Saturday Short: One More White Rose

photograph of a white rose in bloom against a black background

Lili looked over her shoulder before cutting the white rose and stuffing it, thorns and all, under her jacket beside her heart. It was forbidden to cut white roses if they bloomed in the winter. And it had already snowed. It wasn’t technically winter by the calendar, but she didn’t want to have that argument with the Queen’s security forces.

She doubted they would consider the calendar reading valid.

She scuffed her footprints as she made the return journey. She pulled her scarf tighter around her face as the wind bit and caused the tree branches to claw at her as she passed. Lili didn’t curse the wind though, not this time, it would obliterate any trace of her trespassing before dawn. Perhaps sometimes even the bitter wind was kind.

It was a fifteen minute walk to her house. It took her twice that long as she slid into the shadows and held her breath not once but three times, avoiding the notice of the night guards. Their scarlet capes flapped like angry birds wings in the wind and they muttered to each other, as if they had caught a scent but could not find it again.

She did not bother opening the gate. It always creaked in the cold. Instead she vaulted over the wall surrounding her neighborhood’s houses and scrambled up the trellis on the side of the building until she came to her window. Its hinges glistened with oil and slid open on a whisper and closed on a sigh.

Though she was eager to finish her work, it would have to wait. Not even a god could cause a plucked rose to dry before its time. So she tucked the rose underneath one of the loose floorboards beneath her bed and tried to fall asleep as she listened to the coughing in the next room.

“One more and done,” she said before she fell asleep, but only the moon heard.

Saturday Short: The Girl Who Loved Cats

This is my first short (short) story of the year. I hope you enjoy it. I couldn’t help but start the year with a cat!

 

photograph of a long-haired cat with blue eyes

“They can’t understand you,” her brother said with his hands on his hips. He always stood like that when he was gearing up to lecture her. And it seems like all he did was lecture her. It would have bothered her, except he did it so much that she learned to not listen while looking like she was paying close attention. It served her well.

She nodded, as if she agreed, without breaking eye contact with the orange tabby sitting in on the rock in front of her. His eyes were blue, like the sky on the first clear day after a rain. He still hadn’t blinked. She would have to soon.

“You are too old to be talking to cats. What will the neighbors say?” He shook his head. She could see him out of the corner of his eye. She knew enough not to answer. “They’ll say you are weird. They’ll never be your friend. Don’t you want friends?”

She went still, just as the cat cocked his head to one side as if he heard something new that she did not. It was an old nail he drove into her heart, but it still hurt. She did not give him the satisfaction of a reaction.

He huffed, turned on his heel, and walked away.

“Finally,” the cat said as he blinked. “I thought that horrible human would never leave.”

The girl smiled in a very feline grin and settled down for a lovely conversation.