Writing Prompt: Day 86

86.jpgDay 86 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Write the story of these pictures.

Shannon: They put me in this delicate white dress. The top was shaped together with an overlay of lace to add intricate detail to a simple bodice that was already built to flatter my figure.  The skirt was a waterfall of fabric, each piece draping gracefully over another. To top it off my makeup was a flawless clearing of every imperfection.

I looked in the mirror as they worked on my hair. “You could win. You made it this far, and it’s a great scholarship prize. You must be excited,” my hairstylist commented. “I never thought I’d see a newbie get this far.”

“Yeah, this is kind of a crazy competition, but I could use the money,” I tried to believe what I was saying, but I didn’t actually want to win. I was not the kind of person who got all dolled up like this for anything, especially not to win money, or gain approval from other people. Would winning mean my motivations were no different from any of the girls here, or would I just be smart for giving in to what the world wanted from me?

As I was walking to get in line to go on stage I caught sight of some movement outside. Maybe because that was where I really wanted to be. Either way, I was surprised as I focused my vision on a baby deer peaking inside. My parents owned some woods behind our house, and I was fascinated by nature. Even more fascinated when the nature took interest in humans. Then I did something stupid. I went after it, not forgetting about the competition, but instead I was just blowing it off.

I wanted to care. I wanted to turn myself around, but the deer still wasn’t running, and I felt no guilt. I opened the door slowly enough for it to back away, but it didn’t bolt immediately. I tried to reach out for it, but it flinched and started slowly walking back into the wooded area it came from. I followed, as if the silent creature was guiding me like a dog.

The bottom of my skirt was turning brown from the dirt path, so I started carrying it. I felt like Cinderella running from the ball. Finally the deer stopped by a large rock and just stared. “Creepy,” I whispered, but figured it wanted me to find something so I looked around, a little afraid of what I might find.

Suddenly I saw a patch of white underneath some tall grass and leaves. As I reached down to pick it up I discovered it was journal, and that the handwriting was still legible. When I looked up the deer was gone.

Erin: “What is this,” my fiancée asked stealing away my manuscript.

“A story,” I said vaguely.

“About what,” he continued to prod.

“A wedding in the woods,” I offered.

“What’s the conflict,” he refused to take my simple answer.

“The deer are trying to convince the princess she deserves better than the man she is marrying,” I ripped the pages back and looked down to my desk.

“Does she still marry him,” he asked.

“They leave the woods, because the support from the community is nonexistent. Once she gets far enough away though she realizes her feelings are not dictated by the community, but she genuinely feels she can do better as well,” I cleared my throat before looking at him. His expression had sank.

How will these pictures fit together for you?

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One thought on “Writing Prompt: Day 86

  1. “Once upon a time, when the forests withheld merely ancient knowledge and the beasts spoke to road-weary travellers, there lived a lovely peasant woman named Mirabelle. This poor woman requested her comrades call her Mira, to detract from her natural beauty and kind-hearted nature. But she was more wonderful, even, than her name suggested since she harboured a secret so well hidden that even she did not know of its true power. As a simple alchemist’ assistant, she was not privy to any extra information about the arcane or mystical; no more than any beggar on the streets, really. But this strange, raven-haired maiden would soon turn the known world on its head and prove that even someone with tattered clothing could harbour unimaginable power.”

    Carefully casting the cloth-bound book aside, I sighed deeply and reclined on my bed of soft down and hard-packed cloth. As the old text bounced softly on the other side of the bed, a chuckle vibrated in my throat like the growl of a dragon; it was deep and dark and reminded you of your mortality in a shocking fashion. I watched the tome drifting in an ocean of fluid fabrics until it settled amongst the waves. Breathing out another heavy sigh, I stretched out to assess my luxurious surroundings on an entirely materialistic scale.
    My eyes landed on the manuscript and took a long pause as my entire being breathed in the ancient dust that clung to the pages like spider’s webs. Everything about the text, from its delicately scrawled writing to the way each page had darkened a slight shade deeper than the last, screamed of primordial, unwavering magick that this land hadn’t seen in a long time. Though my gaze eventually fell from it and began to take note of the other, lesser, books that lined my shelves, I couldn’t get the wicked barbs of whispering energy to let go of my conscious mind.
    When I was content with my valuation, I sat up and hopped down from the lofty cloud-like bedding. Stepping forward, I leaned to stretch out my back like a cat awaking from a nap and purred as my spine straightened. I strode out of the stretch and almost skipped across the cold stone floor in the nude, spinning around to feel the fresh breeze swirl about me. But as soon as I was standing before the floor-length mirror I couldn’t take my eyes off the scars my too-human flesh bore.

