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Fiction: Sealed Letter (523 words)

Dear Anna,

I know you don’t want to hear from me right now. I hear that you don’t even go by Anna anymore, but you’re Lydia again. Like Mom and I used to call you when you were very small. Can you even remember us calling you that? Either way, it’s kind of nice. I always like Lydia better than Anna anyways.

But, I know you. And I know that you wouldn’t like me calling you Lydia now. So, I’ll stick to Anna. Because I don’t want to make you any angrier than you already are with me. Because I know you are already livid. But you’re livid with the wrong people.

The truth is—You’re probably reading this years from now.  Maybe five? Six? I’m betting you stuck your head in the sand—ran away—as soon as this letter hit your doorstep. Tried to pretend I didn’t exist. But, you kept the letter. Sealed, but you couldn’t make yourself throw it away, even as you ran. Not this. Not your last contact with your brother.

Then again, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe five or six years down the line this paper will have rotted away under a pile of trash where you immediately threw it as soon as you recognized my handing writing. Maybe I’m wrong—but I doubt it.  So—I’m going to say what I need to say, and you’ll read it when you are good and ready.

I wasn’t to start by saying I love you.  You’re my sister and I will always love you—no matter what happens. I love you with all my heart.  You will always be blood, and I will always want to keep you safe. So, if you’re reading this because you finally came around to my point of view, you can always come see the right side of things. Please, don’t hesitate to come to me. You can walk right in and I promise no one will lay a hand on you. I swear on my life you will be unharmed, and you know how highly I value my life. I want you here with me, Anna, at my side, because I know that together we would be unstoppable. We could make this world what it should be. Wouldn’t that be wonderful, Anna? A perfect world? Us together again? I’ll tell you now, it is all I want.

I still don’t quite understand, Anna, why you left in the first place. I’m not angry, I just don’t understand. You saw the same horrors that I did. You are just as smart as me, so I know you comprehended what we saw. Why didn’t you get angry? Why am I the only who is angry about this? Why don’t you want to change it with me? I just want to understand, An. Please.

I’m keeping the Razr. Even if it’s five, ten, one hundred years from now that you read this letter, I will still have that Razr, charged and with me. You know the number, and I will answer. Call me, please. I miss my sister.

Love,

Your one and only brother,

Timothy.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2017 in Lydia's Stories, Stories

 

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Fiction: Returns (641 words)

“Hello, Nessie,” He said after I’d finished my startled scream. Even still, it took me a moment to recognize him. After all, it had been five years since I’d seen my brother storm out of the house, when he was only nineteen. Now he would be twenty-four years old.  Why should I recognize him on sight anymore?

“Vanessa,” I said automatically, like I was correcting a friend of my grandmothers.

“Oh, sorry. Vanessa.” He replied curtly.

“It’s okay. Why should you know?” It wasn’t until that fell out of my mouth that I realized that I was angry. Properly pissed off at the man sitting in front of me. I opened my mouth to give him a piece of my mind, when my mother burst into my room, undoubtedly drawn by my scream.

For a moment, the three of us made an awkward triangle, all looking from one to the other as if waiting for someone, anyone, to make the first move. It was Mom who finally did it.

“Elliott?” She asked as if she was looking at a ghost.

He looked uncomfortable as he slowly got up to his feet. “Yeah, Mom. It’s me.”

There were a whole slew of emotions that crossed my mother’s face in that moment. She took a step towards him, and I honestly wasn’t sure if she was going to hug him or slap him.

Turns out, she did both. She slapped him hard across the face, so that the sound rung in my ears for a second, but then she pulled him into a tight hug, already scolding him. “Don’t you ever, ever, ever pull something like that again. Your father was worried. I was worried sick. Your sister used to cry thinking you were dead. What in the world is wrong with you that you would just leave like that?”

