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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.
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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:iconwindysilver:
WindySilver Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2019  Hobbyist Writer
This story sure packs an emotional punch! Fantastic work!
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:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2019   Writer
Thank you! :D
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:iconwindysilver:
WindySilver Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2019  Hobbyist Writer
You're welcome! :)
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:iconblackmanaburning:
BlackManaBurning Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2018  Professional General Artist
Completely gripped my heart -
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:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2018   Writer
I'm delighted to hear it - thank you! :D
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:iconscfrankles:
SCFrankles Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
Oh, that's heartbreaking. And I so admire the subtlety of your story. 
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:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2018   Writer
Thank you. :thanks:
Reply
:iconsquanpie:
squanpie Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2018  Hobbyist 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:
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:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2018   Writer
Aw, thank you! This knife was just such a perfect fit for the magical realism challenge.
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:iconxlntwtch:
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2018   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... :(
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Edited Jul 19, 2018   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.
Reply
:iconnamelessshe:
NamelessShe Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2018
This one makes me so sad but it’s beautifully written. People are terrible. Viv deserved better.
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:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2018   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.
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:iconteague-drydan:
Teague-Drydan Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2018  Student Writer
So sad. I also want to know more--like, why was she hiding from her parents?
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2018   Writer
Unfortunately, transphobic parents can be a very real danger. :(
Reply
:iconteague-drydan:
Teague-Drydan Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2018  Student Writer
oh. Yeah. I can see that. Didn't even think of that.
Reply
:iconcamelopardalisinblue:
camelopardalisinblue Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Ouch. That ending. Just ouch.

I love this.
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:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2018   Writer
Thank you. :heart:
Reply
:iconilyilaice:
ilyilaice Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2018
I like the countdown, as it adds to the urgency of the story. I also like how you interpreted the L-shape prompt.
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2018   Writer
Waiting is really hard, especially when there's something you wish you could do about it but can't.
Reply
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July 18, 2018
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