The Fire In Her Heart (E)

Submitted into Contest #227 in response to: Write a story where someone shares a cup of hot chocolate with a friend.... view prompt


Christmas Fantasy Friendship

Linnie Longley

beloved daughter of Martin and Mira Longley

(buried between them by wish)

age. ~ 270 days


Wynter laid the chrysanthemums gently down in front of the grave. The snow was soft but crumbled under them, like cold, crisp silk. She sighed, wishing Linnie had lived to see the fête. None of the Stars ever saw the winter.

I'll change it. Someday I'll change it. Someday... She tried to turn her thoughts away. If she couldn't convince herself that it was possible, how could she convince anyone else? A single tear fell, making a small hole in the snow.

Wynter heard footsteps and knew that one of her sisters had followed her.

''I thought I'd find you at family graves, with those pretty chrysanthemums you were carrying'' Summer sounded mystified. ''But no-ones died recently. Only the Sta-ars," her voice faded as she realised. "You made friends with a Star?

Wynter turned away and tried to ignore her sister. She's just trying to bait you. Summer was the only Star-hater she knew - they'd had this argument so many times before.

"Why did you bother leaving flowers and a Star's grave? They always wither. It's a waste of good chrysanthemums." Don't rise to it. "Anyway, you know she just stuck around because it was cool to be seen around an Ever."

"No." It was the grave that made her say it - she couldn't sit there by Linnie's grave and not defend her. "She didn't. She liked me!"

"She liked you because you were useful. She needed someone young and willing to help her around when she got old. And you filled the role."

Wynter couldn't stop another tear falling.

Summer softened. "All I'm saying is that you were better than her, Wyn. You deserved a better friend." She bent down to spread the flowers over the grave.

"No, I didn't!" Wynter stumbled. "I mean - I mean she was a great friend. What's wrong with being a Star? She couldn't help being one - anyway," she glanced at a nearby grave with fresh flowers laid gently down, "Spring had a Star boyfriend." Silence.

She couldn't back down now, much as she regretted saying it. "Fresh snowdrops," she added with a verbal shrug, trying not to make it a big thing. Summer didn't turn round to look.

"Let's - just get back to the fête, okay?" She offered her hand. Wynter took it, pretending not to see it shake, and they walked away from the graves of chrysanthemums and snowdrops.

When they reached the lake, Autumn was there, doing figures of eight around the evergreen trees as she waited for them. "Come on girls, there's a show on!" she shouted.

Wynter and Summer slipped into their skates and joined Autumn on the ice. She led them to the show, where they found Spring with their Grandmamma and parents, and sat down next to her as the show began.

"Tell Autumn she's an idiot," hissed Spring. "I didn't want to be loaded with babysitting. Wynter nodded, and diplomatically said nothing to Autumn

"I'm sorry, I told Summer about you and -" Wynter remembered the snowdrops and decided not to continue. Her sister opened her mouth to say something then closed it, and Wynter regretted saying anything. She turned her attention to the show.

It was a magic show, featuring a man (little more than a boy, but he would have to be) changing the colour lights on a Christmas tree. Any other time Wynter would've enjoyed it but something else demanded her attention.

There was a girl standing on the island by a tree, with an expression of wonder and awe on her face. Wynter puzzled over that expression. She was about her own age, so it couldn't be the show that she was regarding with awe. And she wasn't touching the tree.

Another thing struck Wynter. She didn't recognize the girl.

She got up and skated to the island; her family didn't notice her leave. The girl didn't notice her either until she was right behind her.


"Hello." Mishka whirled away from the show. A girl stood in front of her, white-haired and blue-eyed, about her age. Mishka turned around to see if anyone was behind her.

"You're not a star, are you?" The girl asked. "You would've burned up by now." The girl must have been talking to her. Mishka smiled nervously, and opened her mouth to say Of course I'm not a star. Can't you see I'm human? But nothing came out, and instead she sighed silently. She'd thought it would be different here.

