Paula’s Prompts: Wednesday Words

The fog rises, obscuring shapes around me

I look down at my keychain

I hadn’t realized a turtle was upon it

I watch the turtle slip off the metal ring

Splashing to the ground, finding the water

Feeling the earth shift below me

The rough ridges below the cement

Below the roots of writhing trees

Trying to escape their concrete prison

I feel the slow life quicken, moving beneath my feet

Realize that I’m standing on the back of a turtle

Riding on the back of a giant turtle

For the world is a giant turtle 

As much as it is anything else

This turtle is swimming through reality

Making its way through the sea of space

Trying not to be attacked or swallowed

By intergalactic crabs or other predators

They’re all making their way through the universe

For space is teeming with life

Very like our ocean, its tiny reflection

Even if we ourselves are too tiny to see it

This impression lasts only for a moment

I’m back to feeling the concrete solid beneath me

Looking up at the blue sky over my head

Shielding me from the darkness beyond

Aware that my fancies could just be fancies

Ones that have played with many a dreamer before me

There never was a turtle on my keychain

Just an imagination which likes to play with reality. 

Conversations with Christopher: Opal

Christopher sits facing a dwarf with silvery-black beard, gold buttons on his waistcoat, and an even more pronounced scowl than Quartz. Indeed there’s a strong resemblance between the two. 

Christopher: Hello, Opal. How are you?

Opal: Bloody shards, I ache when I’m not hurting outright. Been noticing parts of me I never paid a wince once upon a time. Now my joints are screaming at me every time I trek up to the mine. 

Christopher: Why make the trek?

Opal: For stones to trade and keep. Aye, my brothers and myself have a roof over our heads and plenty to eat, but who knows when the price for those things will become too uncomfortable, eh?

Christopher: What is the price now? 

Opal: Don’t know. All I know is my brothers and I haven’t been paying it…as far as we know. The bargain for our current cottage was struck between Quartz and Nimmie Not. That grinning kobold never told me the terms, not that I was going to inform him of my ignorance. The one I could ask about this is now lying in a crystal coffin. Shards know when he’ll wake up. I’m guessing not before trouble comes knocking at our door the way it always does. 

Christopher: You mean Oriana?

Opal: Aye, I mean Oriana and the girls she brings with her. Those human princesses and all their misery, the biggest misery being Oriana. 

Christopher: Quartz was very fond of one of those princesses. Weren’t you?

Opal: There was a time when she was a good lass. No question our cottage was brightened by her presence…for a time. Only she disappeared into the darkness, taking our brother with her, leaving a big empty hole in our lives where they once were. 

Christopher: I don’t think she meant to take Quartz from you.

Opal: Who knows what she meant to do? Only Quartz seemed to understand her, may the mountain’s roots help him. 

Christopher: What do you mean?

Opal: There’s was serious pain in that princess’s eyes, pain I too often saw reflected in Quartz’s. Some secret pain neither would share, no matter how it haunted them. In the end it got both of them. 

Christopher: What secret?

Opal: Not sure, but if I were to guess, I’d say Nimmie Not was at the heart of it. All trouble seems to lead back to that grinning kobold. 

Nimmie Not: (disembodied voice ringing out into Opal’s ear: I beg your pardon, oh grumpy future brother-in-law, but our scribbler is currently fixing up Fairest. I’m not even in Fairest!

Opal: Gah! (jumping, only to smooth his beard and waistcoat, glowering in all directions) Right, you’re a later addition in Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins. That doesn’t mean some of what happens in Fairest isn’t your fault. 

Nimmie Not: (voice filled with wounded innocence but is there just a hint of mockery?) Such cynicism, such doubt. You have nothing to accuse me of when I’ve been more than generous to you and your brothers. 

Opal: Right. (looking around uneasily) I’m guessing there’s a price tag attached to that generosity. 

Christopher: Speaking of Fairest, how is that story going?

Opal: It goes. I was worried that Nimmie Not might squirm his way into the new version, but Fairest is about our girl and the brave little princess who falls in love with her, thank the scribbler. I’m in a bad enough place in that story as it is. Least I am when you first meet me. Quartz is as good as dead, our Fairest has become a wicked witch, and she wasn’t witch enough, Oriana has to come knocking on our door. Had half a mind to slam the door in her face. 

Christopher: Only you didn’t. 

Opal: Aye, well, Quartz wouldn’t have. He’d grumble his fool head off, but he’d let them in. He’d give that witch another chance. Seems like I ought to be offering that chance in his place. 

