Praise: A Short Story

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How are you all?

Well, today I decided to share a short story with you. But I couldn’t decide which one because I have written a lot of short stories in my life. So earlier today, I spent ages going through my old files and agonising over which one to choose and I happened to come across a very old story of mine, which I hadn’t so much as thought about in the last few years. I gave it a read through and found that I actually liked it quite a lot.

So, for your enjoyment, I present Praise: A Short Story.

(P.S. This short story came from a prompt I created for a friend of mine, the prompt being the first sentence, which is in Italics and it was inspired by the Casting Crowns song Praise you in This Storm.)

Praise

The wind blew right through the screen door and a phone flashed with new messages, and a hot cup steamed beside it, the storm clouds drew closer, threatening rain.

I sighed and stared at the phone with its new message icon flashing. You’d think it would have stopped. You’d think God would have reached down by now, you’d think he would have wiped my tears from my cheeks; you’d think the rain would have stopped pouring. But it hadn’t.

The drum of real raindrops woke me from my reflections, I dropped to my knees by the screen door, staring out at the sudden pounding downpour and I whispered a prayer. “Amen.”

I opened the door and stepped out into the rain, merely on a crazy impulse. I felt the cold sheets soak me instantly and a drop run down the bridge of my nose. I almost laughed.

I sat down, right there and listened to the thunder as it rolled over the hills in front of my house. Lord, where are you? I can’t carry on! I pleaded, whether or not aloud I’m not sure. I cupped my hands and watched as a small puddle of rainwater formed in them, before trickling away through the gaps in my fingers.

Another clap of thunder echoed in my valley as I stood there, blind and unsure of what to do, salt water melding with fresh on my cheeks. Then I heard it. Afterwards I was never sure whether it was real or whether I imagined it or both. But I heard it and it helped me, “I am with you.” Through the rain, through the thunder, through the storm. “I am with you.”

I lifted my face to the angry black storm clouds, rain pelting my face. A burst of laughter suddenly escaped from my throat. I raised my hands and found myself laughing in the middle of a storm. I did a little dance around my backyard and then stared at the hills that blossomed  just over from my place. It reminded me of a Bible verse I’d learnt as a child in Sunday school. I lift my eyes to the hills, from where comes my help? My help comes from the Lord.

I will praise the Lord who gives and takes away.

I threw my head back again, “I will praise you in this Storm!” I shouted.

There we go, what did you think? Did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments, :D. I hope my writing has improved since this piece years ago, however it will always hold a special place in my heart. 

 

The Penprints Flash Fiction Dash (The Dragon in the Mini)

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UPDATE: Last night I tried to post this but the formatting ended up all crazy. Hopefully this updated version works better!

Hey there, two posts in one day! I know, amazing right?

Lately I participated in the Penprints Flash Fiction Dash, which was so much fun (check out Rosalie’s blog , it’s well worth it!)

Anyway, here’s my entry for it, I hope you enjoy.

*Note I do not own the picture below, it was merely my prompt* 

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The Dragon in the Mini

By: Chelsea Hindle

When my elder sister, Freya, suggested we go for a drive and have a coffee together, I raised my eyebrows and folded my arms.

“We’ve lived together for, what, seventeen years? And you suddenly feel like getting to know me?”

“Stop being such a teenager,” Freya replied, rolling her eyes. I was tempted to point out that eye rolling was a predominantly teenaged activity, but I resisted the temptation.

“Fine,” I replied, “But we’ve gotta be back before eight so that I can catch the final episode of Sherlock. I’m not missing out on Sherlock just so I can sit and watch you drink coffee.”

“Whatever,” was Freya’s reply.

Several minutes later we were in Freya’s ’70 model green Mini, rattling along the highway from our home. About ten minutes, she suddenly zipped onto a side road.

“Since we’re making a day out of it,” She told me nonchalantly, “We might as well take the scenic route.”

My dad was a fan of “taking the scenic route” and that usually ended us up lost. I should have taken control right then and there, demanded that we turn around and go on the highway or something. But I didn’t. I just sat there, determined to be grouchy and glared out the front windscreen.

At first everything was fine. I mean, other than Freya trying to absolute best to get me to talk to her about deep and meaningful things.

“Do you have a boyfriend yet, Sunny?” she asked me cheerfully, tapping her fingers on the dashboard in time with the Ed Sheeran song playing.

“Nope.”

“How’s school?”

“Okay, I guess.”

“Do you do anything interesting?”

“Probably not.” I paused for a minute, watching the gum trees flash past and a bird neatly dodge the windscreen. “What about you? Have you been doing anything interesting?”

Freya considered this, still tapping out a tattoo on her steering wheel. “Probably not.” She finally answered.

