Sakura and the Widow Tree



by J.M. Staley

Widow trees.  That’s what they called them this time of year.  Snow-heavy and bent like the crooked backs of elders.

So fragile, they could easily snap and make a widow and children at home.

     A year, and yet you still haven’t cried, she thought.

“Miss Sasaki!”

“Yes, teacher!” Sakura instantly regretted that she hadn’t paid attention.  Nanami giggled at her from the next seat over and all the boys gawked.

“Would you kindly stand and read aloud from Gatsby?  We were at “they’ll keep out of my way.”

Sakura picked up the book and stood.  She could feel her face hot with embarrassment as she stumbled through the passage.

     “They’ll keep out of my way,” she insisted. “It takes two to make an 

     “Suppose you met somebody just as careless as yourself.”

“Sit down, Miss Sasaki.”  Stray laughter accompanied her as she made herself as small as possible in her chair.  Nanami reached over and patted her arm, but it was all she could do not to cry.

Later, Sakura told Nanami why as they ambled out into the courtyard and drank hot coffee from the vending machine.

“Everyone already thinks I’m weird.”  She shrugged her bookbag higher.  It kept sliding off her thick padded jacket.  “You’re the only one here who knows me from back in Okinawa.  Now I’m just the stupid transfer student.”

Nanami drained the rest of hers and belched.  “Not true.  You’re the shy, delicate flower that all the boys want to get to know.  Unlike me, the rough tomboy type.”

“Hey, sassy cherry! Nice coat.”  One of the boys in a group catcalled.

Sakura groaned.  Her unfortunate nickname.  Why didn’t my parents think carefully when they named me?

“Hey!” Nanami threw her empty can and hit the boy right in the arm.  “The sakura is a noble tree!”

He rubbed the spot she had hit.  “Geez.  Lighten up, Kobayashi.”  But he and his friends turned away from them.

One boy, who stood apart from the group, did not.

He didn’t wear a hat, though snow fell onto his dyed and spiky blonde hair.  It was Saito-san. Hiraku.

He smiled at Sakura and continued to stare.

She looked away.

Nanami poked Sakura in the back to push her onward.  “Hey, hey, Sakura.  Cheer up.  It’s Friday!  Let’s go out to karaoke tonight.”

“I can’t.” Sakura stopped next to the school gate.  “I have things to do for my mom.”

“We’re going to break you out of your shell, Sakura,” Nanami wiggled teasing hands at Sakura.  “I’m going to cast a spell on you so that you have to have fun.  Nine tonight!  Okay?”

“Fine,” Sakura leaned against the gate.  “Nine.”

Nanami ran down the street laughing.

Sakura wished she had half her cheer.   She travelled the opposite way towards home, although that wasn’t where she went.

She walked straight to the grave for her daily conversation with her father.

She cleaned a space to set down an unopened can of coffee from her bookbag.  “Don’t worry,” she told the black stone.  “I’m not lonely, really!”

A voice startled her.  “Then why come here everyday?”

She stood.  It was Hiraku.  “Saito-san! You scared me.  What are you, a stalker?”

“Call me Raku.”

“We’re not that familiar.”  She brushed snow off of her uniform skirt and folded her hands into her armpits to keep them warm.

He smiled.  “But we talk everyday at school.”  He looked at the coffee can.  “Whose grave?”

Sakura sighed.  There would be no getting rid of him.  “My father’s.”

He bowed.  Did his face turn a little red?  “I’m sorry, I didn’t know,” he said.  “Was it recent?”

She turned and he followed.

“It was a year ago, today.  A tree branch heavy with snow fell on his car and made him crash.”

“Is that why you moved?”

She nodded.  “His family grave was here.  My mother didn’t see any reason to stay in Okinawa.”  Sakura didn’t know why it was always so easy to talk to Hikaru.  She didn’t even know where he lived.

“It’s good you keep your dad company.”  Hikaru tucked his gloved hands into his pockets.

Her words became rising steam as they spoke.  “Daisy was wrong.  It doesn’t take two to make an accident.  Sometimes it just takes one very unlucky person.”

They walked in silence down the road and he was still beside her.

The dry snow swirled furiously upward with a sudden wind.



His arms wrapped around her and she was on the ground against his chest before she knew what had happened.

