{drabble} that song looks good on you

She held her breath. Stepping up to the mic ripped her heart open. Her voice carried her emotions, playing out over the crowd in streaks of blues and reds. This is why they loved her so – she wore her songs like the finest of cloaks. She draped her music over their shoulders, pulling them into her, safe inside her heart.

She wasn’t ready.

She was never really ready.

Standing at the edge of the stage, at the edge of the world, the bright lights shining on the emptiness.

She held her breath.

The people in the audience, her people, held their breath.

Everything froze. Suddenly, she could feel the boundaries between them fade. The crowd blurred and she blurred, they opened, fuzing together.

She stepped onto the stage, eyes closed. She began to sing.

{drabble} Tulips

I put tulips under all the pillows, and then I set fire to the house. I had spent twenty years with Bill, and I finally snapped. I couldn’t take the thing he does with the newspaper anymore – I tried to ignore it, then I tried to forget it, but eventually, I realized that the only way out was to burn it all down.

I realized it when I caught them at the diner. She was standing behind the counter, giving him this root beer-float kind of smile. And there he was, doing that thing with the newspaper. I knew they were up to something, and I knew it was nothing good.

So that night, I raided the garden. Tulips were my favorite flower, so I had them planted in every color imaginable. I picked only as many as I needed.

As the house burned, I walked away with a new sense of peace in my heart.

{drabble} the diamond bracelet

The day I loaned Morgan $400 bucks was the most exciting day of my life. She was only 10 years old, but she had a smile that lit up the room like the sun in summer and the brightest blue eyes I ever did see. She found me sitting on the steps of my porch, bored out of my mind, and she got me all wrapped up in more trouble than you can shake a stick at.

See, she found a diamond bracelet in the back of the car. It was her dad’s car, but she had no mom, so we didn’t know who the bracelet belonged to. Morgan decided that we could sell it, but we didn’t know who would buy a bracelet a couple of kids found. She convinced me to loan her $400 so we could buy a couple of train tickets to somewhere more interesting than our sleepy little town, and I fell for it. It was my entire life savings, but I forked it over.

We made it to the train station, but that’s where she ditched me. She managed to make off with all that money and the diamond bracelet, to boot. That Morgan. She may be young, but she’s not stupid.

{drabble} After all that time…

She stood in front of the mirror, fighting back tears.

Again.

“How long?” she asked.

The mirror’s soft, smokey voice patiently answered. “Two more hours, majesty.”

She began her slow pacing, back and forth across the tiny room. Time crawled by. The mirror waited for her to ask again, but she managed to restrain herself.

At last, she could hear him; his horse’s hooves echoed like heartbeats across the empty valley. She raced to the window to watch his approach, fear and hope and anticipation crowding her throat, making it difficult to breathe.

She watched him leap off his horse and fight his way into the castle, then lost sight of him. But she could feel him now; she knew the perils that lay in wait, and her mind traced them as he fought them.

And, at long last, he broke down her door.

He stood, framed in the doorway, the golden sunlight shining upon him.

Her breath caught. He was so…

Wait.

He was sweaty, breathing hard, almost scrawny. His eyes, in her mind so gentle and loving, were hard and impatient. He sneered at her, leered at her, and she instinctively took a step backwards. When he spoke, she heard not the words, but the cruel tone and cold reality.

He was not charming, not in the least.

Her eyes filled with tears. This was who she’d spent her life waiting for? This snarling brute of a man?

Now what?

He reached for her; she recoiled.

She knew exactly what to do.

She pushed him, grabbed his sword, and ran past. She fought her way out of the castle, past the traps and monsters she’d feared all her life. She emerged, blinking, into the glorious day. Laughter bubbled up and sprang from her lips, echoing through the valley. She grabbed the reins of his horse, freed the poor beast from its bindings, and lept upon its back.

She rode off into the sunset.

{drabble} Get coffee. Make a plan.

She stood up, looking around herself in horror. What have I done? she thought, and she panicked. She bolted, grabbing her purse and keys and darting to her car. She sped down the street, tears streaming down her face. What now, what now, what now?

At a red light, she flipped down her visor. She looked into her bloodshot eyes. What you need, she told herself sternly, is a coffee.

She looked up and saw a Starbucks, just there on the corner. Perfect, she decided.

She pulled into the parking lot. There was only one other car, so all she had to do was get past a couple of people into the safety of the bathroom. Then she could wash up and compose herself. She took a deep breath and got out of the car. She walked in, flustered. There was a couple of women at the counter, chatting with the barista. She hesitated. Maybe I need to order first?

The women laughed, enjoying the conversation with the barista. No, she decided. Everyone was distracted. Bathroom first.

She darted through the door and up the little hall to the bathrooms. In and locked the door, and finally, for a moment, she felt safe. She took off her gloves, horrified at her hands. She ran them under the water, cleaning them frantically, losing track of time. After a few minutes, she heard voices in the hall outside the bathroom.

Dammit! Those women were coming. She turned off the water. One of them tried to get in, but the lock held. “Just a minute,” she shouted – a little too loudly, a little too edgy. She frantically looked around. The sink was a mess, so she grabbed paper towels and silently cleaned it as best she could.

Her phone chimed. Dammit! She grabbed it out of her pocket. It was her sister, demanding answers. She silenced it and laid it on the toilet paper holder, flushed the toilet so it’d sound like she was being normal, then washed the sink and her hands again. Her hands… they were almost clean.

She darted out of the bathroom. A little too quickly – she forgot her phone. The two women went into the bathroom together, but she stopped them in time – “I left my phone, I think. Can you see it?”

The shorter woman smiled. “Yes,” she said, handing it to her, “here it is.”

“Thanks!”

The pair of them smiled at her and shut the door.

Alone in the hall, she realized her hands were dripping. She hadn’t dried them. And they still weren’t clean. She dashed into the men’s, hoping to get her hands clean and get out before anyone noticed. After scrubbing a few minutes, they were finally clean. She dried them off and opened the door, only to find another woman standing in the hall, waiting to use the bathroom. The other woman gave her an odd look, but said nothing.

She panicked. She mumbled something inane about needing to pee but the men’s being too dirty, and the woman offered to let her go first – so she tried the door. The voice of the short girl rang out, “Just a minute!” and she wanted to bash her head against the door. Of course they were still in there – why else would this other girl be in the hall? Finally, the two of them came out, and she avoided their eyes and darted back in.

Door closed, locked. She sat on the toilet and took great gasping breaths of air. What have I done? What am I doing? What now, what now?

Finally, she decided. Get coffee, get out of here. Call my sister. Make a plan.

Get coffee. Get out. Call my sister. Make a plan.