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{drabble} paper unicorns

“I’ll never get them to trust me after this,” she sighed, tucking the unicorn into her pocket. Looking behind her, she glared at the dark wizard. Even encased in crystal, he frightened her – though she tried not to show it. That wouldn’t do.

So she faced him. “I’ve killed twice to stop you,” she said, tightly controlling the tremble in her voice. “I’ve taken two lives. And now I’ve an entire species to restore,” she gently patted her pocket, “and their trust to regain.”

She looked into his frozen eyes, and could not restrain the shiver that ran down her spine. “And, of course, you.”

She knew what to do. And she was the only one left who would.

{drabble} Real.

It started suddenly. 

She was looking out the window while her father drove them down the coast, when off in the distance she saw one.

They’d made this trip dozens of times, but this was a first. She blinked. Rubbed her eyes. Still out there, a dragon-shaped darkness against the night.

But then they were everywhere.

Pegasus shadows sailing over the barn.

Pixies in the crisper.

Elves swimming in the river.

Gnomes merrily working in her windowsill garden.

And of course, still more dragon-shaped darknesses outside her window at night.

She learned not to mention what she could see. Too dangerous; no one believed.

Then came the Unicorn. Its regal mane flowing over its slender neck, so white she could barely stand to gaze upon it. She dropped her basket, forgotten apples scattering. It pranced, danced, gracefully slid right up to her, lowered its head to her. She reached up, trembling fingers sliding through. 

“Oh.” Her face fell, tears brimming. “Oh, you’re an illusion. I thought…”

The unicorn whinnied. “No,” its voice like windchimes, music box notes ringing. “You’re the illusion.”

{drabble} Dreams.

No one finds more than pieces of new dreams anymore…

I wasn’t looking for dreams, anyway. I was looking for music. Having the best sex of my life, but we needed new music – which seems unrelated maybe, but dreams come unbidden when the mind quiets, the mind quiets when the body lives loudly, and if sex isn’t living loudly I don’t know what is. Really good sex mingles living and dying all together in gasps and sweat and teardrops of release.

And ours was really good sex, but we needed new music. So I set off to find some.

But I found the dream instead. A whole one. And it took hold of me, putting all I knew at risk.

{drabble} second chances

It’s not that she was a bad child. She was stubborn, difficult, often challenging and occasionally downright immovable, but not bad. Her father had died the day before she was born. I’d done everything I could to give her a good life on my own. I didn’t have to work; her father’s company supported us, so I devoted my life to raising her well.

Somewhere along the way, I must have done something wrong. Otherwise, this wouldn’t be happening.

I watched her sitting with the other kids. She was lecturing on the behaviors of cats, holding her own kitten captive so she could bare his tiny teeth and gently expose his claws for demonstration. The other children were enthralled. I could just barely hear her, and everything she said was factual and correct. I wondered where she’d learned so much about cats; the kitten had been a present only this morning. Today was her 12th birthday.

She was so brilliant, it frightened me.

I turned back to the conversation. “She’s gotten so distant from me. I can’t get through to her anymore; she does her own thing most of the time, and when I try to teach her something – anything – she knows more about it already than I do. She has no patience for lessons with me. We’ve grown so far apart, but all I’ve ever done has been for her.”

The teacher nodded, compassion in her soft brown eyes. “Do you touch her?”

I stared at her. I looked over at my daughter and realized I couldn’t remember the last time we’d held hands or hugged or touched at all. I was flooded with sorrow. I couldn’t speak.

The teacher reached out and put her hand on my arm. The feeling of warmth and skin on my skin was so foreign to me; I realized I hadn’t touched anyone else, either. She looked out over the children, then turned back to me. “Her stars say she’s a very physical person. We all are, really, but her especially so. Can you remember the last time you held her in your arms?”

Memories flooded me. The grief at losing her father poured through me, mixed with the joy at her birth. Her perfect little face, eyes that matched his, her ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes, her completeness. The older she grew, the more like him she became – both in looks and in behaviors. Eventually, it became too much for me, and I retreated into my head. I stopped touching her, grew cold when she would reach for me.

How long ago had that been? Oh gods, nearly ten years?