She heard the crash and turned to see a tree limb on the ground where she had just been.

She sat up and started to cry.

He held her.  “It’s okay.  You’re safe now.”

Her tears were for another widow tree in another year. “Why? Why did it have to take him from me?”

“Sakura…” He used her name so familiarly again.  She wanted to yell at him, but he kissed her forehead and she stopped.

Sakura hiccoughed.

“I don’t know why I followed you today,” he whispered, “but I’m glad I did.  Maybe your father was looking out for you.”

She sniffled and stared at his hair.  “You’re not even wearing a hat, you idiot.  In this cold!”

His laugh was rich and warm.  “Is that really the first thing you thought of to say?”

She couldn’t help herself.  She laughed uncontrollably through her tears until they were gone.

She pulled away from him, looking down.  “You’re hurt.”

He hid the angry scrape on his leg.  “Just a scratch.  Let’s get you home.”

She smiled.  “Thank you, Hiraku-kun.”

At nine that night, Nanami waited for Sakura outside the karaoke bar.  “You’re late!“


“I asked people from school here.  It’s all part of my spell to cure you.”

Sakura saw a spiky-blonde head amidst the crowd waiting inside.

He still wasn’t wearing a hat.

She smiled. “You know, I think it’s already working.”


This was written in response to a prompt from Write on Edge. Sorry for the loooong delay in writing.  I’m working on several manuscripts and sending Ebony out, as well as participating in several workshops.  SO the blog has been very neglected.

The prompt was as follows:

“It takes two to make an accident.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

The details:

  • 1000 word limit, all genres of creative writing are welcome.
  • Use the F. Scott Fitzgerald quote above as an opening/closing line or draw inspiration from it, your choice.
  • Community voting opens 2/22 and closes 2/28 at 11:55pm Pacific.
  • Community and editorial choice winners will be announced on Write on Edgeand Bannerwing Books on Monday, March 3, 2014.
  • All entries must be original work, only published on your personal blog/website, and by entering you give Write on Edge and Bannerwing Books permission to reprint your entry in Precipice, Volume III‘s print and digital formats, as well as permission to edit for grammatical, spelling, and typographical errors.
  • Have fun!


Picture credit: taken by me, 2014 during the Delaware River Ice Dam.  All Rights Reserved.

Babci (Trifecta Week 106)


It is 2009.

My grandmother is a bustler. 

She never stops moving. 

But she doesn’t like the rest of us to help.

She flaps her arms at us, apron strings flying around her like white snakes on the loose.

Rapid-fire Polish.

“Set your tush down on the chair and relax!”

She stirs the mushroom soup, fries the potato pancakes, pours a thimble of cheap plum brandy.

It’s A Wonderful Life plays on the TV.

It is hard to imagine this night the poets call holy being any other way.

Now it is 2013 in my new house.

My Babcia bustles less now, and sits more.

“Let me help! Give me something to do, aniołka.” Her tired eyes say otherwise.

Her aniołka, her little angel.   I pour her a highball and take her into my dining room.  For such frail hands, they have a strong grip on my forearm.

“I’ve got it, Babci.  You just sit your tush down and relax.”

A smile.  A tuft of white hair at my table.  “You know, you really are somethin’.”

I look at my settings.  Odd plates.  One extra for Jesus, enough for the rest of the family.

These traditions come from her. 

This house is a reflection of hers, of my favorite childhood memories.

It is hard to imagine this night the poets call holy as the new normal.

I think she will stay the same way forever, even long after she is gone.

A white, plump and curly-haired ghost in my kitchen telling me not to worry.

There will always be Babci.




Mój Babci.  Ja cię kocham, Babcia.


After a long hiatus, I have returned with a Trifecta challenge answer.  This week’s word was:


1. a long pointed tooth; especially : a horse’s canine

2. an interjection used to express disdain or reproach

3. buttocks (slang)

Past and Pending – Write at the Merge Challenge

Past and Pending


I took the river road until I reached the end

I wrote those words into my song “Lullaby”, but I had never actually taken River Road all the way up.  When Meagan called me looking for an adventure, I thought about the words again.

“Let’s go as far North as we can today,” I said.

“We could make Easton and back before sunset,” she said.