“You hesitated.” I said, crossing my arms.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Freya demanded.

“Well, you’re lying. You have been doing something interesting.”

Freya exhaled sharply and stopped tapping, “How would I know what you think is interesting?”

“I don’t know.”

Silence blanketed us for a long while and despite myself, I began to enjoy the trip, though I would never have admitted that to Freya. I found myself staring out the window, admiring the sleek white trunks of the eucalyptus, the never-ending fields beyond those of dusty yellow, dotted with sheep or cattle, the deep blue of the sky, the birds playing through the trees. It’s kinda nice out here. I decided.

My attention was drawn back to the car by a funny squeaking sound, like the noise baby magpies make. Another sound followed it, something that sounded like claws scratching across metal.

I glanced quickly at Freya, who didn’t seem to have heard anything.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“What’s what?” Freya replied. Had her face coloured slightly?

“Didn’t you just hear it? Like, a squeaking sound from your car?”

“Ah…. well, you know…you know my car, it makes funny sounds.”

I raised my eyebrows. Freya was definitely blushing that time. She turned the radio up and was just about to start singing, off-key, to an Icehouse song when there came a sputtering from the engine of the Mini.

There was another squawking, and the whole Mini shuddered.

The car coasted to an ominous halt just inside the boundaries of a tiny country town, beside the only concrete footpath in the whole place. Freya clambered out of the car, muttering under her breath. “Okay? What now?” she asked, maybe talking to the world in general, maybe talking to me, it was hard to tell.

“Pop the bonnet,” I advised, “Then you’ll look like you know what you’re doing.”

Surprisingly, Freya followed my advice and popped the bonnet and then stared into it, like she might stare at a page of Latin. Then a look of horror flicked over her face.  “Hey!” she hissed, plunging into her bonnet. “Hey you! Come back!”

I stared at her, “You feeling okay?”

Freya ignored me, grabbed at something inside the engine and then started back abruptly, sticking her finger in her mouth. “Burnd myfelf.” She mumbled, fingers in mouth.

I sat down on the pavement, pulling my knees up to my chin, and stared morosely at her.  “Remember what I said about Sherlock!” I reminded her as she pulled out her phone.

“Drat Sherlock! There’s worse things to worry about!” Freya snapped back.

“What do you mean ‘drat Sherlock’?” I mumbled under my breath. “This was all your idea. It’s not my fault.”

Meanwhile, Freya was tapping a number into her phone. She ignored me, and dialed the number. “Hey…yeah, I know…yeah…” she frowned, “I didn’t mean to! I don’t go around just releasing—” she glanced sideways at me. “I have Sunny with me.”

Curiosity sparked by Freya’s weird conversation, I got up and peered into the Mini. In the depths of the gloom, I thought I saw something move there, like a flick of a lizard’s tail. I bent forward to get a better look, but Freya noticed and shooed me away before I could see it properly.

“I realise that!” she growled, “What can I do? The stupid creature’s blown up my engine and I’m stranded in the middle of nowhere.  This wasn’t what I had planned!”

Fine, fine, I’m coming!” 

Freya snorted and hung up.

“You’ve got something in there,” I peered around her. “What is it?”

“None of your business.” Freya stepped in front of me.

“There’s something in there! It’s a lizard thing.” I narrowed my eyes, “You weren’t at Uni, were you?”

Freya squirmed. Then something small and brown shot from the engine and latched onto her hand. She squealed, then grabbed the creature and stuffed it into her jacket. But not before, I saw something which looked uncommonly like a tiny… dragon.

“What is that?”

Freya opened her mouth, shut it quickly, and then opened it again. “Its, uh, well. Yeah.” Her shoulders suddenly sagged. “No, I wasn’t at Uni.”

I frowned at this admission, “What were you doing then?”

Freya glanced around, then retrieved the little dragon from her pocket and held it out on her hand. “Hey, calm down, little fella,” She crooned to the dragon. “It’s okay, Benedict, Sunny won’t hurt you.”

“So, if you weren’t at Uni, what were you doing?”

Freya grinned sheepishly, then winced as Benedict bit her finger again. “I was studying fantastical creatures. That’s how I came across Benedict. He needed a mum, so I’m taking care of him.”

I peered down at Benedict, whose long tongue flicked out and licked his nose. He tilted his head and stared at me with his big eyes.

“He’s…cute.” I said finally. It should have surprised me that my sister had a dragon in her car, but it really didn’t. I’d always thought Freya might be related to a dragon. This simply proved my suspicion.

Freya smiled shyly, “You won’t tell Mum and Dad?”

I shook my head quickly, “No way!  You’re suddenly a whole lot cooler than you were an hour ago.”