Christopher: That’s very decent of you.

Opal: Aye, well, I’m a lot more decent than anyone gives me credit for. Including Quartz. Especially Quartz. 

Christopher: You might be surprised. 

Opal: Right and good riddance to surprises. They always come with trouble. 

Christopher: Not always. 

Opal: Too often and happiness doesn’t last, for Happily Ever After is a liar. 

Christopher: (looking away with a measure of guilt) Just because they lie doesn’t mean they don’t offer hope. Hope that’s real. 

Opal: Right. It’d be nice if that were true. Not sure if I believe it. 

Christopher: Wait and see. 

#RainbowSnippets: At Her Service

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday those participating 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 variety of samples from different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

For my own, Cinders is going to add her own observations to her father’s request to her stepmother to “pass the cup” in At Her Service…this is just a little longer than six sentences, forgive me…

This was very typical of my father. Too muddle-headed to remember his debts or to attend to anything he couldn’t get someone else to do for him. Once upon a time it had been me who’d had to get him out of his messes. Once he married my lady stepmother, it became her. She’d thought she’d been so clever to marry the man who’d inherited the estate which rightfully should have been hers. He thought he’d been so clever to marry someone energetic and ambitious enough to solve their problems. I thought I’d been so clever enough to stay out of their way and stick to the cinders. 

We were all right in a way. 

#QueerBlogWed: Paula’s Prompts

On February 3, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving a strand of pearls, an argument, and a mother-in-law.

Many stereotypes and tropes came to me which I decided to resist, writing this letter instead which teases my imagination with a potential story…

Dear Sir, 

Forgive this impertinence in writing to you while you are with your Former Sisters in meditative retreat, but your pearls are causing quite the stir. Our mother-in-law asked me to contact you and you know he’d never do this if it wasn’t a grave matter. 

Cousin Mildred insists that they belong to him. He said you yourself gave them to him, saying each pearl was a nugget of wisdom. Meditate upon it and you shall gain clarity and steadiness in how to act. Considering how irrational Mildred got when he arranged an exhibition for Dave’s Pearl of the Sea series of paintings, I can see why you might do this. 

The problem is Dave says you gave the pearls to her. They were part of her commission for executing the Pearl of the Sea in the first place and a major source of inspiration while working on them. Since both our mother-in-law and myself take inspiration with a religious seriousness, we can’t dismiss Dave’s claim. 

I beg you to settle this matter. Whom did you give the pearls to, Cousin Mildred or Dave? Send a sign to show whom you favor with this earthly object. 

Your Obedient Kinsman, 

Quint

Secondary Characters Speak Out: Quartz and Queen Thea

Sometimes the Cauldron changes to match the will of whomever visits. Quartz finds himself facing a fair-haired woman wearing a coronet, sitting upon a throne, glaring down at him. 

Quartz: Ruddy shards, not you again!

Queen Thea: Ruddy shards indeed, you rude little man, not that we’ve ever met. We’d have given you a piece of our mind about your dreadful dereliction of duties as a surrogate father. 

Quartz: Eh? (He starts and gives the woman on the throne a closer look.) You’re not Oriana!

Queen Thea: Of course we’re not Oriana, you silly little man! We’re Queen Thea, consort to King Richard of the Lands of Dawn and Twilight! We’re also your sovereign so you’d do well to show some respect!

Quartz: Never heard of you. Oriana was Queen last time I bothered to check which humans were ruling whom. 

Queen Thea: (raising her nose with some haughtiness) Dwarves! I swear, all of you think you’re above law and order with your hidden kingdoms under mountains, shady pacts with goblins, gnomes, and the gods know what else, never minding the conflict spilling out into the world because of all that. 

Quartz: (glowers at the queen) One. I don’t make pacts. Not with goblins. Not with nobody.

Nimmie Not: (disembodied voice floating in the air) You made a pact with me, my dear, oh, yes, you did. 

Queen Thea: (starting on her throne) What was that?

Quartz: Nothing. Just Nimmie Not. (He turns his glower in the direction of the voice.) That wasn’t a pact.

Nimmie Not: O ho, what was it, hmm?

Quartz: Just you being cheeky. 

Nimmie Not: Don’t pretend you don’t love it, tee hee!

Quartz: Two. (He turns back to the open-mouthed queen, ignoring the voice.) I’m not part of any kingdom under a mountain or anywhere else. My brothers and I walked away from all that. 

