She Looked Like Art By: Ashley Tiara Lilly

A short story I wrote was published on a fellow writer’s blog. Jayme is a lovely writer, so be sure to check out her work:)

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Joey stood in the doorway of Anna’s art studio. This room always smelled like paint and looked like chaos. Colors had been splashed all over the white walls and tile floor. A long, wooden table rested in the center of the room, holding bottles of acrylic paint, large mounds of clay, and tin cans overstuffed with worn out paint brushes. Large pieces of canvas leaned against the walls all around the room. Some of them were blank, and others had been filled in with images of sunsets, women, landscapes, and concepts that were too abstract to identify.

A desk on the far end of the room was stacked with papers, manila folders, and magazines. The front of the desk was decorated with a rainbow of used sticky notes. Large paint brushes were hung from the wall behind it the way one might hang tools in a garage. In one corner of the room, there was a large, metal sink. On the floor next to that, there was a mini fridge.
            Anna knelt on the floor in front of the long table. She held a pallet that was covered in so much paint that it was practically a work of art all on its own. A blank canvas was propped up on a small easel in front of her. She stared at it, paintbrush in hand, but did not move. A gentle breeze blew in from an open window. The only sound in the room was the beat that could be heard playing though Anna’s earbuds. The wire from the earbuds snaked down into the jeans pocket that hid her silver iPod.
            Joey took slow, soft steps over to her. He knelt down and gave her shoulder a gentle tap. He worried he might startle her, but she didn’t even turn her head. She took her earbuds out of her ears and jammed them into her pocket, the wire touching the paint-splattered floor near her bare feet. She turned her iPod off.
            “It’s good to see you, Joe. I wasn’t expecting visitors.” She said. She turned to face him with her big, brown eyes and gave him a whimsical smile that made his heart skip. He took a breath and wiped his sweaty palms onto his jeans.

 “What’s that you’re working on?” He asked, gesturing to the blank canvas. Anna sighed.

            “Something abstract, I think. Or maybe something more realistic. I’m not sure.”
            “Well, it looks good so far,” Joey said, his tone sarcastic. She looked at him, her eyes bright.
“You really think so?” She asked. He ran his hand through his blonde hair.
            “I mean, I was joking of course. But, um, I’m sure it will look great once you start paint—“
            “Shh!” She dropped her paintbrush and placed a finger on his lips. She grabbed his arm and pulled him closer, nodding toward the canvas. “Tell me what you see.”
            “Um, a blank canvas?” He asked. His thigh was touching her thigh, and his shoulder was touching her shoulder. He looked at her and then back at the canvas, reminding himself to breathe.
            She leaned closer to him so she could whisper. “Look again. What do you really see?” She asked. He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to see in a blank canvas. With her being this close in proximity, all he could think about was holding her free hand in his.
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Read the full story here:

Source: She Looked Like Art By: Ashley Tiara Lilly

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#Fiction

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Arrows: Part 4 of 4

When they made it to the cliff beside the waterfall, the girls breathed a sigh of relief. Julia climbed down from the saddle and helped Bonnie to get down as well. Julia was used to riding horses, but Bonnie’s legs felt stiff as she tried to walk again. They looked out at the waterfall that fell into a fresh water spring. In front of the waterfall, a rainbow arced over the spring. The cave behind the waterfall was large and made of gray stone. There were stones along the cave wall that glistened in the sunlight.

“It’s just as beautiful as I remember it.” Julia said. Freddie huffed, as if in agreement.

“You’re right. It is.”

“We travelled so far through the forest. And they weren’t even keeping up with us. I think we’ll be safe here, even if we don’t go in the cave.” Julia reached into her bag and pulled out a canteen. “You must be thirsty. Let’s go fill this up.” They walked toward the cave until they were just a few feet away from the waterfall. Mist from the water cooled their skin. Julia reached out and placed her canteen under the water, waiting for it to fill up. Bonnie reached out and cupped her hands. When they filled with water, she brought them to her mouth and made a loud slurp. Julia burst out laughing.

“You are so uncivilized.” She said. When her canteen was filled, she took a long drink of the cool water.

“I’m starving. And the guards took my food.” Bonnie said. Julia looked around.

“Look there. There’s fruit hanging from those trees. Come on.” She said. She walked back over to Freddie and pulled her bow and arrow out of her bag. “Luckily, the guards didn’t take any of my things.” She pulled a rope out of her bag and tied it to one of her arrows. “Remember when you first started training me? You made me practice shooting apples off of trees.”

“I remember.” Bonnie said.

“Well, let’s see if it comes in handy.” Julia said. She took her stance and aimed her arrow at the highest apple on the tree. When she released, the arrow pierced the apple. She yanked on the rope, pulling the fruit to the ground.