My heart burst, I broke into tears. I stood, sobbing, and walked toward her. As I grew closer, the other children scattered, clearing the path between me and my daughter.

She looked up at me, her eyes cold, calculating.

A moment, a lifetime, an eternity passed. Tears rolled down my face. Neither of us spoke. The kitten wriggled free and scampered off, unnoticed. She stood, taking slow, hesitant steps toward me.

Her eyes changed, softened. Deepened. Our fingers reached out toward each other.

I was holding her hand. She was holding my hand. We were standing closer than we’d been in years; I could feel her warmth. I could smell her; grass and kitten and dirt and cherry shampoo. Our eyes were locked and for this moment, there was nothing else in the universe.

“Give me a second chance?” I asked.

She nodded.

I looked into the soft brown eyes of my toddler. Today was her second birthday; she grew more like her father every day, and the pain in my heart from losing him eased when I looked at her. She toddled toward me, arms wide, and I scooped her up and spun her around. I pulled her close to me, kissing her face a dozen times.

A shiver ran through me; I heard a voice like wind in my ears. This is your second chance…

I wasn’t sure what it meant. My daughter patted my cheek, tugged my hair, asking for attention. I looked at her and a lifetime flashed in her eyes; pain, sorrow, distance between us. For a moment, her eyes turned cold, calculating. I nearly sat her down, I wanted to shield myself from how like her father she was.

I wanted to close my heart.

But then she grinned, and the moment broke. Her eyes softened, lit up, and she started singing her favorite song. I kissed her a dozen times more, nuzzling her soft baby skin, feeling her warmth. I snuggled her close to me, close to my heart.

I would never let her go.

Not this time.

{drabble} circles in the carpet

She sat in the driver’s seat of her brand-new car in the parking lot of her brand-new apartment, her head resting on the steering wheel as she willed herself to get out. To go inside. To start her brand-new life.

She took a deep breath, dried her eyes, and opened the car door. The cool night air rushed in like a lover eager to greet her.

If only.

She shook away the thought, burying the memories. Not now.

She opened the hatch and pulled out her duffel, slinging it over her shoulder. She took the first few steps toward her apartment with trepidation until determination took hold and her pace quickened. She unlocked the door, sweeping it open and stepping inside. Fumbling for the light, she dropped her bag on the plushly carpeted floor. Her fingertips found the switch, throwing on a soft golden glow.

It illuminated the tiny loft like sunrise.

She gasped.

Not here, too.

Keys, duffel, trepidation – all forgotten. She took a couple of steps further into the room, heart pounding, breath held.

Oh, yes. She could see clearly now.

Crop circles.

In the carpet.

{drabble} diamonds

“Anyway, these are extraordinary, much more than the usual stone.”

She nodded, stifling a yawn. He noticed.

“So sorry.” His perfect British accent made him sound even snider than he intended. “Am I boring you?”

“Yes. You are. You’ve been droning on for ages!” She ran her fingers through the bowl of sparkling gems, scowling as he smacked her hand.

“Dammit, woman. Leave off. They’re not yours.”

“Oh, but they are,” she muttered, her fist closing tightly around several hundred stones. She turned and ran, disappearing into the darkness. She tripped, cursing, and the diamonds spilled from her grip and lifted up into the sky, becoming inseparable from the stars that lit the night.

 

{drabble} the ring

The ghost girl whispered, her voice echoing eerily in the tiny room.  “Once you put it on, you can never take it off.”

I shuddered, my heart pounding, threatening to burst. Though the room was ice cold, I was hot. “Won’t it cut into me when I grow up?”

She shook her head, her ethereal curls bouncing. “No. It grows to fit you, always.”

“Are you sure,” I said, the fear and hesitation choking me, making the words hard to get out, “that this is the only way?”

The little ghost looked sad, and slowly nodded.

Fear welled up in me, spilling out my eyes as tears. “And… my sisters can’t…?” Again, she shook her head.

I took a deep breath, the air freezing my throat. I took it from her, wondering how her transparent hands could hold a solid object. It was so small, so cold in my hand. I looked at her again, and she smoothed the front of her dress. I’d never seen a dress like that, and I briefly wondered how long she’d been dead, and how she died, but fear overwhelmed my curiosity and I didn’t ask. “Will it hurt?”

