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Fairy Tale Short Story Inspired by “Jorinda and Joringel”

Quiet on the Nightingale

Fairy Tale inspired (Jorinda and Joringel)

short story from Dorlana’s collection Supernatural Fairy Tales

Before climbing aboard the Nightingale, a 60-foot yacht, Jake listened for a second to make sure its owner, Richard King, slept. From the cockpit, Jake climbed the stairs to the upper aft deck, and with little effort, he opened the glass door to the enclosed bridge. He had been tailing the millionaire for months and knew this was the necklace’s location.

Jake had never talked to Mr. King but had heard his thoughts about purchasing the diamond and blood-red ruby necklace for his wife. Jake had followed him to restaurants, golf courses and parties, patiently waiting until King’s mind revealed all the details, down to the code on the safe.

He pulled the ski-mask off his face before punching in the numbers. Opening the safe without incident, he reached in and brought out his prize. He didn’t stop to examine it—plenty of time for that later—but stuck it in his pocket, ready for his quick exit. He stopped again to listen and to make sure all was clear.

“Now that wasn’t very nice,” a female voice said.

Startled to a slight stumble, he twisted around to see who had caught him. The silhouette of a woman sitting at the small table, her arms and long legs crossed, came into focus. Why didn’t I hear her? He wondered.

Her voice moved gently, “That’s my necklace.”

Shit. Mrs. King. “This isn’t what it looks like,” he said, buying some time as he weighed his options; running seemed a very good choice at the moment. She might scream, but he already had the loot in his pocket. By the time Mr. King got his wits about him, he would be long gone.

Her thoughts finally sounded in his head: I wish he were here to pinch more than that ruby.

Well, there it was. It wouldn’t be the first time he had used his pretty-boy looks to get out of a situation. But when she stood up—the moonlight shining full-force on her smart face—he doubted she was the type of woman who could easily be swayed by his devilish charms. She reminded him of an elegant movie star from the 1940s like Ingrid Bergman or Lauren Bacall.

She languidly walked over to him, her heels softly echoing on the wood floor. “May I have my necklace back?” She extended her hand gracefully.

Taking a step back, he wondered why he suddenly felt so intimidated. He had known plenty of rich, beautiful women. He needed to take control of the moment and his nerves. In the darkness, the burglar and the wealthy woman stared at each other for a mere second before Jake grabbed her bare shoulders and kissed her hard on the lips. Unexpected fire exploded between them, and he pulled her closer until he embraced her fully. He could feel her hands on his waist, moving slowly down the front of his pants until—

Jake gently pushed her away and had to smile, but he didn’t let go of her arm. He brought her hand up, revealing the necklace.

She shrugged her shoulders and sighed. “Can’t blame a girl for trying.”

He licked his lips tasting the memory of her kiss, her thoughts letting him know she wished she could see all of him. “The Country Club tomorrow night,” he said as he snatched the necklace, gave her a slight nod and left, before he couldn’t pull himself away.

Two Weeks Later

Like some bad movie cliché, he found the note she had left on her pillow:

Dear Jake,

I’m afraid my husband has decided to leave this morning. I couldn’t bear to tell you. Please forgive me. In another lifetime perhaps.

Love,

Jezze

Jake crumbled up the letter wondering how in the hell he’d missed it. Maybe she just pushed it out of her mind because it was too painful.

Love Jezze, she had written.

“Shit,” he said. “I do.” He suddenly found himself playing what if: What if I would have told her I loved her? Would she have stayed? Would she leave her rich husband for a crook? Would she come back with me now if I caught the yacht before it hit open water?

Regret swept over him as he put on his pants, because he had known for a week that she had feelings for him, yet he had said nothing. Let on nothing. Just another stolen treasure. At least that was what he had told himself before that morning. Now the only thing he thought was that he had to get her back.

His Jag hit the highway at sixty-five miles an hour, the windows down, and the air thick with morning. Their hotel/love nest was only a few miles away from the bay, but he couldn’t be sure what time she had actually left his bed. He had fallen asleep some time after midnight. He looked down to see the time, realizing his watch wasn’t in its usual place on his wrist. Must have left it on the nightstand.

As Jake jumped out of the car, he knew he had no idea what he would do if King tried to stop him. He listened as he ran, listened to see if he heard Jezze saying, I’ll miss him so much!

Jake ran up the steps that lead to the ramp and then to the spot where the yacht had been docked. When he realized he was too late, that it was gone, he cursed himself and stomped the pier. Searching his mind for conversations and memories of her thoughts, he plopped down on the steps. Did she say where she lived?

