Harvest Moon — New Short Short Story

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Happy Thanksgiving! Here’s a new piece of flash fiction. 🦃

Harvest Moon

When the leaves turned gold, I decided it was time.

“If you look in the mirror, Megan,” my brother, Tom, said, “all you’re going to see is a werewolf!”

“Get out of here,” I said, pushing him out of my room and shutting the door.

Then I turned to my window and opened it.

A beautiful, amber-colored full moon shone in the sky overhead. Local legend said that if you looked into a mirror in the light of the harvest moon that you would see the face of your true love.

I’d had enough of waiting, and I decided tonight was the night—I’d find out who it was, even if I had to use an unorthodox method.

I sat on my windowsill and gazed into the handheld mirror from my dresser. I looked expectantly at first, but I didn’t see any face in the glass other than my own.

The cold autumn air swirled around me, but I continued to look.

I was resolved not to give up.

I must have dozed off, and for a moment I thought I saw a face—green eyes flecked with brown, a determined chin, eyebrows that were black and just a little too thick.

I started awake abruptly.

“No,” I said to myself. “Just no. There’s no way my true love is Edgar Beck.”

I looked into my mirror and saw with relief that it was still blank.

“Just a dream,” I murmured.

I quickly shut the window and put the mirror back.

The next morning I was in school wading through the crowded halls to my locker. I said hi to my friends and told no one of my experiment the previous evening—it was just too embarrassing.

As I headed to my first class, I spied a familiar face. It was Edgar, and he was headed straight for me.

Soon Edgar was standing right in front of me, blocking my way. Edgar—class clown, prankster, and someone I didn’t know very well at all.

He was looking at me expectantly.

“Hey, Megan,” he said.

I made no reply. There was no way Edgar could know I’d had a dream about him—I’d told no one. He continued to stare at me, and I felt my face flaming.

It was all just too awkward.

“So,” he said. “It’s me.”

“It is you,” I said.

As he continued to look at me, his gaze faltered. I saw uncertainty, nervousness in his eyes. A faint blush began to creep up his face.

“I’m sorry,” Edgar said. “But I just have to tell you this. It’s not a joke—I promise.”

Something in his tone caught my attention, and I waited.

“It’s just that I heard this old tale,” he said. “About looking into a mirror under the harvest moon. I heard you could see your true—”

He lowered his voice. “Your true love.”

I was startled to hear him say that, and he looked at me earnestly.

“It’s just that I did it last night,” he said. “And I saw you.”

I looked up into his eyes—saw the green flecked with brown—and I realized that there were greater depths in them than I had ever imagined.

“It’s no joke,” Edgar said. “I saw you, and I wanted you to know that.”

I took in his eyes, his determined chin, his black eyebrows that were just a little too thick, and I felt as if I were seeing him for the very first time.

“I saw you, too,” I said.

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Thanks very much for reading!

A Light in the Hall

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Here’s a Halloween story inspired by R.B. McConnell’s Snowflake’s Challenge #1, and also inspired by Drew at House Valerius. The challenge is to write a flash fiction story about a picture that R.B. McConnell took. You can find R.B.’s picture at the bottom of the story. 🙂

A Light in the Hall

“Hello?”

I looked out into the hall. The light that filtered in was slightly green, and something about the stillness made me feel uneasy.

I left my dark bedroom behind and ventured farther into the hall.

The green light seemed to pull me in, and I thought I heard someone whisper my name.

“Victoria.”

I frowned. No one had called me Victoria in a long time. To most people, I was simply “Vic.”

The whisper came again. “Victoria.”

I looked around. I couldn’t tell where the green light was coming from—it seemed to be all around me without any one section of the hall being brighter than any other.

I walked down the hall to the living room and found it bathed in the same green light.

I saw a figure walking toward me, and soon before me, there was a familiar face.

“Victoria.”

“Is it really you?” I said. I was surprised at how quickly tears had sprung into my eyes.

“Victoria, come with me,” he said.

“I—I can’t,” I said. “I don’t understand. How can you be here?”

“Come with me.”

“No,” I said. I backed away. “How are you here?”

“Come with me,” he repeated, and he stretched out his hand.

In the next moment, we both were gone.

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RB’s original photo:

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Thank you to R.B. McConnell and Drew for the fun challenge!

Starlight, Part 3 — New Short Story

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Here is part three of Starlight. If you haven’t read part two, you can find it here.

Starlight, Part 3

Angie spent the day with her parents. She hadn’t seen them in ages, and it felt good to spend time with them.

While she was with them, she felt something—a little bit of warmth in her heart. She remembered how nice it was to spend time with family.

When it was time for her to go, Angie had a little trouble explaining her travel arrangements. She hadn’t brought her car, and she lived twenty miles from her parents’ house—she clearly hadn’t walked.

