“Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.” – Ray Bradbury
Night descended like a velvet cloak over Cotter Estate, the halls a maze of flickering oil lamps and windows framing the full-moon; portraits gazed down, most with contempt, at a young woman marching silently across generations of collected Persian rugs. Her boots dripped rainwater and loam over a breadcrumb trail of cobalt and rust-red thread.
The woman’s hair was tossed atop her head and wrapped with leather cord, the same leather covering her chest and thighs in a thick apron. Sweat clung to her neck from the sprint across the grounds, fleeing the raging inferno of the blacksmith’s forge into the frozen night and back among civilized fires and fine china. The house smelled of lemon and lavender, a far cry from the summer storm on the horizon, building into grey clouds dark as the cooled metal in her workshop. Her face was a study in carved ivory: all forced angles and chiseled cheekbones. Eyes the color of rain-soaked soil glared as she walked toward the crowded room. She was of serious demeanor and hot temper, befit to work iron with scarred hands.
“The boy is just that – a boy. At his best, he is rash,” one man shouted at the end of the hall, loud enough for the woman to hear. The melody of ice rattling in crystal, a quick gulp of something amber and shifting feet before continuing: “Give it a few days, he’ll be back with grand stories of drunken brawls and barmaids. Let him sow his oats, I say.”
A few sullen murmurs of concurrence fluttered about the room, reaching the woman’s ears like whispering waves trapped within sea shells. She smothered a sigh, choosing instead to gaze up at the nearest portrait as if to share her derision with the aged-depiction.
“‘Drunken brawls and barmaids,’” another voice mimicked, sharp as a blade. “If you bothered to get to know your nephew, you’d be aware he has interest in no such things. He hasn’t been a boy or sought childish things in years. Not since his father…”
The words dropped away into a pool of tense silence, so thick it reached out from the darkness to stroke the curve of the woman’s jaw. She hovered right outside the doorway, studying the backs of six men standing at a wall length window, practically silhouetted between the study’s fireplace and the moonlight trickling in. Stars danced between oak beams standing guard over books shelved clear to the ceiling while a black hound lay sentry by a polished walnut desk. The woman, as a child, had watched fishing boats push off from the rocky coast smaller than that desk. Almost twenty years had passed since she’d last seen it but her eyes sought the deep gouge along the right side, product of a knife no eight year old should’ve ever held much less wielded. It shone like a stab wound in a ribcage, eerily echoed in her own human flesh.
“He was driven from this house by one force and one force only,” the same man said, crouching to rub behind the dog’s ears.
“Revenge,” the woman drawled, leaning with mock ease against the doorframe.
Just a sketch this week, a simple toss around of 500 words and reorienting myself with my own voice. It’s funny how I write everyday but I don’t actually write. My God, I’ve missed penning down fiction but the faucet is squeaky and the water is a little murky.