Happy Wednesday, readers! Today I have a special (and rather different) post for you. :D
Katja L. has been following Stories by Firefly for quite some time. She enjoyed the Imagine This writing challenges and wrote stories off many of the images. Because she wrote them late and edited them, she never entered her stories in the challenges, but she was kind enough to share them with me—and she gave me permission to share them with y'all!
I had fun reading Katja's take on each of the image prompts, and I think y'all will as well. :D Enjoy!
A Medieval Tale
“Blessed be the LORD, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.”
I believe I glanced at the other ‘Imagine This’ stories, but I didn’t read most, I think.
Eumacette glanced out of the castle window, wiping her hands upon her white apron. As she peered around, her little, work-calloused hands pushed back the curls which stuck to her damp forehead and cheeks, and smoothed the wisps of hair standing out in all directions upon her head.
There was nothing to be seen. The road stretched out and curled around the hills, but it was empty. With a half-stifled sigh, Eumacette turned away, lifting the heavy pail of water and carrying it out the room, across the hall, and into the other room. There she knelt and scrubbed away with all the vigor of her vibrant character. Rarely were such iron will and stoic endurance locked in such a small, slight, delicate form.
When she had finished her work, she disposed of the soiled water and returned the bucket to its place. At this moment, Dame Geneviève’s voice was heard calling her name. Brushing off her tan-colored jacket and again calming her heavy, now-frizzly black hair, the young woman hurried down the staircase, her long, flowing pastel-green dress trailing about her ankles in graceful draping folds.
The châtelaine glanced up with a gracious smile as her maid entered. As the daughter of Dame Geneviève’s late nurse, Eumacette was a privileged servant.
“Did you see Sir Onfroi and his army?” she enquired.
“Non. The road is deserted.”
Dame Geneviève nodded and then proceeded to give her a series of small tasks to do.
When Dame Geneviève was through with her, the girl descended to the hall. Here she lent her aid to the other servants, in strewing straw and herbs upon the stone floor, and in setting the great table.
As they were so employed, an exultant trumpet proclaimed the arrival of the châtelain. Dame Geneviève descended from her bower, and fondly greeted her husband. Eumacette watched with a light feeling of mournful envy, when a tap on her shoulder made her glance around inquiringly, and view a young man clad in a loose white shirt and black hose.
With a cry of delight, Eumacette flung her arms about him and received a warm embrace.
Eustace Leroux was ten years older than his twenty-year-old sister. Twelve years ago, he had been serving under Sir Onfroi against an enemy noble. He had been captured, and none had doubted of his death. But the present attack had been successful; the evil knight had been destroyed; and Eustace had been freed.
He was a striking blond, and seemed to quite tower over his sister. In truth, he was only six feet, but all appeared tall when compared to the tiny French maid.
Eumacette, her face reddened with tears, her frame shaking with sobs, burrowed her face against her brother, who wrapped his arms protectively around her, soothing her with gentle words.
When she pulled away and wiped her flushed face, Eustace respectfully received the welcome of Dame Geneviève.
“Truly,” observed this lady, “the LORD has blessed us with unlooked-for joy, in preserving and returning you to us.”
Eustace nodded reverently, and in one accord all bent their heads as Sir Onfroi sent up grateful thanks for their safekeeping, and the return of a faithful servant, staunch friend, and loving brother.
Find the other stories here.
A Fading Flower:
A Tale of Life
“As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.”
“Do—do you mind if we go visit Kelton?” Dayton fumbled nervously with the keys, refusing to look at her.
“Here?” gasped Kalynda, whirling about and staring at the hospital.
“Yeah?” Dayton's voice was anxious and hesitant.
Kalynda's heart beat wildly against her chest. She caught her breath. A hospital? Visit someone in a hospital? Someone she barely knew? She began to panic at the very thought.
Then she glanced sideways at her twin, nervous and hesitant. She remembered how she had felt when he had been missing. The guilt over things she could have done—and had never. Dayton and Kelton had always been very close, though Kalynda had very seldom seen him. Usually when Kelton was around, she was busy with his big sister Morganne.
Inhaling deeply, Kalynda braced herself and replied, “Sh—sure.”
Dayton swept her a grateful look and hurried out of the car. Kalynda slowly followed. Locking the doors, Dayton walked quickly towards the hospital entrance. Kalynda grasped his arm and struggled to calm herself.
A few minutes later, she stared into the face of her cousi, covered with tubes and bandages. His eyes were closed, his breath shallow, and his skin pale. Kalynda grasped Dayton's arm so tightly he grimaced. “Ow!”
Kalynda could not even murmur an apology, she was so tense. She had always hated hospitals and nursing homes. She had always hated reminders of suffering. What was she doing here!?