“Sorry, Mom.” Elliott let her hug him, patting her awkwardly on the back, giving me a slight eye rolling look that used to be commonplace for Well, she’s mom. Whatcha going to do? Some old memory made my want to smile and roll my eyes back. But then I remembered he’d been gone for longer than I had been in high school, and I chose to glare back instead.

“What are you doing here, anyway?” I asked.

Mom pulled out of the hug, turning to look at me with wide-eyes. “Vanessa! Don’t be rude.” It wasn’t hard to see that she was afraid. Scared that harsh words from me would send Elliott away for another five years.

But it was my room, and my graduation day, and my brother to be angry at, so I pressed on, “I mean, you didn’t show up for five years why bother now?”

“Vanessa,” My mom hissed again.

“No, Mom, it’s fair,” Elliott smiled, acting far more mature than I wanted him to be, “I hurt her when I left, and she’s just had to sit on that for a while. She has every right to be angry.” He wrapped an arm around my mom’s shoulders, an old gesture to calm her, to reassure her. “I’m back because I missed you. It was wrong of me to leave the way I did, and I knew that I needed to come back and try to make good if I could.” When my expression and stance didn’t change, Elliott let his smiled falter a little. “Of course, I know that forgiveness doesn’t come instantaneously. I plan on working for it, if you’ll let me.”

“Of course, we will. We will, won’t we Vanessa?” Mom insisted

For my mother’s sake, and only my mother’s sake, I agreed. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a party to get back to.”

I left the room without finding whatever I came for, but it couldn’t have been that important anyway. Not anymore.

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Family Choice [Part 4 of 4] (1082 words)

Inside, Kiley Rae was nowhere to be found.  Lord Hutton’s other bodyguard was waiting to protect The Lord again, and Rika, Charlotte, and Lilith were standing with their heads together, whispering frantically.  When they saw Brianna come in, Charlotte and Lilith rushed over to envelope her in a hug, and Rika stuck her hands in her pockets and gave Brianna a small smile.

“Is everything going to change now that you have a real family?” Even though she was fourteen now, Charlotte still had a way of making Brianna see the eight-year-old girl who first found her.

“No. Nothing’s going to change. You three are my family. That man might know my real name, but he’s a stranger to me, do you understand?”

Even Rika gave Brianna a full fledge smile at that. “We understand.” Charlotte told her happily.

“Now, I have got to go and talk to him for a while, because the rich man is trading me a favor to do so, but when I get out, I expect you guys to be in the room and ready to go to bed, okay?” Brianna gave a quick nod to Rika, who came forward and took each of the younger girls by the hand, and pulled them back gently, so they were all standing in a line about a foot away. She nodded back at to Brianna, a promise that they would be in bed when she got out, and then Brianna turned and headed into the private room that Davy kept for special occasions.

Kiley Rae lit the candle sitting on the center table as she entered.  She expected to be followed by Lord Hutton and his second bodyguard, but she was not. The door shut neatly behind her, and for the first time in nine years, she was all alone with her brother.

“Wini—“He started.

“Do not use that name. I am not Wini anymore.  I haven’t been for years.”

“Okay. What would you like me to call you then?”

“For a while, I have been called Brianna. I suppose you can call me that as well.”

“Very well.  Brianna.” It sounded weird coming out of his mouth. She did not like him calling her Brianna. She did not like him calling her anything. She was too mad to want to deal with him at all.

“Kiley Rae.” She said in response, “That’s really all I have to say to you, so unless we are sitting her in silence until the candle burns out, I suggest you do the rest of the talking.”

Seemingly despite himself, Kiley Rae smiled. “Still as strong willed as ever, huh? Well, okay then. I will do the talking. First things first, I did not abandon you.”

“Were you kidnapped?”

“What?”

“Kidnapped? Taken against you will? Threatened with bodily harm and forced to go places you never intended to go?”

“I…No, Wi-Brianna.”

“No. I am sorry, if you were not taken against your will, then you did abandon me. Feel free to tell your story anyway you want, but don’t deny that you abandoned me, because that’s the only way I will ever see it.”

