by Dorlana Vann
The hillside mansion was huge, old, and cold and spotless. As soon as Riley stepped inside his childhood home, he felt uneasy. Even though he’d visited many times since he had lived there, it seemed different now, even more eerie than when Mother Gothel was alive.
Lola, his ex-wife, walked in behind him, chomping on a piece of gum. “Why didn’t Poppi come to the funeral?” she asked, looking around as if she felt the same strange vibe he did.
“She’s probably just really upset.”
“Or too busy celebrating.”
Riley frowned, but unable to keep his fake grieving demeanor, he chuckled.
“What are you two doing here?”
Riley and Lola looked up to the landing to where Poppi stood. She then made her descent down the grand staircase. Her long golden hair cascaded over her shoulders to her waist, covering most of the front of her pink robe. “Didn’t take you long, did it?” she said after reaching the bottom step.
“Excuse me?” Riley said lowly, trying to decipher the sarcastic tone of her voice.
“The vultures. Mother told me the family would be here to pick her bones clean before she was even in the ground.”
“We’re here to see you,” Lola said. “We have something we need to tell you.”
“Not now,” Riley whispered. He appreciated Lola’s anxiousness, but he didn’t want to frighten Poppi. Even though his mother was not the best human being, she was all Poppi had known. The situation had to be handled delicately.
“It’s okay, Uncle Riley. Or should I say … Dad.” Poppi raised her eyebrows and gave a satisfactory shrug before walking through a doorway and into the dining room.
“But, how?” Lola’s eyes were wide and wild. “Does she know I’m her mother, too? Or did that old bitter leave me out of the picture again? Because obviously, she told Poppi about you.” Her hands shook as she placed an imaginary piece of loose hair over her shoulder and looked to where Poppi had gone.
The way Lola fidgeted reminded Riley of how they ended up here. How they had lost their only daughter. At the time, he’d explained to Lola that the reason Poppi should go live with Mother Gothel was because they just couldn’t manage financially. It was true enough, he was working two jobs and they didn’t even have a baby bed for Poppi.
But they both knew the real reason: Lola was an addict. She had accepted his decision with quiet yet tearful submission; so thankfully, he never had to express his severe anxiety over the thought of leaving his baby alone with Lola when he had to go to work.
As well as raising Poppi, Mother Gothel offered to help with hospital bills and Lola’s rehab – but there had also been an unknown fine print: their silence as to who Poppi’s real parents were.
But now that the situation had changed, Lola had changed, and Riley hoped that someday they could all be a strange new family.
Lola was now saying, “I bet she didn’t. She hated me. Do you think she did?”
Riley put his hands through his hair. “I know as much as you do.”
“Come on,” she said. “It’s time to tell her everything.”
Riley followed, covering his mouth, as he did, to hide the sudden involuntary smile. Poppi knew. After all the years of pretending, after all the years of wanting to hug his daughter and take her home with him, she finally knew the truth.
The dining room didn’t hold fond memories of his childhood. You will not leave this table until every crumb is removed from that plate. Nevertheless, it had been the only place he had been able to visit his daughter over the years. He had been invited to formal dinners with many guests once a month. Guilt swept over him because Lola hadn’t even been given that. Lola had been invited only during holiday parties; given glimpses of their daughter and the occasional “How are you” conversation.
Poppi sat at the end of the grand table—in Mother Gothel’s chair. She had paperwork out in front of her and a pen in her hand. “Sit,” she said without looking up at them.
“Poppi,” Riley began as he took his seat beside Lola. “Are you all right? You’ve just suffered a loss, and I’m sure finding out about me was a shock.”
“I’m fine,” she said and continued to write.
“Tell her,” Lola whispered to Riley. “Tell her about me.”
Riley cleared his throat, thinking it was the least he could do. “I don’t mean to be blunt, but since you already know about me, I thought perhaps you would like to know about your mother.” Gently he said, “Lola is your real mother.”
Poppi raised her head and squinted as if she were staring into a bright light. “Biologically, I guess, but Mother Gothel was my real mother!”
Lola blurted a sob and made a loud exit from the dining room.
Poppi pointed at the doors with her pen. “What’s with her?”
Riley stared at his daughter, unsure of his next move. “You don’t understand what she’s been through. This has really been hard on her. She loves you very much.”
“I find that doubtful,” the young girl said. “She loves drugs and that’s all.”
“I see. I have no way of knowing what Mother told you about any of this. But Lola has come a really long way over the years. For you.”
“And what about you? You sold me.”
Riley sat back in his chair. Tears of horror gathered in his eyes. “I didn’t sell you. I did what I thought was best. I did what I did because … I love you. It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make in my life.”
“Okay, okay,” Poppi said, waving her hands with impatience. “Whatever. I forgive you. Live and let live.”
“Just forget it. I have. Now, we need to go over a few things.”
Riley wondered how he had missed so much. Maybe his mother had treated Poppi differently than she had him. Poppi was not the result of a strict, mind-controlled, cold childhood. She acted … spoiled. He wasn’t sure, yet somewhere in his mind, he was relieved.