Angie just told her parents that a friend had brought her over—and that that friend would pick her up. As she stepped out of the house, she certainly hoped that was true.

She stood on the porch and watched the sun set. Soon, the first star of the evening appeared. After that, more stars studded the sky.

Angie began to feel anxious. She knew her mother would come to check on her soon, and she wouldn’t have a good explanation for why she was still standing on the porch.

The night continued to darken, and suddenly a bright light appeared by her side.

Maia had materialized next to her.

“I’m so glad you’re here,” Angie said. “I wasn’t sure if—”

“There’s no time to talk,” Maia said. “You’ve found the letter ‘J.’ Now you have one-and-a-half more tasks to complete.”

Suddenly, they were floating in the air, and in the next moment, they were flying through the night.

“But I have work in the morning,” Angie protested. “I can’t go on a task tonight.”

“Then you’ll have to work quickly,” Maia replied. “Task Two. Combine fire and water.”

“What?” Angie said. “What does that mean?”

“That’s what you have to find out,” Maia said.

They flew on, and before long, they were floating into a building and settling on the ground.

Angie looked around. They were in a supermarket.

“What are we—”

Angie turned around. Maia was gone.

Angie looked around the supermarket in some trepidation. She wondered if she would be trapped in the store like she had been trapped in her old room.

She didn’t relish the idea of spending the night in a supermarket.

Angie glanced around again. She was standing in the produce department near a display of cantaloupes. She thought idly that she really liked cantaloupe, but she couldn’t eat a whole one—not by herself.

“It’s a shame, isn’t it?” said a voice by her side.

Angie looked up.

A young man with red hair was standing next to her.

“When you’re single,” he said, “you’re really better off with half a cantaloupe.”

Angie stared at him.

The young man colored. “Not that I’m saying you’re single. I am. But that doesn’t mean you are. I’m just looking for half a cantaloupe—that’s all I’m really saying. But I don’t see any, do you?”

Angie looked around. “No, I don’t. But I do know what you mean.”

The young man brightened. “You do? I live around here. Do you live around here?”

Angie frowned. “I’m not actually sure.”

She stopped and looked down at her clothes. She was still wearing the clothes she’d worn to bed on Saturday night—she must look as if she had just run out of the house to grab a few things from the store.

The young man nodded. “That’s cool. I understand if you don’t want to tell me where you live. I’m Brian, by the way. Maybe I’ll see you around.”

“Nice to meet you, Brian,” Angie said. She looked at him. He seemed like a nice person—and under ordinary circumstances she might have liked to stop and chat with him a little.

But right now she had something she had to do.

“I’ve got to go,” Angie said. “Have a good night.”

She moved off quickly.

Angie walked up and down the aisles without really finding anything. How was she supposed to combine fire and water—put tabasco sauce with cereal and milk? Nothing in the store seemed like it could be any help.

Angie continued to wander and eventually she found herself near the cashiers and the automatic doors that led out of the store.

She stopped and watched people entering and exiting with shopping carts and baskets. Getting out looked so easy—surely the automatic doors wouldn’t refuse her.

She waited until a family was heading out together, and then Angie hurried forward and walked out along with them.

She sighed in relief as the doors opened with a soft shush to allow them all out and then closed behind them with an equally soft sound.

Angie stood out in the night air and looked around gratefully. She hadn’t fulfilled the second task, but she wasn’t trapped. As she continued to look around, she realized that the front of the store looked familiar—she was actually in her own neighborhood.

Angie felt another surge of relief—she wouldn’t have to spend the night in the store, and she could now go home and get ready for work as if this were a normal Sunday night.

Angie began to walk the few blocks to her house.

The night passed as many Sunday nights had, and as Angie climbed into bed at the end of it, she began to wonder if she would receive a visit from Maia. But no starlit visitor showed up to scold her for not fulfilling her task, and eventually, Angie fell asleep.

She went to work as usual on Monday and then came home. Once again, Maia did not appear, and Angie slept peacefully that night without any interruption.

Tuesday passed the same way, and Angie began to wonder if she had imagined the whole thing. But she had mysteriously shown up in her parents’ house on Saturday night in her nightclothes without a car—something her mother had remarked on quite a few times. So something had happened that night, and Angie was unable to explain it all away.

As the week wore on, Angie found herself going back to the supermarket where she had magically appeared on Sunday night. She would wander the aisles, looking for something to jump out at her, but she saw nothing that could reasonably be construed as the combination of fire and water. But Maia—if she did exist—had wanted her to find something in this particular place.

What could it be?

Angie didn’t know.

She kept going back to the supermarket, and she began to remember how much she used to love to cook. Angie remembered how she used to have all her friends over, and she would cook something simple—like a big pot of pasta. And then they would all talk and laugh and have a great time. And then sometimes, when a friend was going through a difficult time, she would make her special soup, and they would talk it out.

