When Worlds Collide by Audrey (an April Fool’s Extra)

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Midnight Garden © Copyright, Audrey Goshorn 2011. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

*For the origins of this story click here and here*

The Girl in the Well

My arms ache with anger and my fingers tingle from clenching. I thought he saw me. I thought he finally saw me.

I’m not going to cry.

The straw in my mattress is poking against the back of my thighs and the blood there is drying and making my skin tighten and itch. I rise, tugging down my skirts, and pad on bare feet out of the house and into the garden.

The moon is shining full and bright upon the orderly rows of vegetables as I follow the hard-packed path to the well. There’s a bucket that can be lowered when I carry water into the house but I simply lean over and dip a rag into the frigid black water. I don’t bother to ring it out; I hike up my skirts and let the icy rivulets flow down my legs as I wash off the evidence of his perfidy.

I lean over again to wet the rag.

“Etheldred,” a throaty voice whispers. I drop the rag and get splashed as I nearly fall into the well.

“Who’s there?” I whisper looking around and straightening, but no one is there.

“In here.”

The water in the well bubbles. When I look in, I see a blue-white face staring back at me. It blinks. Gasping, I step back from the well.

“Who are you?” I ask the water, half-sure there won’t be answer.

“My name is Nesta. Come here, Etheldred,” she commands. “I’m here to help you.”

I stop breathing. “Help with what?”

The well ripples with raspy laughter. “With Noll of course!”

My face warms and I back-up another step. “What do you know?” I ask through clenched teeth.

“I know everything, Etheldred. It’s a special gift from the Gods,” she answers slowly. “Now come here.”

My feet are noiseless as I obey. I peer over the rim of the well. Nesta smiles at me. I cross my arms. I don’t move closer.

“That’s better, I guess.” She gives a throaty sigh.

I wait silently.

“This is a lovely garden, Etheldred.”

I nod.

“It’s such a shame about it,” she says, her black eyes closing for a moment, a smile rippling on her blue lips.

“What’s a shame?” I can’t help myself. I have to know.

“Well, once your Uncle learns what a whore you’ve been, he’ll be sure to turn you out. You’ll lose everything, dear.”

I swallow the lump that’s suddenly formed in my throat like a too large bite of sour apple. Will Noll betray me? One look at Nesta’s black eyes and I know he will. He has before.

“What should I do?” I move closer.

“Make Noll fall desperately in love with you.” She gives me a wink and a silver chalice floats to surface. “I have a spell.”

I look around my garden, at the vines expertly trained, the rows meticulously weeded, the flowers closed for the night.

“I have a spell of my own,” I whisper, moving away from the well.

~*~*~*~*~
A/N: Happy April Fools! I hope you enjoyed our mash-ups. We were inspired by last month’s Craft Discussion: World Building.

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“You Will Hear Thunder” by Anna Akhmatova Inspires Julie

YouWillHearThunder_AnnaAkhmatova

Dragonheart

This is the bottom, I think, getting up the nerve to leave my car. The old woman, Madame Ming, is standing at the end of the block in the afternoon sunlight, right where the email told me to find her. I drove two circles before I parked, to check that no one else was waiting for me. Portland isn’t New York City, but it’s Old Town, so I have to be careful.

Finally I step out of my car, one hand sweaty on my keys and the other buried in my pocket with the roll of cash. Madame Ming turns at my approach. She is a head shorter than me with cropped gray hair. Her blue tang suit is faded, her arms folded into the deep sleeves.

I stop a yard from her, and she eyes me. I’m wearing my Lewis & Clark College hoodie. So much for being anonymous.

“You have the money?” she asks in accented English.

I look around and nod, not ready to pull out the wad. She moves her hands and displays a bottle, bulbous at the base with a tapering neck, stoppered. Exactly what I imagined a potion bottle would look like. The glass is clear and the mixture inside is a deep, honey-amber like mead.

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“Crystallize” by Lindsey Stirling Inspires Anne

黃金比例
(The Golden Ratio)

“Jin Zhēn-Zī!” Māmā shouted from the back room over the slam of the door. “I told you not to leave the back door open.” The sharp click of the lock admonished me further.

A pristine sheaf of paper laid in front of me as empty as it was when I first sat down. The chair abraded the wood floor and banged into the wall when I got up too fast. “I’ve been working on sums all morning, Māmā! I haven’t left my desk.” Only the second part was true.

Harsh afternoon light streamed through the shop’s front windows. It bounced off the metal hangers holding the repaired garments along one wall. Bolts of fabric were stacked on tables and piled along the other wall. The new embroidered silk tunics were displayed in the very front, the price tags discreetly hidden in the sleeves. The back room stood dark where the sunlight couldn’t penetrate, the silhouette of my mother blended perfectly into the shadows.

When she appeared — her eyes opened wide like an owl and her mouth a tense slash across her face — all the muscles tightened along my body. Another figure moved behind her, materializing into a man holding a long silver blade in gloved hands against the base of her skull. The brush dropped from my hand, splattering black ink all over the polished wooden floor.

“What happened?” I said, my voice croaked against my tongue. I swallowed and tried again. “Māmā, are you okay?”

She kept her hands outstretched above her shoulders. I knew that pose and curled and readied myself for a fight.

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