My best friend for about thirteen years, Meg was the one with wanderlust.  It was the bug she had given me: a virus I didn’t mind catching.  Now I had the desire to get out and leave, find new paths and journeys.  This was the gift of Meagan’s friendship.

“Okay.  Let’s go.”

The air was cold that day.  We were glad to be in a car as we drove past the Delaware river and half-frozen lakes.  There were waterfalls as we passed rocky hillsides.  Actual waterfalls.  I hadn’t seen the like since Colorado and stared out the window in awe.  It was truly magical.

We talked about travel, geography and the Jersey Devil while munching on sourdough pretzels.

“Sometimes,” she told me as she turned the wheel, “while driving through the Barrens, I used to look for the Devil.  Watching for shadows against the stars.  Because those are the woods where Legends could still be alive.”

This was our friendship.  Topics meandering and lovely all the while.  We were poets and writers and liked to lose ourselves in “lines dissecting love” and life and other things.

The Shins’ Past and Pending was on right after a John Doyle reel.  Eclectic music, but it fit our personalities.  I didn’t listen to the words, but the sound made me think of all our road trips together. And while we’ve never taken a really long one, they are all memorable.

Once, we ended up at Seaside Heights during a cold spell in March, walking down the deserted boardwalk.  You never know with us.

This trip, I got a sandwich from a supermarket deli, and the hunger trumped the odd taste of the food.  “You never know,” she said, eyeing my sandwich dubiously.  “These places the food could go either way.”

We were off again down the road, sometimes listening to music in silence, which we have always been wont to do.

I missed her when she was away at grad school.  She is like family to me, the big sister I’ve never had.

As icicles dripped off of cliffs of “hills-not-mountains” around us, I wished.

“I wish it could always be like this,” I whispered to myself.  I hope the years and miles never change our camaraderie.

We round a stone wall, laughing at a strange mural as we enter Easton and prepare to journey homeward.

the strange mural of Easton. Canal Poseidon? Triton? We could not figure it out.

the strange mural of Easton. Canal Poseidon? Triton? We could not figure it out.

Days like this precious moment of friendship are mile markers on the path of my memory.  And in the dark times, I travel them over and over again.

Days like this, past and pending, are all that matter.


Write on Edge has begun a new and fancy challenge.  This time, it was 500 words or less, the song Past and Pending by The Shins, and the word: “WISH”.  I immediately wanted to write for it.  It took me some time to be inspired because I couldn’t decide if I wanted to take the song at face value or not.

My final decision on it was what you just read.🙂

Meagan is truly my best friend.  She has a wonderful poetry blog, which I encourage you to visit.

I’ve been driving myself nuts all morning trying to find the term one of the ancient writers used for the form of love – I want to say either Socrates or Plato spoke of this form of platonic/friendship love – between two members of the same sex and said it was completely different from the love shared between a man and a woman.

This love was not romantic or sexual, but it was the strongest form of love, that only true friends could share, and it was rare.  If anyone can remember the name of this, or what it’s called, I would appreciate you leaving a comment.  I Google searched and checked my college textbooks but had no luck finding the term!!

Anyway, the mysterious missing word for this love was going to be the title, but instead it became Past and Pending, haha

Thanks, as always, for reading.


Soliloquy – Trifecta Anticipation

“Pass the salt,” you say

Head buried in a screen.

I obey, but feel somehow

Your work is but a door between.

Your dinner nearly done,

The dawning thought: I deemed

I’d seen this somewhere else before.

And then-

An Anticipation!

Of what our future might become.

The endless hours dragging on.

The night begun it seemed

Till fears had won.

And that is what’s in store.

Dour and sulking, I

Did ponder this soliloquy:

Do futures make themselves or are

they birthed on rocks of self-defeat?

“Enough,” I say, “I will not see

this history repeat.

So shut the screen and eat with me.

Let work be done now, dear and come!

Put away the Mac,

that horrid fiend,

that splits in two

all that we do

and turns my mood to darkest black.”

With that, my thoughts wipe clean.

You obey, but feel somehow

You’re not sure what you’ve seen

But wonder who’s at fault today.

I just went crazy with this. It’s sort of prose poetry in answer to Trifecta’s weekly challenge: the third definition of the word “anticipation.”

I am not sure what happened here, but I liked it. Done almost entirely as stream of consciousness with minor edits.

