I haven’t written a short story in ages, though this is technically flash fiction. This is a mystical fairy tale for my #abandonedB2DBC project where I abandon books, literary magazines, small gifts, and my own written works in public for strangers to find and keep. It’s a guerrilla art project and a book column for Bored to Death Book Club. You can follow its Instagram here. And my first column for Nashville, TN can be read here.
My flash fiction was inspired by the book “The Melancholy of Mechagirl” by Catherynne M. Valente which contains gorgeous, Japanese influenced tales and poetry and H.O.W. Journal Issue 13’s wondrous Nonfiction “The Master Key and other essays” by Michael Martone. I was also prompted by my lovely friend Ty to write a mystical tale. And I also have to admit that I was inspired by BMO of adventure time who said their stories were emotionally true, in the recent episode Ketchup. That was a heart string puller of an episode, dang.
I wanted to write a short that reflected me and what I’m going through. I wanted to discover things about myself while writing this fiction. And I did. I loved seeing where the threads go because I had no idea what would take place beside the protagonist finding a skeleton key. I hope you enjoy Charlotte’s journey too.
Through Every Wall
Charlotte Rivera felt missing. Her heels never fit right. She kept getting the wrong mail. And the moon never shined for her. Every time she looked up at the night sky, that eerie crescent refused to greet her. Not even in her sleep did she find peace.
Until one day, walking home from work, something told her to look right where she noticed a glimmer. Partially hidden by grime and dust was a skeleton key. Silver and well-crafted, it contained three notches and an elegant wing-like handle.
She never wanted to hold something or someone so much.
She picked it up, enjoying its heft, its demanding presence. Charlotte glanced around the dim alleyway and there were no locks in sight. Gently, she placed the key into her coat pocket, every now and then caressing the metal for reassurance.
Paying more careful scrutiny to her world than ever before, she sought out the right lock. On church gates, store doors, basement locks, restricted libraries, and the occasional chest, sometimes cabinet. None of them were her match.
But maybe it’s not of this world she thought. So clad in warm pajamas, she turned off the light and held tightly onto the key. Within mere moments of sealing her eyes, she fell into a deep slumber.
On the other side of the waking world, she saw her moon. How it glistened, whispered, and magnetized her. How everything previous never felt so right.
Slowly the bright moon grew blurrier and blurrier, becoming a wavy, shiny circle immersed in black ink. It was too wondrous to dry off her damp face, she continued to gaze and bask in its luminescent glow.
But in her right palm was that striking key, urging her to go left. Like a divining rod, it paved a path to its one and only. Over hills and brooks, past jaw-dropping palaces and abandoned slums, through strange backyards and homely graveyards, until it led to the very alleyway she found this peculiar key in.
Yet this time, she discovered a lock, hiding beside a curtained window and embedded into the brick wall. Rising on her tiptoes, she prodded the key through her only hole and heard the most relieving click and turn.
The wall fell away, revealing a secret garden. Lush and overflowing with fruits and blossoms. Willow trees cascading and ivy overtaking. And at the dead center was a standing tall bookcase. Leaving her long-time companion behind, she walked up to the bookshelves, the moonshine lighting her skin. Delicately, she extracted a green volume and opened its contents.
Between her two nervous hands were her worlds: the waking, the dreaming, and every in-between. Nothing was out of place. And with each turned page, she gained more clarity and confidence.
She read about what made her beautiful and what made her absolutely terrifying. Many both at once. Details secret crushes adored about her but were too shy to share. Every name of every person who would miss her if she left their lives. Three columns on each page, going at least a dozen, some of whom she couldn’t recognize. Every good deed and every mistake that led to pure wonder. She saw her trajectory leading up to this 2,235th reverie. Her epic, her drama, her fairy tale making more and more sense.
All of it in her handwriting. All of it in her favorite ink. All beneath the moonshine fading into sunlight.
She reached midway and there was no more to be read. The soft blank pages displaying nothing. So she returned her book into her bookcase. Too content to try its sisters.
She turned around and something told her to look down, and at her feet was a gorgeous blue fountain pen. She bent down and grasped it with her right and woke up. Her palm still holding onto the writing utensil.
And then, she began to write.