July 18, 2018

DOUBLE FAIRY TALE FLASH - Cold Blooded by Katherine Herron AND The Rose by Donna Kennedy

We've got 2 tales for today's Fairy Tale Flash...
First, they catch her in a net.

She lets them.

Their wide eyes and breathless curses send pools of cool blood writhing towards her cheeks. Humans go warm with embarrassment, she remembers absently. Fish don’t blush at all. Merpeople, with their cold blood, freeze at humiliation.

They keep staring. She’s cold, colder still, an ice sculpture cracking under the pressure of each gaze.

She shatters.

For all their gaping, no one notices.

They spread her out on a metal slab cooler than her cheeks.

She doesn’t struggle.

They poke and prod at the tail she can’t bear to examine for herself. She’s not cold anymore. Her tail is grey now, and her face greyer. She’s a fetus scream and flakes of dry skin. A series of scars and a headful of nightmares.

“Don’t sing for the humans,” her father used to say, several scalpels and too many sunsets ago, gesticulating with his violet tail rather than his webbed hands.

A scalpel gleams above her now, all sharp edges and sterile sliver. Why, she’d choke out if she could, but her doctors decided to 'cut the siren's vocal cords' weeks ago, back when she still thought they might give her legs. One snip, and her world ended.

The scalpel drips towards her pallid skin.

It’s still ending.

Katherine Herron is a long-time fan of all things fairy tale. A current creative writing graduate student, she lives in Edinburgh.

Kylie always puts her pink furry blanket close to Daddy’s drum. She’s so close her heart goes boom bah boom bah boom boom. She likes it when Daddy drums. It’s like he’s trying to make something happen. She closes her eyes and snuggles into the blanket. She’s not very cold in the park. She’s not very afraid of the dark. Even without Mommy. She couldn’t come. She never comes. But it’s okay.

They always go to the big playground first. Kylie sits on Daddy’s lap and they swing so high she can see the big trees and the lake. “Let’s fly into the sky,” he says. “Okay,” she says. Maybe they really can. Maybe Daddy wouldn’t sound so sad if they did. The swing slows to a stop, and Daddy lifts her up for a kiss. His eyes are blurry.

They walk to the lake. She sits on her blanket and eats peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Daddy reads her favorite fairy tale about the little girl who has a doll in her pocket that her mother gave her. The doll tells her what to do when she's scared “I wish I had a doll like that,” she always says. When it gets dark, Kylie snuggles into her favorite blanket.

Daddy goes closer to the lake and puts something red under a tree. She runs over to see. “Why did you stick that rose in the ground, Daddy?” she asks. He doesn’t say anything. Lots of times he doesn’t say anything. He just plays his drum, the long one with beads on it.

Boombah boom … The sound makes Kylie sleepy, so she lies down on her blanket, sucking the satiny edge. The big bright moon wakes her up. Daddy is drumming and smiling. He almost never smiles. Boom bah boom bah boom boom, drums Daddy. She can tell he’s playing “Ring around the Rosie,” so she sings with him.

She looks where he is looking. Over the lake, something is moving. Something white and misty. It comes closer until it seems to spin around the red rose like a see-through dancer.  It brightens and fades to the beat of the drum, swirling around them like a warm wind smelling of roses. Kylie moves her hand through it.

The beat of the drum slows, and the wispy something goes up into the sky. Daddy stops drumming and reaches for Kylie’s hand. When the mist is gone, he picks her up, holding her under one arm and the drum under the other. It’s a long walk to the car, so she closes her eyes a little, pretending to fall asleep. When they come out of the trees, by the car, she looks up and squints through her eyelashes at shadows crossing the moon.

“Look, Daddy,” she says. His shoulders shake, like he’s crying. But he’s not.
Donna Kennedy's library includes fairy tales and myths from all over the world.  She shares them with her twin 10-year-old grandchildren. When they're asleep she writes her own. Her story about them, "Here We Are Again," won second-place in Writer Advice's Flash Memoir Contest last year. Her winning 53-word flash fiction, "The Shed is Best," appears in Prime Number Magazine at https://www.press53.com/issue-127-donna-kennedy.

Covers: Amanda Bergloff

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1 comment:

Guy S. Ricketts said...

Wow. Two powerful stories. Both have a flavor of Poe to them.
The first one, “Cold Blooded”, gives a chilling point of view from a captured mermaid, who recognizes the wisdom of her father’s advice too late. Like Poe, it combines bone-chilling horror with first-person pathos. Beautifully written, Katherine.
The second story, “The Rose”, features another young child’s point of view, unaware that her father visits her deceased mother, and her spectral form visits them. It mixes the beauty of undying love, innocent perspective, a mother’s ghost, and the meloncholy that love can bring - something Poe himself would be proud to have written. So very nicely done, Donna.