to offer gifts and blessings to the new princess. The king and queen received each guest in turn. The pile of gifts grew and the blessings included things like health, happiness, good eyesight, and a strong stomach.

As mid-afternoon rolled around, a strange-looking woman stepped up to take her turn. She had frizzy hair, dainty features, and wings. It took King Antioch a moment to realize he was actually looking at a fairy. But not just any fairy. This one clearly belonged to the Radical Fairies from the far side of the realm. As he moved in his seat, Queen Sophie placed her hand on his arm.

“We did invite everyone in the kingdom,” she said quietly.

With a grumble, King Antioch waved the fairy forward.

The fairy stepped up to Aurora’s bassinet and smiled. “The princess is so lovely,” she said. Then she began to wave her wand. “The fates they move both hot and cold, but mortals must not question why. When the princess is 18 years old, she will prick her finger on a needle and die.” The fairy grinned and vanished in a puff of smoke.

Up until then, the day had been going really well. As the fairy’s words sank in, King Antioch jumped to his feet and bellowed across the room. “The celebration is over. Everyone must leave the castle immediately.” He grabbed the bassinet, took Sophie’s hand, and practically flew to their private chambers.

After a lot of pacing and cursing, King Antioch knew what he had to do.

The following day, a Royal Decree was issued. It banned all needles and needled things from the kingdom. That included spindles, brooches, hairpins, and needles used for sewing, knitting, embroidery, cross-stitching, crocheting, needlepoint, and lace-making.

The decree created some challenges for the kingdom. For example, all clothing now had to be imported from other realms, and women had to find creative ways to keep their hair up. But the greatest challenge was finding things for the girls of the realm to do. Until the decree, while the boys of the realm went to school, the girls were taught to spin thread or sew and knit, or they learned how to make lace, or do needlepoint. They were also taught how to put their hair up. Some were lucky enough to receive lessons in music or dance, but there’s only so much singing and dancing you can do. As it was, most of the girls were left twiddling their thumbs, which was slowly driving their parents crazy.

As King Antioch listened to yet another complaint from a parent—this one with three young daughters—he found himself at a loss about what to do. Queen Sophie placed her hand on his arm.

“I have an idea,” she said. The king leaned in and Sophie whispered in his ear. When she finished, he looked at her dubiously. She raised her eyebrows. “Well, do you have a better idea?”

So King Antioch issued another decree. This one proclaimed that all girls in the realm would now be expected to attend school, just like the boys.

When Aurora was old enough, she attended school as well. She was a bright girl who grew into a bright young woman. As King Antioch watched his daughter soak up her education like a sponge, he wondered why he hadn’t insisted that girls go to school sooner. Sure, the tapestries on the castle walls were looking a little ragged with no one to repair them, but his daughter’s mastery of trigonometry held a different kind of beauty.

Eventually, Aurora’s eighteenth birthday arrived. That autumn, she set off for college. As the royal procession made its way through the countryside, they came upon a quaint museum.

“Stop,” Aurora said to the coachman. She hopped out of her carriage and wandered over to peruse the items sitting on the museum’s front lawn. “What’s that?” She pointed to a strange wooden contraption.

“M’lady.” The curator stammered, clearly unaccustomed to having visitors. “That is a spinning wheel.”

The king’s carriage pulled up behind Aurora’s. King Antioch watched in horror as his daughter approached the spinning wheel. As he moved to try and intercept her, Queen Sophie placed her hand on his arm.

“Don’t worry,” she said.

He paused, halfway out of the carriage.

“Ouch!” Aurora yelped. The king looked at his daughter. She had pricked her finger on the spinning wheel’s spindle. But, instead of collapsing to the ground, Aurora simply grinned and sucked the tip of her finger. Then she examined a few more items before turning and climbing back into her carriage.

King Antioch looked at his wife, who smiled serenely.

“Sometimes you need a little magic to make good things happen,” she said.

As understanding dawned, King Antioch got back in the carriage and the royal procession continued moving forward.

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This story was inspired by this week’s WordPress Weekly Challenge, which asked us to think about a lost art. For some reason, I thought of spinning wheels, which naturally made me think of Sleeping Beauty. I hope you enjoyed my take on the fairy tale!


