“I can see clearly now the rain has gone…” Sofia sang along to the car radio. Phillipa, who was driving, joined in.
Sofia’s father had beaten her when he found out she was gay and had a girlfriend. He forbade her to see Phillipa again. Social workers intervened once the bruises became obvious and she ended up in foster care.
Now that school was over, Sofia and Phillipa packed all their things and headed to the city where they would live together. It would take time for Sofia’s scars to heal, but she was in a better place now.
Word count: 99
When I’m in a deep depression I do like listening to the song I Can See Clearly Now as it helps remind me the darkness will clear eventually.
I was lucky, my family has always been supportive, but I have friends who weren’t so fortunate…
This was written with the prompt of writing a story with optimism provided by the Carrot Ranch January 23 Story Challenge.
“There’s a pair of knickers up on that tree.” Cindy said pointing upwards. So far all their missing clothes had been spotted hanging on the tops of trees, as they wandered around naked looking for them.
“Well you did say: “Let’s go hiking in Faerie, it could be interesting.” Well you were right there.” Jess stated. Cindy shrugged her shoulders.
“Well that’s the thing with Faerie, anything can happen.”
“Great.” Jess replied. “You have fae blood. Do you have any powers?”
“Of course I don’t. I’m not Melissa.” Cindy blurted out.
“Melissa? Melissa has powers?” Jess asked surprised. Cindy’s face went red.
“I shouldn’t have said that.”
“Melissa has powers?” Jess repeated.
“Yes, she’s a sorceress.” Cindy admitted.
“A sorceress? How do you know?”
“One of the last times I was in Faerie. I sold that letter of hers for the silver bell at the Faerie Market. The seller took it as payment as it was “a letter of apology from a sorceress”. Thinking back on it now, I may have been ripped off. Later I got trapped on a spider’s web in-between the worlds, and Melissa helped me escape.”
“Huh! Were you ever going to tell me about any of this?” Jess asked.
“I didn’t want to tell you about it. I’m always scared I’m going to lose you to Melissa.” Cindy admitted. Jess sighed, put her hands on Cindy’s shoulders and looked into her eyes.
“I want you to listen to me Cindy. I like Melissa, but I don’t love her. I love you. That’s why I married you. I really wish we could get beyond this.” Cindy nodded at her words.
“So do I.” Cindy agreed.
“Well… we could climb the trees.” Jess said changing the subject.
“It would take a long time to retrieve all our clothing. Besides some are on pine trees and we would get covered in resin.”
“Do you have any ideas? I’m not doing the rest of the hike naked.” Jess stated.
“Maybe if we go find help from someone.” Cindy suggested.
“From whom? We haven’t seen anyone since we went through the portal.”
“If we go down the path, we might find a homestead or something.” Cindy said. Jess sighed again.
“Well it’s better than nothing I guess. Lead on.”
They walked down the path. They hadn’t gone very far when they saw a small figure walking towards them. It was a gnome with a long grey beard. He wore grey robes and had a little walking stick in his right hand.
“Hi.” Cindy said once he got nearer to them. The gnome stopped and looked up at them quizzically.
“Hello.” He said. “I don’t mean to pry, but do you always wander around Faerie naked? I think I should warn you there are certain places I wouldn’t advise you to go without clothing.”
“This isn’t a choice. We went swimming and now all our clothes are at the tops of trees. I suspect pixies are to blame.” Cindy told him.
“I see.” The gnome replied while scanning the treetops. “It does sound like pixie mischief.”
“Do you know anyone who can help us?” Cindy asked. The gnome nodded.
“One moment.” He replied. Dropping his walking stick, he fished out a small flute and then played a few notes. A few minutes later a fairy appeared fluttering it’s butterfly wings. The gnome spoke a few words to it in a language Cindy and Jess didn’t know. The fairy then fluttered off. They stood there waiting. A short while later fairies began appearing carrying Jess and Cindy’s clothes in their hands. The fairies began dropping the clothes at their feet. Within an hour, all of Jess and Cindy’s clothes lay in a pile before them, as far as they could tell.
“Thank you.” Jess said. The gnome looked over their clothes.
“Another word of advice: if you ever plan on meeting the Queen, wear something less mundane.”
“Well I don’t think our plans include meeting the Queen.” Jess replied.
“Thank you for your help.” Cindy said. The gnome bowed low.
“My name is Lemnas.”
“I’m Cindy, and this is Jess, who is my wife.” Cindy told him.
“You live in a farm next to a portal, don’t you?” Lemnas asked.
