Tag Archives: free fiction

Weary Traveler by Lisa

He moves a dusty patch of earth behind him with every step. His steps, once eager, had slowed to determined, mechanical movements.

He didn’t know how long he’d been walking. A month? A year? A lifetime.

Always he was pulled on by a waft of air, reminiscent of her smell, her hair, or a flash of movement in the distance like the swish of a dress. Continue reading

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The Frozen Castle by Lisa

I sweep the frost from the path, whisking it away, just as my lady always asked of me when winter came. Some small part of me asks why I bother, when it will only build up again, with no feet to wander it but my own, and that of my broom.

It’s a curse that brought this everlasting winter on the castle of my birth. A curse, and love. Though what the difference is these days, I’m only half sure I remember.

With the grounds cleared, I gather my courage, to walk among statues.

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The Night Train by Lisa

Annie woke up feeling tired, like she’d thrashed around a lot in her sleep. Not tired enough to notice she wasn’t in her room, though. She jumped up, heart pounding, almost slipping on satiny sheets. She was in a small, lush room, all embroidered brocade and rich cloth in carefully-coordinated earth tones. Her favorite colors. There was even a small china plate of chocolate chip cookies on a tiny nightstand that was built into the wall. They smelled like they were freshly baked. She herself was in a silky negligee, but it went down to her feet, very classy like.

She didn’t understand. She didn’t know how she’d come here. But if she’d been kidnapped or something, this was somebody really sick—who treated their hostages like royalty? She tried to remember what she’d been doing last, or at least what she’d been thinking before she’d fallen asleep, but her mind was a blank. She had an impression that she’d been with Derek—that she’d been breathing in his cologne and the smell of the ocean in as he kissed her neck—but as she ran a hand over the same spot, the certainty skipped away, out of her grasp.

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Light the Sea by Lisa

It was tradition. On the last day of Autumn before the oncoming death of Winter, lights are set adrift on the sea to carry prayers for the safe return of our men, lost on far-off waves, far-off shores.

The women lining the beach are here for different reasons, and many think terrible things about the others. Maybe her man didn’t return because he didn’t want to. Maybe she should give up, when her father is clearly dead. Maybe she doesn’t deserve to be here… her son hasn’t been gone long enough to bother the gods with.

When we sing, though, we sing together, and our voices ring strong and true, each of our singular devotions combined in a harmonious plea for our loved ones.

The tune dies down and the women gather together, tell each other their story, why they stand on the sand and set lights on the tide. Who they are praying for. How long they’ve been gone.

Eventually, as the lights float like glowing flotsam towards the horizon and disappear or go out, one by one, the women drift away as well.

“Come, Nali,” my mother says, her touch light on my shoulder. I pretend not to hear her, though. I don’t turn away from the lights, so small on the water now. I can’t just yet.

This is not our first light festival. My father is almost always on a fishing voyage during this season. But it is the first time I have had two lights to light.

“Freezing to death on the beach won’t bring Kole back to you any sooner,” she says, her voice gentle. My mother understands the waiting and the wondering, but an unfair part of me wants to yell that at least she’s had my father. At least she’s borne his children. All Kole left me with was a promise.

I’m ashamed to be thinking such thoughts of my mother and father, but still can’t take my eyes off the lights in the distance.

“He’s been gone months longer than planned.” I say, my voice leaking out doubts that I didn’t even know I had buried in me.

My mother’s strong arm wraps around my shoulders and she holds me to her side. “Maybe he’s trading for supplies for your new home. There are things we can’t get on our island.”

But maybe he’s dead. Maybe his ship crashed, overturned, sank to the depths of the sea.

“Tonight is not a night to doubt, Nali,” my mother says, her voice still gentle, but with a firmness to it now. You’ve sent a light to lead Kole home, you musn’t dim it with your doubts.”

She turns to head home, and I know that I will follow her soon. I picture Kole’s face. Smooth skin, angled features, dark eyes alight with intelligence and laughter.

Far out to sea, a light I have been watching since it left my hands, suddenly flairs—then disappears. I don’t know if this means that my prayer has been answered, or not.

 

______________

This story is inspired by a real (but different) island ceremony.


Navida by Lisa

Navida stood at the edge of the Santa Monica pier, looking down. It was her last visit, her very last gift.

The first thing she’d done was make a list of everything she hadn’t had a chance to do in her other six visits—she’d parasailed and climbed a mountain and ridden a Vespa and egged a house. She’d done almost everything she’d wanted to. She’d even fallen in love.

His name was Shane and he was an artist. He’d even painted her picture—number 47 on her list. She’d spent a thrilling four months with him. She’d tried to tell him what she was, how she didn’t have much time to be with him, but he’d never really listened to her. In the end it was a blessing—he’d left her for an exotic dancer near Marseilles, said she was too young for him, too young for this life.

The things he didn’t know.

She leaned far over the metal railing of the pier. There were warning signs all over as to what you could or could not do, but she climbed up a few bars of the fencing. Down below, the ocean roiled with the high tide, and three salt tears fell silently into the Pacific.

She breathed in the familiar smell of brine, and the wind touched her face, carrying with it a whisper of the world she was returning to. She shivered slightly, even as something deep within her core yearned for home.

The sun was still resting its full weight on the horizon, though, and she had until the last ray sank underneath the waves.

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Gimlet by Lisa

I was seven when we moved into the house.  It was a huge place—a mansion, really.  I remember tiptoeing through the rooms like it was a museum, afraid to touch any of the ornate furniture.

My parents got it for a ridiculously low price.  Mom thought it must mean the house was a lemon, but Dad’s a contractor, and he checked the whole thing out himself.  I guess the reason it was so cheap was because people thought it was haunted.  Things would happen in the house… furniture would move, messes would be made that no one in the house saw happen.  It spooked people.  The house had been relisted seven times in the past five years.

My parents don’t believe in things like that, so it didn’t stop them from snapping the house up.  Little things did start to happen, but usually they just blamed me for it.  It wasn’t me.  It was him.

I liked to call him Gimlet.  We’d lived in the house for almost six months when I first saw him.  He was a tiny little man, maybe eight inches tall, with disproportionately wide hips and an oversized nose—everything else about him was thin and bony.  He was a very strange little man.

He was angry when I discovered him, toppling over the bobbins of thread in my mother’s sewing room.  He screamed at me in a language I didn’t understand, jumping up and down in a rage.  I think he was mad that we’d come and lived in his house without asking him.

I tried to tell my parents about Gimlet, but they thought I was making up stories.  When I showed my mother the sewing room, she folded her arms and gave me a lecture about how I should never blame things on other people—especially imaginary ones.

After that, Gimlet wouldn’t let me sleep at night.  He’d come in and pull my hair and pinch my nose and make a ruckus, right next to my ears.  I didn’t know what to do.  I tried telling Mom about him again, but she was still mad about the sewing room, and she just ignored me.

And then it hit me.  Maybe Gimlet wasn’t so bad… maybe I just wasn’t treating him the way I should be.  I was a Girl Scout, after all… I knew what Brownies were.  Brownies were helpful creatures.  I didn’t know if Gimlet was a Brownie, but it gave me an idea.

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