Queen Thea: You’re part of our kingdom, sir, whether you believe it or not. (She gives the air around her an uneasy glance.) You seem to believe in this Nimmie Nott whom remains unseen.

Quartz: Don’t encourage him to appear. Just don’t. 

Queen Thea: Very well, we won’t. This doesn’t change the fact that you’re still our subject, living on our lands. 

Quartz: Which brings me to three. It’s you humans whom cause problems which spill out into the world. This is why I stay as far I can from your kingdom and all its trouble. 

Queen Thea: You’re living in our kingdom, you arrogant little man! You’re causing trouble for our kingdom and our daughter!

Quartz: How so?

Queen Thea: You harboured a dangerous witch who cursed our daughter. 

Quartz: I did no such thing. I protected a girl from a dangerous witch…although I admit I failed. She ended up getting cursed herself. 

Queen Thea: Don’t attempt to deceive us, little man. We’ve looked into eyes of the witch whom cursed my daughter. We’ve dreamed of them a thousand times. We saw you with that witch. Smiling at her. Encouraging her. 

Quartz: Say what? I wouldn’t encourage her! 

Queen Thea: You’re the one person whom might have stopped the witch. Instead you went to sleep. 

Quartz: I got cursed myself! Aye, I was a right fool to do so, but why are you blaming me for your daughter’s curse?

Queen Thea: Someone has to take responsibility, little man. 

Quartz: Aye, someone does. You’re a queen and this cursed girl’s mother. What were you doing when she got cursed? Sleeping? Or busy swooning?

Queen Thea: How dare you!

Quartz: Right, it’s all my fault. None of it’s yours for not protecting your daughter. 

Queen Thea: The witch surprised all of us when she appeared at our Rose’s christening. We couldn’t move or speak when she cursed our little girl. (She buries her face in her hands.) 

Quartz: Aye, this witch, what did she look like?

Queen Thea: Hair rivaling the midnight raven with eyes filled with darkness, pain, and a hollow hunger within a pale face with lips as red as blood. She might have been a vampire as well as a witch. 

Quartz: (closing his eyes) Right. (A wrinkle of pain appears upon his forehead.) So that’s whom you saw with me. 

Queen Thea: (distracted by her memories, no longer paying strict attention to Quartz) Perhaps we can see why our Rose would find this witch fascinating but it’s a fatal fascination. 

Quartz: Your Rose finds her fascinating?

Queen Thea: Why? We’d hoped our daughter would meet a prince, someone who would share the burden of royalty and responsibility with her. Someone who would break the curse…instead Rose is drawn to the one whom cast it upon her!

Quartz: Aye, well, children don’t always do as we hope. 

Queen Thea: Only too true, little man. 

Queen Thea: We only want what’s best for our daughter, yet she keeps turning away from us. 

Quartz: And what about what your daughter wants, hmm?

Queen Thea: (looking away) She hasn’t confided that to us. 

Quartz: Maybe she feels she can’t if it’s different from what you want, hmm?

Queen Thea: We are shocked! Your insolence is unbelievable. Especially when you claim to comfort secondary characters in this blog. 

Quartz: I let secondary characters rant and rave about their circumstances. Which you’ve done. Be grateful. 

Queen Thea: Grateful?! Why ever should we be grateful?

Quartz: You wanted to yell at someone because you’re feeling helpless, right? (His face softens.) Not being able to help your daughter feels the worst kind of helpless. 

Queen Thea:  We…I just want to protect her. (buries her face in her hands) Why can’t I protect her? What good is being queen if I can’t protect my own daughter?

Quartz: You can’t protect her from everything. You just got to do your best, teach her how to protect herself, offering whatever shelter you can. 

Queen Thea: Hmph. Listen to you, little man, acting all wise. 

Quartz: Act wise and you may become so…eventually. 

Queen Thea: You rogue. (She lifts her head from her hands, smiles for the first time, showing dimples.) I almost believe you.

Quartz: Don’t you? (He winks at the queen.)

Nimmie Not: (voice coming very close to Quartz’s ear) Tut, tut, no flirting with human queens!

Quartz: (starting, glowering in the direction of the voice) Right. Like you’ve never done it. 

Nimmie Not: My dear Quartz, that was long before I met you.

Quartz: Right. And you’ve got another cottage you’re willing to give me for what?

Queen Thea: (after listening to the conversation) Another cottage? What’s this?

Quartz: (flushing) Nothing.

Queen Thea: No? (raising her eyebrow) It almost sounds like a pact. Only you don’t make pacts. Do you? 

