FREE READS

In January 2011, my writing buddy and old friend, Lisa Asanuma and I, decided to take our ‘all things YA’ blog and transform it into a free-read fiction journal. Every Friday, one of us posts a form of flash fiction, available for you, the reader, for absolutely free.

The topic is fair game. Anything and everything our little hearts desire, which has made for some very interesting and various little stories. I greatly encourage you to check out the blog, and if you really love it, subscribe so that you can be alerted to new posts everytime they appear! :)

In the meantime, I’m archiving the stories I’ve offered there here, for your reading pleasure, from oldest to newest, most recent being at the bottom of the page.

I hope you enjoy them!

01.14.2011 – THE SKELETON KEY

It hung from a snow covered tree branch, tied with a sheer piece of white ribbon, looking delicate as an icicle in the frozen landscape. Only it was dark. A pure black mark standing out against so much snow.

It called to me, a voice lost somewhere in the howling wind. Find me, it whispered. Find me.

I ran across the valley toward the trees, my curls bouncing against my shoulders, becoming limp waves battered by the cold breeze. My feet left tracks along the way I came. The crunching of my boots in the snow was the only sound for miles, other than my breathing.

Day stretched slowly across the lavender sky, pushing the sun up above the distant horizon, sending blinding streaks of white through the dense forest.

One beam of light hit the key, straight on.

I stopped at the edge of the woods, my breath like puffs of smoke around my face, my cheeks so cold they burned.

Take me, the key whispered, somewhere in the breeze. Take me with you.

So I did.

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01.28.2011 –  LAVENDER DAWN

She tried not to panic.

Their footsteps were soft, delicate prances on the old wooden floors. The only reason she knew they were close is because the grain would crack just slightly, would dip and creak just enough to give away their proximity. But they moved fast. Too fast for her to know for sure which direction they were coming in.

Drawing her knees into her chest she held them tight, blinking through watery eyes, taking quiet, shallow breaths.

It was happening again. They were coming for her.

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02.11.2011 – DREAM WALKER

His dreams were a strange kaleidoscope of colors. A touch of the rainbow broken into pieces of shattered glass. It took her a while to realize they were actually gemstones — cut, carved and shaped by his loving hands. When she went deeper, further into his subconscious, she found a world she could get lost in, a place of rolling green hills and rich brown earth. A mountain range decorated the horizon and the blue sky stretched as far as eternity.

His world smelled of earth and bark and iron. There was a hut, his own private little place at the very end of the dirt road, past the little village with stone cottages and wooden roofs. Within it, she found a scorching, suffocating heat.

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02.25.2011 – MOMENTARY THING

(small scene from a WIP I’m really excited about)

“It’s starting.”

I pulled my knees closer to my chest and wrapped my arms around them finding a measure of comfort in the faded scent of laundry detergent permeating his cotton bedspread.

“Not yet. There’s still time. We can try something else…”

I reached out to stop his desperate pacing; only we never made contact. My fingers slid through his forearm as though they weren’t even there.

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03.11.2011 – SILENCE IN THE LIBRARY

She caught sight of him in the doorway, leaning against the frame, hardly more than a silhouette in the quickly darkening twilight. “What are you doing here?” she asked, purposely keeping her attention on the archive machine, gathering the Professor’s notes and diagrams and imprinting them on the data discs for storage.

“I forgot my lesson plan,” he said in that rumbling voice that made her stomach tighten.

“Did you?” She tried to hide her pleased smile. “I was under the impression you carried the chip tucked safely away in the drive storage beneath your wrist dock.”

He straightened and stepped in further, walking into the late evening light that streamed through the windows. His lips curved just slightly, but his brown eyes shined with untold mischief. “Ah,” he said slowly, his gaze fixed on hers, “there it is.”

“What are you really doing here?”

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03.25.2011 – FAIREST

“Don’t touch anything.”

“I know, Mother. I heard you the first million times.”

“All we’re doing is taking inventory of Mrs. Wallace’s final belongings, then we go.”

“And leave them here?” Jamie lifted an edge of the old, dusty tarp, peeking underneath. Her mother slapped her shoulder.

“She doesn’t have any next of kin. There’s nowhere for it all to go.”

“So why take inventory? Isn’t that just a colossal waste of time if no one is coming to claim it?”

“The larger items, over in that corner, get sold at auction. I’m pretty sure they’re antiques. The proceeds go to the charity of her choice, which in this case,” her mother looked down at her clipboard and lifted the sheet of paper to look on the second page, “is a place that makes wigs for cancer patients who’ve lost their hair during chemo.” Jamie caught the expression on her mother’s face a moment before she could hide it.

“Why not just donate to cancer research?” Jamie asked, thinking her mother’s thoughts aloud.

“I don’t know, Jamie. I didn’t know Mrs. Wallace very well so I’m not going to pretend to understand her actions. All I know is that she highly valued personal appearance. More than once she chided me for not wearing ‘rouge and mascara’, her words. And she was horrified that I wore sneakers. Even at 94, the woman still wore heels. I mean, maybe she went with the old adage, if you look good, you feel good.”

