15 Minute Ficlets is a weekly challenge based on the original 15 Minute Ficlets LiveJournal Community. Since this community has been defunct since 2013, I’ve decided to resurrect the challenge on my blog as a weekly Sunday writing challenge. If there’s interest, I’ll turn this into a meme (link up in the comments if you try it!). In the meanwhile, the rules:
Based on a single word, write a story in fifteen minutes. The word count is irrelevant. Just write your heart out for 15 minutes and be inspired by the word. You never know what you’ll end up with!
This week’s word: halting
You have 15 minutes. Go!
Harleyquinne touched up the black charcoal around her eyes, angling the corners up a little to make her eyes look bigger and more startling. She tilted her head to the side and smiled. Her pale grey eyes flashed and she grinned. Next week when they played for the Royal Court, she would use the gold leaf paint as well so she sparkled and shimmered, but that was for royalty only and the charcoal gave her a pale, ghastly look. Add to it the light of the fire she’d be juggling and the whole thing would feel otherworldly. Perfect.
The door to their wagon creaked and her twin brother stepped in, halting only briefly to scrape some mud off his boots. She caught a flash of irritation in his reflection in the polished tin before he said, “Dancers are nearly finished. You ready?”
Harley nodded. “I’ll be out in a min, Ri, don’t worry. I’m never late.”
And it was true, she never was, but her brother still grunted and sat down on the bed. She felt his eyes on her, like she was a child. Their father trusted her to do what she needed to do but Riley always watched her. She knew he wanted to be the fire juggler and it offended him that his sister brought in the greatest share of coin to support the family. Riley was a do-all for the caravan: sets, costumes, announcing… he went where he was needed. It was what their father had done when he was their age, but it was not as prestigious as being one of the headline performers.
For what it was worth, it often pained Harley that she had the gift and he didn’t. Up until their eighth summer, they had shared everything. But the moment sparks flew from her fingertips, she was rushed away to a rigorous schedule of training and performance… and he was left behind.
She knew she was stalling. Sighing, she adjusted the coin-decorated long skirt she wore for her fire dance, quickly wove her hair into a pair of simple braids and twisted them together, and turned around. As expected, her brother sat glaring at her, hands on his upturned palms, looking bored and a little green around the edges.
“I’m ready,” she told him.
She hoped he knew that that her words meant, for the thousandth time: I’m sorry.
When I write short stories, I usually like to carve moments out from the novel ideas I have running around my head. This is the viewpoint of a character from The Sin Series, a story I have been writing and rewriting since I was nine. Harleyquinne Cathors is a gypsy girl with the girl of elemental magic: fire. She travels with her family and performs for coin and since she is a performer and a rover, she usually manages to stay clear of the executions and witch hysteria. Harley’s one of my favorite characters, and when in doubt on a word (halting? ugh) I usually turn to her.
If you give it a go anytime this week, link up in the comments and I’ll add you in the post!