Today, I’m doing something I don’t typically do: I’m posting a fiction piece! I’ve always wanted to post more of my original work on my blog, but the majority of my efforts go into casual writing exercises and longer works like my novels, so I haven’t written much that makes sense to post here. Thankfully, that changes today with the 1000 Voices for Compassion project!
The project began attracting bloggers late last year to gather in a common goal: to “write posts about compassion, kindness, support, caring for others, non-judgement, caring for the environment, etc. and all publish on the same day (February 20th) to flood the blogosphere with GOOD!”
I absolutely loved the idea for this project and joined the Facebook group right away. Below, you’ll find my contribution: a short short entitled “Elusive Threads.” It started as a response to a writing prompt from the podcast Writing Excuses, but quickly morphed from a random drill to a story that, I think, has compassion at its core–even if just in a subtle way.
I hope you enjoy and take some time to check out some of the other blogs. I’m going to swing by a few now!
Her giggles rang through the attic like tiny bells. They chimed in time with her footsteps, the soft pitter-patter that seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere all at once. I watched as she circled the room, ran up one wall and down the other. She encompassed me as I sat there—at the center of her fantastical universe—an awkwardly large being far too grown-up for her childlike magic.
She stopped before a trunk and flung it open with ease. The lid must have weighed a large portion of her weight, but it was the red-and-blue combination of Wonder Woman that adorned her now and lent her its strength. With the effortless speed she used to traverse the creaky wooden planks around us, she ditched the outfit, replacing it with the glittering green of a wood nymph. The colors melded to her body, and her body melded to the beams around us as she became one with our surroundings.
That, too, tired her quickly. On to the next: to the growing pile went the nymph costume, joining Wonder Woman and the countless ones before it. This was the ritual every Saturday night, and the costumes always differed. Who stole into our attic throughout the week and replaced them, I couldn’t remember—or perhaps never knew.
Over her shoulders now draped a set of angel wings; the halo placed atop her head began to glow. With a flick of her arms, the wings took life and lifted her from the floor, drawing a shrieking laugh made for the cherub children of Renaissance art.
As she flitted about me, her wings sending pulsing drafts of stale air across the attic, I drew my knobby knees in and hugged my legs tight. I could try on a costume, but even if one managed to fit over my lanky limbs, it would never respond to me the way they all did to her.
The “worn” pile grew. From the corner of my eyes, I could see it pulsating with life, only to find it still and lifeless when watching it head-on. I reached a hand out, paused, drew it back.
She came to me then, knelt before me, her tiny little legs folding under her as she looked up into my eyes. Hers glittered with childlike adventure and magic; I can only imagine how dull mine must look in comparison. Not very good, I’d imagine, because her smile faded and she pulled off her wings, handing them to me with an encouraging nod.
I pulled back, startling her. Didn’t she know? Surely she did—she knew I’d join her if I could. I tried to explain, but my voice caught in my throat, and instead I shook my head.
She dropped the wings and their corresponding costume then, standing in her pink and white polka-dotted underthings. She looked through the trunk, shook her china doll head, and then moved to the next one across the room. This one was full of gossamer treasures still untouched, and she burrowed into it with verve.
The cloth she emerged with was a deep, glistening purple that seemed to shiver with life. Shrugging into it, she shook her plump little hands free of its draping sleeves and tucked her curls into the cowl. From the trunk emerged a crystal ball, which she carried to me in short, careful strides so as not to trip over the trailing fabric.
The purple cloak nearly drowned her when she plopped down before me. Adjusting it, she held the ball between her two hands and rubbed. Its crystalline features trembled and jumped, creating a kaleidoscope of colors that drew me in and danced off the planks of wood like a surreal disco ball.
In it, I saw me. Six years ago, at six years of age. Her age. Frolicking through the very attic we sat in now, adorned in a Spider-Man outfit, swinging from the rafters and squealing with glee. My babysitter watched me then, as I watched my sister now, half in envy and half in pride. For a moment, I watched as my childhood self went through the rite of passage our attic afforded generations before us.
Then I became one with the memory, feeling the fabrics against my skin and the air through my tresses, reliving the year of the magical costume trunk as she shared hers with me.