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2012 - Short Stories & Poems > March 2012 Short Story

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message 1: by Marian (new)

Marian (marianerika) | 1066 comments 5th Writing Contest!

It's our fifth month people! Keep those amazing stories coming!

Start with, "*Name of character* tried to remember who had given her the key..." then and with, "The smell of Rosemary and Lemons are lingering, it makes me feel nostalgic."

Be as quirky, as witty and as imaginative as you can be. You can try all the genre, be it horror, comedy, suspense, YA, anything!

Well, you now know that instead of points, the winner wins an ebook of their choosing, with a value of no more than $5.

Here’s how you can make your entry count. Follow the format. Entries not on this format will most likely be forfeited or not counted.

Title: The Summer I Turned Pretty
Genre: Short Story / Prose/ Poetry / Song
Date started: October 20, 2011
Date finished: October 26, 2011


Written by: Marian

Starting date: March 2, 2012
Deadline: March 29, 2012


Let's get this started shall we? Start posting! Don't forget about the deadline. We are really strict about it. Thanks!

message 2: by Suzanne (last edited Mar 06, 2012 08:36AM) (new)

Suzanne Pringle | 120 comments Title: The Portal
Genre: Prose
Date started: March 5'12
Date finished: March 6'12

Stella couldn't remember who gave her the key. As she gazed around the dusty attic, her eyes were drawn to the old, wooden trunk. It's key hole fit the key, for both were in the shape of a tree.

Today was the funeral for her great-grandmother. Stella spent each summer in the huge house. She remembered the smiles, the laughter, and mostly the dreams of another world whenever she slept.

These dreams were of happy places -meadows,castles, and dragons. Her dreams were magic and filled with fairies. Her dreams were full of color and sunlight. Stella's grandmother and great-grandmother were there with her sometimes. Only they were young and had black hair and wore long, medieval gowns of rich colors.

Today, however, the house was filled with relatives. There were tears, fond memories, and laughter flowing downstairs. Children running, a few cats trying to find laps, and a dog or two barking away. Food and drinks were set up in the kitchen which slowly dwindled as people came and went.

Someone had pressed a key into Stella's hand sometime during the afternoon. A message was attach: "I have been watching you. You are one of the 7 who can see the OtherWorld. Who can see things as only a Prophetess can. Go to the attic. Seek the portal, You will find your answers revealed"

So up to the attic she went. Now she found herself standing in the trunk. She bend down and unlocked it. As it slowly opened she gasped. A bright sunlight from the trunk warmed her. She was standing in a doorway to a beautiful meadow. Wildflowers bloomed splendidly. A dark forest surrounding the meadow like a ring of soldiers. A soft breeze blew and stella caught just the whiff of something. For on that soft breeze that blow the smell of Rosemary and Lemons are lingering, it makes her feel nostalgic!

message 3: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 09, 2012 04:37PM) (new)

Title: Light poison
Genre: Prose/Mystery/Fiction/
Date started: March-7-2012
Date finished:March-8-2012

May tried to remember who gave her the key. The little box she just opened lay on the floor of the living room. She read the note in her hand once more.
This shouldn't be a problem now, since the poison will kill you before you reach your mid thirties, you mustn't worry about wasting your time away looking for a non-existing antidote. Live you life while you can. I am sorry for the lose of your husband again, especially after the birth of your girl .
If you need help don't hesitate to ask.
Your Aunt Nadi

This really can't be true, she thought.
Because if it is, then her mother's death was not brought on by short notice. "Whoa.. calm down, calm down." she chided herself. "You can't lose your mind right now!"

The funeral was two days ago. Very few people knew her mother, even fewer knew her.Which is why there were only a handful of people to show,and they didn't even look too sad that she's dead.

May wasn't present when her mother passed away. Her life was spent, most every minute,h with her mother, yet last month she was commanded to visit her mother's best friend Lily, who insisted that she stay with her for a while. If only she new what that "while" would cost her, and now everything is turned around by a small cursed note in a box which happens to be at Lily's house. In the very room she now inhibits, and it happens to be the very thing that unlocks with this mystery key. There definitely is a reason that she was made to find this note, but it's too late now her mother is dead. So, why now?

"May?" Lily calls from the kitchen. "I brought us some take outs. You hungry?"

May couldn't find her voice. Her mind was swirling with so many things. The last thing she cared about was food!