Then Mishka realised what else the girl had said, you would've burned up by now, and she tilted my head.

The girl scowled. "Oh, you're one of those people. Withered, then." Mishka looked down at the snow by her feet - she'd thought that maybe she had finally found somewhere where she would be treated normally. Unshed tears clouded her eyes.

"Why don't you say something?" The girl added impatiently. "You're not an Ever, I've never seen you before. So what are you?"

What's an Ever? Mishka wanted to say, but instead she shivered. It was so cold, but she'd only just noticed it.

The strange girl was instantly apologetic. "Oh I'm so sorry you should be in the warm come with me do have anywhere to go can you skate?" she spouted, and Mishka grinned at her, first shaking then nodding her head. The girl handed her some ice skates and she put them on, thinking how nice it was for someone to take her seriously again - to care.

Mishka tied the skates tightly and pushed herself off onto the ice. For a moment she lost myself, forgetting the girl and just enjoying ice skating again.

Then she turned back and found the girl waving energetically, a sort of Come Back signal. Mishka blushed and was quickly by her side.

"Don't skate off without me," she said. "Would you mind lending me your arm to lean on? I only have one pair of skates. I can show you my family, and you can come home if you want."

Mishka glowed. Of course she want to go to the girl's house! She wanted to say. She'd never been to a friend's house before - friend? She had a friend!

Eventually they were by the girl's family, and Mishka looked them over shyly. Parents, a grandmother, and three sisters, all a little older than her. Their faces were similar but their hair was all different colours - Mishka's friend's hair was white, but her sister's hair was light brown, blonde and auburn.

Mishka smiled at them anxiously. Please like me she pleaded in her head, please like me please like me.

Meanwhile, her friend asked her parents if she could come home with them. Please say yes.

"If she wants to, of course she can." The mother smiled at Mishka, who couldn't stop a grin filling her face. Someone was treating her like a person.

"She doesn't talk," her friend said, and the grin disappeared. Did she need reminding?

After a quick removal of skates and a short walk, they were at the house. Mishka's friend immediately ran up the stairs and came back with paper and a pen. She handed it to Mishka.

"Here, write with this if you want to talk," she said. "You can understand us, can't you?"

Mishka looked at the pen in her hand, then at the family. No-one had ever given her paper to express herself on. She smiled. Yes, I can understand you. I go to school in England, she wrote, adding Thank you.

My name is Mishka. What are your names? She asked. It felt odd to ask a question in words again.

The girls introduced themselves. Mishka's friend was called Wynter, and Mishka tried to remember the sisters by their hair - Summer had blonde hair, Spring had light brown, Autumn had auburn. Mishka wondered if it was coincidental; surely it was too lucky to have four daughters, each with the right colour hair?

Where am I? She wrote. She couldn't see why she hadn't asked before.

The sisters all opened their mouths, but Wynter answered first. "Millflower. England," she added, seeing that 'Millflower' meant nothing to Mishka.

England? It can't be. It should be summer. None of them seemed as surprised as Mishka felt.

''What was happening before you came here?'' One of the sisters (Spring, Mishka thought.) said.

I was on a train. Then I was in the snow. Mishka remembered wishing that life could be different - that people wouldn't treat her like an animal just because she couldn't talk. Then - she was here, wherever 'here' was, being treated like a real person.


Wynter looked at her sisters. They shrugged. She looked at her parents. They shrugged too.

''You're... on another world.'' She dived in - then wished she hadn't; she thought Mishka would burst into tears.

''But,'' she continued, trying to think of some way to cheer the other girl up, ''we know exactly how to get you back.'' She hoped she sounded confident enough to convince her friend.


"Of course! You just have to wait until tomorrow midnight..." Wynter's sisters looked at her, bemused. She glanced at Mishka, and, seeing her busily writing, made a cut-throat action at her sister's. Keep quiet, she wanted to say, I'm trying to cheer her up.

