Goodness! It’s been busy. Between work (don’t feel too bad, I love my job) and rehearsals (don’t feel bad there either, I couldn’t imagine NOT performing), there’s been little time to write. I have to remind myself that it’s okay… especially since I’ve had a break-through the Turned/Red‘s sequel and what the voice will sound like… and I’ve been struggling with that for some time, so that’s a big deal.
I, also, may have written Katja in my paranormal-fantasy into quite the pickle and need to figure out a good way to escape it. Whoops. I blame her.
But, it’s Mother’s Day, and while I never plan on being anything but a mother to my kitties, I want to celebrate mother’s out there, whether they have children, or not that are their own. I firmly believe that we take on motherly qualities in all areas and that should be celebrated. Plus, my mother and grandmother… words don’t suffice.
Well… sort of… I did write another installment of World Painted Red which is my 1000k short story collection I’m working on. This one brings us Red’s mother, a character I love, and may, one day, get her own story. Read over here at FictionPress or below:
World Painted Red: The Word-Smith
The concrete counter was holding me up. I had all my weight leaning on my hands, on that counter, as if the grey slab was the only foundation I had under me. In the sink beside me, waiting to be tossed, or better yet, burned in the antique fireplace, were white washcloths covered in blood. My husband’s blood. I wished it wasn’t the usual occurrence: the bloodied rags haphazardly tossed in the sink. I wished that I didn’t know a thing about how to patch him up, but I did, and it happened more and more.
I wasn’t sure I could fault him for it, but I couldn’t. I wanted to be out there with him, fighting from the ground up. My role was something else, however.
My nails tried to dig into the concrete. Over, and over. The tips of my fingers began to feel raw, only a few more scratches away from adding my own blood to his; it would certainly be fitting. But I stopped, keenly aware that in the next room a man, gruff but edged in fluff, was making our young daughter giggle, minutes after having his head, hands, and body stitched back together. Only one of us could be made of patches, and he had sacrificed himself.
A giggle erupted from the living room, tiny, but deep. She would be a spitting image of her father when she grew up, I knew it. My only hope was that she would be less like him, with less of his tendencies to get himself into scraps. There were only so many stitches I could put in my family. I couldn’t begin to contemplate putting them in her perfect, toddler skin.
With shaking hands, I gathered up the rags, and pitched them into bin set for the trash the next morning. My husband wouldn’t be able to hide his current injuries, so I didn’t bother to start a fire to burn them. Drowning out the childish shrieks, and the booming laughter of my husband, I ran the sink, rinsing away the traitorous deeds our family was leading.
As I stepped back, surveyed the kitchen, the dishes drying beside the sink, and the gleam of the countertops, the world seemed simple. Clean. Outside our safe walls, made so by my appointment in the legal offices near the heart of Faeree, the world was covered in blood, rubble, and the tears of those forgotten by the glittering towers of the White Dynasty. My husband worked tirelessly, a fierce bear protecting his cub, to bring the tyranny down, more often by force. No matter how many times I tried to convince him to use a more diplomatic solution, he was all fire, consuming, and headstrong.
I was the rock.
It was so hard being the rock.
I wanted to yell. To raise my fist with him, but I knew. I knew that I had set the path at his feet, and that it was I who had lit the fire that burned through him. All of the stitches I put in his skin, were mine. My words, only words, were the first to start the rebellion, the kindling so many were waiting for, and he fanned them.
One last swipe on the counter, and I wandered to the edge of the doorframe to look in on them. She was toddling away from him, a little run that her chubby lanky legs struggled with, to circle the coffee table. He loped after her, comically looming like a monster. Her little voice shrieked, then giggled, and shrieked some more. Despite the fresh stitches, the pain that must have been going through him, he obliged her. He never once paused, or thought to turn her never-ending energy in a different direction. She was his joy, but in that moment, I saw that she would be his destruction. He would do anything for her. Anything. As would I. And she deserved everything. Even a world where we fought, with blood and turmoil, to bring to her so that she wouldn’t know the burden that Faeree was placing on the shoulders of its people.
They turned the corner, her face turning up to see me, leaning in the doorway. She bolted toward me, her arms outstretched, looking for protection. I returned her pure, innocent smile, snatching her up in my arms, swinging her legs around me. “Roselind Red.” I admonished. “Rupert Red. What is going on in here?”
“There’s no Rupert here. There’s only,” he paused for dramatic effect, “the Troll Monster.” His hands, freshly washed, flew up in ridiculous claw shapes. The face he made, pinched and comical, made a giggle (such a foreign thing) bubble up in my chest.
He took a stomping step toward us, and I took a little step back. Roselind’s little arms circled my neck. “Mommy!” She cried, though there was no real fear in her voice. I prayed there would never be a reason for her to cry my name with fear behind it.
Rupert took a step toward us. I took a step back. “Don’t worry, Little Red. I’ll always keep you from the big, bad monster.” I childishly stuck a tongue out at my husband, who gave me a playful wink moments before leaping toward us. I was a word-smith, not a fighter, and with a squirming toddler in my arms, I wasn’t quick enough. His big arms wrapped around us. His fingers found tickle spots. He knew my weaknesses, and I simply could not endure tickling. I sunk to the floor, laughter overwhelming me. We tumbled together in a mixture of erupting giggles, and flaying lips. When the tickling subsided, Roselind wiggled free, triumphantly taking her place atop the cushions on the couch.
Rupert sat back, pulling me up with him, and tenderly brushing a strand of hair from my face. His hand was shaking, probably from pain. My eyes softened. I took his hand, kissing the top just before the stitches I had delicately sewn into his skin. Behind us, Roselind tossed herself down, bouncing with the cushions, her little face smooshing as she turned to watch us. “Tell me a story, Mommy.”
“Yes,” Rupert urged, “a story. Ella, tell one of your lovely stories.”
“About a girl,” he continued, “who escaped the Ice Queen. And found her less-than-princely Prince Charming.”
“With the fairy godmother!”
I smiled, slowly. “Just one then bed.”
Roselind clapped, then squirmed until she was curled up in the cushions.
“There once was a girl who lived far away from Faeree, where there were rolling hills, and silly dogs who chased sticks. She had a wonderful father, but a horrible stepmother who was always jealous of everyone. But this girl was smart, smartest in her class. And she had an idea…”