Fiction Friday – Moon Trance

I was going for a creepy fairy-tale vibe with this week’s short story.

 

It started out with these 3 sentences: “In the year without a full moon, Sheila’s skin turned blue. It came without warning, and it didn’t even hurt. She turned blue as a bunch of hydrangeas at the stroke of midnight, and that was when the wolves came sniffing.”

 

And then it became THIS.

 

I’ve created a monster.

 

It was supposed to be a brief, dark, whimsical magical realism short story. Flash fiction! But then it morphed into a dark, dramatic fantasy story more than 1,000 words long.

 

I don’t think I’ll be satisfied until I have taken this story down the road where I originally meant for it to go. Perhaps a similar opening for next week’s story, only this time I won’t let the story run astray like a wild horse?

 

 

But for now, here’s this week’s short story.

 

*

 

Moon Trance

 

In the year without a full moon, Sheila’s skin turned blue. It came without warning, and it didn’t even hurt. She turned blue as a bunch of periwinkle at the stroke of midnight, and that was when the wolves came sniffing.

 

The day her skin turned blue, Sheila woke with a twitch in her right eye, and got out of bed with a buzzing in her veins. She could hardly think, much less watch where she was going, and it was with an unsteady sort of stumble-walk that she made her way to the kitchen where he mother was making breakfast.

 

It had been a year of mist – girls went everywhere with wispy tendrils braided in their hair, and boys chased each other through the clouds. People walked extra slowly, and there were a lot more reports of car accidents that year.

 

So Sheila credited the twitching in her eye to the mist, rather than the general feeling of wrongness. It was the last Friday of December, and it they hadn’t had a full moon in a year. All they had was mist, mist, and more mist, and frankly Sheila had had quite enough of it.

 

At night, the moon-watchers took their usual places in the field two blocks away from her house and waited. There was a strange sort of lilting music threaded in the air, and the lilacs on the windowsill were in bloom. Sheila watched from the two-bedroom apartment she shared with her mother, wondering at the silver dust that eddied through the night.

 

At exactly midnight, the skeins of mist parted to let in a sliver of light. And then, a fraction more. A quarter. Half. A whole. One full moon, bloated and luminous like a faery fruit hanging in the sky. Sheila stared, her mouth open. Blinked. It felt like the first taste of rain after a drought, though she had no idea why. A full moon had no impact on her.

 

It did, however, affect those gathered in the field below. The crowd – not more than fifty of them – erupted in triumphant hoots and cheers and appreciative whistles, as though the full moon was both a victory and a masterpiece.

 

Sheila wondered if she should wake her mother. She was just about to slide off the windowsill when she noticed the tinge of blue creeping into her skin.

 

It started from her fingertips, then crept all the way up her hands, and before Sheila could rush to a mirror she had turned completely blue. But it was, strangely, rather pretty. Luminescent and undeniable, it lit up a corner of her room. Sheila stood admiring the curious hue as the moon-watchers continued in their rejoicing. It reached up to her hairline, like a sea washed up against a red sand beach.

 

The lilting music, like the twitching in her eye, had stopped. Apart from the celebration downstairs, everything had fallen still at last, as though a restless wind had soared off in search of drier lands.

 

Sheila drifted in a wondrous fog towards her mother’s room. She couldn’t have slept through the commotion downstairs, she thought.

 

But there she was, curled tight under the covers, her crimson hair rich and wildly in bloom around her oval, peaceful face. Sheila hadn’t seen her mother like this in a long while, not since the mist breezed in and the moon remained a thin scar in the sky.

 

Sheila bent over and tapped her mother’s shoulder. “Mom?”

 

Veronica cracked open an eyelid. “What, baby?”

 

“I’m blue.” As her mother roused, Sheila straightened and stretched out her hands fully.

 

Veronica sprung from her bed. She stared at her daughter, replete in her periwinkle glory, before leaping into action. Grabbed a swath of blankets. Wrapped Sheila in them. Got dressed. Reached for the velvet drawstring purse in her underwear drawer. Threw a sweater at Sheila. It made Sheila dizzy watching her mother move.

 

“We need to go,” Veronica said.