"May, honey?" Lily came in looking puzzled. "What's wrong?"

May waved the note at her "You tell me."

"Where did you get that?" Lily asked looking horrified.

"On the shelfs in my room."

A frustrated, and maybe a little scared laugh broke out of her mouth. "Darling, I'm sorry. I just feel like maybe it's not worth thinking about right now. I mean if you live up with good memories, life would be.... I don't know what I'm saying." she laughed again.

Frankly, nor did May. It was totally not what she expected Lily to say.

"Let me try again." she said taking a deep breath. "I'm not giving up on you, May. I want you to live a long, prosperous life, but there really isn't a cure. Your mother and I have been looking for years." her voice was know a whisper, as tears ran down her cheeks. Her face looked sorrowful, and apologetic.

May was really confused, but she also didn't want to see Lily so distraught "It's okay.. she's dead. I can't blame you for it. I just wish I knew."

"Huh?" now Lily had a puzzled look again. Like she just said something wrong. "Yeah...yeah, she's gone. We can't dwell on it...."

What? It sounded like she was going to say something else. It nagged on May's mind until she knew why. Her widened eyes clouded as realization hit her. Lily wasn't talking about her mother. She was talking about her. "I have what she had....I'm going to die?"

She waited for Lily to deny, and say that wasn't the case. Instead she looked at her beseechingly, as if hoping to find the revelation with understandability.
May took a deep breath and tried to gather her baring, and look composed. Her mouth felt sandpaper dry, her emotions were so jumbled up that they became as hollow as nothing. She felt nothing.

"Well that's fine. I have a few more years, I'm only a teen. Long way till thirty, right?" she tried to make light of the matter.

Lily's tears transformed to full blast sobs. She shook her head, and looked like she was in so much pain. "Oh my god!" she gasped with strain.

"What aren't you telling me?" May's voice almost gave out.

" gets worse with every generation. May... I don't know....I don't know how long you have." she covered her mouth with her hand and her crying sent a shiver through May's skin, and to her very core.

May stood there absorbing what she just learned. One thing she never did, was pity herself. It never did anything. Not when she wished she had a best friend, not when she wanted to start ice skating, and not when she wanted her....mother back. Unbidden tears came flowing down her cheeks before she could stop them.

"I want to go see the apartment before.... if you don't mind."

It took them half an hour to get ready, and then they were on their way to the place she last saw her mother... alive.
The apartment looked the same from outside. Anyone else would pass by without a second thought, but to May everything dear was lost here. The emptiness she felt earlier only intensified upon seeing it now.

Someone was standing by the front door, looking around for something.
"Who is that?" she asked Lily.

"Let me see.. hey you!" Lily called out of her car's window.

"Miss White?" called back the stranger, who appeared to be a boy about May's age.

" Kilian?" she seemed mildly surprised. "What brings you here?" she said, stepping out of the car.

"Nadi.. she um.. wanted me to send her regards."

Lily gave a hostile hiss at the mention of Nadi. This woman must be the one who wrote the note. thought May. Who ever she is, Lily really hates her.

"You must be Mrs. Burack's daughter." he said holding out his hand to May.

May could finally make out his face in the dark. He had silky black hair, a broad and well built body, lips that begged for a kiss, but his blue, blue eyes they had a mischievous glint to them. It was barking "stay away for personal safety". The very boy she found herself instantly attracted to. Her next words seemed to come of a different world, and her sneering voice surprised even her.

"News travels fast, apparently NOT fast enough. The funeral was two days ago."

"Maybe you should wait outside, I'll see you when we're done." Lily told him apologetically.

His held out hand fell back to side, and there was a shadow of a smile on his lips. That smile was anything BUT innocent. May walked passed him into the door without another word.

The living room was the same tidy place. She didn't waste time looking at all the known. She flew into her room to pack all her worthy possessions. Books. Whenever her life was without interest, books were her therapy. They held all her happy memories, made her feel alive, and gave her something to discuss with her mother. Yes, her mother loved to talk books with her, but she had a different hobby. Her mother's favorite recreation was cooking.

After she gathered all her books, she went into her mother's room. There was only one thing in there worth having. The cook book.
She scanned the room quickly, found the book, and went to the kitchen.

