Welcome to the second installment of Fiction Fridays! If you want to catch up, you can read the first Fiction Fridays story here.
As promised, this week will include a writing prompt and the opportunity to have YOUR work featured on the main page of Betty’s Battleground!
Here is the prompt: I am not a huge fan of St. Patrick’s Day. I don’t have anything against it, per say; I am just not a Catholic and I don’t really know much about its origin, and with two toddlers at home and no money, bar crawling into oblivion isn’t much of an option.
That being said, it’s St. Patrick’s Day. And a lot of people celebrate it. So, to honor the day, my prompt is based around folklore!
First, choose a genre.
Now, select a myth or folktale that you know well. It can be from any religion or culture.
Got it? Good! Now re-tell that myth in the genre you initially selected. You can change as many details as you need. It just needs to be inspired by the myth.
I chose Science Fiction, and the myth of Persephone. As you will see, I changed many details. The mother is the woman who is kidnapped, for example. The seasons of her revisit are seasons of the human soul, rather than literal seasons. The myth is just the vessel; let you story take you where it takes you.
Entries should be between 300 and 750 words. I will choose up to three entrants to feature on the main page this Sunday! Look after my story for instructions on how to submit your writing.(Deadline passed)
And the winner is……!
Zoe Omega is a Seattle based writer and artist. She comes from a family with lots of writers and several lovers of literature. She was encouraged to use her imagination from an early age and loves experimenting in art and writing.
The Story of Jesus’ Conception as Sci-fi
The great Creator had a plan. He’d had a need to create a sense of dependence for his creations. They had grown too egotistical. Too independent. He needed to send someone to Earth with a special message. To help the inhabitants of Earth bend to his will.
Mary stood by the well, filling the bucket with water for the day.
The Creator had been watching her the entirety of her life. Since all his human creations were made in his image he was interested to see what parts of himself he had bestowed upon her.
He loved her curiosity, her sense of humor. He figured those traits were becoming of a woman who would have to describe the strange incident of being impregnated by an alien being. He chose her after watching her for years. He knew these traits suited her for the position. No other woman was better suited to bring his son into the world.
She was not too independent. She would accept her fate. Other women might have been too scared, too close-minded.
When the angel Gabriel appeared she looked at him with curiosity. She showed no fear upon receiving the message she would be carrying the son of the Creator. If anything she showed amusement. She laughed upon thinking about the looks on people’s faces when she shared her condition. She imagined people’s eyes widening, the look of disbelief.
How strange, to be impregnated by a non human being. She felt a sudden sense of peace at the moment of conception. Like nothing she had experienced before. A sort of warmth emanated from her womb.
She had always wanted to feel special. To have some sort of purpose, and now that she was content. She eagerly awaited the opportunity to mother the strange being growing inside her.
Thanks for submitting! Keep reading if you want to see my story for “Fiction Fridays…”
by Elizabeth Brico
The first time they got paid after going without for so long, Alice did laundry. They needed the clothes washed, and the sheets and blankets and towels, but what made Alice want to do it was the quarters. She put a twenty dollar bill into the change machine and listened, eyes closed, to the rattle of the change pouring into the slot. If someone had been watching her, he would have thought she was in rapture. When the change was ready, she put her hand into the bowl–just stuck her whole hand into the pile of quarters until it was submerged and she could feel the coins slide over her skin. She hadn’t held money in so long.
Alice was glad about Donny getting a job. She was glad that he was finally feeling better enough to keep one. She was glad about the payout. She was glad to have money for things, which she had never really realized she liked so much until she couldn’t have them. She had always considered herself “unmaterialistic;” not spiritual exactly, but a little above the hoard. Now though, now she loved to squirt so much soap into the dishrag that it lathered up as soon as the water touched it. She loved to skip the quarters across her fingers while she held them in her pocket to do laundry, and she loved to just pour a big splash of detergent into the machine. Most of all though, she loved wasting the baby wipes. No more days of cleaning a poopy butt on one wipe, or of using a napkin and watching the skin rise red and bumpy where she’d had to press too hard to get it clean. Now, she luxuriated with the wipes. She would gather a stroke’s worth of poop, toss it onto the dirty diaper and grab another wipe. And instead of crying and squirming while she changed her, Baby would hold still and smile.
