Paula’s Prompts: Wednesday Words

On November 11, 2020, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt which included a war hero, a flower, and a book.

This poem was the result…

Everyone said she was a war hero

No one knew about the book

A flower pressed between the pages

Fragrance of a distant soil and secret sins

The ledger itself is old-fashioned, bound with leather

The words within written with a shaky hand

The weary truths of an aching heart

Bled bit by bit upon each page

Composed from secrets kept too long within

So much of these pages contradict the legend

Fed by speeches given about heroism from smiling politicians

She didn’t smile back yet she looked so smart in her uniform

Every inch the officer and the gentlewoman

Just another taciturn military type

You’d never guess at the terrible decisions

Continuing to haunt her long after she’d made them

Terrible choices to save as many lives as she could

Actions she took to stay alive herself

She kept those truths hidden behind her teeth

Not wanting to disillusion her daughters or wide-eyed granddaughters

All those hopeful, patriotic girls, eager to enlist

For the truth is not nearly as inspiring

Even if the truth reveals that she’s human after all. 


Secondary Characters Speak Out

Quartz sits scowling, smoothing his beard, fussing with his buttons. Opposite seated more gracefully is Christopher, wearing a black velvet vest over a white tunic, matching dark trousers and boots. His coppery-golden hair is brilliant against the ebon of his vest, even if it ends in curls around the nape of his neck. 

Quartz: Good, you showed. Thank’ee for dressing up. 

Christopher: For the last two weeks I’ve been with Rhodry here at the Cauldron. His attire made me nostalgic for what I wore beyond the Door, in other worlds, other versions of Omphalos. For what Stefan Ashelocke wore before the Gardens of Arachne bloomed in Mystere. 

Quartz: Right. Let’s leave off the subject of your stone ancestor, the Spider’s bridegroom. 

Christopher: He’s not the Spider’s bridegroom. He’s the Lady Duessa’s former husband, her first Marriage Feast, the one who turned her from a human witch into an arachnocrat, blessing her with her additional pair of arms and eyes. Nor is Stefan exactly stone. I suppose he could be. He might as well be.

Quartz: Christopher. Let’s not get distracted by the messed-up matriarchies in your world. 

Christopher: (not seeming to hear him) You could consider every Marriage Feast a bridegroom of the Spider and every arachnocratic bride a willing vessel for the Spider’s hunger. Yes, I suppose some might consider that messed up. 

Quartz: Not like there isn’t a lot of messed-up in my world, lad…Christopher! Back on topic, now!

Christopher: Sorry for the distraction. (runs his hands through his hair with a sheepish grin) We’re supposed to be talking about this blog, the Cauldron of Eternal Inspiration at

Quartz: Along with the Formely Forbidden Cauldron at Which the scribbler got up and flowing again, just for the #BloggingFromAZAprilProject. 

Christopher: For some years, both Cauldrons have participated in Blogging From AZ with some sort of character theme. This year it’s Character Poems. 

Quartz: The scribbler has gotten the poetry bug for this year. She’s going to post an poem on day in April except Sundays. These poems are going to be dedicated to us, us being her characters. (He shudders.) Guess this is her chance to really let loose. 

Christopher: Calm down. Maybe it won’t be that bad. 

Quartz: Right. This is the scribbler who brought us Oriana, Duessa, Dyvian, and Nimmie Not. 

Christopher: As if you mind Nimmie Not. 

Quartz: Shut up.

Christopher: Ahem. Returning to the topic. Given all the poetry posts, I won’t be doing any Conversations with Christopher in April. 

Quartz: And I won’t be doing a Secondary Characters Speak Out. (He scowls.) I’m banished to the Formerly Forbidden Cauldron for a measly mention in Q is for Quartz on Tuesday; April 20, 2021. (He scowls some more.) I don’t even get to say anything myself. I just have the scribbler talking at me, grumbling at me, pointing out my faults.

Christopher: As if you don’t do it to her.

Quartz: Shut up. Whose side are you on?

Christopher: Remember, she’ll be doing the same thing to me on Saturday; April 3, 2021. Besides you don’t know if that day is the only blogging action you’ll see.