Kiley Rae curled his lips in over his teeth until they were a thin line. Brianna recognized that her brother was getting angry, and she got a sick sort of pleasure for that. “You hate me, don’t you?” He asked.

“More than you could ever imagine, dearest brother.” Brianna finally sank into one of the chairs surrounding the center table, and Kiley Rae followed in suit. “I have a real family now, Kiley Rae. We’ve been together for six years, and we’re still sticking together and supporting each other.  The only reason I am here is as a favor to one of the more powerful men in the entire country. As soon as this candle goes out, I am done with you. I am going up to my room, in the place that I call home, and you can go off with your cushy job and rot for all I care.”

Brianna leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms over her chest, and glared at her brother. She knew that a twenty-two-year-old woman should not be sitting here throwing a silent temper tantrum, but facing her brother again made her feel like she was a whiney teenager all over again.  She figured it was only a matter of time until she stuck her tongue out at him, at this rate. Kiley Rae mimicked Brianna’s pose, but she imagined that he probably looked a lot more intimidating with his arms crossed angrily over his chest then she did.

“Fine,” he spat, “Fine. We will just sit here until the candle burns out. Forgive me for trying to make amends, Brianna.” After he said her new name, he literally spat on the floor, “I wo not bother you again.”

“I’d appreciate it, Kiley Rae. Please, run away, it’s what You are best at.”

They glared at each other forcefully for a while, and then Brianna got up quickly, knocking her chair to the ground, and crossed to the one window in the room, staring out at the streets of Varch.  Kiley Rae started muttering under his breath, and occasionally Brianna caught bits of things like “Stupid, Stubborn Girl,” and a few very derogatory names for females in general. But she would not rise to his anger again, so she simply continued to stare out the window.  Finally, the light that danced around the window disappeared, and Brianna heard a thunk, before the door slammed shut behind her.  Her brother was gone and good riddance. If she never had to deal with him again, it would be too soon.

She turned around to face the mostly dark room. Stuck into the table was Kiley Rae’s knife, which was pinning a small slip of paper to the table. It was an entry card, labeling the holder as a guest of Lord Hutton Reignat, and allowing that holder access to his lands in the Royal City of Jigika whenever they wanted. Brianna pulled the knife out of the table, and slipped it into her waistband. She considered burning the entry card for a long moment, but instead just slipped it into the hidden pocket she had sewn onto the inside of her shirt. With the weight of her brother’s knife leaning against her hip, Brianna headed up to her room where her girls, her family, would be waiting for her.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2017 in Stories, Uncategorized

 

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Fiction: Family Choices [Part 3 of 4] (803 words)

Together, Kiley Rae and Wini traveled as much as they could. Wini learned to steal and con. Kiley Rae learned to fight and protect. Together they did what they needed to get by. They always had something to eat, and someplace to sleep, whether that was in an inn, in a field, or in an alley. Kiley Rae always tried to make sure that his sister was comfortable.  For seven years, they worked together.

But then one day, Wini woke up, and her brother was gone. She waited there for the rest of the day, thinking that perhaps he had gone off on a job that she had forgotten about, or had gotten lost and needed some time to find his way back.

He never came back. She was on her own.

From that point on, the thirteen-year-old girl had to be an adult for herself, just so she could get by. For a couple of years, she never gave a name, and when she finally did start to socialize again, she dropped her first name entirely, and went simply by Brianna.

But now, Kiley Rae was standing in her home of the past two and a bit years, calling her Winifred like he still had that right, and pointing a knife at her. She wrapped her arms tightly around herself, ordered herself not to cry, and wondered just how long she would have to stand out here until her brother and his rich benefactor left.

She heard a soft cough behind her, and she turned around, fully expecting to have to face Davy and apologize for storming out the way she had. The last thing she expected to see was that rich pretty boy that Kiley Rae worked for, standing in the back alley of an Inn, looking only slightly less comfortable than he had inside. Brianna suppressed a squeak of surprise, and dipped into a quick bow.

