“Sisters” — A short romp through history

 

If you are looking for a short read, I highly recommend that you head over to Amazon quickly! Rachelle M.N. Shaw’s latest short story is free, and as my dad says (and he always does say it), nothing is better than free. To top it off, it’s a quality character-driven piece that focuses on the relationship of two sisters. I don’t want to say too much; however, those with siblings will likely relate to the challenges of growing up together and the morphing of the blood ties that always tie you to each other.

The free deal will be running through until tomorrow at midnight — so don’t turn into a pumpkin by passing up on this opportunity! And for those who use GoodReads (I don’t use it half as much as I should), you can reach the book via the following link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35219698-sisters.

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Retribution

Never burn down your bridges, Pappy used to say that. Well, I didn’t burn them down per se, just lit a few kegs of gunpowder under them. Turning in the saddle, I catch the billows of orange flame engulfing wooden frame buildings. The fire probably would spread, all that dry prairie grass. I brush my fingers against the locket grasped tightly in hand, jaw tightening with the action. Collateral damage for sure, but some sins can’t go unpunished, just like some wrongs can never be forgiven. My grip tightens on the locket, its florid ornamentation cutting into my skin. The metal is already stained red, inside and out.

Emitting a low whistle, I shift in the saddle. The smoke raises far into the sky, visible along with the glow against the darkness of night. They would see it in from town. No going back there; no, it being under the thumb of the Brownlow family–they wouldn’t forgive this. I spit off to the side while I brush my hand against the spot where Tom Brownlow had unloaded a slug. God, why couldn’t it have gone lower? Would have been the death of me, but better me to have been the one. I grimace and pull the hand away. The bandages were somewhat moist, but there was no time; I sure as heck don’t have a hankering for a quick drop and a short rope.

I face back to the west. No jury would convict me; heck, some people might even give me a star and a decent wage. Maybe that’s what I’ll do when I make it to Oregon. I flip open the locket; the photograph that had cost a pretty dollar brought forth something of a cross between a moan and sob. To the onlooker, it was ruined, stained with blood, which had dried and already showed signs browning. I press my lips together as they began to pucker and contort. As long as I can see her eyes still just as sharp as her wit, not–not as they were, the photograph would hold value.

I should stay and continue to pull out the venomous weed known as the house of Brownlow. My breaths grow ragged, and I lean forward in hopes of calming them, my head eventually resting against the mane of my gelding. Retribution… that’s what it would be. A series of hiccups shake my frame. No, it’s what I’ve done. I look back at the flames before meeting her eyes, so full of life. It would devour me, but it wouldn’t bring that spark back, never would bring it back.

I nudge the gelding forward. “Goin’ West,” I say aloud while I touch a strand of brown hair secured to the locket. “Don’t worry, Molly, we’ll go together…” A lump causes my voice to falter, leading me to close the locket before the waterworks can begin. “Just like we said we would.” Heck, Molly, I might even get that star, just for you.

 

Featured Image -- 592Words: 499

For this Tipsy Lit Prompted challenge, I opted to take a major set out of my comfort zone and write in first person. This is, I believe, only the second time post-college that I have wrote in first person as it is not my favorite approach. Additionally, I decide I explore the Western genre, which I’m kind of a sucker for, even if that love is not regularly shown compared to my love for speculative fiction.

This week’s challenge, for the curious, was to write a short story — 500 words or less — about endings and beginnings.

Prompted: Choices, Choices — Long way down

Get your writin' on.

Get your writin’ on. Word Count: 495

Yuu jumped to another grated walkway a floor below. Ill-prepared, she landed hard and cursed as her knees collided with metal. Hissing, she leaned forward against the pain from her knees and ribcage. Memories of her bedpost and a long deafening moment when the world stopped filtered through a haze. Nearby a brick from the government housing structure–converted to house “unattended” children–fell and ricocheted off a sculpture. No sirens blared, there was only the faint popping of weapons fire.

Boom! Squealing, Yuu gripped the railing while the world shook. A shrieker they called it, a provider of semi-controlled destruction. Bits of brick and other debris pelted her small frame, coating her long hair. When the shrieker finished , Yuu was on her feet again. She had little time. If they got closer…

Yuu stopped short upon arriving at the worst of the damage. The entire wall had been blown in, leaving only piles of rubble far below, along with twisted metal, shards of glass… and no way down. Her small fingers wrapped around the edge as she peered down to the next walkway.

“Please! Help us!” a small voice squeaked from above. “Please–we can’t get down.”

Yuu craned her head upwards, narrowing her eyes to see through the darkness and dust that still hovered in the air. Two small children peered down from the walkway–well partial walkway–above. She estimated the  boy to be around seven or eight; the girl was no more than five. The walkway she was on might hold them. Sucking at her bottom lip, she eyed the supports–would they hold?

“One at a time,” she called up. “Your sister first–lower her to me.” The girl resisted, and her struggles caused the walkway above to slant. “Careful!” Yuu shouted before saying softer: “I’ll catch you. I promise!”

The girl slipped, rather than jumped, but Yuu caught her; the connectors, tying her walkway to wall, moaned. The boy hesitated; his large eyes, moist from tears, looked to her and all her 14 years of experience for guidance. Above his walkway groaned, its downward angle more pronounced. He needed to jump, but he could take out their walkway. If he remained above, there was still a chance that walkway would fall and hit theirs. She should drop the girl to the one below– Eee-errr-eee, a persistent groan. Not enough time, not enough… Yuu ran her hands through her hair, removing some of the dust and debris. It might miss them–the boy would be lost, but they’d survive. Eerrerree.

