Freak Shows and Firestorms

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via Pinterest

She couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen the stars.

It must have been the first time her stepfather threw her to ground right outside the barn and pounded the innocence from her little body. She had fixed her eyes on the North Star while he clawed at her young body and ripped away the threadbare linen that was plastered against his sweat-drenched chest. His drunken smell and calloused hands had ruined the beauty of the star-soaked sky and she kept her eyes closed each time after that.

Even tonight, under the Milky Way, rage filled her heart as she plotted. She watched the red horizon crackle with a fiery blaze and knew they had to go before the dogs showed up.

If only the stock market hadn’t crashed and her daddy hadn’t died. If only her mama hadn’t married that man or been passed out when the circus came through town. Millie’s stepfather grabbed her by the hair, dragged her through the kitchen and out the door while her mama slept off the absinthe purchased with a day’s wages.

The manager licked his chops at the curves barely hidden by her best dress and knew that the novelty of one green eye and one blue would bring more sad saps to the after-midnight tent. He thrust two dollars into the stepfather’s hand and took Millie.

She spit at and slapped the men who filled the burlesque show. She didn’t dance and never smiled. It was after Millie grabbed a customer’s knife and held it to his balls that the manager banished her to clean animal pens. She slept on the ground outside the wagons and used the steady sound of the horses’ breathing to block out the noise–invasive, lecherous thoughts of the men who filled the peep-show tent.

One day, she stole away to see the gypsy who she’d seen hiding in the corners of the grounds.  Millie was drawn to her bright, blue eyes framed by the colorful scarves that hid her brilliant red hair. She felt a kindred soul in her sad spirit and wanted to know more than what the woman’s veiled thoughts revealed.

Millie sat across from her and offered the two cents she’d earned the day before. The gypsy looked at Millie’s pixie face and pushed the pennies back. Her skin prickled with goose bumps as she took Millie’s palm, “You know the hearts of men. You can hear their thoughts?” It was more a statement than a question.

The gypsy continued to move her fingers along Millie’s palm and bristled at the touch of her skin.

“Hatred ravages your body. What is wrong, little one?”

Millie snatched her hand away, looked the gypsy square in the eye and said, “Nothing! You are full of shit!”

Millie hopped up from the table and knew she needed to run. But, it was too late. Sadness and self-loathing emanated from the gypsy and traveled across the room in crimson threads to tangle with Millie’s thoughts before she had a chance to leave.  Millie stopped at the door, turned around and grabbed the gypsy’s face on either side and peered into her lightless eyes.

In that moment, Millie saw every abomination and crime that had been committed against the poor woman. Lost lover and child. The Depression and human slavery. In one vision, she saw the gypsy laying in pig slop looking up to the heavens while the circus manager defiled her over and over again.

“What’s your name?” Millie asked.

“Madame….”

“Your real name!” she spat.

“Dorothy.”

“Dorothy, pack a bag.”

Without question, the gypsy filled a satchel and grabbed Millie’s hand as if in a trance. Millie squeezed it warmly and they exited the wagon under the cover of night with one lantern between them.

Millie could hear his dirty thoughts as she sneaked around the perimeter of the manager’s living quarters. She nearly vomited in disgust at his perverted dreams and her body shook as she torched the entrance and set fire to each corner of his tent. Even if he had been able to wake from his drunken stupor, he wouldn’t be able to escape.

After they reached a safe distance, Millie grasped Dorothy’s hand and sent a message of love and kinship. They watched the blaze a moment longer, set their sites on the North Star and wordlessly planned a trip back  to visit Millie’s stepfather.

aphoto

via Pinterest

 

 

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Woo Wee! 748 words of devilish fun. Not one to write much from my dark side, it was a lesson in exploration. All of you flash fiction readers/experts feel free to fire away with suggestions and comments. I cared about these characters, but I have no idea if you did and it seems that the reader caring about the characters is the most important thing…no matter what the plot or circumstances.

For those new to Yeah Write, click on the icon to see this week’s challenge sentence and video prompt. You still have time to join!

32 thoughts on “Freak Shows and Firestorms

    • Oh yay! I was a little scared how the story turned out when I gave in and let the characters take over. I also appreciated that they each knew more than they wanted to know…that was in my head, too.
      Thank you for stopping by I read, dear friend. I feel way more vulnerable in this space 😉

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    • Oh thank you!
      I am the same way with the first paragraph of anything I read. As always, I’m nervous to branch into fiction, but the prompt struck me and I thought “what the heck.”
      Thanks for stopping by and making my day!
      Michelle

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  1. I had a hard time getting into the story at first, it was well written but I didn’t like the subject though in the end I felt a deep intimacy with the characters and I hope they teach Millie’s stepfather a good lesson.
    Great work with the characters, also the night makes for more intimacy because you can have just your characters awake while everyone else is sleeping and it’s like they already share a secret. I recently studied The Homecoming by Harold Pinter where I learned (or became consciously aware) that at night you see people’s true nature. They don’t need to hide themselves because there’s no one (or almost) to see them.
    Anyway I’m rambling… Good story 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey friend,
      You are not rambling at all.
      First of all, thanks for hanging in with me to finish the story. I’m not so good at doing that with stories I can’t get into.
      You’ll also laugh at me. I was not a fan of the subject either. In fact, this piece started out so ugly that I almost ditched it. I just remember hearing stories from that era and thought I’d play around with it.
      You made such an interesting observation and reference to Harold Pinter. I’ll be sure to go check it out.
      Thank you again for hanging and taking the time to comment. It means the world to me.
      Michelle

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  2. This was brilliant. I adore Millie and Dorothy. You have something special here, baby.