Freya blushed, “Thanks.”  Then she rolled her eyes, “You’re only saying that because you want to hold him!”

I grinned back, “Nope, but…” I raised my eyebrows.

Benedict scampered onto my arm and Freya peered at her engine. “Well thanks a lot, for ruining my engine.” She muttered to him. “Hopefully, someone will get here soon and can take a look at this.” She blew hair out of her eyes.  Then she turned to look at me and Benedict flapped back to her arm and crept into her jacket.

“I’m sorry about this, Sunny. I really hope we get out of here in time to catch Sherlock.”  She said, actually sounding genuine

“Ah,” I waved my hand vaguely, “I don’t mind. I don’t even mind if I have to wait until it comes out on disc. This is the most fun I’ve had in ages!” I paused, “Thanks.”

Freya opened her mouth, probably to say something elegant and poetic, but she barked suddenly as Benedict emerged just long enough to bite her on the stomach.

“He’s—ow!—teething—ouch!”

I grinned, and then started to laugh. It was nice to laugh with my sister, laugh at my sister.

“Best day ever. You know, you’re okay.”

Black & White Snippet For Your Enjoyment

Hopefully, Thursday’s will be my day for posting Open Pen Critiques, on days that I don’t have anything to critique, I will post a snippet of my own writing.

This is an excerpt from the second chapter of my novel Black & White. I hope you enjoy my first draft, unedited snippets. God bless, 🙂 (By the way, the above picture has nothing to do with my post, I just thought it was pretty).

 

Black & White Excerpt

It was starting to get dark as Alea hurried home to her suburb of Lexia. She was just beginning to wonder whether she should have taken a taxi–she never felt safe walking at night– when a cold wind unexpectedly rushed paster her. Alea’s hair stood on end and she shivered, glancing around the street shrouded in gather twilight.

A strange wind. She thought, wrapping her cardigan more securely around her. And odd for this time in February. Maybe I’m imagining things. She dismissed herself as crazy and kept walking.

Suddenly there was another cold rush, but this time she caught sight of a blue and silver streak out of the corner of her eye. She spun around to face an empty street. “What’s going on?” she hissed aloud, feeling fright creeping up on her.

“I’ll tell you what’s going on.”

The voice was deep and ringing, and again Alea spun around only to see a silver and blue streak flash past her.

“You need to stop meddling where you aren’t wanted.” Came the voice, again from behind her.

That voice is disguised, she realised, knotting her eyebrows together in puzzlement. But not by an ordinary voice disguiser. She turned again, this time slowly. There was no silver and blue streak, only a man standing illuminated in the weak orange light of a street lamp. At least, Alea assumed it was a man,  but his face was concealed by a blue mask that hid the higher portion of his face. The rest of his body was hidden beneath a close-fitting blue and silver suit. A cold hand gripped Alea’s heart as she watched him.

“Who are you?” she asked, trying to keep her voice from shaking.

“That is none of your concern.” The silver and blue flash, and then the man was standing less than half a meter from her. “But if you need a name to call me by, you can call me Blue Lightning.”

“And what do you want with me?” Alea took a step back. The man in blue stepped forward, keeping the space between them equal.

“I don’t want anything with you. You aren’t important to me. But your brother is. Tell him to stay away from Dr Verne. Dr Verne is a dangerous man and he will only cause you both grief.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

A smile, and not a friendly smile, curved across the mouth of the costumed figure. “Because,” he whispered, his voice lowered to a hiss, “Because I am in need of Conlan Blake and my master will pay handsomely for his services. Tell Blake to stay away from Dr Verne and we all will be happy, won’t we?”

Alea shook her head frantically, this man is crazy. She turned to run, but the silver streak twisted around her and grabbed her by the arm. “Do we have a deal, Miss Blake?”

“No.” she managed to force out, even as the man’s fingernails bit into her skin. “I don’t know who you are and I don’t know what you want, but I’m not letting Conlan anywhere near the likes of you. Now, let me go or I’ll scream.”

Blue Lightning scanned her, as if trying to decide whether she was bluffing or serious. Finally, he let go of her. “Warn him, Miss Blake. And thank you for giving me that important piece of information—your brother’s name. Conlan Blake. Conlan Blake.” The man put his hand on her shoulder and she jerked away. “Don’t tell anyone of this meeting or I’ll be forced to pay you another visit. The next one much less pleasant.”

There was a rush of cold air and the blue and silver streak vanished, leaving Alea standing alone on the darkened street, still clutching Dr Verne’s papers to her chest.

 

Well, how did that go? What do you think of An Ordinary Pen so far?

God Bless,

Chelsea 🙂