    “Mira was a goddess in human form, with perfectly flawless skin, flowing brunette locks that ended in ringlets at the small of her curving back, and a mind that could outsmart any man she faced. If that wasn’t enough, she had an angel’s soul that demanded she share what little she struggled to earn with anyone who appeared worse-off than her. Even when she had nothing but the clothes on her back and a handful of grain, she was compelled to give. But she was too humble to accept any gifts given her; a prince’s hand, the deed to a small farm on the outskirts of town or aid from her sister who’d married the prince of a well-off kingdom. Light described Mira perfectly.”

    Once dressed in fabulous strands of semi-transparent cotton scraps, that fluttered about my body as though they were a living soul in and of themselves, I began the descent to my magnificent garden; floating gracefully from the balcony. There was a sudden hush among the trembling flowers and creeping vines that reminded me I would never be their goddess again. But something deep within me didn’t care what I was to anyone anymore. I was the only being whose opinion I cared to know lately, and I couldn’t see that changing anytime soon.
    When my bare feet touched the damp soil, I recoiled with disdain and crossed my legs elegantly to avoid the ground altogether. As I passed by the brilliant hues of roses and lilac, they shivered in my powerful presence and stood at attention for their queen. Everything I touched had come alive, in this deserted castle; silverware that fought extravagant battles across the ballroom floor, plants that gossiped to the birds and books that literally begged to be touched. It had been an irreversible mistake but after a year without a soul to talk to, I had come to appreciate the odd company.
    As I drifted away, making the monthly pilgrimage to the last true place of peace on this earth, I almost wept for someone to join me. Being all alone took a toll so steep on one’s soul, that the damage it caused could never truly be mended by magick or time. Seated comfortably in the current of my own imagination, I meditated through the dark forest without a spoken word.

    “But one day, the stunning Mira made the days-long journey to her sister’s kingdom by foot to trade for an exceedingly rare flower petal that only grew at the mouth of a dragon’s cave. Though no one dared make the voyage without a sacrifice of goat or oxen, most of the brave men sent did not return; there was a booming gambling ring that took bets on the safe homecoming of said men. Mira exchanged the large pouch of solid gold coins the alchemist had given her for a menial satchel of crushed petals and began her return without requesting an audience with her sister. Some might ask whether her tragic fate may have been adverted had Mira gone to her sister.”

    Through great canopies of emerald trees and past sigils meant to deter any mortals from stepping a foot further on the path, I did go. Sometimes I would drop to the cold, wet ground and run a few miles, allowing my heart to pump blood joyfully through my body to remind me what it felt like to be fully alive. In those moments the murky clouds above would part, shining their warm light like the first sunrise upon my pale skin. But once the novelty wore off, I would take up the meditation once again and the gloomy clouds would cover the sky as though they’d always been there.
    Over the course of a few hours, I made my way along the overgrown path and up the last hill; atop this mountain was the most sacred temple in all of creation. Never had I met another soul on the lonely journey, though wildlife was abundant in the surrounding forest. It was as though this hallowed ground was truly set aside for only those who understood the divine power and had permission to access it. But it was still a terrifying trip to take on one’s own, as the sun set and the full moon began to creep over the treetops.
    As I spotted a flicker of alabaster marble through the last set of tree branches, I let go of the breath I didn’t know I was holding. When I broke through the final stands and was met by the obscurity of the temple, I dropped to my knees in honor of the energy trapped on this plane. There was so much I did not know; so much power I had yet to harness. This was the place all my desires could be granted.