    You grabbed my interest from the get-go, though in retro, I wonder if you could bypass the first few paragraphs and start it when she’s already at the circus? It felt like maybe you wanted to with this paragraph (it felt a tad out of place as it was, though if you opened with it it could work…)
    “Even tonight, under the Milky Way, rage filled her heart as she plotted. She watched the red horizon crackle with a fiery blaze and knew they had to go before the dogs showed up.”

    Will you please please please write a part two? I want more! Or maybe a piece from Dorothy’s POV (point of view)?

    Ever watch the show Carnival? 😉

    Some of your best!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oooh!! Good suggestion! In fact, I almost sent this to you before posting. I agree with your assessment and might rework it that way. The prompt had to be used in the first sentence of the story…I could just move it along, right?
      And YES…I loved Carnival. I couldn’t remember the name of the show until you said it. I’m so thrilled this made you think of it cuz that’s what I was channeling (although, hope it didn’t sound like plagiarizing!)
      And…do you watch the American Horror Story series? This season is titled Freak Show! I can’t wait (yep…my dark side is completely revealed now!)
      Thank you, Christy…I knew you’d be able to give me some constructive feedback.
      I wonder what Millie and Dorothy do next?!?! Xo

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  3. Great story and you told it exceptionally well! If this is your first foray into darker material, stick with it. Everything flowed nicely for me and I wanted more to read at the end. 🙂

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    • Oh, thank you!!!
      I was a bit nervous to go down this path, but hey…the characters took me there 🙂
      Speaking of well-written….I LOVED your story, In Plain Sight.
      I’m working with a delapidated work lap top in an airport and having some WP challenges. Just in case I don’t get back over there, I wanted you to know that your story has been my favorite so far. Haunting and beautiful and fantastic characters. Can’t wait to read more!
      Thanks for stopping by today!
      Michelle

      Psst….I just refilled the chips and salsa!

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  4. I fought the darkness this week as well, but it took over anyway. It’s great when you just let a story run like this.

    I sort of agree with the suggestions of starting from the paragraph at the circus, though I liked the fact that you linked the prompt line to the stars you see when you’re knocked out – that was a creative connection I hadn’t thought of. As for the characters, they are very intriguing and engaging. I really liked Dorothy (I have a thing about gypsies) and the idea of Millie being able to read thoughts. An interesting pair! I’d love to know more about them so the other suggestion about writing a piece from Dorothy’s pov also appeals to me.The only thing that confused me a bit was Millie’s vehemence when she was speaking to Dorothy. It might have been more in keeping with what she saw if she spoke softly to her instead.

    Keep writing fiction – this was great!

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    • Yep! We were both on the dark side (along with many others)
      You are one my favorite reasons for being part of the Yeah Write community.
      I truly appreciate your comments and assessment. I kind of excited to get started on the Dorothy POV!
      Regarding Millie’s demeanor. It was another part of her character I fought. You would think it’d be natural to respond to Dorothy in a kinder fashion (Millie was the one who sought her), but I think was taken aback to have someone discover her mind-reading secret and reacted the only way she knew how…with some anger and wall building. It’ll be interesting to see how their relationship develops.
      I wish I had more comments for your piece, but honestly…there was not a thing I would have changed. it was superb.
      Thank you for taking the time to stop and comment!
      Michelle

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved the red threads of premonition tangling with Millie’s thoughts. So rich. And I loved that Millie met another woman with a similar background. I bet you’d like the book The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern.

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  6. Such a well written story! Despite the misery of her situation, Millie’s inner strength propels the story forward and brings us to a most satisfying ending. And I love the photograph you included at the end. It’s perfect. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Suzanne!!
      I’m so glad you picked up on her inner strength…that’s exactly what I was feeling from her, too. Don’t know where this story will go next, but it’ll be fun finding out.
      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment…I had a really difficult time choosing my favorites this week.

      Like

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  8. I’m fascinated by Gypsies and loved the photo at the end. Such a difficult story to say I “liked” – in fact I nearly stopped reading after I realized how dark it was going to be…..but you drew me in and because I wanted to know what happened to the characters I persevered. You did a fabulous job of building sympathetic characters – good job!

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    • Hello! Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. I don’t typically head to the dark side very often, so I appreciated folks hanging in to the end with me. I’m hoping for sunnier days for these two 😉

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  9. Millie is righteous! I love that she takes control of her fate, uses her gift, and grabs Dorothy to her side. I would imagine that having to listen to a carnie’s carnal thoughts would be enough torture to cause murder. Totally sympathetic to Millie’s revenge. Nice work, Michelle! Love that last line.

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