Bucket List – #DailyPicsperation Story

Bucket List

Anna’s terror felt like a thick lump in her throat, keeping her from swallowing the excess saliva building up in her mouth. She handed the ticket to the carney and slid into the back of the pirate ship, knowing this was one of the easier items to cross of her list.

She could smell the wafting odor of fried dough and hot dogs as she inhaled through her nose in an attempt at calming her nerves and hopefully not vomiting before the ride even started. A girl at least a quarter of her age slid in beside her with some friends, grinning wildly while waiting for the boat to begin moving.

“Here we go!” the girl screamed as the ride began rocking.

Her eyes were wide open, but not without a focused effort to try and capture every moment as Anna faced her fear. Clutching the safety restraint, she let out a mighty scream as the boat went vertical, and her stomach dropped along with everyone’s change they’d accidentally left in their pockets.

Her eyes wanted to clamp shut, but she resisted. With every lunge of the boat, her fear eased. Anna’s stomach was revolting a bit, but the thrill of accomplishing something she never dreamed she’d achieve helped her to minimally enjoy the point of the ride.

With wobbly knees, she stepped off the ride, thanking the carney who was holding the exit gate open.

Anna leaned up against a tree for support to wait for her legs to stop shaking. She pulled her list out of her purse and crossed off Ride Scary Carnival Ride from it. Only thirty more things to do in two weeks, she thought, chuckling to herself. She knew after her next round of chemo, it would take months to get her strength back to attempt many of these things, and that was if it helped at all. As a stage four survivor Anna knew the chances were slim, but wasn’t about to give up her life without fighting tooth and nail to survive.

Wandering towards the western bar in the amusement park, she steeled herself to ride the mechanical bull before leaving and heading back home.

Thanks for reading.  I’m honored to be among a fantastic group of writers who contribute to the Daily Picsperation blog.  We are celebrating our first year anniversary.  If you’ve never checked out the site, I highly recommend it.  There are some amazing stories. Some short, some sweet and some recurring tales.  Give it a shot, you won’t be sorry.

Until next time,

Michela

Fairytale Ending #dailypicsperation

I really love this story I put together for my Daily Picsperation post yesterday.  I’d love to hear what you think.

Fairytale Ending

Giselle’s voice was hoarse from screaming into the night, yet it was all in vain. No one was coming to rescue her. When she went to the ball that evening, she never expected to end up in a ramshackle room. Her only instruction from the wild-eyed prince was to spin the room full of straw and leaves into gold if she wanted to see her family again. The prince slammed the door in her face without letting her explain her fear of a case of mistaken identity. She wasn’t the same maiden who had done such a feat in the village over, she was merely the only daughter of of a widowed blacksmith. She barely knew how to spin wool into yarn and was still baffled as to how she’d ended up in this predicament. Giselle hadn’t even really wanted to go to the silly ball, her father’s stern lecture about never finding a proper husband finally spurred her to go. And look at where it had gotten her? Left for dead in a blustery cold shed with absolutely no hope of becoming the alchemist the crazy, youngest son of the king had wanted her to be.

After banging on the door for what felt like hours, her resolve finally dwindled like the candle that had long burnt out on the table beside to door. She sat heavily on the chair and stared at the spinning wheel hoping inspiration might strike as to what she should do now. But it didn’t. Instead the exhaustion overwhelmed her and she leaned her head down on the table and slept, dreaming of elves and trolls, gnomes and pixies and a room filled with gold.

The creak of the door startled her awake. There standing before her, being framed in the early dawn light was a stranger, hooded and foreboding. Her chair tipped over, falling to the ground in a clatter while she struggled to find her feet. The man’s wicked grin was all she could see of his face from beneath the cloak he was wearing. It appeared sinister and caused her to shiver with fright.

He must have sensed her terror, as he raised his hands in front of his body, whispering he wasn’t going to harm her. Slowly inching into the small room, his towering build soon made the space feel even smaller. Her back was flat against the wall and she had nowhere to run. Even with his attempt at soothing her panicked nerves, she shook with fear, her eyes darting to find a way out of the cramped space.

Flicking the hood down, she was immediately relieved. She recognized his face in an instant, even though she’d never spoken to him. He was her father’s apprentice, and the man she’d been swooning over for years. Alistair’s strong build always reminded her of one of the King’s noble steeds, sleek and compact muscles hidden behind his beautiful facade. His dark hair fell to his shoulders in unruly waves, framing a strong jaw and crooked nose. She’d always fancied his deep blue eyes that seemed to be alight with wonder. Based on her observations from afar, he was as kind as he was handsome. Yet he seemed extremely shy and always kept to himself, never really taking any notice of her. So his appearance in her hour of need was surprising.