Jamie shook her head and flipped her long black hair over her shoulder. “Whatever.”

They parachuted another dusty blanket over the third pile of junk they’d made in three hours. Jamie scrunched her nose and turned her face away. Her skin already itched. Her cheeks and forearms felt dry and sticky all at once. Gross.

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04.08.2011 - DOOMSAYER

Only I could see him for what he really was.

Inhuman, dazzling, with skin that shimmered like starlight and strands of hair as fine and smooth as silk. Long and lean, well toned, he had the body of an athlete.

And his eyes, oh his eyes were like a tumultuous storm of colors no human was ever meant to see. An ageless abyss of wisdom that had seen horrors and felt the losses of multiple eternities.

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04.22.2010 – LUCID

“You look beautiful,” Mother said to me again, one final time, as she placed a tender kiss on my forehead and slipped out of my dressing room, closing the double doors behind her.

I stared at my reflection in the dressing mirror and tried to see what she saw. Surely, the woman staring back was stunning. The image of bridal perfection. Black hair beaded and braided. Lips tinted. Cheeks flushed dark with rouge. Hazel eyes darkly lined and shaded. A hanging gold tikka on my forehead, encrusted with dazzling amethysts that matched the royal violet of my silk sari to perfection.

Regal. Elegant. Practically divine. So why were my eyes so devoid of light? Why did I feel so empty inside?

“Because you don’t love him,” he said to me, appearing on the window ledge, as though he’d been there all along. “You have never loved him, Maya.”

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05.06.2011 – GEMINI’S TREASURE

“Tell us again, boy,” Captain Raneir sneered, his hot breath reeking with the putrid scent of rot and meat, his teeth chipped, black, and full of decay. “Tell us again how the devil lass with the angel’s song tried to sink me here furner.”

The men surrounding him laughed, loud and disingenuous, causing the small cabin below deck to rumble with its power. Nicolas could hardly see them clear through the water wall stinging his eyes and blurring his vision. He braced himself against the strong hand pushing him back into the ice cold darkness. His lungs burned. His cheeks and nose lost all feeling.

“S’all true,” he shouted, between gasps of air. “Everything I said is.”

“It be me own fault,” Captain Raneir exclaimed with exaggerated disappointment. “Pickin’ up sprogs cause I can pay ‘em cheap, placin’ the black spot on the lot of us. A right mad scallywag he be. Takin’ us right to Davy Jones’ Locker.”

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07.15.2011 – DRIFTWOOD

Fire.

I was on fire.

I rolled around wildly slapping my body as though I could put it out with my bare hands. But there were no flames. No burns. Only sand.

Coarse, infinite sand.

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07.29.2011 – ON FIERY WINGS

Fools. All of them.

They come with their sharp swords and polished armor, so eager to be the hero of the tale. To win over the maiden with a single, life-defying act of bravery.

No words. No flowers. No real attempt at a lasting connection.

For them, she’s no everlasting love, no happily ever after. She’s a prize. A living, breathing symbol of their masculine power. She might as well be carved of gold, for all she’s worth to them.

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08.15.2011 – SUMMER RAIN

The rapids traveled the angry water of the river bed with ease, looking as deceitfully delicate as ribbons carried by a summer breeze. Rain fell from the sky in sheets so thick you could hardly see anything but a blur of colors past your nose, the way it was wont to happen in late summer. I sat at the edge of the pier, my toes just barely brushing the top of the freezing waves below my feet, my dress soaked straight through so that it was nothing but another layer of skin.

I didn’t bother to check my watch. It didn’t matter what time it was.

He wasn’t coming. No amount of waiting would change that.

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08.26.2011 – EDGING TOWARD PARADOX

He couldn’t hear her over the roar of the espresso machine and the steady hum of dozens of people talking all at once. Still, he watched her lips move from above the hardcover he wasn’t really reading in the quiet corner of the coffeehouse.

Her order was the same as always. He recited it from memory: Café Marocchino with a drizzle of caramel.

If he closed his eyes, he could still remember the way her breath smelled as she drank it. Nutty from the espresso, chocolaty from the cocoa powder, with just a hint of sweet as she dipped the tip of her index finger into the drink and licked off a drip of caramel.

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09.09.2011 - THE OPEN BOOK (continuation of THE SKELETON KEY)

I’d been giving Colin chase out past the clearing. When the manicured lawn ended and the stone fence closed the property, we stopped to catch our breath. Fun lay just beyond our reach. On the other side of a half wall easily traversed.

“He wouldn’t have to know,” Colin said, eyeing the tempting thicket of trees and shadows, his eyes glowing with excitement.