“I don’t think so. Not… not you, anyway.”

That gave me pause, and I looked at her eyes. I wondered what color they’d been in life. “Will it hurt you?”

She nodded. “But not for long. And it’s okay. I understand and I’m ready.”

I took another deep breath and nodded. I slid the ring on my right middle finger; it adjusted and settled into a perfect fit.

The little ghost girl gasped, let out a cry of despair, and vanished.

{poem} transformation

Transformation
nips at my heels
like a poorly trained pup and
I whirl around, ego rolled tightly,
raised to strike,
lips forming “No!”

But my soul
stays my hand,
gently grabbing me by the wrist,
lovingly whispering
“let go let go let go”
and I am moved, my hand
dropping,
my ego
unrolling.

I open my arms and
close my eyes,
shatter my heart like an
unfamiliar bottle of fingernail polish in
a color I don’t understand,
and I whisper
“yes yes yes”.

{poem} spilling out

I see myself
reaching for an unfamiliar color
of fingernail polish;
how it seems so trivial but
how it seems so canonical;
a color I am drawn to, but
a color I am repulsed by, and
I stand in the aisle as time whirls on around me
wondering who I am becoming and
if I will like her
when I am her.

I study the little jar;
suddenly I am crying, and
I want to console myself
I want to control myself,
I want to embrace and deny this shift, 
I want to get on and I want to get off,
but really, it’s an earthquake and
I am trapped in a doorway trying to survive,
the choice taken from me, forced upon me,
and I am kissing the ground as it trembles beneath my feet.

I wear a dress of chicken wire,
binding myself inside,
bracing against the tornado I feel
on the horizon;
still recovering from the quaking earth,
my heartbeats strain to make themselves
heard above the din but
I find myself unwilling unable unknowing to listen.

This strange and fractured comfort
this vaguely familiar unfamiliarity,
a place I have been before but
somehow so different this time,
a lover who has moved on and is leaving me
but stops to take the time to wait
as I struggle to catch my breath

and I know I am broken open
I know I am spilling out,
I am conceiving the me I will become
and I will birth myself when the time comes,
alone and breathing lamaze
singing and cursing, wailing and frightened and strong.

I gasp and
I drop the little jar;
it shatters,
the unfamiliar color of change
spilling out, bleeding across my feet
as I take those tender first trembling steps
across my sharp splintered fears
towards who I am becoming,
and my arms involuntarily open to take her in.

{drabble} magick is a verb

The witch regarded the boy who so suddenly burst into her cottage, upsetting the cats and scaring the birds. His face flushed, eyes wide with fear, words tumbling out so fast she could make no sense of them.

“Slow down, boy,” she said, placing a hand on his shaking shoulder.

The boy gulped for air but found only tears.

The witch sighed, bothered by this interruption. She struggled with the desire to boot this kid and his woes out of her little house, but her heart wasn’t that cold.

She pushed the boy into a chair and handed him a mug of water. He sipped between sobs and gradually they subsided.

“It’s my mama,” he whispered. “She’s terrible sick and she’s gonna die. We need your help.”

The witch’s heart iced over a little more. Her eyes involuntarily flicked in the direction of her long abandoned bookshelf, barely visible now under the spiders’ webs and dust. Her cats, sensing the storm, made themselves scarce. The birds stop their singing.

The very earth appeared to hold its breath.

“No.” The witch watched the boy’s heart break.

“But you are our only hope!” The little boy cried.

“Then you are out of hope.” The witch walked to her door, holding it open for the boy.

But the boy didn’t move. “Why?”

The witch shook her head.

Still the boy didn’t move. “We need you.”

The witch crossed her arms. Her gaze flew around the small cottage. Her neglected cauldron, her abandoned books, the jars of herbs long unused, the dusty altar. She bit her lip to keep the tears back.

The little boy stood. He walked over to the witch. He put his tiny hand on her scratchy elbow. He looked up into her face.

“Magick is a verb,” he whispered.

The witch looked down into his bright eyes. Fear engulfed her like flames. She hadn’t had any magick work for her in so long, she’d grown sure she’d never make it happen again. It had become so much easier to give up than to fail.

But suddenly, she had to try.