Day 55 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Write a person that embodies an animal.
Erin: Goldie never felt very special. She knew that everyone in the band was unique. Compared to the lead singer who was always so colorful, she was. But the thing about Goldie was, compared to all of the fans she wasn’t. They reminded her of that every day. She wasn’t exotic enough, she wasn’t flamboyant enough and she surely wasn’t Beta. Goldie had no more of a right to be the pianist in the band than the other redhead in seat Y45. No one cared or wanted to look at someone like Goldie, they just had to because she was swimming in the same tank as her beautiful and unique friends.
Shannon: My grandpa was a gentle giant. When I was little he stood so tall over the top of me I knew he could have easily crushed me, but instead he would reach one of his long arms down and pick me up to give me the best hugs. He had dark gray hair, and wrinkles around his eyes whenever he would smile at me.
When he babysat me he would bring me along to the restaurant where he played the trumpet in a jazz band. The music and the atmosphere memorized me. It was the best place in the world and grandpa had become my role model. I wanted to be just like him. I suppose that’s why I took up the trumpet in school and tried to convince my friends that jazz was the best music in the world. The beautiful sound always made me feel closer to him.
Animal or person or animal or person? How will you make us ask that question?
Without opening my eyes I breathed deeply; the freezing autumn air biting at the tip of my nose, the faint melody of birdsong reaching my ears and the icy light of a cloudy day brushing against my eyelids. There was something wonderful to be said about lying in bed on a brisk fall Sunday morning, as well as something to be said about getting up. But on this particular day I recalled the calendar glaring at me as I sipped peppermint tea the night before. It practically screamed that today we needed to be up and at ‘em and ready to clean the Heart house from top to bottom.
Every quarter Anise and I had a pact to dust every surface, scrub every tile and rearrange every room to satisfy our mother’s surprise homecoming. Wherever we were, whether we be at home or abroad, she popped in on us unexpectedly. She was due to return, without our father Charles, any day now; but she never gave us notice since she figured it was our duty to keep a clean space for her to land. This was likely to be amplified with her still thinking we were living in her house. Laws here were a little funny about who actually owned the property but I was almost certain she’d given up her rights to it. I wasn’t going to tell her, but someday someone had to.
On this morning I lay cocooned in the warmth of three comforters, flannel pajamas and a tiny bit of heat magick. I peered over my hefty duvet at my childhood bedroom that still looked as if I’d never left. Against the far wall was a line of bookshelves stacked high with grimoires and storybooks I couldn’t live without; their spines splitting and creased after years of heavy use. In front of them sat a dusty rose armchair with scratches up the sides and bleach stains covering most of the armrests. Hanging midair was a twine-wrapped lamp that swayed steadily in the cold breeze.
The other side of the room held a dresser strewn with disused makeup and jewelry, creating the appearance of this being a girly-girl’s room. But beside that hung my imitation shield and functional sword, reminding all who enter that this girl means business. A ways further down was door number one; my messy as hell walk-in closet and door number two; my pretty pink ensuite bathroom. Since I was young my parents never knew whether I wanted a princess dress or suit of armour, so I suppose both was always their answer.
I snuggled further into the covers as I thought about my childhood growing up with this castle all to myself. But just as I was drifting back to sleep the door banged open and a dark mist drifted through, solidifying into a figure that stood six feet tall with what appeared to by a broom in its outstretched hand. “You will arise, fine knight!” it boomed, rattling the lamp on my dresser, and thrust the broom-sword toward me. When it righted itself it thundered, “Today you and Anise shall do battle against the terror that is dust and grime!” With its speech finished it melted into the rosy carpet and the door slammed shut, upsetting the lamp entirely.
Sighing as the metal hovered above the hardwood floor; I got up and plucked it from the air. Now in the freezing air with my bare arms showing I rushed into the closet, tripped over a pile of possibly-dirty shirts and landed half-buried in a mountain of clothes I didn’t know I had. I breathed in the cool scents of clean clothes for a moment before Anise’ second attempt to get me up burst in the door.
The large orb hovered above my bed before it vomited dirt and plant remains where I had been relaxing moments ago. Without a sound it whisked back through the door, letting it slam shut again. This time I wasn’t there to catch the lamp and I could hear it shatter on the floor; shards embedding themselves in the nearby carpet. Again I sighed and heaved myself out of the comforting mound of clothing and wandered leisurely to the jacket section of the closet.
