“Howl” by Florence + the Machine Inspires Anne

Perigee

 We dart through nighttime waters, close to the sand ridges along the bottom. I clutch Hvrēssē’s[1] hand in mine.

In our wake, alluvium swirls up, and then drifts down to the ocean floor. A pattern will form and be washed away, form and be washed away with each wave or tail flick.

The vial of blood in my other hand flashes silver in the moonlight. The pull of land sings like a tsunami from the palm of my hand all the way to my beating heart. Hvrēssē grins at me, sharp teeth and delight. We swim faster until we feel the water around us change. It grows lighter and freer of brine. The river current ripples through our hair and over our fins.

“Almost there,” Hvrēssē says. She gulps the last of the true seawater past her gills. “Hurry.”

I admire her sense of urgency. Admire the way her pale flesh melds into the gray of her tail. The dark stripes that almost go all the way around but leave her underside gray like the stormy skies far out to sea. Like home.

My muscles burn as I try to match her powerful strokes when she dives into the fresh water. It’s warm and light. Sweet and deadly.

“Get out your knife,” I shout above the sound of the river fighting against the open sea.
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Anne’s No Rules Friday 11

Poem inspired by Jen’s The Flight.

Take-off

We race into the wind
It twists my loose hair into raven knots.
My sciathán‘s hooves beat a rhythm
Against the packed earth.
Thump-thump
Thump-thump
Freedom is a heartbeat.

My mount’s warm and sturdy
Her muscles bunch under my thighs.
Heather and clover dance
Through the air.
Snap-snap
Snap-snap
Kyanite’s feathers unfurl.

We leap into the sky
I twine fingers through her ivory mane.
Mist cools my face in a caress
As we rise higher.
Thump-thump
Thump-thump
Our hearts beat as one.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Stay tuned for Julie’s No Rules Friday in two weeks.

“The Song of Wandering Aengus” by WB Yeats Inspires Anne

The Song of Wandering Aengus © Copyright William Butler Yeats, 1899. All rights reserved. Used by permission of the Creative Commons License.

The Song of Wandering Aengus © Copyright William Butler Yeats, 1899. All rights reserved. Used by permission of the Creative Commons License.

Paper Goblins

Japanese tradition says when you finish folding one thousand paper cranes your wish comes true.

I’m only half-Japanese. I plan on folding two thousand cranes to be double sure my wish will come true: that Colten will fall madly in love with me. It’s not because we’ve been thrown against each other since he moved here in second grade. Sure, alphabetically Colten Adams always sat next to me, Piper Allen, in class, but that’s not the reason. It’s because he’s stormy-eyed and swollen-lipped. Sharp-cheeked and soft-spoken. He’s the most beautiful boy in all of Portland. No! In the entire world.

I want him to notice me before he falls for someone else, and I’m tired of waiting around for him.

When Bachan bought me dozens of packets of beautiful, colored rice paper at the Cherry Blossom Festival. She told me she’d folded a thousand cranes back in Miyako, met Ojichan, and the rest is history.

It’s time I folded myself a little history.

* * *

336 cranes are tucked into a shoebox under my bed when I find out through the gossip chain that Colten asked Harlow Rivers to homecoming.

“She’s not even that pretty,” I complain, folding over my math quiz diagonally.

As my friends poke lettuce and cucumbers around on their plates or sip at diet drinks, I crease the bottom strip and wet it with my tongue, tearing away the rectangle shape to give me a nice square to work with.

Veronica Wiseman — best friend and enemy since pre-school —nudges my shoulder. “Harlow’s really nice, Pipe. She let me copy her history notes this week.”

“I love Harlow,” says Molly. Molly Larkin loves everyone, bless her. She comes from a family of thirteen, and they all get along. It’s how cults get started, I’m sure of it. “I don’t even care. She’s super nice and super smart.”

I ignore them both to fold and crease, fold and crease. If I finish these cranes faster, maybe Colten will forget about Harlow by winter break. Maybe he’ll notice me.

