Writing Prompt: Day 234

234.jpgDay 234 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Write about a story a grandparent tells their grandchild.

Shannon: When I was a kid a tornado touched down in our neighborhood. It took out most of the houses on the block except for ours, so my parents opened up their doors to give some families a place to stay. We lived in our tiny house with three different families, and no one ever complained. I think you can share your room for little while longer, don’t you?

Erin: Things aren’t the same these days. Boys used to court the girls they fancied. Your grandfather recited a poem to ask me on our first date. We went to the diner seven times before he finally took my hand in his. The first time we kissed was during a slow dance at homecoming. By prom he asked me to go steady. Never did he let me go cold or my feet get wet, or did he ever let my hand touch a door handle when he was around. I know you find the whole thing old fashioned, but there was something special about being put above everything else.

How was it in the old days?

2 thoughts on “Writing Prompt: Day 234

  1. “Once upon a time,” crooned the ancient hag, her voice crackling with the effort of speech, “there lived a little girl, down in the valley of Fulgur which was better known as the valley of the Fire Sky, where not even the brave nights of Cor Castle would venture.” With her crooked fingers splayed, she made bolts of pale yellow lightning flash through the air to the squeals and delight of the children listening with baited breath. Breathing in raggedly, she winked at me above the children’s heads and continued with the same foreboding tone, “This was no ord’n’ry little girl, however, as stated by the prophecy, written by the fairies and bearing her name; Louise Hart.” There was a smattering of gasps and chattering among the youngsters before the old woman snapped her fingers and the candle lights went out.
    If I thought there had been a commotion at the name of our queen, I was sadly mistaken; screams and impish laughter filled the small hovel as soon as the room went dark. Across the way I could see the woman’s yellowing eyes glowing like a cat’s in the sudden nightfall, though I would have preferred to see nothing at all. There was something wholly unnatural about the woman who’d raised my mother, even if no one could quite put their finger on the problem.
    It took several minutes of nerves and gentle shushing to quiet the crowd, but when everyone was completely silent, one of the lanterns lit up in brilliant shades of pale aqua and violet. Nearby, children let out gasps and sighs of intrigue as the crone continued her tale, “By the rites of the crown, the child was left in her place of birth until she would turn eighteen and take on the role of Crown Princess of Cor in all that it entailed.” As my grandmother breathed out in the direction of the flame, it came alive, dancing above the children’s heads and swirling in a rainbow of shades. Giggles ripped through the young audience, leading the fire to converge on itself to serve as less of a distraction. “Throughout her youth,” she growled, twirling the fire, with her tongue between her teeth, into the shape of a tiny figure in a child’s dress, “she was cared for by the fairies of the land. She was barely aware of her destiny as she played the lute,” here, gentle lullabies played by expert fingers on a lute filled the room with their warm, natural melody, “rode the wild horses her power helped her tame, and flew with her father on the dragons he trained.”
    Horses broke free of the flames and galloped around the room, their fiery manes sparkling as they passed in front of lanterns and glasses, as the main fire morphed into a mighty, ferocious dragon with two pitifully-miniscule riders on its orange back. As the dragon and passengers wheeled around with leathery fire wings brushing against the wooden ceiling, the audience was perfectly silent in awe. By the brilliant, shivering light of the figures, I watched the faces of the children, their sparkling eyes wide.
    “Now, of course you all know why the Crown Heir isn’t always born directly into the royal family, correct?” she asked suddenly, the realization that these kids might not know of the more fantastical, occasionally-used customs of the land dawning in her cat eyes. There was a general muttering of dissent from the crowd, and the woman sighed heavily, knocking the dragon off track. Easily holding my hand up, I caught the fire mid-flight and sculpted it with deft fingers until it resembled a phoenix of true legend. Clearing her throat, my grandmother explained about how leaders were really chosen to the throne, “You see, children, in the early days of the Cor, it was discovered that the people here, like you and I, were capable of doing the most amazing things. Creating images out of thin air and lighting up the night with their magicks. Everyone here is capable, to some degree, of magick, but some were found to possess greater abilities than their neighbours.” My grandmother awoke more slumbering flames from the candles around us, bringing them forth in different colours as she paused, creating shapes to represent types of magick with the flickering lights.