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09.30.2011 – SIREN SONG

She floats atop the crystal surface of the lake, caressed by a quilted blanket of fog, pale, milky skin made vibrant in the moonlight. It glows against the black depths. Silken blonde petals form a halo around her face. Worn velvet fabric, once a vibrant, spring green, cocoons her in moss-colored foliage.

A water lily.

Side to side she moves. A steady, fluid rhythm.

Naked, upon the embankment he stands, haunted by the final traces of her laughter, a wind chime melody from her lips. Heavy, frigid drops fall from his hair, seep into his lashes, and drip across his torso.

“You must not come here,” he’d warned, when his legs throbbed with the desire to gallop, tangled in the warmth of hers, beneath a heavy blood red moon.

He stood upon the lake’s edge. His eyes became large, obsidian pools within the looking glass. “Let me see what lies beneath.” Persuasive kisses brushed across tense shoulder blades. His Delilah tempted him, again and again, with the searing electricity of her touch. “Change for me. I am not afraid.”

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10.14.2011 – A PERFECT PAUSE

“I thought I’d find you here.”

As usual, his rich baritone caused a warmth to blossom in her chest, across her cheekbones, to the very tips of her ears. Each step he took toward her changed the earth around them, brightening the hazy skies, making the air feel as crisp and cool as it tasted. Darkened, multicolored leaves fell from the thinning trees and crunched beneath his feet, a final gasp of life as they surrendered to the Fall.

She closed her eyes and winced against the sound.

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11.12.2011 – PRIMAL

The moon hid its face from us that night, leaving the sky looking as black and inky as the depths of the forest or the surface of the lake. A far cry from the oiled lamps and the golden splendor of our walls.

Light and shadows danced along the edge of the bonfire. I stayed close to the whispering voices, to the safety of the small group huddled together trying to keep warm.

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11.28.2011 – A LIGHT SO DARK

“Everyone’s asleep,” she said softly, placing the oil lamp carefully on the floor and slinking down beside it. Her back against the wall, the skirt of her nightgown tucked gently beneath her bottom,  she knocked once and waited for a response.

“Thisbe,” a muffled voice called from the other side of the cracked wall.

Her breath hitched. “Yes,” was her strangled cry, as her eyes slipped closed and her head fell back against the wall. “Every night I fear it will be someone else’s voice I hear.”

“Never. So long as I live I will take my place beside you.”

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1.13.2012 – EUPHORIA

Here’s the truth. I’m a mistake. An accident.

A girl like me should not exist. Not because it’s impossible, (although let’s face it, it is) but because I’m just not cut out for the job.

I had a crappy childhood, like most of those nobody girls in fairytales who end up marrying princes. But I didn’t get a prince. I just became a freak.

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1.27.2012 – AWAKE, SHE DREAMS

He came to me on a day like any other. My brothers were causing mischief in the sleepy town below the hill, while I spent my endless hours chanting through empty, cobwebbed corridors and doing pirouettes across the mahogany floors of the abandoned ballroom in the manor, overgrown with moss and vines.

The only people I ever saw were those that came at my Uncle’s command, and they were often too bereaved to sing and dance with me. All they wanted was a drink, and so I dutifully walked them to the flowing river that cut through our grounds and let them gorge themselves with water until their memories washed away with the currents of the smoky Lethe. Then, and only then, would my darling twin brother appear, in all of his somber glory, to walk them back through the land from which they came, back to my Uncle.

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12.17.2012 – LIFE SCIENCE

I sense the moment she walks into the room.

“A little early for lunch,” I call over my shoulder, glancing at the large clock that hangs above the white board. “Just couldn’t wait to see me, huh?” I smirk, pour another liquid into the vial hanging above the Bunsen burner. “Don’t blame you. I’m pretty irresistible.”

She doesn’t speak, doesn’t laugh. My hands freeze where they are, the liquid in the beakers sloshing from side to side at my sudden lack of movement. I don’t turn around. I don’t have to. I know she’s there. I feel it.

She brings a mass of unspeakable energy with her everywhere she goes. Usually, it’s vibrant and warm, like being touched, embraced by a brilliant star. Today, it’s not. It crashes and cracks within her tiny frame like a thousand lightning storms.

The skin on my back prickles and burns where she stares. My eyes slip closed. I choke on the emotion her very presence conjures. My chest fills to the brim with pressure I can’t afford to release. So I exhale slowly, placing my equipment on the lab table, and force a smile as I turn to face her.

She stands no more than three feet away, her arm extended.

I’m staring down the barrel of her gun.

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03.02.2012 – IF ONLY

Everything about him was the same. From the sharp, arrogant angles of his jaw to the pitch black of his hair. He stood with the same rigid tension, the same restless frustration. An animal, caged in, waiting to be released.

He hadn’t let it consume him. Yet. But it would. The imperfections of a man he used to be would creep to the surface until he became the same controlling, cold, difficult leader Syr was. The man they both used to be, some distant lifetime ago.

Still, looking at him, she found it hard to believe it. Standing right there, just a few feet away, was the man she’d loved, all over again.

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