Me: (my voice comes floating in like a faint echo) Blog, blog, bloggy, blog…

Christopher: (it’s his turn to shudder) The scribbler will still be doing #RainbowSnippets on Sundays. She might snippet something about your story. 

Quartz: Doubt it. She’s working on At Her Service right now. You know this as well as I do. Your story is on hold as well. 

Christopher: Yes, but you never know. Anyway we’ll be back in May with Conversations with Christopher and Secondary Characters Speak Out. 

Quartz: Try not to miss us too much…on second thought, miss us. I’m already missing us. (grumbles to himself)

Christopher: It’s only for a month. This gives other characters a chance to be seen. 

Quartz: Right, I suppose it does. (He sighs.) One of those characters is my Fairest, after all, even if she’s calling herself Briar. 

Christopher: Along with Damian, Danyel, Tayel, Dyvian, Peter, Gabrielle, Map, Melyssa, Leiwell, ‘Lyssa, and Vanessa. 

Quartz: Lots of people from your worlds of course. Sly how Melyssa Ashelocke got herself two blogs here at this very Cauldron under only slightly different names. 

Christopher: ‘Lyssa isn’t Melyssa Ashelocke, not exactly. ‘Lyssa is the part of Melyssa who fused and become one with the Godling Seraphix. 

Quartz: Right. More of the complication metaphysical weirdness from your world. Or worlds. I still think it’s slick, considering how many characters aren’t getting a poem this April. 

Christopher: Not to mention our scribbler does favour certain letters for names, doesn’t she? She has her pick of characters with names beginning with the letter A or D while she had to scrabble for X or Y. 

Quartz: Don’t forget Q.

Christopher: As if you’d ever let me forget.

Quartz: Never. Pretty slick how Tayel managed to snag himself a D poem even though his name now begins with T and there’s stiff competition for D. 

Christopher: Tayel used to be called Dayel. He didn’t want to leave his twin alone with Dyvian, even if in a second-person poem addressed to the characters. 

Quartz: Right. That scribbler is such a pushover. 

Christopher: And you take advantage of it.

Quartz: Like you don’t. 

#RainbowSnippets: At Her Service

Welcome to #RainbowSnippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday, those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. It can be your own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To read a wide variety of samples from different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

For my own, I thought I’d share a little of the beginning of my expanded version of At Her Service. It was part of Nine Star Press’s Once Upon a Rainbow Volume 2 anthology until the rights reverted to me. I thought I’d take the opportunity to change some parts readers objected to, developing others a little more. This is just a little longer than six sentences, forgive me…

I’ll never forget the first time I glimpsed my mistress’s ankles. She wasn’t yet my mistress. She was just Ariella, the bewitching girl with sapphire blue eyes and a husky voice I could feel caressing the inside of my ear, gliding down my spine, raising the hairs of my neck every time she spoke. 

“You will address her as the Lady Ariella.” The lady of the chateaux spoke in a cold, menacing voice as flat as her eyes. How could she look so much like Ariella herself, yet be so different? 

#QueerBlogWed: Make-Believe Reality

On November 4, 2020, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving a chime, a young child, and a plant.

This freebie story for Stealing Myself From Shadows about Christopher was the result…

I don’t recall childhood, not clearly. Flashes of a garden, running hand in hand with another boy sometimes come to me. I’m not sure if they’re my memories or someone else’s. 

Gabrielle accepted me as her son without question, something which still leaves me choked up with wonder if I stop to consider it. I sometimes like to imagine a past of growing up here at the Navel as her son. I’d play with the wind chimes hanging outside the door until ‘Brie, no, Mother scolded me for it, telling me to stop it. I’d picture a flower pit sitting outside. I’m not sure if there ever was, but I’d try to grow a single flower. Plants have a tendency to wither when I get too close to them, but I was a child, ‘Brie’s son, growing up with her the way children grow up with their mothers, perhaps it wouldn’t die when I reached out a hand to touch its petals. I can lean very close to it and sniff it without harming the tender shoot. I’m not sure if the plant would like the proximity, even if I wasn’t deathly, so I’d talk to it. I’d tell the plant about how I stubbed my toe, the cookie I just ate. 

I have trouble eating cookies or anything the way a normal person does. In the imaginary childhood, I gobbled down this cookie just like I’ve seen other children and adults as well devour them in huge, hungry bites. 

