breakfastofchampions: (raven storytelling)
[personal profile] breakfastofchampions
I really needed to do a writing focus exercise, so I thought I would set myself the task of writing very small stories of no more than one page in my word processing document, using prompts from an old post in this journal in which I asked you kind readers for prompts.

I wrote two of them today. I didn't allow myself to be too critical, which is always my downfall, and I just wrote about the first subject that came to mind when I considered the prompt. I also didn't edit, since these are just exercises.

Title: Catfish (prompt suggested by [livejournal.com profile] chypie)
Universe: Goldenhour
Character: Bernard (mentions of Bevan)


He leans into the water, immersing his head. He feels the current move in his hair, push against his face. A touch, but not insistent. He doesn't open his eyes at first. Some instinct tells him not to. It's bad to get water in your eyes. It'll sting. You won't be able to see.

But that instinct is for another body, from another time. It doesn't matter now. He opens his eyes, and he can see everything all at once. Bubbles and ripples and whorls. The sunlight piercing through the surface of the water, trying and failing to illuminate the depths. The sunlight's failure doesn't matter to him. He can see through the darkness there, see what the water tries to hide and the things that try to hide themselves.

The fish: there are large ones on the bottom, catfish, with whiskered mouths and round eyes and dull bodies without scales. They hide there, and he can see all of them, all up and down the river, even the ones that are far away. He shouldn't be able to. Human eyes can't see that way--that instinct still whispers in his head, but it's a human instinct, and he isn't human anymore.

If he were human, the ten or so minutes he's now spent with his head under the water, watching, would have killed him. If he were human, he wouldn't be able to slip into the water all at once, like a snake, without the need for his legs, for his good arm and his ruined arm. He no longer needs limbs in the same way. Yet he isn't a snake.

The fish stay near the bottom, like all the secrets in the world.

He has become a secret, too. That's what he is now. Secrets have to hide, but no other rule governs them. While they hide, they can do anything else, as long as it's in the quiet, in the dark. Where the sun doesn't reach. That's what makes secrets so dangerous. No one can govern them, because no one knows they're there, except the one who keeps them.

His keeper is nearby, above the water, waiting for him to return once he has done whatever he wishes to do in the water. He keeps his keeper in mind: a thin young man with wild eyes and golden hair. Such a good keeper, to let him do whatever he wants. He knows what he wants to do, with his body that is not a snake's body, not a human's body, not a bird's or a lizard's or a fish's, but somehow is all of those.

He slips down into the darkness, to the bottom where no one can see. Once there, he hunts the catfish, one by one. He swallows them all. He swallows all the secrets in the world until he is the last one left: unfettered and voracious and so vast that even the river is afraid.


Title: Neck (prompt suggested by [livejournal.com profile] luckykitty)
Universe: Goldenhour
Character: Chester


Was it a dream that woke him? He started awake, touching a hand to his neck, although he didn't know why. It took him a moment to get his bearings. He'd woken suddenly, and for a reason, though he could not pinpoint what the reason was. A dream or a sound were the most likely culprits.

Whatever it was, there was no accompanying sense of urgency. If he'd thought it was that the king was in danger, he would have been across the floor already, sword in hand, half-dressed as he was, the bitter whiteness of a knight's power already burning behind his eyes.

Chester felt no urge to fight or even to rise from his bed. If it were a dream, he wished he could remember. As an adult, he rarely remembered his dreams. When he'd been a small child, they used to be so green and gold and bright. That had stopped, once his father had died. Sometimes he wished grief had given him nightmares. It had simply taken all his dreams away from him.

Everyone reacted differently to grief, and Chester's answer to loss was to lose more. As if he couldn't lose enough, as if so much had already been taken from him. Was there a point, after you lost everything, when things began to come back to you? If such a day were going to come, Chester hoped it would arrive soon.

He slept with his curtains open. There was no need to close them when he woke before the dawn. He turned his head to see the stars. No clouds were there to disappoint him. The sky had all its eyes open.

Chester rolled over. He frowned as he noticed a scent in the air, or perhaps permeating the sheets beside him, as it seemed to rise up from them as he moved. The scent of fresh grass, maybe a trace of flowers. That wasn't right. It was winter. Certain women he knew smelled of flowers, but he'd never had a woman in his bed, and this was different, as if springtime itself had been here moments before: a wild perfume. He used to dream about fields of flowers, yellow flowers, like the ones that grew in the garden outside the house where he grew up.

Chester blinked. There was a little sharpness in his eye, as if a piece of dust or a memory had been caught inside it. Gazing through the window, he watched the starlight blur.

His fingers were still pressed to his neck, below his jaw, feeling his pulse trip, reminding him that he was alive. As if he were holding in a heartbeat, or holding down the fleeting touch of a kiss that a lover had placed there once.
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