Yes, it was good to have money again. Alice would never ask Donny to quit his job, especially now that he wasn’t talking about doing it himself, but after the novelty of the paycheck wore off, Alice found herself envying Donny’s position. It was hard work, she knew. He’d come home with his hands battered from shucking oysters and cutting onions, but he’d also come home with a glow in his eye and stories to tell about his coworkers. Alice couldn’t remember the last time she’d spoken to an adult. With everything automated now, she could go days without even talking to a checker at the store. She envied Donny his freedom, his walks home at one in the morning with the crisp air still flush from people out partying. She envied that he could go whole days without wiping anyone’s shit but his own. Sometimes he would come home with a swagger, and the smell of dark beer on his breath, and she envied him that even more.
He never brought any drinks home for Alice. He did bring her the paycheck. Sometimes already cashed. Sometimes spent a little. But always enough for Baby. When Alice would say something, about the drinks or about envy, that was always his response: “You’ve enough for Baby, yeah? Isn’t that enough?” A stiff pause. A tight suck of breath. Somewhere behind them, the soft rustle of Baby turning in her crib. “You are so ungrateful Alice.”
Ungrateful. The word would bounce across the four tight walls. Ungrateful. It pinged across Alice’s chest, across Baby’s. Sometimes, a small, sleep whimper would escape her, and Alice would know what she felt was real.
Baby. A soft, pink, doll-like creature, only more fragile and weighty than any doll Alice had ever owned. Sometimes Alice would go outside to stand in a square of sunlight drawn upon the concrete. She’d have the baby wrapped around her in the black cloth wrap that all the rich women used. It had taken her days to master that thing. She’d nearly clawed out her eyes. But she’d done it. Now she could wrap Baby in a pinch, all her chubby, gelatinous limbs flopping around, too young to resist. Now she could stand in the sunlight with Baby docile against her, and imagine the sun a long beam straight to the Unknown. “Beam me up,” she’d whisper. “Beam me up,” like on the old space show Daddy used to watch, his feet tucked up on a recliner, a beer can pinched between his knees.
Alice didn’t have much when it came to extra things. Things for herself. She found herself looking forward to Baby’s dirty diapers, so she could experience the revelry of waste. Ten wipes sometimes she’d use for one mess.
“Why do you go through wipes so fast?” Donny demanded, every once in a while, grumpy, counting the beers lost in his head.
“This is what I need to care for Baby,” returned Alice. “Don’t be so ungrateful.” It was true; there was a power in throwing that word at a person. She liked it.
One night, Donny came home early. He was all swagger and beer stench and bloated self-talk.
“Why so drunk?” Alice goaded, eyeing Baby still in her crib. She hadn’t expected her husband for at least another half hour. She hadn’t moved Baby to their bed yet, which meant she was defenseless against his advances.
Donny was so drunk, a loud belch in response would have been the perfect cliché, but instead he stripped off his sweat and grease drenched clothes, item by item.
“The Sous Chef is leaving,” he said, his voice stitched by repressed hiccups. “He brought us beer.”
“Must have had a lot of it.”
He lifted his hands, two white birds sleeping with heads tucked. “I didn’t pay for it. What do you care?”
Alice said nothing. She looked down at Baby. Baby’s breaths were soft and even. Her cheeks were rosed from heat. Alice loosed the blanket wrapped around her. Her long eyelashes fluttered, mimicked by the gentle cast of their shadow. Alice reached her hands into the crib, began scooping Baby into her arms.
Donny wrapped his arms around Alice’s waist.
“No,” he said, his voice husky, his breath heavy with alcohol, “not yet.”
“She was crying, Donny,” Alice said, “before you came in.” Her heart hammered in her chest.
“She’s not crying now,” Donny slurred. He twirled Alice and kissed her, hard and sloppy. “Come to bed,” he pleaded, “How long has it been?” He caressed Alice’s arm down to the fingers, lifting it, then letting go, leaving the arm to hang in beckon as he ambled toward the bed.