Mishka finished writing and showed them. Thank you so much. Am I allowed to say that I like you?

Wynter read it, then re-read it. Silently, she enveloped Mishka in her biggest hug, then stepped back, smiling. Mishka looked surprised for a moment then grinned back.

"Stay here," Wynter said. "I'll make you some hot chocolate and Summer," she glared at her sister, who seemed about to protest, "will find you some clothes."

Thank you, Mishka wrote, and showed it to Summer as they went upstairs to the girls' shared bedroom. Summer huffed and complained as they ascended, but once they were up Mishka discovered she was actually quite good-natured.

Summer looked down at the smaller girl's clothes. ''It was summer, right? Because otherwise your clothes make absolutely no sense at all. They make no sense anyway, but I'm allowing for otherworld fashions.''

She caught Mishka's expression and smiled. ''I know what you're trying to say. If you were forced to wear them, that makes sense. School?'' Mishka nodded. ''Okay. Now that's sorted, that's my drawer.'' She pointed. ''Wear anything you like from there, and remember it's cold outside.'' She flopped onto her bed and picked up a book.

Mishka smiled gratefully and began searching the drawer. After she had changed, Wynter appeared with two mugs of hot chocolate, and sat down at the end of Summer's bed.

Mishka took hers cautiously, and smelt it. It smelt like normal hot chocolate, but she didn't know how different it could be on this other world.

"Just drink it, you snowflake,'' Wynter said, laughing. Mishka tried to laugh with her, and quickly took a sip to cover up her failure. It tasted odd, but good. Cinnamon-y with traces of chilli and paprika.

''Hi girls, can I come in?'' It was Autumn. Wynter moved over to make room for her, nudging Mishka along with her.

''So, I've been thinking,'' Autumn said. ''Mishka writing with pen and paper while she's here isn't so efficient, so why don't we teach her how to write in air?''

''She can, she just doesn't want to.'' Wynter turned to Mishka. ''You can, can't you?''

Mishka stared at her, stared at Autumn. How can I write on air? She wrote.

''Wait, you mean -'' Autumn looked at Wynter, and Wynter finished her sentence. '' - your world doesn't have magic?'' Mishka shook her head.

''Oh great,'' Wynter moaned. ''Summer, you tell her. I don't want to be a teacher.''

''You teach her. I'm reading."

Wynter stuck her tongue out at her sister. ''I'll only do it quickly, if she doesn't understand then it's your fault.'' She faced Mishka.

''We can do magic here but only the children as you approach your 18th birthday (that's for Evers it's your 54th birthday for Stars) your brain starts unconsciously forgetting how to do it and it becomes harder and harder to use it once you hit your 18th (or 54th) birthday you can't do any kind of magic anymore did you understand that?'' She stopped and took deep breaths.

Mishka looked at her in wonder, taking a few seconds to digest it before writing, how long do stars and Evers live and why do you talk about stars like they're people?

"You don't have Stars and Evers in your world?"

Autumn interrupted. "Just answer her question, Wyn."

"Alright, but I'm not going over this again either. Evers live for about 90 years Stars live for about 9 months 3 Ever days equals 1 Star year so Stars age really quickly Stars celebrate their birthdays every day and Evers celebrate them every year." She paused, deciding whether to continue or not. "Stars are always born in spring and burn up (I mean die) in autumn Evers can be born or die anytime Star graves always say 'age approximately 270 days' whereas Ever graves always use the exact year and month now do you understand?"

Mishka thought to write Isn't that unfair?, but decided that Wynter already knew that. Instead she wrote In my world we only have Evers. Are you Evers? And yes, I understand.

Wynter grinned. ''Yes, we're Evers. Now that's over, we can teach you."

Summer looked up from her book. ''Will you teach her in another room? I'm trying to read.'' Wynter rolled her eyes at Mishka, who was for once glad that she couldn't make noises, and they moved to another room. Autumn followed them.

