Friday, July 26, 2019

The ToiBox of Serials 1.2: Heart of the Golden Stag

Over on my personal blog, The ToiBox of Words, I’ve experimented with short fiction quite a bit. I’ve entered many blog writing contests and sometimes, just played around with it. In most cases, I’ve found myself expanding the stories I started on my blog and turning them into something more. All the stories in this series will be a product of what I started on my blog and then later added to in private. I will be sharing these stories in parts and encourage readers to leave positive or critical feedback (rude comments will be deleted). Perhaps, one day I’ll publish another personal anthology with these. Enjoy.

Side note: This story has never actually appeared on the ToiBox blog but was derived from a contest I entered and did not win. Still, the submission process was a good learning experience for me. This story is a retelling/reimagining with a twist. 

Heart of the Golden Stag, part 2
Read part 1 here.
The giggles and snaps of children playing in the alley below jolted Jamie’s body forward as dream and reality collided. Jamie rushed to the window, heart pounding and sweat dripping from her bushy unkempt brow. Below, little boys kicked a can back and forth between them as Jamie fought back tears. What a sad and stupid girl I can be sometimes. Shrugging her shoulders, she reached into the worn pockets of her men’s trousers to pull out a coin.
Tossing it down to the boys below, she called out in a gruff, “Bread and tea, young ones.”
The smaller of the two boys caught the coin, as usual, and then pulled the other along before replying, “Right away, Mr. Jaime. Be up soon.”
With the boys off to fetch her breakfast, Jamie quickly attended to her daily costuming. First, a few snips of hair along her forehead and at the nape of her neck. Then, a quick wash followed by fresh linen wraps to bind her breasts.
After chatting with the boys over tea, Jamie went to polishing her shoes with the intention of mulling over the day’s objectives. She’d lined up three marks the day before and was due for a good payday, yet her mind kept drifting back to her childhood. With her seventeenth birthday approaching, Jamie was plagued by nightmares and daydreams of the day she left home to become a boy.
She and her twin brother were turning twelve. Her older sister was a weeping doll, all dressed and made-up, in the corner sobbing through handkerchiefs as her stern and wrinkled betrothed pressed his hands upon her shoulder in mock-sympathy. Jamie watched the spectacle with dread, knowing that would be her fate upon her fifteenth birthday while her brother sniggered. He’d be heading off to the academy soon, to be educated and learn a trade.
Face warmed by the flickering candles, Jaime kept her eyes closed even after her brother blew out the flames as smoke wrapped around her head. She couldn’t bring herself to open her eyes and say goodbye to her childhood. From here on, her days would be filled with learning all the ways a wife should keep a husband happy. If that was love, Jamie wanted no part of it, yet she hoped there was more to it. She hoped to find an unconventional man not bound by Northern traditions.
With the snap of her father’s fingers, Jamie popped her eyes open to see him holding tightly onto the belt resting around his waist. Knowing he wouldn’t dare punish her in front of company, and on her birthday no less, Jamie seized the moment and ran into the woods, calling for a game of hide-and-seek. Only, she never hid.
Jamie grabbed the bundle she’d concealed days before and continued to run. She kept running until there was no chance of being able to turn back. 
To be continued...
Heart of the Golden Stag 2018 Copyright © Toinette J. Thomas 

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