FWF – A New Beginning

It’s so hot in this car that I have to roll down the window. The hot desert wind shooting by my social worker’s speeding car is ten times better than the stagnant air I’ve had to put up with since her AC is broken. It broke last month and she still hasn’t fixed it.

“How much longer?” I ask, allowing the breeze to dance around my face, efficiently waking me up from my stupor.

Tina sighs. “For once, can you just be patient, Thora? We’ll be there soon.”

I feel like she’s asking too much of me. Usually a new home is in the city, but this time they are keeping me in the dark about it and a girl gets impatient, especially me. We’ve been driving for three hours. To where, I have no clue. There seems to be nothing but desert on all sides of us with no end in sight.

Choosing to not respond to my social worker, I stick my hand out the window. The bracelet my mom left with me–two woven bands separated by various green and blue stones, and one I distinctly recognize as turquoise–glints back at me. I’ve worn this thing as long as I can remember. It’s all she left behind before she disappeared. Because of this bracelet, I still think she’s alive. No one else does.

I wave my hand around, riding the wind, as though wielding a wand. If only I could magic myself out of this car and to wherever my mom is, then I wouldn’t have to be shuffled from foster home to foster home again. Unfortunately, magic doesn’t exist, I don’t know where my mom is and I wouldn’t know where to go. After a few minutes, my hand goes up and down with the wind without me really controlling it. Again, I’m lulled into a nap.

The jerk of the emergency brake jars me awake. I hate it when Tina pulls that stupid centerpiece. My fifteen years in the system never cured me from the uncomfortable stomach lurch that inevitably followed. I swear it is her lot in life to only purchase cars with a centerpiece E-brake. Don’t ask me why.

“All right, I couldn’t tell you before, but you need to brace yourself,” she says, turning toward me. My head rolls along the leather seat to look at her as I try to gather my foggy brain power. Sweat dampens the bottom of my hair against my neck and I welcome the brief coolness it brings. “This family is technically your biological family.”

My head and body snap forward. I thought I was the only one left of my family. As I wait for Tina to spill the details, my chest won’t let any breath escape.

“Apparently, she’s your mom’s cousin. Somehow we found her and she’s expressed interest in taking you in.”

I raise my eyebrows. No one ever wants me. I believe the words “more trouble than she’s worth” is a permanent fixture in the mouths of my many foster families. And it’s kind of true. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t listen to orders very well. When I want to do something, I do it regardless if they tell me explicitly not to.

“Now, before you go AWOL like you did last time, please just …” she searches for the words for a moment. “Be good. That’s all I ask. You only have a couple of months until you’re 18 and can do as you please. Until then, stay out of trouble, okay?”

I roll my eyes at her. That speech hasn’t held onto my conscience yet and I’m betting it won’t stick this time either. She does seem more serious than usual though.

It’s beyond amazing that any of my family could be tracked down, so we’ll see if I want to follow the rules or not. It all depends on if they’re crazy or mean.

Since we’ve obviously reached our destination, I look outside and freeze. A small brick house stands completely unoriginal from the others on the street. The only thing that distinguishes it from the other houses is a tree house in the tree in the backyard. Other than that, it has the same square-ish exterior, the same placement of the same white door and windows and the same chimney poking out of the roof on the right hand side–just like all of the neighboring houses. All of the grass is green even though it is early September. And as far as I can tell, there is no broken cement anywhere on either side of the street.

Kids scream through the sprinklers at a couple of houses. It was one of those neighborhoods: a place to raise a family. The last time I was placed in a neighborhood like this, I was ten. My distaste for it came from the fact that it made me think of how I likely would have lived with my mom were she still around. After that, I asked Tina to only put me with families in the busy city, a place where a traditional family life was a little more uncommon so I could avoid those feelings of misery. Apparently that particular request of mine is disregarded this time because a “blood relative” is involved. Just lovely. Note the sarcasm.

Welcome to suburbia, Thora.

Thanks to this week’s FWF prompt by Kellie Elmore, I was able to piece together a better beginning for one of my WIPS. I cannot express enough thanks that this prompt triggered such an inspiration for this story and I’m stoked to be giving it more attention now that a critical piece is now making sense. 

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FWF ~ What path less traveled?

I could try and think of a time when I took the road less traveled… but it’s really hard and my mind keeps going back to one thing.

To quote a Faith Hill song, I was “daddy’s little girl, mama’s little angel, teacher’s pet and pageant queen.” Except instead of pageant queen, it was more of a performing queen. But I think you get the picture.

