There was something silver glittering in the forest. It twinkled in the corner of Sorcha’s eye, as inviting as a fishhook.
Monsters hide behind pretty masks, they said, but Sorcha couldn’t look away.
The silver thing rippled. It was a cloak of light, shifting weightlessly in the air. It would be so soft against her skin, Sorcha knew, so breezy and cool, like chiffon woven from secrets.
Monsters hide behind pretty masks, but the cloak was the loveliest thing Sorcha had ever seen.
The silver fabric rippled lazily, it’s trimming burning with an intricate weave of sunlit thread, as thin as spider-web. It was tailored for a God. Never-mind the scratchy woollen shawl around her shoulders, if Sorcha were to wrap that cloak around herself, she’d become the shimmering night sky itself, a constellation of stars.
Monsters hide behind pretty masks, but Sorcha stepped off the path, mind clouded by a green haze of envious desire.
At the corners of the cloak, translucent figures floated on dragonfly wings. They were sprites—small and fantastical, born from the first touch of sunlight on morning dew. Sorcha crept like a huntress, watching as they plucked the winter mist and spun it with dainty hands, weaving it into the beautiful cloak.
Monsters hide behind pretty masks, but the sprites were so small, as fragile as insects, unaware of Sorcha’s watchful eyes.
And so, carefully—so very carefully—Sorcha reached out, and caught the closest sprite in her hand. One squeeze, and the body broke apart like a dried leaf, leaving a glistening stain of gold across her palm.
The second sprite’s scream was like a blackbird’s call, but with shimmering fingers, Sorcha silenced it, and the silver cloak drifted down into her waiting arms.
She threw it around her shoulders and its gleaming aspect transformed her instantly. Her dun brown hair shifted into a cascade of autumnal chestnut, her black eyes deepened into pools of night, and her pockmarked skin become as fresh, and lovely as new snow. She was a Queen, in a cloak of secrets, mist, and stars.
I guess it’s true, Sorcha thought, admiring her reflection in her gold-stained hands. Monsters do hide behind pretty masks.
This piece of flash-fiction was written for one of my classes. We were told we could write about anything, but the story had be 365 Words, one for each day of the year. As someone who struggles to write short work, this was an interesting and enjoyable challenge for me.
I wrote a couple of 365 Word Stories, but this was my favourite. The traditional fairy tale structure lends itself to flash-fiction—a simple story, with strong imagery, ending with a conclusive lesson. The Victorians did a fine job of tailoring fairy tales to be about how good women should behave—dishing out punishments for ‘transgressions’ like confetti at a wedding. As such ‘fairy tale endings’ are often quite transparent. Justice served, goodness rewarded, evil vanquished. It’s so ingrained, not even I expected Sorcha to win, until she did.
It made the whole thing deliciously vicious, and rather than modern…I feel like I’ve ended up telling a very old story instead. One that was never sanitized. One that ought to be remembered.