Day 47 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Write a story where a character’s weakness works in their favor.
Shannon: My entire life I have never been much of a leader. I’ve always tended to stray to the back of the line and let someone else make the hard decisions. I was told many times I could never succeed if I always stayed in the background, and for a while I believed them. I thought I would always be a follower and never feel the joy of true freedom, but they were wrong.
After years of supporting other people I learned how to decipher the difference between the best and the worst leaders. With all the time I spent in line I learned who I wanted to keep following, and who I needed to break away from. I also developed some close friendships with leaders who took me with them for life-changing opportunities.
I always thought there was something wrong with me because I never felt the drive to guide others to greatness. Now I know that you don’t always have to be the one who gets everyone to the finish line. You just have to be there to cross the line, and enjoy the company you’ve surrounded yourself with. Trust me, it will taste just as sweet.
Erin: The one and only time that I ever cried in my life was in fifth grade. I needed to pass my spelling test with 100% to move up to my last elementary level. To accomplish the feat, I stayed up all night studying with my best friend. After breaking down in tears once she screamed at me to “buck up.” She could easily say that as a normal average speller. That’s when I broke into tears though.
Rachel wouldn’t let me quit though, she stuck with me and graded my tests until I got my 100%. She stuck with me through the spy academy and she was sticking with me through the mission we needed complete to save our positions. “Passcode,” I requested and made sure my ear piece was in.
“Playwright42,” Johnathan feed us the information.
“Perfect,” Rachel cheered and started typing away.
“Wait,” I screamed fully aware we only had one chance to try a code.
“What,” she scoffed removing her hands from the panel.
“It’s spelled W-R-I-G-H-T,” I warned.
“W-R-I-T-E is how it’s spelled actually,” she tried to correct me.
“You’re the one who taught me how to spell it,” I yelled. “It’s not about how it should be, it’s about how it is,” I reminded her of her own words of advice.
“You’re talking about the spelling test where you got the better score than me,” she seemed to have an epiphany.
“Yes,” I sighed relived. “So, trust me.”
And she did, and the only reason we were able to complete our mission was because I was a bad enough speller that I had studied words like playwright until my eyes were completely devoid of moisture.
No bad traits, just bad attitudes.
Sitting on the counter, patiently watching as I seared both sides of the steak, was one of our particularly vicious flesh-eating plants. This one was my favorite; with six separate, snapping flowers they were one of the deadliest non-poisonous plants in the magickal world. Their lime green shade with bright ruby red spots made them easy to see but their speed was second to none. As I began slicing through the tender meat, with the blood oozing out onto the cutting board, the heads behind me moaned with anticipation.
Sighing as I passed the giant pile of fresh vegetables I’d bought for the carnivorous plants in our greenhouse I set the messy plate in front of the pot and stood back. They fought over the larger chunks, changing their colour from emerald to sapphire in the process to warn the others they meant business. When I turned to clean off the counter they hissed aggressively; why did I let them in the house anyway?
After the massacre was over I removed the plate, patted the satiated heads as they lolled sleepily and finished my cleanup. When I left the kitchen, switching the light off in passing, I noticed the greenhouse lamps were still fully lit. Standing in the doorway I gazed across the lawn at our three sizeable greenhouses that stood like beacons in the night. I clucked with annoyance at Anise for leaving the lights on and a glass door wide open; any of our dangerous flora could escape.
I pulled on my leather boots and slipped into a lined jacket before stepping out into the bracing autumn chill. Between me and the greenhouses, was a stone path our mother and I had built the mortal way over the course of a summer; here and there the stones were sketched with calming runes and charms from my youth. No spell lasted forever but just watching the paint gleam in the lantern light warmed my heart on this frosty evening.
When I was nearing the first glass building I could make out some of our vines shivering with discontent as they wound their way around the domed roof. I stood at the door for a moment, hesitating to open it, and found it locked shut; it was odd for either of us to leave the lanterns on when we left but I didn’t think too much of it. Weaving my fingers through the air I unlatched the door and stepped into the humidity of the conservatory.
Other than the poor, timid vines everyone else seemed fine; they could be so sensitive sometimes. After I turned the lamp off and stepped back into the freezing night I latched the door securely, leaving the nocturnal plants to bloom away from my prying eyes. In the next greenhouse not a thing was out of place and I was sauntering toward the open door of the third in no time.
Standing outside the framed-glass structure I could feel an icy wind gusting from within the room and almost shouted, “Anise? Are you in there?” With my words the breeze ceased and I stepped closer, warily I took a tentative step inside and the warm feeling I felt in the other outbuildings was washed away by the uncomfortable, numb sensation here. Where there were usually flowering flora all over the glass and rickety wooden counters there was only a light dusting of snow covering suspiciously vine-like lumps.
I bent over to examine the frostbitten corpses of some of our rarest specimens when I noticed something shining in the snow; some kind of jewelry lost by whoever massacred our plants. When I picked it up carefully I nearly screamed when I recognized the swirling leafy design. Anise had worn this pendant every second she wasn’t in her room for the last ten years; she would never take it off outside the house. The lucky, sleek metal reflected the lantern’s glow as tears rolled down my frosty cheeks.
Terror gripped my stomache when I thought about why my little sister would take off her pendant and who could create this level of havoc. After a few moments blinding myself with the tiny charm I shoved it into my pocket and stalked out into the fresh air. Just as I reached the path I remembered the light was still on and the door stood ajar. In my fury I made a quick gesture to cut the power to the room and the doorframe shattered when it slammed shut.
