To Be Prepared For Chocolate

My contribution to the Storytime Blog Hop: yet another attempt to write flash fiction. I hope you enjoy it, and thank you for reading.

To Be Prepared For Chocolate

by Amy Keeley

Just beyond the ogres, in a shining golden chalice that glittered with multi-colored gems, casting light on the cave walls, lay the thing that had once sat in my enchanted refrigerator, the one fun thing I could have that didn’t make me feel I was betraying my new lifestyle change: dark chocolate almond milk, only ninety calories and full of flavonoids.

And the ogres weren’t giving it back without a fight.

I raised my hand, reaching out toward it with my magic. Fast as a wounded pigeon, it sailed toward me. The ogres let loose a volley of spears and I had to divert the magic from my best-loved reward for a hard day of spellcasting to protect myself from the onslaught.

Casting a shield, I looked beyond it to see one of the ogres grab the container from the ground and take off with a shout to the others. No longer under attack, I gathered the magic from my shield into my hand and threw it at the group. Barely able to think as I watched that delicious liquid chocolate in the hands of my enemy, I tried to stay calm and began the chant that would not only stun the others, but keep them from following my trail after I retrieved my beloved beverage.

And then, the one holding it turned and looked at me. Knowing what I was about to do (I’m certain she knew it), she unscrewed the cap and began to chug.

I gave a feral scream, one loud enough to reverberate through the small cavern. Charging forward, magic filled my hands, ready to tear the ogres apart.

And then, the ogre stopped chugging and frowned. Holding it toward me, he said, “Are you sure this is only ninety calories?”

“Yes! That’s why I want it! And it has flavonoids!”

“What are those?”

“I don’t know!” We both stared at each other, then at the dark chocolate almond milk we had both been willing to die for. So now the ogres and I are looking for something a little less hazardous to our health.

Copyright 2015 by Amy Keeley

Other Stories in the Blog Hop:

Katharina Gerlach: Canned Food

Rabia Gale: Spark

K. A. Petentler: The Twisted Tale of Isabel

Shana Blueming: Paper & Glue

Amy Keeley: To Be Prepared For Chocolate

Cherie “Jade” Arbuckle: After I Died

Karen Lynn: The Family Book

Angela Wooldridge: An Alternative to Frog

Thea van Diepen: Are You Sure It’s That Way?

Paula de Carvalho: Body Double

Kris Bowser: Tantrums

Virginia McClain: Rakko’s Storm

Grace Robinette: Georg Grembl

Elizabeth McCleary: The Door

Dale Cozort: Two Letters In A Fireproof Box

Hidden Change (flash fic)

Currently reading Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost. It’s fun! I looooove that opening scene. Hope to review it next week if I can. In the meantime…

I originally wrote this for Women’s World magazine. Then, in trying to figure out how to submit, I realized it would be more trouble than it was worth.

Why am I telling you this? Because stories like this are what happens when you try to make a story fit a market. Just so you know, this is very different from my usual style. Not only are there no fantasy/paranormal/shapeshifting elements, this is positively fluffy compared to what I usually write.

Hidden Change

by Amy Keeley

The best thing about waiting in line for coffee was watching the barista, Josh, work his magic. Misty was amazed by the way he easily moved from machine to machine, with enough time in between for a smile. Not to mention he was handsome, with his dark brown hair and strong, broad shoulders. His green eyes sparkled when he saw her.

Today’s the day, she thought. I’ll ask him out. This won’t be like last Saturday, when I stared at him for a solid minute, then finally made it sound like I was thinking of ordering something else. She opened up her purse to collect her change for her coffee. It also wasn’t going to be like two weeks ago when she’d first decided to ask him out and couldn’t even look him in the eye.

The girl in front of her paid for her coffee, then walked away.

Josh said something to one of his co-workers and the co-worker, a not-as-cute-as-Josh young man now stood behind the counter, smiling at her. “What would you like?”

Josh, she almost said. “Um. What would you recommend?”

She watched her potential date disappear into the back and shook her head, realizing that the guy behind the counter was done. “I’m sorry,” she said. “Can you repeat that?”

Again, he listed the different coffees, their pros and their cons and his personal favorites, until Misty shook her head again. “I’m really sorry. Can I just have a latte?”

She dug through her purse, looking once more for the small envelope with the change she’d budgeted for this weekly treat. No way was she going to give up on something that was working on her debt.

You can charge it, you know,” the barista said.

I know. But I’ve been trying this new budget, where you only use cash,” she rifled underneath her wallet, “and I have an envelope here. That sounds pretty lame, doesn’t it?”

The barista behind the counter only smiled patiently.

I thought for sure I put it in here when I left this morning. All new systems have kinks that have to be worked out, you know? I guess this is one of them.” Misty heard someone get in line behind her and gave up. “Yeah, I guess I’ll just charge it.”

How much do you need?” Josh said.

She froze. There was spare change she could use, but that would mean– “Another forty cents.” Turning, she watched him flip open his wallet, and take out four dimes. “Thank you,” she said, her cheeks flushed from embarrassment.

You’ve been paying cash for a while now. I’d hate for you to break the habit.”

I’ll pay you back,” she said, paying for her coffee.

Forty cents is nothing. Don’t worry about it.”

Say it, just say it, she told herself. You can pay me back by having coffee with me. We could share a coffee. You could sit with me and I’ll consider that payback. Her panic at being suddenly in front of the guy she would love to get to know better made the words sound jumbled, no matter how she arranged them.

Well,” she said, “thank you. I really appreciate it.”

He shrugged and ordered plain black, paying with cash as well. “You seemed pretty happy about the progress you’d been making with your finances.” He shoved his hands in his jeans’ pockets as they moved to the side to wait.

