Midsummer Mischmasch: Solstinox by Lorah Jaiyn
If you’ve been keeping up with Our Write Side, you know we launched our first contest for our Summer issue of OWS Ink: Literary Journal. The idea was to have Summer kidnap winter, using either Lewis Carroll or Shakespeare writing styles. We had such excellent entries, we decided to share the top four runner’s up in no particular order over the next few Saturdays. Enjoy!
[bctt tweet=”Read our 4th runner up from the Mischmasch contest! @writerlorahj #fiction #Carroll #amreading ” username=”OurWriteSide”]
Solstinox is a beautiful work of fiction by Lorah Jaiyn that claimed 4th runner up in the contest. Her familiarity with Lewis Carroll breathed life into this story, and allowed us to run away from reality. Escape into her world for a few moments.
Lorah Jaiyn is an author who started to focus on her writing career after she found herself with a nasty case of empty nest syndrome. Her flash fiction has appeared on 101 Words and Dark Chapter Press, and she has short stories that will soon be appearing in at least two anthologies. Her first full length novel, a romantic suspense, is currently seeking a publisher. Lorah has works-in-progress that cover several genres, each blended with a romantic element. Lorah spends her days behind a desk, and her evenings trying to write while entertained by her muse and greatest distraction, her Jack Russell. She enjoys hiking and exploring the great outdoors, spending time near bodies of salt water, and is totally addicted to the Hallmark Channel. Lorah can be found at facebook.com/writerlorahj and on Twitter @writerlorahj.
Willow closed her eyes and tried to drown out the sounds of her friends playing outdoors. The window in her bedroom stood open, the cool autumn breeze carrying their voices to her bed loud and clear. A wheelchair mocked her from the corner, reminding her that Muscular Dystrophy had finally robbed her of the ability to ever run around and play with her friends again.
“Whatever are we going to do?”
Willow’s eyes popped open. That voice hadn’t come from outside.
“Oh, dear. I haven’t a clue.”
She looked around. The second voice also sounded close by.
A movement on her nightstand caught her eye. Two of her stuffed beanie babies, a tortoise and a snail, stared at her.
The tortoise cocked his head. “Good day, Miss Willow. I hope we have not disturbed you.”
Willow frowned. “No, you haven’t disturbed me, but I am curious. You are a stuffed animal.”
The snail inched forward. “Oui, Mademoiselle, that we are. Your curiosity has allowed us to become alive in your world.”
“In my world? Where is your world?”
“Allow me to introduce myself.” The tortoise had a deep voice. “I am Morocco. And this is my best friend, Savoy.”
This is weird! “I am very pleased to meet both of you.”
“We need your help, Mademoiselle. It is quite regretful that –”
“Savoy!” Morocco interrupted. “You cannot just jump right into the matter at hand. Our young mistress needs to understand us first.”
“How do you know me?” Willow wondered if she was just having a vivid dream. A shriek reached her ears from the children jumping in the leaves out on the lawn. Either I’m dreaming that too, or, I really am awake talking to my stuffed animals.
Morocco jumped off the nightstand and landed on her blanket with a thud. He turned to face her. “Miss Willow, my friend and I are from Solstinox, and I’m afraid that we need to ask for your help.”
“Where is Solstin… wherever you said?” She pinched herself and decided that a dream this was not.
Savoy slugged to the edge of the nightstand. “Solstinox. It lies within the center of your world, a place where all the seasons are harbored and cared for. Which brings us to our horrible problem. Summer has stolen Winter.”
Willow shifted on her pillows. “Summer stole Winter? How is that even possible?”
Morocco turned sad eyes to her. “It will be easier to just show you. Spring and Autumn are feeling quite antsy about the whole thing, and we must get Winter back in her rotation before Autumn stretches too far beyond the end of her term.”
“I have wondered why the weather hasn’t turned cold yet. The leaves fell from the trees weeks ago.” Willow’s eyes darted to the wheelchair. She smoothed the blanket. “You must realize that I can’t walk.”
“Oh, that’s no problem where we’re going,” the tortoise comforted. “We are well aware of your illness.”
“That’s how we met you.” Savoy’s antennas grew longer. “Your tears called us to the hospital when you broke your leg and the doctors said you would never recover enough to walk again. We tried to help you remain strong, mon cher.”
“You were amongst the flowers on the table. I wondered where you two came from because no one knew who brought you.”
“We must hurry to Solstinox though, so that you can return before your mother returns home. You were chosen to help us because you are not of our world. You will be able to cross the different realms and make things right.”
Willow’s adventurous spirit flared. “How do we get there? And how do I get in my chair? I can’t reach it.”
Savoy’s antenna’s grew. “The Door of Tween. It’s almost noon so we must be ready.” He wiggled his head and the wheelchair rolled to the bed.