Soon, he decided to leave, promising himself that he would not rest until he found her. He would rummage minds for the slight mention of Mrs. Jezze King. As he stood, someone else’s thoughts blurted inside his head. At first he tried to ignore them, not wanting to listen to another person’s problems. But then, he heard something he just couldn’t ignore…

***

Jezze sat at her vanity brushing her hair as she looked at the newly acquired necklace. She sighed. It entranced her as it sparkled in the glistening sun that streamed in through the porthole. Knowing how difficult it would be to part with, it certainly hadn’t been easy to obtain, she had considered keeping it. So exquisite.

She wiped new tears from her swollen eyes. No, the necklace would only remind her of him. Her buyer had already offered a beautiful price, so she would go on as planned. Maybe she would set sail after the transaction and take a much-needed trip.

She had lived on her yacht for over a year, loving the open water, the smell of the sea and the freedom to travel whenever she became restless. If Richard King had not docked his yacht in the same water as hers, her life would be so less complicated. If she had gone on home that night when she heard Jake coming after her necklace, things would have been so less complicated. If she would have just let him take the necklace without trying to seduce it out of him…

She doubted Jake even knew others like him existed, others who had superior control over their gift. She had learned to listen for other mind-readers years before and trained herself to stop her own thoughts at the first sign.

She had been getting ready to go home that night, when she had heard him. Mistaking her for Mrs. King had just been a crazy break; there was a real Mrs. King, somewhere, but it wasn’t her. It had been kind of fun pretending to be the adulteress, instead of the other woman.

Jezze unlatched the necklace from around her neck and put it back in its black box. Stop crying Jezze. This is just how it has to be. She never expected to fall in love with Jake for real. Over the past two weeks she had searched for signs of mutual admiration but found nothing.

“I think you have something that belongs to me.”

She held her breath and swung her attention to the familiar voice. Richard King stood at her door. Lost in her own thoughts Jezze must have missed his. “Sweetheart,” she sang. “I thought you left.” She stood up cautiously. She could certainly read his thoughts now…

Mr. King was a fairly tall man, but the way he stood there, his chest heaving in and out and his teeth clenched, he appeared monstrous as he growled, “Did I not treat you well? Did I not give you enough money for your services?  You were good, but not fifty-thousand dollars good.”

She put her hair behind her ears, feeling the tremor of her hands. “Why are you so upset, handsome? What happened?”

“Don’t play games with me. Give back my necklace, and I’ll be on my way. I don’t want the publicity for being with a woman like you any more than you want jail time.”

“I didn’t steal your necklace. Just leave before I call the cops and have you arrested for trespassing.”

“You bitch!” He raced toward her.

Before Jezze knew what had happened, she was staring up at the ceiling, King’s handprint-sting across her face. He stood over her and drew back his fist.

She tightened her body for the blow, when King suddenly flew across the room and landed on her vanity with a crash. She sat up, tears blurring her view. Jake stood over Richard, daring him to move. They all noticed the necklace at the same time, out of the box and on the floor.

“Don’t even think about it,” Jake told King. “By the looks of you, I don’t think fifty grand is payment enough.”

King sat up, still eyeing his necklace.

Jake continued, “Just collect your insurance, lick your wounded ego, and you’ll be fine. Now get the hell out of here.”

Jezze chose to ignore King’s thoughts of justice and revenge as he walked out the door. She also decided not to focus on what Jake must have thought of her. “Thank you,” she said to him, unable to look him in the eyes. “How did you know where to find me?”

“After I found the Dear John, I came looking for you. I heard King coming after you, and then I heard you thinking. I heard everything… I know everything.”

“Just take it; I don’t want it.”

“I’d rather have you,” he said. “The only thing I heard that matters to me is that you love me.”

She found his sincere stare and listened to the thoughts he fed her. That’s why I was looking for you. To tell you, I love you.

She smiled and jumped into his arms, giving him tiny kisses all over his face until their lips met. After a silent conversation, they separated and began removing their clothes.

“Hey,” Jake said, looking on the floor at the mess from the vanity. “Is that my watch?”

The End

Supernatural Fairy Tales

Supernatural Fairy Tales by Dorlana Vann

Supernatural Fairy Tales eBook will be free May 30 – June 1, 2014.

Fairy tale inspired paranormal short stories.

fairy tale + paranormal element = supernatural fairy tale.