“There is the matter of Mother Gothel’s will. I get the house and ninety percent of the money and you get ten. Okay?”
“I’ll have the lawyers send you a check.”
He blinked several times, trying to clear the confusion from his mind. “The lawyers?”
“You can leave,” she said.
“You’re only fourteen.”
“You can’t live here by yourself. There’s the matter of a legal guardian. The courts will never allow it. If you refuse to live with me, they’ll send you somewhere.”
Poppi huffed. “Too young. I’ve never been very patient.”
“You can come home with me, right now.”
Poppi laughed. “Where you can play daddy—No, I don’t think so.”
“What about your … what about Lola?”
“I’d rather hang myself with my beautiful hair,” she said with sweet sarcasm.
“Well.” Riley took a deep breath. He was about to say something that he never imagined he would ever have to say. “I guess I could move in here with you.”
Poppi stood up and adjusted her robe. She seemed to be thinking it all over. Finally, she said, “All right. You can move in, for now. But don’t try and get paternal with me. This is only to keep the hounds away. Understand?”
He nodded, however he didn’t understand. He hadn’t known what to when he arrived to tell her he was her father, but this … it was strange and upsetting. He was sure Poppi would be in shock, maybe even a little frightened, because Mother Gothel had died. But his little girl was so cynical.
“You can stay in your old room,” Poppi continued. “It is the same as when you left. Bring only what you’ll need for a week because that should do.”
A few hours later, Riley climbed out of his car, suitcase in hand, and cringed at the ominous familiarity of the water induced toad assembly. He had forgotten about their overwhelmingly loud rain songs. The frogs used to keep him up all night—his head under his covers—just waiting for them to jump through his window. Mindful of each footstep, he made his way to the front door.
Instead of letting himself in, like he had before, he knocked. He didn’t want Poppi getting agitated for any reason before he had a chance to show her that he wasn’t a threat.
Finally, someone answered the door, but it wasn’t Poppi.
“May I help you?” a woman in a maid’s uniform asked.
“Riley Gothel. I’m expected.”
The maid led Riley upstairs to his former bedroom. Poppi was right. It looked exactly the way it had when he left years back. He’d tried to get his belongings several times, but his mother told him anything she paid for, stayed with her. He wondered now if that was meant to keep him there; he had split days after his eighteenth birthday.
“Can I see Poppi?” he asked.
“She has retired for the evening. She says she will speak to you at breakfast. 8:00 a.m., sharp.”
Riley sat down on the red quilted bed. He relaxed for a moment, finally acknowledging how harsh the day had been on him. Falling backwards, staring at the familiar ceiling, a shiver ran through him, and he felt like a little boy again. He reached over and snapped off the lamp, immediately wishing he hadn’t. The frogs seemed louder in the dark. But his eyes were heavy and soon he slept.
Riley sat straight up in the darkness. “Who’s there?” Remembering where he was, he reached his hand out to snap on the light but stopped short and inhaled a quick breath. There, beside his bed, stood a silhouette highlighted by the moonlight that seeped in through the tiny holes of the worn drapes.
“The tower,” the female voice said.
Before he had a chance to change his mind, he proceeded with his previous action and turned on the light. No one was there. He looked around the room, noting his door was now open.
As far as he knew, there were only two people in the house with him – his daughter and the maid. He went to the doorway and looked in both directions down the hall. Nothing.
The tower. The east end of the house was a full story taller than the rest, a third floor. The only window pointed toward the forest in the back. From the front of the house, the roof just looked a bit taller.
As a child, he had never been allowed to go near “the tower.” He had been so terrified of his mother, he never did. But his mother was no longer alive.
He kept telling himself he was a man, no longer a child, but it didn’t help much as he walked down the dark corridor. The closer he came to the staircase that led up to the third floor, the more his hands trembled. He shivered and thought about going back to get a jacket, and after thinking he saw someone behind him in the shadows, he considered going back to find a flashlight.
He made it, without incident, to the bottom of the staircase. He gazed up the wooden steps. “Not as monstrous as I remember,” he whispered and proceeded to climb. He arrived at the doorway before he was mentally ready, but he turned the knob anyway. Surprisingly, it was unlocked. The door screeched open. He searched the wall to his right and easily found the light switch.
He really didn’t know what he would see in that room, so there was no real prerequisite for decor or content. But the room was rather odd and out of place. Instead of finding a dusty old attic room with cobwebs and forgotten items, it was sterile and bright. The walls were hospital-white and the floors were clean, smooth concrete. Not a dust bunny in sight.
Noting the kitchen-like atmosphere, he frowned as he walked into the room. There was a stove, a refrigerator, and a large table. Obviously, the table was not for dining. It was neatly cluttered with jars, cylinders, measuring devices, and other strange paraphernalia. He picked up an hourglass shaped tube, its contents blue and thick. And then something caught his eye. He almost dropped the container when he realized Poppi stood by the window watching him.
“Oh, Poppi,” he said, like a nervous child who had been caught with his hand in the forbidden cookie jar. “I didn’t see you. Did you just come in, or have you been here the whole time?”
