Parchment and Paper

Talven sat at his parents’ dinner table, holding the parchment at arm’s length. Had it really been ten years? It seemed like only yesterday that his older brother received the same letter, advising him that the traditional sojourn into the city had been scheduled for the following weekend. It was something that was expected of everyone in the hamlet; experience the technology of the city, and learn firsthand why living in the bountiful fields of the country was the superior choice.

He didn’t remember much of his brother. Talven had only been six at the time, after all. But he remembered how excited Decken had been to return, telling anyone who would listen about the way “elektrisety” was able to power all sorts of devices that did work for you, instead of doing work the natural way. He’d brought Talven home a gift of some wax quills and some paper– real, smooth paper, not the parchment that was made as a byproduct of the lumberyard. Talven could barely imagine a place where no one used mana to cast spells, but he spent the entire day drawing pictures on the dining room table, delighted at the way the was quills shrunk as they were used, as if they might disappear entirely if they were used for too long.

He didn’t remember much of the argument. His parents kept trying to explain to Decken why the city was a barren landscape, devoid of mana, with only stone buildings and false hopes to sustain life, but his brother refused to listen. He kept talking back– flashbacks of his father’s red face and flying spittle came to mind– until eventually the small hut devolved into a full-on shouting match. Decken went over to his side of the room, packed his things into an odd canvas backpack, and left.  Talven never saw him again. Continue reading

July Stories at the Confabulator Cafe

Hello readers. Thank you for visiting our website, where authors create short fiction for you to enjoy for free every month. We are about to embark on our sixth month of monthly writing prompts. We hope you have enjoyed what you’ve read up to this point and will stick with us as we continue to get better and write toward new and different prompts.

For July, the Confabulators were given a setting prompt. The setting: a dining room. Stories had to take place only in a dining room. Flashbacks could happen elsewhere, but all action and all telling had to take place in a dining room. It seems limiting, but we put no restrictions on what kind of dining room. Maybe the dining room doesn’t belong to a human. Maybe the dining room is in outer space. Join us for the month of July to see where our writers took this prompt.

In other exciting news, we have our first two guest bloggers contributing stories to the Confabulator Cafe this month. We hope you’ll welcome Anita Young and Emily Mosher with the same warmth you receive the rest of us with each month.

Here is the July schedule, so be sure to check back each week on the days below for new free fiction!

Friday, July 3: “Parchment and Paper” by Neil Siemers
Monday, July 6: “A Room with a View” by Christie O. Hall
Thursday, July 9: “Death of Underwood” by Anita Young
Sunday, July 12: “The Lonely Ghost Meets the Hungry Ghost” by Sara Lundberg
Wednesday, July 15, “The Rest of Us: Bottoms Up” by Jack Campbell, Jr.
Saturday, July 18: “Falling Feet First” by Eliza Jaquays
Tuesday, July 21: “Super Support Group” by Emily Mosher
Friday, July 24: “In Possession of a Mother’s Intuition” by Ashley Hill
Monday, July 27: “The 17 Year Harvest” by Dianne Williams
Thursday, July 30: “Love Potion No. 999″ by Aspen Junge

The Queen’s Skin

“I haven’t seen you before. How many times have you inhabited that skin?”

The girl looked up and slid her hood back to reveal the series of dark dots tattooed above the bridge of her nose, just above the fine lines of dark hair. “Seventeen, m’lady.” With that, she pulled the ivory fabric back up over her dark hair. The soft blue lights overhead danced over the fabric, like an oil slick on water.

Nicoletta looked out the window to the planet below, at the churning swirls of cloud obscuring the landmasses she knew to be there. Two years ago the storms had been frequent, but now they were unending, the planet below deluged. Her chief advisor assured her time and again that her people below had been working around the planet’s unforgiving weather for centuries. A tug at her ankle brought the queen’s attention back to her servant. “Have you been below?”

The girl didn’t look up from her work of winding and fastening the ribbon of the queen’s sandals. “I was remade below. We all are.”

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The Red House

The red house shuddered as Tony poured gasoline over the dining room’s bare warped floorboards. He felt its shiver and wondered if it was afraid.

The voices whispered, a tiny insect buzz that the drugs kept brushing away. Tony tried to ignore it, to remind himself that houses did not talk. The doctors had told him so–over and over again–for the last eight years.

He carried the red plastic gas can in to the kitchen. Light warm rain fell through a hole in the collapsed ceiling. Tony raised his face to the soft overcast sky, gray and as smooth as slate.

A rainbow sheen surfed the rain-glazed floor as he sloshed gas across the peeling linoleum. The red house groaned, a guttural vibration. Tony told himself was just the settling of the house’s rotten frame. Continue reading

The Heart of Stone Monsters

Leia’s heart seized as the lovely yellow flower was crushed beneath her brother’s stone foot. He marched on as if nothing had happened. In truth, he probably hadn’t even noticed or felt a thing. She shouldn’t have felt a thing, either; golems weren’t known for their feelings, physical or emotional. Either way, her heart broke at the destruction of such a simply beauty.

Her heart. It was a problem. As far as she could tell, her entire clan was a group of stone-hearted monsters, their hearts as hard as their stone bodies. She alone showed any remorse at the destruction they wrought or joy at the things they built. They were slaves, only animated by the will of their creator, but Leia couldn’t help but feel that she was different. Had she been made differently? Had their creator been distracted when she had come into being?

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