In terms of tragedy, my story gets a middle grade – a C or C minus at best. I may be an orphan but at least I have magical powers. That has nothing to do with this tale but I thought you should know. My friends and I got all dolled up for a night on the town. We were looking hot. We decided to hit the local dive bar. No literally – it’s an underwater bar that you have to take a submarine to reach. It’s the hottest place to party under the sea. The bouncer almost smelled me out. My chimera blood pounded in my ears but the gaudy enchantment I wore around my neck distracted the troll bouncer as it was meant to. We got inside and the place was jumping. The aqua dome overhead sparkled with the light from the disco crystal. Nymphs and Satyrs were kicking up their heels on the dance floor situated on a dormant volcano. Everything was going fine until a Satyr grabbed my ass and my tail lashed out, stinging him with a barb. A riot broke out and a cave troll broke the aqua dome. 400 people had to swim for their lives. Thank goddess mama gave me gills.
There is an off kilter symmetry in the way religion clashes with cowboy boots. One demon set out to change that. She wore her fire engine red boots as she attended every Sunday sermon. The preacher noticed her week after week and prayed for the immortal soul she did not possess. The prayers slid off her skin and clung to her boots like a persistent scrap of toilet paper. Soon they were the holiest boots on Earth. A hundred years passed and they sat well loved on the shelf of an antiques store. Some heads turn and look at them but they sat unworn for years. Finally a young girl came in with her precious babysitting money. She was so excited she wore them out of the store. She practically skipped down the street. A whim overtook her and she clicked her heels “There’s no place like home.” She should’ve been more specific as she stared in shock at the demon’s living room in hell.
Thunder shook the tiny hut. It was haunted by the ghosts of hikers lost while searching for the mythical Solid Sunlight. Nymphs whispered from the trees “Hello Beautiful” and off the travelers went to their doom. At last one came after the sun had settled to sleep for the night. She quietly walked to the hut that was bathed in moonlight. The dragon did not wish to relinquish his power but he was weakened by the moon’s caress. He napped behind the hut – without the sun’s glare he was visible to any who traversed nearby. She slipped the gaudy bauble from his talon. On him it was a ring but it fit over her wrist easily. She quietly walked back down the mountain. She drove to the nearest pawn shop. She sold the Solid Sunlight for a thousand in cash and a beat up guitar. Off she went to hunt the next relic.
Legend says that to balance skin on a book you first must find the hidden waterfall. One hundred steps past the waterfall you must pull the stake out of your vanity and watch your ego bleed out on the forest floor. Once the wound scabs over, you must gather the last of your strength and continue the journey. You must climb through the valley of a thousand benches. Some of them are cursed so don’t rest, keep going. You will come to a wide river. Swimming it will flay the skin from your body. With scarcely a cell of epidermis left you will crawl out the other side. There on a stand is a book for you to balance the skin of your former life. But why would you want to do this my child? There are easier ways to change your fate?
Crush stared through the museum window. His tiny apartment had only one redeeming quality. Through its tiny kitchen window he could see into the museum across the street. His view was ever changing as the collections came and went. In November a madness overtook him: he would help the Arts escape. No longer would they be trapped behind the glass and velvet rope imprisoned. They would run free through the streets and ride the subway below. By December he was nearly feverish with this mad dream. If only he could stretch out his arms and gather up the paint and canvas. Then he would fling them up in the air like doves at a wedding ready to shit on the guests below. In April he marched up the stone steps – just one of the masses. He grabbed the first painting he saw and made for the door. He made it to the top of the stairs before the guards grabbed him. The painting fell to the steps and the gilt frame broke littering the sidewalk with golden splinters.
The contessa walked out into the blizzard. Maybe today would be the day she accomplished her task and be able to rest at last. The snow whirled thick around her. She carried the small jar in her over large hands. A simple braid was twined around her wrist. A wick for the snowflake candle she prayed for. It was an ancient fable in her family that one of her line would make fire from the falling flakes. It had to be her. She was the last. She held the jar out and set aside her rage. The long dead alien that had started her line had passed a bit of her magic down the line. Contessa used that touch of magic. Reaching deep inside herself. The snow filled the jar and the tiny wick peeked out from the top. Contessa willed a flame to form and it did. The tiny flame cast a tiny circle of life in the bitter cold. Contessa felt joy fill her. She had done it. She could rest at last. She laid down in the soft snow to die.
The Celebration Box sat unused on the cobwebbed shelf. It had been so long since there was a reason for joy, for hope. Butterfly Woman dragged the kitchen chair down the hall and used a broom to sweep away the cobwebs. Then she climbed up and took the box down. The little cottage was neat and tidy except for this corner. Mercury Quill sat beside the fire, lost in sadness. Butterfly Woman loved him deeply and hoped the Celebration Box could snap him out of his gloom. He had nearly welded himself to the recliner, only surfacing to perform basic functions. Butterfly Woman shut off all of the lights. She closed the curtains tight. She placed the box on the coffee table. Mercury Quill barely stirred at her presence. Butterfly Woman opened the box and stood back. The celebration within began to rise and shine its light in every corner. It was built of happy birthdays and congratulations all wrapped around the soul they had captured. Mercury smiled and at the soul whole.
To balance skin on a knife edge was the workshop name. Marie was more than a little horrified by it. But she was also intrigued. Would this workshop give her the apricot glow she’d always dreamed of? Or would she wind up in some madman’s lair being dissected on a table in a room full of students taking notes. She snapped a pic of the flyer and went on with her days. Fourteen days later she was wandering down alleyways in search of a steampunk festival. She was bedecked in her finery, goggles and cogwheels and gears oh my… She made another turn down another side street and stopped short. The japanese blooms on the sign ticked her memory. She scrolled through her camera roll until she found the workshop flyer. This was the place. Some insane bit of courage. She rang the bell. The door opened and a nice little old lady let her in. She was led past the adorable shop to the basement. The walls were covered in plastic and there was a morgue table in the center. It was Marie’s worst thoughts come true. Marie allowed the strength of Artemis to flow through her. She was startled when the woman opened a side door. Inside, six other girls her age were gathered around a worktable. They crushed herbs using large knives and added them to a large cauldron over the fire. They smiled and she was immediately ensnared in their conversation. The little old woman handed her an apron and Marie got to work. Her eyes were still moonstones as she worked. Jen was in her civics class. Amy lived in her dorm. They mixed and swirled and laughed until dawn. Each of them left with a small jar that smelled of peaches and promises of dewy fresh skin before the next full moon.