Merchant

Her booth is in an alley, back behind the dumpsters. She doesn’t like me to come very often, especially since she knows I only buy once a week. I don’t have money for more, but it’s hard to stay away. I don’t have anywhere else to go. The streets around her are gray, gray as…

Cornfield

She’s the one to come looking for me, although today’s fight had nothing to do with her. She always comes, and she always finds me here. The cornfield is the only place I can hide and be sure he doesn’t find me, at least not quickly. I spent three days hidden among the rows once,…

Blackbirds

They wait for me in the old churchyard, among the gravestones. Their feathers are black as soot, their beady eyes watching the lane they know I’ll be walking along. I don’t want to pass them. But I have to, if I want to get home. They’re only here at night, only for an hour or…

Dead City

A window is open on the second floor. Most of the doors on these buildings are locked, so the only way in is through the windows, and I don’t like breaking glass. It’s too loud, attracts too much attention. Even in a dead city, attention is not what I want. I clamber up the fire…

Seashells

The best time to go for seashells is right after the tide has gone out. The waves have swept all sorts of new treasures onto the sand. I go out with my basket and gather them together, bit by bit. Sea-glass, broken shells, sometimes whole ones, little sea creatures. I always let those go. My…

Sunflowers

The sunflowers are growing already. I can see them growing all along the edge of our fields, putting out leaves, growing taller. In a month they’ll be as high as my waist, maybe higher, and their heavy, nodding heads with start to open. I love the sunflowers. We plant them every year, in every field,…

Crypt

The candles are lit this time. Sometimes when he locks me down here, because I’ve spoken out of turn or sassed my nurse in his presence, the candles are as dark as the stones, and the shadows creeping out of the graves fill the whole room. I’m afraid to be here then. But the candles…

Snow

The storm is on the horizon when I wake up. Low, tumbled clouds loom over the forest, gray as soot in the wind. I go for water at the stream, same as every other morning, but it’s choked with ice, and the branches hanging over the water are furry with hoarfrost. Winter is coming. I’ve…

Story Keeper

A bare bulb hangs from the ceiling. Dust ghosts around it, gold in the weak light it casts. The children are whimpering, although they all know better than to cry out loud. Not here. Not when we’re in so much danger. My son is sitting in my lap. He’s barely four, but he knows to…

Witch

She already knows it’s me when I knock on her door, even before she answers. Only I come here. No one else dares. No one else is so stupid. “This is the last time, I promise,” I tell her, already pleading, hoping she’ll let me in. She hasn’t, once or twice. Last time she threatened…