“Yes. How do you know?” Cindy asked.
“Let’s just say you are known.” Lemnas replied.
“Okay.” Cindy said confused.
“I’ll leave you ladies to get dressed.” Lemnas said. “You owe me a favour.”
“I guess we do.” Cindy replied.
“It will be getting dark soon. There is a good inn a few miles up the road. I have stayed there many a time, you might like it there.” Lemnas suggested.
“Thanks for the suggestion. We’ll check it out.” Cindy replied. Lemnas bowed low again, then turned and walked away.
“We’ve been here two days, and already we owe a favour.” Jess said as they got dressed.
“Can’t be helped.” Cindy answered.
“It’s strange he appeared just when we needed help.” Jess stated.
“Happenstance.” Cindy suggested.
Once they were ready, they continued their journey. They had been walking a few hours and it was getting dark once they came across the inn that Lemnas had told them about. It was a large wooden building with three storeys. There were lights in all the windows and it looked welcoming and inviting to both of them. They walked up the path to the main doors and opened them. Light spilled out along with the smell of ale and smoke, laughter and talk. They both looked at one another before going over the threshold.
The next morning, after a quick breakfast, Jess and Cindy packed up their belongings and continued on the path they were following. The day grew warm and the scents of flowers like roses and honeysuckle filled the air. It was a peaceful walk, and neither of them saw anyone else. It was as though they had the whole forest to themselves.
Around midday, when they were thinking of stopping for lunch, they heard in the distance the sound of a waterfall. They followed the sound (but kept on the path), and eventually came to a large cascading waterfall with a pool of water.
“I would so love a swim!” Jess stated.
“Yes, me too.” Cindy agreed. As the waterfall was only just off the path, they both agreed it would be okay to have a swim there, and then have some lunch. They both stripped off and dived into the pool. The water was cool and refreshing. Any weariness they may have felt in their limbs quickly ebbed away in the water. They spent the entire afternoon happily swimming, and only reluctantly got out of the water once their hunger pangs could no longer be ignored.
“Hey where are my clothes?” Jess asked looking around.
“I don’t know. Mine are gone too!” Cindy replied. The spot where they had stripped off was now bereft of any clothing. They both went to their packs and found all the clothes packed away in them were gone too.
I found her grave and started digging. Tonight I had decided to exhume the body of my dead girlfriend Amy. I had to know if her body was still in that wooden casket. I had serious doubts that she was…
Last night I had awoken in the middle of the night, and there she was staring at me through my bedroom window. She looked pale, but was smiling. I jumped out of my bed and ran outside, but there was no sign of her. I thought I could have been seeing things, having just come out of a dream, but a part of me was sure that she had been there, it wasn’t just wishful thinking from grief. The next morning I resolved to go to the cemetery and dig up her body. When the evening came I loaded the car up, drove to the cemetery, and waited until it was dark enough.
After what seemed an age of digging, I finally struck the lid of the coffin. I cleared away the dirt and slowly opened it, and found it was empty. I couldn’t believe it. If she wasn’t here, then where was she? I climbed back up to the ground and sat on the edge of the hole I had just dug. I was breathing heavily and felt more tired than I had ever been before.
“Hello my love.” Said a familiar voice behind me. I turned around and there she was looking exactly how I saw her the night before. I felt lost in both bewilderment and wonder.
“Amy.” I eventually said.
“Katie.” She replied, smiling again.
“How did you survive? I thought you were dead.” I asked her.
“I didn’t survive, my love. I am dead.” She told me.
“I can’t live without you.” Once I said that she smiled again and started advancing on me.
“Then join me in death, and we’ll be together forever.” She sat down beside me.
“Okay.” I consented. She put her arms around me and bit my neck. It hurt more than I thought it would. She sat there drinking my blood and I felt my life ebbing away until everything went black.
“What do you make of it?” One investigator asked.
“It seems as though last night she dug up the body of her dead partner and then killed herself with a self-inflicted neck wound.” Said the other.
“That must have been a horrible way to go.”
“That’s grief for you.” The other investigator nodded in agreement as they both watched the woman’s body being wheeled away in a body bag.
Katherine arrived home to find the living room was covered in decorations. There was a tree covered in lights and baubles with a stack of gift wrapped presents under it in the corner, as well as sparkly decorations on the mantelpiece and the walls. She briefly wondered if she was in the right house.
“Happy Solstice!” said a voice behind her. She turned around to see Sylvia in a Santa hat smiling.
