Saturday, September 27, 2014

Beyond Price, conclusion, short fiction by Rebecca P Minor

Part V
Part VI
The wee hours of the morning wore on, and Veranna’s cheek bounced against her father’s back, since the strength to hold her head up another moment had left her long ago. The horse they rode grew slower and slower, tripping more often. They splashed through a shallow brook at a plodding trot, and the water spattered Veranna’s face with cold spray. She flinched but did not lift her head. How odd to be clutching a virtual stranger so closely, and yet at the same time, to feel more at home than she could ever remember. If only the fierce tingle harassing her skin would abate, she could almost be comfortable. Drift to sleep, even.
Her father reined the horse to a stop once they had put the stream behind them. “Veranna,” he whispered.
“Yes.” Veranna grimaced. In the time her swollen lips had gone unused, they had stiffened. Were any of her teeth loose? In all the commotion, she had failed to check.
“Let us see to your hurts and put you in some proper travel clothes, now that we have put some distance between ourselves and the caravan.” Veranna’s father bent his knee to his chest and pulled his foot over the horse’s neck, then worked his other boot free of the stirrup and hopped to the ground. He reached up and took her by the waist. When he slid her from the saddle, she eased gently to the ground, and her father showed no sign of the slightest strain in lowering her. His ageless face bore no lines of weariness in the wan glow of the setting moon.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Beyond Price, Part VI short fiction by Rebecca P Minor


Playing catch up on this story? Find all the previous installments here:
Veranna hopped down from the edge of the stage and stalked for the showground exit. What choice do I have? The weasel. But he’s wrong—how could I ever love someone like him? At least I’ll still have many years to live once he’s in his grave . . .
Something slammed into Veranna’s side and bowled her over. Fingers groped through her hair and wrenched her head back. A fist drove into her teeth, and stars burst across her vision. She kicked and clawed from her attacker’s grasp.
“Oh no you don’t!” a female voice shrieked. The attacker caught hold of the rear panel of Veranna’s skirt. Seams strained and threatened to tear.
Veranna wheeled. Merina. She spat a mouthful of blood.
“Two nights now we’ve made no money on your account, you shameless tramp,” Merina said. “We all know why he keeps you.” She pulled a knife from her belt.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Beyond Price, Part V, short fiction by Rebecca P Minor

Please Note: this story steps solidly into PG-13 territory for occasional frankness of content from this point forward

Veranna knelt on one knee, her arms opened wide, her face to the stars, her chest rising and falling with hungry draughts of air. A trickle of perspiration ran down her bare back, and the night air chilled the trail it left. But she had finished the dance, the most technically challenging she had ever performed. Magnificently, even to her own critical appraisal. The crowd of men beyond the stage lights whooped and whistled.
“I give you, the enchantress Veranna!” Bodini boomed from stage left. “Faerie princess of all delights!”
“Dance it again!” a man yelled through cupped hands.
“Yeah, again,” others echoed. “Dance, princess!”
A tall, ruddy-haired man in a smartly-tailored waistcoat, knickers, and a short cape lined in gold satin shouted over them all, “But without the skirt!”

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Beyond Price, Part IV, short fiction by Rebecca P Minor




A shiver ran through Veranna’s body, and she sank to her knees, burying her face in her hands. After a moment of shock too great for tears, a familiar softness enrobed her shoulders. She lifted her face to find Mamá draping an angora blanket over her. For a moment she was childlike again, and her mother possessed tenderness for her, not just wearied exasperation. A black and blue knot rising on Mamá’s cheek shattered the memory.
“What was he talking about, Mamá?” Veranna asked. “What’s his . . . what we deserve?”
Mamá avoided her glance. “I don’t want to talk—”
“No!” Veranna clutched the blanket closer. “What is this ‘arrangement?’ Is there some way to keep me from having to dance in this? It’s beautiful in some ways, but . . .”
“It’s alluring, not beautiful,” Mamá said. “There’s a difference.”
“Why is Master Bodini acting like he can sell me?”
Mamá’s resident look of pain resurfaced and contorted her face. “Because he can.” The words came out so quietly that Veranna nearly missed them.
“What? How?”