Just standing by the doorway she could see her mother cooking a new exotic dish. "Nutrition, May. We can never know what they put in our food these. she'd say. Good thing I have my little garden. The breeze from the kitchen window would send her golden red hair across her face, her eyes would twinkle with glee, and her smile would light up the whole room. That light was too bright to be true. Sometimes she thought she saw it in the dark of night.

"You okay?" Lily interrupted her. She was standing out by the balcony.

"Yeah, fine." May assured her, walking out to join her.

"She loved to cook."

"Yeah, she did."

"This garden of hers is too beautiful to leave. I wish we could take it with us." Lily looked at it fondly. "Plants were close to her heart."

"I know..." the sent of life filled May's lungs. She could feel her mother's watching eyes, though they might not be here. She couldn't give up to death, or anything else. She'll find a cure, and she'll make her mother's efforts worth it. First, I'll find out who gave me that key. she thought. It shouldn't be that hard.

Lily's eyes looked wistful, and hoping when she said, "The smell of Rosemary and Lemons are lingering, it makes me feel nostalgic."

Written by Emily

message 4: by Cecilia (last edited Mar 13, 2012 01:29PM) (new)

Cecilia Robert (Cece26) | 8 comments Title: Stolen Memory
Genre: YA; dark fantasy/sci-fi
Date started: March 13, 2012
Date finished: March 13, 2012

Liv tried to remember who had given her the key. Squeezing her eyes shut, she called on to the memories of the last few weeks. Her mom hugging her as tears trickled down her face, her brother Teni hugging her fiercely as he tried hard not to cry, her father dropping her off at the gates of her grandmother’s house, and lastly her grandmother’s lips moving as she sang her last words. As they both sang, and Liv draining off her grandmother’s life essence. Her heart tightened at the last flash of memory, her eyes burned, sadness wrapping it’s talons in each and every cell of her body.

Gently she shoved the memory aside, and took a deep breath, brushing a hand at her eyes. There’d be time later on to mourn her grandmother.

She searched her memories again, and gasped as her mind skipped over the sequences once more. In between her father depositing her at her grandmother’s house, and her grandmother drawing her last breath, that particular memory was gone as if it never happened.


Liv clenched her jaw, fisted her hand around the key, rubbing her thumb along rose-shaped edges. I have to remember. It’s the only way to put her soul to rest.

A face flashed in her mind’s eye, then it was gone. Image of a lush, gree forest teased her, then it vanished. Liv’s head throbbed. A sudden sharp pain slashed inside her head, and ripped whatever little control she had of the memory. She gripped the key tighter. Everything else faded abruptly. The ground beneath her feet shifted. Fresh earth and blooming vegetation air replaced the aged books and mouldy scent of the attic. Finally, the ground settled and her world stopped spinning. Birds chirped merrily all around her.

Heart racing inside her chest, Liv’s eyes fluttered open. She blinked rapidly at the sight around her. The green, sunlight surroundings were a total contrast to the dark room she had been caged in the last two days.
She frowned. Where am I?

Her eyes darted as she tried to find her bearings, then gasped. A scream tore from her lips, and she stumbled back.

No, not him. What was he doing here?

He didn’t seem surprised to see her. His eyes pools of molten silver raked Liv up and down, his full lips lifted in a smile so chilling, air froze in her lungs. “Hello Olivia. I’ve been waiting for you.”

Words floated inside her head, words her grandmother made her recite over and over when she trained Liv. Thirteen words in particular flashed like neon in her head. She began to chant them under her breath. They'd either be her salvation, or her doom."The smell of Rosemary and Lemons are lingering, it makes me feel nostalgic."

Written by: Cecilia

message 5: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 13, 2012 09:14AM) (new)

Title: A Knight to Save Me
Genre: dark/short story
Date started: March 13, 2012
Date finished: March 13, 2012

Mandy tried to remember who gave her the key. The whole time period was such a blur to her. Now anyone who could have told her was gone.

Maybe if I go back into my memory, I'll remember, she thought.

When I woke up, I couldn't open one of my eyes, and my arms hurt. I couldn't remember anything. I frowned. I couldn't remember anything, not even my own name. I tried to think really hard. Only one thing came to my mind, a man's face smiling. I had no idea who he was though. He could've been whoever was keeping me here.

"Aahhh your awake," I heard from somewhere in the room. I looked around. The room I was in was small, windowless, and rusty. A single light bulb swung from the ceiling. A table that was covered with shiny instruments was in the opposite corner. I didn't see anyone though. It hurt to turn my head, so I couldn't look behind. The voice was definitely male though.

