Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Paula's Prompt

Welcome to QueerBlogWed! A day to blog about all things queer. This story should qualify in more ways than one. :) It's a response to last week's Wednesday Words prompt provided by Paula Wyant (see Every Wednesday, she offers up one. I've been trying to get myself into the habit of responding the following week at this Cauldron.

On Wednesday; June 21, 2017, she offered up a wren, a bowl, and a wreath. Here is the story inspired by those things.

“Wren, pretty wren, take a flower from my wreath. Wren, pretty wren, come and drink from my bowl.”

Wren called for the bird she’d been named for. She lay a dish filled with water right in front of the stone. If she stared hard enough at the rock’s surface, she might see a face within its bumbs and ridges. 

She averted her eyes, taking the wreath from her head. Wren put it down on the stone, covering the face. 

She rose to her feet, backed away a few steps, before falling to her knees once more. She didn’t know if the wren would come. 

A small, brown bird flew down from a nearby tree. It must have been watching. The little creature fluttered over to the bowl. It dipped its beak within the dish. After a few moments, it raised its small head. It hopped up to the stone, bent down to snatch a white blossom from the flowers and vines embracing each other. The bird took flight afterwards. 

It hadn’t been a wren. The girl exhaled in a sharp hiss of disappointment. 

“Once more, the ritual failed. The wren didn’t come.” She dropped her head, looking down at the grass stains on her white skirt. 

“Didn’t she?” A voice, low, feminine, and teasing came from the grass, the rocks, and the earth beneath her. “Your efforts were appreciated, if not in the way you expected.”

Wren frowned, trying to comprehend these words. She didn’t understand the force she worshipped, yet it was part of her, all around her. It spoke to her in a way it did to few others. 

“Why do you ask me to sing songs and complete rituals, which never work?” Wren raised her head, dared to look at the rock she’d crowned. “Your purpose is a mystery to me.”

“Who knows?” The murmur tickled the hairs on the back of Wren’s neck, slipping under her heavy mane of hair. “Perhaps I simply like the sound of your voice.”

“Why do you ask for specific songs and offerings?” Wren dropped her gaze to the bowl, sitting silently before her. Ripples disturbings its surface were finally stilling, returning to something more tranquil. “Why not just as me to sing?”

“Who knows?” A breeze crept under the girl’s skirt, making her ankles itch. “Perhaps I simply like it when you bring me gifts.”

Wren trembled, but she looked up at the stone once more. “If all you want are gifts and to hear me sing, why have me kneel before you?”

“Who knows?” The grass beneath her knees turned into tiny fingers, stroking and caressing her flesh. “Perhaps I want more.”

Wren’s legs wobbled. She lost her balance, falling on her side. Her skirt rode up. She moaned to feel the earth and the very life pulsing with it while it moved against her. 

Never had her worship been more directly rewarded. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Paula's Prompt: Crossed Paths

Here's my response to Paula Wyant's Wednesday Words! Check out her excellent prompts at . Last week's was a card, whittling, and a backpack.

The result was the Tale of Navel, 'Crossed Paths'. Here's a sample containing not too many spoilers, I hope! :) I'll share the rest once all of 'Waiting for Rebirth' has been posted at

Damian Ashelocke wasn’t used to whittling. He preferred clay. Somehow the knife ended up in his hands, a small, silvery blade. Its edges fluted out, looking like a spade. Spade or blade? When did the blade become a spade?

Gabrielle would have preferred spades, a shovel she could use to plant a garden, rather than a sword to cut down her enemies. No matter how well a sword suited her. 

Ah, well, it had been an old, sour argument. One he’d left behind in the Navel, along with everything else. Not to mention everyone else. 

Damian closed his eyes against the sudden surge of pain. Violet blue eyes with traces of rose, purple, and other forgotten colors swimming in their irises met his, filled with liquid pain. 

He forced his own to open, fighting against the sticky wetness which swelled beneath his eyelashes. He scratched the blade with especial gentleness against the wood, feeling for the grooves within rough material. Finding the boy’s limbs, his arms, and his legs. 

Why couldn’t he stop thinking about Christopher?

“May I sit?” 