The plant wouldn’t answer when I talk, but it wouldn’t die. It would thrive and bloom through its short span until it began to wilt, drooping petals as it does. 

For that’s the way things are in the real world when they’re untouched by creatures of shadow. Plants live, thrive, and in due time wither and die. They don’t have to shrivel up with a single stray breath. 

As for myself as Gabrielle’s child. I’d grow up, maybe grow old. Maybe I’d grow a beard, learn how to shave. For that’s what grown men do, learn how to shave. I had a dim recollection of watching men shave, even though I didn’t recall doing it myself. 

There’s so much I have to learn in this world, so much to discover. I’m not sure if I’m terrified or excited. 

I just hope Damian is with me when I do these things. 

Conversations with Christopher: Rhodry

Once more Christopher faces a slight boy like himself with ruddy golden-hair falling to touch the shoulders of his black velvet vest. A white tunic peeks out from underneath the dark covering. He wears matching pants with a pair of scuffed boot. A troubled expression wrinkles his smooth brow as he gazes back at Christopher with eyes that shimmer from blue to golden and back. 

Christopher: You said you’ve all had troubling dreams. Who’s all of you? 

Rhodry: Faith, Ariadne, and myself…we’ve all dreamed of being trapped, seeing the eyes of our lost loves ones through another’s. Someone who is crying out for help, but we can’t tell who it is. My companions feel this dream is somehow the key to what’s happening, even Varwyth. 

Christopher: Your companions being Faith, Ariadne, and Varwyth? The ones you’re investigating the Trouble at Caerac Keep with?

Rhodry: Yes. I’m not sure why Varywth isn’t having the dreams, yet he appears to be aware of them, particularly mine. He’s a powerful sorcerer who’s dropped hints of having been a cleric once, something I didn’t think possible. Varywth has arguments with Faith regarding her own beliefs as a Unicorn. Sometimes I’m not sure of he’s being passionate or poking fun of his passion along with her own. He doesn’t mock her dreams of her lost sister, no matter how caustic he’s being, or any of our dreams. 

Christopher: Tell me a little about Faith. Who is she, assuming she’s a she?

Rhodry: Yes. She’s an acolyte at the Unicorn temple. No, more than that. She’s a Point of the Unicorn’s Horn, something she’ll explain with painful incoherency if you ask. She’s one of three Points, the two other two being her sisters, Hope and Charity. They’re not actually sisters, but they grew up at the Unicorn temple at Caerac Keep together. They were raised to embody the Unicorn’s virtues they were named for. 

Christopher: Did Faith, Hope, and Charity have other names before they became acolytes or were they born at the temple?

Rhodry: Yes, they had other names. No, they weren’t born at the temple. Charity had a family, which went missing when Hope did. I’m not sure if Faith ever had anything other than the Unicorn temple and her sisters. Now Hope is gone and Charity lies in the middle of a mysterious sickness many fear was a vampire’s attack. 

Christopher: Was Charity attacked at the temple?

Rhodry: She sickened there, yes. 

Christopher: Are vampires considered undead in your world? Do clerics have any power over them? I’d think a Unicorn temple might be warded against them. 

Rhodry: Yes, yes, and yes. This is why everyone at the temple, including Faith is frightened. In fact, Faith is inclined to blame Daeric and myself for what’s happening. 

Christopher: Why?

Rhodry: We’re Serpent-Born. As far as Faith is concerned, Daeric and I are abominations, the source of all that’s evil and monstrous. Never mind that vampires may have been a clerical error as much as an act of the Serpent.

Christopher: How so?

Rhodry: Long ago, Kyra Nevalyn and her beloved Prince Stephen Jasior did something to seal the Serpent’s power. Kyra won’t tell me everything and the legends contradict each other, but there are hints that vampires rose because the Order of the Unicorn rose. Because of what the Unicorns did to break the power of the the Order of the Dragon along with the Serpent. 

Christopher: The Order of the Dragon and the Order of the Unicorn are both religious organizations, aren’t they? Wide-spread ones?

Rhodry: That’s putting it mildly. They dominaed the world. Only the Order of the Dragon believed in keeping the various powers of the world in check, such the Serpent. The Order of the Unicorn were the champions of all that pure and virtuous, devoting themselves to protecting them from anyone who might harm them, including the Dragons. These were their purposes…in theory. 