These 9 Supernatural Fairy Tales are not retellings of the original fairy tales but were inspired by them. They are paranormal themed stories about vampires, ghosts, mermaids, witches, and more, in genres ranging from romance to thriller. And fair warning: they don’t always have a happy ending.

The Supernatural Fairy Tale Writing Challenge

Supernatural fairy tales blog banner1

One of the search terms used to find this site is fairy tale story ideas. I’ve been using fairy tales as inspiration for many years. I like using the formula: fairy tale + paranormal element = supernatural fairy tale. Sometimes I even give myself an extra challenge to help inspire me; a certain genre, a picture, fairy tale moral, etc.

Some years ago (about 7) I started a blog called Supernatural Fairy Tales. One of the things I used it for was to challenge myself. At the beginning of the month I would announce my supernatural fairy tale challenge, and by the end of the month, I had my short story posted. As a result I have two fairy tale novels (which were based on my short stories) and over 20 short stories – 9 of which I loved and published as a collection, and lots of poems.

I thought it might be fun to share these story starters with others who are interested in a writing challenge. And where better than where my fairy tale journey began – on my blog, Supernatural Fairy Tales -  which has sat patiently awaiting my return.

There are three number generators: one to pick your fairy tale, one to pick your paranormal element, and one to pick an extra little challenge – just follow the links to your picks and then let your imagination take it from there.

I used it myself and this is my story starter: Fairy Tale: The Fisherman and His Wife – Paranormal Element: Witch/Warlock – Extra Challenge: Genre Steampunk. This ought to be interesting…

Love and Laughter,
Dorlana

The Ghost of Christmas Past Inspired Short Story

Inspired by The Ghost of Christmas Past from the novel, “A Christmas Carol” This one was one of my favorites because I wrote the entire story backwards – line by line – It was my daughter’s idea to write it that way because I was stuck. I also like it because it is my first and only western – and it has a touch of steampunk and ghosts.

The Gift

by Dorlana Vann

Paris, TX 1873

At first Cynthia was afraid to look out the window. She was afraid she would see the ghostly figure out by the horses again, stirring them up, making them run and complain. But she was expecting someone; she had to look.

The speck of hope that the person riding up the path was her husband immediately died away. The man hunched over and rode at a steady pace, like he had all the time in the world. The sudden ominous sorrow she felt was overwhelming.

Cynthia moved away from the window and began removing the supper dishes from the table. As soon as she had set them down, a loud knocking erupted. She smoothed her dress and touched her hair, wishing she had put it up instead of the bowls, and opened the door.

The stranger’s head was down, showing the top of his brown hat.  He was tall and broad shouldered and dirty.  Pistols hung on both sides of his hips. When he raised his head, the smell of whiskey came with each noisy breath. He squinted into the light. “Ma’am, I’m looking for Tommy Two Shot.”

Thomas isn’t here.”

The man frowned and then spit out the side of his mouth, saliva hitting the porch. “Is that so? Well then, when ya expecting him?”

The only reason she didn’t reconsider her decision to ask for his help was because she was more afraid of the ghost than she was of the stranger. Besides, no one who knew Tommy would dare harm his wife. “Mr. Stockton? I’m Mrs. Thomas Garrison. I’m the one who sent for you. Please, come in.”

He wiped his feet, removed his hat and walked into the house but didn’t stop very far past the door. He cautiously examined the room, looking to the fireplace, table, and chairs.

“Daddy! Daddy!” Mary and Annie ran into the room but stopped when they saw the stranger.

A flush of embarrassment raced up Cynthia’s face. “No girls. It’s a friend of your Father’s.”

Mr. Stockton asked, “Where is ol’ Tommy Two—”

“We don’t use that name in our home,” Cynthia said quickly.

He glanced at the girls and nodded. “My mistake ma’am. I mean, where is Mr. Garrison?”

“Girls… go on back to bed now. Annie, help your sister.”

The girls did as they were told and soon Cynthia was alone with the stranger. “Please have a seat.”

When the man sat down, his guns clanked against the chair.

“I’m going to get straight to the point, Mr. Stockton.” She placed a kettle into the fire, moving a stocking that hung from the mantle out of her way. “I have a problem. You see, after my husband left on a business trip…”

“Uh huh.”

“… I’ve had a visitor that I need to get rid of.”

“Killin’ ain’t my specialty.”

“I know.” She turned around and peered at the filthy man who sat across from her. She considered her words carefully, but at the last minute decided it wasn’t the time to beat around the bush. “I don’t need a killer. My husband told me what you do. I need someone who can get rid of a ghost.”