Five hangers at the very front held my prized jackets and hoodies that weren’t safe from Anise’ sticky fingers when I left them downstairs. As I contemplated which to wear, decidedly ignoring my little sister’s attempts to wake me up, I started a cleanliness spell. It took form quickly as I slipped my goose-bump-covered arm into the sleeves of a fleece-lined hoodie, revelling in the soothing warmth emanating from its softness. “Complicare vestimenta sua,” I whispered to the pile of clothing, focusing my thoughts on a particularly wrinkled tunic.
As I wrapped my fingers around one another, holding my tongue against the roof of my mouth for added concentration, the garment twisted and creased before my eyes. Moving my hands in the direction of an empty shelf I deposited the perfectly folded clothing and turned back to the enormous pule before me. I cursed softly and started up the spell again, considering my options; do I simply fold the clean clothes and wash the dirty stuff or do I spend upwards of thirty seconds on each piece of attire?
Deciding that this was one instance where magick wasn’t the easy way out I got to work folding anything that smelled clean and throwing the rest in a charmed hamper. I’d done a bit of portal magick so my laundry would end up directly in the laundry room and I was quite proud it had worked out so well. After a few crisply folded shirts I realized the house was quiet, too quiet.
Hesitantly I peeked out my door, bracing for some kind of prank for not getting up first thing, but found the hallway devoid of life. I stepped out and padded to the top of the stairs carefully; no one was hiding anywhere and Anise’ door was wide open, her room standing empty. But as I landed on the first stair tread a ball of light came out of nowhere, floated before me and dashed into my room to my great dismay.
While the spell only required an average amount of spell magick, the quantity anyone with physical abilities could summon, it demanded a fully-conscience mind to stop it. Still not entirely awake, I wasn’t yet equipped to deal with my sister’s shenanigans. Instead I hurried downstairs, knowing I was going to need more than one new lamp.
Once on the main floor I turned the corner into the kitchen to turn on the coffee maker along with the speaker system; a radio I’d enchanted that connected to speakers throughout the house for parties and the like. Rock music reverberated through the semi-open floorplan and I nodded my head to the beat, closing my eyes to really get in the mood.
Anise was standing before me when I opened my eyes again, her hands firmly placed on her hips wearing a torn t-shirt and grey sweat pants. “Where have you been? We agreed to begin cleanup at exactly seven a.m.” she faked a sigh of exasperation as the coffee maker beeped cheerfully. Leaning around to eye the auburn liquid life sloshing behind me, she nearly drooled. From where I stood I could see the deep circles under her green and brown eyes, obvious signs she was worried about my impending doom; but today was for forgetting about life and having a day to ourselves.
Without dignifying her question with a verbal response I flicked my wrist expertly at the coffee pot and it sailed into my hand. I poured a cup almost overflowing and shoved it towards Anise before opening the sugar jar for myself and spooning a lump into my cup. Silently we both stood sipping our hot beverages in the wee hours of the morning. Light spilled from the floor-length windows in the sitting room, bathing parts of the room in brilliant sunshine, while casting ominous shadows on the rest of the space.
When I had drained half my mug I placed the cup on the cool counter and cracked my shoulders to signal I was ready to get to work. But lines still creased Anise’ young face like a weathered tree; she didn’t need to worry about me. Without letting the thought be tainted with self-doubt I declared aloud, “I don’t even know if that destiny crap is true. It could just be Serena trying to get under my skin,” the colour drained from her face as I addressed the topic we’d been avoiding for days. “But today, none of that exists. It’s just you and me and this big old house.”
Anise just stared, unseeing, through me for a few moments as I picked at a chip in the counter. There was nothing I could do to take away the pain she’d gone through unless I actually took it away; and that was a line no one should ever cross, magickally or not. Instead I would just have to live with my little sister having gone through torture and I would have taken Hugo’s worst over that.
But she snapped out of her day-nightmare and smiled like only Anise could. Her sly grin was so infectious you could be miles away and be affected by it. “Well, I figure we take it room by room, tackling different elements. I’ll take dusting and sweeping, and you can take cleaning fabrics and mopping.” Her take-charge attitude only applied to things like cleaning, where she was most comfortable and in her element, and playing games.
So it was that we began in the kitchen and the spells began to fly, along with a good amount of water and dust; which tends to create a sticky mess that requires more cleaning. That was why we gave the house a whole Sunday; we had too much fun.
After leaving the kitchen and sitting room sparkling clean we moved on to the front room, where the bookshelves took up an entire wall. That took most of the morning, enchanting cloths and brooms to go about their business, before we broke for lunch. I was still carefully moving furniture, thanks to a little levitation spell of mine, out of the way of the mop when Anise called that lunch was ready. A few minutes of watching the mop magickally sashaying about had proven I would have to be on top of it to avoid catastrophe so I waited until the room was finished. Over soup we discussed how to rearrange the room, what colours to turn the couch and chairs as well as who had to clean the powder room. As soon as we were done it was back to work.
