Yearning for Wonderland

There is such a place as fairyland - but only children can find the way to it...until they have grown so old that they forget the way. Only a few, who remain children at heart, can ever find that fair, lost path again...The world calls them singers and poets and artists and story-tellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland. ~ L.M Montgomery

Once Upon a Time Writing Contest: Molly Carr

 ON OR OFF COURSE?  By Molly Carr

   Being President of the Company was what he enjoyed since decision-making was meat and drink to him. And, of course, he lived like a Prince on his vast income.

   Now he was on his way to see the widow of one of his business rivals. It was important to wake her up to the necessity of keeping the firm viable – at least until he could organise an advantageous takeover bid.


   Half-way to the house he changed his mind. Neither the business nor the woman would be any use to him. All that it  needed was to ask his secretary to send a large basket of expensive flowers, along with a printed message of condolence.

   Without wavering – true to himself – he turned the Masarati and made for the nearest golf course.

Once Upon a Time Writing Contest: J. Tsuruoka

This entry is by J. Tsuruoka (@jtsuruoka on Twitter)

      The Barefoot Girl
      Rog knew about the Barefoot Girl.
      Sheer white dress, long red hair, pale skin, bare feet. 
      Her laughter.
      She was city legend, whispered among men of a certain…  persuasion.
      See her and your ass is grass,” an associate said.
      “After everything you’ve done you’re scared of a ghost?” he’d asked.
      Rog feared no legend.  The city was his territory.
      He was out hunting when the Barefoot Girl appeared to him by the fountain in Columbus Circle. 
      She smiled at him through the watery haze and then laughed and disappeared into the crowd.
      Her footprints remained on the sun-warmed pavement just long enough for him to track her. 

      It was now after dark.  It might even be the next day.
      The Barefoot Girl had led him on a chase all over the city.
      They were somewhere in the Lower East Side.  Alphabet City, perhaps.  He couldn’t be sure.
      She smiled at him from the mouth of an alley.
      “Almost time,” she said.
      His hunter’s eyes followed her bone-white soles into the darkness of the alley.
      He fingered the handle of his knife in but did not draw it.  He never did until it was time to kill.
      He put on his most lecherous grin and walked into the alley.
      Rog had spent much of his life in the dark but the darkness in that alley was unlike any he’d experienced.
      The city’s noise faded and vanished.
      Laughter. 
      Rog spun in the dark.
      The lights of a passing car illuminated the alley and in that one second he knew where he was.
      That name stenciled on the dumpster.  That broken fire escape.
      A very hard, very cold, foot hit him in the gut. 
      Laughter.
      Another kick crushed his jaw.
      More laughter.  More blows.
      The seventh shattered a knee.  The eighth broke ribs.
      Rog slumped to the pavement.
      Laughter.  Two pale bare feet, cool against his face.
      She reached down and forced him to look, to see his victims- nine women- grinning at him from around the dumpster he left them in.
      Laughter.  Darkness.  Then nothing.
     

Once Upon a Time Writing Contest: Sarah Barry

She Shall go to the Ball

 My sister had glided into the crammed sitting room. It was her Debs. She had looked radiant, no different to every other day; an array of faces was lit up by her conventionally stunning magnificence.

I suppose my inquisitive adventure had started soon after. My seventeen year old self had tried to discover if I held any worth. Everyone admired her, but could I get anyone to notice me? As it turned out everyone noticed me.

My expectant tummy got the attention of all around me and beyond. The catalyst was the waist band of my school kilt as it struggled to wrap itself around the two of us. It was the result of a month of hazy love and the incessant attentiveness of a first boyfriend.

The bright spotlight I had always craved just wasn’t the type I had dreamt of. Afterwards I tried to retrieve the anonymity of the years I had spent in the sisterly shadows.

Lilly was ten months old when my Auntie finally persuaded me that I still deserved to go to my Debs. She had lovingly cradled her second goddaughter, my baby, as she fixed a wisp of my hair that had escaped; her favourite perfume clasped ready to drench me.