She wore a blue dress, and her hair was pulled back, revealing a soft face that so resembled Lola. The Lola he had fallen in love with; the young woman that time and circumstances hadn’t had a chance to harm.
She didn’t answer. She turned and looked out the window.
He thought he heard her whimper and instinctively went to her. “Are you all right?” he asked. He wanted to comfort his daughter but knew better than to touch her. “What is it? What’s the matter? Was that you earlier in my room?”
Poppi pointed out the window.
Riley stepped up beside her. The window was broken, the glass below glinting in the moonlight. “Oh my. This is where she fell out the window,” he said. “Wait, that’s not right. I thought they found her in front.”
“She moved the body,” Poppi whispered.
“Who moved her? Did that woman, the maid, did she have something to do with this?”
Poppi turned to face him; her eyes were round, unblinking, and impassive. “Mother Gothel,” she said.
“I know,” he said tenderly. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry about everything.” He began to feel rather uncomfortable—off-nerved. “Maybe we should just talk about this in the morning.”
“At first,” she said, “I didn’t know what happened. She drank this stuff, something from over there.” She nodded toward the table. “And then she jumped out the window.”
“Are you saying Mother Gothel killed herself?”
“No,” Poppi whispered. “She killed me.”
“What the hell are you doing in here?”
Riley jerked his head toward the room’s entrance, where the voice had come from.
Poppi stood at the door, her hands on her hips, her hair flowing down the front of her cozy robe.
He looked next to him, where she had stood before. She wasn’t there. “What? You were just here.”
Poppi shouted, “What the hell are you doing in here?”
Riley wasn’t sure where to begin. Perhaps he had dreamed the entire conversation with his daughter, manifesting a child who needed him. That would have been a nice rational explanation; one he could have gone back to sleep with.
But then the second Poppi appeared out of thin air, wearing the blue dress. She stood beside the Poppi in the robe. “It was so strange,” she said, staring at the Poppi at the door. “I was looking out the window at her broken body, and then I felt as if I was being choked.”
Riley’s chin quivered.
“You are not allowed in this room,” the Poppi wearing the robe said.
The first Poppi looked at Riley. “The next thing I knew, I was here, and she in there.”
“You have no business up here. I’ve told you that a thousand times.”
“Don’t you see her?” Riley whispered.
“Who?” she asked, suddenly anxiously peering around the room. “I think this was a bad idea. I’ll take my chance with the state. I think you should leave. Now!”
Riley began to understand. He didn’t want to, it was too chilling, but it was there. “What is all this stuff?” He walked over to the table.
“How should I know? Mother never allowed me in here.”
The day replayed in his mind. Poppi had acted so strange. She had been behaving just like … his mother. “How could you do this?” Riley asked, his nose tingled as his eyes maddened with tears. “She was your granddaughter.”
“You’re insane,” she said. “Get out before I call the police.”
“Oh, I’m insane, Mother. She told me everything. She’s here … my real daughter. You killed her.” Riley put his hand over his mouth, the pure vulgarity of the moment being realized. “How could you do this?” he finally said.
Mother Gothel lips sneered in self-satisfaction. “You gave her to me to do as I wished. This is your fault.”
“She was your granddaughter.”
“That would mean that you are really my son. You’re not. Someone sold you to me, just like you sold Poppi to me. Unfortunately, you left me before my work was complete. So I needed another body.”
“This is not happening. There has to be a way to reverse it.” He began picking up containers from the table, trying to read the labels through his tear-blurred eyes. “I will not sleep until you are stopped.”
Mother Gothel walked over to the other side of the table. “I will be very mournful over my father’s sudden death. He was so grief stricken over Mother Gothel’s death.”
“Father watch out,” Poppi yelled.
But it was too late, Mother Gothel flung liquid into his eyes that instantly blinded him with pain. He covered his face with his hands as he cried out in agony. The fluid ran down his face, and entered his mouth, and he scratched at his tongue and spit, trying to rid himself of the burning, blistering heat. Then he felt himself being pushed and pushed, and then, ultimately, the feeling of flight hit the pit of his stomach as he fell from the tower.
He opened his eyes. Had it all been a dream? He was standing alone in the tower. But then Mother Gothel, the way she had always been, old and hunched back, appeared, and she was screaming and holding her neck. “Nooo! Look what you did! Look what you did! You stole my body!”
“What?” Riley was lightheaded and heavy at the same time. Being pulled down into the floor but his head felt as if it were being stretch toward the sky.
Mother Gothel came at him, and he put his hands up to stop her. He inhaled a “what the hell” as he beheld small delicate fingers, the nails chipped pink.
He pulled his hands back, staring down at them in disbelief. He looked back up to question Mother Gothel, but she had disappeared.
Poppi appeared in front of him. “That was the same potion Mother Gothel drank before. You must have ingested it.
“No!” Mother Gothel voice came from behind Riley.
“Come now Mother Gothel. All has been set right. I can go now. We can go now.”
“All is not set right! That’s my young beautiful body I’ve been working on for fifty years. That’s mine. Mine.” She appeared in front of him again.
Poppi said, “Thank you, father, for helping me.”