“Nice shot.” Bonnie said. Julia retrieved a few more apples from the tree and washed them in the waterfall. She fed a few to Freddie who ate them with enthusiasm. Julia and Bonnie sat in the grass and ate in silence. It was the sweetest fruit they had ever tasted. They looked at the colorful rainbow that rested in front of the waterfall. This was the most peaceful place in the whole kingdom.

“I almost wish we could stay here forever.” Julia said.

“Me too. It’s nice. And a much needed break. I never knew how exhausting it was to be a wanted criminal.” Bonnie said. They both laughed.

“Yes. I can honestly say that today was reckless, dangerous, and possibly the worst idea you have ever come up with.” Bonnie slumped her shoulders.

“I know. I really screwed up.” She said. Julia placed a hand on her shoulder.

“Thank you.” Bonnie furrowed her brows.

“For what?”

“For giving me the most interesting day of my life.” She finished chewing a bite of apple and then continued. “I wasn’t sure earlier, but I feel like I’m ready to be Queen. I’m ready for the uncertainty, the unpredictability, and the journey that comes with it. I’ve been training for this my whole life. I don’t know what will happen, but I care about this kingdom. I care about my people. And I have faith that things will work out.”

“I’m glad to hear that.” Bonnie said. She sipped some water from Julia’s canteen.

“That said, I think we should be heading back to the castle.”

“Why? The sun doesn’t set for a few hours.” Julia smoothed her hair.

“Yes, but it’s my last day as Princess. That means that there will be an extra-large spread of food at dinner tonight. And because I am the Princess, I can request that dinner be served early.”

“I think that may be the best idea you have ever had.” Bonnie said. She wiped her sticky hands onto her cloak. Julia took one last look at the rainbow and adjusted Freddie’s saddle.

“We should come back here. Once a year. Maybe twice. Queens deserve a break every now and again, too, right?” Julia asked. Bonnie brushed the grass off of her cloak.

“Yes. As long as we don’t get arrested again.” She said.

“Agreed.” They got on Freddie’s back and made their way back to the castle. The sun was still shining and the rainbow still rested in front of the waterfall. This day had been an adventure, as all days should be.

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#Fiction

Arrows: Part 3 of 4

Julia and Bonnie sat on a wooden bench in an old jail cell. They were locked in by metal bars. Their feet rested on a dirt floor as Bonnie slouched against the stone wall. Even in this situation, Julia sat with perfect posture.

“This is all my fault.” Bonnie said. She buried her face in her hands. “I’m so sorry. I never should have convinced you to leave the Castle.” Julia shrugged.

“Don’t be silly. You never could have predicted that we would be mistaken for wanted thieves and thrown in a jail cell.” Bonnie sighed.

“I’ll go call the guard.” She said. She got up and walked over to the metal bars.

“Why would you do that?” Julia asked. Her friend gave her a confused look.

“Once you tell them you’re the Princess, they’ll let us go.” She said. She tucked her unruly hair behind her ears. The guards took her hat when they put her in the cell.

“I can’t tell them that. It will ruin tomorrow’s ceremony. Instead of welcoming their new Queen, the whole kingdom will be talking about how I got myself arrested and neglected my duties to go sword shopping.”

“I guess I hadn’t thought of that.”

“But then again, if I don’t make it back to the Castle by sunset, I won’t have time for my dress fitting. I also need to rehearse again for the ceremony.” Julia said. She took a breath and tried to stay calm. Bonnie nodded.

“Okay then. Don’t you worry. I’m going to get us out of here.” She said. Her voice was confident.

“How are you going to do that?” Bonnie smiled a sly smile.

“Archery is not my only skill, you know.” She reached into her boot and pulled a small knife out of its sheath. “This little guy has always been there to help me out in tough situations.”

Julia laughed.

“How many tough situations have you been in?” She asked. Bonnie began using the knife to pick at the lock.

“Like I said. You spend too much time in the Castle.” She played with the lock for a moment until she heard a click. “Got it. Remember, this door is squeaky. Once it opens, the guards are going to come running. Are you ready?” Julia stood.

“I’m ready.” Bonnie opened the rusty gate and it made a loud squeak.

“Come on.” She said.

“Hey! What’s going on down there?” A voice called from down the hall.

“Run.” Bonnie said. She grabbed Julia’s hand and they ran down the opposite end of the hall.

“Where are going exactly?” Julia asked. Bonnie ran faster, tightening her grip on Julia’s hand.

“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but first we have to rescue Freddie.”

“Rescue? I thought they just put him in the stables.” Julia said.

“They did, but I overheard one of the guards say that they’re planning to sell him. They think he belongs to notorious criminals, he would be worth a fortune.” They made their way outside to the stables where they found Freddie. Bonnie used her knife to pick the lock and set Freddie free.