 

“Where are we going?” Sheila asked, when what she really wanted to know what why they were going.

 

Then she heard it again, the moon’s song (Sheila was convinced that was where it came from). It was a gentle flute-like melody, plunging low and sweet, and reaching high and pure. It was now making itself heard, trilling and dipping in a complicated tune. Her mother didn’t seem to notice, so busy was she trying to shuffle Sheila out through the fire escape.

 

They stepped out into the cool, thin night, away from the revellers and their cameras. They kept close to the shadows, and ducked behind cars parked haphazardly as people got out to admire the moon.

 

But people weren’t the ones they needed to hide from. The flute music snaked its way through her body – Sheila shivered, felt its caress like the gentle trail of a fingertip.

 

“Move, baby,” her mother murmured, her grip tight around her.

 

But I am moving, Sheila thought. More than moving, she was dancing. Her limbs were water and wings and colour and light, flowing to the song that only she could hear.

 

But when she looked down, her legs were firmly in place. Next to them was a discarded pamphlet for moon-gazing the Astronomy Society had given out. The Year of Mist and Crescent Moons, it announced.

 

“They will find us, Sheila,” her mother said, close to tears.

 

“Who will find us?”

 

“The wolves, baby. The wolves. We need to run.”

 

“But why?”

 

“Because I stole the moon,” her mother whispered. “I stole it for you.”

 

For an entire year, Sheila had held the moon inside her. All year she had felt it, swollen and heavy like a ripening fruit in her. All year the mist had tried to warn her, trailing her everywhere she went. And all year, she had ignored it, grumpy at her discomfort.

 

And now the moon was claiming her, whispering its secrets and stories in her ear.

 

Sheila stood listening, catching sight of her reflection in a store window. A blue creature wrapped in blankets stared back, a beacon for the wolves. She could hear them now, lamenting the absence of the full moon, lamenting over their missing queen.

 

Sheila took to her feet. She need only leave the music behind, and she would be safe. The blankets got in the way, so she shook free of them and let them fly off behind her. Her mother hissed her name, but Sheila only heard the music, the music, only the moon’s peculiar music.

 

When at last the only thing that filled her ears was her ragged breaths, Sheila slowed to a stop. Her legs gave way, and she stayed on the ground, wheezing, waiting, listening. She was far, far away from the midnight crowd now, in an empty street strewn with more Astronomy Society pamphlets.

 

Sheila picked herself up, turned and regarded her reflection in a darkened store front. Her eyes glowed, silver and pale like twin moons themselves. She was getting rather used to the sight of her blue skin, particularly under the moonlight.

 

Maybe she was the moon. Maybe she had been waiting all this while to break free, to go home. Maybe she was the queen, stolen and hidden inside that wretched witch’s offspring. The one with hair the colour of blood.

 

Vikaela – the Blue Sister, newly crowned Queen of the Midnight Realm, Second Daughter of the Moon but second to the throne no longer ever since she removed her sister – smiled at her reflection. She rather liked the red-haired girl with the wandering, wondering mind whom she now lived with. Her body was lithe, and her mind mouldable. Oh, the things she could do with this child!

 

With a flick of her hand, the Blue Sister dispelled the dogged mist that wormed its ways through the streets. A stray cat sauntered up to her, rubbed its paw against her leg. She picked it up, saw her eyes in its unblinking gaze, like moonlight on a shard of glass. It purred.

 

In a way, Vikaela had that runaway witch to thank for bringing her into this world. This vast, new world, drunk and potent, ready for the taking. Ready for a new queen.

 

 

*

 

 

and the to-read list keeps growing

Another book update. So soon? Yes.

 

BOOKS TO READ:

 

1. Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard

Expected publication: 26 March 2015

In a world where people are divided by the colour of their blood, silver or red, a girl finds herself endowed with magical powers. There’s rebellion, forced betrothal, and the struggle of the underdog (the protagonist belongs to the Reds, the inferior class). Kinda like Gattaca, come to think of it. Only with magic. And princes and princesses.

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Plus, that cover is GORGEOUS.