“But I didn’t help. This can’t be happening.” But as he said the words, they sounded like sweet and light as air. Poppi’s voice. He covered his mouth with his hand.
“Don’t worry,” the ghost of his daughter said. “Soon your mind and soul will merge with the body and you can have the childhood you always deserved. The life you deserve.”
And with that, Poppi and Mother Gothel vanished, leaving him all alone.
What had Poppi said? His mind would merge with his body? Then he remembered falling from the tower. He ran and looked out and down the tower’s window. His body was all grotesquely contorted on the ground. It was true; he was dead. But he wasn’t. He was here and thinking and breathing.
He ran over to a mirror, a mirror Mother Gothel had probably used for the same reason.
He stared at Poppi’s face, now his face, licking his ruby lips and pulling his long beautiful blonde hair and wiping the tears from his pretty blue eyes. “It’s not me … but it is me in my daughter’s body. What am I going to do?”
No one was going to believe him. No one would believe this story! They would lock him up. He could never tell anyone what really happened.
He walked down the tower stairs and to his boyhood room in a daze. He picked up his phone and easily found the number. It rang on the other end and was answered with a groggy, “Hello.”
“Mom, it’s me Poppi,” he said softly. “Dad is dead, and I need you.”
They could now be a strange new family.
Poppi was inspired by Brothers Grimm’s Rapunzel from Children’s and Household Tales. Germany: 1812. It is one of the stories from my collection: Supernatural Fairy Tales: fairy tale inspired short stories – available on Kindle and paperback now on Amazon.
by Dorlana Vann
Vivian stood beside of the lake. Her bright hair waved like the water as the wind graciously blew in from the south. She inhaled and then looked down at her newly acquired engagement ring. She had said yes, but she knew that wasn’t what she meant. Everyone had been there, watching them, watching her with anticipated excitement.
And since she did love and respect Scott, she didn’t want to humiliate him by saying no.
But it was just too soon. She didn’t want to marry the first guy she loved. She wanted to experience life and to be free to travel. She hated—for him—that she wasn’t ready to settle down.
She stared at the ring, the massive diamond sparkling in the sunlight. A diamond that must have put Scott back a couple month’s salary. A diamond that said, “You belong to me.” She only wanted to belong to herself. “I wish …”
Vivian sighed wearily before everything seemed to happen at once: a gust of wind, her name softly spoken, and her ring vanished from her finger.
“Oh no!” she cried and dropped to the ground frantically searching. She pulled at the grass, ripping it from the dirt, turning in circles, tears wetting her face and plopping on her hands and knees. She didn’t stop until she had examined every piece of earth the ring could have possibly landed on.
She crawled toward the lake. If her engagement ring had dropped in there, it would be gone forever. How could she tell Scott she wasn’t going to marry him and that she had lost the ring? She placed her filthy hands on her face and cried for herself. Soon her wails could be heard for miles, and her tears had washed her hands clean.
“I can get your ring back,” said a masculine voice.
Vivian gasped and scrambled to her feet, heavy breaths flew from her mouth. But no one was there; nothing but a weeping willow swaying in the wind by the lake, green and lush with early summer. She wanted to run; her thoughtful time by the lake had turned strange. But she couldn’t leave without the ring.
“All I ask in return is but one small favor.”
“I’ve lost my mind,” she whispered as she desperately turned this way and that way, looking again for the speaker.
“I am but a lonesome tree, weeping in the mist of time.”
“Who’s behind there?” She ran around the tree, ducking inside its leaves, searching in the shade and up into the branches. When she made it back to where she had started, she said, “This isn’t funny.” She thought maybe she should go and get Scott; they could come back to look for the ring together. Maybe marriage wasn’t the worst thing that could happen.
“All I ask is seven days of your time whenever I request.” At this, one of the trees branches stretched toward her and would have touched her shoulder had she not jumped back.
She stared up at the tree: breathtakingly beautiful, alive, and sad.
“Just say the word, and your ring will be returned to your finger.”
Vivian was positive that her distraught over losing the ring had caused her to hallucinate. Therefore, it wouldn’t hurt to say okay? And if some extraordinary supernatural event was happening to her—maybe she wasn’t aware that trees could talk because they never had anything to say to her before—what would be the harm in saying yes? It was a tree for goodness sakes, and trees were rooted in the ground.
Her confusion and desperation collected as she cried new tears. “If you get my ring back, I’ll do whatever you want.” When she felt a slight tingle, Vivian immediately looked to her hand, and there her ring sat as if it had never been lost. Without another thought about the tree or her promise, she ran home.
A few months later, Vivian sat at a coffee shop sipping her espresso and writing an e-mail to her mother who lived faraway.
Scott hadn’t taken the breakup very well. He had cried and told her he forgave her but would never forget her, nor would he stop pursuing her. He swore that she would eventually be ready to get married.
She felt a presence and glanced over her laptop and across the table.
“Is this seat taken?” the guy asked. His eyes blazed amazing green, and his facial features were symmetrically perfect.
Vivian could only shake her head, trying not to smile too widely.
“You are not an easy one to find, my dear Vivian.”
“Do I know you?” She closed her laptop.
“You no longer wear the ring.”
