Today I’m excited to have my cute and talented friend, A.M. Supinger
, present a short story for our reading pleasure. Before I get to that, however, I’d like to point out that I’m doing a sort of theme this week. My goal: to illustrate how every writer has their own unique voice.
I asked two of my friends to come up with a short story using the same pic prompt:
It has been a real pleasure getting to read their stories and seeing how different they are from each other.
And now, without further ado, I present to you:
By A.M. Supinger
Falling off the tower hurt, but then, it was supposed to. That was the whole point of exiling someone: to punish them.
Kimber didn’t try to move. Her legs might be broken, or her back. Rock scraped against her whole body, but she barely noticed. Even when rock-bugs emerged from crevices near her she didn’t care. She hadn’t screamed as she’d dropped twenty feet because she’d known it wouldn’t do her any good. She could have died and it wouldn’t have mattered.
The savages would get her if the rock-bugs left anything for them to find. They’d savor her flesh like the disgusting creatures munching on her now, if the stories were true. Running wouldn’t save her, even if her legs worked. Pleading was out of the question.
She’d never beg for anything ever again.
A flame appeared on the parapet above her, and then grew larger. It hit the rock and bounced, sparks flinging out over her prone body. The heat sent the bugs back into their holes, but she didn’t relish it. All she wanted was peace, and if that came from the pinchers of vermin – well, better that than her alternatives.
The crunch of rock beneath a foot made her flinch. They were coming. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply but her skin still rippled with fear-bumps as hands gripped her arms and yanked, pulling her upward. She felt the savage hoist her over its shoulder and she let herself hang limply while she was carried away from her home.
The forest swallowed them in minutes, and Castle Kingdom was truly gone. She’d never see it again. The savage carrying her walked smoothly, pacing through the underbrush like it didn’t exist. Kimber let her eyes close and hardly felt her bruised and aching limbs begin to sway more naturally around her.
Her thoughts swirled. She saw Den’s face, his kind eyes and smiling mouth, as though he was right before her; but Auges pushed Den aside and sneered at her, like he had since she’d become a woman. His eyes held lust and hatred, for she’d chosen Den over him. Her father stood in the background, his pleased smile sending hurt and pain spiraling through her. She’d told him that Auges was cruel, and that he hit her when no one else was around to see, but no one believed her…except Den.
She was falling again. A grunt rushed out of her as hard ground met her already bruised body. She blinked groggily, but grit and pain kept her eyes mostly closed. Guttural voices talked above her, and she listened for any words she recognized, but the savages grunted more than spoke, and she gave up.
When she was hoisted back on a brutes shoulder, she closed her eyes again. This time they barely moved. In just a few short steps she was deposited back on the ground.
Past caring, Kimber let Den’s face swim back into her mind. Soft hands prodded her, but sweet brown eyes let her ignore her fear and the fingers crawling over every bruise she’d accumulated. Drums thrummed somewhere, and their rhythmic pace helped her embrace darkness.
The last thing – the absolute last thing – that she expected to wake up to was a warm bed and the smell of bacon. Her ribs ached as she sat up, but her stomach growled and she looked hesitantly around for food. She kept her movements quiet, lest some savage burst in and find her awake.
A plate of bacon and eggs was steaming on a tray near the foot of her bed, and she snatched quick bites. One of her hands overflowed with eggs, the other with bacon, when a woman walked in.
“I see you’ve found the food.” A smiled creased her face. “I’m Urona. I was exiled from Castle Kingdom too, long ago.”
“But…you’re alive.” Kimber clenched the food she was holding tightly in disbelief and gooey eggs squelched free to plop back onto the plate.
“Indeed.” Urona eyed the eggs and then reached into her apron, and pulled out a napkin. “Here. Clean your hands. This isn’t your last meal, though I can guess that’s what you thought.”
Kimber took the clean square of cloth and mumbled her thanks. “I don’t understand.”
“It’s simple, really. The people in the forest aren’t savages.”
That truth was hard to accept. Kimber talked with Urona for hours, and was led through the small village where she’d been brought. The people didn’t live in a castle, but they didn’t live in squalor either. Small huts and houses were bunched together around communal buildings, where market stalls and a council convened.
It was astonishing, this place. She’d never seen so many people living together peacefully. In Castle kingdom, feud-fighting was a daily event.
She was allowed to roam the village, but had promised not to go back to Castle Kingdom. Not that she wanted to. But seeing so many happy people was hard – it went against everything she believed in and she took long walks in the forest to clear her thoughts. She found the tall trees peaceful, though her father had long told her that such monstrosities should be burned to keep forest sprites from fouling the world. Not once did a sprite show itself.
Paths crisscrossed the forest, and Kimber aimlessly followed one after another, never afraid of becoming lost. Villagers traveled the forest continually and would help her if she needed it. Moisture clung to the air on one path, and curiosity led her down it. Sand soon covered the dirt, and the trees thinned. A roaring sound blanketed all the other forest noises, and Kimber hurried to discover where she was going.
It was a beach. She’d read about them, but she’d never thought that Castle Kingdom was so close to one! Never had she expected or hoped to see one for herself!
Gray-blue waves rushed onto the shore and sunlight burned into the sand. Three boats were tipped upside down near the forest’s edge, and she sank down next to one, her back pressed to its peeling paint.
Unexpectedly, tears assaulted her eyes. She hadn’t cried once since being shoved off Castle Kingdom’s wall – by her own father’s order – but now she couldn’t stop. Great sobs kept her lungs heaving and air only made her heart hurt worse. Nothing seemed to ease her pain but the salt dribbling down her face to mingle in the sand. Her arms coiled around her stomach and her throat burned with loud cries.
“Stop it!” She clutched herself tighter and felt her heart break. That was Den’s voice – but Den was back home. Her father had thrown Den into a mine, to slave at chipping coal from the caves. Her mind was cruel to play such tricks.
“Why are you crying, love?” The voice sounded real. “Tell me, what can I do? How can I help?”
Kimber let her tired eyes flutter open, and her lashes flicked off salt and sand. “You aren’t real. You can’t be.” A fresh sob left her breathless. “My father…he vowed to make you work until you were old and crippled.”
“He tried.” This vision, her mind’s trick, pulled up his shirt to reveal welts and wounds interlacing all across his torso. “But I refused to work after the news that you had been exiled filtered into the mines. I thought I was slaving to spare you punishment.” He let the shirt drop back down. “Refusing to work got me exiled too.”
“They were going to give me to Auges. I couldn’t live with that, not after what we’d had.” The words were stones in her mouth. She had loved him so much.
“We can have that again, Kimber. We can have it here.”
“But you’re not real.”
“I am very real.” He reached out and gripped her fingers. His skin was warm and rough, and she gasped.
“I can’t believe it…this is…”
No other words found their way out of her. His lips made sure of that.
keeps a wonderfully dreamy blog at Inner Owlet
, where she writes about stories based on her dreams. (Yes, her dreams.) Follow her for your fill of fantastical and magical realms of mermaids, selkies, and sea monsters. (Occasionally, she has stories that doesn’t involve the ocean, but I do believe she was a mermaid in her past life. 😀 ) She can also be found on Twitter: @AMSupinger
Come back this Friday for the next short story feature by Suzanne Payne.
If you want your short story featured here on my blog, email me at writercherie AT gmail DOT com.