Damian looked up to see a girl with shaggy golden hair, cropped short, wearing a loose tunic which could have been from any number of worlds and time periods. The backpack she slung over one shoulder limited those possibilities. 

All serious dreamers ended up in the Shadow Forest, sooner or later. 

“Why ask?” Damian asked, lifting one hand to shade his eyes from a sunbeam, coming through the trees. Once more, it was sunset. Not that time was measurable by any standard of reality here. “You’re already walking my path. Why not simply take a spot in my resting place?”

“Once inconsiderate, courtesy is considered the second time around.” For all her fancy words, the girl plopped from herself down right against tree trunk next to Damian. “I wanted to talk to you, Damian Ashelocke.”

“You’re assuming I want to talk to you.” Damian cursed himself for the defensiveness in his own voice. It was a sign of weakness. He didn’t inch away from the girl, although her proximity made his skin crawl. “Did my aunt sent you?”

“No, Duessa isn’t our mutual acquaintance, unless my path crossed with hers and I didn’t realize it.” The girl unzipped her backpack and started pulling out items. Rumpled shirts and tunics from differing time periods, stinky underwear, ripped bloomers, a battered flashlight, and several small sachets. “It’s someone else. Ah ha!”

She flourished an intricately carved wooded box with a pattern of flowers and vines upon it. Carefully, she popped open a drawer on the side. 

“The Fool!” She withdrew a card and displayed it. “Looks like our minds are on the same boy.”

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Haunted Dress

This prompt was offered up by Paula Wyant at exactly a week ago on Wednesday; June 7, 2017. A haunted dress, nothing more, nothing less.

I instantly found myself thinking of 'A Portrait Is Worth a Thousand Words', my attempt at a 19th century style ghost story. Only the characters who populate this tale are queer and or/gender bending. Elizabeth Hartford has been in my head as a character in the World of Darkness for years. Sometimes she's been a mage. At other times she's been a vampire.

While Blogging From A-Z, she returned to me, forceful and arrogant as an original character. Being a lady of a certain stature, she demanded an entourage. She wanted a Victoria Winters of her own, a girl who worshipped the past, who would worship her portrait.

Elizabeth is not a woman to be denied, even if she's fictional. My brain started playing with the notion, "Ah, but what if her Victoria wasn't a girl at all? What if he was truly male, but looked extremely pretty dressed up as a gothic heroine? What if he had a friend, who dressed him up as a girl and sent him to his living relatives as their kin?"

If you're going to play gothic heroine, however, you're going to run into all the perils gothic heroines face, along with the temptations. Westerleigh Hartford is discovering this.

In the meantime, I'm discovering there's much more to this story than a simple retelling of old ghost and vampire tropes. One of the things which made Victoria Winters a compelling character in 'Dark Shadows' was her lack of a past. This gave her a hunger to have one.

Westerleigh Hartford has a hunger of his own, which he's being able to feed under Elizabeth Hartford's roof, touching Elizabeth Hartford's possessions. What direction will his desire take him? This fragment flirts with the possibilities.

My eye was drawn to the intricate design of the lace peeking out of the sleeves and crawling upward from the bodice. Stars, flowers, and tiny beasts were caught in a web, struggling to be seen against the dark green of the gown. 

This had to be one of her dresses. I reached out for the velvet, my finger trembling at its proximity. 

“What are you doing?” 

I let out a guilty yelp and jolted away from the wardrobe. 

Fiona, my cousin, stood before me, hands on hips hidden beneath her white labcoat. She peered at me from behind a thick pair of spectacles. 

Heat rushed to my face. I clutched my finger, rubbing it as if it had been burned. 

“I’m sorry!” I stammered. “It’s just…I thought-“

“Thought what, girl?” Fiona demanded. “Why are you standing here, like an idiot?” She withdrew a hand from her pocket to wave it in the direction of the wardrobe. “Try it on!”

“What?” I scuttled to the side, away from both my kinsman and the wardrobe. “How can you say such a thing!” Outrage welled up within me, eclipsing the shyness I’d felt since I entered Hartford Hall. “This gown belonged to…must have belonged to…” I faltered, unable to say her name. 

