jeffsoesbe (jeffsoesbe) wrote,

[fiction] in which I curse my endlessly chattering mind

So yesterday I read that my VPXI buddy ckastens is submitting a story to an anthology from CatsCurious Press. The theme of the anthology is a fairy-tale retelling from the protagonist's POV.

I've been getting into fairy tale retellings recently so I gave a little thought to "what would I do for such an anthology". I flipped through my Book of Fairy Tales, happened across "Thumbelina", and re-read it.

Immediately, a whole new version came into my head: a steampunk fantasy girl-power kitchen-sink-adventure story called "When Lina Went On The Lam". Along with the concept and title came the first line:

"Pretty little girls don't go on adventures," my mother always said and every time she said it, I hated her even more.

Since then my mind has been endlessly chattering on the story, generating the beginning and the ending (the plot backbone is already in the fairy tale itself).

The Beginning

"Pretty little girls don't go on adventures," my mother always said and every time she said it, I hated her even more.

Of course, she wasn't even really my mother even if from the day I emerged, fully formed, from the "flower" (ie, the protein and nutrient bath) she wanted me to call her Mother.

And she called me Thumbelina, a name I couldn't stand from the first moment I heard it. It was far too cutesy, and the sing-song way she spoke it made me feel like retching.

My creator wanted a little girl she could own and so she grew me in a vat, tweaked my genes for pretty, dressed me in frills and lace, and made me put on shows.

But every time guests came for dinner, and I smiled cute and danced and sang, I was plotting my escape. Sure my creator made me pretty, with hair the color of sunshine, a curvy figure, and an oval face with high cheekbones and a strong jaw. But she made one error. She also made me smart.

Smart made sure I kept myself strong and built muscles of steel underneath my colorful summer dresses. Smart gave me desire, to see the world that waved and shimmered at me through the windows of the locked cage of a house where she kept me when I wasn't on display. Smart kept me alert, noticing every detail of how things worked, and made sure I would be ready to act when I found my opportunity to escape.

The Ending

The young man was turned away from me, standing at a palette where he painted using a single horse hair. He was surrounded by paintings, all of them colorful, beautiful scenes of nature but nature as viewed through the steel bars of his cage. Every painting captured a sense of longing, of sadness as embodied in the steel bars that prevented the full view of the scene.

"Your paintings are beautiful, and sad," I said.

He flinched, smearing a dab of blue across his green trees, then turned and looked at me with wide eyes. He was a pretty young man, very pretty indeed. He had that whole "strand of hair falling across his eyes" thing going, which gave him a mysterious and soulful look on top of his classic features.

"Who, who are you?"

"I'm Lina. What's your name?"


"Hi, Thomas. Why are you in there?"

"I don't get to go out. My father keeps me in here, and I paint pictures for him."

"I'm sorry to hear that."

He looked at me like I was a curiousity. "What are you doing out there?"

"I'm on an adventure."

He rushed towards me and grasped the bars of the cage. "What's it like, an adventure?" His long, dark hair cascaded like falling velvet as his shoulder slumped. "My father tells me that pretty boys don't go on adventures."

"He's full of it. You want to know what an adventure is like?" I took out my needle dagger and Thomas drew back and cringed. The lock quickly clicked as I worked at it with the point of the needle. I threw open the door and stuck out my hand. "How about I show you?"

Submissions to the CatsCurious anthology are due March 31. Of course, that's the same deadline for submitting "Fly, Boy" to the "Taking Flight" anthology *and* the next WOTF deadline. I'm insane for even thinking about another story.

But I just might have to give it a shot. Locked, padded room, here I come.
Tags: fiction, madness, wip

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