It'll be fun to see what I can do with these.
It got quite long, nearly 600 words. Warning for some mentions of violence and resulting wounds.
( New Moon )
[Day 9: Write a scene working from the title "Roses are Red, Violets are Dead".]
I twisted the ring on my finger as the Minister pulled on her gloves. The thin rubber snapping against her skin sounded painful, but her face only showed skepticism. “You sure about this, Rose? No turning back. My inks are permanent and my needles are blessed.”
“If you really thought I’d call it off, you’d have asked me before I stripped and got on the chair.” I rested my head on my arms, trying to look more relaxed than I felt. “Let’s go.”
And that was the only question she asked me throughout the weeks, as I booked appointment after appointment to sit in her studio and have her needles bite into me.
I’d only been a hardass on one aspect: every piece of Esslyn’s DNA must make it onto my skin, and in patterns a tissue engineer could easily read and transcribe. Everything else – the designs, the colors, and where to put them on my body – I left up to the Minister. She was used to doing this, after all. I was hardly the first war widow to have her love’s genome mapped on her skin.
After the final session, I stared at myself in the mirror. Four letters repeated millions of times, so tiny they resembled continuous lines swirling in intricate shapes and forms over my entire body.
“Those curlicues on my eyelids hurt like a sonofabitch, you know,” I said. The last letters inked, on my collarbone, shifted slightly as I watched them.
The Minister nodded. “Good. Pain to get him back is a nice match for the pain you felt when he was taken away.”
“Is he?” I whispered. “Back, I mean?”
For the first time, I saw a smile on the Minister’s face. “Look at your arms.”
I did, and saw the lines wrapped around them shivering too much to blame on muscle movement.
As I looked into the mirror again, feeling my eyes burn with tears, her cool, crisp voice continued. “Such early sentience is good. It means the offering of your skin was accepted. When you’re completely healed, come back and we’ll find out whether the spirit who responded is actually Esslyn.”
( The list of questions. )
[Day 2) Write a scene with a drunken mythological creature]
Old folktales swore that brewing beer in an eggshell could identify a changeling from a human. Me, I just pushed can after can of Pabst Blue Ribbon at my cousin. Surprising a changeling into showing their nature needs brains; I’m not a smart man. But I figured getting one shit-faced would do the trick.
We sat on lawn chairs while we drank, overlooking weeds and poison oak bristling between the trunks of scattered pines. I smoked as he laughed and told stories I didn’t listen to.
When the sky darkened to dusk, I knew it was time. I spent a moment listening to the crickets trill around us, and then cut through his babbling. “Jamie. What are you?”
I wiped at the sweat trickling down my neck and waited out his silence.
Finally, he threw his can down and belched. “I’m your cousin on your mother’s side.”
“Hell you are. The Kinneys could be stamped from a machine, the way we share looks and temper. I know you’re not one of us. I meant -- are you human?”
Leaning forward in his seat, he wearily said, “I don’ know. They left me here as a baby. But I can walk like a Kinney, talk shit and take punches like one. That enough?”
When I said nothing, he belched again and added, “Hope I can puke like one, too, ‘cause something’s coming back up.”
As I held back his hair while he heaved his guts out, I figured, yeah, it was enough. It was.