“Get them! The criminals are escaping!” The female guard called. She stood in the doorway of the jailhouse as the male guard caught up to her.

“What do we do now?” Bonnie asked. Julia adjusted Freddie’s saddle.

“We ride.”

“But I’m not any good at riding horses.”

“Then I guess you have to learn a new skill. Come on.” She hoisted herself onto Freddie’s back and yanked Bonnie onto the horse with her.

“Stop!” The male guard yelled. He ran toward them with a sword in his hand.

“Yah!” Julia yelled. Freddie took off. He galloped across a dirt road and headed toward the forest. The protests of the guards faded into the distance as the sound of hooves and rustling leaves echoed through the forest. They kept going until they no longer heard the voices of the guards. Julia gave the reins a light tug, making her horse slow down. “Are you okay?” She asked Bonnie. Both of them were still trying to catch their breath.

“I’m fine.” She said. She held onto Julia’s waist like her life depended on it. They continued riding through the forest at a slow pace. Julia stroked Freddie’s mane. She leaned forward to whisper in his ears.

“Good boy. I’ll give you sugar cubes when we get back home. I promise.” She said. She turned her attention back to Bonnie. “It won’t be long before they come looking for us on horses of their own. Is there anywhere we can go to throw them off trail?” Bonnie bit her lip and tried to think.

“Um, yes! There is actually. Do you remember when we were younger, and we snuck away from the palace guards to find the waterfall with the rainbow?”

“As I recall, that was also your idea.” Julia said.

“Hey, that was a good day. Anyway, there’s a cave behind the waterfall.”

“That’s right! They’ll never find us there.”

“But can we get there from the forest?”

“I think so.”

“They went this way! Come on!” A guard called from the distance.

“Uh oh. We’d better move fast.” Bonnie said.

“Yah!” Julia yelled. They galloped away again.

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#Fiction

Arrows: Part 2 of 4

Julia and Bonnie stood in the busy marketplace. They were dressed in gray travelling cloaks. Julia wore an orange scarf on her head so that people would not recognize her. She held onto the reins that kept her black horse, Freddie, from wandering off. Freddie turned his head toward Bonnie and began sniffing at her head. Then, in one swift motion, he bit her hat and yanked it off.

“Freddie!” She shouted. She pulled the hat from the horse’s mouth and placed it back on her head. “I don’t know why you insisted on bringing him. Your bloody horse hates me.” Julia laughed.

“He’s only playing with you. Besides, I thought about what you said. About me never leaving the Castle grounds unless I’m working. He never gets to see the kingdom either, which is practically a crime. Freddie loves people.” Julia said.

“Yeah, people who aren’t me.” She was busy keeping a firm grip on her hat as Freddie began sniffing at her head again.

“Are you sure this scarf is enough to keep people from recognizing me?”

“People recognize your dresses and fine jewels. They recognize your long, silky hair and your silver crown.”

“And here I thought people recognized me for my kindness, grace and poise.”

“Trust me. People do see those things. I only mean that no one expects to see the princess walking around in a scarf and an old travelling cloak. Besides, look around. Are any of these people paying attention to you?” Julia looked around at the people walking through the market, buying and selling fruit, pastries, meat, swords, jewelry, and shoes. Vendors were shouting about their goods that were on sale. Children were clinging to their mothers’ hands. Men were haggling with shop owners, trying to buy their goods for a lower price. People carried baskets that held tomatoes, fire wood, or live chickens. Everyone was going about their business. No one seemed to notice her or Bonnie.

“I guess you’re right. We seem to be blending in.”

“I’m going to buy some fresh bread and salted meat. It’s greasier than anything you’ll ever eat at the Castle. Would you like some?”

“Yes, I’ll try it. While you do that, I’m going to look at these swords. I could use a pair of duel swords for my training.” Bonnie nodded and went over to one of the food stands. Julia led Freddie over to a booth where swords, knives, shields, and nun-chucks were on display. A man behind the booth was polishing a shield with a torn rag. He had a gray beard and stayed focused on his task.

“Pardon me.” Julia said. The man looked up. “You have a wonderful inventory. Do you have any duel swords?” The man coughed into his sleeve and gestured to a pair of swords on the far end of the booth.

“Hold ‘em in your hand. See how they feel. If you don’t like the weight, I can take a special order. You’d have to wait three days for ‘em, though.” He said. Julia picked up one of the duel swords. The handle was cool and had a nice grip. She pulled it from its sheath and admired the smoothness of the blade. Placing the sword back in its sheath, she realized it had been ages since she had bought her own things.

“How much?” She asked.

“Fifteen silver pieces.” The man said. Julia grabbed the money from her pocket and laid it on the table in front of him. She took the swords from the table and placed them in a bag that hung from Freddie’s saddle.