Christopher: While in practice?

Rhodry: Both became too powerful and were corrupted by that power. The Dragons tried to enslave and harness those they were keeping in check. They created mystical chains for the Serpent-Born, keeping them as enslaved pets and weapons. The Unicorns tried to exterminate the Serpent-Born, the Dragons, and anyone else they deemed monstrous and impure. Faith would argue only extreme Unicorn sects would advocate murder in the name of the Goddess. Her temple would never do such a thing, only treat myself and others like me as if we weren’t people. 

Christopher: It sounds like you and Faith are having difficulties in getting along. 

Rhodry: It’s strange. We grew up in similar situations. Isolated, surrounded by books, undergoing vigorous training; I in my tower, she in her temple. Due to whom and what we are, it’s hard to tolerate each other. I’ve been making an effort, but she doesn’t even bother. Varwyth is more than quick to defend me. I almost pity Faith when he strikes back. Plus Ariadne is there to laugh at Faith and myself for both being barbarians. Not that she’s in a position to laugh. She grew up almost as isolated as Faith and I did. 

Christopher: Ariadne being your last companion?

Rhodry: Ariadne is a foreigner, a sort of living Aethyrian weapon sent by the Circle of the Thirteen to find her lost sister.

Christopher: You just raised a lot of questions with all that! First you called Ariadne a foreigner, then a living Aethyrian weapon. Explain?

Rhodry: Ariadne grew up in Aethyria, a land southwest to Rowenda where Caerac Keep is. I call her a living weapon because she can fight bare-handed in a fashion which seems like magic, but is the result of vigorous training in Aethyria. 

Christopher: And you said she was sent by the Circle of the Thirteen? What’s that?

Rhodry: The thirteen witches who form the ruling body of Aethryia. From what Ariadne has said…and from the visions I’ve had of them in a dreams…they stay in a state of meditation which leaves them like statues except when they have something to say or do. They transported Ariadne to Caerac Keep in an instant, just like they transported her sister, Alexi, some months ago before Alexi disappeared. Only Ariadne is having a hard time adjusting to Caerac Keep and we’re having a hard time adjusting to her. 

Christopher: Oh?

Rhodry: Yes, Alexi had visited several times…she was one of the few people I knew and was used to visiting other lands. Ariadne has never been out of Aethyria. Aethyria is a very different place than Rowenda. It was part of the land of Kalanthia, the heart of the empire until Kalanthia split. Only the southernmost core remained Kalanthia. The other fragments became the lands of Graeca and Aethyria. Neither believe in the Unicorn Goddess. Ariadne has a very cynical view of the Unicorn, much to Faith’s distress. Plus Ariadne keeps gawking at me. 

Christopher: Because you’re Serpent-Born.

Rhodry: And because I’m a boy. Everyone is female in Aethyria. 

Christopher: Everyone?

Rhodry: There are a few people between or without gender, but no men. Just as there are no women in Graeca. The split between Aethyria and Graeca with Kalanthia was due in part to gender prejudice. All the men went to Graeca, all the women went to Aethyria, and never do they meet, except to propagate during Marriage Week. They get together for a festival along the border where men and women couple wearing masks. Any Aethyrians whom participate and find themselves with child keep the babies if they’re girls. If they’re boys they’re given to the Graecans. This is why there are no men in Aethyria. Ariadne, who’s never been beyond the border is seeing men…and boys…for the first time. She’s gawking at us. Along with laughing at anything she finds odd or barbaric. Which can be annoying.

Christopher: So Ariadne, Faith, and Varwyth are your companions and three of you share dreams. 

Rhodry: Yes. Sometimes Alexi is in them. Alexi traveled and was a witch herself. She was having dreams of an ancient evil rising which she felt could be stopped if she came to Caerac Keep. Only Alexi disappeared herself and now we’re dreaming about her. I think we’re seeing Alexi through the eyes of her captor, but that captor is also a captive. It’s a mystery. We keep stumbling into mysteries. 

Christopher: And you, Ariadne, Faith, and Varwyth are the ones who have to solve them?

Rhodry: Well, we are being aided by Lord William of Caerac Keep and his sister. Plus we have allies like Kevin and Maggie. 