“He told you about that, huh?”

“He told me you had a special ability of some kind.”

“Are you sure it’s a ghost and not some coyote or raccoon? That’s happened before.”

“I’ve seen it out by the horses. It ain’t no coyote. It’s shaped like a man, but I can see right through it. It rattles the horses, scares them silly, and just as it turns its head to look at me… I turn away and hide. I’m afraid if it sees me it’ll come inside. I don’t want it coming inside, Mr. Stockton.” The kettle whistled, and she jumped.

“I’m not sure what your husband told you, ma’am, but I can’t get rid of the devil if that’s what you got. I’ve had a lot of folks wanting me to get rid of the devil.” He laughed and shook his head. “You see, I’m kind of what you call an interpreter. All’s I can do is listen.”

She poured him a cup of coffee and carried it to him, the coffee spilling a little from her shaky hands.

“You have a mighty fine home, Mrs. Garrison.” He took a sip of his coffee. “Real clean.”

The compliment made her feel uncomfortable. The way they lived, always on the move, they didn’t have things like other people, so there was nothing to make things untidy. Sometimes they lived in hotels in town, but it was worse when they had to stay with “friends.” She was grateful that this time they had found an old abandoned house out on the prairie—at least that was what her husband had told her. She didn’t question why it had furniture and a nice fence.

He looked around, nodding. He pointed to the fireplace with his hat. “February is a little late to still have your Christmas up.”

“Shhh. I’m waiting on Thomas so that we can have Christmas as a family,” she whispered. “The girls don’t know Christmas is over. They shouldn’t have to wait much longer. Thomas will be back any minute now.” After the stranger nodded, his eyebrow up, and clicked his tongue, Cynthia stared down at the floor—She knew he didn’t believe her, and she didn’t really have a choice but be straight with him.  “I really don’t know when he’ll be back. I don’t have any money. I swear as soon as he does return…”

“A hot meal would do fine.”

Cynthia cooked. Even though she had to use the remainder of the breakfast food, she wasn’t too worried. Thomas had played it close before but always returned right before all the supplies were depleted. She smiled and thought maybe this was a sign that he would be home soon.

After Cynthia put a plate on the table in front of Mr. Stockton, he dug in like he hadn’t had a meal in a while. She turned away when he started sopping up the eggs with the biscuits, the yellow dripping down his chin as he talked. “I was given this machine by a feller down in San Francisco. Sorta payment for a debt he owed me. I’ve had it for twenty-some-odd years. It’s never failed me. It brings ‘em out all right, and I can hear ‘em. I can’t talk to ‘em, but I can hear ‘em through that machine. Don’t ask me how the dang thing works, cause I don’t know.”

Cynthia wanted to believe that he would be able to help. But what he was saying seemed impossible. Perhaps it had been a mistake. Perhaps Mr. Stockton was crazier than a mad dog and what Thomas had told her about him that night had been a joke, maybe just drunk talk. She shook her head for being such a hypocrite. Most folks would probably think she was crazy, too, for seeing a ghost.

After Mr. Stockton finished his meal and after Cynthia checked on the girls, they walked outside and stood on the front porch.

Mr. Stockton walked from his horse, which was hitched to the porch, to the steps carrying a strange apparatus in his hands. It was round and made of a shiny metal. It reminded Cynthia of a compass. He pulled at a thin stick that came out of the top of it, and it seemed to grow. A strange noise resounded from the thing: a mix of frogs and unknown insects after a heavy rain.

He held it in the palm of his hand and put his arm way up high in the air, walking out into the sandy yard. “If there’s a ghost out here, this will detect it.”

She eased her way down the steps and followed him toward the fenced-in horses.

“Over here, right?” Mr. Stockton asked. “You saw it over here?”

The little machine lit up. Cynthia put her hand over her mouth and looked at Mr. Stockton.

Mr. Stockton nodded, acknowledging her unspoken question.

Like a flash of lightning on a black night, a sudden bright light shook Cynthia to the core. The figure of a man she had watched night after night through her window stood directly in front of her, but this time it was close enough that if she were to reach out, she could have touch him… and close enough that she couldn’t deny what she saw. Cynthia whimpered and her head swooned.

It was Thomas, her husband. He hadn’t come home for Christmas because he wasn’t coming home at all. He was dead.