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Anne’s No Rules Friday 10

This is a companion piece for In Repair. You don’t have to have read that one to read this one. 😀

Motorbike "Indian Scout" (1929) © Copyright Joachim Köhler, 2006. Used by permission of the Creative Commons License

Motorbike “Indian Scout” (1929) © Copyright, Joachim Köhler 2006. Used with permission. Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 United States License.

Back to You

Five months ago, I tricked Rosa into kissing me. I’ve been lying to her ever since. That’s not entirely true. They’re not lies. They’re omissions. I omit pieces of the truth because she hunts creatures like me. So far she doesn’t know what I am, so well rehearsed are my stories. I kill hunters like her, but none of them ever caused my pulse to thrum at the base of my wrists. None of them had salted caramel taffy skin, sun-warmed, and soft. Soft in the way only a fawn’s coat should be soft.

“C’mere.”

We sit shoulder to shoulder at the edge of a neighbor’s pool, water laps against our knees, passing a cigarette back and forth. Sunlight glints off the water, off the drops running down her bare arms. Over the sharp chlorine and cloves, she smells like a field of sunflowers and coconut sunscreen. Rose kicks a leg and water sparkles in an arc. The splash silences the hum of cicadas for a split second.

It’s taken five months to convince her to break into backyards with me. The danger didn’t keep her away, no. She stayed out because she respected the people that live here. She hid her Scout motorcycle along the side of the house. Rosa relaxes against me. Like she’s home.

“Ever been skinny-dipping?”

Rosa laughs in that deep throaty way that’s only for me. I kiss her neck, drag a canine along the tender skin at her throat. Her laughter catches between my teeth.

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“King and Lionheart” by Of Monsters and Men Inspires Anne

Of Swords and Other Things

I watch from atop the fences as two lanky boys kick up clouds of dust under shuffling feet. The sword master and a group of five other boys line the practice circle. The reek of unwashed bodies made worse by vigorous thrusts and parries catches on the breeze. Lantsida and her twin, Basina, escaped inside to finish their needlework rather than be subject to the rank odor for one instant longer. I’ve grown used to the musky roughness of young men. It sings of hard work and determination, an outlet for frustration and anger.

It’s home. It’s Hal.

The layered fabric of their practice doublets blunts the sound of a solid hit. Hal always wins and gives a raucous cheer, which most of the boys echo. He raises his arms in celebration, reveling a strip of bare skin that sends waves of delight through me. Even missing his left eye, Hal never fails to strike a killing blow. Basina says the other boys let him win because he’s their One True Prince. Mama slapped the back of her hand with a wooden spoon the last time she said it. We’re not to speak of Hal as anything other than the orphan boy we took in nearly ten years ago. He’s not His Royal Majesty Prince Henry Louis Philip Charles Valois. That name is supposed to taste like ashes in our mouth.

Instead, it tastes like hope. The royal line didn’t all expire in that tower.

Hal’s taller and more slender than most boys his age. Raven-haired and gray-eyed like his mother. The shape of his full bottom lip closely resembles his father’s mouth. Anyone who worked in the palace would know him, even with the ragged scar that mars the perfect symmetry of his facial planes. He wears his hair longer on the left side to hang down over the deformity.

He’s beautiful in ways that other boys will never be. His kindness shines like the stars at night: quiet and delicate.

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“Love Song to California” by Jen Hickman Inspires Audrey

LoveSongtoCalifornia_JenHickmanEight Percent

At first, the news reported the deaths at the tail end of the “if it bleeds, it leads” segment at the top of the hour. A handful of strange deaths in India. A small village in China. An unknown sickness hurting oil production in Saudi Arabia. All these things happened half a world away. They didn’t affect my life, so I paid them little mind.

By the end of the second month, the news filled with instructions on where to get vaccinations. How to stop spreading the contagion by washing your hands and wearing a mask. In the third month, the pharmaceutical companies gave away free vaccinations. Volunteers roamed homeless shelters and low-income neighborhoods. Sometimes the video clips showed them holding people down against their will and injecting them. God bless America!