A soliloquy is a monologue in a show, spoken regardless of what else is going on around them. Or, a character speaking their thoughts. Which is pretty much what this is allllll about.



Venezia- Scriptic Challenge Halloween Week 2012

I’m going to go ahead and rate this PG-13. Like, “Marriage of Figaro”-style-somewhat-naughty. Enjoy:



“Zane, I heard that last year on this same night, your master died,” the drunken man said as he wavered over the edge of the canal. Zane pulled him back to safety, barely. “Plague, wasn’t it?”

“Soon after he was arrested for defacing that girl’s coffin?” the prostitute added, stepping into the circle of their little bonfire as she primped her red hair. “He sought a locket. Something about his rightful property? Awful affair.”

“Lunatic,” the drunk agreed.

“Ah, did I not tell the tale?” Zane asked, grinning mischievously.

“No,” his companions said in unison, leaning closer in their eagerness for the story.

“Oh, then listen well, because it is a strange one,” Zane began…


The fate of his entire business depended on taking the lady to bed.

Nay – the fate of the very world itself depended on it!

It seemed ridiculous, hoping for the acquiring of just one lady. After all, this was Venice: the very land of debauchery and sin! But Bauta had never failed.

He stood in the corner of the ballroom, watching the dancers from behind his raven-black mask, fingers itching to grab onto something tangible.

“You!” He said, stopping a servant suddenly by placing his hand before the boy’s chest, “give that here!” he finished, taking the wineglass from the tray. Bauta lifted his mask at the bottom and drained the glass before he placed it on a nearby table, steeling himself.

“You should drink more slowly, sir,” a sly voice said just near him. “You might lose your head.”

He turned to see his hired servant, Zane, in a jester’s costume, smiling behind his long-nosed mask.

“You know what is at stake,” Bauta hissed back to him, and held out his hand for the prop that would begin his passion play. “Now go and play with some young maiden. Leave me be.”

“You won’t get near her family, babau,” Zane giggled as he handed over the purse. “They’re as fresh and pure as a ripe fig, and you’re black as sin.”

“Figs are black by nature, Zane,” he replied, tucking the little white purse into his belt. “They only need be reminded of it.”

A glimmer of gold chain on white skin. Ah, there she was.

She strode into the hall like a queen, but Columbia was merely the daughter of a wealthy merchant. No one but he seemed to notice her enter, because there were so many other fine women about. But none like her: beautiful, young and perfect in every way.

Around her neck, tucked into her virginal cleavage so carelessly (or perhaps purposely?) was the golden locket.

As soon as he had acquired it, he would have his leverage. He would go to her father with the stolen necklace, proving that he had deflowered Columbia, and that leverage would give him everything.

His failure in the silk business would vanish. Her father would have to pay him to keep him from singing like a bird about his conquest. If he were lucky, he would even be asked to marry the girl, and he couldn’t say he hadn’t thought about it. She had an excellent hand in embroidery – she would earn her keep and more.

“Wish me luck, Zane,” he said, the alcohol buzzing in his head.

“Luck with what?”Zane said with a laugh, “Luck with what?”

He passed through the crowd easily and was by her side in moments.

“My lady,” he said, bowing before her. “I fear you dropped this,” he said, handing her the purse snatched so cleverly by Zane a mere hour before.

“Ah!” She said, taking it to her chest. “Thank you! I was afraid I had lost it and my mistress would be most displeased.”

“How could anyone ever be displeased with such a sweet face?” He asked, smiling.

She touched her now rosy cheek with a delicate gloved hand. “I often make mistakes.”

“Who is your mistress?” Bauta said, looking around the room. “I must beg her not to punish you.”

“You speak too kindly, sir,” she said with a small curtsey. “Whoever you might be.”

“My name is Bauta,” he said.

“Oh! Bauta…” she said. “I know you. Yes… I’ve seen you often.”

Her face went even redder and he smiled as he said, “might I be honored with a dance?”

An hour later, only an hour, he had convinced her with his pledge of eternal love to follow him to the bedrooms of the cardinal’s estate.

“In here,” he said, leading her towards the bed lit only by candles in their elaborate iron stands.

“I’m so frightened,” she said, touching those delicious lips he longed to ravage.

“Do not be afraid, my love,” he said. “I promise I will be as gentle as a lamb.”

