Well, I totally forgot to post this last month. We skipped May due to our scheduled meeting date falling on Mother’s Day and the library not having an opening on other dates, so we met in June. This should have been posted in July at the latest but… well, we all know how well I remember things. Anyway, the prompt was centered around Midsummer (or the summer solstice). I wanted the day to be important in a magical sense but wasn’t sure how I was going to use it. What I ended up with owes some credit to Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series. Not fanfic, per se, but definitely influenced by that series. If you haven’t read it, I recommend that you do. If you want to read my flash, carry on!
They called her crazy, and maybe she was. She didn’t know. She didn’t care. She just knew she had to try. Try to return to that place that used to be hers. Try to return home.
Oh, this had once been her home, before she opened a door and found wonder and magic around every corner. How could she not mourn firelight dancing along her fingertips, pixies in her hair, and nectar on her lips? This place was too busy, too loud, too full of iron and steel and science. She loved her parents, she did. She did! But this wasn’t her place anymore, if it ever was.
So, she waited. For thirteen years, she played her part, pretended her heart wasn’t breaking with each passing minute, yet never stopped looking for a way back. So many dead ends, so many false hopes, so many times she’d been tempted to give up and accept she was stuck in this place that no longer felt real. Piece by piece, bit by bit, she gathered all the tiny fragments of information and stitched them into a map and found hope.
She cried, then. Cried as she hadn’t since she tumbled through that simple, terrible door and left her home behind. And then she went to work.
Waiting for the correct time was both the easiest, and the hardest part of the formula. Midwinter would have been better, magic survived this world only in the darkest of shadows, but she hadn’t been ready until Spring. She’d put her hopes in Midsummer and pray Titania smiled upon her.
She made her chalk as she had since her earliest days with the Archmage, with fresh eggshells, hand-ground flour, and spring water. Two drops each of her blood and tears bound the chalk to her. No chemicals to confuse the magic or bind her more tightly to this world.
Next, she drew the circles—three rings around a central trapdoor set into the basement floor, each containing symbols learned from a true master of the arts. If she closed her eyes, she could still hear the sweep of the Archmage’s quill across the parchment, see the glint of candlelight off the wet ink, and feel the rap of the cane across her knuckles when her attention wandered. She studied her finished work and nodded once. Master Oromus would be proud.
She placed eight candles around the circles, four at the cardinal points on the outer ring, four on the ordinals of the middle ring. The last she kept for herself. She’d created them with natural dyes and beeswax, adding a drop of her blood for the binding. Touching the northern candle, she whispered the only incantation that worked in this land. A bright flame sparked to life and settled into a steady glow. She lit the outer ring, then the inner, and finally her own.
It was time.
Cradling the candle as the clock chimed midnight, she spoke the words she hoped would take her home again and opened the door.