Ferry

When the ferry left the dock, I wasn’t on it. I turned to the docksman as I had a hundred times before.

“Isn’t it enough?” I said. “How many times do I have to go back?”

“Don’t know why you complain.” He hooked a thumb at the crowd behind me, waiting in line to board. “Any one of these guys would give anything for immortality. But Charon won’t take you on. You’ll have to turn back.”

I stood on the shore and looked out at the Styx, wondering what I had done in what life to deserve this.

Truth

Bonus drabble for the prompt “blind,” based on my characters from Carbon.

Drabble

It’s daylight when I wake. I can’t see this, but I know it. Just as I can’t see you, but I know you’re there. I hear your breathing and your soft snores.

I reach out and find your face inches from mine, and feel it with my fingertips. A straight and creased brow: indicative of a worrier. A roman nose: stubborn and fiercely independent. A heavy upper lip: a teller of truths.

But I knew all that already. Even last night when you told me you love me.

That’s unfortunate for both of us.

My love is only for sale.

What They Saw

I was in the shop when I heard several people scream. I dropped my basket in shock, expecting gunfire or a fight, but there was only the screaming.

I found people who had fallen to their knees gripping their head in their hands. But they wouldn’t answer me. Even Arthur at the counter screamed.

I left the shop, only to hear more screaming.

They scream less now, but the smell is getting to me. I’m taking my cane and some supplies to see if the next town over is much the same. Maybe someone can tell me what they saw.

Juicy

There’s a bowl of fruit on the table between us. I’m having trouble looking at it.

She says something and takes from the bowl, bites deep into it. The juice runs down her chin and she has to cup her hand under her face to catch the droplets.

I look away, disgusted. I know what that fruit really is. I know what that juice really looks like. I’ve seen them hanging from the trees in her orchard, still beating and breathing. I’ve seen them on tables still and rotting.

She’s biting into a heart.

She tells me to try one.

Trail

She’ll be waking up now, wondering where she is and how she got there. She’ll be looking around her at the walls and doorways, heart starting to speed up, breath starting to hitch. She’ll see several paths open to her, leading her out of the maze.

But only one path will have a trail. I left it for her, to show her the way. It’s red and dark and sticky and frightening, and there’s no way for her to know what’s at the end of it, but it’s the way.

She’ll have to decide whether she wants to follow it.

The Cloud

I asked her what she saw in the clouds. I had already said a dragon, a train, Abe Lincoln’s hat, pointing out each of them.

“A rabbit,” she said, pointing. “And… a sword. And…”

She pointed at another cloud, but said nothing.

I turned to look at her.

Her face was twisted in horror. Her eyes were wide, the whites showing. Her mouth was open as if she wanted to scream, but couldn’t.

She sat up and stared at the grass, and though I asked her what was wrong she wouldn’t tell me.

She doesn’t look at clouds anymore.

The Foxes

Ben came in from the woods filthy, covered in mud and dirt and blood. He wouldn’t tell us what had happened. All he would say was “The foxes…”

We washed him off and checked him all over, but it wasn’t his blood. He wasn’t injured. Only terrified, and repeating “The foxes. The foxes.”

Now, whenever the foxes wail in the forest, Ben looks up from whatever he’s doing with wide eyes, shaking, suddenly unable to speak. And ever since that night, the foxes cry and bark more and more, and closer and closer, and Ben only cries

“The foxes…”

Smoke Signals

The smoke drifted down into the candle’s fire, and Cassandra watched until the blaze quieted. She held a sheet of paper over it, letting the fire etch Warren’s message. She studied his graceful writing, as graceful as the smoke that had carried it.

She picked up fresh paper and a pen, and wrote her response. Her penmanship was nothing like Warren’s; she hadn’t had his schooling. She had learned magic from her mother rather than a tutor. But she could still send smoke.

She held a corner of the paper to the fire, and the smoke curled out the window.

Fat and Lazy

Sebastian pounced, but didn’t land on the mouse. Its tail slipped from between his claws, and he gave chase. It scurried back and forth, but without an exit it had nowhere to go but forward. His slim frame kept pace with it easily – too easily. He was toying with it, prepared to snatch it up at any moment. At this moment. Now…

“Wake up, you fat lazy thing!”

Sebastian jerked awake and sleepily blinked up at the housemaid.

“What do we keep you around for? You sleep all day, never catch any mice.”

If she only knew…

Fire

She used to be fierce. She used to tear across the fields like wildfire, shouting and laughing. But then winter came and she was given away to a man she had never met.

She sat day after day by the window, watching the snow fall and build, feeling her fire dim into embers. Until one day she stood. She swept her cloak over her shoulders, slipped on her boots, and stepped out into the snow.

She knew that embers can still grow into a fire.

She knew that, just as snow snuffs out a fire, enough fire can melt snow.