Writing Prompt: Day 189

189.jpgDay 189 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Force your character to pick from three options with unknown outcomes.

Erin: “You have it narrowed down to three. Now just pick one,” my little sister oversimplified.

“You don’t understand,” I argued. “I’m not just picking a school. I’m picking the rest of my life. This school will determine the job I get, the place I move, the people I meet, and all of the other endless things I will do for the rest of my life.” I nearly started hyperventilating.

“Just go with your gut, it will tell you which one leads to the life waiting for you,” she was always so sure of destiny. I wasn’t but chose to be at that moment, because it was easiest.

Shannon: “You don’t seem impressed. Don’t you like anything you’ve seen so far,” an older woman questioned from the other side of the clothing rack.

“I’m sorry, I don’t want to be ungrateful or criticize anyone’s fashion choices. It’s just, none of these make any sense for me. This is a very generous gift, but I don’t think I can accept it,” I pressed my teeth together, ready for her tell me to go to prom in a potato sack for all she cared.

She smiled, oddly pleased with my response. “Then maybe you’d consider playing a little game,” she offered.

“What kind of game?”

“I’ll show you,” she waved for me to follow and I did, more than intrigued. We went into a back room where she led me to one small clothing rack with three hangers holding up black garment bags. “I’ll let you choose from one of these, but you don’t get to see what’s under the bag before you choose. You must take a guess, and you have to wear it to your prom. As you agreed before stepping foot in the store, we do expect pictures. So, do you want to play?”

I hummed in thought, “Do I get any clues?”

“There was a necklace that came with each one. It’s in the pocket. I’ll let you look at those, but only if you play the game,” she explained, making the mystery even more exciting.

“Ok. I’ll do it,” I agreed before I could change my mind.

“Yes,” she cheered, “Go ahead. Tell me when you’re ready.”

The first bag had a silver heart shaped locket necklace. The second one had a gold band with a emerald green jewel. The third had pearl necklace. “This isn’t real, is it?” I held up the last one and she nodded with another conniving smile. “Why would you just give it away? You could do so much more with it.”

“The lady who donated the dresses made it very clear. The girl who gets the dress also gets the necklace,” she explained. “So do you want that one,” she questioned.

I knew I should take the pearls. Even if the dress was hideous, I couldn’t regret the decision. “You’re probably going to think I’m stupid, but I actually want the one with the locket.” My heart was drawn to that one. I had always found lockets to be the most beautiful jewelry. They didn’t hold an eye-catching charm or instant elegance, but they do hold a picture of whatever a person loves most in the world and that’s worth more than any stone.

“I don’t think you’re stupid,” she moved forward to unzip the bag revealing intricate pastel blue and purple lace appliques covering the bodice and thinning out into a off-white skirt. “This one is actually my favorite,” she pulled it out and I was instantly in love. Tears flooded my eyes. I was having a hard time processing how something so beautiful could actually belong to someone like me. “Well go on,” she handed it over, “Try it on.”

Make your character take a blind chance.

