Category Archives: Flash Fiction

Sleight of Hand – A Books of Binding Flash Fiction

Winter Mulcahy thought the girl by the necklace rack was maybe eleven, probably twelve. She had a bruise peeking out just beneath the collar of her oversized coat, fingermarks if Winter was any judge, and she was an excellent judge of abuse. The girl was heavy in that way that said weight would follow her throughout her life, but she moved easily through the store, caramel eyes flickering constantly towards Winter from behind too-large glasses.

The girl was stealing.

That wasn’t unusual, though. Homeless kids often stole from the stores in the Historical District, trying to fill empty pockets and empty bellies. No, what was remarkable were two things: first, that the girl had found Winter’s store, Olde Curiosity’s Gift Shoppe, at all. It meant she had a spark of magic in her that allowed her to see the store past the misdirection wards covering the front, keeping human eyes away.

More remarkable were her hands. Even though Winter knew she was stealing, she never saw the girl’s hands venture near her capacious coat pockets. She would touch an item and a moment later it would be gone. Winter could feel the flash of raw magic as a jade pendant vanished – childish, untrained, potent. The girl didn’t have just a spark of magic. She had a flame.

She was a wizard, like Winter.

But, little wizard or not, the girl could not be allowed to steal. Winter waited until the last customer left before she took her sturdy broom in hand and stepped around the display, right into the girl’s path. At nearly six feet she towered over the child, and dropped her head slightly to appear less intimidating. “Put them back.” Her voice was low and even, devoid of anger.

The girl’s eyes widened and her freckled cheeks flushed, but to her credit she stood her ground. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Winter drew her focus object on its chain from under the collar of her dress. The ring was a simple one, a slender golden band with an oval opal stone set between two small diamonds. When she moved the ring, the light played across intricate engravings on the inside of the band. The ring had belonged to one of the most important people in Winter’s life, and now it answered to her. Wizards needed focus objects to give structure to their magic and perform more complex spells. That the girl was able to cast spells without one said that not only was she strong, she was probably close to draining the power in her body. She must be protected before she hurt herself.

Winter held the ring between her fingers and her voice became resonant with magical Command. “Empty.” Objects came flying out, more than she had anticipated, and landed on the floor. Hand cream, lip balms, jewelry, anything that the store carried that could be palmed had made it into those coat pockets, as well as some spare change, half of a wrapped sandwich, and a crumpled bus pass.

The girl stared at the pile on the floor for a moment, mouth working, before gasping out, “How?”

“The same way you put them in your pockets, only I’ve had training.”

She looked up at Winter, brown eyes wide. “You’re… like me?”

“I am.”

The girl looked both fascinated and frightened… and then the frightened took over and she whispered, “Please don’t call the cops on me.”

Winter tucked the ring back into her dress and held out the broom to the girl. “Let’s make a deal. I have work here that needs to be done, and I’m busy with other things. If you help me for a few hours, I won’t call the police.”

The girl took the broom, some of the light returning to her eyes. “Can you show me how to do stuff? Like our stuff?”

Winter crouched and began cleaning the items up off the floor. “Sweeping first. Magic later.”

“Magic? Is it really magic?” The girl’s voice squeaked with excitement.

Winter smiled and handed the girl back her things. “Yes, it really is. And my name is Winter. My family owns this shop.”

“I’m Jessie.” The little wizard looked around. “So if I sweep… and then dust… and maybe put some stuff away, then you’ll teach me?”

Winter smiled. “That sounds fair. And remember to sweep in the corners,” she called after Jessie as the girl ran off to begin her chores.

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Seashells – A Books of Binding Flash Fiction

The boy was crying under a picnic table, but Winter didn’t know why. He was a lot older than her, six, maybe even seven. She crawled beneath and sat down next to him, not caring that her red and white sundress would get mussed. She’d lost her sandals somewhere but she’d managed to hold on to her red hat. Grandma Bridget said it was important so she didn’t burn in the summer sun.

The boy looked up at her, his expression wary, and wiped his face on his coat sleeve. It was peculiar, wearing a suit jacket to a family picnic. But this boy was a guest and Winter smiled at him, wanting to make him feel better.

The boy did not smile back.

Okay, she had to try harder. She reached out and took his hand, and his black brows rose at her touch.  Her smile widened and she gently pulled him out from under the table and away from the party. They walked in silence through the gardens, pixies flying from flower to flower overhead, until they came out the other side through the garden gates and their feet sunk into the sand of the beach. The black-haired boy looked around, his dark blue eyes devouring the sight of sand and sky and water. So much water.  This was the ‘Cific Ocean, and it was beautiful.

Winter led the boy to the other side of the big dune where it was cool and quiet and where the water brought the scent of salt and fish to pool at their feet. She sat down and took off his shoes and socks, smiling, because she knew it hurt to have sand in her shoes, and shook the sand she found in his out of them, setting them beside him. The boy watched her as if trying to figure her out, and she simply continued to smile.

Winter saw a seashell half-buried next to the boy’s shoes and picked it up, brushing off the sand.  It was a clam shell the size of her hand, pretty and pearly on the inside. She handed it to the boy whose brows rose again, but this time a tiny smile played at the corners of his mouth. Winter bounced up to her feet with a grin. So he liked shells? She could find shells better than anyone!

“Where are you off to?” the boy asked, but she was already back with a spirally shell with a broken tip to offer him. And then she moved a little further away, looking for more shells.

The afternoon passed and the shell pile grew and the boy’s smile widened. Winter brought him squishy seaweed and dune grasses and succulent ice plant flowers and he collected them all, touching and smelling each offering with fascination.

Over the top of the dune appeared Winter’s Uncle Adrien, her Aunt Gwen’s new husband, with a camera in hand. He snapped a picture and smiled down at them in his sad, gentle way. “There you are. Your father is looking for you. It’s time to go.”

The boy looked disappointed but he quickly put his shoes and socks back on and stood, slipping his jacket on and buttoning it, pocketing a shell as he did so. “Ta.” He inclined his head to her and turned to follow Uncle Adrien back to the house.

Winter smiled and waved at him as he walked away, sorry to see her new friend go but determined to show him a happy face as he left.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Urban Fantasy and Other Trifles