“No, it didn’t work out. Are you a friend of Scott’s?”
“I am friends with you.”
“No, I’m pretty sure I would know if you were my friend.”
“We met months ago by the lake. You said you would spend seven days with me if I retrieved the ring.”
“Is this some kind of joke?” But she had told no one about what had happened because she really didn’t believe it herself.
“No joke. You made a promise.”
“I made you that promise?” She put her hand on her face and gently scratched her cheek.
“I am the tree, cursed by the lake many centuries ago.”
“Really? If you’re a tree how is that you sit across from me now?”
“Since you promised to spend time with me, I am temporarily released from the curse of loneliness.”
“So you’re saying that being a tree isn’t the curse.”
“If you go back on your word my roots will go back into the ground, and I will have to endure another century alone. And I doubt if I waited twenty centuries, I would ever find a creature as lovely as you on land, sea, or soaring in the air.”
From that day on, they were inseparable. She spent her mornings listening to him tell of times before her own and spent the evenings wrapped in his arms. She grew to love him from her fingertips to her toes, from the depths of her soul, from there until eternity.
And she also believed him.
On the seventh day, her heart was filled with sadness. Would sitting under his branches be enough for her.
The ceremony was small, just the two of them, and at the place where they had met. As soon as he placed a ring of twine and twigs on her finger, his curse of loneliness vanished.
Two blissful willows swayed in the wind by the lake, green and lush with early summer.
Weeping Lake is one of the short stories from my collection Supernatural Fairy Tales: Fairy tale inspired paranormal short stories. It was inspired by Brothers Grimm’s The Frog Prince from Children’s and Household Tales. Germany: 1812, and the legend of Merlin the Magician.
by Dorlana Vann
When I saw her stretched across the tidy beds,
love’s potent sword struck my heart before I knew
who this lovely stranger was or one word said.
But I remained silent, as I always do.
With one bite, she fell ill on that dreadful day.
In a glass coffin, it hurt to see her lay.
I longed to kiss her ruby lips but froze.
Joy but regret: the prince woke her and betrothed.
Bashful is one of the fairy tale poems in my collection Supernatural Fairy Tales: paranormal short stories. It was inspired by Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
by Dorlana Vann
Poverty breeds greed in a weak soul.
I should have stomped the lad like a pest.
Does hunger justify wickedness?
He was just a boy, not a foul troll.
But now sorrow arrived and grief grows.
No one to cook for or to caress.
Poverty breeds greed in a weak soul.
I should have stomped the lad like a pest.
Husband was cruel, a tyrant, and bold.
But we lived far away from the rest.
In the clouds we made our tranquil nest.
Defending his goods, his only goal.
Poverty breeds greed in a weak soul.
Mrs. is one of the poems in my collection, Supernatural Fairy Tales:fairy tale inspired paranormal short stories and poems. It was inspired by Jack and the Beanstalk by Andrew Lang, The Red Fairy Book. London:1895
P.S. I wrote this poem 8 years ago but couldn’t remember the type of poetry. So today, I had to work backwards by putting the rhyming pattern in Google (ABba abAB abbaA) And discovered that this is a rondel .
Love, Laughter, and Fairy Tales,
by Dorlana Vann
Wink was an elf; lavender was his color.
His world was made up of sunshine and magic.
The sky was ginger, and the trees were scarlet.
All the ladies declared he was most charming.
His kind parents urged him to settle down
And to carry on his name and his beauty.
He was set up with a girl with no beauty.
Snow was sweet but lacked significant color.
Wink spent the difficult night with his eyes down.
Wishing Snow would change by way of white magic.
The more she spoke the more she did seem charming.
If only she were pink or lovely scarlet.
Suddenly the sky turned an evil scarlet.
If this was a trick it sure was a beauty.
Wink tried saying something funny and charming.
But he was nervous by this change in color.
Brilliant radiance beamed from this strange magic.
Wink and Snow thought their Heaven was falling down.
Wink woke with no idea of what went down.
He didn’t smell the sweet fragrance of scarlet
Flowers. And didn’t see his world of magic.
And the girl, Snow, was gone along with beauty.
There were trees and grass, but not the same color.
Nothing about this new strange place was charming.
People laughed, but not because Wink was charming.
He was different and strange, and they looked down
at him. Wink was a very bizarre color.
His face was no longer purple but scarlet.
This made him think just what he thought of beauty.
He longed for his homeland that was so magic.
As if by way of magnificent magic,
That which he thought before as only charming
Was now what he would define as real beauty.
Snow, as white as pure splendor, was walking down
the road. But would her expression be scarlet?
After all, she did fit this new land’s color.
Her words were soft magic, “Dear Wink. Why so down?
“I’m no longer charming.” His eyes burned scarlet.
She said, “Beauty is not defined by color.”
Wink is one of the poems in my collection, Supernatural Fairy Tales: fairy tale inspired paranormal short stories and poems. It was inspired by the short story Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving from The Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. England:1819 and Beauty and the Beast (French: La Belle et la Bete) by Jeanne Marie Le Prince de Beaumont. France: 1756
P.S. The sestina is my favorite type of poem to write. They have 6 stanzas, repeating 6 words at the end of each line in a certain order. And it ends with a 3 line envoi, using one of the words inside and one at the end. They are so much fun and a great writing challenge.
by Dorlana Vann
Cinders on your face and hands, so you said.
