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literature

Eighty-Seven Days Before the End

GDeyke's avatar
By GDeyke   |   Watch
11 30 180 (1 Today)
Published: July 18, 2018
They look at the pocketknife every morning. Run their fingers over the handle, tracing the letters of the engraved name. Flip it open and gaze into the mirrored blade, wishing they could see through it to find their love on the other side – but all that looks back from the polished steel is their own haunted stare.

Vivian gave them the knife before she left. It’s all they have left of her: they can’t write or call her, can’t even follow her on tumblr. Viv’s parents know all the passwords, and they’re not the sort to let even a hello go unquestioned.

They had to meet her in secret, before she moved away. She didn’t even dare to tell her parents her new name, or that she had one, or that she needed one.

It’s only for eighteen months. Seventeen. Sixteen. Eight. Five. They count down the days to Vivian’s eighteenth birthday, waiting for her freedom, helpless to help her.

Eighty-seven days before the end, the blade of the pocketknife comes out tarnished.

They can’t bring themself to flip it closed again. It lies beside their keyboard, half-folded into a careless L-shape, as they google Vivian’s deadname and feel eighty-seven days melt into an eternity.

Six months of tears can’t wash the blade clean.
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© 2018 - 2019 GDeyke
Written for Flash Fiction Month 2018, day 17, challenge 8: write a magical realism story containing no direct dialogue and using the archetype of the Lovers. This year I'm also fulfilling a challenge by an anonymous contributor - every character must be queer - as well as one by Teague-Drydan: At least half of the month needs to be fairy tale re-writes. Bonus if they aren't well known fairy tales. Fairy tale count: 10/16.

I've also been roped into taking on another challenge by joe-wright:
The All-Star challenge.
Over the course of FFM, your oeuvre must address the following items:
  • -Something somebody once told you
  • -The sharpest tool
  • -A finger and a thumb
  • -The shape of an L
  • -What does it mean to be 'fed to the rules'?
  • -A smart brain and a dumb head
  • -"You'll never shine if you don't glow"
  • -Definitive proof that all that glitters is in fact gold
  • -A shooting star that breaks the mold
  • -The meteor men, and the hole in the satellite picture
  • -Skating on thin ice
  • -The world on fire
  • -"Can you spare some change for gas?"
  • -An all-star, getting their game on, and going to play, or alternatively and perhaps easier, a rock star, getting the show on, and getting paid.
  • -Shrek
The knife mechanics are yoinked from "The Two Brothers". I think I've also seen it in another fairy tale, but it's not coming to mind.

The rest of today's stories can be found here.

Edit 16.08.2018: are their own haunted eyes -> is their own haunted stare, in an effort to make it as obvious as possible as early as possible that they is used in the singular sense here.

Wordcount: 214.

If you've enjoyed this story, you may be interested in the collection of all my FFM stories this year: Beyond Dreams. You may also enjoy my FFM collections from the previous four years: Borrowed Strength, Ephemeron, Palalgia, and Changeling.
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“Geeze, Teresa. Don't you ever shut up? You talk enough to lead the manticore right to you.” Zack sat back in his seat at the dinning room table and closed his eyes. She looked sheepishly at her dinner plate, his remark stinging her. “What's a manticore?” “It's a creature with the body of a lion and the head of a guy. He eats people, especially people who don't shut up.” Mom turned from her dishes in the sink. “Don't listen to your brother. Manticores aren't real. He's studying myths at school right now. A myth is a kind of story about pretend things.” She turned to Zack. “Stop scaring
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Comments30
anonymous's avatar
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TheSkaBoss's avatar
TheSkaBossHobbyist Writer
Waaaah! Waaaah! Waaaah! 

-SkaBoss
TheSkaBoss's avatar
TheSkaBossHobbyist Writer
:heart: but still :cries: over this one tbh! Was so good it's having a lasting impact! D:

-SkaBoss
GDeyke's avatar
GDeyke Writer
I'm glad it's having an impact! Though I hope I didn't bury too many gays last year - I can try to justify it with 'I'm not sure how queer my audience is overall, so showing the impact of queer violence is important', but in all honestly a big part of it is that tragedy is easier to write.
TheSkaBoss's avatar
TheSkaBossHobbyist Writer
*nod* understandable :(

-SkaBoss
WindySilver's avatar
WindySilverHobbyist Writer
This story sure packs an emotional punch! Fantastic work!
GDeyke's avatar
GDeyke Writer
Thank you! :D
WindySilver's avatar
WindySilverHobbyist Writer
You're welcome! :)
BlackManaBurning's avatar
BlackManaBurningProfessional General Artist
Completely gripped my heart -
GDeyke's avatar
GDeyke Writer
I'm delighted to hear it - thank you! :D
SCFrankles's avatar
SCFranklesHobbyist Writer
Oh, that's heartbreaking. And I so admire the subtlety of your story. 
GDeyke's avatar
GDeyke Writer
Thank you. :thanks:
squanpie's avatar
squanpieHobbyist Traditional Artist
Aww noes. :(
I love how simple yet effective the knife thing is. Even without explanation, it's immediately obvious when it goes wrong. Like with many of these takes, the plot or mechanics may be yoinked, but it's your words that make this version work. :hug:
GDeyke's avatar
GDeyke Writer
Aw, thank you! This knife was just such a perfect fit for the magical realism challenge.
xlntwtch's avatar
xlntwtch Writer
This is a bit more like magic realism than some. It took me too long (because I'm dense and cloudy right now) to realize "they" is one person. Once I did, it was an easier read. And a good one. Sad and letting readers see what waiting is like. At least they had the knife. Still... :(
GDeyke's avatar
GDeyke Writer
They-pronouns are always a bit tricky in that respect, but I'm glad you figured it out in the end!

Waiting is so hard, especially when there's a chance of something like this happening.
TheSkaBoss's avatar
TheSkaBossHobbyist Writer
You could make it easier on the reader by naming that character (and preferably early on!) - hard to take a singular name as multiple people ;P

(and besides, Vivian has a name! is slightly odd that they don't)

-SkaBoss
GDeyke's avatar
GDeyke Writer
You know, that seems obvious in retrospect. Half the time I'm too lazy to bother with naming characters in FFM (perspective characters especially), and that habit tripped me up with this one.

I'm not going to change this one because it's already in the collection this way, but writing they-pronouns smoothly is something I'm still actively working on! It's helped me a lot to read a few pro stories in which they're handled really well.
TheSkaBoss's avatar
TheSkaBossHobbyist Writer
Yeah, it's hard to get a handle on! But I'm always very aware of how I'm referring to characters and trying to keep things less confusing for the reader (cause we personally get VERY confused VERY easily about who's who so it's always a thing we notice!) and thought I would share tips for that. :la:

(and yeah I also have a habit of not naming characters, unless I need to to avoid confusion :dummy:, so that is very understandable!)

-SkaBoss
GDeyke's avatar
GDeyke Writer
The tip is appreciated! small heart - black 
TheSkaBoss's avatar
TheSkaBossHobbyist Writer
:love:

-SkaBoss
NamelessShe's avatar
This one makes me so sad but it’s beautifully written. People are terrible. Viv deserved better.
GDeyke's avatar
GDeyke Writer
They are, and she did. This one's definitely a bit of a downer after my long string of extra super wholesome stories, but this kind of story is important, too.
Teague-Drydan's avatar
Teague-DrydanHobbyist Writer
So sad. I also want to know more--like, why was she hiding from her parents?
anonymous's avatar
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