"Do you remember anything?" he asked. I didn't bother to answer him. Whoever he was, I was sure he was no friend of mine. I moved my hands trying to find out if they were loose. My shoulder popped, and I cried out.

"I'm sorry. You're shoulder seems to be popped out of joint. How unfortunate." I growled at the voice. Obviously, he was the cause of all the pain in my body. My feet were numb, my wrists were chafing, and my neck and head were sore. There was probably a longer list of pains, but those were the only ones grabbing my attention.

The next thing I heard was footsteps. Apparently my captor didn't mind my seeing him. Perhaps that meant he didn't mean to keep me alive. When he got into view, I saw a middle-aged man with military-style hair. At least he wasn't the man smiling in my mind.

"Aww did you get kicked out of the military? Do you have abandonment issues?" I wanted to goad a reaction out of him. All I got from him though was a slap across the face. After I got over the shock and pain, I distinctly smelt rosemary and lemons. My mom used to cook chicken that way.

"You will pay for your audacity," he growled. He went over to the table with shiny instruments and picked something up. It was a cell phone. My cell phone. "I wonder how you would feel if I dragged your precious into all this. But if you can't remember I guess it doesn't matter." He pressed a few buttons, then held it to his ear. "Is this Jay?.... You don't need to know who I am… Well you see, I've got your girl… I don't know. Are you willing to be cooperative?.... Ok, then follow these directions." Before he could say anything more, I interrupted.

"No don't do it!! I'll be fine, I swear!!" I didn't know who the guy on the phone was, but obviously he had been very important to me. I couldn't let him get hurt.

"Hold on one moment," my captor said. He set down the phone, came over to me, and slapped me so hard that I lost consciousness.

When I woke up, there was a different feel to the air. I could no longer see my captor, and there were a lot of noises filling the air. They sounds men make when they die terribly. I tried to block out the noises for I don't know how long.

Eventually it stopped. I breathed a sigh of relief, but wondered what that meant. Will it get easier for me now or harder?

Suddenly I felt the ropes on my hands give way. I was startled; I hadn't even heard anyone come in. I brought my arms around to the front of me. I cried out again; I forgot about my shoulders.

"Shhh," said my mystery rescuer. "I'll fix that for you." He grabbed shoulders and popped them back into place. It hurt so much, but I didn't cry out. Then he handed me something. "Use this. It opens all the doors. Get to the street, and someone will be there to take you to the hospital." I looked down at the key. It was one of the old-fashioned kind. I looked back up, but my rescuer was gone.

I followed his instructions and was soon out of the building. There was a car; I was surprised. The driver helped me in. When the engine started I fell asleep.

The next thing I knew I was in a hospital. I had no idea what country I was in or who had rescued me. I couldn't believe I had a knight to save me. Or so it seemed to me.

When Mandy brought her sense back from her memory, she looked around the hospital room. She had been there for many months, but there were still no flowers and no cards. She looked back down at the key that she had kept.

The smell of Rosemary and Lemons are lingering, it makes me feel nostalgic.

Writer: Nicola Black aka Cirsta Be Good

message 6: by MB (last edited Mar 19, 2012 11:33AM) (new)

MB | 6 comments Title: Castle’s Watch
Genre: Short story/ chapter
Date Started: 3/13/2012
Date Finished: 3/14/2012

Brielle tried to remember who had given her the key, the weight of which lay heavily on her breast. Overcome with the desire to hold it, she pulled the chain out of the bodice of her dress. As the sunlight hit the tarnished bronze of the key, sparkles cascaded away like a waterfall, splashing against the stone wall in front of her. It had never seemed right to her, the way the key sparkled even though it was old, but its beauty comforted her, reminded her of home. Its strength and endurance put the world around her to shame. As she held it, watching the kaleidoscope on the wall, she heard the people bustling around behind her, moving with all the grace of oxen. At home, no one was ever so loud.

Despite the noise of the people, she heard the approach: the clip clap of the shoes, the clank of the men-at-arms walking along behind, the silence that came and left as he moved. Brielle did not want to turn to greet him, but she knew she must. Her courtesy demanded it. Standing, she smoothed the wrinkles in her silk dress, and turned to face him.

