Warning: this is extremely silly. But it got into my head, and I would like to get it out, so here goes:
Lucy was young and beautiful and brave, and lived in a palace of glass, and the rooms were clean and the floors were plain and there was food and fountains and a brother and a sister, and there were also her captors. The corralled gardens of the palace were plain and thinly seeded, and bounded on all sides by a wall that stretched higher than Lucy could see or reach or climb, but in them lived a raspberry bush named Annabel Lee.
Lucy, when she escaped the palace proper (briefly, before the captors came lumbering out and lunged down and took her in and away and scolded her as if it were not her gardens, and her palace, and all her world besides) found the raspberry bush to be the most interesting place, and so visited it, and hid among its canes and leaves. And she found that the raspberry bush was subtle and still, and full of the gentle tappings of leaf against leaf and stalk against stalk, and the shadows fell and played across each other like ripples chasing each other across a pond. And she declared her love for the raspberry bush, the lovely tangled plant that was not at all like her clean stiff home, and the raspberry bush (which was named Annabel Lee) loved her back.
“Lucy,” her captors said sternly as they took her knives away (even though she had not been using them), and tossed her to the palace floor, “good grief, stay inside and keep out of the raspberries.”
“It will not be,” Lucy said proudly, chin high in the air and eyes shining, though her captors forced her inside and dismissed her words as trilling foolishness. “For I am Lucy, darker than shadow and swifter than water, and you may take my knives for a little while but I shall always win them back, and you will not keep me from my love.” And they patted her head and fed her, which was not exactly respectful, but it did do to keep her strength up. And Lucy spent her summer by the glass walls that showed the garden, looking to Annabel Lee (who sometimes waved) and planning how she might reach her love.
“Stay home,” said her brother, “and sleep in the sunlight.”
“Stay home,” said her sister, “there are rules in this house.”
“Get back in here,” said her captors, after shrieking in shock and annoyance when she made it to the garden, and grabbing her by the scruff of her neck, and dragging her back inside. But she waited for them at the walls of glass, and in time they were so charmed by her sweet voice and gentle ‘suasions that they bound her carefully and took her outside. Not to the gardens of the glass palace, where she might have struggled free and run to her love, but to the grand entrance of it, and all the lands around it. And Lucy examined the lands most curiously, and played prettily in them, and saw that the palace stood atop a green hill and at the foot of that hill was a road that led off further than she could see.
So Lucy wandered through the palace, chirping prettily when her captors noticed her, and finding where many things were stored that had been thought unimportant. By the time the leaves were orange as candles, she had found an earthen pot, and a silk scarf as pink as amethyst was purple, and a spoon that would never bend, and a rock made out of honey, and a needle threaded with smoke, and a word for daylight. The edges of the word for daylight were as sharp as broken glass, and Lucy thought of using them when her captors went to sleep, but she loved her brother and sister and did not like to think how they would fare if her captors did not bring them food. So instead she stitched up their eyes and ears with the needle, and the smoke curled around them, and they slept more heavily than they had ever slept before. And then she used the word for daylight to crack a hole in the wall of glass.
Her hands were very soft, and not used to digging even in earth that did not have the prickly tough cords of raspberry runners winding through it, and so even though she used the spoon they were quite raw by the time she was done and had Annabel Lee (well, the canes of her that Lucy loved best) settled in the pot. Lucy tried to carry her, and could not, her fingers were so raw and numb.
But pots have holes for drainage, so Annabel Lee was able to snake her runners out to the road and walk herself along at quite a brisk pace. And with her creeping and Lucy trotting, they left the garden, and made their way down the green hill to the path that joined their part of the world with all the rest of it.
And so Lucy and Annabel Lee set out to make their way to France. It was a long and winding way to the shore where they would find the owl with the pea-green boat, and a long and windier way yet to cross the sea, but those are stories for another time.
2 thoughts on “Not quite a love story, nor a fairy tale, nor an adventure.”
I would like to see the cat-ness brought out and loved the line about honey rocks. Also, love the idea of an ordinary word as magic.
I specifically avoided making it clear, in the story, that she was a cat. I think it takes away from some of the fantasy; if she is Lucy, brave and fierce and determined to be with her love Annabel Lee (who oh god really needs a bigger part – I need to rewrite), then it is a story about… well, all the things in the title.
If she’s Lucy-the-cat, then part of the story turns into a game of “I wonder what the thing she’s seeing really is – obviously the walls are windows or glass doors, and the captors are humans, and her knives are claws”, and that real-world grounding undermines the idea of “a word for daylight” as something you could actually use to murder your captors because it a very sharp quasi-physical object, and her running away to France becomes a kind of sad delusion because she’ll probably end up either caught by the city and returned or else hit by a car.