My confidence had never really recovered from the vitriolic attention of my peers and their parents. Yet that night I caught a glimpse of a captivating nineteen year old in a purple satin dress. No crowds admired the scene as I opened the door to the boy awkward in his tux. Our eyes met and he looked amazed. Maybe he would be the one.

He was.

Today a hundred eyes bore into the flesh exposed by my ivory dress. Their warmth penetrates my every pore and I know it is real. The hateful absence of my parents is drowned out by the approval of my family, old and new. Lilly giggles as I hand the cluster of roses to her and my Aunt steadies my hand. His eyes meet mine once more, we sparkle.

I am a princess.

Once Upon a Time Writing Contest: Cath Barton

The Shining Vase
by Cath Barton
I’d picked up the vase in a junk shop in that little town over the Black Hill. It shone at me from the depths of a dusty room on a dank day. I ran my fingers over the surface and it felt like the smoothest skin that ever was. It’s a funny thing to say but it seemed alive. It was only when I got home that I realised I hadn’t paid for it. I went back the next Saturday, but the shop was shut up and empty. No sign, no nothing. So what could I do?

I do a lot of flower arranging, it’s what I love. And the vase was wonderful. It seemed to physically meld with whatever flowers I put into it, enhance their colours and their scents.  The more I used it, the better my arrangements.

But one day an annoying thing happened. I had flowers all over the table and the front door bell rang, really loudly.  It startled me and I knocked the vase over. All for nothing because it was some stranger asking for Shaylee.

When I’d got rid of the man, told him there was no Shaylee at this address, never had been, I went back into the kitchen and I could hear weeping. The walls are thin and I thought that it must be the kid next door. I put both my hands on the vase to set it upright again and the noise stopped. But something was different. My flower arrangement just wouldn’t come right and I felt as if I was in some kind of battle with nature. Flower stems snapped, petals fell off, the greenery wilted and the vase looked sullen.
“Well, so would you be upset if someone had pushed you over.”  I whirled round. There was a shining girl standing in the doorway.
“I’m Shaylee,” she said. “I used to live in the fields here. It’s time for us to go on a journey together.”

Shaylee’s taken my place, and now that I’m on the other side, she arranges flowers in me.

Once Upon a Time Writing Contest: Oliver Barton

This entry is by Oliver Barton. Contest details found here.
Pink Bells
The pair progress laboriously along the path in the park. He leaning on a stick, each step a pain, she almost bent double, hand in his. She clutches a paper bag. They sit carefully on a bench, very close, avoiding the damper spots. In front of them stretches a sea of pink bells.

It is nine in the morning, and the bag contains croissants. Gertie hands one to Arthur. They nibble in silence, flakes fluttering like confetti.

While a blackbird sings and sparrows edge towards the crumbs, Gertie extends a bent finger towards a plaque half-submerged in the flowers.

‘What does it say?’ she asks.

‘I don’t know,’ he says, because it is several feet away and his eyes aren’t too good.

With a groan, she gets to her feet and shuffles towards it. Bent as she is, she still can’t make it out. She retrieves a pair of spectacles hanging round her neck, and peers closer.

Arthur hears her saying something, but his hearing is not too good either. He sees her move forward among the flowers. As she does, she shrinks, smaller and smaller, until she vanishes into the pinkness.

Two sparrows squabble over a croissant crumb and fly off, startling Arthur. He struggles to rise. With his stick, he moves the blooms aside so that he can see the plaque clearly. He expects something like the name of the business that has sponsored this bed, but it simply says ‘Come in. Make yourself at home.’

So he steps into the sea of flowers, and at once the pink bells inflate and grow until they are several times his height. The scent is overwhelming, the chime of the bells deep and sonorous. He walks towards Gertie and the others, praying that it doesn’t rain. A raindrop the size of a settee would be unsettling. But, he thinks, they must have ways of dealing with that.

Back on the bench, a little breeze sweeps the paper bag off into a graceful dance, a homage, an obeisance, and all is still.