Quartz: (grumbles under his breath)

#RainbowSnippets: At Her Service

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 variety of different samples from LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets

For my own, the lord of the chateaux will continue where he left off last week in At Her Service…

“Ah, whatever, I do get confused by all these female names. No need to get upset, my dear.” Father patted his wife’s hand again. “Don’t be upset. I know I can be muddle-headed, which is why I’m so glad I have someone as clever as you to help me take care of things. Pass me my cup, please?”

Paula’s Prompts: Wednesday Words

On April 4, 2021, P. T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving rain, stones, and an empty flower pot.

This poem was the result…

There hasn’t been rain in far too long

The sky remains a pitiless blue

The flower pot is dry, dirty and empty

Its occupants have long since withered and died

Fallen dirt lies next to the empty vessel

Tiny stones of brown forming in the residue

I breathe, feel my nostrils constict and congest

Unable to take in whatever is in the air

I marvel how the world has changed yet remains the same

Droughts are nothing new in my home state

The rain went away, refusing to return to us

The early spring chill gives way to a scalding sun

Flowers are forced to bloom, pushing their way out of pots

I marvel at the vivid vitality of the blossoms I’ve seen

Along with everything else I’ve lived to see

I fear the future more than ever, clinging to pieces of the past

Even though there are parts I long to hurl from my memory

Something I feel like that abandoned, empty flower pot

Only there are things I’d rather not fill myself with

Along with things I’d rather not lose, allow to be buried in the dirt

Am I any different than anyone else in these sentiments?

To be unique to be alone yet I know I’m not

One faded flower pot clinging to color and purpose among many

Even if we all differ greatly in our designs. 

Conversations with Christopher: Oriana

Christopher sits facing a woman with golden hair speckled with silver piled upon her head, falling out in loose strands around her ears. A long dark blue cloak with a silver rose clasp falling over her shoulders, revealing hints of a lighter blue gown underneath. 

Christopher: Good to see you again, Your Majesty. 

Oriana: Good to see me in a far more agreeable mood, I’m sure. There’s no need to call me Your Majesty, Christopher. I haven’t been a queen in a long time. 

Christopher: I’ve often felt you had a story of your own, just waiting to be told. 

Oriana: That story may have to wait a while. Look how long it’s taken for your own to unfold. 

Christopher: Yes, if I were a real person, I’d be an old man by now, wouldn’t I? I’ve been waiting every since I was born from our scribbler’s imagination for her to find the right words for me. 

Oriana: Too often there are no right words. I should be an old woman. I’m not sure how much I’ve been weathered by age or regret. 

Christopher: What do you mean?

Oriana: Sometimes Rose sees both Blanche and myself as young. At other times our faces are lined by sorrows as much as the passage of time. I’m uncertain how much of this is due to our unique natures; Blanche’s and my own or part of Rose’s unique way of perceiving us. 

Christopher: Blanche?

Oriana: Don’t be coy. You know whom she is. Rose calls her Briar. Blanche is the Fairest of Them All. My Fairest and Quartz’s. 

Christopher: Forgive me, I was thrown by you calling her Blanche. You’re the only one who uses that name. 

Oriana: Hardly the only one. It’s the name she was given at birth, the name she grew up with; Princess Blanche of the lands of Dawn and Twilight. She was Princess Blanche when the painting was commissioned of her, the one Rose found in the tower. 

Christopher: Who commissioned it?

Oriana: We did right after we became queen. 

Christopher: You’re using the royal we. 

Oriana: I thought I was at the time. To a certain degree I was right. In many ways I was quite unworthy. 

Christopher: I find it fascinating that you commissioned that painting. I thought you dressed Blanche in rags, put her to work as a servant, and hid her from the court. 

Oriana: This was only after rumours were whispered through that very court that my interest in my stepdaughter might be unseemly, rumours that circulated after the painting was unveiled. To quell such suspicions, I started playing the role of the wicked stepmother, one I’d had an excellent role model for. 

Christopher: Your own stepmother?

Oriana: I suspect she’s the one whom started the rumours about Blanche and myself when the painting was first displayed. It was soon sent to the tower afterward. 

Christopher: I thought your stepmother locked you up, put you to work, and forbade you to see the princess to quell such rumours herself.

Oriana: You’re well-informed. 

Christopher: Sometimes I see the ideas and plot points which bubble to the surface of the scribbler’s imagination. The Cauldron is filled with them, although many evaporate. 