Yuu could hear her mother chiding her, calling her “my little monkey.” Yuu’s vision blurred while her lips quivered. Her mother had done so that day. They-they were all going to be together–why was she alone. Errerrr. It might condemn her and the girl, Yuu thought, setting the girl down before holding her hands upward.

“Jump!” she shouted. No matter what, Yuu decided, they would go together, one way or another.

 

Fiction in Motion: Even the Best Intentions — Part I

Alleyway

 

“Come-along, come-along down to the courtyard; Come-along back where it all began,” a deep baritone voice bounced off the narrow alleyway’s brick walls. But the man, hands deep into his coat’s pockets, was barely registrable over the ruckus from the crowded establishments of Cod Row. It was a seedy district, particularly at night it would seem, but perfect for those who wanted to forget or not be remembered. “Back where they strung up the bard; After all, some truths can never be spoke. Shush now, shush now, don’t fret, my dear; Come-along back where it all began, dear; Words are dangerous things but have no fear; Some truths must be–”

He ceased his song as feet displaced the wet stones behind him. Shink! A sharp object pierced his coat, just to his skin before it stopped. Ah, so this is personal, Alvar thought. Looking out the corner of his eye, there was nothing to go on; his “friend” remained shrouded in darkness just out of his peripheral vision. He didn’t speak. No, it wasn’t his turn, and he was never one to give into the whims of people who would put a knife in his back. They were usually jumpy, too–and he only seemed to provoke.

“Dreary horse piss that,” the voice of an old acquaintance said. The man then spat off to the side. “How you been, Alvar? Gotta say, I’m surprised you aren’t strung up yourself after Aldonske.”

Ah… “Small miracles, Villi.” Alvar smirked. “Made it through the net, you know.”

“You’re so good at that, ain’t that right?” The sharp point broke skin. “Just wriggle, wriggle, and land on your feet like a damn cat. Always landin’ on your damn feet.” Villi stepped closer and clapped his hand on Alvar’s shoulder rather hard. “But gotta give credit, where credit’s due. You are a hard worm to find. And it’s impressive for you: You’re a walkin’ disaster.”

Alvar tilted his head toward the fingers that had ensnared his shoulder like a vise, and as he did so, he could feel Villi’s breath against his skin. You’ve made it too personal, he mused. So many mistakes. Clearing his throat, Alvar said, “I’ve given up that life, completely cut ties. I’m making amends–”

Villi’s cackling interrupted him. “This–this is too rich. You, you of all people-”

“Why do people always have that reaction?” Alvar shifted his weight; it went unnoticed. “I am trying. No accidental deaths, no starting unattended fires, no mayhem–no, just helping out here and there, all sorts of odd jobs. But sometimes–” his frame tensed in preparation. “Unfortunate things just happen around me.”

His elbow shot backwards, nailing Villi high in the ribs. He spun. Distance separated him from the knife and also allowed him to land a punch to the smaller man’s face. Villi staggered, knife still clenched in his hand. The word bastard barely registered with Alvar as he moved. Have to keep him off-balance. It was a mantra ringing in his head. Villi was fast; he used his small stature to his advantage. The knife came close to Alvar’s throat, but he contorted his body to avoid it and ended up swinging around Villi. He kicked hard, sending his attacker into a brick wall.

“You are dead, Alvar–a dead man!” He threw rocks at him before launching himself at Alvar. “All those years in Dersco… all I could think was watching the blood drain from your face!”

Alvar dodged the sloppy move. “Then you should have stabbed me in the back rather than let your emotions get the best of you.” Grabbing Villi’s arm as the man came at him again, Alvar slammed him into the ground, coming down heavy on the man’s back to bar any further resistance. The knife had clattered to the ground at some point during the struggle. “I’m not eager to die; I wasn’t just going to stand there for the Sisters’ sakes!” He ground his knee into Villi’s back. “Five years in Dersco isn’t enough to lose your mind. And you being there, really wasn’t my problem. You made your own mess, and you paid for it. Move on, leave me alone and li–”

A gurgling sound emitted below him, a very familiar sound… “Shit.” Alvar stood immediately and rolled Villi onto his back. The knife dislodged from where his sternum ended, the fabric in the area of wound darkening visibly despite the absence of light. His would-be killer just gurgled; there really was nothing else he could do as the blood pooled inside him. The knife had gone in deep. How had it gone in that deep? Alvar truly had the worst of luck. The gurgling quieted as Alvar tried to stem the flow of blood using his already ruined coat. And now he had a corpse.

Throwing his blood soaked coat against the wall, Alvar began to pace. His arms were trembling. Always trembling. Aldonske had really ruined him, just as the Schattern had said. He could just walk away, the city guards would never find him. No, he was still too good for that to happen, and city guards were usually pathetic at best. He looked down at Villi. They had never been friends, just means to an end– not to this end. They had never–or at least he hadn’t–saw this end coming. Clenching his eyes shut, Alvar forced himself to stop all movement, except the trembling, nothing could stop that. Blue eyes sprang to his mind, judging him up to the very moment he had stopped them. He banished the thought.

Instead, routes, which he had memorized upon his arrival to Kairolski, vividly appeared behind his closed eyelids, all leading to one point. He retrieved his coat and draped it over and behind Villi’s head before he lifted the very still form. It wouldn’t be long–about three to four hours–before he would go stiff. Gotta hurry, Alvar decided beginning on one of the routes, carrying Villi as one might drag home a drunken friend. He would see he got a decent burial. He started down the alleyway, becoming fully encased by the darkness. It would more than likely come back to bite him–it always did.

Copyright Sarah Wright, 2014