“Your father grew worried last night when the carriage never returned after the ball.” His voice was deep, but the tone was gentle, as if he still thought she was fearful of his presence.

Giselle gazed up into his sparkling blue eyes and replied in awe, “How did you find me? I was screaming all night, but I thought no one would ever come.”

He picked up the fallen chair, urging her to sit, suggesting she might be prone to swoon. “I’m surprisingly good at listening when people think there’s no one around. There were people who heard you, but since this is the Prince’s land, none were willing to rescue you for fear of losing their heads.”

Her mind whirred, and a question soon blurted from between her lips, “Yet you have no concern for your own?”

“Your father’s wrath if I returned without you would be a worse punishment than anything the Prince could think up.”

For the first time since she was captured, her face broke out into a grin. “Tis true. He does have a wicked temper.”

“Aye, he does, but I don’t wish to be here when the Prince returns either. Are you okay to walk for a bit? We’ll need to scale the wall to get to my horse.”

Nodding her head, she stood and shuffled along behind him out into the crisp morning air. They walked for a bit in silence before her curiosity got the best of her. “Did my father promise anything to you as a reward for finding me?” She dared not wish for what her heart hoped, and stood looking at his back waiting for his reply.

Glancing over his shoulder he saw her abrupt halt and walked back to where she stood. “If I told you he offered me your hand in marriage would you flee into the woods and back to your captor or be pleased?” His bashfulness endeared him in her eyes, and she could only return a timid smile and a single nod.

His face beamed at the simple gesture, but he spun around quickly urging her forward as they needed to get back home quickly before the Prince discovered her missing.

Just as he finished helping her clear the wall, they heard the frantic thundering of hoofbeats. In the distance she could see them racing towards them from her perch on top of the wall.

“Come on, we need to go.” He hopped off the wall, and turned to catch her as she jumped down. His fingers softly drifted over her bare arms, sending shivers of attraction through her body. She couldn’t help but wonder if Alistair felt the same about her? Had he longed to court her? Or was her Father’s reward something he begrudgingly accepted to get in his good graces?

Her musings were interrupted when he offered his hand to help her onto his horse. They quickly mounted his steed and galloped off towards the village, not knowing what fate might await them when they arrived.

“You realize I’ll have to flee to another kingdom, don’t you? I don’t believe I’ll want to wander the streets alone evermore.”

His grip tightened against her waist as they continued on, his silence at her observation was cause for concern. She’d been watching him from afar for so long, she knew his face was likely a mask of concentration and seriousness. When he finally spoke, it was barely above a whisper. “Aye, your father mentioned something similar. The Prince’s footmen had requested your attendance at the ball, which made him wonder what they wanted from a simple family, as yours. When you’d gone missing last night, he began making plans.”

She tilted her head back to try and glimpse his face, but the jolt of the horse made it nearly impossible to sit anyway other than forward. “And what suggestion did father have?”

Slowing the horse down to a canter, he replied, “he offered to send us to live with his sister and husband until things have been sorted out here. He was even willing to help me set up a blacksmith shop of my own if we like living there.”

“We’ll be going together?” She suddenly realized how serious Alistair had taken her father’s reward. Feeling a bit cheeky, she continued, “And was I to have any say in this matter?” Even though the pair were still in grave danger, the thrill of being so close to her heart’s affection had her pulse racing.

“If your life is in danger, I should hope you would agree to anything we need to do to ensure your safety. But yes, if you would rather stay here in hopes of the Prince’s attempt at recapture, then fates be it, but I will be there with my sword in hand to spoil his plans.”

The grin that bloomed across her face could probably be seen all the way up at the castle. She could only dare hope her affection was returned by her heroic rescuer. “Then we shall go. Won’t you miss your family? Your friends?” Her stomach was now resting comfortably in her throat waiting to hear what he replied, because while she would miss her father desperately, there was little else holding her hostage in the tiny hamlet.

Alistair stopped the horse abruptly and spun her around to face him. Taking her face in his colossal hands, Alistair gently kissed her cheek and whispered that the only thing that would keep him from going with her was death. “Yet I must confess…”

She waited patiently for him to finish his thought. “Aye, what is it?” A boldness she’d never had before allowed her to cup his cheek and kiss him softly on his weathered lips, hoping he’d see how she cared for him.