They reported high numbers of sick people clogging up emergency rooms. Staff shortages due to illness became a topic of conversation in line at the grocery store. Canned goods and distilled water flew off the shelves. The huge box stores hosted fistfights and gunshots over dried goods. People coughed and sneezed, they left germs on door handles, but by then it was too late. The virus mutated and went airborne. Well, they thought it was a virus. Turns out “they” were wrong, it revealed itself as a prion. No vaccine on earth could stop it.

In the fourth month, the first major worldwide wave of deaths hit. The vaccines did nothing to stop the prion from tearing through the population. It killed the old, the young, and those between. It killed my parents and my three older brothers. It killed their wives, and children. It killed my aunt and cousin. It killed my classmates, my teachers, and my best friend. The bodies piled up at the morgue, but no one was left to bury them.

The talking heads on television called it the worst pandemic since the Spanish Influenza of the early 19th century. They debated if this was the end of humanity. Wave after wave decimated the globe. Even tiny pockets of humans deep in the Amazon didn’t escape unscathed. Globalization, the thing that had brought us together across thousands of miles of ocean and land, had also brought us to our knees.

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

Tower Bridge © Copyright, Anne Marie 2008. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Tower Bridge © Copyright, Anne Marie 2008. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

*Go here and here to read the origins of this story*

Break Your Heart

The snap of power used during the divination burns the skin above my collarbone. It takes the breath of a star to get to Cheapside, London from Réunion in the Indian Ocean.

London hits me in the face with unwashed bodies stuffed into filthy clothes. Ratty-haired women roam the streets selling themselves. The reek of burning coal and sickness hang heavy in the cold November air, a sharp contrast from the fresh sea air and white sand beaches. Like a pack of vultures, my psychopomps swoop down to join me on the street leaching color with their black wings.

Two boys, arms slung around each other’s shoulder, step from behind darkly polished doors. Power emanates from behind them, blinding me with its multicolored light. Light shining like a beacon in the dark. It sings to me. Tempts me to cross that threshold and touch every single person playing fortuneteller until the light blinks out in a wink. But the taller boy carries darkness in his pocket like a handkerchief. He’s the one.

I remove my black-lace gloves and follow. The gang hangs back; their eyes burn holes through the fabric of my gown. Usually, I remain out of human’s sight. Unless they belong to the Diviner’s Club; they see through my illusions.

“Paul,” says the taller boy, doomed and unaware, “stop holding a candle to the devil and give us the goods.”

The other boy shakes his head, and then moves the brim of his baker boy up and down on his forehead. He drops his arm off his friend’s shoulders. Good, I don’t want to accidentally touch him. They look behind them, Paul stares right at me. He holds a hand up as if to say, “We’re not interested.” I smile, wide-mouthed and bright-eyed. He doesn’t carry the mark; he’s touched with light. Interesting.

My buttoned boots click clack click in rhythm with their steps. The taller boy doesn’t notice a thing. He continues ribbing Paul to learn some secret. Maybe he wants to know that his true future was told in subtle riddles, but Paul doesn’t have the first idea how to tease out the true meaning. He whips his head behind him a number of times before his friend notices.

“What’s got your knickers in a twist?” The other boy scans behind them, seeing no one.

“There’s a lady following us,” Paul whispers. I catch his words as they echo off the building and continue down the breeze.

A carriage led by a team of four clops down the cobbled street, distracting both boys. I slide ahead of them, faster than starlight racing across the universe. Paul’s friend flinches a tiny bit when I brush a cold hand against his cheek. He steps out in front of the horses. One of them bucks up, kicking well-manicured hooves into the boy’s face and chest. He falls in slow-motion, grabbing the pocket of his coat where the darkness hides.

The carriage bumps and hops over his broken body before stopping with a “Whoa!” and harsh yank on the reins. Both driver and passenger leap toward us. A pool of crimson spreads out, staining the stones and reflecting the gaslight in muted sparks. I replace my gloves, feeling the brush of dark wings sweep past me. My psychopomps surround the body.

Paul walks to me and beats his fists against my chest. The men from the carriage gape at him. They might do worse if they could see he was assaulting a woman.

“He was my future!” he screams against the wind, tears streaming down his cheeks.

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