He stood shorter than his men-at-arms, but towered over them in presence. His thick, auburn hair fell loosely around his neck, brushing the black mail he wore over the double trees emblazoned across his chest. A smile spread across his face upon her turn, and she could not help but to smile back. She dropped a curtsey, dipping her head toward the ground.

“My prince,” she said.

“Lady, please. You need never bow your head with me,” he said, stepping closer to her, and gently lifted her face. “Raise your face to me.”
Brielle lifted her face to meet his eyes, a pair of dark blue ones that made many of the lower ladies of the castle keep swoon. She had seen it with her own eyes since coming to Crown’s Watch.

“Have you plans for the day, my lady?”

Brielle did have plans. She wanted to spend the day savoring the Garden of the Gods, lending her voice to those of millions praying for the safety of the soldiers. However, as she had been taught, when the prince calls, you answer.

“No plans, my prince,” she said.

“Wonderful news, lady. Nothing would please me more than for you to accompany me to the walls. The guards are practicing in the field,” he said. “I thought you’d like that.”
“Of course, my prince,” she said.

Brielle could feel the eyes on her as she walked with the prince. The people of the castle keep, lords and servants alike, missed nothing, and the biggest news for any of them was their prince. A man near 20, all hailed it as time for his marriage. Every lord wanted to match his daughter with the prince, and every daughter wanted her father to make that match. Brielle did not feel the same, and neither did her father. Her prince, though he may be, Prince Jaxon was still too much the boy she had grown up near, before his father had become king.

“We’ll turn here, my lady,” Jaxon said to her, indicating a stairwell to her right.
The great, stone walls pressed in closer as she left the large common area between the castle wings. Feeling slightly disconcerted at the closeness of the area, she trailed her fingers along the rough stone as she walked. The staircase spiraled tighter and tighter as they moved up. At its narrowest, right at the top, the prince’s men-at-arms barely fit with their armor and swords, almost needing to turn sideways to continue.

Fresh air and sunlight accosted Brielle’s senses, filling her with a joy she had missed since arriving at Crown’s Watch. Though the castle was airy and open, nothing could match the pleasure of the outdoors. The walls of the castle stood three feet thick and fifty feet high. From their position at the top, Brielle could see the sprawling morass of Crown’s Watch, a city that lacked the luster it once boasted. Now, the tangled streets were filled with street vendors, each pulling a broken, run-down cart laden with odds and ends. The houses lining those streets were grubby, one-story buildings, with holes in their roofs and rats in their yards.

The filth that filled the city came right up to the walls surrounding Castle Hill. Walls so tall that Brielle could not see the first three rows of houses back from them. One hundred feet inside the first set of walls sat the second set, reaching nearly eighty feet high. A moat stretched the full one hundred feet between the two walls, completely circling the hill. One strong, wide drawbridge connected to the two pieces of land, making the castle nearly impenetrable.

From the second set of walls, the hill rose gently up to its plateau, where the castle sat with its grounds. Directly in front of the castle were the fields on which the guards held their practice. Three thousand men spread out below her, swords glinting at their sides, long, pale cloaks waving from their backs. Near the center of the group, two men stood each other down, swords drawn, neither moved. From her height, Brielle could not hear what they said, but from the hush of the others, she knew they must have been speaking.

“What a time to come, my lady. They will begin soon,” one of the men said to her. He had come to stand at her side while she had not noticed. The prince had moved to speak with the captain of the Guardians on the Walls.

“What a pleasure it shall be to see them practice,” Brielle said, turning to the man. “I’ve heard tell much about them.”

Moments later the prince returned, beckoning to her to follow him.

“My lady, I’ve a place for us at the middle,” he said, holding out his arm to her. “We will not need to be guarded here,” he said to his men-at-arms, dismissing them.

As soon as the two were out of earshot of his men, Prince Jaxon turned to her. “What do you think, Brielle?”

“It is quite an impressive site, my Prince,” she said, looking out at the men in the field.

“Quite sincerely, you have got to stop calling me my Prince. I really don’t like it,” he said.

“That is your title, my Prince. I fear that courtesy dictates that is what I call you,” Brielle said, not turning from the men in the yard. “I thought there were more in your guard.”

“Before you is only a small portion of the total guard. Brie, please drop your courtesies. You know they make me uncomfortable.”

“Jack. Does that make you happy? To make me forget all that I’ve been taught,” she asked, turning toward him. A ridiculous smile played across his face.

“Immensely,” he said.

