have come up with the idea for a Monday Morning Flash Fiction challenge. Each Monday a new picture prompt will be posted and if you choose to participate - you post your story on Friday - 350 words, give or take.
And here is picture prompt #28:
Beggars Can’t Be Choosers
Cha, Cha, Cha, Cha - Changes
By Michelle Greathouse
The small group stood, heads bowed, as the wooden coffin was lowered into place. The vicar concluded his sermon to hearty ‘amens’ and Lord Niall bent, scooped a handful of the turned earth and tossed it after the coffin.
“She was a good woman, our Hannah. I don’t know how we’ll get along without her.”
And it was true. For the last fifteen years Hannah had the run of Castle Killymoon and Lord Niall could not remember a time when she wasn’t there, taking care of him and Elizabeth. The loss of Charlotte Watson all those years ago almost did Hannah in - but she worked through her grief. Work being the operative word. She turned Castle Killymoon on its ear, along with everyone in it.
“Come Elizabeth, let’s get out of the cold.” Lord Niall turned to the young woman at his side and wondered, not for the first time, what he was going to do with Elizabeth.
The seventeen year old, petite blond, turned her black eyes his way and did not bother to hide the anger in her gaze. “I am not cold Niall, and if I were I have enough sense to go inside. I am going for a walk.”
Niall let her be and walked into the Castle. He had done all he could for her. In fact, went above and beyond in his familial responsibility to his brothers only child. And all he got in return was scorn. Scorn and rage.
Elizabeth had been a lovely child; happy and carefree. Until her thirteenth birthday.
Hannah had baked one of her famous cakes with hazelnut frosting - it was Elizabeth’s favorite - and Niall had purchased enough fabrics for half a dozen new dresses. Everyone gathered around the table for a piece of cake, laughing and telling tales of Elizabeth’s adventures over the years. Just as the huge clock in the hall struck seven - which was supposedly the hour of Elizabeth’s birth - a rage overcame Elizabeth.
She picked up the platter of cake and threw it against the wall. Everyone was shocked into silence by this unexpected behavior. Elizabeth did not say a word, merely turned and went to her room. Later when Lord Niall went to berate her for her unladylike behavior, he found her sobbing on her bed. “I am so sorry Uncle, I don’t know why I did it.”
In the last four years these kinds of incidents had become more frequent. And now, Niall was at his wits end.
Elizabeth walked away from the grave site and the only mother she’d ever known. She missed Hannah so much it was like her heart was about to burst. She began running.
She ran through the woods, shedding her heavy overcoat, then her gown. Elizabeth kicked her shoes off and ran barefoot, ignoring the small twigs and briars that cut her feet.
Elizabeth’s shift became tangled in a low growing shrub and she pulled at it until it ripped the bottom half free. Her heart was pumping, her skin felt tight and her hands were burning as if on fire. She splashed through a tiny creek and enjoyed the cool water on her torn feet.
Finally, out of breath, Elizabeth stopped and sat under a huge tree. She reached up to wipe the sweat from her brow and screamed. Her nails had turned to talons, scoring a small cut on her forehead. She pulled her knees to her chest, wrapping her arms around her legs - that is when she felt the feathers on her lower legs.
“What is happening to me?”
“Do not be afraid child, tis your birthright.” Elizabeth gasped as the most beautiful woman she’d ever seen emerged from the trees.
“Who are you, and what are you doing here? And why is this my birthright?” Elizabeth stood and noted that she was the same height as the woman before her.
“Impertinent, I like it. As for who I am - I am your mother. Why am I here? I have been waiting to see if this would happen - it was possible that your father’s blood would dilute mine. And why is this your birthright? Because you are a harpy my daughter.”
Elizabeth sat back down.
“I made a mistake laying with your father. I thought the lycan strain ran in the family - but your Uncle was turned lycan. It was his seed I wanted, his offspring. But no matter, I shall work with what I have.”
“You bitch. Stay away from me.” Elizabeth sprang to her feet and took off through the woods, the sound of her mothers laughter ringing behind her.
Suddenly Elizabeth was knocked to the ground, her palms sliding in the dirt and leaves. “Don’t run my dear, I like the chase too much.”
Off in the distance a wolf howled.
“Ah, your Uncle comes to play.”
Word Count: 823
I know, another cliff hanger. What’s a girl to do?