Black Hair Magic

[This story is taken from a book I’m self-publishing called ‘Impossible Things.’ The genre is magical realism. Thanks for reading! Full book coming soon. ❤ ]

A short story

By: Ashley Tiara Lilly

Black Hair Magic

It was a hot summer day but the air conditioning was cool. Abigail sat on her bed, flipping through a copy of her favorite magazine while eating from a pack of peach-flavored mints. She was wearing a new pair of denim shorts with her favorite white top that was decorated with lace.

She paused when she saw a picture of her favorite popstar, Daphne Moon, and circled it with a blue pen. Daphne wore red lipstick, a golden, glittery dress, and her smile was bright. What really stood out, though, was her hair, slicked back but still showing off her beautiful curls. Abigail snapped a picture with her smart phone and sent it to her best friend, Jayla, typing,

“Ugh she’s so perfect. Why can’t my hair look like that????”

There was a knock on the door and her mother walked in, carrying a brown box. She shook the box to get her attention, its contents rattling inside. As soon as Abigail heard it, she knew exactly what it was. She hopped out of bed and took the box in her hands, holding it to her chest like a long lost treasure.

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Like this story? Read the rest of it here 🙂

A couple of short stories I wrote are published on The Haunting of Sunshine Girl website :)

Check out the stories here:

http://thehauntingofsunshinegirl.com/scary-stories.php

And if you’re not familiar with The Haunting of Sunshine Girl YouTube channel or book series, be sure to check those out as well!! ❤ 🙂

Sock Full of Coins

A little boy walked into a toy shop,  the bell above the door chiming when he opened it. He had a mop of brown hair, big, green eyes, and wore a little red coat with light brown buttons. He carried a sock that was filled with coins, clutching it in both hands. Wandering through the vast isles, he looked around at life-sized dolls, bins filled with colorful bouncy balls, remote-controlled robots, stacks of red and blue building blocks, and toy kitchens. After a few moments of walking in his little blue rain boots, he saw it– a shiny, red and green toy train on display in a plastic box.

Holding the handle of his sock bag between his teeth, he reached up and grabbed the large box with his tiny hands. As he pulled it down, he wobbled a bit, almost losing his balance. But before long, he was marching down the isle with the toy train in hand. He went up to the cashier and hoisted the box onto the counter. The shopkeeper had to peer over the counter to greet his small customer. He scanned the box and said that the train was $9.50, and the boy handed him the gray sock filled with quarters, smiling wide enough to reveal a missing tooth. The shopkeeper counted the quarters and handed the boy a plastic bag with his new treasure inside. He even included a free set of stickers!

“Thank you vewy much,” the boy said, and he went on his way. The bell rang when he opened the door and went back out into the world. He went out to his mother who waited by the car, proud to show her his new toy he bought all by himself.

Things of the Heart

[I wrote this story a few years ago. While my writing has evolved quite a bit since then, this continues to be one of my favorite stories that I’ve done.]

           I stood in front of the Lindherst Concert House, where my name was up in lights. It said in big, shining letters, “Tonight, Cindy Kale, Live Performance: The Hottest Ticket in Town.” So, this is what it feels like to see your dreams come true, I thought. I stood outside in the cloak of night as strangers passed me by in the street. I wondered, would any of them see my show tonight? Would any of them see the mountains I’d climbed, the desperation, the hard work, and the tears that led me to this very moment? When they heard me, would they remember my voice, or would it only be another insignificant moment in their memory bank, stored away only to be forgotten? I shook the thoughts away as I held my coat closed over my chest, took a breath of the cool night air, and made my way into the building for my sound check.

            My heals clicked softly as I walked across the stage. I sang my “do re mi’s” and my “mi fa sol’s” as the sound guy cued me and the stage lights gleamed into my eyes. Then, I sang the first few bars of my opening song. “Keep me here, don’t let me go, if you really loved me, then you’d stay. Our hearts, they still can beat as one, even if we’re miles away…”

            “Okay, you’re good.” The sound guy told me. I smiled a charming smile and thanked him for his time, and then let the owner of the fine establishment show me to my dressing room. I took in the sight of the white walls, the mirrors lined with lights, and the neat display of make-up brushes paired with eyeliner and face powder. There was a table with bottled water, flowers and fruit, and beside that was the clothing rack that contained all of my costumes. I scanned the rack for the blue, glittery, strapless dress that I’d be wearing for my show tonight. When I spotted it, my heart leaped in my chest, and that’s when it all began to feel real. I was performing tonight, and people were coming from all over town to see me. I looked back at the manager to see that a golden plaque hung from the dressing room door, and engraved on it was my name: “Cindy S. Kale.”

            “You’ll be on in forty-five minutes, Miss Kale.” The manager told me. I thanked him and he went on his way, closing the door behind him. I pulled out a stool and sat down in front of a mirror, and looked back at the painted smile and pretty red curls that stared back at me. My lips have learned to smile on command, but my blue eyes couldn’t lie, and they told me the whole, sad-hearted truth. I made myself busy with placing my make-up in front of me. I pulled out all of my brushes, shadow,  highlight, and lipstick; my make-up sponges, powder, mascara, and eyeliner. Then, just as the pressure began to build, I let the tears fall, cool and salty, down my cheeks, just missing the corners of my quivering lips. I felt a lot of things in that moment.

            I felt the things I knew I should feel: the excitement, the fulfillment, the sense of joy and achievement. But mostly, I felt empty, because there was someone I missed. Someone I left behind in pursuit of this life. And even though I knew I was about to embrace the stage lights and the audience and the piano keys, I knew there was another love I wished to embrace. Someone who I ran away from, someone who I was afraid to love in return, someone I pushed away when I needed to let the music in. And I knew that he hated me for it. I knew that he wouldn’t come to my show, even though all I wanted was to see him there, sitting in the front row, hearing me sing, that way, I would know that we weren’t completely lost. That way, I wouldn’t feel forgotten.