''Right. I'll teach her, because you're useless,'' Autumn said. Wynter shrugged, and sat back.

''Good. Okay, first thing to know is that since magic is only for children, it's been safely child-proofed. So you don't need to worry, you can't do anything that could possibly hurt anyone.''

Mishka looked lightly disappointed. Autumn smiled. ''Yes, that means you can't do telekinesis, or light candles, or whatever you were thinking of doing.'' Mishka smiled back.

''So, you need to focus on the air in front of you, and try to imagine the words in front of you. Try to see the air, then see the words in the air.'' Like this, Autumn wrote in the air in front of her.

Between Wynter's encouragement and Autumn's playful threats, Mishka was convinced to try it. She stared at Autumn, who as sitting in front of her - trying to see the air.

''Put your hand in front of your eyes,'' Wynter suggested. Mishka did, staring at her hand until she knew every line, but she couldn't even begin a word.

Wynter left to make hot chocolate for her sisters, and as the door opened Mishka heard Summer's voice calling from her room. ''You can do it.''

Mishka focused harder on her hand. A spark exploded out of nowhere and she gripped her hand in pain.

''What happened?'' Autumn asked.

Mishka opened her hand gingerly. In the center of her palm was a small, red burn.

"Summer," Autumn called, not looking away from Mishka's hand. "Come in here."


"It's important. Put down the stupid book and come in here."

"Okay, okay." Summer entered, shortly followed by Wynter with two more cups of hot chocolate. "What's this about?" They asked together.

Mishka showed them her burn as Autumn tried to explain. "She almost wrote something - I mean, she made the spark, but she was holding her hand in front of her and it... Hurt her. I'll get some cold water," she added, and left the room.

The two sisters sat down, puzzled. "Maybe," Wynter brainstormed. "Maybe it's because you're not from here that your magic's not child-proof."

"Or maybe you're just weird," Summer suggested. Mishka looked at her reproachfully. "I'm joking!"

Autumn came back, empty-handed. "We don't have any cold water, you can go outside and cool it in the snow?"

Thank you, Mishka wrote. If you don't mind, could I go for a walk please? I think I want to be alone, she added when Wynter got up to come with her.

"Oh - okay." Wynter sat down again, and Mishka felt guilty. She was so unused to talking to people that she didn't know how to say (or not say) anything.

When outside, she pushed her hand gently into the snow, wincing at the shock of cold against her blistered palm. Then she got up, and walked aimlessly along an invisible path.

Vainly she tried to write words in the air, pausing to gain more concentration and continuing each time she gave up. After a while she stopped entirely and faced a tree, trying to focus on the air just in front of the leaves.

A spark, the words I can do it flared up, and Mishka remembered too late the burn on her hand. Fire bit one of the leaves, burning it to a cinder, and spread until the tree was ablaze.

Mishka panicked, bent down and tried throwing a snowball at the flaming tree, but it hit against the trunk uselessly. She couldn't throw when she was stressed.

She looked around for someone - if only she could speak, she could shout for help.

A person appeared over the bridge, and she waved her arms frantically, futilely. It was the burning tree that caught their attention at last, and they ran towards it. Mishka, exhausted, sank into the snow and lost consciousness.

December 04, 2023 12:52

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Michał Przywara
21:54 Dec 07, 2023

An interesting tale! Right off the bat, we have someone decide to be buried with her parents - and we learn she's only 270 days old. How does a newborn decide a thing, much less something like this? Definitely a good hook to get our attention. Of course, we quickly learn she's a Star, and they have a vastly different lifespan than we expect. That's a neat touch for an alternate world. “They make no sense anyway, but I'm allowing for otherworld fashions.” :) It ends abruptly, but I see from your comments this was a victim of the 3k limi...