I’m also linking up with the moonshine grid over at the yeah write community. It’s a great place for you and your blog to hang out on the weekends.

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Image credit: Svetlana Tikhonova @ PhotoXpress.com

John and Margaret

Moonlight night

John and Margaret

I watched my brother pour a teaspoon of salt into the mug on the counter. “John, I don’t think that’s a good idea.” I said, glancing over my shoulder.

“Relax Meg,” John replied, stirring the cup of herbal tea so the salt would dissolve. “It’s gonna be hilarious.”

“But Sarah’s still upset about the worms,” I said.

“I know. So she won’t see this coming. And that’s why it’ll be so funny.” My brother was grinning that infectious grin of his. I smiled back, but shook my head.

“She’s gonna be pissed,” I warned.

When Sarah had seen those worms in her cereal bowl this morning, I’d thought for sure she was going to throw up. I’d never seen a bowl fly across a room like that. And the look on her face when she’d cornered us was like something out of a movie. I’m pretty sure she was at her wit’s end, or wherever it is grown-ups go when they’re really mad. It probably didn’t help that John and me had been pulling pranks on her since the day she’d moved in. But we didn’t like the way she changed things—the way she changed our Dad, especially. He used to be way more fun.

I led the way to the living room. John followed bearing the mug of tea. John usually came up with the ideas for the pranks, so my job was to help him pull them off.

Sarah was sitting on our mom’s favourite armchair. Dad stood behind her, rubbing her shoulders. They both looked at us when we appeared in the doorway. I lowered my head and walked over to stand in front of Sarah. John came and stood beside me, keeping his eyes firmly fixed to the floor.

“We’re really sorry, Sarah,” I said in my best quiet voice. “We made you some tea.”

John held the mug out and we both held our breath as we waited to see if Sarah would accept it. From the corner of my eye, I saw Dad nudge her.

Sarah let out a sigh and took the mug from John’s hands. Then she took a sip. And promptly spat it back into the mug. She stood up, her eyes blazing with anger.

“What’s wrong?” Dad asked.

With something that sounded like a growl, Sarah thrust the mug at our Dad and stormed out of the room. Dad sniffed the contents of the mug then took a little sip.

“Salt? Really?” He looked at us, frustration and disappointment written clearly on his face. He sighed. “Go to your rooms.”

I could hear Dad and Sarah arguing from my bedroom. She was really angry. I couldn’t hear everything they said, but I did hear her say she’d had enough and it was either her or us. Maybe that meant she would finally leave and things would go back to the way they used to be.

After a while, their voices got quieter. I played with toys, read some fairy tales, and eventually fell asleep. When I woke up, it was starting to get dark outside. My Dad knocked on the door, then poked his head in.

“Margaret, put on a sweater and come downstairs.” He pulled the door closed and I heard him go to John’s room and say the same thing.

Dad and Sarah were waiting for us at the bottom of the stairs. Sarah stood with her arms crossed and her eyes averted.

“We’re going to take a drive,” Dad explained, “Your stepmother wants to show you something. Put your boots on and go get in the car.”

Something in Dad’s voice told me that this wasn’t a normal family outing. As we put our outdoor clothes on, a knot started to grow in my stomach. We stepped out into a crisp winter night. The full moon hung low in the sky, casting a creepy glow over everything. I looked at Sarah, and for a second, I could have sworn her scarf was actually a snake. The knot in my stomach tightened. I stopped walking.

“Dad, can I grab a snack?” I asked. “John and I haven’t eaten since this morning.”

Dad nodded and told me to be quick.

I ran to the kitchen and searched the cupboards for something I could use. There, at the back of the top shelf, was a small box of breadcrumbs. I slipped it into my pocket, grabbed some granola bars, and headed back outside.

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This is my submission for the Speakeasy #142. We had to write a piece of poetry or fiction under 750 words, containing the following line anywhere:

I don’t think that’s a good idea.

Our submissions also had to make some reference to the media prompt, which, this week, is the following picture:

There’s still lots of time to participate in this week’s Speakeasy, so come check it out.

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Full moon image credit: alexkar08 / Photoxpress.com