Microfiction Monday: The North Wind

Today’s story is one I have told before, in a different setting. See, there’s a reason my camp name is Goose, and it’s only partially because of my love of geese: I get called Mother Goose at camp because at least once a week I get called to a unit to tell a bedtime story. I never tell the same story twice; I make them up as I go. One night in my sixth summer, I told this story, and after the kids had left the circle, one of my coworkers scooted close to me on the bench and buried her face in my shoulder–she’d been silently crying the whole time. “I know how the North Wind felt,” she said in between sobs. “I know what it’s like.”

So did I.

Once upon a time in a city far above the fields of men, where the clouds tumble and tangle, the North Wind was very unhappy indeed. Her sister the South Wind had many friends down on earth, for her long golden hair smelled of the flowers that bloomed in her wake and her easy laugh sounded like the drenching summer rains that fell wherever she went. Her brothers the East Wind and West Wind also had many friends, for they were loud and lively and made up entirely of bright sunny days. But the North Wind was seldom welcome down in the fields of men. Wherever she went, ice followed, delicate frost-lace blooming wherever her feet fell, and where she slept, snow fell in the night, great sparkling white blankets that draped over the land. When she went down to earth, people fled before her, disappearing into their homes and locking the doors against her entreaties, building their fires higher and higher to drown out her pleas from beyond their walls. After a while, the North Wind stopped trying to make friends, and simply wandered from place to place, bringing winter with her.

The North Wind spent all her days alone and unhappy…until the day she discovered the boy.

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Microfiction Monday: The Sun In Your Eyes

Okay, so it’s not quite a microfiction.

“Mrs. Ingraham’s babying that damn peach tree,” Edna said in a low voice to Kate as they washed the windows in the bookshop. “I don’t know why she bothers.”

Kate didn’t understand it either. The little tree had no business being in northern Wisconsin where the winters raged like some wild grieving animal and the springs were sullen, brimming over with dirty melting snow that turned to gritty mud. Mrs. Ingraham was somewhere Down South. Nobody knew where Mr. Ingraham was. He had gone away down south somewhere, and had come back with his pretty bride.

She watched as the woman carefully pruned the brittle branches that hadn’t made it through the winter, her dove-brown hair shining in the late-afternoon sun. The tree had been there for three years, but hadn’t yet borne fruit. Maybe it never would.

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Microfiction Monday: The Girl With Secrets In Her Hair.

This week’s microfiction is really more of a flash fiction–it clocks in at just under 1000 words. But it needed to be told, because magical realism is the best. Shoutout to Jo, the girl with secrets in her hair.

Every family in Pendergrass had their quirks. Everyone knew, for instance, that the Breckenridge family could see in the dark as clearly as if the sun were shining; it was also common knowledge that the Deans had a way with animals, that their soft sleepy drawls could be understood by the cats, dogs, guinea pigs and parrots of Pendergrass as well as the barks, meows and chirps themselves could.

No one, however, could figure out what was special about the Arrington family…except for their hair.

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MPH.

Around 10:30 last night, I found myself staring at a submit button. This submit button was small, humble even, yet clicking it was kind of the equivalent of jumping out of a plane. That submit button would send 3 messy, painful applications to 3 different MPH programs–all of them programs I would love to get into. There’s something funny yet nerve-clawing that my top 3 were all due on the same day, that I had to submit those before I was really ready, before I’d even sorted out some last details of graduation from NMU. The feeling as I submitted them was not unlike the feeling I had at commencement: a sense of vague, dull panic twining sinuously around a cloud of this can’t actually be happening. 

But it did happen. I submitted. The world moved on and I moved with it.

I don’t know what my chances are of getting into any of those programs. I am skeptical, yet optimistic, as I am with many things in my life. I would be thrilled to attend any of the three schools; I looked through their programs carefully, painstakingly even, consulted my research advisor and my life/academic advisor alike. I had my professors look over the rough draft and the less rough draft and the final draft of my statement of purpose; people on Twitter who I love and respect offered input as well. I looked at the cities in which the schools are located (I’ve only visited one of the cities in question, and even then, it was a brief flurry of activity at the airport and then a long drive out of the city). I have friends in all three states, though that doesn’t necessarily matter–when I moved to Marquette, I knew no one, and was profoundly lucky that I had friends from Michigan who had friends who lived in Marquette who were willing to pick me up at the airport and help me carry my stuff into my new apartment. Every camp I’ve ever worked at, aside from the summer I spent in Virginia, I went into the job not knowing anyone. I’m not afraid to be a stranger in a strange land.

…which is good, because in so many ways, my decision to apply for MPH programs, rather than continuing on with microbiology, is the very definition of being a stranger in a strange land.

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Microfiction Monday: The Escape

Microfiction is a subset of flash fiction (fiction of 1000 words or less) in which stories have 300 words or less. This one is something between fantasy and horror, and the inspiration was chosen by Ali Malin: “grilled cheese and triceratops.”

The once-grand dining hall was lit only by the candles illuminating the chipped plate that held Kensia’s final meal. “Eat up,” Dallan, the soldier-priest who was her jailer and only human companion ordered from the darkness. “This is what you wanted.” Indeed, Kensia had requested the simple fare of gooey melted cheese sandwiches and root vegetables. She had eaten one sandwich for appearances, and was nibbling the crusts of the other, being sure to leave as much cheese as possible for Elegda.

The demonic whispering was muted in the hushed dining hall. There were no mirrors left in there, after all. They’d been shattered in the surrender. Anything reflective. The soldier-priests had thought they knew how to prevent her night-dark magic.

They didn’t know what she knew.

She ate the crusts of the sandwich, taking her time to savor the drips of melted cheese, cooling in the night air. Elegda liked the gooey heart of the sandwiches almost as much as she liked the hotly metallic taste of a terrified heart bursting between her fangs.

Kensia laid her fork down, and noticed that Dallan flinched, the triceratops patch on his sleeve flashing in the candlelight. Good. She wanted him a little afraid. Elegda wanted him a little afraid. “Dallan,” she said sweetly, “Could I have a few more carrots?”

The soldier-priest sighed. “I’ll go get you some.”

“Thank you,” Kensia said softly. She waited till his footsteps had faded, then moved quickly, tilting her glass of water onto the table. The reflection shown in the light. Her tongue twisted around the incantations of summoning, and she closed her eyes, feeling hot demon claws pick at her handcuffs. Freedom tasted delicious, she thought.

She kept her eyes closed even after Dallan’s screaming began. Humans were so dramatic about being sacrificed.

 

 

How I Earned A Legacy of Expectation Defiance.

It happened a lot.

“And this is our art director, Goose,” My boss said, introducing me to the parents who were visiting our camp (or visiting members from the council that owned our camp, or any number of other people).

I smiled. “It’s nice to meet y’all.”

The mother tilted her head. “You…don’t sound like you’re from around here.”

“No, ma’am. I’m from North Carolina.”

My boss grinned, a hint of amusement. She’d once told me she loved the looks on people’s faces when she introduced me to them; I was not unlike a lost tropical bird to many people, even in Pennsylvania. “And she goes to school in Michigan.”

“Oh, are you studying art?” the father asked.

“No, sir. Biology. Microbiology, specifically.”

Both parents stopped and stared at me. You could see the wheels turning, trying to understand how all the pieces of me that they had just been handed fit together, how any of it made sense. My boss just beamed. I smiled too. I never really got tired of the confusion either. I earned that quiet little mischief.

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