“Miss Coney, I take it?”

“Er. Yes. I’m sorry for— “

“I am Lord Hutton Reignat, Miss Coney, and there is no need to be sorry. Apparently, tonight is just continuing to be very different than any of us imagined it would be.”

Brianna’s mind spun for a second, mentally searching through all the books she had read for why that named sounded so familiar. Finally, it hit her. Lord Hutton Reignat, the youngest son of the King Matten’s younger brother, Lord Barthew Reignat, and first cousin to Prince Leverson.  Brianna bowed again, a little bit lower this time. “Still, I apologize for storming out on your Grace; I have had a bit of a shock.”

“Please, Miss Coney. I appreciate that you are trying to be respectful and formal and the like, but I would greatly appreciate it if you stopped bowing and spoke straight to me.”

“Alright. Then, I am not sorry I stormed out. I am annoyed that that man is in my home. I have considered him dead for just about nine years and it was much easier to think of him that way, so I’m probably going to continue to do so. To be honest, I am going to stand in this alley until you leave with him, or you all go to bed, in which case I will sneak up to my room and stay there until you leave with him.”

Lord Reignat smiled at me. “You certainly are speaking straight. I appreciate that.  Now, Miss Coney, I am no stranger to inter-family conflicts. In some ways, my conflicts are much worse than this with your brother. In others, they pale in comparison. Mostly, if you will excuse me for speaking straight as well, I am just fascinated by you. Regardless, I am here to request an audience, on behalf of your brother, just so you can hear him out. Davy is setting up a private room as we speak. Just give him a candle’s worth of your time, as a favor to me.”

Brianna considered the offer.  If you burned average sized candles day round, it would take twelve candles to get from sunrise to sunrise.  So, what was a candles’ worth of being uncomfortable and angry be worth to her? Being a favor up on the King’s nephew? Yeah, that might just be worth it. She didn’t know what she would use that favor for, but it certainly couldn’t hurt.

“Very well, Lord Reignat. I will listen to him, but I will not promise any else.  I fully expect to be equally as mad at him, if not more so, by the time the candle has burned out.”

“That’s your right, Miss Coney. And please, call me Hutton.” Hutton stepped out of the way to allow Brianna to enter the building first. Despite speaking straight with him, Brianna gave the lord one last bow before heading inside.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2017 in Stories, Uncategorized

 

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Fiction: Explanations (984 words)

“What did you expect me to do?” Hana shifted uncomfortably and Harlowe was very aware that her sister was still hurt.  Perhaps now was not the right time to get into this with her, another one of her Great Big Sister Mistakes, but it was too late to back out now. They were into it, and Harlowe was going to hear it. “You were gone, Lowe. The farm is good, just like it’s always been, but there were complications, and the small allowance I got for my potential wasn’t making ends meet anymore. So, I made a deal. Specific, localized training, only on a day to day basis that allowed me to come home and do the farm books every night.”   Hana shrugged, checking the bandages on her side, before looking back up at her sister. “They raised my allowance, not as much as if I was a full trainee, but more so then the basic potential allowance.  It let me handle the books of the house without having to work in The Inn, and, to be perfectly honest, the fact that they trained me well enough to save your life in the last ten days, in case you forgot, means that it was more than worth it to me.  Be as mad as you want, but I’m okay with my choices.”

“I just don’t understand.  The Sisterhood made you sick, so sick when you were a kid. The farm has always paid for itself even if it doesn’t always turn a profit, and you only had to feed yourself and Mom.  Why would you have to turn to The Sisterhood to make ends meet?”

For the first time, Hana did look just a little guilty.  She looked up at her sister and it was almost like she was instantly seven years old again, the little girl who had just broken Harlowe’s favorite toy.  And now, Harlowe didn’t want to hear the answer. Nothing good ever game from Hana looking guilty.

