These short story starters keep rollin' on! Thankfully I actually made some good progress with the final story of this little showcase and it should debut on time in just a couple days.
But let's talk about today's story, Lilly and the Vixen. This was originally envisioned as small branch of a much larger story that I was writing. Despite that, I feel it doesn't need too much set up and can be enjoyed on its own.
Standard disclaimer, the story has been only minimally edited and proofread and is very much a first draft. I still think it's rather nice and I enjoyed writing it. I hope you'll enjoy reading it. If you like it, let me know if I should continue the story.
Lilly sat inside her coffin, the lid pushed to one side. Arms wrapped around her knees, her gaze had been steadily locked, at first, on the wall of dirt in front of her, but now she stared up into the night sky, watching the pale moon slowly dance from one edge of the grave to the other. Her hand occasionally drifted over the wound in her stomach, fingers grazing over the rough edges that split her otherwise cold, smooth skin.
Lilly wasn't stuck in the grave, mind you; in fact, she had already been out of it once. She had had the opportunity to speak with the man with the silver hair, the man who opened her grave. But that was hours ago. All she could do now was stare.
“Where am I?” she had asked him.
“Right now? Nowhere.”
Staring up at the gently drifting moon, she recalled the Next World. It seemed... nice. But then beckoned to her in that Nowhere.
“Who are you?” she had asked mere steps from Eternity.
“A friend of … him.”
In the grave, Lilly’s head dropped against her folded knees. She wanted to cry at the thought of him, but crying was only a memory now. A sweet part of her past she could never experience again. Just like Nikrose.
“What do you want from me?” she had asked.
“Only to give you a choice.”
“A choice? I don't understand.”
Her eyes crept above her knees. Her pale, golden hair had drifted in front of her. A small part of her wondered if it would grow any longer.
“Lilly, if you step into the Next World, you will be happy” the Silver Haired Man had explained. She recalled turning back, staring, looking into that world with great longing.
Lilly stood. She was done staring and waiting. Stepping on the edge of her coffin, she reached up and hoisted herself onto the ground. She sat on the edge of her grave, legs dangling. The endeavor hadn't tired her in the least.
“But if you go, Lilly, you will never see Nikrose again.”
She had turned from the Next World and looked back at the long Nothing. Nowhere.
“Where else can I go?”
“You can return with me.”
The Nowhere was dark, darker than anything she had ever known. Only the Next World seemed to exist. Her long journey toward that singular point had led her down a lonely path, a road that ran only one direction, and with each step the trail behind her grew shorter and shorter. Now, standing at the edge of Eternity, in the company of the Silver Haired Man, the pathway was gone.
“But the path; I cannot see it anymore.”
“I will light your way.”
With only a gesture, he had returned the light, the first few steps of the path showing themselves once more.
“The choice is yours, Lilly Rosebloom.”
She remembered watching the Silver Haired Man turn and start back down the path. She remembered looking back and forth between him and the Next World.
Lilly rose to her feet, standing at the edge of the grave. The cemetery had far more graves than she recalled. She stepped through the motionless night, eyes darting from headstone to headstone. For the first time since she awoke, she felt something: pain. A searing, deep pain within her heart at each familiar name. Still, the pain did not consume her, did not end her, for the one name she did not find was his: Nikrose. This brought the second feeling since awakening: hope.
“What do I do now?” she had asked, stepping out of the grave for the first time.
“Whatever you wish. You are no longer held by the laws of this world. You are removed from time.”
“Can I see him again?”
“That is your choice, Lilly.”
She had stared at the rising moon, then to the hills.
“Why did you bring me back?”
Her question had paused the Silver Haired Man. He stood silent for the longest time.
“I… I wanted to make him happy.”
Lilly stood now in the very spot where she had watched the Silver Haired Man disappear. He hadn't disappeared in a flash of light or a pillar of flame. He had simply ceased to be. Now, Lilly ceased to be. Or perhaps it was the opposite. Perhaps this was where Lilly started being all over again.
She slowly, carefully thrust two fingers into gash that had taken her life. She felt its depth and breadth. There was no question that she was dead. The only question was, what was she going to do about it?
Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.