Instead of supper you were sent to bed.
No one to play with—No huge castle walls.
Dined on the cold floor like one of the dogs.
Every day, I must hear your sad stories.
Really Mother, they are getting boring.
“Eleanor,” you start, “you are so very blessed.
Living the sweet life of a spoiled princess.”
Let me live it and make my own mistakes.
And you’ll see mirth is not an evil trait.
Dear Mom is one of the poems from my collection, Supernatural Fairy Tales. It was inspired by Cinderella, or The Little Glass Slipper by Charles Perrault containing Stories or Tales from Times Past, with Morals, with the added title in the frontispiece, Tales of Mother Goose. France: 1697
by Dorlana Vann
“All black doesn’t suit you,” Dominick said. “I think you should choose softer more delicate colors.”
“Delicate?” I said. “Seriously, do I look delicate?”
He grinned like he had me all figured out.
“Tuh … You are such an idiot.” When I spun to leave his presence, he grabbed hold of my arm. I didn’t turn around, but I didn’t pull away either.
“I want you to come to my Halloween party.” He placed a piece of paper in my hand. Finally, after I didn’t answer, he let me go.
I walked down the hall, not looking back until I was about to turn the corner. The bastard was still there, stationary, as the student body seemed to move around him at an accelerated speed. Our eyes remained locked, until a wall replaced my view.
“You should stay away from him,” Amanda, my stepsister/cousin/shadow from hell said. My mom died a year ago, and my aunt— her only sister— moved right in. Two months later, she became my stepmom. My dad died three months after the wedding. I guess he realized that just because Aunt Molly looked exactly like my mom, she couldn’t replace her. I still hate him for it.
“Who?” I asked after I realized I hadn’t out-walked her yet.
“You know who. I saw you talking to him, again.” She cleared her throat and lowered her voice. “I’ve been hearing a lot of stuff about him. Mom would freak.”
“Everything from he’s creepy to he’s fresh out of juvie for murder.”
“Oh, please, this school is so stupid. It’s like no one has ever seen an emo kid before. Besides, he just invited me to some lame Halloween party tonight. He’s not that bad.”
“Mom will never let you go.”
“Grow up,” I said as I turned and went inside my classroom. But at that moment I knew I had no choice but to go, or more like, it gave me an excuse to. I didn’t want to socialize with anyone, but Dominick made it difficult for me to stay mad at the world.
Amanda stood next to Molly, my aunt/step mom/guardian from hell, with a look of, You’re in trouble now—combined with a dash of—Maybe I shouldn’t have told on you. I had to remember that Amanda was used to being a finger-pointer; she had been since I could remember. I also knew that she wasn’t like the other girls her age. For some reason, she seemed to be maturing at the rate of 2:1. When we had lived apart, I could handle her. But now that her tattling neared constant, she really got on my nerves.
“Stella … Pumpkin,” Molly said. “Can we talk?”
My skin crawled at the word pumpkin—my dad used to call me that. I exhaled and dropped my book bag where I stood and then walked over to the couch and plopped. At least it had become a little easier to look at Molly. Her and my mom could have been twins. She even stood the same way my mom did when she became upset: one hand on her hip and the other one fidgeting with her face. I guess I could see how my dad, who loved my mom to no end, could get pulled in so easily.
“I heard about the party,” she said.
“Big surprise there.” I glared at Amanda.
Amanda examined her pink fingernails.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea. Amanda tells me that this guy, Dominick, is bad news. After everything that has happened this year, I think maybe it would be best not to associate yourself with the type of people that might lead you into adolescent …”
I tuned her out at that point. Six months, and I would be out of there. She could have the house. She could have everything. Everything that had been important to me had already been taken away.
“Go to hell,” I said after she had finished her spiel, and then I went to my room.
I didn’t answer the knock at my door because I figured it was just Molly checking to see if I had climbed out my window yet. The door handle moved. Crap. I had forgotten to lock it.
She poked her head in. “Can I talk to you for a moment?”
“Go away,” I said through the muffle of my pillow.
I felt the bed move when she sat down. Didn’t she get it? Didn’t she get that the very sight of her made me want to throw up – made me want to die.
Molly sighed and then said, “I used to be so jealous of her. I had straggly hair and this enormous mole on the tip of my nose.”
I really didn’t want to look at her, but she left me no choice. I didn’t remember any mole.
“I had it removed. That’s why I removed Amber’s, so she wouldn’t have to go through what I went through. But still, she seems to be going through a lot of the same awkwardness. You remind me so much of your mom. She was a beautiful teenager, a cheerleader … and the school’s vice president, and the captain of the debate team. Me? Just her strange older sister, in love with the star football player. Your father.”
“Look, this isn’t helping,” I said and got off the bed she contaminated.
