So my first week off work this month went well and I accomplished stuff. Like cleaning all of the kid’s bathtub boys that had started to get… weird. And taking out the bedroom windows to wipe them down and vacuuming the screens and all of those random chores that you only do every once in a while and when you finally do get to them you wonder WHY ON EARTH you waited so long because… ugh.
Though I suspect the cat bed may no longer contain any cloth and is just made of years and years worth of compressed cat hair.
In other news, it is now eleven days (I think? Do I count today? I’m never certain if I should) until the release of The Half Killed. Reviews are coming in on Goodreads. The giveaway is still going strong (over 500 people requesting it)! The ebook is still on sale for only 99 cents! I am trying not to lose my mind between now and the 25th.
In other other news, I wrote a flash fiction piece the other day (What is flash fiction? A short, short story/scene of only a few hundred words) to get my creative juices flowing. I’m calling it The Bargain, because I’m terrible at naming things (my children will hate me when they finally realize that their names aren’t like other kids’) and I’m sharing it here. Because I’m good like that.
The seller of souls arrived just before the storm.
I stood in the doorway, my slight frame filling the narrow gap meant to keep out the worst of the day’s heat. My father had already returned to the fields for the afternoon. My mother sat in her room, nursing a headache and cursing her stays.
The warmth pressed against my lungs, coating my tongue and burning the back of my throat when I opened my mouth to speak.
“Good afternoon,” the salesman said, preempting any speech I could make. “Is your mother or father at home?”
“My mother’s in the kitchen,” I lied, careful not to blink. “My father’s just out back.” About a mile out back, hacking at the cotton that drooped beneath the weight of the bolls.
The man’s grey eyes sparked, and one corner of his mouth lifted in a smile. “Well, that’s just swell, m’dear. I won’t take up much of your time.” He cocked his head to one side, and the skin beside his eyes crinkled as he gave me half a wink.
I said nothing, every breath like pulling in a draught of air through a compress.
“And besides,” he continued. “You’ve got a good head on your shoulders. I bet you’re top of your class, aren’t you?”
I nodded before I could stop myself. My hands sought out the edge of my pinafore, my shoulders pushing back as pride lifted my chin.
“Then you’ll know a bargain when you see one, hmm?” Long fingers, fingers my piano teacher would covet, reached into a pocket and drew out a small jar, clear glass, the size of an inkpot and stoppered with a cork. But instead of ink, the substance inside shimmered, like pearls turned to liquid, as if the haze that lingered over the fields were condensed inside that tiny container. “I don’t ask for much,” he said, and turned the jar over in his hands. The substance moved, a drift of cloud before my eyes. “A small price, really. That locket there you have around your neck. That should do.”
My hand sought out the locket, a soft bulge beneath my dress. He couldn’t have seen it, couldn’t have known it was there. But my fingers moved of their own accord, opening up the clasp with a flick of my fingernail.
“A fair trade,” he said, and pressed the jar into my palm as he drew the necklace from between my fingers. I clutched the bottle to my chest, to the very spot where the locket had been, out of sight to all but him. Behind him, the sky darkened, though not a ripple of air disturbed the fields of green and white. “They’re yours now.” He smiled again, and I noticed then the lack of perspiration on his face, the coolness of his fingers as they’d brushed mine. “Guard them well,” he said, before he slipped the locket into his pocket, bowed his head, and turned on his heel to walk away.