I never really strayed. I always tried to do the right thing–the good things.

It wasn’t until a lot later in my life when I decided to be a little bad. That led to some interesting decisions, interesting friends and even more interesting situations that I got myself into because of them. It was never anything really bad, but it definitely wasn’t in character for a Type-A perfectionist like me.

Then I found someone that subconsciously influenced me to take a path I never thought I’d take. Just one person. If anything, I could thank him but at the same time, I’d like to rip his heart out and tap dance on it, like he did to mine. He showed me things I never thought I’d experience and I trusted him enough to go along with it all. And I fell in love with him.

Sometimes I think it’s crazy what love will do to someone. I’d like to call him my path less traveled. I wouldn’t have done half the things I did with him had he not come into my life. Had he not come into my life, I wouldn’t have known I could fall for someone like that. Had he not been there, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today.

The only problem was, how it started definitely wasn’t a path I wanted to take. How it ended wasn’t a path I wanted to take. Unfortunately, that’s not how life goes. The choices you make and their consequences define who you are… and I hope I’ve become a stronger person because of it.

FWF ~ Gentle One

It’s far past my bedtime. Daddy would be furious if he knew I was out in the woods behind our house again. Ever since dusk, it’s been bugging me for so long that I just have to be out here right now. I have to find out what I saw.

I make my way past crooked trees, keeping my eyes peeled for any sign of movement. The glimmers disappeared this way, I’m sure of it. After a few minutes, I notice that I’m approaching a swamp from the squelch beneath my feet and the dull shimmer of water some fifty feet away from me. I stop, not wanting to venture too far into the messy mud.

Glancing around, I cross my arms in front of me and feel goosebumps erupt on my skin. It’s much colder than it was a moment ago. The chill came on a subtle breeze. I look to the direction I feel the wind coming from and gasp. There’s the white glimmering flash again!

The longing to know what it is overwhelms me and I start to walk over. Every step I take towards it makes the wind blow harder until I finally feel like I can’t breathe from the pressure on my chest. Have I walked into a wall? That’s almost what it seems like.

The glimmer is only a little bit closer to me now, even though I feel like I should be closer. Wait a minute… it’s getting brighter and brighter! The light is coming towards me.

A voice speaks, “You need to go home, Silas.”

I can only muster a squeak. “Wha?”

“We are the Fae and we have been assigned to protect you, gentle one,” the voice continued, “only you’re not supposed to know.”

In an instant, the light surrounds me and I’m warmed from the outside in.

The next thing I know, I’m looking up at my ceiling with my bed sheets on top of me, wondering what on earth I saw at dusk. A strange glimmer or sparkle, was it? I consider going out to the forest despite Daddy’s temper. But then I change my mind and doze off to sleep while dream of fairies.

FWF ~ A Street is Not a Home

I can’t really talk about the street I grew up on…
There were many.
Divorce does that and so do second marriages.
So I lived on many different streets growing up,
often two at a time–
the street my mom lived on
and the street my dad lived on.
The street where our duplex was
the only one with a tramp in the backyard.
The street where we lived in a mother-in-law basement.
My grandmother’s street, a cul-de-sac,
quiet neighborhoods throughout Salt Lake Valley–
I mean, aside from the short stint in California
when I was too young to even remember it.
I feel like we moved so much
that I never really settled down.
At times, I struggle to remember
the names of the streets we’ve lived on.
It wasn’t until I was 10
that we found houses that we stayed in.
After that, it was a neighborhood
and we had neighbors that were friends.
So many streets to remember,
but all they tell me now is that
home is wherever your heart is.

Friday the 13th

Suspicions. Black cats. Walking underneath ladders. Broken mirrors. Superstition. Writing on the wall. Curses. Mystery. Foretelling a flashback.

Bright eyes against a dark night. Clouds parting for la Luna. Time for magic. A time for mystique, for magic.

Birthday wishes and 13 candles.

Close your eyes and blow… What did you wish for?

#FWF ~ What is freedom?

What is freedom?
Is it just a right ordained by the government?
Is it a basic human need?
Physical? Emotional? Mental?
Is it internal or external?
Is freedom a state of mind or a state of being?
Does freedom stand or can it crumble?
Can freedom fill a void or simply embody an endless expanse?

From what I know about freedom, this is all that I can say about it:

Freedom may be a right but it is also a choice.

