This is Day 1 of Story A Day May, in which participants pledge to write a (very) short story every day. Some days, judging from last year, my first time doing this challenge, my story will be extremely short, and some days it will get a bit away from me.
Today is also the first day of the month, so there’s a new micro-mini story on the Hot Flash page. So: bonus!
I started writing a story about Salali, from my big fat fantasy, SAGE, but it’s turning into a full-length story, so I’m just writing some excerpts and I’ll try to finish the whole story to submit to SWORD & SORCERESS.
For my prompts for this month’s stories, I went around the house taking pictures of random stuff.
SALALI AND VERNANDO
by Marian Allen
In the dark of night, Fala Salali packed what she could carry on her back and slipped out of her bedroom window. On her pillow, she left this note:
I’ll be no one’s bride against my will.
The wall to the outside world was formidable, but the barrier to Nishi’s heartland was no more than a thought and a stone, so Salali left the city that way.
Moonlight and starlight played around her as she chose a little-trodden path through the high grasses. Glowing mosses lit her way through the forest, and she was too much a city girl to know that the track she chose because it was brightest shone so clearly because no one walked it – and for a reason.
As the dawn rose, she came upon a clearing. In that clearing stood a house made of wood.
Salali, raised within the walls of Nishi, had never seen a free-standing house before, much less one made entirely of wood.
As she gazed in wonder, the door swung inward and a woman came out.
The woman was tall and brown and as slender as young Salali, herself, although the woman in the doorway was deeply wrinkled. Her gown was a rich green, and round red gems encircled her neck and waist.
She held out her hands to the weary traveler and said,
“Welcome! You’ve come a long way, for our home is far from everywhere. Come in and rest.”
* * *
Well, you can see this is going nowhere good. Sure enough, Salali is expected to marry Vernando, the old woman’s son. When Salali declines, she’s imprisoned in a cell of trees and vines, along with her pack and some green yarn to knit herself a wedding dress.
* * *
It was weary work, for every stitch she made brought her closer to a union with a man less to her liking than the one her parents had proposed. If she stopped for more than a sip of water or a bite of fruit, if she worked backward, pulling stitches out, the leaves of her prison whispered about it and Vernando’s mother came to berate her.
She finished knitting the first skein, and the bodice of her wedding gown was complete. With trembling hands, she tied off the end of the strand and used her sewing scissors to cut it short.
The scissors slipped and nicked her finger.
Salali wept and raged at them. “I’ve kept you sharp and shiny since my mother gave you to me, and this is how you repay me? You won’t cut the wood that imprisons me, but you cut my finger and spill my blood?”
For blood did drop from her finger, staining the green of her second skein.
The red was so refreshing as a change from green that Salali let the bright drops fall until they stopped of their own accord.
But the red didn’t stop when the blood stopped falling. The color spread throughout the skein, until the green was changed to red and gold and brown.
The prison’s leaves stood silent, as if too stunned to speak.
To please herself, Salali snipped a scrap of the skein and tied it around one of the stems of her prison.
With a sigh of gratitude, the sapling absorbed the colors as dry paper does an artist’s ink. It’s green leaves turned red and brown and golden, withered, and fell.
She snipped and tied, snipped and tied, and leaves fell, and vines turned dry and brittle and were easily broken.
When next Vernando’s mother came to check Salali’s progress, the prisoner was gone, leaving nothing behind but the echo of her vow: I’ll be no one’s bride against my will.
* * *
There’ll be more to the story. A good tale is only good if the bad guys chase the good guy, with amazing adventures ensuing.
Thanks, Story A Day May!
I always end my posts with a writing prompt, but this month I invite you to use the prompt I used for the day’s story. So:
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Today’s picture.