Without a word, Willow slowly maneuvered into the chair. “I’m not dressed.”
Morocco leapt into her lap. “Fear not, sweet girl.”
Savoy joined the tortoise, and they both chanted.
Not awake or asleep,
No time do we keep,
Not night and not day,
No sun or moon stay,
Not light and not dark,
No shadows to mark,
When things overlap,
When ends do not wrap,
Neither one nor the other
When time only hovers,
When dimensions are thin,
Then please let us in.
A doorway shimmered in the middle of Willow’s room.
“Are you sure it’s safe?” Should I leave a note for mother, just in case?
Morocco reassured her. “It is quite safe. You’ll see when we get there.”
With curiosity getting the best of her, and a tortoise and snail in her lap, Willow wheeled herself through the door.
The air chilled and darkened as her wheelchair lifted slightly. It settled down, leaving Willow with a lurch in her stomach like a car going over a dip in the road too fast. Her chair moved forward of its own accord. A haze that she hadn’t noticed cleared, and she sat in a sunny meadow next to a river, the trees full of oranges and reds and yellows.
“Oh, I’m a princess!” Willow no longer wore her nightgown. A peach colored dress with layers of tulle sprinkled with iridescent sparkles had replaced it. Her long hair piled high on her head, held in place with a tiara. Sparkly slippers that matched her dress perfectly adorned her feet.
Her wheelchair was no longer such. It had transformed into an open carriage with tall wheels and flowery vines decorating the rails, with two lizards the size of alligators ready to pull like horses. Morocco and Savoy stood nearby, now the size of goats.
“Do I get to keep this dress when I go home?” Willow felt like she could jump up and twirl around with excitement.
Morocco chuckled. “First you have to save Winter.” He motioned to the lizards. “Pick and Dilly will get you to Summer’s castle, where Leo resides, but we are Autumn’s creatures and it is beyond our borders. We must wait for you here.”
Willow panicked that her friends would not be able to accompany her. “I don’t want to go without you! I don’t know what to do.”
Savoy waggled an antenna at her. “Our cousin, SnapDragon, will accompany you. He is the only one who can travel between the realms of the seasons.”
Willow heard a crackle near her ear and turned just as a dragon poofed into the air next to her. “Well, hello SnapDragon. It’s very nice to meet you.”
“With you I shall go, to seek the season of snow.”
[bctt tweet=”With you I shall go, to seek the season of snow. #amreading @writerlorahj #Winner #fiction #fantasy” username=”OurWriteSide”]
SnapDragon’s long body twisted, the reddish orange and yellow hues along his scales sparkling. He floated off, Pick and Dilly pulling the wheelchair carriage to follow. Willow looked around, trying to see everything at once, without missing a detail.
They came upon a castle and the lizards slowed. Willow looked at the dragon. “It looks like Halloween with all the dried leaves and baskets of apples everywhere.” Pumpkins decorated the entranceway. A woman stood on the side of the road and motioned for the lizards to stop.
“I am Mistress Leighbra of the Autumn realm. I am here on behalf of both myself and my son, Scorpio. We are tired and wish to retire for the year. Please, Miss Willow, return CapriCora so that we may rest.”
Willow stared at the beautiful woman’s gown, a shimmery orange with dark red accents. “I will do my best, even though I don’t really understand what happened.”
“Leo and I had a disagreement when a young man chose my season over hers. My punishment, according to her, is for your world to remain autumn forever, denying me any rest. My sister, Ariesa, is upset because she bores easily and looks forward to her season after winter. You must restore what is right.”
Willow promised to do her best and they continued on their journey.
She knew they crossed into Summer’s realm when SnapDragon’s color turned bright yellow and white, his scales shiny in the sunlight. Tall trees covered in white puffy flowers that looked like clouds mingled with vines that hung heavy with red and pink trumpet flowers.
“It’s so beautiful here.” A field of lavender daisies and Queen Anne’s lace stretched as far as the little girl could see.
Summer’s Castle shone bright as they crested a hill, decorated with daisies and palm trees. SnapDragon flew in circles as Willow pondered Leighbra’s words.
“Well, let’s go find out what Summer has to say for herself.”
SnapDragon flew ahead and the castle doors swung open as the lizards pulled the carriage across the bridge. They stopped in the courtyard and a snow white puppy came barking and leapt into Willow’s lap.
“You are a cutey.” She giggled as the puppy licked her face, its large body wiggling in excitement. Its long fur was thick and soft as Willow tried to calm the gentle beast.
SnapDragon floated out of reach as the puppy noticed him. A woman approached and snapped her fingers. The puppy instantly sat in Willow’s lap, its head drooping.
“I am Leo. Why have you entered my realm?”
“You kidnapped Winter and I’m here to ask you to let her go so the seasons can return to normal.”
The puppy’s head raised to look at its mistress, ears perked.
