We are a bit late this time around, but here we Quills are, returning to what I think has become our favorite type of post. Specifically, we each created a flash fiction tale for the same picture. This time, Robin Lythgoe selected the inspiration. Here it is:
I did not find a title for this pic, but it is offered by Maria Eduarda Tavares. (You'll find it here.)
It seems we Quills couldn't even agree on whether the pic was of a boy or a girl. I thought it was a boy when I first saw it. Robin wrote about a girl. And I'm not sure Parker ever did commit ...
I almost went with a story that would have been under ten words long (which I will share with you later), but in the end, after much ado, I came up with a story that is still (title and all) under 500 words. Here goes!
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.
Now, for my third opening line, which as I mentioned, is from one of my own stories. (For fun, I’m actually going to give you the first two sentences.) Here goes!
It almost tickled, the way it ran down from behind her ear and across her neck before dripping from her hair, its crimson warmth collecting in a puddle before her. The pain nearly unbearable, and unable to move, as a weight pinned her to the floor, she watched the glistening ruby pool grow.
If I had not included my own line here as my third choice, I might well have included either of the following quotes, also from terrifically good stories.
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
— Ana Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.
— David Copperfield, Charles Dickens.
Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.
— When We Were Grownups, Anne Tyler
I begin with writing the first sentence—and trusting to Almighty God for the second.
— The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentlemen, Laurene Sterne
This time around, Robin Lythgoe, selected the picture that we used for inspiration. It is always great fun to read the wildly different stories the three of us come up with to go with the chosen picture for these posts, so prepare yourself!
Below is the photo.
We Quills all seem to view the parameters of flash fiction a bit differently. My personal goal is to stay within 1000 words - if at all possible. Today, I've managed to do just that - coming in, I believe, at 998 words, title and all! But before I share my flash fiction story with you, I'm anxious to read what my fellow Quills have for us all. (Make sure you follow the links for each of Parker and Robin to get the full story for each.)
The Standing Stone
by P.S. Broaddus
Copyright P.S. Broaddus 2019
The Judgment Stone
by Robin Lythgoe
Copyright Robin Lythgoe 2019
You can safely imagine that those who escape leave the surrounds and never return. You might also imagine my astonishment at being arrested, tried, and found guilty of something called “High Thievery.” I’ve never stolen a thing in my life, unless you count a nap now and then. Well, I have helped myself to apples in the orchards I pass on my way between towns… But a face? How does a person steal a face?
Here goes . . .
by Patricia Reding
Copyright Patricia Reding 2019
A clicking sounded out, as something brushed her cheek.
Lorna’s eyes flashed open. She bolted upright, then turned to the source of the touch. Although semi-dark, there was no mistake.
“Onyx!” she cried, recognizing her long time companion, a snowy owl that had adopted her shortly after her father’s death. She wrapped her arms around his neck and combed her fingers through his soft fur-like chest feathers.
He cocked his head.
“Wait.” Lorna got to her feet. Looking about, she found herself in a room roughly the size of Archwarden Elowen’s shoe closet. Bare of any furnishings, through its single large open window, a sliver of grey light shone. Whether predawn, or eventide, Lorna could not tell.
As she stepped closer for a better look, Onyx perched on the sill.
Looking out, Lorna found herself several stories high. Below, and spread nearly to the horizon, sat a forest. At its outermost point, glimmered a blue light, instantly recognizable as the Codex Capital where the Archwarden resided. To its north, sat Avoncaster Sea. There was no mistake then. Lorna was in the Arcane Tower, home of the evil Wizard Odell, best known for his shenanigans at playing games with time.
Lorna tried to conjure up more details, but few came to mind. She did remember being carried away, and dropping in and out of consciousness for a time thereafter. She also vaguely recollected having been left in the very room in which she now found herself, and she recalled how immediately after that, Onyx flew in through the window. But from that moment, she’d lost all consciousness. For how long, she knew not, but she surmised that her pet had not left her side all the while.
Onyx hooted, interrupting her reverie.
Turning to the opposite wall, Lorna found an arched door. Hoping she wasn’t too heavily guarded, she decided she’d have a look.
Unsheathing her knife, she tentatively approached the door, then reached for its handle. To her surprise, it turned.
She cracked the door open and peeked out.
With Onyx at her side, Lorna wasted no time. She made her way out of the castle, then sprinted off, into the night.
Lorna stood at a distance. She sensed something out of order, but couldn’t place what.
Quietly, she made her way through the brush that surrounded the outpost. Approaching the stone pillar, in hopes her comrades had left a message there, she looked skyward at Onyx, gliding overhead. Then, what had troubled her earlier, suddenly became clear.
The night sky was all wrong. She, Kit, Margrave, and their cohorts, had set out for Dawson’s hideout in the early spring. But the constellations told her that autumn approached.
She spun toward the sound.
Before her, stood Wizard Odell.
“So, the great Lorna Rinn, the Archwarden’s chief defender, finds herself in a spot,” he mocked.
“I see you’ve been up to your games again,” Lorna said, “toying with time.”
The wizard grinned.
She frowned. “Look, the last I remember before awakening in Arcane Tower, it was early spring. But I see that autumn approaches.” She sighed. “I suppose that explains why my pals are not here to greet me. They could hardly wait a half year for me to show up.”
“What’s so funny?”
“Oh, my dear,” he cooed, “you are not a mere six months off.”
“No, my dear, you are sixty years off—give or take. Your Archwarden Elowen is newly born—an event her father celebrates with a festival.”
Lorna’s heart pounded. If what the wizard said was true, she didn’t know another living soul. Even her parents didn’t yet exist.
“Undue this!” she cried.
“Mmmm … I think not. But you’re lucky, you see. Since your pet here,” he gestured toward Onyx, “stayed with you in my tower, he also was ensorcelled. So, you are not wholly alone. And of course, one day, you will return to the loved ones you left … ahead.”
Without more, the wizard, smiling, stepped away and disappeared into the night.
Lorna sat quietly for a time. Then, finally, she addressed Onyx. “He didn’t win, you know. Evil never does. His mistake? Sending me back in time, not forward. Now I can undermine his plans, circumvent the efforts of those who would help him, perhaps even before they come into existence.” She stood. “Well, come on then, Onyx. We’ve work to do.”
Check out Patricia's blog articles, interviews of other authors and book reviews here.