Jacquelyn Frost is a writer and creative who collects hobbies like some people collect stamps. In the pursuit of the next shiny thing, she invariably blunders, laughs, then writes about it. She is an active member of To Live & Write … Wherever You Are and regular contributor to The Flash Lit Collective. She shares her adventures in crafts and textiles on her blog, That Creative Place. In her spare time, between raising small children and chickens, teaching chicken husbandry classes, and writing her first novel, Jacquelyn can be found blissfully riding one of her friend’s horses in the Oakland hills and Santa Cruz mountains.
June 2021 | Flash Lit Collective | Prompt #2:
Swap meets. Flea markets. Garage sales. The occasional antique fair, if Hélène felt up to go through the bother of navigating crowds of yups and antique hawks. All places with people in the process of divesting themselves of items that no longer fit, that were no longer needed; objects too old to be useful but not old enough to be chic.
To her fellow patrons, Hélène’s efforts appeared to be more or less window-shopping. As a general rule, she did not purchase items from the assorted tableaus of sun-bleached plastic and old shoes. She was not in need of any new old things. Hélène came for the memories.
It was an odd piece: a white ceramic bust with the top of the head missing, and cheery red dahlias planted within. Hélène had seen similar planters before – that wasn’t what caught her attention. It was the eyes. Yellow irises with slitted pupils set amid blue sclerae. The only other color on the entire piece besides those eyes was a faint blue indentation on the forehead in the shape of spiral, like a third eye on a Buddha statue. Hélène was sure the story behind those unusual eyes would be a satisfying one; she was getting rather tired of thin and bland memories that were less satiating than diluted soup.
Upon closer inspection the bust was not ceramic but white marble, and the eyes weren’t painted on as Hélène assumed – instead, they were gemstones set into the marble itself. She hesitated; such craftsmanship was highly unusual for some suburban rummage sale. Could it be a trap? Her lips pressed together in alarm despite strict self-discipline to prevent such outward signs of emotion. Unlikely, she told herself, she was careful and had been able to evade him for years. Shaking her head slightly and smiling to chase away the paranoia, Hélène casually stroked the bust’s cheek.
Millenia of practice meant Hélène kept the mortals surrounding her ignorant of the surge of power infusing her with strength and vitality, and truly fantastical visions she was privy to each time she consumed an object’s memory. The bust did not disappoint; the dahlias grew to monumental size and were joined by lilies and roses in profusion. From the abundance of flowers came vibrant yellow butterflies with double helices of DNA for tails. Blue flames flashed and licked at the base of the marble bust, now partially submerged in a sea of crystal and glass.
Distracted by tasting rainbows and listening to the music of the spheres, Hélène became abruptly aware of a growing stench: malice. The marble face’s spiral mark had changed from pale blue to a vivid red, matching the now-enormous dahlias. The amber eyes slid over their lapis field until the narrow pupils found her face, and with marble lips still, the bust addressed her in a voice dripping with bitterness, “Hélène, it has been too long. Do you not recognize me, my beloved?”
June 2021 | Flash Lit Collective | Prompt #1:
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Whomever decides that spending Christmas on a 10-day cruise with one’s family is a good idea is either a masochist or insane. In this case, I’m pretty sure the culprit is my mom. She presents as an amiable, non-masochistic sane person, but I guess you never really know.
Anyway, journal-mine, we are here, along with a thousand strangers, give or take a hundred. And it’s. been. a. DRAG. I mean, we are vacationing on a floating version of a retirement home. I’m sure I’ll like it when I’m 92 or whatever, but bingo and buffets aren’t really doing it for this 19 year old. We are coming into our first port tomorrow, which will be a great change of scenery from blue ocean and socks with sandals for three days.
OH! I need to tell you, I met another real, live person under the age of 50! I could have sworn I was the only “young person” on the boat, but apparently I was mistaken. She’s a girl (duh, thanks brain) and her name is Moon. There are enough “the 1960s were my hey-day” former hippies here, so no surprise there. She didn’t tell me her age or really talk a whole lot — she seemed a bit awkward and shy. Oh man, I hope I didn’t freak her out. I know I can be a bit “overmuch” as my grandma puts it (although I always Grandda’s version better: “that kid could talk the tar off t’road.” Pretty sure he didn’t mean it as a compliment, but I always saw it as some kind of superpower).
ANYWAY, Moon! She had these really cool fake eyelashes that were feathers plus a bunch more on her shirt (feathers, not eyelashes, don’t be gross). I didn’t say anything about it really though, because even though I’m chatty I’m no dummy; shy folks do NOT like a big deal made about their appearance. Ask me how I know. Well, you are a journal and can’t actually ask me, but whatever. Moon and I chatted about stuff: how we liked the trip so far (snooooore), our families (I had my entire extended family with me, but then felt bad because apparently her dad or someone like that died a while back. Something about a wolf? I didn’t pry, I’m not an ass), and our favorite foods (well, really MY favorite food because the only good thing on this tugboat is the ice cream. OMG SO GOOD.)
What’s interesting is that sometimes I’d catch her staring at me, eyes unblinking, and then close those long feathery lashes for slightly too long, like she was imprinting the image in her head. It was WEIRD. Maybe she has a photographic memory? I just hope I find her again tomorrow, but she said something about Thursdays not being kind to her. I don’t know what that was about, but even if she avoids me the rest of the trip, I certainly won’t forget meeting her.