Dayton shuffled to the bedside of his cousin and stood uncomfortably for a few moments. His phone rang and he snatched at it. Kalynda, focusing on him and trying to ignore the critically-wounded R.C.M.P., felt a wave of anger. Dayton had changed so much since he had been attacked and held hostage by those criminals. He was so unsure and fearful.
Jolting back from her thoughts, Kalynda realized Dayton was going out. He saw the question on her face and spoke quickly.
“I'm going to get Mike. He's coming to see Kelton.”
With these words he plunged into the hallway and hurried off.
Kalynda stayed where she was, gazing at the stubble-covered, immobile face. Even unconscious, Kelton's face was stern. Kalynda's face grew pitying as she glanced at the wires, monitors, and all the other hospital appliances. They were all reminders of the fragility of life.
Kalynda wondered, as she looked down at him, if he was ready to go. If he had settled everything he had to settle. If he was ready to face God. She knew he was saved, but had he been living as he should? or had he grown a bit careless, forgetting how life is never guaranteed?
Kalynda felt a stab of guilt as she remembered that she herself was growing lackadaisical. She did not always read her Bible, and when had she actually paused to pray—really pray—seeking the face of the LORD?
Glancing again at the IV bag and the other appliances, struggling to keep life in her cousin, Kalynda felt a surge of determination: by God's grace and aid, she would be ready to face her Creator and Savior. The words from Thomas Ken's Awake, my Soul! & With the Sun came to mind, and she breathed them out earnestly:
“Teach me to live, so that I dread
The grave as little as my bed.”
Take it to the LORD:
A Tale of Grief
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
I read the other entries for this so I deliberately put twists in mine.
Annalyssa Horton dashed through the house, bursting through the screen door. Her long skirt billowed around her as she rushed headlong down the porch steps and across the yard.
“Stashie! Stashie! Come quick!” she shrieked in that high-pitched, almost soundless scream of pure terror.
Anastasia, in a black T-shirt and matching pink skirt, was sitting grilling hotdogs over a fire. She bore the name (and nickname) of a secondary character in Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s Understood Betsy—because the said character, Anastasia (“Stashie”) Monahan had captured the youthful imagination of Estefania Ward, the future Mrs. Horton. Seven years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Horton had died in a car accident. Lyssa had been eight, Stashie sixteen, and their brother Kem eighteen. Since then they had lived alone together, and Anastasia and Kem had raised Annalyssa.
Now, Stashie turned and stared at her sister, forgetting the blackening wiener she was cooking. Annalyssa snatched her hand and began to drag her into the house.
“Wait! the fire!” cried Anastasia. She quickly put it out and sprinted after Lyssa to the house. They screeched to a stop before the television. Stashie clapped a hand to her mouth in horror as she took in the images and headline: “Horrific flash floods in St.-Jean-sur-le-Richelieu, Québec.”
Annalyssa’s best friend Raemonda Lemarié had only just moved to St.-Jean.
The last days of that broiling July was a blur to Lyssa. She spent her time crying, praying, and searching for news of her friend. Her birthday occasioned extra tears on account of old birthday memories with Rae, and when Kem brought home a birthday package and letter Rae had mailed a few days before the tragedy, it was the last straw.
Crumpling the letter in her hand, Annalyssa flung herself into Anastasia’s arms and sobbed. Stashie felt the tears dripping down her face onto her sister’s hair as Lyssa’s sobs intensified.
Kem wrapped his arms around both his sisters and sighed.
“O Father. . . we need Thy grace and peace. Please, LORD, keep Rae and the Lemariés safe. Help them find peace and security in Thee. . .”
Stashie squeezed her sister closer and began to recite softly: “‘What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear. . . what a privilege to carry everything to God in pray’r! Oh, what peace we often forfeit! Oh, what needless pain we bear! All because we do not carry everything to God in pray’r. . . Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? . . . Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge!—take it to the Lord in prayer. . . in His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there. . . Blessèd Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear; may we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer. . .’”
“Don’t ever forget, girls,” whispered Kem, “take it to the LORD in prayer—your fears and your griefs. . . He will always help.”
A few days later, a radient Annalyssa was devouring a reassuring letter from the much-alive Raemonda.
Find the other entries here.
The Most Important Thing
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
Dawna rubbed her hands against her dress and grimaced. She couldn't help trembling slightly.
Ouassila grinned as she handed the nervous bride a pair of silver high-heels. Six years ago, Cilla had declared she dispaired of ever getting Dawn in fashionable shoes. Dawna had averred she prefered being comfortable to being pretty. But she had promised to wear high-heels at her wedding—a fact which had been Ouassila's first comment when she had heard that Terran Vicarson was courting Dawna Winston.
As Dawn gigglingly fastened on the pretty shoes, Daxton ran in through the open door, holding a bouquet which mingled red, pink, and white roses, accentuated with a bit of orange-blossom.
“Dawn you look smashing and Mum sends these and Terry wants to see you,” he blurted out breathlessly.