“It wasn’t—I mean, there were a couple of storms.  Some buildings had to be fixed to keep the farm in working condition, and I had to hire a little bit of extra help one season because a cold snap came early and we had to get stuff in before it died in the field. And a few other complications…”

“The farm has a savings account for exactly those things.  Unless every building was torn to the ground every year I was gone—what are these other complications.”

Hana sighed, winced, and stared at her hands, now folded in her lap. “Mom got sick. Like Dad.”

Harlowe sat down hard on the couch near Hana’s stretched out knees. “What? When? How bad?”

“Thirteen months into your long leave. It was nothing at first, and then it was the world ending—it really was like Dad all over again.  But then she started to get better—and she only got better because I dumped a lot of money at the problem, and I mean a lot. It wasn’t what Dad had, but it would have killed her if I hadn’t brought in the best of the best. I destroyed the non-property side of our inheritance but I figured since I was saving our mother you might be able to forgive me. I am trying to build back the savings, hopefully I’ll be able to give you the same amount you would have gotten when Mom finally dies of old age. Of course I can’t make any promises, but I am trying.” Hana insisted looking back up at Harlowe eagerly now.

Harlowe waved a hand at her sister. “Hana, shut up about the money.  Mom was sick? When? Why didn’t—“

“I contact you and tell you to come home?” Hana completed for her, a cruel laugh escaping her lips. The tables had turned and Harlowe was the bad guy again.  “Harlowe, we didn’t know where you were.  You were gone, been gone for over a year.  And even if I had been able to contact you—you were in the middle of your training for the badging.  If you had left, you never could have reapplied, you never could have made it to this job that you clearly love so much.  If you had been given the option to come home to sit at the side of a sick bed and watch another parent die instead of going for this badging, do you honestly believe that you would?  Because I don’t. I don’t think you would have come home even if I could get a message to you.” Hana rubbed a hand over her eyes. She looked more tired than a woman her age had any right to be. When she spoke again, it was gentler.   “And I’m not blaming you, Harlowe, I’m really not.  To be honest, I wouldn’t have come back if I were the one away. No one wants to destroy their future to watch a parent die.  But it is what it is. And I did what I had to do. So—let’s move past it.  Can I get some sleep now?”

“Yes. Yes, of course.” Harlowe jumped off the end of the couch, “Do you need help to get laying down?”

“No. I’m okay. Thanks for the offer though.”  Hana answered distractedly, already fussing with the bedding wrapped around her.

“Yeah,” Harlowe watched as her sister readjusted the blankets around herself, carefully moving so that she didn’t reinjure herself or tear off any bandages. When Hana was finally settled, she decided to push her luck. “Hey Hana?”

“Yeah, Lowe?”

“I would have come back. For you. It wouldn’t have been just my mother might be dying, but also my sister could use some help.”

“No, you wouldn’t have.” Harlowe sometimes wished that her sister would lie to her. But Hana was smiling nonetheless. “But thank you for thinking you might.”

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Blue (99 words)

It breaks my heart, you know. I remember when the two of you were always side by side, the Shelton Sisters against the world, and now…

I don’t know what happened, and I won’t even pretend to understand whatever drama broke between you two. After all, I don’t have any siblings, I can’t imagine that bond or how it feels when that bond finally snaps.

But, it does break my heart to see you two at odds with each other like this. I want you to know that I will do anything I can–if there is anything to do.

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2016 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Good Luck (99 words)

I feel so much better now that you’re here, you know that? I know it’s silly, and that just because you are here it doesn’t mean we aren’t any closer to our impending death, and one extra solider isn’t actually going to make or break this campaign. But, I just can’t help myself. You are my good luck charm, always have been and hopefully always will be. So, yeah, I do feel better now that you are around.

After all, if you aren’t the good luck that I think you are, it’s not like we’ll be around long anyway…

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2016 in Stories

 

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