She turned from him, ignoring his foolishness, and moved toward the outer edge of the wall. “What are they doing, my Prince?”

Sighing, he moved to join her. “They are waiting for the command to start their sword play.”

“Yes, my Prince, but what is the purpose of this swordplay?”

“One pretends to threaten the King, while the other pretends to protect him,” he said.

“No doubt an important exercise, my Prince. However, does not the king have his own personal guard? Do these men not protect all of Castle Hill?” Brielle turned to face him. She had heard many stories of the Hill guards, but their protection had always belonged to the hill as a whole, rather than just the king in her stories.

“Aye, they protect the whole Hill, but if enough danger comes to face, they are trained to protect only the King and his heir.”

“Only the king and the prince? What of your lady mother, and your lady sisters? What of your brothers?”

“When it comes down to it, the others are not as important as the king and the heir. Surely you can see that?” He turned to face her.

“Surely you can’t believe that?” Brielle could not believe his words.

He stared at her for a long moment, his face serious. “Of course not, my lady. I would never let harm fall upon my family. However, in the eyes of these men, they do not matter as much as my father and I.”

“I suppose that is how your father came to rule on the throne in the first place,” Brielle snapped.

“Lady, you go too far. What brought my father to this position was a terrible tragedy. You would do well to remember that,” he said, and turned to leave her, stomping away from her.

Perhaps her words had been harsh, but she felt no remorse in saying them. Below her, the men began sparring, the clanging of their swords ringing through the field. The rest of the Hill Guards were silent, watching their companions fight in front of them. Part of Brielle made her want to join them: the wild part that her tutors had never been able to tame.

A quiet cough behind her made her start. She turned from the field to face the man standing behind her. His deep green cloak betrayed him as a Guardian on the Walls.

“My lady, it would be better if you weren’t up here alone. The lads won’t know what to think if we let you stay,” his voice was gruff, but his eyes were kind, edged with laugh crinkles.

“Yes, sir, correct you are. If you would be so kind,” she gestured for him to step aside, “I’ll take my leave.”

Brielle walked faster than she normally would have. If one thing drew more attention than the prince, it was a woman straying where she had no welcome. She could feel their eyes on her back as she made her way past them. Serving next to her father had taught her to ignore stares, but this type of stare was different. It made her uncomfortable.

When she finally arrived back at her bed chambers, she felt horribly foolish for saying the things she had said to the prince. Her mouth had always gotten away from her, and she often had difficulty controlling her own words. Though what she said had been the truth, a lady would never have thought to say it. Her father would not be pleased if word of her behavior reached him.

Her own guards stood sentry outside her rooms. Though they would have preferred to stay with her while she remained in the castle, Brielle thought it better for them to guard her belongings. Not even in Crown’s Watch would people be so brazen as to harm her in public. That did not mean that they would destroy her things, or leave a danger for her in her rooms. As she approached, she could see their shoulders loosen.

“Every time I return, you act as if you thought never to see me again,” she smiled to the man closest to her. “Nothing is going to happen to me.”

“My lady, it would be much more worthwhile for us to accompany you daily. Your safety is of the utmost importance to us,” one of the men said.

“Clent, I appreciate your concern. My lord father will appreciate it as well,” Brielle said to him as she entered her rooms. Clent, a man of near 50, had been with her father for as long as Brielle could remember and longer. As far as she knew, he was her father’s longest serving man. Why her father had seen to send him with her, she was unsure.

“Maye, would you be so kind as to prepare a bath for me?” Brielle asked her lady’s maid. She did not understand why her mother had insisted she bring a lady’s maid, either. Brielle had never made use of one at home.

*will continue in the next post.

message 7: by MB (last edited Mar 14, 2012 05:09PM) (new)

MB | 6 comments *continued

“Of course, m’lady,” the girl said as she hurried into the washroom.

Brielle went through to her bedchamber, pulling the sash from around her waist. The fashionable dresses always felt so constricting. She sat in the small chair in front of her dressing mirror, studying her face in the reflection.

“Oh, Brielle. What am I doing here?” It was not the first time she had asked herself that question since arriving in the castle, and not the first time she had no answer.

“M’lady?” Maye said softly from the doorway. “The water’s ready.” Brielle stared a moment longer at her face before standing to follow Maye.

The water was hot, and smelled of several different scents: another fashion that she did not understand. Why the women wanted to smell like flowers and fruits she did not understand, but the smells were soothing. Sighing, she sank further into the water, missing home more than she had all day.

