Flash Fiction Contest Entry

This is my entry for Jessa Russo’s Flash Fiction Blog-Hop contest. The parameters: write a 300-1000 word Ghostly Paranormal Romance.

If you would like to vote for my story, please comment with the word “VOTE”. If you want to comment outside of that, please leave it as a separate comment. Only comments with “VOTE” will count (and they can’t be anonymous either!)

Thanks very much for your support! I hope you enjoy it!

The End

Fictional Impulse

Slipping into her shadow was easy now; simple enough even to ensure her absence wasn’t noted. Kenneth remained buried behind his paper or captivated by his bell-jarred ticker-tapes if she mentioned plans to wander their vast garden or check on the child he assumed was his, but she suspected was not. Stay pretty, speak softly, do her wifely duty when he wished, and her life was otherwise her own.

She had climbed the arcing staircase to the sparsely furnished room kept for those rare occasions when guests lingered longer than an afternoon tea. Another flight would take her to her son, a right turn onto the porch with the outer stair that descended into the gardens. She paused, listening for footsteps drawn near, for her husband’s familiar breath. Nothing. She turned her foot and shivered as her shadow opened.

He was intangible as yet, but she saw him still. His autumn locks stole in and out of her vision and his eyes were verdant as springtime, luminous even in apparition. She’d known he’d be here; he claimed the ability to leave the room but was ever waiting when she sought him. She walked into his embrace, letting his arms engulf her before they’d even exchanged greetings. His hands, his lips, his entire self became tangible where he touched her.

His scent of ever-impending rain threatened to overwhelm her as he kissed her hair.

“Clara.” His lips had moved to her brow, his tone hunger itself. “I’ve missed you. I’ve…waited.”

He said no more, but she read his meaning. “I know,” she said, “It’s Kenneth. He hasn’t been away for weeks. He’s home tonight but I…got away.”

A moment spanning eternity passed. “He loves you, Clara.”

She shook her head in emphatic denial. “Perhaps once.”

“No. Even now. Almost always, I am here. I watch. I know.”

“That doesn’t matter.” Not now. It couldn’t matter. She raised her face, kissing him fiercely, stoppering any further discussion of that matter. Kenneth was downstairs nurturing his true love, his business; if he still looked on her with longing, perhaps he should do so when she could take note.

He pulled away, shocking her. He’d never resisted her, since the night he’d first spoken to her from the twilight, to teach her how to find him. “He is mortal. As are you. As was I.  Flawed.”

“He doesn’t love me as I love you,” she retorted. Though he seemed taken aback to hear such a declaration made outside of the intensity of their passion, his expression was gentle. Pleased.

“Even…”

“Even so.”

She knew well what he’d been called, labelled. Demonfae. Witchchild. All for the shape of his ear, the brilliance of his eye. His eldritch nature had seen him hanged in this very room, beaten bloody by those he’d played with as a child now grown into men. He’d been near senseless when they’d pulled the rope through the rafter, believing that strangling the life from him might return vitality to their land. Yet not a fortnight had passed before a windstorm swept away their blighted crops, toppling houses and taking no few villagers in its wake. The remaining fools had died that winter, empty of belly and bereft of proper shelter.

And perhaps he had impoverished the village by some fae magic. Perhaps he had twisted the weather in a curse of vengeance from beyond his death. Her pity had been short had it blossomed at all.

His eyes grew somehow brighter and an unsure grin teased at the corners of his mouth. He pulled her to him, his spirit taking form as they drew together. Tender now, Clara kissed the red welts that marred his throat to underscore the truth of her words. Her breath caught as his hand tightened in her hair, his other slipping down her spine.

“Clara!”

The voice was distinct, far too close. He broke their embrace, the glint in his eye vacillating between fury and panic. Kenneth.

“He cannot see you,” she reminded him, breathing the words into his ear as she traced its elfin point. Nonetheless he stepped away lest her touch lend him a solidity seen outside of these shadows. They watched as her husband passed by the still-open door. Kenneth stepped onto the porch, returning a moment later, glancing up the stairs. He has no idea where I said I’d be, she realized with a fresh rush of hot irritation.

“You must go to him.” His broken voice was the slightest whisper. Already he faded, pulling himself into a place she’d not yet learned to reach. Perhaps never would. “This night he will miss you. It will go badly if you’ve vanished.”

Indeed. It wouldn’t do to have a search launched. She touched his face, bringing him into sharp reality for a single, final moment.

“I’ll come to you again,” she said.

“When?”

“Tomorrow. And I’ll see to it that he thinks I’m to be out of the house. For hours.”

He nodded, risking discovery by holding her face as he kissed her, his embrace swift but swollen with promise.

A single step and he was gone. Out of the house, out of this plane, she couldn’t know.

Kenneth had reached the uppermost storey now, creaking open the door to her son’s room. She turned her foot, slipped out of her shadow and smoothed her dress. Her mortal husband was stepping onto the stair. She knew her duty.

The End

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Keeping calm and carrying on (sort of)

Baby D seems to have quieted down for the moment. I’ve had all of two hours of sleep today thanks to my darling offspring (yes, both of them. Sigh) and seeing as Baby D screamed all through his lunch and then passed out, I’m not really buying this whole ‘I’m ready to get up after 30 minutes’ bit. We’ll see if I have to cut this off after 100 words…

Okay various updates…well draft three (three, dammit!) has now been sent off to readers, one of whom is already a third of the way through it and has already sent me two screamy emails. She sends me her thoughts and reactions raw and just knowing that I can elicit such visceral responses from a reader is a huge support to my often-flailing confidence (and yes, I do mean ‘flailing’. It gets itself all settled and then starts falling and tries to steady itself by flapping all of its limbs). Sometimes it succeeds but more often than not it falls and it helps when someone shoves another chair under it for me.

And yesterday I needed that. I participated in a twitter pitch event and got resounding silence in return. And I apparently forgot to put on that armour I forged at the conference last year because I did let it get to me. Fortunately I got the  first screamy email as I was taking a fast-paced walk with my music far too loud and that took the edge right off.

Sounds like Baby D is waking again (sigh), so I’ll wrap this up by saying that I’ve been continuing to work on the short which is now at 3700 words. I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about it, but I’m trying to keep in mind that I don’t have to do something with everything I wind up writing – the point is just to keep writing! Even if this turns out to be less than I’d hoped for, who cares? I’m not going to get good at shorts unless I practice them, right?

Okay, back into mommy-mode!

And draft 3 is done in record time…

Draft Three is finished! Because apparently I had no idea what draft I was working on!

I had a suspicion that there was no way this could be draft two. Hadn’t I already gone through a major edit? Hadn’t I been at this for months and months since finishing draft one? Didn’t I tell one of my contacts back in July that I was ‘wrapping up draft two’? So I went back and checked through the blog and there it was, the day I finished my first round of edits, months ago.

Baby brain? What’s that?