Christopher: Who are Kevin and Maggie?

Rhodry: Maggie is a former adventurer herself, although she runs a tavern now called The Tipsy Hedgehog. Kevin…(Rhodry blushes a little)…Kevin is often at the bar there. He’s got red hair, freckles, and the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen. Um, he and Maggie often hear things which they pass on to us. Only I worry they may get into trouble with whatever is causing the trouble by helping us. 

Christopher: Good luck in resolving that trouble. It sounds like you’ll need. 

Rhodry: Thank you. (rueful smile) I will. 

#RainbowSnippets: Wind Me Up, One More Time

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. It can be your own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To read a variety of samples from LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

For my own, I’m going to offer one last taste of Wind Me Up, One More Time before I switch to something else. This time I’m going to be slightly short, forgive me…

The wooden door leading inside the factory seemed like a mask for an open mouth, ready to swallow careless girls, crunch them up, make them one with the machine.

“Don’t be afraid.” Nathalie smiled, a sudden crinkling of merry lines around her full lips which banished all danger and promised fun. “There are good things in this place, too. I’ll show you one of them.”

Want to read the rest of the story? Here are buy links…

Mischief Corner Books/Shenanigans Press:



Barnes & Noble:


Paula’s Prompts: Wednesday Words

On October 28, 2020, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving an empty cup, an empty bed, and a full stomach.

This poem was my response…

Her cup is empty

So she drained it again

She’s never satisfied

Her bed is empty

She finally has space

She’s never satisfied

Her stomach is full yet she keeps eating

She’s never satisfied

Satisfaction, where can she find it?

The fulfillment she craves?

It’s not in chocolates and win

It’s not in a steady nutrious diet

Loaded with fruit and vegetables

It’s not in the lovers who shared her life and left

The people who filled the empty spaces

Their voices left echoes behind

She tries to find it in the printed page

The words she scrawls or types

Putting together the pieces of an unknown whole

Some of the gnawing ache goes away as she types

Watching the stories come together word by word

Each word forms a web that bridges the emptiness

She isn’t satisfied yet

She can only stare at the screen for so long

Cursing the physical form which won’t allow her to let them all out

All of the stories bubbling inside

She can only retreive so many from the stew of her imagination

Cooking and dissolving into each other

She tries to separate and solidify each other

Humming, using music to recall the tales lost while she stirs

Regulating the flow of story images to music to focus on what’s cooking

There’s only so much she can stir at once

There’s only so much she can save from the pot

She’s never satisifed. 

Conversations with Christopher: Rhodry

Christopher sits facing another slight youth with shoulder-length hair of ruddy gold, dressed in a black velvet vest over a white tunic, black breeches, and dusty boots. 

Christopher: The black velvet looks better on you than it does on me. 

Rhodry: Thank you. This is what I’m wearing when I go to see the Lord of Caerac Keep in Trouble at Caerac Keep. 

Christopher: Speaking of Trouble at Caerac Keep, I hear it’s gotten some activity.

Rhodry: Now here’s a surprise. You’re envious of me for getting the scribbler’s attention. It’s usually the other way around. 

Christopher: True. She was working on Stealing Myself From Shadows when she decided to turn her attention to At Her Service. 

Rhodry: Our scribbler is still working on At Her Service, but she’s also transcribing. Some story fragments she typed up turned her attention back to Trouble at Caerac Keep.

Christopher: Tell me about it. 

Rhodry: In the beginning I’m living in a tower right outside Caerac Keep with Daeric.

Christopher: Daeric?

Rhodry: The sorcerer who raised and educated me. Daeric Nevalyn. Actually he’s a distant relative, although I’m not sure how. We’re both Serpent-Born so we kept to ourselves. 

Christopher: Serpent-Born?

Rhodry: (squirming, looking uncomfortable) Serpent-Born look somewhat human, but we have little body hair. What hair we possess is on the top of our heads. It’s always some shade of gold. Our eyes are also golden or they can shift to gold. (Rhodry’s own blue eyes turn golden.)

Christopher: We have something in common…sort of. (Colors drift across his iris; purple, gold, silver.)

Rhodry: Only you’ve not Serpent-Born.