After every inch of the house was spotless, including our rooms, we sat down to enjoy a cup of peppermint tea and watch the sun setting over the hill. Out on the porch it was chilly but we’d summoned a flameless stove to keep us warm and huddled under a fleece patchwork quilt. It was comfortable and relaxing after a full day’s work to just sit silently for a while. Inside the house the rock music still vibrated the shelves but outside it was peaceful.
All the windows had been opened as we finished rooms and I knew as soon as we walked back into the house the bone-chilling wind would go right through us so, out here with the warmth of sisterly love, we were safe. There was a nagging in the back of my mind about Serena and Hugo but I attempted to swallow it down; Anise shouldn’t be concerned with such matters since it was my fault, my fate. She shivered as the breeze hit us head-on and I cuddled closer.
Tonight we were just two sisters making the house we knew so well a clean home. Tomorrow we could tackle the threat of destruction. For now we would sleep soundly, though.
Rain dripped calmly from the eaves, pattering on the warm wood porch and splashing up on the cushions, as I meditated peacefully. As with every autumn rain, I was true to my relaxing ritual of mediation mixed with light magick. Every cell in my body vibrated at the same frequency as I felt myself lift a few inches off the ground and hover midair for a moment. That was just how tranquil it was in Narlton; no one visited and no one caused any trouble.
But when I was gently stretching the tension from my shoulders, twisting lightly with my eyes closed, I felt a cold breeze rush by me like a hurricane. Fluttering my eyes open I expected to see someone standing before me, but found the space devoid of life; nothing had changed since I fell into my trance. When I tentatively stood up, clutching my pillow to my chest, I noticed the neatly creased letter sitting placidly on the steps. Despite being directly in the line of rainfall the crisp linen sheet was completely dry as I plucked it from the ground.
I ducked back under the overhang and shivered as I glanced around the yard for the writer; no one showed themselves and I scoffed. Folding the page again I shuffled into the cozy house and deposited my bolster in the sitting area before continuing to the kitchen. From where I stood, flicking the kettle on with deft fingers, I could see the entire house; the living area with the hearth flickering cheerfully to the empty sitting room. No one was downstairs so I turned to the paper in my hand.
Setting it on the counter to examine it I prodded the page with my finger, not really expecting anything to happen. When nothing did I concentrated on the old-style wax seal with a well-used revealing charm to show any hexes that might be carved into the scarlet seal. But nothing happened and I bit my lip nervously. Considering the emblem embedded in the wax I tried to make out the shapes; some kind of cloudy figures along the edges, surrounding a letter I couldn’t quite make out. Curiosity got the better of me and I gently lifted the flap, letting the seal break in half with a satisfying pop, and unfolded the letter.
As I read the first words I shivered and felt a familiar electric tingle on the back of my neck; the letter was from the reason I’d left my last town, Hugo Moray. Just thinking about the horrors I went through those last few months had me nearly in a fit. Finally calming myself I read his letter, written in neat, tense blood ink:
My dearest friend, Lily Anne Heart,
I do so miss our adventures in this mortal world you love so much. Nothing would bring my heart more joy or my mind more knowledge than to meet again. Obviously I spent the last while tracking you down, you scoundrel; leaving me no forwarding address was not a kindness. I’ll have to get you back for that, but perhaps not now. Well, we’ll be seeing each other again very soon, my dear. Mark my words.
– Hugo Moray
The vary blood in my veins turned to ice as I read his letter over and over in my head, not yet prepared to let the mean sink in. After all this time, the bastard finally found me. His voice rang through my mind over and over; our first friendly meeting when I was just surprised to find someone else with magick in the mortal world to our parting when he’d attempted to steal my magick and threatened to kill me.
Upstairs I could hear someone walking down the hallway; it was getting late in the morning and everyone would be waking up soon. From the leisurely padding on the carpet I figured it was Quin, but couldn’t risk it being Joanie, Kiara or Goldie so I shoved the cursed note into a drawer and busily poured myself some hot water. Cursing under my breath I fumbled for a teabag as my love stepped off the stairs in her most comfortable outfit. A sly smile twitched at the corner of her mouth as she saw I was already up.
“Lil, how’d you sleep? You are such an early bird,” she whined mockingly. Quin always stayed up until the wee hours reading, playing with our magickal plants or practising magick in the confines of our room. But I was up at the crack of dawn settling my nerves.
