On December 29, 2020, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving memories, a pebble, and a shard of glass.
This freebie story for The Hand and the Eye of the Tower (Tales of the Navel: The Shadow Forest) was the result…
Danyel gazed at the shard of glass lying on the ground, just waiting for someone in the corridor to find it. A fragment of a broken mirror sitting right next to a pebble.
Which should he choose? The mirror reflected back his own pale face, his fair hair hanging in tousled curls in his eyes.
“What good is having a mirror in our cottage?” He could almost hear Map in muttered argument with Leiwell. “We’re trying to live simply and quietly here, not rouse your brothers into primping at their reflections. Everyone who looks into one of these things finds fault with what they see. Regrets and sad memories get caught in the glass, attracting malevolent spirits.”
“Not just regrets and sad memories,” Leiwell had argued, also keeping his voice down.
“The less I see of myself, the better.” Their mother had shook her head in a stubborn fashion. “Nothing I ever saw in my own reflection ever measured up to the look your mother gave me when she first saw me.”
“You are our mother, Map.” Leiwell had reached out to touch her arm. “Please, This mirror is a present from our lord. I want to look my best when I go to him.” His brother hadn’t been able to keep out the quaver in his voice.
Danyel withdrew his fingers from the shard, no longer wanting to touch it. He picked up the pebble instead.
It became warm, almost hot in his hand.
Silly Danyel. Something or someone breathed against his cheek, kissed his closed hand. A pebble can hurt as much as a shard of glass if it’s handled wrong.
“I don’t care.” Danyel shut his eyes, opened them to look up at the darkness of the attic ceiling. The corridor was gone. He was back in his own bedroom, Tayel lying beside him. “I’d rather pick up pebbles than shards of glass.”
Something about the latter reminded him of a knife, ready to slice, perhaps cut little pieces off him or someone else. An image of Leiwell with a bloody cheek blossomed in his head.
Tayel let out a little grumbling protest in his sleep. He rolled over on his side away from Danyel.
Danyel tried to relax, closing his eyes again when he felt the soreness in his palm as if he’d scraped it. Or burned it.
Dream pebbles couldn’t hurt him. Could they?
He sat up, glanced in the direction of the round attic window. Dirty as the glass was, the moonlight provided enough illumination to see the hill on the other side of the garden and the tower. Once more, Danyel got the impression it was watching. Watching and waiting.
For what? For Danyel to come to it and find that corridor inside? For him to pick up that pebble when he was awake?
He lay back down, wide awake. He wouldn’t be getting any more sleep tonight. Not with a head full of thoughts.
A pity no one was awake to share them with.
Tayel continued to lay, completely motionless, facing away from Danyel. If he was awake, he wasn’t going to admit it.