This was written for a Flash Fiction Challenge hosted by Thain in Vain. I’ve been following entries for this challenge for a while now but was already signed up for three challenges and was a bit overwhelmed. At this point, however, two of the challenges I follow haven’t posted anything for a while and Chuck started something I was in a funk for and it’s still going on. By the second week, I wished I’d done it, but oh well. Sometimes its better not to fight the creativity.
TiV’s challenge has been going all year, so I’m pretty late to the game. She provides a prompt each week and its up to us to write 500 words or less. 500 words is tough, but I’m rather happy with how this turned out. The prompt this week:
Prompt: Your main character finds the skeleton of a baby in an old curiosity shop and decides to buy it.
This came out at 502 words, so I’m technically over, but I’ve edited it quite a few times, and I either end up with more words or nothing changes. I hope you enjoy!
The ringing above the door announced her arrival as she stepped into the overheated muskiness that swelled with items packed in too-tight spaces. Curious was as unoriginal as the names of other shops she’d been in, although this one was perhaps the smallest.
Mira had little hope of finding what she sought, but the faint glimmer still flickering despite the onslaught of disappointments kept her going. She forced herself to walk around the small store; forced her eyes to scan everything, assessing and discarding. It didn’t take long. She used to spend hours, moving things around; retracing steps, hoping what she’d seen would become what she wanted. Now, resigned and weary, she went through the motions quickly so she could move on to the next one.
As she was turning to leave, one of the images floated into sharp focus through waves of despair and she stopped, her head quickly turning back.
The room spun as the hair on the back of her neck tickled to attention inciting a shiver throughout her body.
She’d found it.
Womb-like, the miniature skeleton was encased in a glass dome sitting on top of a lacquered wood disc, the bones twisted and curled into a fetal position. Its head was alabaster white, angelic and shining while its body was a sickly yellow, aged and chipped. The mage’s description was exact, down to the last detail.
Without taking her eyes from the treasure, she walked over to the counter. “I would like to purchase the baby skeleton in the glass dome, please.” Her voice shook as she reached into her purse.
The genteel shopkeeper turned to look where she had pointed. His head quickly swiveled back to look at her, his eyes heating with tension, swimming with unasked questions and fear. “Are you sure, madam?”
“Quite.” She placed all the money from her purse onto the glass counter.
He looked down at the money and back at her, raising an eyebrow and taking a deep breath. “But, this is too much!”
“Please. I insist.” She waited patiently, her unwavering eyes back on the keepsake.
“As you wish.” He reached up and gently took the memento from the shelf, holding it quickly away from him and toward her.
She reached for it with trembling hands. Their eyes met when their hands touched briefly during the exchange, and the moment sizzled with hesitation and doubt before she finally took it and held it to her breast.
“Thank you.” The whispered words floated through the heavy air and before she turned to leave, the shopkeeper noticed a single tear slide down her face.
The sun was setting as she kneeled in front of the headstone and placed the recently purchased item in the grass. She picked up a knife and quickly sliced her palm, blood immediately oozing out and dripping down on the form. As the thick red liquid slowly coated the small bones, she began to chant memorized words.
It was time for her baby to come home.