She turned her sweet blue eyes to him. “Kiss me,” she pleaded, and he did.

She tasted as sweet as the finest wine!

“Oh,” she moaned,

“Let me lock the door,” he said, “so no one will see us.” He strode to the door, a gleeful grin across his face as he plotted.

As soon as he had her corset off, he would lovingly suggest she remove the locket. Then he would ravish her until she fell into a deep sleep, and once the necklace was in hand-

He turned, and frowned.

The girl was gone.

He looked all around the room, behind the curtains, but there was no trace of her except the small purse on the bed.

He held it to his chest, mimicking her selfsame movements an hour before.

He went back to the ballroom, searching for a glimpse of her, but there was none.

He stopped a servant masked as a cat and asked him, “Gatto, have you seen a beautiful girl with pale white skin and startling blue eyes come this way? She wears a golden locket.”

The servant looked at him and laughed in his face.

“I assure you, this is no laughing matter!” Bauta said, angered at the servant’s gall.

“No, no, sir, it’s only,” the servant wiped the brow beneath his mask, “everyone knows the maiden you describe. She is Columbia.”

“Yes, yes, that is she,” Bauta said eagerly. “She was just with me. Where is she?”

“No, sir,” the servant said, looking suddenly frightened. “That cannot be.”

“Why?” Bauta asked.

The servant, eyes wide, scurried away from him without an answer, vanishing in the throng.

He glanced around and caught sight of Zane, frolicking among nobles and servants alike.

“Zane!” he cried, going to him and grabbing him by the shoulders. “Explain yourself! How did you get this?” He waved the small purse in Zane’s face.

Zane shushed him, whispering, “I stole it like you asked, sir. Columbia was staying here at the cardinal’s estate, fasting,” the servant said, “and she grew sick a few days ago.”

“Then… you took it while she was sleeping?” Bauta said, the hairs on the back of his neck beginning to stand up.

“No, sir,” Zane said, “I took it from her coffin.”

He released the laughing Zane, who disappeared amongst the dancers, and looked in horror at the purse in his hands.

Bauta prised the small clasp apart, searching for something, anything, some sort of answer to explain the apparition…

…Inside was a handkerchief embroidered with his name.


The logs on the fire cracked, making his listeners jump.

“Bah,” the drunk said with a laugh, “Zane, you tell the wildest tales.”

“You couldn’t possibly have known all that,” the prostitute supplemented.

“Say what you will,” Zane said. “My master confided in my before his death. I only tell the truth.”

“I see now why he went mad,” the prostitute said. “Poor dear, and yet you didn’t think to tell him that Columbia died of plague? Naughty,” she scolded, slapping him on the shoulder.

He chuckled darkly. “No… I suppose it… slipped my mind.”

“You’re lucky you didn’t get it!” the drunk said, then burped.

“Say… this story doesn’t have anything to do with your sudden success in the silk market?” the prostitute said, leaning on Zane so her bosom was almost totally visible to him.

“Why would it?” he asked, flicking dust off of his black silk cape.

“Well… you took over your master’s business. And the locket,” the prostitute said. “Whatever happened to the locket?”

“Who knows,” Zane said, moving out of her grasp and replacing the top hat on his head. He bowed to them both, his smile growing wide as he replaced the Casanova-style mask onto his face. He turned and prepared to reenter the masquerade.

“Who knows?” he repeated softly to himself, fingering the golden chain just visible above his neckline.


scriptic logo

For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, David Wiley at
gave me this prompt:

The fate of the world depended on…

I gave Kurt at this prompt: In 450 words or less, describe how a situation in a public place that seems completely ordinary suddenly becomes terrifying for your character. In honor of Halloween!🙂



Okay so I have to admit Poe was a huge inspiration for the styling on this. That and my boyfriend’s recent Halloween acquisition (thank you, awesome Venetian mask…)

I also based the characters on a few traditional Commedia dell’arte characters: a sort of combined Bauta+Scaramouche, Columbia and Zanni.

Traditionally, Bauta/Casanova masks are the masks of disguise, used to hide one’s identity entirely for business or illicit affairs. I thought: why not both? Babau means “black beast” which is another loose term for Bauta, used in the traditional sense: behave, kids, or the black beast will get you!