Angie began to wonder—should she try to contact her old friends? Maybe make her special soup? She had friends now, of course, but they were mostly friends she’d met through work. She liked her new friends, but she missed her old ones—the ones she’d had before Jason.

Maybe she could try to invite them over—maybe see if they might come back into her life.

The more Angie thought about it, the more she liked the idea.

Another week went by, and then Angie decided she would do it. She found old email addresses for three of her best friends and sent them an invite—she didn’t even know if the addresses were still good. Then she went to the supermarket and bought ingredients for her special soup. Angie decided she would make it even if no one wanted to come.

A few days went by, and then an answer came in. Her friend Nina said she would be happy to come. Angie was overjoyed. Then another day went by, and two more replies came in. Both Joy and Eva said they would come too.

Angie spent Friday night cleaning her house. Then Saturday morning she got up early and began to prepare her soup—it needed time for the flavors to meld properly. She began chopping herbs and vegetables. Then Angie turned the dial on her gas stove and got one of the burners clicking. A moment later, a flame sprang to life. Angie placed a pot full of water on the flame and waited for it to boil. Then she began adding ingredients and let the whole thing simmer.

That night, the doorbell rang, and Angie jumped up to answer it. Nina, Joy, and Eva had all arrived together, and when they saw Angie, the three of them wrapped her in a big hug.

Angie found that there were tears in her eyes.

Angie and her friends sat around her kitchen table and ate her special soup just like they had in the old days. They laughed a lot and cried a little, and Angie found that it seemed like no time at all had passed—they were all still friends. At the end of the night, Nina made them promise that they would all come to her house next Friday for a movie night.

Angie watched her friends depart with a warmth in her heart that she hadn’t felt in a long time. The night was dark but studded with stars, and Angie watched her friends’ car until the red taillights disappeared.

Then she went back inside.

As Angie closed the door, she found a woman in a dress made of stars with starlight hair standing right in front of her—it was Maia.

Maia stepped forward and hugged Angie.

“You did it!” she said. “You completed Task Two!”

“I—” Angie said.

“You combined fire and water,” Maia said. “You made your special soup!”

“I guess I did,” Angie said. “I didn’t even think of it that way.”

Maia beamed. “My job here is done. You’ve completed both your tasks, and now your unspoken wish is fulfilled. You’ve gotten yourself back.”

Angie frowned. “Both my tasks? You said I had two and a half.”

Maia winked. “You really only had two to fulfill your wish. The half is just for you—if you want it.”

Maia began to float toward the ceiling. “Goodbye, dear Angie. I don’t believe I will see you again, but it was lovely to meet you.”

“Wait!” Angie said. “What do you mean, the half is just for me?”

But Maia was already gone.

Angie went back to the kitchen to put away her soup.

In the morning, Angie got up early to take some photos with her phone—she didn’t have a new camera yet. As she returned to the house, she realized she’d neglected to buy anything for breakfast.

She hurried to the supermarket.

Angie picked up some cereal and milk, considered eggs briefly, and then drifted over to the produce aisle—she figured she could use some fruit.

The strawberries and blueberries looked good, but then Angie spied it—a half cantaloupe wrapped in plastic.

She hurried over to it.

Just as she reached it, she saw another shopper heading toward the cantaloupe.

Angie stopped and looked up at him—the tall, red-haired figure looked familiar.

After a moment, the name came to her—it was Brian.

Brian smiled when he saw her. “I was hoping I’d see you again.”

“Hi, Brian,” Angie said.

He gestured to the plastic-wrapped fruit. “I see we’re both after the same thing—the legendary half cantaloupe.”

Angie glanced at the fruit. A half cantaloupe. The half is just for you, Maia had said.

She glanced up at Brian. He seemed like a nice person—it couldn’t hurt to get to know him a little better.

Angie held out her hand. “My name’s Angie, by the way.”

Brian took it. “Nice to meet you, Angie.”

He looked over at the cantaloupe. “I’d be happy to relinquish my claim on this particular piece of fruit. It’s all for you.”

Angie smiled. “Thanks. The next one we see will be for you.”

Brian glanced at her basket. “Looks like you’ve got a few perishable items in there, so you probably want to get home. But would you like to meet for coffee some time?”

Angie looked at Brian. His smile seemed genuine, and she felt stirrings in her heart that she hadn’t felt in a long time.

“I’d like that,” she said.

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Thanks very much for reading!

You can check out my books on AmazonBarnes&NobleKobo, and Apple.

And stop by some time and hi on Facebook. 🙂

Starlight, Part 2 — New Short Story

girlwithstars

Here is part two of Starlight. If you haven’t read part one, you can find it here.

Starlight, Part 2

“Find the letter ‘J’?” Angie said.

“Yes,” Maia replied. “Now let’s go.”