I was already in front of the massive mansion before I realized how dangerous what I was about to do was; not only for me but also for Anise. Though I didn’t know what he wanted with her, I knew I was going to kill Hugo for taking her from me. Since I’d arrived home for good I felt so much guilt for letting our parents put her in a home out of their selfishness that I couldn’t let anything happen to her. I was supposed to be her protective big sister and I’d failed her up until this point.
Walking to the steps I struggled to keep my thoughts straight. I twisted the doorknob and found it unlocked; not a great sign. As I shuffled down the pitch hallway I could see light seeping out from under the door at the end of the hall like a beacon.
Once I was at the door I took a few deep breaths of dank, still air and slammed into the wood, forcing it open. The scene on the other side was horrific.
As I’d read in my book, magickal ability could be transferred from one person to another in a myriad of ways but each were more dangerous and demanding than the last. Anise was unconscious on a couch in the far corner with a shivering field buzzing around her; some kind of rudimentary force field I thought I could break through easily. Scattered around the room was an odd assortment of tables, books and ingredients for different types of magick.
Resting on the closest table to me was a stack of spell magick books and half a dozen ingredients required for a transference spell meant for the temporary taking of energy; it wouldn’t work for what I knew Hugo wanted. Another table was strewn with potions, empty bottles and sticky fragments of glass. A third table, closest to the wall, held rune tomes that whispered their ancient knowledge across the room.
As I focused on my sister and took a few steps into the space I could hear malicious laughter echoing from somewhere nearby. Hugo, in his usual perfectly starched suit, materialized out of the far wall giving the illusion of magnificent powers. What he really had was a penchant for tricks and charms, “You’re still the same old asshole I left back in that mortal town. There’s no need to pretend we’re friends, Hugo.” As a wicked smile lit up his face, casting him in the villainous light that suited him, he cackled again.
Taking a predatory step forward he nodded mockingly, “No, let us be rid of the pleasantries. You came for your little sister but I didn’t really want her anyway.” The smile remained as I faced the truth; I knew I wasn’t coming here to protect my sister.
(The overwhelming need to protect one’s family can be a weakness, right?)
Created to Write:
Heather turned a corner, but was body slammed by an oncoming Hydra soldier. She falls to the ground, angling her body so Leslie is on top of her. But she wasn’t entirely prepared, so they roll, separating mid tumble. Heather sees stars briefly, then looks up from the floor. There’s a soldier with Leslie’s wrists in one hand. The other soldiers around Heather have their guns trained on her shielded back. She closes her eyes, feeling the waterworks break through. She’s terrified, she doesn’t want to die. She’s worried, seeing the pain on her little sister’s face. But most of all…
Without opening her eyes, Heather props herself up into a push up position. She rolls away from the onslaught of bullets, taking her shield into her hands to block them further as she turns to face her enemy. She waits until the bullets are gone. Then she looks over the rim of the shield, stopping her enemies cold in the middle of reloading.
The fire in her eyes could have melted the arctic and froze the equator. She stares for a brief second, then bursts forward. Ten soldiers still had to load their guns, and one other was still holding her sister hostage. He started to inch away from the fight, Leslie screaming the entire way.
Heather plows through the soldiers, moving so fast that they couldn’t land a blow. Their guns end up either mangled or broken in half, and the soldiers themselves are on the floor. Heather steps over one that is groaning. He reaches for her foot, and he gets it; right in the face.
The last soldier, with an iron grip on Leslie, had turned the hall. He looks over his shoulder, knowing the fight was over. But then Heather turns the corner. She walks toward him, the shield on her back. She glares at him with the same fire as before, only it is centered on him, making it even more of a blaze than before.
He turns, picking Leslie up. Heather’s then at his back. She jabs at his side, forcing him to a knee. Leslie uses the moment to get out of his grasp. she hides farther down the hall, not watching her sister fight.
Heather doesn’t take out the knives on her boots. She kicks the soldier when he tries to stand up. The gun he had unholstered hits the ground, which Heather doesn’t hesitate to step on. It crushes under her boot, pieces going everywhere.
The soldier manages to stand back up. Steve arrives after finishing a different wave of Hydra down a few corridors. He gets there just in time to see Heather spin kick the soldier, sending him crumpling to the floor.
Heather stands there, breathing heavily. She stares at the soldier. ‘No one, touches, my sister.’
She then looks around for Leslie. She sees her and rage on her face melts away to concern and worry.
“Is it over?” Leslie asks. Her eyes were covered, but her ears had picked up the quiet.
Heather jogs to Leslie’s side. She puts a gentle hand on Leslie’s cheek. The younger girl flinches, then opens her eyes.
“Yes. It’s over. No one is going to hurt you,” Heather says, conviction filling her voice. Leslie stares at her sister, who has a few bruises and a few bits of blood and grime on her face. But passed the mask-like helmet, Leslie sees her sister welling up with tears.
They embrace. Heather clutches her sister tight enough that no one can pry her away, but gentle enough that she won’t crush her with her new-found strength.
Steve walks over to them, keeping an eye out for more enemies. “Heather, we need to go.”
Heather doesn’t move for a second. Then she backs up. Leslie sees the tears, and tries to wipe them away. “We need to run, Leslie. So, I need to carry you,” Heather says gently.
Leslie nods. Heather takes the shield off her back, then helps Leslie into a piggyback ride. With the shield on her arm and her sister on her back, Heather bolts down the corridor, following Steve to safety.
‘No one will hurt my family again.’