Zanni, or Zane, style is a sly and meddling servant, (in city Commedia,) and I’d be lying if I wasn’t thinking a little of Puck as well when writing him.

Columbia style represents a servant girl, and even in the days before women’s liberation, probably the smartest character onstage:

I looooove anything involving masks and Carnevale di Venezia. I hope you enjoyed it and, though it is the wrong time of year for Carnevale, it’s the right time anytime for masks in old Venice, and I wish you a very happy Halloween!

Now, go be wicked.😉

The New Death

Ankou God of Death

Ankou, God of Death, as depicted by my friend, graphic artist Sean “Grimm”

Death sat at a bar.

It sounded a lot more poetic than it really was.

I was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, my black leather jacket creaking at the shoulders whenever I lifted the scotch to my lips.

Death is a skeleton, I can hear you say, he can’t have lips.

Well, everyone said the Titanic wouldn’t sink either, and look where that got them.

I was there for that, too, on First Earth, when I went along with my brother for fun.  That was before we realized mankind had forgotten the old gods and decided the gods of commercialism and technology were more important.  Before we came here.  Before the accident.

I can still hear the squeal of the motorcycle on pavement.

“Ankou,” the bartender said, using one of my many, many names, “bro, that’s your fourth.  Think you should slow it down a little?”

“My brother is dead,” I croaked, the words sounding hollow inside of my cheeks.  “Hades is gone, and I am Death now.  I have work to do.”

“You ain’t getting anything done with that scotch in your system,” the bartender said, giving a harsh laugh.  “Here, give me the glass.”

“I’m fine,” I said, standing up in a lurch and losing my balance.  “Don’t worry about me, Puck.”

“At least let me have a drink with you before you go,” he said, pouring a second glass for himself.  “To old Hades – he sure knew how to take the wind out of everyone’s sails.  But he was a good god.”

“Yeah, something like that,” I muttered, finishing off the remainder of the glass Puck had tried to take away from me.  I hated endings.  I hated goodbyes.  I had hoped it would never come to this, that I could just keep on living as I was, never having my brother’s burdens.

I was never supposed to be Death.

I stumbled, cursing and crying into the night outside, as the pale stars started to fade.


Well, this was in answer to Trifecta’s weekly challenge, in this case the third definition of the word Death.  It was right up my alley and a perfect chance to give you backstory for Ebony!  Hope you enjoy.


Seen (Jane Parker) Trifextra Week Thirty-Two




The last strains of sunlight lingered in the corners, grasping every available point of refraction.  She slid her fingertips along the glass wondering if this was all there ever was. Or could be. Her salt-sting, demeaning husband never seemed to see her anymore. Today, she knew, he would.  Unlatching the third story window, Jane Parker stepped onto its edge and triumphantly threw herself into the dying sunset.



Picture “lonely silence 2” shamelessly stolen from ~nerysoul on deviantart

Okay that was far more depressing than I intended.  But the original prompt was this weekend’s Trifextra challenge: add 33 words of your own to this:

“The last strains of sunlight lingered in the corners, grasping every available point of refraction.  She slid her fingertips along the glass wondering if this was all there ever was. Or could be.”

I didn’t quote it above, because I wanted it to just flow as one story. 

I’ll have you know I toyed with a post-apocalyptic London and a zombie thriller before deciding on this ending!!  I think the poor character was better off with this one…

Apologies to anyone that actually has the name of Jane Parker.  No resemblance intended.




Red Writing Hood Face to Face Challenge: Did You Read It?

“Of all the foolish things – what in Wune’s name is wrong with you, boy?!!”

Slammed against the wooden wall of the inn, his jacket ripped on a wayward carpenter’s nail, the wizard released him, stepping back.  His wild, grey beard bounced with every muttered curse word as he paced back and forth on the dark lawn.

Nyal stood up straight, acting like the man he wished he were instead of the boy he really was with fitful, scared tears still in his eyes.

He had thought the wizard was going to kill him.

Not an auspicious first meeting.

“One does not stride into any inn and boldly ask the only wizard in the room if he knows anything about the Legend.  It was foolhardy.” the wizard shook his head, staring into the night. “Unless you want to die. Be glad it was me you found.”  He turned and strode off.

Nyal followed the wizard. He had remarkable speed for someone his age.  “You’re with the Guild?”

