Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Iron Writer 12 Days of Christmas Challenge - Day 4

Continuing in The Iron Writer's 12 Days of Christmas Challenge.  Today's prompts:

4 Colly Birds

piano couple

My story bit for today is as follows:

Ryan reached out and touched the door and it swung open easily under her fingers.  Tinkling piano music spilled out and engulfed her, cloaking Ryan in the perfect joy of recognition.  She stepped forward onto the pink shag carpeting that lined the train car.  Sunlight spilled through the windows, curtained in rose-patterned gauze.  Porcelain birds covered every surface, posed in flight, nesting, perched calling on branches.  Those birds had been Nana’s pride and joy.  In fact, the only time Ryan remembered being scolded by her beloved grandparents was the time that she had broken one, and then lied about it.  The tears in her Papa’s eyes at the lie had been almost more than she could bear. 
At the piano, oh at the piano sat her Nana and Papa themselves, lost to Ryan now for five years when Nana finally gave in to the dementia and illness that had claimed her completely two years before.  Still, here they were, playing Heart and Soul as a duet as they always had.  Ryan cried out and they turned, smiling widely, their dark eyes twinkling as they always had. 
“So,” Nana said, exactly as she had when Ryan was a girl, “I see our girl has come for a visit.” 
Ryan ran across the room, flinging herself into their arms, breathing in the scent of Nana’s rosewater, and Papa’s pipe tobacco.  She scrubbed her face back and forth across the rough polyester of her grandfather’s cardigan, and stroked Nana’s long white hair where it spilled down her back. 

“What are you doing here?”  she asked. 

Please, wander over to the website and see the offerings that the other Irons have left.  While your there, read what this Iron Writer thing is all about and, if you think you have what it takes, sign up for a challenge.   

Twelve Days of Christmas - Days Two and Three

This is my offering from Day Two of the Iron Writer's 12 Days of Christmas Challenge.  The required elements were: 

Magic Beans
Two turtle doves

She had always suffered from sehnsucht.  She had planted magic beans in hopes of a beanstalk, had opened and explored every closet and wardrobe she could find.  It had all led, predictably, to naught.  Still, though, maybe, oh maybe this time. . .  She walked up to the tracks. The wind was blowing harder now.  A veritable gale, Ryan had to work hard to not to be pushed sideways, to be sent skittering across the gravel.  Oddly, the American flag at the post office beyond the tracks was flaccid, hanging limply against the silver pole.  The ground vibrated and slowly the air itself began to moan.  Ryan thought she could see a shimmer in the crisp winter nothingness before her.  This was it, then.  It was time.  Suddenly, she found herself paralyzed, her feet rooted to the ground.  What if it were all just foolishness?  More than that, what if it weren’t?  What if she really were abandoning everything she had ever known in order to become a Rider?  And that was the best case.  There were other stories, too, tales of the wretched frostbitten souls who were caught in the wind but denied passage, doomed to be forever yanked from one time and place to another, to be bitten by the bitter wind, but never allowed inside.  What if that were to be her fate?  Ryan took a deep breath and leapt, wrenching her feet from the ground.  The wind crescendoed, the world spun around her, a nexus of color and light.  There was a thump, and all went dark.  When Ryan opened her eyes, she was sitting in an open boxcar, filled with fragrant straw.  A pair of doves greeted her with coos. 

Day Three
Three French Hens
old bottle
In one corner of the car a magnificent rooster with a great green plume of a tail, and three hens pecked contentedly in the straw.  Ryan’s makeshift pillow moved and she sat up, turning to look into the placid, long-lashed eyes of a massive bovine.  The cow looked back, unperturbed, and curled its prehensile tongue around a wisp of hay, pulling it into its mouth.  Next to the cow lay a donkey.  Ryan stretched out her hand and patted its soft muzzle; the creature nuzzled her in reply.  Closer examination of the boxcar revealed only a single door, latched securely against the rushing winds.  Was this it, then?  Then, Ryan spotted it, a small wooden table tucked between some bales of straw.  On it laid a silver plate, covered in filigree.  In the middle of the plate, seemingly impervious to the rocking and jostling of the massive machine, was a small bottle, stoppered with a cork, and containing a small amount of powder.  Ryan felt a tickle in her stomach and an involuntary grin split her face.  She picked up the bottle and uncorked it.  It smelled spicy, exotic. Her hands began to tremble as she turned the bottle upright onto her tongue.  There was another of the dizzying spins, not so bad this time, and when she opened her eyes a door, ornate and incongruous among the steel and livestock, had appeared. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Challenge

I have decided to join The Iron Writer's "12 Days of Christmas Challenge!"  Every day for the next, well, now 10 days (I'm a little behind), we will be given special prompts, modeled after The Iron Writer's weekly challenges, but specially made just for a little bit of Christmas cheer.  For those of you unfamiliar with The Iron Writer, where have you been?  It is only the most amazing way for writer's to prove their chops, all the while engaging in the kind of smartmouthed banter that we artist types do best.  You don't have to be an Iron to take part in this challenge, though.  Simply meander over to http://theironwriter.com/twelve-days-of-christmas-quickies-challenge  and submit in the comments section your piece of flash fiction (200 words or less!) based on the following:

Element: A partridge or a pear tree
Emotion:  Infinite Possibility
train hopper

I decided to link all of my stories together into one cohesive piece.  The first installment is below.  Enjoy, and I look forward to seeing you in the lists!

The Time Train

Ryan hunkered in the woodline next to the tracks, mentally inventorying the items in her rucksack.  The pack contained, amongst other things, five pairs of socks, four pairs of underwear, two canteens, three books of matches, “and a partridge in a pear tree,” Ryan sang softly.  It was frigid, and Ryan shivered even inside the layers in which she was cocooned.  Thick, heavy snowflakes collected in her lashes, making prisms out of the streetlamps that shone in the distance.  Still, if this worked, if the legends were true, everything – the cold, the months spent planning, even the life she left behind, would be worth it.  There were tales of a train, a train that traveled not just from state to state, but from world to world, in and out of time itself.  One every hundred years, on the solstice, it was said to travel through Decatur, flashing by the cornfields and rattling the decrepit old depot.  Ryan had dreamt about the train for as long as she could remember, would send her Barbies leaping, their matted hair flying, onto the train tracks that she’d lay across the kitchen floor.  A noise.  Was it the wind?  They said that it sounded like a tornado. They said that you didn’t try to board the train; they said you just jumped, that the wind would pull you in. They said. They said.  The wind blew harder, pulling at the strands of hair that had escaped Ryan’s woolen cap.