She exhaled. “They didn’t even know each other at the time. Me and your dad were seniors and in a lot of the same classes. He was nice to me, and I fell hard. I was so confused because it wasn’t anything like the fairy tales I had read. I physically hurt for him. I wanted to tell him how I felt, but I couldn’t. I know he wouldn’t have laughed at me, but I was afraid I would look in his eyes and see pity. I couldn’t bear the thought of him not talking to me, either. Complete agony.”
I heard the sorrow in her voice and the tears at the edge of each word. But I felt nothing but disgust. Still, something kept me listening …
“When I graduated, I was finally able to put him out of my mind. Out of sight out of mind, until that next year. Your mom brought home her new boyfriend that she had met in college.”
“Oh, wait,” I mumbled. “Let me guess. My dad?”
“Yes. I never told either one of them. Never told a soul … until just now. “
“Well, you didn’t waste any time going after him.”
“It wasn’t ugly. That’s what I want you to know. That’s why I’m telling you this. I don’t want you to hate me, or your father. I wanted you to know that I had loved him for a very long time.”
Molly’s undying love confession didn’t keep me in the house. Surprisingly, she didn’t take my keys but just assumed that I would be a good little girl and stay put like I was told.
I stood at the end of the sidewalk looking up at the house that sat on a hill. The moon shone down giving it an old school horror movie castle appearance. I laughed but reread the invite Dominick had given me to confirm the address.
As I walked up the steps, a couple of girls dressed in skimpy fairy costumes passed by me. “Invitation only? How lame,” the one girl said.
I nervously approached, a little worried because I wore regular clothes. The invitation did say Costume Ball. Costume Ball. I thought maybe I should have picked a different party to go to; one of those where the kids had given out flyers saying B.Y.O.B.
The vampire at the door didn’t check my invitation; he just nodded as I walked by. When I stepped into the foyer, the faint sound of orchestra music teased my senses, but I should have known better than to expect silly Halloween songs and sounds.
A grand carpeted staircase rose a few feet in front of me, and the gaudy antique-looking chandelier that hung from the lofty ceiling probably cost more than my car. I stood for a second wondering in which direction to go, finally deciding to follow the newly arriving guests.
We walked through a room with table after table of food and drinks and then down a dimly lit corridor with old paintings. The classical music grew louder as we approached a doubled-doored entry.
As the doors swung open, the music whisked my hair back as it flowed out of the room on a breeze. Then the music abruptly stopped with a screech. Everything stopped, except for my heart that I hadn’t noticed, until then, had gained beats per minute.
There must have been two hundred people in that room, all looking at me through their masks. The men wore long black masks that seemed to be glued to their faces, while the women held their colorful, feather adorned ones on long sticks against their eyes.
The women wore elegant floor-length gowns, and the men were in black tuxedos; just like the guy at the door who I had assumed had dressed as a vampire.
I had obviously walked into the wrong party. I wanted to apologize for interrupting, however, my embarrassment made me speechless. I turned to make a quick exit but stumbled over my gown.
The long white dress sat low on my shoulders, tightened unmercifully around my waist and then ballroomed out to the floor. I squeezed my eyes together, hoping that when I opened them again, my delusions wouldn’t soon include the ghosts of my parents.
My eyes opened when a sudden gust of wind just about lifted me off the floor. I became completely nauseated by the change of scenery. Straight back chairs filled the room and were divided by a center aisle. The guests were now all sitting down, but still faced me, silent, and with their masks still pressed against their faces.
When I felt something tug at my dress, I turned around, and there were three little girls holding the train of my dress like it was a wedding dress.
Obviously, I was having a nightmare.
“Stella.” The echo seemed to travel from the back of the room and then reverberate loudly when it reached my ears. This sent a new sensation up my spine and around my neck that made me quiver. Ready to scream, I held my breath as I turned to face whatever came next.
Dominick stood right in front of me, but he didn’t look the same as he did in school. He wore formal attire like the rest of the crowd. And instead of his normal long straight hair that almost completely covered his eyes, he had it slicked back, which made him look a lot older. Oh yeah, and a lot hotter. So gorgeous I almost relaxed at his smile.
He said, “I knew you would come.”
“What’s going on?” I said through my teeth.
“Don’t be afraid.” He held out his hand.
I stared at him for a few seconds until finally forcing my eyes away so I could look around and remember. “If this is your idea of a joke …” Some joke though—the dress, all the people. “… it’s not funny.”
“I know this is strange but let me explain and then you will see how this is meant to be. Since your birth, your mother’s birth, her mother’s birth on up five generations, this has been your destiny. We are betrothed. We must wed and then consummate our marriage before midnight so that my son will carry on my name. My time has come to an end. After midnight, I will be dead. But before I leave, I must pass on my powers. You are the only one in the world who has the right combination of genes for this to succeed.”
“Right …” Well, my brooding finally attracted someone completely insane. And then thankfully, I noticed Mike Cole from 6th period. “Oh, you guys can’t trick me so easily.” I walked over to him and snatched the mask off his face. I gasped and took a step back. Not him. This guy’s face was cruelly cratered and monstrous. “I’m sorry.” I backed away and bumped into Dominick with a gasped.