Attempting friendly banter I slurred, “Well, uh, fine thanks.” Even with my great effort at acting chill Quin’s careful eyes watched my fingers fidgeting with the drawer and glanced pointedly. Swallowing the lump that grew in my throat I pulled on the handle and tossed the letter across the smooth stone to the one person I was worried about. “I never told you about Hugo, did I?”
Before she could answer the front door banged open, knocking the hat rack to the floor and scattering jackets across the floor. Dripping water everywhere was our newest roommate, Goldie. She slammed the door behind her, the sound reverberating through the house, and shook her golden hair out before noticing us in the kitchen.
Giggling apologetically she called, “Sorry, saw it was raining and just had to go for a run.” She righted the hat rack, hung her cherry red raincoat on it and gathered up the other jackets as she regaled us about seeing three squirrels, two cats and a particularly obnoxious robin on her run. As she crossed the room, dropping the sopping newspaper in the bin, she finally read the tension in the room. Smiling shyly she ran upstairs without another word.
A door slammed as Goldie reached the top step and muffled shouting started up, followed by quiet whining and another door banging shut. Though she was high energy, Goldie sometimes forgot everyone didn’t wake up a jittery ball of joy.
When I knew she was safely in her room I turned back to Quin and read the worry in her eyes. The paper was back on the counter, having been read through a few times, and she was eyeing it with discontent. “Okay, who is this Hugo Moray and why does he want to see you?” jealousy tinged her tone and I nearly laughed at the normalcy that would bring to the conversation.
But instead I took a deep breath to clear my head. “Hugo was a guy I met a while back. He was the first magickal person I knew of outside of Briarwood or the outpost; he was kinda exciting and new.” I so desperately wanted him to simply be a spurned lover, but it was much more complicated and dark than matters of the heart. Continuing in a slow voice, choosing my words carefully, I picked at the wax, “We learned lots of magick I didn’t know; lots about transference magick. Before Hugo I didn’t even know it was possible.”
Quin’s features had shifted from suspicion to horror at the thought of transference; it was taboo in our culture to trade abilities. Grateful for the distraction I recalled my tea and took a tentative sip of the scalding beverage, making a mental note to learn a cooling spell. “Anyway, he didn’t mean to give them back. He just got more insistent on learning how to do it that I got freaked out and tried to pull away. I was desperate.” There were parts I left out, but that was the gist of it. Carefully I sighed, “I ran when I realized he would actually kill me for my spell magick. I thought I’d covered all my tracks.”
We were staring into each other’s eyes, each attempting to figure out the other’s inner thoughts when Goldie stumbled down the stairs suddenly. Shoring up in front of the door, her expression puzzled when she saw us just standing across the island from each other, she opened the door. Instead of waiting for the bell to ring, like a retriever, Goldie had the habit of opening the door. It was nice skipping the loud chiming of our original-to-the house doorbell, but sometimes she put a little too much enthusiasm into it. “Hello? Who are you?” she chimed, waving eagerly at our guest.
Whoever it was mumbled something and Goldie grinned from ear to ear, stepping aside to let them through. Bowing to her, the short man stalked into the foyer and removed his fedora courteously. With a flick of his wrist the girl before him disappeared in a large puff of smoke, replaced with a golden retriever that sat, confused by its situation.
Quin and I stood in disbelief as the dog ran out the still-open front door and the man set his hat back atop his head. As if he’d just noticed us under the brim of the cap he nodded in our direction, letting our eyes meet. Smiling crookedly he used the same flicking motion to dismiss the charm on his appearance; it faded like smoke and I gasped.
Standing in my house, before my very eyes, was Hugo Moray. He looked exactly as I’d left him right down to the evil look in his dark eyes and the well-dressed attire. Without a word he took his leave, shutting the door gently behind himself.
We searched for ages for Goldie but never found her; I shudder to think what might have happened to the poor girl.
Created to Write:
“Okay, so… I have to guess what you wrote on my head?” Nikki asks.
“Yep,” Jacey answers, “When you guess, then we switch roles.”
“Okay… is living?”
“Is it strong?”
“Does it think of it’s own accord?”
“So there are other influences involved?”
“It has things that it can’t help.”
“These are yes or no questions, Nikki, try again.”
“Oh no, pretty social.”
“Does this living thing avoid confrontation?”
“You have one more question, then you can guess,” Jacey reminds.
“…Tough exterior around threats, but softie around friends and family?”
“Uh huh,” Jacey says, her eyes lighting up.
“Okay,” Nikki says, smiling, “I know what it is.”
“It’s Josh, isn’t it?”
Jacey’s face falls. She takes the sticky note off her friend’s forehead. “No, it was a bear.”
Nikki looks at the word. Then back at her friend, “How was I supposed to guess that?”