Thomas didn’t seem to notice them. He walked by and through the gate, as if it didn’t exist. The horses began to move about. He looked over at the house and sighed. The little needle on the machine started twitching and then madly rotated around and around.  His faint voice came out of the machine. “I hope this will be the last time I gotta leave y’all.” In the next instant, the ghost of Thomas (Tommy Two Shot) Garrison disappeared.

Cynthia’s body shook, her worst fear realized in that second. How many times had she worried he wouldn’t come back home? How many times had she worried he would be killed? However, mourning would have to wait. She was now the only one responsible for her family. She wiped hard at her tears, and stood tall. She pressed her lips together before clearing her throat, and through a restrained sob said, “Good bye, Thomas.”

“Are y’all going to be okay?”

“We’ll be fine.” Cynthia gave a confident nod, even though she knew living without a husband would be more difficult than living on the run with an outlaw. “Thank you, Mr. Stockton.”

Mr. Stockton climbed on his horse and tipped his hat. “Ma’am.”  He rode away toward the moon, his saddlebags carrying the same as when he arrived and a trail of dust the only thing he left behind.

Cynthia knew she wouldn’t be afraid if she saw her husband’s ghost again. However, she had a feeling he had left for good, that he’d only come home long enough to give her a Christmas gift: she could stop waiting for him to return. Even though it was one a.m., she went to the room and gently shook Annie and Mary. “Wake up,” she whispered. “It’s Christmas.”

The End

Supernatural Fairy Tales

Supernatural Fairy Tales by Dorlana Vann

The Gift is one of the short stories in my collection

Supernatural Fairy Tales

The eBook only .99 cents on Amazon

fairy tale + paranormal element = supernatural fairy tale.

These 9 Supernatural Fairy Tales are not retellings of the original fairy tales but were inspired by them. They are paranormal themed stories about vampires, ghosts, mermaids, witches, and more, in genres ranging from romance to thriller. And fair warning: they don’t always have a happy ending.

Don’t Take Critiques at Face Value

Don’t Take Critiques at Face Value

After NaNoWriMo, there will be a lot of novel exchanges. So I just wanted to point out a few things I’ve learned about critiques over the years of receiving and giving them. I’ve also observed some really upset writers, and I’ve attended writer groups who only allow positive feedback … which to me, is useless.

Besides these famous quotes,

“The first draft of anything is shit.” ― Ernest Hemingway
“In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” ― William Faulkner
“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” ― Neil Gaiman

I’m sure you’ve heard that you have to develop a thick skin. So what does it mean to have thick skin? For me, I have to remind myself not take the critique at face value nor take them personally. Bad critiques are not the ones that come back with lots of notes; the bad ones are the empty ones that say everything was perfect … because it’s not. (See Hemingway & Faulkner quotes) There’s always something that can be improved.

You want your novel/chapter to come back completely marked up. And the first reaction to getting copy back that looks like someone rewrote your story, is probably going to be either, “I should have caught this; I’m a horrible writer.” or “They don’t know what the hell they are talking about.” Most likely, one of those thoughts, or something similar, will go through your head. Let it. It’s normal, but you have to get over it if you’re going to make your story the best it can be.

After you’ve read over the critique and are finished cursing, think about any notes as a whole. Mull them over. Do you agree with them? If yes, awesome. Do the necessary tweaks. If No, whatever you do, don’t automatically disregard them. If something takes the reader out of the story, makes them stop reading to write a note, something is wrong. (See Gaiman quote) Maybe the comments will give you ideas for a new direction or fill in a gap somewhere else.

On one occasion, I didn’t agree with what a writer friend said about my character’s career choice. After thinking it over, I decided that my friend’s opinion would work great as the character’s father’s opinion on the same subject. This set in motion a lot of other changes too.

Furthermore, If you don’t know why a critiquer/editor changed something, (even something as small as a comma) asked them why they changed it, or look it up. Learn from your mistakes so you don’t repeat them. And guess what? Sometimes even the grammar pros make mistakes. So it is really important that you take control of your story.

But you know what? This is your story, so you can choose not to change anything suggested, and you should look at critiques as such … suggestions. Suggestions you will take into consideration. And as you ponder, also consider that not everyone enjoys reading the same genre, and not everyone knows your style. (I’m guilty of choosing to use incomplete sentences, and I like starting my sentences with conjunctions – these things always get marks. *shrugs*)

Also, remember to thank your critiquer, no matter how crazy you think they are. You asked for the critique, and they used their time (the more marked up the copy the more time they took) to do you a favor.  And if they are a writer, you can get always get them back when it’s your turn to critique. Mwah ha ha!

Love and Laughter,

Dorlana

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