“Don’t be afraid. Soon, you will be mistress of all of this. And all of them, your loyal servants.”
“That’s a generous offer, really, but I’ve got to go. People know I’m here. Wait, was that a knock at the door?”
The band started up again. I recognized the song: The freaking Wedding March. I don’t think so. I turned so abruptly that I knocked down one of the train-holding little girls, and I was so upset, I didn’t care. I tried to run. But even though I held up the dress the best I could, I stumbled and lost a shoe—high-freaking-heels that I didn’t put on when I left my house.
I was almost to the doors when I heard death curdling screams. I spun around. Like an old cowboy movie, Molly and Amber were at the back of the room with nooses tied around their necks. The tips of their toes were on stools, their mouths gagged, and their hands bound behind their backs.
I charged back down the aisle, but before I reached them, several men jumped up from their seats to hold me back.
My situation had become a little clearer, even though it made no sense at all.
“Do I have your attention now?” Dominick said.
I took one of those double-takes when I looked at him. His hair, that had been dark brown, had turned completely white. I couldn’t take my eyes off him because it seemed like I was watching really good movie special effects as his hair began to move up his head, slowly revealing skin. His ears and nose were bigger than I remembered, and wrinkles formed around his mouth and eyes. “What are you?”
“My name is Dominick Hamsphere. I am a 200-year-old warlock. My time in this realm ends at midnight, but I must plant an heir to carry on my name and to inherit the family wealth and power.”
Did he say 200 years old? “Gaa-ros.” I had been seriously attracted to him. “You have the wrong girl. I don’t know anything about any of this.”
He smiled, showing black rotting teeth.
My stomach churned.
“I have been following your line for five generations. I would have preferred to have met you last year, so I could have spent more time getting to know you. Unfortunately, I lost track of your grandmother when she moved to the states. I found you just in time.” He held out his hand, his fingernails beginning to curl with length. “I’m offering you marriage before the honeymoon because I am a gentleman. However, I do have a deadline.”
“You’re crazy! I’m not marrying you.”
He turned his head toward Molly and Amber. “Which one has to die before we get started?”
Hot tears streamed down my face as I looked up at them.
Amber sobbed, and Molly’s eyes were wide with horror. At that moment, I knew Molly feared for me too, not just for Amber. My mind became clearer than it had been in months. I knew what I wanted. I knew what was important. Annoying, yes, and everything that had happened over the past year didn’t automatically erase. But they were family. The only family I had left.
“Just let them go first,” I whispered. “Then I’ll do what you want.”
With a wave of his hand and a warm wind, they were gone. Now all I had to do was figure out how to get out of there way before midnight.
“I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride.”
I didn’t want to move my attention away from the masked guy who had married us. But I knew I had to. Slowly, I turned my head.
Dominick’s appearance scared the tears right out of my eyes. I couldn’t hold back the whimper. I could see his cheek bones through his thinning skin. He was completely bald, except for one tiny section on the right side of his head. Where his lips had been before, only huge ugly teeth. I squeezed my eyes together as tight as I could so not even light would influence my vision. With a grimace, I puckered.
I felt something graze my mouth and then the atmosphere sounds distorted. I knew my surroundings were different, even before I opened my eyes.
I stood in a cold bedroom wearing the clothes I had arrived in, blue-jeans and a black t-shirt. I didn’t see Dominick, so I ran to the door. Of course, it had been locked from the outside.
Then I heard him say, “Stella,” with his teenaged voice. I turned my head slowly, and there he stood, dressed as he did at school, looking at me through his intensely dark eyes.
“I don’t want you to be frightened,” he said. “I’ve saved my last bit of energy, so I would be beautiful in your eyes. This is what you like, right?” He glided over to me. His skin looked silky white smooth. “I couldn’t ask for a more perfect bride. You look just like your mother, and her mother before that. It is amazing to see how your beauty has progressed through the years. I was a little taken back the first time I saw you, and a little concerned that you had removed the mark that represents your heritage. I can understand the temptation, but you would have looked beautiful with a hundred moles on your face.”
“Moles?” And when did he meet my mom? I began to laugh. I felt drunk with terror and the ridiculousness of the night “Do you think Molly’s my mom?”
Dominick looked at me with a curious smile that slowly became a curious frown.
“Hmmm …” I mocked. “Boy, did you screw up. Molly’s my aunt, not my mom. They had the moles. You thought I was Amanda!” I threw my hand over my mouth, wishing I could take my words back.
Suddenly, the window crashed inward, and a furious wind swept through the room. Dominick’s appearance changed in an instant, and he stood before me more hideous and post-grave like than he did before. The realization that he had redirected his powers to summon Amanda seared from the top of my head down into my stomach. I couldn’t let that happen.
I charged the old witch before he knew what hit him. His frailness lent no resistance as we rushed the window and fell two stories. I felt him crush beneath me.
So much for Midnight.
Midnight is one of the short stories from my collection: Supernatural Fairy Tales. It was inspired by Cinderella, or The Little Glass Slipper by Charles Perrault containing Stories or Tales from Times Past, with Morals, with the added title in the frontispiece, Tales of Mother Goose. France: 1697