Alistair accepted her kiss, but didn’t allow it to linger. He opened his eyes and admitted, “Your father was so desperate for your return, I fear I may have manipulated him into offering me your hand in marriage.” His breath came out in shallow pants as he continued his explanation. “I have loved you from afar, knowing a lowly apprentice with no family would never be accepted by your father. So when he was bereft with worry, I told him if I rescued you, he would need to accept our match in return.” His eyes flitted away for a moment as he whispered, “If you would have me, that is.”

“How could I refuse you? You’re my very own knight in shining armor.” Teasing him with another brisk kiss, Giselle spun back around in her seat and told Alistair they needed to get going. “It’s going to be hard to find the good Pastor this early in the morning.”

So what’d you think?  The hero was almost killed off and Giselle recaptured, but the writing fates were feeling generous.  🙂

Big thank you to Kimberly Gould for always helping to correct my grammatical errors.  She’s the best and if you haven’t checked out her stories, you really should.

Thanks for reading & until next time,

Michela

Weight of Fame

I realize it’s been awhile since I posted anything of real substance on here, and I apologize.  I did start writing a new short story I hope to query out once it’s done.  Fingers crossed I’ll find time to work on it, little by little over these coming weeks and months.

I also managed to forget to post my Daily Picsperation from a couple weeks ago.  Whoopsy!  So here it is.

Weight of Fame

I stood upstage, waiting for the light to appear through the fog, my cue to start the opening riff of our headlining song. Standing here, trying not to cough from the man-made smoke, I waited like I did every night. I was so tired of the monotony of our perpetual concert touring schedule. Same show, a different town, a different crowd, yet it all felt like horrible case of deja vu. Nothing changed aside from venue. The song list, the green room demands and the never ending stream of ladies wanting to be with me, or another guy in the band. I went to bed each night with my name being screamed out by the bevy of beauties at my disposal, ringing in my ears. All I needed to do was flick my finger at one of them, and they would be on their knees ready and willing to do my bidding. And it was completely exhausting. It was draining to be surrounded by adoring fans when there was only one person who I desperately wanted beside me, and she wasn’t there. And it wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own.

My loneliness weighed down my heart, my bones, making it feel like I was dragging around a boulder. I missed home even though I was barely able to remember what that was. I hadn’t had a physical location to call my own in over two years. Not since our first single hit it big, and eventually our band became a globally recognizable name. That was when the tour started and when I’d left the one person who actually loved me enough to let me go and follow my dreams.

Back then, we’d opened for bands that toured around our midwest town or sang in small dumpy divebars with our head in the clouds, imagining a day when someone would discover us. A viral video of us opening for the Black Keys helped us start headlining our own gigs. Now we sold out arenas and football stadiums. Most nights I barely got a glimpse of anyone past the first four rows. Deafening screams singing lyrics I could barely remember, sang back to us. We had it all. A Grammy that was shoved deep in a bag in a storage locker told me so. But what exactly did I have?

Sure, my band mates were like brothers to me. We’d started our garage band when we were still in high school, playing at friends’ graduation parties, and then we all ended up playing the college club scene, struggling to keep up our grades while still pursuing our dream of making it big one day.

And when that day finally arrived, we certainly weren’t prepared for it. The money, the drugs, the over-adorning fans not to mention the pressure our record company was putting on us to repeat our debut album’s success. The sad thing was, if you’d asked me ten years ago what I wanted to be, I would have said a famous rock and roll singer. Now that the dream had actually come true, I really wish it hadn’t. I missed the simplicity of making music for the sake of making music. Not caring if anyone other than the three of our band mates liked it or not. Sure, we enjoyed when the crowds at the small pubs liked our music, but ultimately the creative direction was all our own. Now there were executives, producers and a wealth of other people to make happy. We were popular enough to bring in money, but not successful enough to tell all those honchos exactly what they could do with their opinion.

But that wasn’t even the worst part. I’d let Mary slip through my fingers. She’d told me to go when Los Angeles came knocking, saying if things didn’t work out, she’d still be here. The problem was that we had all of our dreams come true, and I’d let that success go to my head. I let myself think that I was too big to go back home. No, not home, but too big for sweet, innocent Mary.

The light flashed up, cueing me to begin my song. Stepping out from the darkness, my fingers unconsciously began playing and I once again stepped onto the treadmill of fame, hoping one day to get off and back to my Mary.

If she was still waiting.