“Is something wrong, m’lady?” Maye asked, moving around in front of her.

“Nothing. It’s just the scents of the bath. The smell or rosemary and lemons are lingering, it makes me feel nostalgic.”

Written by: MB

message 8: by NicoleE (new)

NicoleE (deliciousambiguity) | 2 comments Title: Champion of the Key
Genre: Short Story
Date started: March 18, 2012
Date finished: March 22, 2012

Jasmine tried to remember who had given her the key that hung around her neck for as long as she could remember. As she ran, the tap tap of the key against her clavicle steadied her and any time she stopped to catch her breath, the cool brass soothed her burning skin.

The rough, guttural bark of dogs from behind her urging her on, Jasmine pressed her legs to pump faster. A bead of sweat dripped from her nose, splashing against her cheek, transporting her back to the first sign of trouble.

The rain had soaked through her clothes even though she had been dashing from overhang to overhang on her way back to her apartment. She remembered thinking that the day couldn’t possibly get any worse moments before the splash of the trick and the rushing spray of water hit her full in the face. Jasmine had cursed her luck, shaking most of the water from her hair. As her cheeks were buffeted by slashes of dark hair and water, Jasmine had spied two unnaturally yellow eyes peeking at her through the crack of an open window in the car parked across the street.

Jasmine shook her head, as if she could shed the memory like so many drops of water. If she was going to make it out of this alive, she had to be focused on the here and now. And here and now she was being chased by any number of men and dogs with only her waning strength, three sessions with Personal Trainer Paul (two of which were spent ruminating on how the male figure looked stuffed into athletic gear) and her absolute belief that she was doing what was right urging her on. Truth be told, it did seem rather bleak, but Jasmine would not break stride.

Instead, she tripped over a tree root.

Cursing as she tried to get to her feet, Jasmine was startled by a small hand on her arm. Before she could even think about screaming, which would, admittedly, be a bad idea, a larger hand clamped over her mouth, and she was dragged slowly, silently into the shadows of the tree. Jasmine remained quiet and still even as her pulse pounded in her ears. She watched with wide eyes as the dogs barreled past their hiding place followed shortly by their human counterparts. There was a slight shuffling behind her and Jasmine was very abruptly reminded of her two guests.

“We’re very sorry about that Miss,” a small, squeaky voice started from the darkness at her right, “and if you could promise to be quiet, Rae and I would be very grateful, Miss.”

Dazed, Jasmine nodded and the hand immediately removed itself. She was wary of the two strangers, both of whom she hadn’t even seen yet, but she was even warier of stepping out of what proved to be a very reliable hiding place.

“Oh, thank you so much Miss! This is a very happy day, Miss. We’ve been expecting you, Rae and I, for a very long time. Too long to think of, Miss,” The squeaky voice whispered excitedly, clapping its small hands together as it stepped into the moonlight. Jasmine almost gasped; the child-like excitement on the thing’s face the only thing deterring her. While it was humanoid, it most certainly was not human. It stood no more than 3 ½ feet high and was clothed in a threadbare tunic. Its ears were pointed and small and close to its head and its eyes were beady and entirely black. Each small hand had five stubby fingers and Jasmine remembered the smooth but firm grip from moments ago.

“If you would just be giving us the key now, Miss…”

That brought Jasmine up short. She tightly wrapped her hand around the key hanging from her neck, the hills and valleys of the blade digging into her palm.

“I, uh, don’t think I should do that,” Jasmine said. “It’s obviously something very important and it was given to me, after all, so…”

“Yes, Miss, given to you to give to us.”

Well, this was news to Jasmine. She supposed the innate need to keep the key safe made sense now, but it was still somewhat disarming to realize that she may have doomed…something…had she chosen to ignore it.

“Oh,” was all Jasmine could think to say.

“Yes, Miss, so if you could just hand it over, all will be well.”

Jasmine reluctantly unclasped the chain and let the key slide off into her hand. Before the child-like thing could take the key, she shut her fist tight around it. The creature looked up at her, surprise written plainly across its face. That there was no anger or disappointment soothed Jasmine’s nerves greatly.

“I just—I would feel much better if you could show me what it was for, first,” Jasmine blushed, shrugging her shoulders.

