Another prompt, another round of great responses! Check them out below and vote for your favorite:
Story 1 by Cara Michaels
She led him from the house, the air’s early morning bite nipping his face. He followed her anyway, into the woods, as she pointed out different trees and animal tracks. She made a small, excited sound and whirled around to face him, her smile determined to make up for the lack of sunlight.
“Here we are.”
The snowy canopy of winter pines had protected the trail, leading to a crumbling staircase of startlingly pink rock. The color was sort of beautiful, sort of unnerving.
“And where—is here?”
“Follow me and find out.” She held out her hand, her eyes bright against her slowly reddening face. “I want to show you something special.”
“Is this like…permanently stained by the blood of the unsuspecting?”
She clapped the hand not patiently waiting to hold his over her mouth, almost stifling a howl of laughter.
“You are ridiculous. C’mon.”
“They’re going to find me after the spring thaw or something, aren’t they?”
“What? They who?”
“The people who find bodies in the middle of nowhere, obviously.”
“Oh.” Her smile began to lose its shine, dimming as it fell away from the edges of her lips. “Um, this is hardly nowhere, babe.”
“Close enough,” he muttered.
The faint pang of regret he felt as her hand fell away made no sense as he actively insulted her intentions. She sighed, her breath fogging the air.
“That’s a pretty dim view of romance you’ve got.”
“Romance?” He stamped his feet against the trail. “I’m freezing my nuts off hiking through Serial Killer National Park.”
She jerked her chin up, toward the trail behind him.
“House is fifty yards back.”
“You can still see it from here, city boy.”
City boy was code for asshole, right? Maybe worse.
“I’ll catch you later. Or not. Your choice.”
Story 2 by Siobhan Muir
It had been a century since I’d celebrated Solstice and I’d never really given anyone a gift. Not in the traditional sense. And tonight’s gifts hadn’t been traditional either. But Rochelle was worth all the effort I’d gone to and she didn’t seem disappointed.
“Are you done?” I sighed the words before I gathered the plates and took them to the kitchen.
“Almost. I want to finish my tea.”
But I shook my head with a smile. “We’ll make more after.” I pulled her to her feet.
“After? After what?”
“After I give you your Solstice gift.”
“I thought dinner and this place was the gift.” She shoved her arms into her coat as I held it up for her.
I shook my head. “Those were part of the gift. The rest is outside. Come on.”
I tugged her out the door and led her down the snowy path around the back side of the cabin. The storm had cleared, leaving the world decorated in white lace and the moon sprinkled the world with ethereal light. The granite stones I’d used for steps up to my personal overlook glowed pink in the moonlight – a function of the red feldspar crystals among the quartz.
“Oh glory, this is so beautiful.” Rochelle stood at the foot of the steps and gazed upwards. “Did you build this yourself?”
I nodded and gestured for her to climb the steps. Beauty filled the staircase, but the greatest gift sat at the top. She grinned and started up the stairs, her breath pluming in front of her. Snowflakes sparkled in the air as the breeze shook them from the trees.
This gift might have been for her, but she was the only gift I wanted.
Let your voice be heard!