Sawdust Memories – #DailyPicsperation Story of the Day

Sawdust Memories

The musty smell of dust and wood shavings always permeated her nose, tickling it and forcing her to sneeze a few times each time she entered her father’s sacred space. Dragging a finger across the workbench that had sat empty for the last three months still tugged at Valencia’s heart. She wished above all else that her Papa was still alive to chase her out of his workshop, chiding her about the dangers that all his tools could administer. Instead, all Val ever saw when she came in here was the beauty of every handcrafted thing her father had built with his own blood, sweat and tears. 

She smiled wistfully remembering how happy her dad would get when he completed an especially challenging, but lovely piece of furniture. He’d spent more time in their detached garage, turned workshop than he ever did in the house. A habit that eventually caused her mother to walk out after having made a special dinner for their anniversary that her father never came in the house for. Valencia knew she should forgive her mother, but wasn’t sure if she really needed to. She’d walked out of Val’s life, leaving her with a man who was her whole world. If it had been the other way around, she likely would have been crushed and probably suicidal if her father had left her instead.

Now, she just wished she had some sort of family left to be apart of. Even though she was twenty five, she hadn’t been ready for the grim news that her beloved Papa had died of a massive heart attack while slaving over his laythe, putting the lovely, albeit final touches on the legs of a dining room table he’d been working on. She’d saved that unfinished work, unable to part with his final masterpiece. It took up more space than she had in her tiny apartment, but loved the delicate yet sturdy table more than anything else she’d had in her possession.

Glancing back towards the workbench, she exited his shop one last time. Tomorrow was the estate sale. A precursor to the eventual sale of her dad’s house. It had been refinanced and mortgaged to the hilt, and the only way Val was going to get out from the mountain of debt her father had accumulated over the years was to sell it. She was thankful that while the home was old, most of the things that normally wore out by now had been replaced or refurbished by her handy father.

With a quiet click, the door shut behind her. She trudged back up towards the house, knowing she still had hours of work to do inorder to get ready for the sale. Amid the thoughts swirling around in her mind was a deep wonder if she’d ever find another person in her life as perfect as her father had been. The ache in her gut instinctually gave her the answer she’d known yet dreaded all along.

Thanks for reading.  If you enjoy short stories, check out the Daily Picsperation Blog for a new story a day based around a photo prompt.  There are some amazing authors who contribute on that site.  

As always – thanks to @Kimmydonn for her editing prowess.  Much appreciated!

Love Evermore – #DailyPicsperation

 

Love Evermore 

The wind billowed around me, fluttering the ribbon adorning my hair in ghostly movements. 

“How fitting,” I thought, continuing to play the haunting music that had been requested. The grey misty afternoon was perfect for my mood. Dark and foreboding. Today was going to devour me whole, leaving just a carcass of my soul behind. If I’d only known what I was signing up for when I’d replied to the ad, looking for a traditional flutist. It was supposedly easy money, but standing here beside the casket, I had to wonder if it really was.

This wasn’t any ol’ normal funeral, it was this mash-up of historical reenactment wrapped into a hipster sushi roll. The problem wasn’t so much how I felt about being apart of this oddball ceremony, rather the person they were honoring.

The man they were laying to rest was my first love. Although I hadn’t kept in touch with him over the years, his love had always stuck with me. We were only nineteen, but after a bunch of simple childhood crushes in high school, he was the one who nurtured me to become the woman I had become. He helped mold my self confidence, encouraged my interests and taught me about what it meant to physically show someone how they felt. I learned so much from him, and had always held all my subsequent boyfriends up to the high bar he’d set. Standing here now, dressed in my ceremonial robes, I couldn’t believe that fate had brought me full circle.

I felt the first tear trickle down my cheek and knew that the floodgate would smash open when the mourners started throwing handfuls of dirt onto the casket. From the tidbits of gravesite stories, I’d discovered he’d died in a motorbike accident, killed instantly. He’d never been married or had any children and that oddly made me feel better about my lack of family. All through my tears, I continued to play the mournful melody and remember the man who perhaps got a way. Only now, I’ll never have the chance to see what if, leaving the heavy weight of regret firmly tugging on my heart.

Until next time,

Michela

Thanks for reading along.  If you’re interested in wonderful short stories, check out the Daily Picsperation Blog.  A place where authors write stories based around photo prompts.  Always an interesting read.  Check it out!