    As I added my magick to the show, making doves flit from candlewick to candlewick and lightning bolts shatter the quiet, she raised her voice to booming, “The only beings in all the lands who could predict who would possess the most power, who should also rule and protect the people of this land, were the fairies. So it was that they were tasked with foreseeing who ought to sit on the throne next, be they kin or not of the ruling family.” After a short pause as fireflies flew through the air, she added in a hushed tone, “Later on, there was an amendment to that rule, where the fairies would use their seeing pond to determine the heir, just to ensure they weren’t persuaded by the king or queen. Fairies, I’m sure you know, are terribly narcissistic and prone to bribery.” I might not have spoken those words against the fairies of our land, but I hoped they would give the hag a pass.
    With a mischievous grin of grey and rotting teeth, she coughed into a nasty handkerchief before picking up where she’d left off with Louise’ story, “So, the princess-to-be grew up in wildflower meadows and under the shadow of whispering trees until the fairies were tasked to bring her to Cor Castle. They had their work cut out for them, as Louise Hart did not wish to be taken from her home and the wonderful, free life she had. Distraught, the eighteen-year-old girl hid in the meadow, where the wild horses she’d known grazed, and galloped away into the damp Inber Forest to get away.” Thunder rolled in and the little girl, though slightly taller now, was back in shades of dull grey and gloomy olive astride a tall, dark horse who treaded softly through the air. Heavy branches and limp leaves hung from the rafters, shifting slightly as the girl and her horse moved through them. I could see the intent interest in the eyes of the children, along with the darkness reflected there.
    “Before long, Louise halted her horse and dismounted in a small glade as rainwater trickled down through the trees, as well as a few drops of sunshine that filtered through green as Miss Tanger’s biscuits,” she continued, earning a round of nervous laughter at the joke, even though Miss Tanger was actually quite adept at baking. Louise had hopped off the horse and was sitting in a patch of light, braiding the long, tangled mess of hair that was nearly to the ground where she sat. Haunting humming echoed through the room, muffled as though by branches and the passage of time. With a gentle sigh, the ancient woman continued dreamily, caught up in the beauty of the melody, “And we all know what happens when a young maiden sits in a glade while braiding her hair and singing, don’t we?” As soon as the question was on her lips, there was irritated muttering from the male voices, and excited squeals from the girls.
    A blindingly-white horse stepped gracefully out from a lantern, walking with golden hooves high above the children. At its head spiralled a golden horn and its eyes glowed with humanlike intelligence, even if it was only an illusion. “A unicorn approached the queen-to-be and laid its head in her lap willingly, comforting the girl,” she whispered, urging the unicorn forward to the sighing of the children. When it lay down beside the girl, I smiled at the beauty that could be created with little more than a spark and magick.
    “They stayed there for longer than anyone will know, until something snapped a branch a little ways off, making itself known too soon. It was a hunter intent on forcing the unicorn to grant him a single wish,” continued the storyteller, “as was customary of legend. But, being a fair and just girl, as the fairies knew she would be, the girl beseeched the hunter to allow the unicorn to leave. She could give him whatever he wanted, you see, as she would one day be queen.” The girl had gotten to her feet, standing in front of the statuesque unicorn on the ground, as another, taller, figure stepped out of the shadows with a bow slung over his shoulder. “He was reluctant at first, but eventually let slip that he simply wanted a new leg, as his had been lost in a jousting accident, so he might return to the sport,” she explained as the figure showed off a wooden leg that he hid behind hid cloak.
    After a pause in which the two fiery shadows seemed to be contemplating their options, the witch continued gruffly, “Though the girl couldn’t fix his leg just yet, she vowed to help him as soon as she was able; it was a tricky bit of magick to regrow limbs, though it was possible. And so, the two parted company and the girl bade the unicorn farewell, hopped back on the horse and rode home.” The scene played out quickly in the air, fire shivering slightly in a light breeze.