“Elizabeth Hartford, yes,” Fiona interrupted. She dropped her arm to tug at the lapel of her coat, drawing attention to a yellow stain on the pocket. “I’ve tried it on myself, but she’s never been satisfied with how I looked. Or me, for that matter.”

“She?” Once more, I let my gaze be drawn to the dark, emerald green of the bodice, the thick folds of the skirt. I couldn’t say her name. It remained, tingling on the tip of my tongue, like a spell I dared not utter. 

“Elizabeth Hartford, of course! Who else would we be talking about?” Fiona raised her hand in an attempt to smooth her unruly red hair, making it even more of a tangled mess. “Death hasn’t made her any less the mistress of Hartford Hall and everything in it!” She dropped her arm, abandoning the coppery tangles on her head. “Others might try to wear that damned dress, but she decides who’ll succeed in slipping it on.”

Here was my kinsman, uttering the madness I’d sensed ever since I crossed the threshold of Hartford Hall. Elizabeth was still here. Her spirit lingered in the rooms, among her former possessions. Such was the force of the lady’s character. Elizabeth Hartford had never done what she was supposed to in life. Why would she in death?

“If the dress is still hers, why would she wish for me to try it on?” I shivered, raising my arms to touch the rough silk of my own blouse. No, not mine. Yuri’s. I needed to careful not to move too freely, not to rip the material. Was this part of being a lady? “It would never suit me as it suited her.”

“You wouldn’t have been drawn to this room, if she didn’t want you to try.” Fiona let out a sigh. “You’re her blood, You’re her heiress. If it’s not me, it must be you.” She rubbed her nose, pushing her glasses back on her bridge. “Otherwise, the gown will never be worn. She needs you to wear it for her.”

Elizabeth Hartford needed me? All my life, I’d turned to her for guidance, for inspiration, when I didn’t dare utter my doubts to any of the living. I took a deep breath, feeling the floor, the room, and everything around me swim. 

“I’m not worthy,” I whispered, putting a hand against my forehead. Cold sweat slicked against my fingers. “Much as I wish I was.”

“Well, don’t whine about it!” Fiona snapped. “I had my chance with her and I failed!” Her fingers spasmed around her face, stabbing one of the lenses of her glasses. “Don’t blow it, girl!”

Don’t blow it. I found myself standing up a little straighter at that command, delivered from Elizabeth’s descendant. It almost seemed to come from Elizabeth herself.

“All right, I’ll try on the dress,” I said, taking a deep breath. If I stripped down in front of Fiona, our secret would be revealed. Mine and Yuri’s. The girl Yuri had transformed me into through lace and make up would vanish at the naked evidence of something else under my skirt. “However, I need to do it in private.”

“Don’t you understand?” Fiona let out a short, barking laugh. “There’s no privacy here!” She waved her arm at the room, the wardrobe, and the dress itself. “She’ll be watching you! She’s always watching!”

“It’s all right, if it’s her.” I swallowed at the raw truth of my words. I’d always belonged to Elizabeth, every since I was a child. I’d sought her secrets growing up, trying to probe the mystery of whom this sorceress and infamous female truly was. This infamous female I’d come to worship. I was still trying to uncover them, to find out who Elizabeth Hartford truly was.

Shouldn’t I offer Elizabeth one of my secrets in return? 

“I’ll strip down, but only for her.” I raised my head. I looked deep into Fiona’s eyes, which were wide and wounded behind her glasses. “I’m sorry, Fi, but it needs to be just the two of us.”

“Figures.” Fiona stiffened and raised her own chin in response. “She’s always had an eye for a pretty girl, even in her own family. Now that she has a tender, sweet young thing, she has no need for her old sidekick.”

I opened my mouth, but didn’t have a chance to answer. 

Fiona turned her back on me and stalked towards the doorway. 

“You’ll have all the privacy you need and more than you could ever want!” she snapped, before kicking the door closed behind her. Heavy, wooden, and ornately carved, it creaked a dignified protest, while it shuddered. 

I released a breath I hadn’t realized I’d been holding. Poor Fiona. I might know exactly how she felt in a moment. 

I tried not to tremble, while I reached for the pearl buttons of my blouse. It truly was a lovely thing. I marveled that Yuri had leant it to me. It was too fine and feminine a garment for one such as myself. Now, I was going to wear a lady’s gown. The lady’s gown. 