Christopher: No, I’m a shadow. These are the colors I’ve devoured, dreams, memories, lost thoughts. They manifest in my eyes. 

Rhodry: I suppose you have that in common with the Serpent. She devoured all sorts of things, not all of them tangible. 

Christopher: This Serpent, is she your mother or ancestor? Is that why you’re Serpent-Born?

Rhodry: Yes.

Christopher: Is she an actual serpent?

Rhodry: At times She was a great golden serpent, according to legend. At others She was a tall, golden-haired, golden-eyed woman of surpassing beauty and strength. She favored black as does her brood. 

Christopher: Are you part of her brood?

Rhodry: No! Well, yes, by blood I am. She was a threat to all her descendents, threatening to consume and possess us, yet She’s also our ancestor. I suppose Daeric and I both feared and worshipped Her. I never know Her the way Daeric did. She’s something of a romantic figure as well as a sinister legend. It was She who summoned forth the monsters…I mean the non-humans from the icy wastes down into Rowenda and the southern lands, devouring any humans in their paths. Or perhaps they didn’t devour humans. Humanity was frightened enough to pull themselves together from a series of scattered kingdoms and queendoms to become a single empire, following the Imperatrix Serena Jasior and the Order of the Dragon. They fought Nevalyn and the monsters, err, nonhumans, driving the Serpent into the Abyss. Only She survived through Her brood, Her children. 

Christopher: How did she survive?

Rhodry: She whispered to the hearts and minds of Her descendents, taking one over as Her vessel. Only that vessel betrayed her. Some say it was my ancestor Kyra Nevalyn. Some say it was Prince Stephen Jasior. I’m hoping Kyra will tell me, although she’s still getting used to the Keep, the fact that there isn’t an empire or an Order of the Dragon. From what she’s told me, they turned into something quite sinister during her time. 

Christopher: You talk to your ancestor?

Rhodry: Yes, I find her in the tower, a tiny golden dragon after Daeric disappears. Kyra has her own story which our scribbler is working upon, A Suitor’s Challenge.

Christopher: Back to your story. You said Daeric disappears? 

Rhodry: It’s all part of the trouble at Caerac Keep. People are disappearing or getting sick. Those sickening become pale, listless, and have two tiny red wounds upon them, like bite marks. Many people think it’s the Vampire Corwyth rising to suck the blood of the living. 

Christopher: Only you don’t think so. 

Rhodry: No, I don’t. It’s what I’m trying to find out along with my companions in Trouble at Caerac Keep. We’re all close to someone who’s disappeared. We’re trying to find our loved ones and uncover the mystery of what is happening. For something is happening. We’re just not sure what. All of us are having disturbing dreams, dreams that someone is sending us. Someone who is close. 

Christopher: You don’t know who it is, though.

Rhodry: That’s something else we’re trying to discover.

(To be continued on Sunday; March 22, 2021)

#RainbowSnippets: Wind Me Up, One More Time

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday, those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To read a sample from different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

For my own, Grace and Nathalie will continue where they left off last week in Wind Me Up, One More Time…

“Is that what happens to everyone who works in the factory?”

“Well, not everyone.” Nathalie glanced down at her sister and patted her shoulder. “Industry in itself isn’t a bad thing. Just don’t get caught in the cogs and gears.”

“I’m not sure if I want to go in.” 

Like what you’re reading? Want to read more? Here are buy links…

Mischief Corner Books/Shenanigans Press:



Barnes & Noble:


Paula’s Prompts: Wednesday Words

On October 7, 2020, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt involving a best friend, a budget, and a messy closet.

This made me think of a fanfic which has been rolling around in my head for too long, one I’ve mentioned during Flights of Fanciful Fandom at I’ve been encouraged by readers to write it. I can’t resist using this prompt to start that story. It’s too perfect. Only I usually save the Cauldron for my original stories, but I’ve been all my responses to Paula’s Prompts/Wednesday Words have been here or at Formerly Forbidden Cauldron. Therefore I’ve decided to change the names for this story, but I may change them back and rewrite this for Archive of Our Own later. You may be able to guess whom these two characters really are, however…:)

Caroline’s closet was not a nice place. No one smart ever wanted to go in there. This was why she was surprised to find a girl her own age, shivering among the toys, gazing at her wide eyes as blue as Caroline’s own. 