“You are just a little girl.”
“I’m twelve years old. I am not a little girl.”
Leo gave the carriage a once over. “Why should I do as you ask?”
Willow refused to back down. “Why did you kidnap Winter, CapriCora?”
The woman sniffed, her sun yellow gown sparkling. “Leighbra stole my attention. It gets lonely living off season, just as it gets tiring when a season persists.” She cocked her head, nose up. “If I were to explain myself to you.”
Willow scratched the puppy’s ears. “But you have a puppy to keep you company.”
Leo’s laugh twinkled on the breeze. “Sweetheart, that is CapriCora. I stole a little magic and made her my pet so that Autumn would go on and on. And as for Ariesa, well, little Miss Spring should not have defended Leighbra.”
“This is Winter?” The puppy placed her feet on Willow’s shoulder and licked her on the nose.
“Well, at least she’s a Great Pyrenees puppy. She’d have grown up into a beautiful dog, even though I would have preferred something smaller.”
Willow thought for a moment. “What if we get you a real puppy? One that can stay with you and be your best friend without messing up the seasons?”
“In case you forgot, you’re in Solstinox. We don’t have real puppies here.”
SnapDragon fluttered down in front of Willow. “If you wish it true, Summer loses her blue.”
[bctt tweet=”If you wish it true, Summer loses her blue. #amreading @writerlorahj #fiction #fantasy #winner” username=”OurWriteSide”]
Willow closed her eyes and made the wish. A basket appeared in the carriage, tied with a big blue bow. Leo moved closed as a small whimper sounded.
“Is that …?”
Willow reached in and brought out a dark brown, long haired Chihuahua. Leo’s hand flew to her mouth. “Oh my.”
Taking the puppy that Willow held out to her, Leo cuddled it close. She kissed the puppy’s head, laughing as a tiny tongue licked her cheek. “What is that wonderful smell?”
Willow hugged the pup in her lap. “That’s puppy breath. Best smell ever.”
Leo smiled, her eyes beaming with happiness. “Take CapriCora. Take her home.” She motioned away with her fingers before she patted Winter on the head. “I’m sorry for turning you into a dog. We’re even now.” She turned, murmuring softly to her new friend snuggled in her arms, and walked away.
Pick and Dilly pulled the carriage with new purpose as they headed toward Winter’s realm. CapriCora’s fur rippled with the wind, and Willow grabbed her tiara to keep it from blowing away. SnapDragon kept up with ease, always hovering close to Willow’s ear.
They passed into Autumn’s realm and SnapDragon again turned shades of burnt orange and red. Leighbra waved as they passed her castle, but the lizards didn’t pause in their mission. When they reached the edge of Winter, Willow pulled a quilt around her shoulder when the temperature dropped. SnapDragon turned shades of silver and white, his belly giving off sparks of blue as he twisted through the air. When the lizards stopped, the puppy – CapriCora – stood up in Willow’s lap and jumped down.
She ran through the snow, barking in excitement, and shook her body, like a dog after it’s been bathed. Faster and faster she shook, fur flying in the air.
Willow watched with concern. “SnapDragon, what is she doing?”
Before he could answer, a loud roar filled the air. As Willow watched, wings spread where the puppy had been. Wider and wider they spread until a huge dragon stood before the carriage. White as snow with a pearl iridescent sheen, scales of blue and silver mingled throughout, her wings as shiny as ice, CapriCora stretched her long neck and took to the sky. A strip of fur flowed from the crest of her head down her ridged back, to the tip of her tail.
She landed after a moment of flight and nuzzled Willow with her large horned head. “Thank you for returning me to my realm. When you return home, it will be winter and the seasons will be restored. You will forever have my gratitude.”
Willow smiled all the way back to Morocco and Savoy, who cheered at her success.
“The honor is mine, our appreciation is thine.” SnapDragon poofed back to wherever he had come from.
When the time was right, Morocco opened the Door of Tween, and Willow found herself back in her bedroom, plain nightgown, same ol’ wheelchair. The tortoise and the snail lay in her lap, once again beanie babies. With a heavy heart, she placed them back on her nightstand and maneuvered herself back into bed.
“Was I just dreaming?” Her voice echoed in the empty room.
Her mother came in a short time later. “How was your day, sweetheart?”
Willow remained silent, unsure how to answer.
“How about we get you dressed and go out to dinner?”
“Where did these come from?” Her mother turned from the closet, holding the peach princess dress and the matching slippers and tiara.
Happiness coursed through Willow’s body. She looked over at Morocco and Savoy, wondering what adventures may lie ahead.
©2016 Lorah Jaiyn
[bctt tweet=”Midsummer Mischmasch 4th runner up. #fantasy #amreading #writing @writerlorahj Must read!” username=”OurWriteSide”]
Read the winning entry now!