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Beyond Price, Part III short fiction by Rebecca P Minor

Catch up on Part I and Part II 
Veranna tightened the last rope around the peg at the front corner of her mother’s tent, then tested the peg with her foot. It stayed put, but with the sandiness of the soil, Veranna wondered if perhaps they might find themselves in a collapsing mound of canvas in the middle of the night. She sniffed the tang of salt in the air and brushed wayward curls the constant breeze pushed across her face.
However secure it was, it would have to do. The sky was already burning pink and gold from the setting sun, and the crowds would soon filter into the showgrounds. Veranna gathered her skirts and ran for the ring of wagons. If the patrons here at the seacoast were anything like Mamá remembered, tonight would be a big night for building up her deed. Why Mamá seemed so melancholy about it, Veranna could only guess.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Beyond Price part II; short fiction by Rebecca P Minor

Missed part I? Read it here.

The torches blazed bright even as they burned low, all in a ring around the crowd of cheering
revelers that filled the center of the gypsy camp. Veranna squinted against the glare reflecting from the metal bowls at the stage’s edge, where lamps guttered and cast their glow on the line of dancers. She curtsied for the twentieth time that night, and the five dancers to both her left and right followed suit, though they all rose slowly. Though none of the troupe was as new to a full night of performances as was Veranna, they all looked just as drained as she felt, their gestures sluggish and eyelids heavy. The musky aroma of flowers past their peak mingled with smoke and spilt cider. Veranna wrinkled her nose during the final bow.
“Are they not vision from paradise?” Bodini yelled from the corner of the stage. He swung a substantial, hairy arm toward the troupe, then took a long pull from a flask in his opposite hand.
The crowd roared its agreement.
“And this one,” the caravan master continued as he strode heavily toward center stage. He snaked his arm about Veranna’s waist and yanked her against his side. “There is no caravan that brings greater delight. Show her you love her, eh?”
Many in the throng tossed silver—even gold—coins onto the stage, and Veranna gasped. Already Bodini’s pouch bulged with the coin he had collected in admission to the evening’s performances of sword swallowers, jugglers, acrobats, contortionists, and the dance troupe. But coins that hit the stage—those who performed upon it got a share of such earnings. The caravan master beamed while the coins arced past, glowing like shooting stars in the stage lights.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Beyond Price, a short story, part 1 of Many

Authors who blog well--you have my unabashed envy. Those of you who can craft life's little observations into poignant and reflective articles, you truly have a gift I do not. I update this blog out of a personal obligation: I created it, and it deserves to have some sort of continuing life because of that.
But I suck at articles.
And so, today, I bring you a bit of an experiment--the first part of a short story. The whole thing is about 50 pages in all, so if I maintain a steady installment size, this will take between 8 and 10 posts to offer you the whole thing. If people want it, sure, I'll keep posting it. If not, we'll chalk it up as a placeholder until I figure out how to write decent articles or con someone else into doing them for me.

For now, I hope you enjoy Beyond Price, the tale of a half-elven adolescent gypsy and her search for freedom.
Beyond Price, part 1
The singing tone of viol and lyre swelled with a driving tremor of tambourine, and at their
command, Veranna spun on the ball of her bare foot, her arms poised with flourish and her ornamental coin belt jingling. She swayed within the music’s rhythmic embrace, at once lost deep within herself and soaring on ethereal heights. Expression poured though limbs and motion.
A hazy-edged presage filled her mind, and within it, a svelte maiden leapt toward the night sky. The dancer’s ensemble covered only the barest minimum of her curves. A jeweled bodice that left midriff and shoulders bare glittered with every shift of position; a sheer, slit skirt flared from her waist like beams of light. When the dancer cast a flirtatious glance to the roaring crowd of men that filled the showgrounds beyond the stage lip, Veranna snatched a clear glimpse of the performer’s face. Her breath caught. This was no scantily-clad stranger—she watched herself!