No, there was nothing but toys in her closet right now. No open mouths ready to swallow children, no forked tongue gliding out like a snake. 

“There was one,” the girl said as if Caroline had spoken out loud. She pressed her lips together, huddled in a denim jacket too big for her. “It slid back into the other space, the space it came from, leaving just a closet.”

She knew about the other space. This wasn’t just any girl. Not even people who’d been to the other space could talk about it. Caroline had been trapped, lost there, and she found it to find the words to describe it. 

Outside the door Caroline could hear her parents arguing about the budget and other grown-up things. They wanted to move but they couldn’t afford to. From the open window came the slow scream of a siren.

“Don’t tell anyone I’m here!” The girl hunched in on herself as if she could make herself smaller. How shaggy her fair hair, hanging around her face unlike Caroline’s own long, straight, almost white hair. 

Why are you here? Caroline cocked her head, wondered if the strange child could hear her question. Where are your parents?

The girl flinched as if Caroline had hurt her. Like flashes, Caroline got an image of a beautiful woman with blue eyes like the girl, a tall man lying bleeding in a stable. 

Stop seeing that. Stop making me remember. The girl shut her eyes tight as if something hurt inside her head and chest which she couldn’t get rid of. 

Caroline was sorry, very sorry she’d thought anything about parents. Bad as her closet might be, she was lucky to have parents, fussing over the budget, unable to afford a kitten, no matter how much Caroline might want one. 

“Yeah.” The girl smiled a tiny smile which was so sad it made Caroline want to cry too. 

Instead she asked, “What’s your name?”

“Roberta.” The girl hugged her knees, hiding her mouth. 

That wasn’t her name. Not really. Caroline knew it. “Roberta” knew she knew it, but why would she say her actual name? It wasn’t like they were friends or anything. 

Caroline wanted to be friends with this girl. Looking at “Roberta”’s face, the images she’d given away, it was clear she’d seen things, bad things. Caroline understood that. She would never laugh at them the way grown-ups sometimes did. Caroline saw bad things in her closet. Those things seemed happy to leave Caroline alone now that “Roberta” was here. It made Caroline feel safer. She wanted to make “Roberta” feel safer, too. 

“I saw the bad things in your closet.” Once again the strange girl seemed to hear what Caroline was thinking. “I told them to back off.”

“They’ve never done that before.” Caroline crouched down beside “Roberta”. “How did you get them to listen?”

“I’ve had practice.” The girl hesitated, took a deep breath and said in rush, “I’ve got a Bad Thing inside me.”

Bad Thing. Caroline could almost see the capital letters, burning, laced with fire, hot and eager, willing to leap out and eat everything it could.

The girl shut her eyes again. “I’m always telling it to back off. I can force it down. Maybe your Bad Things are afraid I’ll do the same thing to them. Or maybe they’re just scared of the Bad Thing inside me.”

“Aren’t you scared?” Caroline reached out and took the other girl’s hand. It was as round and chubby as her own. Not that different.

“All the time.” “Roberta” shivered. “I feel safer here. I don’t know why.”

“I feel safe with you here, too.” The house felt quieter, more peaceful with the other girl close. Whatever bad things followed Caroline and her family seemed to have backed off. “Why don’t you stay for a while?”

“I couldn’t!” The girl stared at her with huge, frightened eyes full of memories as bad, if not worse than Caroline’s own. For a moment she could see them, flashing in her mind. A huge mansion which was also a prison. That tall man, whom Caroline had seen before, falling, crying out a name. Harlie. 

Harlie. That was Roberta’s real name and that man, he had been her father. Another man, a man with a ruined face and a tender smile pointed a gun at Harlie, telling her that he loved her. 

It put Caroline in mind of the man in black who smiled at her, followed her, always trying to take her away from her family. She tightened her grip upon Harlie’s hand, offering up an image of that man, the man in old-fashioned black clothes with a smile like a skull. 

Harlie squeezed her hand back. “He won’t get you, Caroline. I won’t let him…or them.”

“They won’t get you either,” Caroline whispered. “I’ll hide you in my closet. The bad things will leave you alone. I’ll bring you food. You can decide what to do next. OK?”

For the first time, Harlie smiled a genuine smile.