“My name is Melmidoc, and yes,” Melmidoc said, stopping them with a hand and glancing both ways down a side street before motioning them on. Nyal spoke in a hurried whisper.

“Then I’m safe in talking to you. The Guild – you’ll protect us from the Fae. I knew that, approaching you.”

“You’re wrong.  Not even the Guild is safe anymore.” Melmidoc stopped them once more at the mouth of an alley. He waited a moment, staring into the dark, watching something only he could see. After a second he continued forward into the dark, and Nyal rushed behind him.

Melmidoc kicked in a rotting doorway before grabbing Nyal unceremoniously by his vest and forcing him into the room.  The room was filled with old furniture and tapestries and wiggling spiders. Nyal avoided one as Melmidoc sent glittering silver spells in all the corners. Nyal’s ears popped, and he grimaced.

“We are safe for a short time.” Melmidoc turned, acting for all the world like it was a regular meeting and they weren’t standing in a back alley slum that was home to gods knew what.  “How does a young boy come to know about the Legend?  How old are you, anyway?”

“Old enough to know about such tales,” Nyal said, “and enough to know that some tales have a bit of truth.”

“Did you read it?” Melmidoc leaned forward, and the air was filled with the scent of cloves and smokeleaf, and the burnt tang of magic.

“Yes…” Nyal said, and more softly, “Yes. I’ve read it.”

“Then… what do you believe?”

The boy hesitated for a moment, and then he told him.


This story is backstory for my original fantasy series, Ebony.

This was in answer to this week’s challenge on Red Writing Hood: “Face to Face” tell about a face to face meeting that doesn’t go as planned…there is a longer version linked here.  If you liked this, please go read it.  It explains things a little better, although it’s not as fast paced.  I tried SO hard not to cut some things out, but in the end… yeah, it’s a good sampling nonetheless.

Hope you enjoyed!


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Medal (Storydam Word Wednesday)



“You know what you’ve done, don’t you, Lorne?” Melmidoc said, his brow furrowed, sounding ever wiser than his years.

Lorne tried to stare back at the boy, but was startled by the intensity of his gaze and forced himself to look away. How was it these wizards got more and more talented at a younger age? Then again, Humans always seemed so little to him…

The Head Witch was shaking her head at him.  Gods, but the Humans could be so petulant… “You take back up this position, knowing full well the damage you’ve caused.”

“I know,” he said, barely above a whisper. “I know I was wrong.”

“You’re a Prize Mage, for Wune’s sake,” Melmidoc said.  “Grow some balls and admit it – you were more than wrong. This was a catastrophe.  All for some stupid idea of revenge!”

“Melmidoc,” the Head Witch said, touching him lightly on the shoulder. The wizard took a deep, heaving breath and threw her touch off, stalking away into the corner to sulk.

Lorne swallowed hard.  The Head Witch held out the pendent, the mark of the Prize Mage. The thing he hadn’t worn since he left University all those years ago…

“Are you ready to do whatever it takes to win this?” the witch asked, her brown eyes strangely lacking any of the warmth they usually contained.  “You must be motivated not out of revenge for what happened to your family, but out of loyalty to the Guild.  To our world.  And because you know that this is what’s right.  Revenge would be too easy.”

“I know,” Lorne said, and it felt like his mouth was filled with dry cloth.  “I learned my lesson in the Northwilde.  I-I will do my duty to the Guild.”

“Then receive back your amulet, and your rights as a Prize Mage,” He bent down and she placed the chain neatly around his neck.

He touched the metal, remembering what it had cost him to lose this, to lose everything.

He remembered the friend that had gotten a matching amulet, and his broken promise of friendship.

He touched the gold medal, and it felt oh so heavy.


Okay, more backstory from my original fantasy series, Ebony. It is very vague, and I’m sorry for that again.

This is for an old Word Wednesday on Storydam, for the word “medal”.  I keep lurking over there… but anyway, this time I actually wrote something.

Trifextra Challenge: A Good Tree


A good tree is shelter from storms with your lover, a table where your future children do arithmetic, and after you’ve lived your life and gone to grey, a coffin for your grave.

For the Trifextra challenge this week, yes I am back! In 33 words, take an object and let it tell a story used three different ways.
Trifextra Week 28 Challenge