13 comments

Drama Romance Thriller

Carelessly, she picked her way through the graveyard, placing spiteful flowers in the hands that outstretched to touch her. With a smile, she sidestepped the skeletal grasps, playing a wondrously infuriating game with the man she might’ve loved. She wouldn’t let them drag her back. Not yet. After all, she still had a week or so, the frost teasing and taunting her wilting blossoms. It was beautiful, in it’s strange, frozen way. Lilies with their heads bent down, heavy with ice-laden skirts. Flowers from a tree beginning to twirl lazily off their branches, coming to rest on cold cement. All around her, the world began to slip into its winter clothes, the bass guitar of spring fading into the classical violin of winter. She was racing against the frost and the clock, making flowers sprout anywhere there was a bit of spare room. He’d locked her in a battle of jeering frost and testy flora; quite a sight to the innocent passerby. She knew her time was running out when the gifts showed up. Gifts. He still acted like they were courting, which she supposed they were, in a sense. A scoff left parted lips, suntanned hands gingerly unwrapping the package. He’d always been a romantic. 

    The usual came first. A ruby, shining pomegranate, almost swollen with juice. An inside joke, of all things, something specially callous to the both of them. She peeled and bit into it, letting the blood of the fruit stain first hands, then knife, then lips. Exactly three days passed until the mailman knocked on her door and asked her to sign for a package, the pen practically bleeding black ink. The parcel contained nothing but a woven chain, silver, and weighted heavily by a diamond the same hue as the ice that choked her flowers. After that, they came daily, her signature gracing form after form, the ink turning a curious red the second it dried. Each day, she saw winter gently shove spring back into its place in the calendar. Each day, another brown-paper package.

An owl feather, a black-edged dagger. An ornate helmet from a soldier far gone, it’s blue-black plume standing just as stiffly as the day it had been made. A bone hairpin, the etchings depicting agony and death. Or course. Each was beautiful, sure. But all of it was cold and lifeless, lacking the sunshine-warmed colors that she longed for. More gifts came, and she let them stack in a staggered heap by her coffee table, some of them unwrapped on the days she decided to be angry at him. They filled her cabin, carelessly left on the coffee table, couch, anywhere where she could fit them. It got to the point where she knew the mailman by name, as well as the names of his wife and kids. A walk. A package. Black ink drying red. Twine and scissors. Frost and lilies. Round and around the cycle went, the number of the calendar climbing higher and higher. His taunts grew stronger as her flora grew weaker, brown paper filling her trash. She was already pushing the seasons, yet she knew it was the last day when the rose came. 

It was a shimmering, well-cut piece of glass, each detail accounted for. Every vein in every leaf shone translucent, the glass textured into a swirling pattern in each petal. Instantly, she felt almost homesick, her lovely log cabin suddenly feeling like a shell without her lover. The rose. He’d given her one the day she dove into the pits of hell and decided she wanted to stay. It was of her, yes. But it was also of him, their two mismatched personalities colliding into a blue fire that could’ve been love. Would’ve been love. Even so, it was missing the fragility and flexibility of a real flower. The vulnerability of true love. She’d been a fool to fall. Both of them knew that. But even so… they were one. Star-crossed lovers doomed only by her own stubbornness.

 A note was tied to the glass stem, his neat and orderly handwriting scrawled across a thin, weathered strip of paper. A steely smell filled the air, and it took her a second to place it, homesickness crashing over her the second she did. He’d sprayed the paper with his cologne, the ink bleeding slightly, the edges dyed red. 

Come home.

    Her eyes skimmed the lettering, nonexistent frost creeping up her back the second she finished reading. Her face felt made of porcelain, the small smile that had come with the gift instantly fixed, painted over pained lips. A wave of anger shattered the mask of fragile happiness, psychedelic flowers sprouting out of the cracks between the floorboards. The fauna and flora from thousands of regions had taken control of her small log cabin, the flame in the fireplace burning hotter from her fury. Her arm moved without her comprehending, dashing the glass rose against the brick wall, heart reveling in the tension before the shatter. Pieces of sparkling transparency fell to the floor like angels from grace, clinking musically down the wall. Already, she could see his set lips, sharp eyes, and dark skin, each aspect of him precise and calculated. The smell of cold hung around him like an aura, black suit immaculate and matte, a silver tipped cane accenting the sterling ring on his hand, the hand that had placed a matching ring on her own. Homesickness boiled over in her heart, cooling the anger in her gut. It hit her that she thought of him as home. A band of cold stung on her finger, a cut from the glass bleeding just above their wedding band. Blood and silver faded into each other, a deep and aching loneliness cutting through the air. A sudden need filled her, and she dropped to her knees, searching among the vines and glass for the note. It was there, a bit torn now, but still bearing the cold-steel smell she knew and loved. Come home, huh?

Her boots clicked down the winding iron stairs, the world fading into the dead of winter above her. The Iron Queen  had returned.

January 05, 2021 05:07

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13 comments

Michael Boquet
04:54 Jan 26, 2021

Wow, love this story. Awesome to see things from Persephone's perspective but with your own twists thrown in. Very Madeline Miller. I also love your use of language. I could see everything you described clearly in my head. Maybe I just missed something, but I don't understand how this story fits the prompt. It's well written regardless. I wrote my first romance for my submission this week. I had a good time reading yours.

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Anjali Goel
18:48 Jan 20, 2021

Copying the other comments here, but absolutely stunning imagery. The one tiny thing I might suggest is breaking your first paragraph up into smaller (perhaps even single-sentence) paragraphs. That giant block of text was a little hard to digest at first. Splitting it into smaller paragraphs might allow the reader to take a breath between your rich sentences (if that makes any sense). But. It's a really beautiful story.

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Cassandra Durnin
19:21 Jan 20, 2021

Thank you for your feedback! Now that I’m rereading it, it does seem giant, but I sadly can’t split it because it’s already been cemented into Reedsy. I’ll be sure to fix my personal copy of it though!

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14:22 Feb 22, 2021

IrOn QuEeN. So fun to say...

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Cassandra Durnin
18:05 Feb 22, 2021

If I couldn’t fit Kore in there somewhere, I was definitely going to fit one of her other names in there! Can’t blame me for having a slight obsession with mythology ;)

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01:34 Feb 23, 2021

I do, too, but I can't ever write one that doesn't descent into insanity and madness and vortexes of death, so, yeah.

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Cassandra Durnin
03:17 Feb 23, 2021

I do believe I’ve found a kindred spirit in you.

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16:08 Feb 24, 2021

Wow! There aren't many people like me, so... I try lots of different genres but I'm not very good at anything but fantasy...

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Radhika Diksha
11:46 Jan 29, 2021

Shout out writer Fearless Fox https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/author/fearless-fox/ Rachel Sundar https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/author/rachel-sundar/ Shout out story https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/contests/76/submissions/50251/ These are the shout out writers of the week. Oasis members please update your bio and give your feedback to these people.

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Anna Smith
20:24 Jan 25, 2021

I liked this a lot! It was a great twist on mythology, and the imagery definitely was really well done. Great job!

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Daniel Gillis
10:08 Jan 14, 2021

I really loved it! So much good imagery and I related quickly with the character so now I'm left hungry for the rest of the story.

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JASON PARKER
23:55 Jan 13, 2021

A brilliant piece, Cassandra. Lines like: "Lilies with their heads bent down, heavy with ice-laden skirts" are just perfect. The premise is excellent and the last line is the gut-punch that makes me want to read more of your work. : )

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Beth Connor
21:51 Jan 12, 2021

beautiful imagery, great story.

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