Wait,” she said, watching another employee going on break get some coffee from behind the counter, “why did you stand in line?”

Oh, well, it’s just, I don’t like mixing business with, you know–” their coffees arrived. “Do you want to sit and talk for a minute?” he said.

Sure.”

Fifteen minutes later, she’d discovered that although his music career was doing well, he had a second interview lined up with a major keyboard manufacturer. “I hope you get the job.”

Thanks.” He didn’t look very excited. “What I was saying before…I decided to stand in line to get my coffee so I could ask you out, because if I get the job there, I’m not going to be around here at all anymore. But I almost didn’t because it sounds stalkerish.”

I don’t think so,” she said, and then told him about her many times trying to get up the courage to ask him out herself.

He smiled, and she felt warm all the way down to her toes. “Well then,” he said, “how about dinner tonight?”

Misty smiled, glad she hadn’t gotten all the kinks worked out of her new system.

Dragon Myths: Leviathan

Leviathan glides to the surface because he can.  As the water pulls back from his face, he smiles.  A storm is here, making the world above his own dark.  His eyes, glowing like flames on the lamp’s wick, gaze at the rolling surface of his domain.  From shore to shore is his, the depths and the secrets they contain.

He dives.  Water rolls off his arched back, the only part touching the air above his kingdom.  Down deep and then he darts upward, back to the sky.  Fish scatter at his approach.  Crazed with terror, they race for safety, unaware his focus is above them.  He tears through the surface this time, his body lifting out of the sea, and roars thunder to the storms gathered above.  Flames blast from his mouth, a streak of light in an unending darkness.  The clouds above answer with lightning to his right and a clap of thunder that, in a lesser being, would have made them jerk back in fear.

Still, he knows his place.  This world full of lightning and clouds is not his.  God has decreed it.  He lets his back crash back down into the depths.  Light flashes above him in the clouds.  Sinking down into the depths, he watches the lights, so vibrant, then twists and darts to the depths, bound by the Creator’s demands.  The depths are enough, he tells himself.  He feels the water rush past as the darkness grows and the depths reveal themselves in the light of his eyes.

(Didn’t feel like writing a piece of non-fiction today so I wrote this rough draft instead.  It’s inspired by the description of Leviathan in the Bible.  For more on Leviathan, see Job, chapter 41, and Isaiah 27:1

Note: I’m aware that the name Leviathan is often associated with whales.  However, since there are so many similarities between dragon myths and the description of Leviathan, I’m including him here in my list.)

dragons and wishes

I had originally written this for Sonia Madeiros’ March Writing Challenge. The idea of “wishes” made me think of part of my novels’ backstory and the scene I imagined looked like it would fit the word count. I was wrong. It’s twice the length it needs to be and I don’t have time to write another.  It’s not a bad story, though, so I don’t feel right leaving it on my hard drive, especially when I wrote it for my blog anyway.

Therefore, I present my self-disqualified, rough draft story for your consumption. I hope you enjoy it.

~@~@~@~@~

The First Mistake

Tiamat paused on her way to meet the serpent, Apsu.  She looked back at her family’s hut, its earthen walls outlined by the moon. Briefly, she thought of going back inside.  No one would know and Apsu would leave.  Hadn’t he told her his fear that if she came to him their names would enter the myths of her world—her Scape, he called it—and evil would follow them as long as they lived?

But thinking of him made her think of his smile, his kindness, his eyes that couldn’t possibly be human.  She turned and walked toward the river.

The glorious chariot of Shamash had just begun to rise in the East when she arrived at the river’s edge where Apsu waited, this time in his serpentine form, scales glistening in the waning moonlight.  He stared at the fading stars.  The wind turned and blew her scent toward him.  He closed his eyes.  “You came.”  Unlike other times, no smile appeared on his face.

He looks sad, she thought.  “Did you hope I wouldn’t?”

“Yes,” he whispered.  The words cut her, though she knew he hadn’t meant to hurt her.  He looked back at the stars.  “Now and then, one of my kind stays too long in their working form.  And the consequences—” his words faded like the stars.

He didn’t need to say any more.  She had discovered the truth when he had told her no one of his kind should ever get too close to the ones they watched.  He had become too human, he said.  That was when she’d realized he’d fallen in love with her.

I’m too selfish.

She stepped toward him, needing to close the distance before their words turned into a chasm and she never saw him again.  “Do you think this is a mistake?”

“Yes.  I know it is.”

Staring at his face, she wondered if he would ever smile again if she stayed with him.  If perhaps he had as much, or more, to lose than she did.  “I should go,” she said, and turned to leave.

“No.”  Surprised, she looked back him.  The longing in his eyes matched her own.

“If this is a mistake—”

“I have been here since Shamash journeyed down to the underworld, trying to decide if I was wrong to ask you to join me.  You would leave more than your parents.  You would leave your world.”  He seemed to struggle with the words, an impossible thing to her mind.  “I have never known greater joy than when we are together.  And I have been taught all my life that joy is the prize of a life well-lived.”

“How can joy come from a mistake?” she asked walking toward him again.  “Or is this something else?”

He considered this for a moment, then said, “I don’t know.”  He chuckled.  “You’re handling this better than I am.  Pain only seems to make the joy of your kind stronger.”

“Isn’t it the same for you?”  Tiamat reached up her hand and touched it to his serpentine nose.  His eyes closed and she smiled.  He didn’t need to tell her any more.  “I can’t even promise you,” he said, his voice low, “that we’ll live together.  Even if I claim you as a mate. It’s such a selfish thing.”

Her smile grew and tears filled her eyes for the wonderful companion she’d found.  “Not entirely.  I want to be claimed.”

Apsu smiled then, rich and full as the Great Waters.  And she knew he was wrong.  This wasn’t a mistake at all.