08:57 Dec 08, 2023

Thank you so much! 🤍 You're right! Humans and Evers definitely are different! How different - will be revealed in the next story in the series! I have an idea on how the magic works, but it's still just a speculation! The people have a close connection to Nature (how close, will be revealed in the next story, this is the first of a series hopefully), and Nature gave them their magic. As they grow older, they grow closer to the human side of life and further away from Nature - consequently growing further away from their magic which makes i...


Michał Przywara
21:54 Dec 08, 2023

Yeah, I think this reads much more smoothly! Either all 1st person, or all 3rd - although I'm sure there's also great examples of writing that do manage to blend them, because there's exceptions to every rule. But it's tricky, because you don't want to remind a reader they're reading - it knocks them out of the story. And yeah, you raise a good point about it being hard to have a character express herself if you're not in 1st - especially if she's non-verbal. But it looks like you found some ways to do it. One of them is, of course, you ca...


10:49 Dec 09, 2023

Thank you again! I'm sure I'm not supposed to still be able to edit, but I managed to catch that 'my'! :)


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Mary Bendickson
01:46 Dec 06, 2023

If you wanted more at the end of the story was the part about babysitting grandmamma crucial to overall plot? I know it helped introduce the sisters. It's a magical story.


09:44 Dec 06, 2023

Thanks Mary! ❤️ Story updated! Ish. Still couldn't fit in a proper ending, but hey, we can't get everything we want.


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Karen Corr
19:46 Dec 05, 2023

Evers, stars, snowdrops, chrysanthemums and girls who are seasons and magical, seem to mix together gorgeously! But oh no! The story ends and what was going to happen (or not happen) at midnight? 😢 The 3,000-word curse strikes again. Loved it, Khadija!❤️


09:42 Dec 06, 2023

Thank you! 💜 I was so happy when my story hit 3000 words, I've never done it before! Then I was upset that I couldn't tell the rest of the story that was buzzing around my brain. 🤷‍♀️ Maybe I'll make a part 2


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Annie Persson
13:52 Dec 04, 2023

Maybe you could call it something to do with Mishka's magic or something about the Evers or the Stars? This was a super cool story! I love the Evers and the Stars, and their differences. I really like the child-proof magic thing, that was such a good idea! I really love this story, well done. :)


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Michelle Oliver
10:34 Jan 03, 2024

A great beginning to something big. I am looking forward to reading he next chapters.


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J. D. Lair
02:24 Dec 14, 2023

Finally got the chance to read your story and I thought it was a great concept! :) You did ask for some critiques, so I'll say a couple of suggestions that stood out to me. Some of your sentences felt run-on that could have been fixed with periods or question marks. Reading through a story, especially out loud, before a final draft always helps. :) Also, when someone is thinking something to themselves, italics helps indicate it. I know you used italics when Mishka was writing and may have not wanted to overdo them, but both could have wor...


10:52 Dec 14, 2023

Thank you so much! ❤️ I hope the only sentences that ran on were Wynter's thinking/talking. She tends to get overexcited (not always in a good way) and definitely runs on a bit! 😄 Definitely will pay more attention to the italics in part 2! There's got to be some way to separate the writing and thinking 🤔


J. D. Lair
15:26 Dec 14, 2023

Yes, it was during Wynter’s monologues lol. I thought it may have been on purpose to portray stream-of-consciousness, so that makes sense. Even so, some dashes or commas could help break it up a bit while still giving the same effect you're looking for. Also, keeping the start of a “new sentence” lowercase instead of capitalizing it without some form of punctuation. I think that's mostly what threw me off lol. I’m not sure how much we have to work with when submitting stories here, but maybe bold italics for written word would help disting...


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Danie Holland
19:02 Dec 11, 2023

Khadija, I loved the idea of “Stars” and “Evers.” Very imaginative. 💜


13:48 Dec 12, 2023

Thank you! 💜 I have no idea where the idea came from 😄 It was hanging in the air, and I guess I was just lucky enough to pick it up before someone else did! 😁


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