 

2. The Girl at Midnight, by Melissa Grey

Expected publication: 28 April 2015

This is purportedly a mix of Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones and Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone. An ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins are kept hidden from humans thanks to age-old enchantments. When her home is threatened by a centuries-old war, a runaway pickpocket decides to find the Firebird, something that can end it for good.

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3. Monstrous, by MarcyKate Connolly

Expected publication: 10 February 2015 

As Bookworm007 said:

Sounds insanely interesting!!!

A protagonist

…with the wings of a raven, the tail of serpent, and the razor-sharp vision of a cat?

…who rescues captive girls from an evil wizard and avoids human interaction?

…in love with a page boy but has yet to reveal her appearance to him?

…forced to question who the real monster is: the wizard, her father, or…..herself?

Lordy, sign me up for this adventurous ride!!!

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I’m inclined to agree.

(Seriously, how do these people come up with ideas like these??)

 

4. The Wrong Side of Right, by Jenn Marie Thorne

It says on Goodreads that “fans of Sarah Dessen and Huntley Fitzpatrick will enjoy this smart debut young adult novel, equal parts My Life Next Door and The Princess Diaries.”

Girl meets rebellious bad boy, family conflicts and duplicitous relationships amid a presidential campaign – all the ingredients of a Korean melodrama YA contemporary novel.

(Speaking of Korean melodramas, I’m currently watching Nice Guy – AKA Innocent Man. More *here!)

This could be good.

 

 

Good thing there are books ALREADY published so we don’t have to wait to immerse in awesomeness:

 

5. Dreams Underfoot, by Charles de Lint

Jilly paints wonders in the rough city streets, while Geordie plays the fiddle while dreaming of a ghost. The Angel of Grasso Street gather the fey and the wild and the poor and the lost; Gemmins live in abandoned cars and skells traverse the tunnels below; while mermaids swim in the grey harbor waters and fill the cold night with their song.

This book is “a must-read not only for fans of urban fantasy but for all who seek magic in everyday life”.

THAT WOULD BE ME, THANKS.

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(Published in 1993?? How did I not know of this book until now and how can I get my hands on one?!)

 

6. In the Night Garden, by Catherynne M. Valente

Published in 2006? How did I ever miss this?!

I mean, shape-shifting witches and wild horsewomen, heron kings and beast princesses, snake gods, dog monks, and living stars, all these stories inked on a girl’s eyelids that are clues to her hidden identity? I WANT TO GET LOST IN THIS BOOK ALREADY!!!

 


JULY READS:

 

1. Sinner (or rather, SINNER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), by Maggie Stiefvater

Anything from the Mercy Falls series is bound to be good. And I say that with utmost conviction. Shiver was life-changing, and Sinner is only going to rock (pun intended – you’ll get it if you read the books!).

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(I did rush down to the bookstore during lunch to buy the book, but it’s not here yet. I know you’re thinking, Just buy it online, dinosaur! But I like the experience of heading down to the bookstore and making a purchase there, okay?)

 

2. The Midnight Thief, by Livia Blackburne

A con artist recruited by the Assassins Guild meets a palace knight intent on avenging his friend’s death. In my shopping basket now, please.

 

 

* So, Nice Guy.

It started out intriguing enough, with the male protagonist, a promising pre-med student, taking the blame for his childhood sweetheart’s accidental homicide. He goes to jail for a few years and comes out to find that the girl has moved on and married the CEO of some multinational company. (Nice.) He meets her stepdaughter, and makes use of her to get revenge on childhood not-so-sweetheart, but ends up falling for the daughter instead.

It’s a lot to digest, with a power struggle and backstabbing and deception and dead parents and sick sister and amnesia and car accidents and divided loyalties and personal agendas and OMG CALM YOUR HORSES PLEASE, SCRIPTWRITER.

That said, I’m going to finish watching it since I’m already three quarters of the way through (mostly by skipping the draggy bits). Plus, the male lead is easy on the eyes. He has an adorable smile, and fits perfectly into the sweet-nerdy-guy-turned-angsty-protagonist role, even if my dad thinks he has a fat face. Boo.

 

If you have any book or drama series to recommend, please share! I’m always in need of new narratives. Hope your week’s going great! :0)