She held out her hand, and Angie took it.

In the next moment, Angie found herself floating in the air. She and Maia floated right through the wall and out into the night air.

Suddenly, they flew off into the night.

Angie could see the ground streaking by below her and the stars streaking by above her. She should have been terrified by the height and the speed, but somehow, all she felt was a great calm.

Maia and Angie flew on, and before long, they were flying up to a house and then through another wall.

They floated gently to the ground in a dark room. Even in the dim light, Angie could tell the room looked familiar.

“This is my old room in my parents’ house,” she said.

“Yes,” Maia replied. “What you need is in here.”

“The letter ‘J’?” Angie said.

“Yes.”

“But I don’t have any idea—” Angie turned to see Maia walking casually through a wall.

Angie went to follow her. Instead, she bumped face-first into the wall. She went to the door and found that it was locked.

Angie pounded on the door. “Maia! Let me out. This door must be stuck or something.”

“The door will open when you have found what are looking for,” Maia said from the other side of the door. “And not a moment before.”

Angie pounded on the door again. “Maia?”

There was no reply.

Angie turned to her old room and switched on the light.

Her bed and desk and trophies were still there, so the room still looked familiar, but now a lot of the floor space was taken up with boxes—her parents were using the room for storage.

Angie tried the door one last time but found that it still wouldn’t open.

She turned back to the boxes—she supposed she’d better start looking.

She began opening the boxes. Many of them belonged to her parents. But some of them were hers.

Angie decided to focus on those. They seemed the likeliest place where she would find the letter “J.”

She opened up more boxes.

Some of them held childhood items—toys and books and clothes. And some of them were from later years—college and her first job.

Angie began to sift through all her old things.

She found things that made her smile, a few things that made her cry, and even a thing or two that made her laugh out loud.

And then she found a box with her old camera and several long envelopes full of photographs.

She had not forgotten that she used to take photographs, but somehow she had pushed that fact to the back of her mind.

The first envelope contained Angie’s earliest photographs—the very first she ever developed herself. There were photos of her parents, her house, her friends, and one beautiful photo of jasmine.

Angie paused as she took that one out—it had always been one of her favorites. The photo was of the jasmine bush that grew at the back of the house. The white flowers and their dark leaves looked lovely in the black-and-white photo. Even though it was one of the earliest photos she had ever taken, Angie had always felt there was something special about this one. There was power and mystery in it.

She paused. Could this be the “J” she was looking for?

She wasn’t sure.

Angie continued to look through the other photographs. She found many more pictures of friends and family, trips and vacations, and quite a few more studies of flowers. But nothing really stood out to her.

And then she found the picture of Jason.

It felt like ages since she had seen him—had it really been that long? In reality it had only been two years. But a lot had happened in that time.

She set everything else aside and took a long look at the photograph.

Jason was smiling, looking away from the camera, and even though the photo was black and white, Angie could see with her mind’s eye just how blue his eyes were.

She’d loved his sense of humor. She’d loved his ready wit. She’d loved him.

Could he be the “J” she was looking for?

Angie continued to look at the photo of Jason. She really had loved everything about him—but he certainly couldn’t have said the same about her.

Jason had always said that he loved her, but he hadn’t liked her friends—they had been the first to go. Then he didn’t like her hair or her perfume—he had gotten her to change those too. And even though he’d consented to the photo Angie held in her hand, he hadn’t liked her interest in photography either. He’d told her that she was no good—she had no eye for a picture—and that photography was frivolous anyway. He’d told her she should be focusing on a serious career instead.

So Angie had given up on photography—let it disappear from her life. And eventually Jason had disappeared too.

As she looked down at his smile, Angie realized there was no way he could be the letter “J.” She didn’t know what the letter “J” was or what it was supposed to represent in her life, but she knew it wasn’t him.

Angie sifted through her photographs until she found the picture of the jasmine again. She held it up, and she was amazed once again by the power in this simple photograph—somehow she had captured something special in this moment.

Angie felt something stirring in her that she hadn’t felt in a long time.

If anything was the letter “J,” it was this jasmine photo. It was the best work she had ever done.

At that moment, the door opened, and her mother entered the room. The hall behind her was dark, and she blinked blearily in the light of the bedroom.

“Angie?” her mother said. “Honey, what are you doing here?”

“I—was just looking through some old things,” Angie said.

Her mother frowned. “How did you get in the house?”

“I—uh—” Angie thought back to Maia—she could hardly tell her mother that a starlit woman had flown her through the sky.

“You must still have that old key,” her mother said. “It’s good to see you even if this is a little unusual. Sun’s coming up. Come with me, and I’ll get you some breakfast.”

(Part 3 is in the next blog post. Click here to read it.)

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Thanks very much for reading!

You can check out my books on AmazonBarnes&NobleKobo, and Apple.

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