Every week, the Fiction Writers Group posts a 300-word flash fiction prompt. This week's prompt is:
First, a little background. This prompt is for a 300-word story, and when I saw it, a story exploded fully-formed in my head. Almost without conscious thought, I pored the words on the computer screen--all 925 of them! Oh my God, how would I ever cut this beautiful, perfect story by two-thirds? Well, as it turns out I couldn't. I did manage to edit away over 300 words, but I just couldn't bring myself to slash any more. But, what I ended up with is one of my favorites of these prompted exercises, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Violetta shifted her weight as she waited, her eyes fixed on the single stem poking up out of a mossy mound. The moon’s ephemeral fingers reached out and caressed the bud standing proud at the end of its stalk. A year ago, her mother, the Magic Queen, told Violetta about this spot in the woods the night she mysteriously disappeared. So, on the next full Orchid Moon, Violetta came to this clearing at the base of a waterfall, disguised in her peasant clothes, a wicker firewood basket slung on her back, and waited for something magical to happen.
As the moonlight grew stronger, she watched wide-eyed as the flower bud’s petals opened. Reaching out to caress the glorious flower, her fingers were about to touch the silken petals when the flower leaned backwards, exposing a single sharp thorn tipped with a glinting droplet. Startled, Violetta snatched her hand away just as the magical flower snapped forward, its thorny lance piercing only empty air. Having missed its target, the flower slowly turned to face her, and a soft voice spoke inside her mind.
“Fear not, my child. I am merely trying to give you your legacy, the gift I gave your mother ten years ago. Simply allow me to prick your finger and my seed of magic will grow within you for nine years, gaining strength every day, making you the most powerful being in the world.”
Violetta’s skepticism held at bay the temptation this statement ignited. “That is the gift. What is the price?”
She heard her mother’s sinister chuckle, “So clever. At the turn of the tenth year, you will be inexorably drawn back to this spot. You may try to resist, or even turn back once or twice, but eventually you will be compelled to lie down on this mossy bed.”
Horror was evident in Violetta’s voice. “And then I die?”
“Oh, no, child! Then you will live forever as part of us.” The flower’s voice dissolved into a cacophony of others assaulting her mind. Her mother called out, “Take the gift, my child!” Another burst forward, one she somehow knew to be her grandmother. “Join us. Let us see the light again through your eyes!”
Violetta was overwhelmed by the love she felt streaming from these voices. A love she had never felt while they lived. Tentatively, she reached out with finger extended ready to receive the flower’s gift. Drawing back for the fateful thrust, the flower’s thorn again glinted in the moonlight. Then time stood still.
In her head, Violetta heard the shouts of every one of her maternal ancestors. They argued amongst themselves, hurling curses and vitriolic spells back and forth as they vied for her attention. The fear, hatred and clawing ambition they exuded threatened to consume her. But, above this mental din, a tiny voice whispered, “What you hear is the true gift, one that will last through all eternity.”
Regaining her senses, Violetta snatched her hand back as, again, the thorn missed her finger. This time though, the shimmering droplet flew off its tip and fell into the moss. The resulting mental screams dropped her to her knees.
“What have you done?” “You little fool!” “How could you reject us?”
“QUIET!” Violetta silently shouted and the voices were silenced.
All but the whispering one who had warned her. “Well chosen, my dear. At long last, the chain that binds us is broken.”
As the whisper faded from her mind, Violetta looked down at the now-wilted flower. With a wry smile and a shake of her head, she turned away and the moonbeams guided her toward her new life.