“I got our food. You’re going to love these sweet rolls.” Bonnie said. She carried a bag that had two small loaves of bread sticking out of it. “Did you buy something, too?”

“I got the duel swords I wanted. I’m quite hungry, too. Can I have some of that?”

“Sure.” Bonnie said. She reached into her bag when a voice called after them.

“Hey, you two!” A man said. “I know who you are!” Julia turned to look at the man. When he saw her face, he looked surprised, like he didn’t expect to find her here. It seemed that her disguise didn’t work as well as she and Bonnie thought it would.

“Perhaps you are mistaking us for someone else.” She said.

“No, I don’t think we are.” A woman said. She and the man were both wearing armor typically worn by guards. “And we have a picture to prove it.” Bonnie and Julia exchanged confused looks. The woman reached into her pocket and pulled out a rolled out piece of parchment. She unrolled it, revealing a drawing of two women and one black horse.

“You’re the Silver Bandits.” The man said. “And you’re under arrest for thievery.”

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#Fiction

 

 

 

 

Arrows: Part 1 of 4

Princess Julia stood as still as a statue. She held her bow and arrow, aiming at the target that was fifty feet away from her. Her feet were firmly planted in the dewy grass and her hair was blowing in the gentle breeze. She relaxed her tense shoulders, took a breath, and released her weapon. The arrow hit the center of the target before she could even exhale.

“Excellent. You truly are an archery master now.” A voice said. Julia turned around to see her friend Bonnie. She curtsied before the princess and adjusted the hat that hid her hair, still messy from sleep. Julia walked over and gave her a fierce hug.

“You know you don’t have to curtsy for me.” Julia said.

“Ah, but I do.” Bonnie said. She pulled away to meet Julia’s eyes. “I have students looking up to me. If I respect the Crown, then they will, too.” She raised her brows, knowing she proved her point.

“I suppose. It’s a bit early for you isn’t it? What are you doing out of bed?” Julia asked.

“I thought you could use some company. Today is you’re last day as Princess, after all. Tomorrow you’ll be Queen. Are you ready?” Julia looked at the trees in the distance.

“To tell you the truth, I don’t think I’ll ever be ready.” She said. Bonnie gestured toward the target in the distance.

“At the very least, you’re ready for the archery ceremony.”

“Well, you are the best archery master in the kingdom. I learned from the best. Speaking of which, you didn’t bring your bow. Did you want to borrow mine?” Julia asked. She was nervous about messing up during the ceremony tomorrow, so even though her technique was perfect, she felt herself becoming obsessive about practicing. She didn’t mind having a reason to take a break.

“As much as I would love to show off while using the royal bow, I am here on much more official business.” Bonnie said.

“And what official business is that?”

“To make your last day as Princess the best day ever. And the only way to do that is for us to leave the Castle grounds.” Julia laughed and shook her head.

“You must be joking. I can’t simply leave today of all days.” She said. Bonnie crossed her arms.

“When was the last time you left the castle?” She asked. Julia took a breath and thought about it.

“Last week. I went to read to children at the orphanage.”

“And the time before that?”

“I gave a speech in the Public Square to thank the soldiers who fought in the war.” Julia said. Bonnie raised her hands in the air.

“Exactly! You never leave this place unless you’re working. And when you do leave, you are surrounded by palace guards. Tomorrow you’ll have more responsibility than you’ve ever had before. You deserve to take a break.” Julia pulled another arrow from her quiver. She aimed at another target, this one a bit closer.

“I can’t simply take a break from being a princess.” She said, releasing her arrow. It hit the target, but just missed the bullseye.

“Which is why we should dress as commoners and just have a day to be carefree. We can buy pastries from the baker and take a boat onto the lake. We can dance while people play their instruments in the pub. Come on, we did it all the time when we were kids.” Bonnie said.

“Yes, and we also got into trouble.” Bonnie placed a hand on Julia’s shoulder.

“Tomorrow you’re going to be Queen. Who will punish you?” She asked. Julia grabbed another arrow and aimed for a target.

“Fine. I’ll do it. But on one condition.” She said. She released her arrow, hitting the bullseye she had missed before.

“What’s that?” Bonnie asked. Julia gave her a mischievous smile.

“I get to bring Freddie.”

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#Fiction

 

 

 

 

Molecules

I have a longing inside me
For everything we have been
And everything we never were
I breathe in, I exhale the past

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And yet I cling to its molecules
Grasping its miniscule moments
The joy, the pain, the beauty, the regret
My heart pounding with each emotion

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And now I’m not sure where I stand
In this dance to this quiet song
I’ve left my heart here on the floor
And you’ve taken your place at the wall

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It’s the little things I can’t let go of
It’s the little things that weigh me down
The moments replay in my mind
But I can’t get them back, I can’t rewind.

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#Poetry