Monday, July 11, 2011

Sunday Snippet

Here's a quick piece from a short story I'm working on in the Flow universe. Irena has gotten curious about her new neighbor and gone digging about in the boxes in her garage:

Her fingers scrabbled at a cardboard flap, pulled it free. The scent of mothballs and something else, a little cloying – familiar, but out of context. It was full of snow globes; even the little tap she had given the box caused endless blizzards within. She scooped one out of the box. Instead of the expected scene – a cute snowman or a foreign landmark – there was a little cornhusk doll …

“What are you doing?”

Irena yelped and dropped the globe. It pinged off the concrete. She whirled to face her accuser, feeling the flush burn her cheeks. Moira Alban was a tall woman somewhere in the infinite expanse of middle age with auburn hair and eyes the color of a storm.

“Well, if it isn’t the girl who stole the kiwi,” she continued.

“I did not,” Irena said by reflex, then bent for the snow-globe. “I was just curious …”

She hadn’t seen the globe roll, but somehow, it was at Moira’s feet and the woman cradled it like something infinitely precious. “Do you understand the hazards of curiosity?”

In the chill and the dark of the garage, the words seemed menacing. Irena drew back, her heart pounding with a rabbit’s fear – even though she could easily have dodged past Moira, even though hers was the next driveway over and kids shouted at each other in the yard across the street. The rescue of that scene seemed impossibly far away.

“Killed the cat,” Irena said bluntly, and wished she hadn’t. Her skin prickled, even as her mind shouted at her that it was ridiculous. Neighbors didn’t attack each other for picking through boxes, and the garage door had been open. Surely that was an invitation. And how would Moira hurt her, besides?

Just by looking at her, she somehow knew.

Then Moira laughed, a full, rich sound animating the air. The menace evaporated. “Not the most original answer, but it will do. Since you’ve meddled with my boxes, you can help me carry them inside. Come, child.”

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