    “The princess agreed to go to the castle and began her education in both general royal knowledge and specialty spells that she may one day use,” she breathed, books spiraling through the children’s heads, dipping and diving as they went. With a snap of her fingers, the books shattered into a million embers and the girl appeared before a towering golden throne. The old crone continued, “She spent the next years at the foot of the queen’s throne, growing and learning until the fateful day the queen fell deathly ill and passed over the course of a fortnight. The child who once ran away to the forest rather than sleep in the castle was now queen of the Cor; her name, of course, was changed to Louise Cor and her family moved to the village to be near her.” As I watched, the girl got up and sat in the throne, a crown appearing on her head, and a smile lighting up her tiny face.
    Darkness began to creep in from one corner of the room, whipping up the dust and spiralling in like a foreboding cloud. “One day an envoy from another kingdom arrived dressed all in black. They went up to the castle and demanded an audience with Queen Louise over dinner, and she willingly obliged, not wishing to insult them. Among them was the king, who was very charming, indeed,” she added, winking at me again. The clouds began to form wispy figures of darkness and they met the brilliant glow of Louise with a soul-sucking look. “No one knows how it happened, though there are rumours of potions in the wine they shared, but Louise fell for this king of the northern kingdom. It was a relatively short marriage, with a single child being born between them before the queen woke up to the deception of their union. In a rush, she exiled the supposed-king and his daughter from Cor, and cursed them to ne’er step another toe within their limits.” As the darkness united with the light and suddenly broke apart, limping off into obscurity, the light molded itself back into the stunning queen she was. This time, the figure was bent over in her throne, the crown cast aside.
    “It was a few years before Louise could love again, but when she was ready fate sent the hunter, whose name she now learned was David, back to her. As she had vowed, she gave him a leg, though it was forged of metal, not magick, as it was far safer. He didn’t seem to mind,” echoed the witch with glee. She brought David forth and the two twirled through the air, suddenly breaking apart into three as the story continued, “They married and had a wonderful daughter, Natalie, who wasn’t blessed with strong magick. Instead their firstborn was brilliant beyond measure in the ways of the world, and they were in constant awe of her.” The girl grew up a few years before the darkness was back in the corner like an impending doom. “After a few years, the queen and king had a second daughter, Aurora. On the next night they had a banquet to celebrate the birth and receive gifts from the fairies in the realm, as well as their neighbouring kingdoms,” the voice continued as the room was full of the joyful sounds of revelry and smells of a feast fit for a queen.
    “Because everyone was busy with the ball, the king and queen’s minds weren’t on their newborn until Louise felt something in her heart hurt as though she’d been stabbed. She flew up to the room Aurora and young Natalie shared to find a man’s body, her first husband’s, resting against the windowsill,” she whispered, showing the image through smoke and shards of fire. “It turned out that he was meaning to kill Aurora, but she was too powerful. That was the night the decision was made in secret to send baby Aurora, crown princess of Cor, to Earth for safekeeping,” the witch finished, cutting the lights for a moment before the lanterns were suddenly shivering with flame once again.
    Excited murmuring met the end, followed by my own voice cutting through the noise, “Thank you so much for listening to tales from my grandmother’s childhood. You will find your parents outside. Thank you, everyone.” I shooed the lot out of the room and bade the old woman farewell, grinning as I had the first time I heard the tale.


  2. Grandma Mauss chuckles as she exits the kitchen. August looks up at her, curious. “What’s funny Grandma?”
    “Oh, just your brother, August. He’s so much like your mother.”
    She smiles fondly, then sits down next to him at the couch, “Well, your mother would spend a lot of time in her room when she was not too much older than you. She would pour over her notebooks, and later her computer, then would rush across the house out of seemingly thin air to tell me about what she just wrote. Sometimes I’d jump when she just starts talking about a scene she’s stuck on.”
    August smiles wide at the mention of his mother’s younger years. “Is Josh staring at a paper again?”
    “Dear, he’s so focused, I don’t think he even knows I’m in the house,” Grandma Mauss chuckles, resting her hand on August’s.
    “August! You’ll never guess-” Josh stops around the corner, staring. He then grins even wider, “Grandma? When’d you get back?”
    Mrs. Mauss looks at August with a well knowing fondness. He breaks out into laughter, and Josh watches them with confusion for a moment, then proceeds to tell them about the idea he had.


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