Oriana: I see. The reason my stepmother wished to quell such rumours…at first…is that she herself hoped to marry the widowed king. Having a stepdaughter conducting an affair with the king’s own daughter was too much of a scandal for her to tolerate with such ambitions. Once the king fell in love with me, marrying me, and making me queen, my stepmother was more than willing to rain scandal down upon my head. 

Christopher: Why is it so scandalous for you to have an affair with the princess? Because you’re both girls?

Oriana: The very notion seems strange to you, doesn’t it? (She smiles bitterly.) It seemed strange to me, too. Strange and wearisome. I got so tired of the looks of shock, followed by revulsion. When I became queen, I did my best to change that.

Christopher: How did you?

Oriana: I changed the laws of the land, repealing one King Henry put into motion centuries ago about only men and women being able to marry each other. I trotted out every legend before Henry involving the Queens of Dawn and Twilight I could find. I commissioned paintings, frescoed walls and churches, built statues commemorating those two queens who married each other, ruling the land wisely and well. As they were the founders of our realm during a time of prosperity, it was hard for anyone to object to this. 

Christopher: It’s strange that you should have such a legendary female couple, yet so much prejudice against two girls being together. Is this because of King Henry?

Oriana: I believe it is. He was the first reigning king and he blamed a pair of witches who were lovers for the death of his niece, the princess and the heir to the throne. I suspect Henry himself was behind the princess’s death and he needed a scapegoat. 

Christopher: Talk about selfish behavior.

Oriana: Indeed. Centuries of girls paid for a couple’s crime who may not have done anything wrong other than be convenient to blame for the princess’s death. 

Christopher: What happened once upon a time has a way of getting twisted and reshaped, depending upon the storyteller. 

Oriana: I couldn’t agree more.

Christopher: Speaking of stories, how is yours coming along? Has anything been added to your part in Fairest?

Oriana: Not so far. It’s been the same journey back through memories shadowed by shame. 

Christopher: You do try to make up for your past. I know you do. 

Oriana: Not yet. The scribbler has retraced our steps to the point where Rose is starting to learn or guess some of my secrets. I’m still trying to hide. 

Christopher: That doesn’t go well. 

Oriana: No, it doesn’t. Rose is a remarkable girl. This is something I’m only starting to discover. It’s a discovery that gradually gives me hope. 

Christopher: Hope of what?

Oriana: Hope that Rose is strong enough to do things I was never brave enough to do. 

Christopher: It’s a terrible, wonderful thing to rediscover your faith in another person, isn’t it? (He smiles a wistful smile.) Especially when you’ve been without faith for a long time. 

Oriana: (She smiles the very same smile, reflecting it back at him.) Yes, it is. 

#RainbowSnippets: At Her Service

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 variety of samples from various LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

For mine, I’m going to continue where I left off last week in my expanded version of At Her Service…this is a little longer than six sentences, forgive me…

“I noticed,” the lady said through gritted teeth. “This chateaux once belonged to my ancestors. They kept detailed records of this estate.”

“Oh, so that’s what happened to the records.” Father reached out to bat his wife’s hand. “I know what fine ladies used to run this estate, dear, and that your ancestor, what was her name?”

“Ariella,” the lady said in a carefully controlled voice. “Her name was Ariella, the same as mine and my daughter’s. The same as your daughter’s…dear.”

Paula’s Prompts: Wednesday Words

On January 27, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving a treasure map leading to an abandoned and half-collapsed cabin in the woods.

This poem was the result…

It looks like a treasure

All it leads to is a log cabin in the woods

Not a castle, not a tower, not a picturesque cottage

This cabin is anything but picturesque

You can smell the mold, creeping up your nostrils

Entering your lungs, making it difficult to breathe

This cabin doesn’t want you here, oh no

Even if it could be the site of a dozen budget series

There’s some peculiar mixed with the mold

Something which could be much worse

You brave the congestion for the chest waiting to be cracked

The smell is the worst from from it

The lock almost falls off of its own accord

At first you thought there might be pearls, rings

Diamonds glittering within a treasure chest

The map hinted at as much with its seductive messages

The only jewels inside are constume-design

Along with photos of a buck-toothed, grinning girl

And a letter folded, proclaiming, “I fooled you!”

Perhaps this treasure hunt was a wild goose chase

You grumble to yourself until you find the ledger within

Filled with compromising photographs of famous faces

Letters from various people exposing dirty little secrets

Perhaps all this could be treasure in the right or wrong hands

Question is, will those hands be yours?