As per my previous post, I recently entered a Flash Fiction contest. This is the story I wrote for the second heat of the contest. I’m out of the running now, but to my surprise, this story got more points than the first one did. This surprised me because I thought it was awful. I can’t even make myself reread it. 🙂 This contest required writing a 1,000 word story with assigned elements and submitting it in 48 hours.
My second assignment: In no more than 1,000 words, write a story in the “Fairy Tale” genre that is set on a construction site and includes a clam shell at some point. You have 48 hours – GO!
The Tree Teller
Three motherless girls, born to an ogre, struggle to escape his cruel grip on their lives.
Once upon a modern day, deep in the middle of a forest, lived a less than likable ogre of a man. Ogre did not have any sons. Instead, as he would tell anyone who listened, he had three worthless, motherless daughters.
Many years before, the ogre-to-be married a beautiful woman. She loved and was devoted to the then handsome man. The woman was undaunted by the fact that he lived in an RV and led a nomadic life managing the construction of remote transmission lines.
After the birth of their first daughter, the couple’s relationship changed. Ogre had been openly disappointed that his wife had not borne a son. Although Bella was lovely as a summer sunrise, he could see his daughter as nothing but a dimwitted waif. Ogre began to occasionally beat his wife in frustration.
During his wife’s second pregnancy, Ogre was optimistic. However, another girl was born and she was ugly. Although Elena was inexplicably intelligent, her father viewed her as an eyesore. Ogre’s aggression towards his wife escalated. The beatings were increasingly savage and came with regularity.
Ogre hardly acknowledged his wife’s third pregnancy. Ogre needed a son to inherit the business and he would kill his wife if she had another girl.
A third daughter was born. Bertha was healthy and sturdy. The woman knew she had to leave before she was murdered in her sleep. Unable to provide for them, she was heartbroken at having to leave her girls behind. She slipped her wedding band off, poked it into the seam of her infant’s ragdoll, and disappeared into the night.
Ogre was astounded to learn his wife had abandoned them. He kept the girls though, to keep his RV straight and make his meals. Threats and fear held them captive. As they grew, each girl was assigned a task within the family’s construction business.
Beautiful but dimwitted, Bella earned her keep by traveling to distant towns and attracting strong, young men to work for Ogre. Elena, dowdy yet brilliant, was the company’s accountant. Unusually strong, Bertha was the Ogre’s mule. She spent her days on the construction site digging post-holes for fencing.
One morning as she returned from town, Bella noticed an unmarked path leading off the road. Curious, she followed it and found a clearing filled with wildflowers. In the center sat a tree trunk as large as a silo. At the base of the oversized stump was a bright red door and a sign that read: Tree Teller.
Bella tucked a copper colored lock of hair behind her ear and knocked. A willowy woman answered and invited her in. The girl explained she was traveling by, saw the stump, and wondered what a Tree Teller was. The woman explained that she was a reader of palms, a teller of truths. A Teller who lived in a tree. The girl asked the Teller to read her palms.
The woman explained she would read for a piece of gold. Having no gold, the girl thanked her went on her way. Bella recounted her adventure to her sisters. At the mention of the fee of gold, Bertha reached into her cleavage and extracted a gold ring hanging from a ribbon she’d tied around her neck.
“Where did you get that?” her sisters cried. Bertha pointed at the battered, old ragdoll her mother had left her. She’d found the ring inside years ago. Knowing it belonged to their mother, she wore it close to her heart. The next day, the sisters snuck away to see the Tree Teller. The woman welcomed them in and read their palms.
To beautiful Bella she said, “Do not believe everything the ogres of this world say. You are lovely and kind. You have the ingenuity to put your good looks to work. Do not believe anyone who tells you otherwise. Make it so.”
To the intelligent Elena she said, “You are a remarkably smart girl, but you lack common sense. You will hold yourself back from future success if you let yourself be physically ridiculed. Acknowledge and embrace your brains and beauty. Take pride in your poise and appearance. Do not let the ogres tell you otherwise. Make it so.”
To able-bodied Bertha she said, “You are hardworking. Do not take orders from ogres. You are capable and clever. You were born a protector. You have the strength and cunning to rid the world of ogres. Make it so.”
As the girls thanked the Tree Teller, Bertha reached into her blouse with a tentative hand. She pulled out the gold ring and offered it to the woman in payment. Tears swelled in the Tree Teller’s pale blue eyes. The girls saw not only the Tree Teller’s tears, but her recognition. Bertha was the first to regain her emotional equilibrium because the Tree Teller grabbed her broad shoulders in a vice-like grip. Icey eyes now ablaze, the Tree Teller implored Bertha, “Make. It. So.”
When they returned, Ogre was furious at the sisters’ unexcused absence from their construction site and demanded to know where they’d been. Ogre called Bella stupid and backhanded her when she lied. Ogre called Elena an ugly liar as his fist connected with her cheekbone. He didn’t bother asking Bertha because he knew she wouldn’t answer. He took a swing at her, but Bertha caught his wrist in her hand. She deftly bent it backwards and dropped him to the ground. Ogre cried out in pain and astonishment.
“You will never hurt any of us ever again,” Bertha hissed. Her well-directed kick audibly cracked his ribs. Bertha was quick to grab a nearby post-hole digger. She straddled Ogre and held the tool high above her head. With precision and control, she plunged the clamshell deep into Ogre’s chest and extracted his callous heart. Bertha made it so.
The sisters, now free of Ogre and reunited with their mother, sold the construction business. They relocated to a fabulous city and lived happily ever after.