“Oh, yes. Of course, Miss,” the child-like creature piped up immediately, practically bouncing on its heels. “Just follow Rae and me and you shall see.” And with that he disappeared further into the shadows once more. At the sound of fading footsteps, Jasmine’s eyebrows met her hairline. She was certain there was a tree, a real, honest-to-goodness, solid tree, exactly where the creature had just disappeared. As Jasmine was debating whether or not to attempt to walk through the tree herself, the approaching sound of barking dogs made the decision for her.

Jasmine sighed before making her own way into the shadows, feeling the imposing presence of Rae behind her. This was weird, but it certainly wasn’t the weirdest thing that had ever happened to her. It wasn’t even the weirdest thing that had happened tonight. No, that was reserved for the appearance of the very creature she was following, indeed trusting her wellbeing to, at the moment.

“Just this way, Miss. Not much farther,” the disembodied voice called out from the void ahead. Jasmine thought she maybe should have been a little more frightened of the complete darkness that surrounded her, but decided, in the end, that at least the darkness didn’t have dogs that rip and tear and strange yellow-eyed demons.

It wasn’t long before Jasmine almost tripped over the creature she was following. The loud snap of fingers that sounded near her right ear startled her much less than the torch that came to life in front of her. The weak, flickering light gave her her first glimpse of Rae. He looked very much like a human except for the unnaturally deep-set eyes and broad shoulders. He was tall, but hunched over, almost as if he had been punched in the gut and simply forgot how to straighten.

“Right here, Miss. The key goes just here.” Jasmine brought her attention to the child-like creature again to find it pointing at a strangely shaped knot in the smooth tree trunk that made up the wall. One, two steps and Jasmine was able to lift her hand and let her fingers trail across the wood. No, not a knot…an indentation. Looking from the key to the indentation, Jasmine realized exactly how the key worked and was about to fit it in when a shout stopped her.

“No, Miss! You mustn’t!” Jasmine had never seen the thing’s eyes so wide. To be honest, it was slightly disturbing. The creature’s eyes had to be entirely black, as no matter how wide its eyes became, they were still two endless pools of onyx. Before Jasmine knew what was happening, she was being lifted into the air and placed on the other side of the small space.

“You know, I wasn’t actually going to do anything,” Jasmine said, raising her eyebrow at Rae. “If you had given me a chance to speak instead of just going all Hulk on me, you would’ve known that.”

Rae actually had the decency to look ashamed for a moment before the other member of their strange triad spoke up for him.

“Rae was only trying to protect you Miss! He knows what happens when the proper people don’t open the door.” The creature looked downtrodden as he continued. “It gets very messy. Took three whole days to clean up last time.”

“Right,” Jasmine said, “here, you can have it then.” Without further ado, the key was placed gently in the thing’s small hands. Its eyes found some inner light hiding within all that black when the key finally hit its palm. From the corner of her eye, she could see what she assumed passed for a smile flit across Rae’s face. And then the key was being fit into its proper place and the wall disappeared as if a curtain was being pulled back.

Jasmine blinked her eyes a few times to adjust to the bright light spilling forth from the world that had just opened up before her. And what a beautiful, simple world it was. The houses were fairly modern, but she could still see the dotting of farms and outhouses and windmills that spoke of self-sufficiency.

There was a small, one-room cottage just inside the portal that seemed to spark something in Jasmine’s memory. Her feet brought her to its front door before she could blink.

“I…I know this cottage,” Jasmine stuttered. “It’s my—my grandmother’s. She’s the one that gave me the key.” Her fingertips just grazed the door and it was like a dam broke. Jasmine could remember in startling detail her grandmother placing the key around her neck the year she started primary school and the stories her grandmother would tell her as she munched on warm-from-the-oven lemon bars and the warning to keep the key safe at all costs spoken on her deathbed. Jasmine had only been nine at the time, but apparently the warning had stuck, at least in the deep recesses of her subconscious.

“Yes, yes! She was Champion of the Key before you. She took very good care of it,” the creature’s voice broke into her reverie. Jasmine smoothed her hand along the wood, keeping her eyes fixed straight ahead.

“And this is where she lived,” Jasmine stated, confident in her words now. “This is where Rosemary lived.” A gentle push had the door swinging open. Jasmine took her first step inside and took a deep breath. A gentle smile crossed her face, The smell of Rosemary and Lemons are lingering, it makes me feel nostalgic.

Written by: Nicole

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