Dawna smilingly took the bouquet from her little brother and smiled appreciatively. “Where is Terran?” she asked, as Ouassila tied the white silk ribbon strands about the stems.
“Stairs.” Daxton pointed with his thumb over his shoulder and at the basement outside door.
Dawna went slowly down the hall, her short train trailing behind, her white lacy veil mingling with the flounces. She opened the door and caught sight of Terran’s navy blue coat. He was lounging with his back against the wall, where the steps ran up from the doorsteps.
She eyed his uniform and grinned. She had always maintained that she would marry a soldier. Terran belonged to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, but he had jokingly donned his grandfather’s old World War II uniform for the wedding.
“We were going to pray, remember?” Terran lazily kept his gaze on the wall opposite.
Dawna frowned. She'd forgotten several important things already today, but this was by far the most important. “Right.” Then she glanced down and grimaced at the muddy ground. “Uh, Terran?”
“Yeah?” He removed his cap as he spoke and glanced questioningly back at her.
“The ground's so muddy. . . mind if I stay here?”
He appraised the situation. “O.K., sure.”
At that moment, Ouassila spoke out from behind the bride. “Don't you dare step out there, Dawna Jane Winston!”
“I'm not,” Dawna replied indignantly.
“She isn't,” Terran protested at the same moment.
“O.K., hurry up and pray. It's gonna rain soon.” Cilla frowned up at the louring clouds.
Promptly bending his head, Terran leaned forward slightly, while Dawna leaned against one side of the doorframe and Ouassila against the other.
Terran began to pray, asking for safety for his brother, sister-in-law, and neices, flying in from New Zealand for the wedding, and for their prompt arrival to witness the ceremony. Dawna clapped her hand over her mouth and her shoulders shook with laughter as Terran unconsciously mimicked a New Zealand accent. But in a few moments her eyes softened as Terran added a request for sunshine and no rain.
God had indeed blessed her with a husband who never forgot the most important thing—prayer—and also remembered the smaller details.
Counterfeiters, Fireplaces, & Cousins:
A Detective Tale
“. . .they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives. So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain. . .”
I wrote this story after reading all the other entries, so I deliberately put twists in.
Seventeen-year-old Allanys stroked her fingers on her pistol cautiously, glancing around. It was imperative to find this wily counterfeiter’s apparatus and photograph it for evidence while Emory distracted him.
Ahead of her, Ilbert strode confidently forwards, his pistol also cocked and ready.
The Kriston kids had been interested in detective stuff for as long as they could remember. They had read and analyzed and practically memorized all mystery- and detective-related books they could get their hands on. They were always being called upon to solve mundane little (and sometimes not so mundane or little) mysteries at home and in town. Bert was five years older than Allys; Em was half-way between his two cousins in age; but they had always partnered. Ilbert was the bold discloser, who specialized in the bearding of villains and the explaining to the police. Allanys was the cool manager, who specialized in the arranging of campaigns, the analyzing of reasons and clues, and what not. Emory was the glib talker, who specialized in worming his way into secrets and distracting the suspect or onlookers.
Suddenly Bert gave a triumphant grunt and opened a closet. He stood guard as Allys produced her camera and began shooting pictures. When she had finished, they began to leave. At the bottom of the ramshackle attic ladder, Ilbert paused.
“Best lower the trapdoor. No sense in letting him know we know his little secret till we’re ready for him to know it.”
He climbed back up, and Allanys continued down the hall, brushing off her blue jacket and frowning at the dustballs clinging to her long black skirt. As she descended the stairs, she paused frequently to clean off the garment.
When she was halfway to the front door, it flew open and she stood face to face with the dangerous criminal.
With terrifying silence and speed, he instantly sprang forwards, just as she threw up her arm to fire. As she pulled the trigger, he threw her to the floor, the pistol ball destroying a dim old painting on the wall. Her head slammed against the ancient fireplace with such force that she fainted. As she blacked out, Ilbert’s large hand gripped her shoulder and jerked her back.
Throwing an arm about his sister, Bert menaced the counterfeiter with his pistol.
The men hesitated. Ilbert did not dare provoke a fight, for Allys was leaning against him. The criminal did not wish to draw attention to the lonely tumbledown cottage by a pistol report.
At this juncture, Em, armed with a pistol and closely followed by several grim policemen, waltzed into the room. With his customary sang-froid, he cooly removed the pistol from the counterfeiter’s astonished grasp and held a water-bottle out to Ilbert.
When Allanys came back to, she found Bert supporting her and Emory pouring a small stream of water onto her face, reckless of the wetting of her jacket. Behind him, the officers were motioning a handcuffed criminal into the cruiser.
“A bit of a rough day, eh, Lys?” Em smirked.
Allys sat up hurriedly and plucked at her soaked jacket. “Very. . . especially the present moment.”
What did y'all think of Katja's stories? Be sure to drop her a comment! The second round will be up soon. :)