Homecoming Gifts – #15MF (“Bamboo”)


Fifteen Minute Ficlets (#15MF) is a weekly Sunday writing challenge hosted here on The Literary Phoenix.  Based on a single word, write a short 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:  “Bamboo”

1. a giant woody grass that grows chiefly in the tropics, where it is widely cultivated.
2. the hollow jointed stem of the bamboo plant, used as a cane or to make furniture and implements.


Homecoming Gifts

Olive regarded the giant bamboo pole with relative interest.  Balanced on its point, it stood at least a foot taller than her.  When she weighed it in her hands, she found it was light and supple.  Tossing it experimentally from one hand to the other, she decided to give a good spin.  It made a sharp whistling noise in the air.  She smiled.  That was certainly satisfactory.

Timothy jumped backward, out of reach of the new weapon, but he was grinning.  She looked fierce and concentrated holding it, he thought, and was please he decided to bring it back for her.  It was not often his adventures took him to the far east, and there were many unknown wonders in those regions.  In the place he most recently traveled, there had been a regiment of masked men and women who brandished these very poles with such skill that they were nothing but blurs.  Timothy would know well – he had been struck more than once.

“Careful with that,” he suggested with a laugh.  Olive’s green eyes flashed and she grinned wickedly back at him.

“Think I can’t handle it?” she challenged.  To emphasize her point, Olive grabbed the pole by its head and swung it out like a club.  Timothy ducked and rolled it his side to avoid impact.  The swing off-balanced Olive, and she stumbled a little before falling hard on the grass.  She let the bamboo pole fall from her hands and lie beside her as she erupted in a fit of giggles.

“A little practice wouldn’t hurt,” she confessed.  Timothy just smiled.

“You like it, then?” he asked.  Worry settled in his bones.  What if she was just humoring him, pretending to like it?  The unwieldy thing had been a nightmare to carry back halfway across the Dreamland, maybe she felt guilty at all the trouble it caused.

He need not worry.  Olive lifted it again, more carefully this time, and lay it across her lap.  She ran her fingers over the smooth tan skin, pressing against the natural dark brown bumps every few inches.  “It will be perfect for knocking people out on horseback,” she told him gratefully.  “It’s much lighter than a lance.  Thank you.”

Timothy grinned and leaned  back on his palms, staring at the clear blue sky above.  It was a perfect day, and since he was newly back from a mission, there were no assignments today.  A well-earned day of rest, his commander had called it, and it couldn’t have been more beautiful.  Lazy bees hummed along to the wildflowers, and if he angled himself just right, he could see the hazy outline of the Heart Palace in the distance.  The rolling green hills were all beautiful, but the most beautiful thing at all was the fiery redhead sitting across from him, a curious expression on her face.

“What?” Timothy asked.  He pushed his hand forward and ran his fingers through his brown hair.  It was getting shaggy again.

Olive smiled and quickly looked away, wanted to gaze into anything but his brown eyes.  “Nothing,” she blushed.  “I’m just glad you’re home.”

Timothy’s heart leapt as he glanced around at the breathtaking landscape, his eyes falling finally back to his friend and companion.  She wouldn’t meet his gaze, but it made no difference to him.  He grinned, then said, “I’m glad to be home.”

The characters in this ficlet come to you from one of my many WIP, ‘Tweens. ‘Tweens is a MG/YA fantasy series that follows a little girl who is destined to save the Dreamworld with the power of her imagination.  Of course, she can’t do it all alone, and is joined by her trusty djinn best friend, her older brother, and her protector knight.  Working summary….

To join, link up in the comments below with the URL to your blog POST (not your blog), and I will make sure that you get added to the post!

Remember to read everyone’s ficlets, and to have fun! 🙂

Sing Sweet – #15MF


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: maelstrom

You have 15 minutes.  Go!

(I apologize for missing last week… I’ve been extremely under the weather these last few weeks and haven’t been getting online frequently.)

Her mother ran her fingers over the ivory keys with the skill and grace expected of any lady.  As she watched the way her mother’s fingers glided, Winnifred took a deep, unseemly breath, and just like that, the music stopped.  The lid to the piano closed, hiding the keys beneath a cover of polished mahogany.

Her mother sighed one of her exaggerated sighs that could only mean the depth of disappointment her precious daughter brought to her.  Winnifred leBrenne didn’t need telepathy to tell that she would never be good enough for her high-strung mother.  She stood, and looked down at her young daughter, her eyes like stone.

You will never be good enough.

The thought would have once made Winnie cringe, but it was a common mantra now.  The Lady leBrenne looked her daughter up and down the way a butcher might eye a cow he was about to slaughter.  She was tall, as tall as her tycoon husband, with slender tanned legs and perfectly soft golden hair that fell in little ringlets just past her shoulders.  She had grey eyes, like a maelstrom, and her personality was just as unpredictable.  Her fingers were long and thing, and with them now she picked up the silver diapason and tapped it gently.  A clear, crisp note rang through the warm springtime air, and her mother closed her eyes.

“Do you hear that note, Peach?” her mother always called her ‘peach,’ or ‘berry,’ or some other fruit with a sweet flavor. “It is the sound of perfection.  It is the beautiful call of the sirens on the waters.  You must never stray too high above or too low beneath this note, or else you will sound like a gull.  Do you understand?”

Even at the age of twelve, Winnifred’s mother spoke to her as though she were an ignorant infant.  Music was the only skill her mother insisted upon teaching her personally, and as a result, it was her most miserable subject.  Her father said she sang like a pretty little meadowlark, but she knew her mother despised him for his gentility.  She will never learn if she is babied, her mother often thought.  She also knew that her mother thought she could marry her daughter off to some well-placed Duke, or perhaps the Prince of Kyrix himself.  She loathed the idea of being placed in such a way that she was her mother’s pawn.

Often, she sang poorly just to vex her mother.

“We will try it again,” her mother said, sitting back down at the grand piano and placing the forked diapason beside her.

It is useless.  She could not charm a codfish. 

Winnifred bit her tongue, swallowing a quip that certainly would get her ears boxed.  She hated that punishment more than all the others, for it made her ears ring for days and that sound, added to her endless headache from the chatter in the grand mansion around her, led to fits of dizziness and nausea.  Her mother thought her weak as a flower for the time she would spend bedridden with illness, but if she could only shut the voices off, she would have been a perfectly happy young lady.

“Tea time, mistresses,” one of the maids called into them.  She bore a polished silver tray with a hand-painted porcelain teapot, two cups and saucers, and two buttery scones that made Winnifred’s mouth water.

“Just set it over there,” her mother gestured with a flick of her wrist.  She never bothered to learn the names of their servants.  To Winnifred, she added, “We will not break for tea until you sing properly.”

The ultimatum understood, Winnifred filled her lungs and when the piano began to sing, so did she.

When I write short stories, I usually like to carve moments out from the novel ideas I have running around my head.  Winnifred leBrenne is one of the many characters from The Sin Series, the story that has been running through my mind since I was nine.  Winnie was never intended to be a lead characters – she was just the kid sister of one of the other mages – but she blossomed and grew and has because one of my more important characters.  She was raised as an heiress with an expectation of greatness, the weight that she sheds at her first opportunity.  The above is simply another moment in her pre-story life.

If you give it a go anytime this week, link up in the comments and I’ll add you in the post!


“Maelstrom” – Michelle @ Faerie Fits