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#FWF ~ The Very Last

FWF – Finish the Story

He pointed me toward the opening in the tree.

“I’m sure you’ll be pleased. It’s surprisingly large once your inside.”

Don’t get me wrong–it was pretty sizable even for a tree but I couldn’t imagine it holding even a bear. I glanced at him once more; he only nodded forward.

I guess this was why my mother used to tell me to never be afraid to take a leap of faith. He said this job would be worth my while. I might as well learn why.

After placing on my hands on the entrance for balance, I entered the arboreal domain and had to stop my jaw from dropping.

Harper was right. It was larger than I expected… A lot larger. The tree cave was big enough to fit at least several of me inside. However, that wasn’t why I fought my jaw to stay attached.

Along the walls on built-in shelves were dozens of orbs of different colors. Each one was attached to something. Some were on chains, others on rings or even crowns. In fact, most of them were familiar–I had found nearly all of them. Memories of visiting the furthest corners of the world tracking these down flooded back to me, particularly the time where one particular green sphere was trapped at the bottom of a waterfall in Hawaii and I had to resort to using my limited powers to transplant my identity into a fish to locate and surface the magical object.

Despite the amount of orbs, the air was surprisingly quiet with very little motion. My skin became hyper-aware but still–nothing. I couldn’t feel anything and that made me nervous.

Harper’s breath whipped past my ear as he went to lean on the wall that no doubt was held up by more than just the enormous roots.

“These are all dead,” he said. That would explain a lot. “Well, nearly all of them.”

My ears perked up.

“Try and find the magic that still lives.”

One of them was still alive? How was that possible? Surely I would have sensed that already. Slowly, I made my way across the wall, carefully observing the numerous spheres. No vibrations rattled the air.

It wasn’t until I nearly reached the end that I felt anything resembling magic.

The hair on the back of my hand stood at attention, but very weakly. My eyes could barely make out the gold flecks in the air surrounding a small golden sphere engraved in an identically gold ring.

“Cleo…” whispered a disembodied voice. The little magical sphere recognized my presence. Most magic did as it’s my job to recognize magic and return it to the appropriate holders.

“Who did this one belong to?”
I asked, gesturing to the golden ring.

Harper approached my side. “Some queen who died less than a century ago. That’s why it was just barely clinging to life. Its time is running out.”

That much couldn’t be more clear. I’d never felt such a weak pull before. There’s no way anyone could have used this gold orb for more than a couple uses at that point.

Harper looked hesitant to speak.

“What?”

“There’s only one orb left to be found. This is why I called you here; we didn’t know there was one left,” he said. “It’s been held for years by someone who doesn’t know of the Conjurers.”

My chest constricted. My quest would be harder than usual since there would be no trail to really follow.

“You’re the best Seeker on record,” Harper tried to affirm me.

“But if this is the last one, what happens if it expires before I get there?”

The question that had been aching in me couldn’t be contained anymore. When the last of the orbs expired, the Conjurers of Glory would disappear. I may be a Seeker but would that end us all? Or just steal all the magic away from this world?

“We can’t know,” Harper admitted. “We need to find it as soon as possible or–”

“Mommy!”

The squeal of my baby girl broke my concern for the last of the spheres. It was quickly followed by the voice of my best friend, another Seeker, Seraphina.

“I’m sorry, Cleo! I tried to keep Thora occupied but she just wants you. She is pretty persistent,” Sera’s thin, lovely face appeared in the entrance of the tree. On her hip, she carried in my little girl with a bundle of blonde curls. Of course, Thora is persistent. That’s how she had always been ever since she learned to talk. Anything she wanted, she could get because she simply never gave up.

Thora reached for me from Sera’s arms, squealing in delight. Gladly, I take her into my own and breathe her toddler smell.

Harper cleared his throat.

“Oh, sorry,” I said, turning my attention back to him.

“This could be a dangerous journey that could take you across the world.”

He looked pointedly at Thora, who curled herself up against my shoulder. He met my gaze and I knew immediately what he meant.

“No,” I whispered. “She can come with me; she won’t be any trouble.”

“She will slow you down and, yes, she could cause major trouble. The Elders don’t like children getting in the cross wires of all this.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Because of my job, now my own personal curse, I had to leave my own child. If there had been any other choice, I would have taken it.

Unfortunately, there’s never a choice when it comes to sustaining the Conjurer’s legacy.

I wrote this on my iPhone on a road trip so please pardon typographical errors. Hope you all had a lovely weekend!