My fingers shook as I undid each small, white nub, revealing the flatness of my chest. 

“I wanted so badly to come to Hartford Hall.” I let my skirt fall, revealing my bulging secret. “I tried to transform myself into the girl you wanted, the heiress you hoped would appreciate all that you’ve created.”

Exposed in my panties, I stood for a moment. I stared at the green gown, reluctant to reach out for it. It took every bit of courage I possessed to stretch out my hand. I half expected to feel a chill, or an electric shock. 

Nothing happened. I brushed my fingers against the velvet, feeling its welcoming softness. It stroked my fingers in return, urging me to come a little closer. 

This was enough to dispell my fears.

“Thank you.” I moved forward to slip the dress of its hooks, to hug it to my chest. “I’ll never be as beautiful as you were in this. I’ll do my best to be worthy of it.”

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Paula's Prompt

Once again, I return a week later to respond to Paula's Prompt on May 31st, 2017 at It involved a box filled with wrapped presents, an ocean, and an attack.

What came to me was a story fragment from my f/f Work in Progress, 'The Players Are the Thing'. In this story, a group of female gamers find their characters becoming more and more real. Instead of driving the girls crazy, the characters try to rescue them from themselves, by helping them with their lives. There's been much criticism of role-players and how absorbed they get in their imaginary worlds. It's true that they do, but I wanted to show how this absorption could a positive force as well as a negative one. Although Amberwyne isn't exactly giving Rhane much of a choice in this particular situation! :)

These site uses cookies. You've been warned. Please don't eat the cookies. :)

“Amber,” Rhane gasped, shuttering her eyes. She could see her character, standing on the edge of the ocean. Ginger locks of hair flew across her face, moving with the force of her mental attack. “Why are you doing this?”

She shut her eyes, tried to reach for another present in the deep box. They weren’t even hers, not exactly. It was a collection of wrapped boxes Beatrix brought home from the store, dumping them in front of Rhane.

“Go through these, when you have a chance.” Beatrix didn’t even bother to look at her. “One of them is your birthday present. The others we’ll find a use for, or sell.”

Zoe had been kind enough to help her sort through the packages, but her hands were tired. Her back ached. She needed to get up, to move around. Rhane wanted to finish opening them, when she could.

Only she’d been interrupted by a sharp, distracting muscial note, which trilled within her mind, making her stretch out her fingers, discarding the ribbon she’d been about to unlace.

“What is it?” Zoe asked. She paused in the middle of discarded wrapping, a box with a leather latex glove and several nobs depicted on the front. Rhane wasn’t even sure what it was. 

“Amberwyne,” Rhane managed to gasp, rubbing her temples. She closed her eyes, not wanting to see the puzzled look of disbelief that crept over Zoe’s features. She was too used to seeing it on Beatrix’s. 

“I’m more than just your character.” Amber half spoke, half sang, kicking up a foot to splash foam and water about the sand. “I’m part of you, Rhane. I express the things you don’t dare to…yet.” She pushed a lock of hair away from her face. “Why don’t you come to this beach yourself?”

Rhane opened her eyes to see Zoe’s green ones fixed upon her. She glanced from the presents to that searching gaze. 

“What about Amberwyne?” Zoe reached out, almost touched her hand. The present slid out of her lap, but the other girl paid it no mind.

“Come here. Ask Zoe to come with you.” Amberwyne stretched her arms straight out and met Rhane’s eyes. How could a player character be so real? “You know you want to.”

“Talk about pushy,” Rhane muttered. “Not you,” she added, glancing at Zoe. “Amber, err, wants me to take a walk. With you. At the beach.” She attempted a feeble grin at her own comment, feeling freakish and exposed. 

Zoe didn’t remark on the crazy. She just smiled and moved her fingers a little closer, so they touched Rhane’s. 

“You’re lucky Amber thinks of these things.” A tiny, cornerwise smile twitched at Zoe’s mouth. She pushed the box aside and got to her feet, offering Rhane a hand. “Shall we go?”

Rhane stared at Zoe’s slim, brown fingers. She reached out to accept them, feeling some of the freakishness drain away.