The unexpected sound of metal on wood caught my attention immediately.

Jax and I exchanged glances. Artificial flowers do not usually drop petals. The saguin hopped up onto the table and examined first the petal, then the flower itself.

“It’s hinged,” he observed. “It looks like it was meant to fall.” He gave it to me.

The metal was smooth between my fingers. I rubbed my thumb along the inside. The concave surface was marred by a rough groove too uniform to be a simple scratch. “There’s something written here,” I said. Jax sat up straighter, his eyes bright with interest.

I pulled the silk curtains open. There was no morning fog, no soothing gray horizon here. I avoided looking down, and instead tilted the petal this way and that, trying to read the inscription. The petal caught the stinging white light and flung it back into my eyes.

Lest you think you have outgrown me, a rose for remembrance, and sweet memory.

The words coiled around my heart, thorny and sweet. A hot rage tinged with terror bloomed in my throat.

“Who put this here?” I asked the steward, who was waiting in the doorway. My voice grated in my own ears. The steward blanched, and I struggled for composure. I had not meant to frighten the man.

“I don’t know, mistress,” he said. “Shall I… Would you like me to ask the Chief Steward?”

I shook my head. It did not matter who had put it here. I knew who had sent it. “No. Take it away.”

The man scurried into the room.

“No, wait!” Jax leapt to the steward’s shoulder, an act of such radical intimacy that I almost dropped the petal.

It was too late. The steward brushed his fingers along the stem, triggering a hidden catch. A thorn sprang out and pricked the soft flesh of his thumb. His eyes widened. He grew even paler. With a sound like wind across the sand he crumpled to the floor.

<< Previous Installment | Next Installment >>

This post is part of the Jade Dragon series. It follows Clockwork Birds, and was written in response to the Trifecta Writing Challenge prompt:

RADICAL (adjective) (I deleted the first 2 definitions for brevity’s sake)

3a : very different from the usual or traditional : extreme
b : favoring extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions
c : associated with political views, practices, and policies of extreme change
d : advocating extreme measures to retain or restore a political state of affairs <the radical right>

It also hints at one of the prompts for Studio30 Plus: Grey skies. In this case, the lack thereof. If I understand correctly, the Studio30 prompts are pretty loose, and as long as it inspired the post, it should fit. In this case, it did.

23 thoughts on “Thorns

  1. jackkastor says:

    Firstly, I applaude your blog layout. It works very well. “With a sound like wind across the sand,” is great description, you’ve really put an effort in there. Also, the “…bloomed in my throat” sentence really worked well. Good job with the dialogue!


  2. debseeman says:

    I haven’t read any of your other installments, but this is an excellent stand alone piece. Your descriptions are beautiful. Like this one “With a sound like wind across the sand he crumpled to the floor.” Excellent metaphor!


      • debseeman says:

        Well, I can say my stand alone pieces are fewer in the story I’m working right now. Some work out but the story is “moving” right now and it’s hard to have a well defined beginning and ending. I really did do a great job crafting it be work on it’s own.


  3. jannatwrites says:

    This is an intriguing story. After I finish reading each part, I’m left with questions that make me want to read more. This week, I just have to know who sent the rose and who wants her dead. Great job 🙂


    • Christine says:

      I’ll let you in on a secret: I am not 100% sure yet. At some point I need to sit down and figure out where I’m going with this. I wasn’t expecting to love it this much when I started writing it!


    • Christine says:

      Thank you, Stephanie! The blog name is from the Neil Gaiman quote on the front page. It’s something I think about a lot – how I love to write, and how much work it is, and it feels like I’m totally bogged down and lost in the fog, but sometimes I get in the groove and remember why I love it. This blog is my personal trudge through that fog.


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