Hidden Passageways – #dailypicsperation story

Hidden Passageways

She stared at the two doors wondering which path her lover had taken. It was always the same game of hide and seek. They’d been playing it for weeks now. After they’d found the old abandoned mansion on Hollybrook Lane, they’d discovered its hidden passages. Hallways leading to other parts of the house, bookshelves that spun on their axis. The house made her feel like she was constantly in a game of Clue, moving from one room into another just waiting to discover where her Professor Plum was hiding.

“Ready or not,” she shouted, knowing Chad would hear her no matter which hallway he chose.

Ally decided on the left door, remembering that it led into the maroon painted sitting room, with two huge bay windows.. This was their favorite spot to make love, laying beneath the warm sunshine billowing in. Hurrying through the dark passageway, she finally arrived into the expansive room only to find it empty.

Spinning around, she wondered what her next move should be. There was a hidden passage behind the staircase or she could make her way down the hall that led to the study. Pausing, she listened, hoping to hear some sort of clue as to where he was. The squeak of a floorboard directly above got her feet moving towards to door. Rushing up the stairs, she flung open the door to see Chad leaning against the window, his legs casually crossed with a smirk littering his face.

“Took you long enough.”

She didn’t reply, instead stalked forward until her lips captured his. The game had always turned her on, never knowing where she’d find him. He lifted her off the ground, grabbing her legs and wrapping them around his waist. He pressed her up against the wall beside the window, but instead of returning her urgent kiss, he pulled away and pointed outside.

“Do you see that?”

Her exasperation was evident, but she humored him, knowing he wouldn’t continue until she acknowledged his train of thought. Glancing out the window, she saw the for sale sign swinging in the wind by the driveway. “What about it?”

“I put in an offer,” he whispered, nibbling along the column of her neck.

Her head snapped up in an instant, “What?” Ally was shocked by his spontaneous and completely crazy idea. Shit, they weren’t even living together. Yet taking this huge step felt right. They’d all but been squatting in this beautiful, yet neglected home.

He waited for her to put all the pieces together, and lowered her slowly to the ground. A plethora of emotions flashed across her face as she pondered his suggestion. Chad waited patiently, knowing it wouldn’t be long before she finally got his message.

Ally finally turned her gaze back onto her love only to see him kneeling before her.

“So? What do you say? Marry me and we can play hide and seek in this old mansion forever?”

She had no words, instead she flung herself at him, causing him to fall back onto the dusty floor, his arms wrapped snuggly around her.

“I’ll take that as a yes?” he laughed, pulling out the ring that had been nestled securely in his pocket, knowing life would never be dull in this magical place filled with dark passageways and very soon, a lot of love.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hope you enjoyed.  If you are looking for other great stories by some amazing authors, you should check out the Daily Picsperation Blog.

The Weight of a Tribe – #dailypicsperation

The Weight of a Tribe

The weight of the world pressed firmly down upon her shoulders. Her lithe body was wracked with exhaustion and overwhelming guilt. Being the sole survivor in an epic battle with one’s mortal enemy did that to you, she supposed.

The bloodied spear clattered to the ground beside her, echoing off the canyon walls. Another grim reminder that she was alone in the barren wasteland of a battlefield.

She stared intently at the ground, for she couldn’t bear to look up, knowing exactly what kind of wreckage she’d see. Bodies, from both sides of the battle decomposing on the wide expanse. As much as she wanted to give a respectable and proper burial to those that had fallen, she didn’t have the stomach, or the energy to do so. Not at this time anyways.

Her mind whirred, unable to stop the grisly pictures from the endless loop that was playing in her mind. Sitting here, the last remaining Elagora Fairy, she had to wonder what was next for her. Where would she go?

She knew there might still be some Larkin Gnomes lurking about, and debated about letting them capture her. At least she’d either be dead like the rest of her demolished tribe, or have some kind of companionship. Right now the guilt alone was killing her. Murdering her under the pressure of being unable to propagate her species. And at the moment she wasn’t really sure if becoming extinct was better than being an outcast until the day she died.

The wind billowed from the east, the stench reminding her that she needed to make a decision quickly. From the deep recesses of her mind, she could hear her mother’s serene voice telling her a story of a reclusive man who’d left her tribe in a spat with the chief. He’d packed up a rucksack and headed west until the hills stopped rising and he lived among the woods overlooking the sea.

In a sudden burst of energy, she stood up and grabbed the spear off the ground. She looked towards the looming mountains on the horizon and started walking. Her feet moved of their own accord, and she wasn’t sure she’d find the mythical man, but she would die trying.

There might be hope for her kind afterall.

 

If you enjoyed this story – check out all the other contributors to the Daily Picsperation Blog.