Alice sighed. How long had it been? All the excuses lay at the tip of her tongue. “But the baby.” “Oh, I’m tired.” “God, do you want to hear about the giant shit I had to clean today?” Any one might do, especially the last one. But there was an insistence to Donny’s desire tonight, and Alice didn’t want to live with the alternative if she said no. She made her way to the bedroom. At least it won’t last long, she thought, as she dropped her clothes silently to the floor.
Alice stared at the ceiling. Donny’s arm lay across her, heavy like a board. Like debris after a bad storm. The night felt crowded by silence. All of Alice’s anxieties and regrets, which she was normally able to stave off with busywork, with Baby cries, with fights; all of her thoughts were loud now. Frantic. Frenetic, whipping across the deep space of silence, racing for attention. And all the while Donny’s heavy arm across her chest.
She lifted the arm, paused for a moment, then brought it to her lips. She fitted her mouth over a small portion of Donny’s forearm, worked her teeth around the flesh, and gave it a hard, quick bite. Donny pulled his arm back, whimpering in his sleep. Alice rose. She sat on the edge of the bed for a moment, before slipping into her robe.
“Where are you going?” Donny asked, his voice burred from slumber.
“Bathroom,” Alice responded, curt, not tempering her volume as Donny always insisted.
“Sssshhh.” He tossed onto his back, a smooth, petulant motion. Alice felt something unclench within her.
After stopping by the bathroom to clean herself with rote, insensitive swipes, she walked to the dining nook. She stood motionless for a moment, her own breath held, listening for the sound of Baby’s breathing in the adjacent room. Once she was satisfied that Baby was still alive, Alice lifted the bag of quarters sitting atop the dingy, overcrowded breakfast bar which separated dining nook from kitchen. She pulled the bag open, slipped her hand inside, and felt the cool coins slide over her knuckles. She fanned her fingers, closed them, fanned them again, pinching the quarters that fell between each time.
Outside the window, the moon shone brightly. The moon must be full tonight, Alice thought, observing the pale shaft of silvered light as it moved slowly across the sidewalk.
Alice pulled her hand from the bag, coins clattering to the floor and spilling across the counter top. She pulled open the sliding door, and stepped into the tiny, unfenced square of her patio. She could feel the breeze moving between the loose folds of her robe. The street was empty. Only the light moved across it. When Alice stepped out, it paused, hovered over the sidewalk for a moment, and slowly slid back toward her. Awe climbed within her, somewhere beneath the dullness which had overtaken her the past few months.
When the light moved over her, engulfing, the depressed lethargy to which she had grown accustomed lifted, and was replaced by a prickling ecstasy. She looked up. In the dark sky, where she had expected a moon, instead hovered a pinkish bubble, sheen with iridescence, but opaque beneath the shine. The light came down from its belly. Her skin prickled in the electric charge.
A buzzing filled Alice’s head, sudden, too loud.
Just as suddenly it stopped.
“Hello,” spoke a new voice within Alice’s mind.
“Who are you?” said another, this one kinder, more fluted than the first.
Alice gasped. She began to shiver. “Who-who are you?” Alice stuttered. The shaking grew violent.
“You’re frightened?” asked the first voice.
“In shock I think,” said the other.
“Yes,” Alice breathed.
“We are Yxy and Ny-taeyarll.”
“We come from another galaxy.”
The shock was wearing away, though Alice didn’t understand why. If anything, it should be growing.
Yxy, the first voice, spoke, “We have charged our ray with calming electrons.”
“Can you read my mind?” Alice asked.
“It’s not mind reading,” replied the second voice, Ny-taeyarll, apparently.“It’s actually a process of energy exch-“
“All that can be learned in time,” Yxy interrupted, “if you join us.”
Alice remembered, with a subtle queasy shock, that she was standing near-naked in her joke of a backyard, behind the mobile home she rented with her drunk of a husband, which they shared with their newborn baby.
“I have a family,” she breathed, “a baby.”