“Happy Solstice? It looks like you’re celebrating Christmas. I was only away a couple of hours. It looks like you’ve been busy.” Katherine replied.
“Don’t be silly! It would be weird if vampires celebrated Christmas. Anyway, Christmas is celebrated at this time of year because it was when the pagans celebrated the Solstice. Even the Christmas tree was originally a pagan tradition.” Sylvia informed her.
“Yes I know this, though it was originally the Roman celebration of Saturnalia, but to me it looks you’re really wanting to celebrate Christmas. Look it’s okay if you want to celebrate it. Many people of different faiths celebrate Christmas because they like it, even those without any beliefs.” Katherine answered.
“Look where you’re standing!” Sylvia pointed out excitedly. Katherine looked around confused.
“What do you mean?” She asked. Sylvia walked right up to her and kissed her on the lips.
“You’re right under the mistletoe.” Sylvia told her. They wrapped their arms around each other and kissed.
“Happy holidays!” Katherine said before they kissed again.
I’m not sure I’ll be doing another post before Christmas. In case I don’t, I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays (if you’re celebrating). 🥳
“I’ve got a date with Jennifer.” Amber replied. Amber and her perpetual quest to find the perfect girlfriend. Once she discovered a flaw with them, she would lose interest and start dating someone else, but perfection is unattainable in this world.
“I was hoping we could hang out.” Danielle told her. Amber looked at her and laughed. Danielle cherished every little moment she spent with her, but it was all fleeting.
“Sorry I’m busy. Maybe some other time.” Amber answered.
It was in the spring when a letter arrived informing me that my great-uncle had died without an heir, and as I was his last living relative, the ownership of his residence of Blackstone Castle had now passed to me. The letter stated that it was vital that I took up residence there within the month. Having got tired of city life, I fancied that living in a castle up in the mountains would be most efficacious and just what was needed. So it was within a couple of weeks of receiving the letter that I boarded a train with my most treasured belongings to take up residence at the castle, my new property.
I had never known my great-uncle. We had never met and most of the family stories hinted that he had been a eccentric loner who rarely left the castle. He had never married, but had gone on to live an exceedingly long life that outlasted my own parents who had died prematurely in an unfortunate maritime disaster, leaving me the last of the family.
The train took me to the mountains, but I had to hire someone to drive me up to the castle itself. I was dumbfounded when I first beheld the family estate: a crumbling tower of black stone. I knocked loudly on the gate, and eventually a tall skeletal old man opened it and looked down on me.
“Yes miss?” He asked while looking at me rather perplexed.
“I’m Emmeline. I got the letter that my great-uncle has died. Apparently this is now my castle.” I explained.
“Ah! We have been awaiting your arrival with great concern. Please enter your new residence, my lady.” He extended his long bony arm rather theatrically pointing to the entrance of the keep. I walked past him and he followed me through the door.
“So is there any power here?” I asked. I was anxious to recharge my phone.
“Yes my lady. Anything you need we can provide for you.”
“One thing my lady, are you married or intending to be married?” He asked.
“No.” I replied while looking around. There was a wooden spiral staircase that I was eager to go up and explore. The truth was I had always been unlucky with love and relationships, and no prospect of engagement or marriage had ever come within reach.
“Can I suggest we help you find a man to marry? You need to produce some heirs to the estate.” He insisted. I rolled my eyes.
“Like that’s going to happen.” I muttered under my breath.
“Let’s just say I’m not into men.” I informed him. He stopped dead in his tracks and stood there looking dismayed.
“But you are the last of your family. It is imperative your line always has an heir living here.”
“Not going to happen.” I stated.
“You fail to understand: if this castle is left vacant for more than a month without a member of your family here, then there will be the most dire consequences.” He stated. I arched my eyebrows at him.
“Such as?” I asked.
“The land will open up and all the dead will crawl back into this world as undead and bring Hell to Earth. Gone will be the world we have always known.” He told me. I didn’t know how to take his words seriously. It was obvious he meant it earnestly, so I did my best to keep a straight face, but it did make me wonder about people who have spent the majority of their life locked up in an old castle.
“All this if no member of the family lives here? How did this arrangement happen?” I inquired.
“It’s an ancient curse. It stipulates that a member of the bloodline must always be in residence here, leaving it vacant for no longer that a month, otherwise these terrible things will come to pass.”
“Yes they have to be of the same blood of the original ancestor who was cursed.” He stated.
“I see.” I replied. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that although my father was of the same bloodline as my great-uncle, I was actually the offspring of my mother and her secret lover. Only my mother and myself knew this…