One thought on “Writing Prompt: Day 189

  1. The test day drew nearer and nearer as the days waned, and the nights grew brighter and full of intoxicating mystery. Tangled in the briars and vines that dripped from the ancient trees, the sun fell faster and rose slower all the time; we were never given a curfew, but the moon’s early morning death was as good as. Beyond the walls, every creature that was bathed in the silver or golden light became a frightening reminder of the dangers without, though some of the girls snuck out through the woods anyway. Shooting through the trees on mystical mists that wound their way skillfully through the century-old growths, they would scream like wild animals into the midnight sky to remind the rest of us what was at stake here.
    When the sun’s ray fell across the floor of the room, I opened my eyes and studied the dust motes that fluttered through the air. Above me, one of the sisters snored loudly, having gotten in only a few hours ago before passing out on the floor; I levitated her gently to her bunk and tucked her in, though I knew she was still in her evening robes. In the next set of beds, the others began to stir and wake, yawning and stretching toward the autumn sun sleepily. We were prohibited to speak until breakfast was over, so those of us who were awake silently deliberated with ourselves as we waited for the morning chime to ring.
    Around the cavernous room were forty sets of beds arranged in a grid and gave no privacy whatsoever to the sisters. At the end of each bunk was a short chest of drawers, one drawer for each, which held our various day and nighttime robes. Though the beds were rickety and older than any of us, they held strong over the years I had been there; legends told that the trees they were hewn from were mystical, and gave their lives to the institute and their energy every night to us. To most, it was just a story, but sometimes if you were very quiet, in the middle of the night, you could hear them singing softly to each other as they whiled away their power. Our robes were washed every second night, though if we stayed out until sunrise they weren’t cleaned until the next night, so long as they were folded neatly in the basket atop our dressers. Even though every girl washed the clothing on a rotating schedule, I didn’t have any idea how we gave each back to the correct sister as there were no markers or tags on them.
    A loud clanging reverberated around the camp, made louder still by the architecture of the building. Four long rectangular rooms surrounded a large, paved courtyard in the center with small, high windows set into the brick and mortar walls the let in minimal amounts of direct sunlight. Each room had vaulted ceilings so tall that songbirds often nested in the rafters and whispered to each other in the mornings. Occasionally the morning doves also made it their home, though they much preferred the vast deciduous and coniferous forest that encased our little sanctuary.
    Girls awoke from peaceful and fretful sleeps alike without so much as a peep and began hastily dressing in our deep maroon early morning robes. As I slipped out of my soft violet sleeping clothes and laid out the warm morning colour with everyone else. Carefully making my bed up with the thread-bare sheets and cotton bedspread tucked in tightly, I stood at attention before my bed. Together, waiting for the last embarrassed stragglers, we stood breathed out a collective sigh and filed through the far door and out into the woods. As each of us passed through the second set of doors, we closed our eyes briefly to give thanks to the trees for a restful sleep, regardless of whether it was that or not.
    The last sister hopped onto the heavy underbrush with bare feet and chilly toes as we began to hum softly as we did every morning. Two from the back, I stumbled a bit, nervous to the core about the day’s test and ceremony, but I wasn’t the only one. Near the front of the line, a girl nearly fell right off the path when she tripped on her robes, but the sister behind her caught at the worn fabric skillfully. Before breakfast we also weren’t to use our powers, where any of us could have easily caught a fallen sister, we had to rely on our physical strength and presence in the morning.
    When we finally made it to the very top of the mountain our sanctuary was nestled into, we fanned out to begin our morning meditation in the fresh, silent air. There was a certain charge to the subtle breeze, I noticed, as I took my usual place and reached to the water-colour sky. In perfect unison, we stretched our stiff bodies before leaning down into a crouch and starting in on the morning chants. Our voices echoed in the still world, bouncing off treetops and craggy mountains alike as we sat for meditation.
    As the hour went by swiftly, the next bell tolled loudly from the courtyard, rousing many from deep concentration, while others were still clearly conscious. Getting to our feet in graceful motions, the group filed back into a line and began the trek back down the mountain, stepping deliberately in a sort of trance.
    Fresh fruit had been laid out for us in the dining room with beans, heavy bread and hard cheese for the first meal of the day. When we were all seated and gobbling up the good food, the matrons came around with morning chai and chamomile to help swallow the rich bread. Filling my clay cup with chai, I drained the mug in a matter of seconds, and sat waiting impatiently for a second serving to quench my thirst. Some sisters glanced around the room nervously, tapping their fingers on the long, rough wooden tables and couldn’t touch a scrap of their food. Others, I noticed, were like me and attempted to stifled the butterflies with as much sustenance as their bodies would take.
    As the last few bits of fruit disappeared, the third gong went off through the building like thunder rumbling. There was a curt nod from one of the matrons who was picking up the course plates and the room erupted in a tidal wave of excited chatter and anxious giggles.
    Still babbling animatedly, the group moved swiftly back to the sleeping chamber to change into the russet orange late morning robes. I stayed silent, as did many sisters, as I dressed and folded the red cloth carefully, placing them in the bottom drawer under the bright yellow lunchtime clothes. While it seemed like a great many changes to happen during the course of an average day, we found that, as the day progressed, we were able to concentrate more on each of the chakras if our world was surrounded by that colour. Peering out the windows, having levitated herself several feet above the ground, one of the sisters exclaimed loudly, “They’re here! It looks like it’s gonna happen out there, and soon.” This statement sent the normally calm room into a hysterical frenzy as the realization of the testing dawned in everyone’s minds as clear and set as crystal.
    Ringing out through the din was the bell and the chaos calmed to a low buzz as we all prepared to go to our classes, knowing full well that we weren’t going to have real classes today. As we filed through the opposite door and into the practise room, the murmuring grew louder and small sparks of elemental magick bounced around. The birds that were roosting comfortably above our heads were whipped into a hype as energy wound its way through the air. Behind me, as I was now second in line, came a few wild flashes of what I could only assume were accidental fireballs.
    As we passed through the doorway, the calm returned in completion as though we’d entered a field, which we had. One of the matrons was poised in the far corner, moving her hands rhythmically and chanting under her breath as incense burned low around her; she was creating the air of stillness. Stepping to the far side of the room, I stood before my usual mat and waited patiently for the rest of our number to enter the cone of calm and take their places. We spent two hours every day in this chamber honing our abilities, but never had it felt so empty and foreboding.
    When we were all present, the door shut of its own accord, and another matron stood at the front of the class before her own mat and smiled around at us. “Daughters, it is my pleasure to announce that today is your final test and ceremony. Today you shall all be claimed by the school of magick that you are meant to be in and sent on to the next level. Most will pass, though some will not; those daughters who do not pass the test will stay here while her sisters move on to better things,” she spat bitterly. If you didn’t pass the test, you became a matron, which meant that she didn’t pass her testing. Having regained her composure, she raised her delicate hands and sat in a fluid motion, the class following half a beat behind.
    Poised in lotus pose on her mat, the matron shut her eyes and called out, “It is your turn,” to the room. The matron could have been speaking to any one of us, but the sister closest to the door got swiftly back to her feet at her words and left after a curt bow to the remaining class. In the years I’ve been in this place, never once has anyone spoken their name; no one knows why, but we are not permitted to have a name until we have been claimed. “You are next, go wait in the sleeping chamber,” spoke the matron from under lidded eyes. Another sister stood and headed back through the door with her hands held so tightly the knuckles were white as chalk. As we all settled in to the quiet meditation, I fell into a world devoid of colour and sound.