Yxy laughed. It was a jarring sound. Harsh, too metallic. More like a car crash than laughter, but somehow Alice recognized it. “There are millions of babies on this planet alone. Across the whole universe–”
This time it was Ny-taeyarll who interrupted. “You can be a mother again. There are other species which are breeding compatible with yours. We have seen it before.” A pause. “And we cycle Earth every two decades, by your time standards. You could not reveal yourself, but you could see this child again.”
Alice didn’t know what to say. She could feel the panic her brain was signaling as it combated against the calming electrons, or whatever it was that was making this beam such a calming place to stand beneath.
“Are you really happy here?” Ny-taeyarll cooed. “You can see all the suns of the multiverse. You can live a thousand years with us, and still be young. You can take a lover on every planet. You can–”
Behind Alice, the baby began to cry.
“She’s not coming,” Yxy said, decisive. The light moved away.
Alice felt the coldness of the world again. The panic and doldrums of her life flooded back into her limbs. All that levity, all that ecstasy that she had felt, gone. The baby wailed in the home behind her. The light moved slowly along the sidewalk, away from her.
There was hesitation. There was a struggle. Don’t think there was not.
“Wait,” Alice called, raising her arms as high as she could. “Wait!”
The light slid back toward her. “I’ll come,” she said, her heart pounding, her breath trying to catch the words even as she forced them out.
Alice felt her pupils dilate as the light engulfed her once more. Her limbs began to buzz. Her skull filled with pressure. There was panic for a moment, then calm, as she lifted from the ground, lifted away from the world and life she had always known, lifted toward the great bubble of the spaceship, toward something she could not yet fathom, something possibly dangerous, something new.
It was true, what Yxy and Ny-taeryll had told her, all those years ago, on that lonely night in EarthWinter when they had abducted her from her human life. A lot had changed about her, inside. She was mostly bionic now. On the outside, though, the most noticeable difference was the thick scar that ran halfway across her throat and curved scythe-like down her chest. With the medical capacities of every advanced nation in the multiverse at her disposal, it could have been easily corrected. But she liked it there. It was a reminder, of caution and folly, but also of her own strength. There were also the taut muscles; real muscles, developed on a body that now knew how and when to fight, or to flee, or to love.
It was true, too, that she’d had other babies. Mostly with her grey-skinned lover on the planet Idyll, as she had named it for herself, where the males of the species bore and nurtured the children. She had borne one other, who lived on the ship with her. A boy, this one. Almost human, but for the spiked ears, the double set of teeth. He slept now. She could hear his steady, rapid breaths as she watched the curve of earth emerge into view. She had visited her EarthDaughter four times already, never making herself known until her last visit, when her daughter’s mind was already aged and lost enough to accept that her mother was an intergalactic space traveler. Ny-taeryll (Yxy was no longer on their ship) had promised to show Alice how to identify the child’s reincarnation. Alice was still deciding whether or not she wanted to know.
As the ship approached orbit, Alice released her thoughts. She had time, this time, to decide. This was, finally, the ambassador trip to Earth; the reason she had been taken in the first place. It had taken fifty years, but Earth had finally reached an ethical and technological balance that the Council of the Multiverse had deemed ready for Contact. Alice would have plenty of time to decide if she wanted to meet her newly reborn daughter.
For now, she had the dials to turn, the ship to ready for travel through Earth’s atmosphere. For now, she had her viewpanel, and the valley of stars beyond.
To enter your 300-750 word story, first “Like” the Betty’s Battleground Facebook Page. Next, find the Fiction Fridays #2 post, and leave your story in a comment below. Entries will be accepted until 9pm PST on Saturday. Winners will be contacted via Messenger on Saturday night for preferred penname and whatever bio info you would like associated with your post. Posts will go up on Sunday morning! I look forward to reading what you write!
If the FB hyperlink didn’t work, you can find us at www.facebook.com/bettysbattleground
The entry deadline has passed but feel free to leave your stories in the comments below!
If you would like to suggest a writing prompt for next Friday, leave it in a comment below!
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