    “After a full day’s travel, Mira was resting peacefully by a babbling creek with her lantern turned down to save oil when they came. Three hooded men crept quietly from the shadows and beat her hastily, slashing at her with dull blades that bit into her flesh, and stole all she had; including the special flower she’d been sent to retrieve. In her last moments of consciousness the maiden prayed for a saviour to rescue her from her horrible fate at the side of the road. She slipped away tranquilly with a light tinkling in her ears and a balmy sensation spreading from her heart.”

    When I rose, daintily stepping across the scorched earth, I breathed in the crisp, smoky air that clung to the shrine like a sticky mist. Placed with precision around the circle were columns that could have been there from the dawn of time, aligning perfectly with the moon and sun, but holding no roof overhead. There was a roaring fire in the open-air temple’s hearth that popped and crackled aggressively as I approached. Standing in the very center of the sanctuary was a large table held up by a hearty leg of the same alabaster marble that ran through the entire temple.
    Behind it, shrouded in a burning mist, was a figure I met here on occasion; you could feel, just by looking at it, that there was no soul present. As I approached the circle the figure took a step backward and the pale veil slipped faintly, revealing a streak of stark white curls. But, attempting to catch the eyes that must have been there, I lost my focus and stumbled against the slab.
    Glancing up, eyes shining with painful tears, I realised the figure was gone. Though my mind was still fuzzy, I knew I’d seen a glimmer of a human appearance behind the façade. Perhaps there had been a soul once, perhaps whatever was slowly happening to me, had already happened to them. I shivered as it sunk in that, on the path I was on, that could be me someday.

    “When Mira awoke again, she was horribly alone among stunning alabaster columns with a burning pain radiating from her chest. She sat up swiftly to assess her new surroundings and found, to her great dismay, that she was lying on a marble slab completely naked. Touching the long jagged scars that covered her body, she remembered what had happened to her; the attack on the side of the road at midnight played on repeat in her mind. But another memory joined it, chasing the horror away. It was two simple phrases, ‘You can do whatever you wish in this world, to whomever you wish. But you shall walk this world alone forever.’ That was the moment she noticed the mirror before her was filled with the image of a black-eyed monster; and that the monster was her.”

    A few days went by before I returned to the castle, irately. Though I’d done all the rituals I did every month, the magick had a rancid taste to it as though it’d gone bad overnight. So, I decided that I’d waited long enough to exact my revenge on the townsfolk who’d left me for dead. That was what I’d been granted these supreme abilities for, and I was going to exact my revenge no matter who got in my way. All around me, the living objects quarrelled over who would attempt to stop me; all of them knowing it would be in vain.
    But as I flew over the forest toward my sister’s kingdom the seed of doubt sewn by that horrible figure began to take shape and wind its way around my sinner’s heart. I didn’t want to admit it, but I didn’t feel the burning hatred toward anyone that I’d allowed to rule my mind for the last few years. As I touched down on the outlying village I knew they lived, I was nearly prepared to give up. When I arrived at the first man’s house, though, the flame was reignited and scorched through me hotter than ever before.
    I tore his house apart, laying waste to the simple straw roof and cracking the very stone foundation on which it sat. There was a moment where I heard the screaming of his wife and son as though they were far away, but they were just casualties of my revenge. When I finally caught the man, he struggled before I burned him from the inside out and let his ashes fall upon the cart-worn dirt. Something broke inside me that day; I realized I’d given up my soul for this power, and I couldn’t control myself without it.

    “Though Mira knew there was something horribly missing from her, something that she had always carried around and weighed on her chest like a bag of stones, she could not figure out what it was, exactly. But when she passed a grazing doe, on the only path that led away from the temple, the horrified creature took one glance at her and bounded through the trees to get as far away from her as possible. Mira called for it to stop, thrusting a hand forward, and a stiff breeze followed her movements. That was the first time she knew what she had received for the part of her, truly understood it. Over the next week, she found an abandoned castle full of nursery tales that taught her about magickal properties. And over the next years she honed those abilities for her bloody revenge.
    The end.”

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