    What felt like hours later, it was finally my turn to wait for my turn in the courtyard. Nervously rising and padding silently to the door, I glanced back to see that there were only a couple girls remaining. Taking a deep, steadying breath, I stepped through the doorway and was greeted with the same chaotic energy bouncing around as before. I ignored it, kept my head down, and hurried through the next door where the power was lessened in the enormous space. Every drawer stood open and empty, save my remaining sisters’, mine and the girl who’d left just before me. But, laid out carefully on my bedspread, was a clean white set of robes that were clearly for me to don.
    Hurriedly dressing in the crisp new clothes, I sat down on the bed to think about what was about to happen; no one knew what happened during the testing other than those who’d already gone through it. Even the matrons were forbidden from speaking of it on pain of death. When I closed my eyes, all I could think of was failing the test and being forced to watch the next generations of sisters passing through with excitement in their innocent eyes.
    When the bell tolled, dully, I stood and moved to a door that hadn’t been in the chamber before. Placing a trembling hand on the gilded knob, I turned it and stepped out into the brilliant sunshine. Behind me, the wood slammed shut and I heard the bolt driven home as I blinked and squinted uncomfortably in the light.
    In a circle around the courtyard were pools in each of the chakra colours, each several feet wide and appearing quite solid to the untrained eye. Centered between them were a table and a haggard old woman, as well as an extra chair. Eyeing the scene carefully, I made my way to the chair and stood behind it, unwilling to take a seat lest it be some kind of trap; a devious part of the test that would have tripped up most of my sisters.
    “Sit, dearie, the test has yet to begin,” crackled the woman, patting a stack of worn and torn tarot cards. I did as she’d said and was rewarded with the stench coming off the woman, but I ignored it as she laid three cards, face down, on the table before me. “Choose,” she coughed, her eyes hidden from my view by a matted mess of dull hair.
    Reaching my hand over each in turn, I attempted to glean what the cards were, but failed. When the woman chuckled darkly, I sighed emphatically, and chose the middle one, turning over the Four of Wands. Behind me, the deep crimson circle flared up in a spout of fire that crackled and popped angrily as the woman leaned forward and breathed, “You must only step through the fire without being touched by it to move on; the flames with gift you with their eternal power if you are worthy.” She sat back in her chair and eyed me.
    When I stood, my knees would barely support my weight, but I somehow managed to stand myself before the towering fire before I stalled. Feeling the hot waves rolling off the element, I breathed shallowly and stepped forward into the light.

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