            I wiped the tears away with my hands. I dabbed my face with a cloth and began applying my eye makeup. I applied my shadow and blush, my lipstick and my false lashes. I applied powder and smacked my lips together, and then smiled, my blue eyes bright this time with the adrenaline of getting ready to perform.

            “Break a leg,” he said. My memory brought me back to a time when my love was still with me. We stood outside of Coffee and Jazz, a hole in the wall café in a secluded location. It had an open-mic night and the best cheesecake you’ve ever tasted. I was there to sing, and he was there to watch me. He gave me a kiss on the cheek and held my hands in his.

            “You’re going to watch me sing, aren’t you Brian?” I’d asked him. Light snow flurries had begun to fall, and I watched his sweater collect the glimmering crystals.

            “Are you kidding? I’ll be in the front row, cheering you on. And afterwards, I’ll take you out to celebrate, anywhere you want to go,” he told me. I told him that sounded wonderful and he gave me a gentle kiss for luck. He walked me inside, and later that evening, I got up on stage and I sang. Brian kept his word, and he sat right there, in the front row. It didn’t matter that there weren’t many other people there. I was really only singing to him, anyway.

            “You’re on in five minutes Miss Kale.” The manager called through the door, pulling me out of my memory. A tinge of sadness was left behind as I realized it would be only that, a memory. I slipped out of my jeans and into my dress and my heals. Shimmering, dolled up, and pretty as a sunset, I took one last look in the mirror.

            “I’m living my dream, I’m living my dream, I’m living my dream,” I told myself. The manager knocked on my door and I opened it up, my smile easy and natural, and my body energized. I told him I was ready to go on, and he led me to my entrance onto the stage. He walked out to greet the audience and to introduce me, and I felt my heart pounding, accompanied by sweaty palms.

            “Ladies and gentleman, now, the moment you have all been waiting for. I present to you, Miss Cindy Kale, the hottest ticket in town.” The audience clapped as I walked out, showered by the love of their applause. The piano keys started playing on cue, and I started singing my song. I didn’t need to do much of an acting job. The feelings I needed were already there.

            “Keep me here, don’t let me go, if you really loved me, then you’d stay. Our hearts, they still can beat as one, even if we’re—“ And I stopped. I couldn’t continue. Confused, the piano keys dwindled to silence, and all I could do was stare. I knew it was unprofessional, but I couldn’t help it. I only did it because I saw a familiar face sitting in the front row. When I saw Brian, I was caught off guard, and all I wanted was to step off the stage and into his arms. I wanted to touch his face, to see if he was real. I wanted to say his name. But instead, I remembered where I was, and decided to sing another song.

            “Sorry about that, but if you all don’t mind, I’d uh, I’d like to start off with something a little different.” I cued the piano man to switch to song number three, and when he was there, he gave me the okay.

            “This song is for all of the couples out there tonight. This song is for anyone who’s ever been in love.” The piano came back to life and I started to sing.

            “You held me, that’s how I knew that you loved me. You kissed me, that’s how I knew that you loved me. You told me, that’s how I knew that you loved me…You held me, that’s how I knew that you loved me. You kissed me, that’s how I knew that you loved me. You loved me, that’s how I knew you were mine…” When I finished my number, everyone whistled and clapped, but the only person I saw was Brian. He clapped in his calm, yet enthusiastic way, and when I smiled he winked at me. I did the rest of my show, just as I had rehearsed.

            And I don’t know if everyone thought it was great, and I don’t know if everyone really believed that I was the hottest ticket in town. But it didn’t matter, because Brian did. And he told me so after the show when he presented me with a kiss and a bouquet of roses. I gave him apologies and he gave me forgetfulness. He asked if he could take me to dinner, and I said yes in a thousand languages. A lot of people came to see me sing that night, and that was a dream come true. But being there with Brian, with his roses and his kisses, for the first time that night, my dream felt complete. For the first time, my heart lacked nothing, and I truly believed that I could spread my wings and fly.

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#fiction

 

Affection

Lana held her girlfriend’s hand, their fingers intertwining together as they sat on the edge of a picnic table, their feet resting on the wooden bench. She rested her head on her partner’s shoulder as the wind blew strands of her curly, red hair into her face. Her girlfriend gave her hand a squeeze and she could smell the peppermint on her breath that came from her chewing gum.

“You okay, Lan?” her girlfriend asked. Lana nodded without looking up.

“I’m good,” she said.

Scooter sat on the bench a few feet away from them. He smoothed out his black hair that was already shaped with gel. He stared at his phone and the heel of his foot moved up and down like a lever. A soft sigh escaped his lips and he muttered something to himself that no one else could hear.

Lana brushed the loose strands of hair behind her ear with her fingers and glanced over at him.

“You seem troubled, Scoot. What’s goin’ on?”

He looked at her, startled, as though he forgot she was there, and then shrugged.

“It’s Skyler. When we first met, we hooked up and drank wine at her apartment. We had fun, no strings attached. But she was funny and adventurous. I wanted to take her out for real, so I did. We went to dinner and drank beer beneath the stars, and then slow danced, not well by the way, while music played on the radio. She said she really liked me,” he said.

“Sounds like you had a nice time. Why are you upset?”

He slumped his shoulders and looked down at the grass. The air smelled like fresh earth and the clouds provided partial shade from the warm sun in the mostly blue sky. The park was mostly empty with the exception of one or two families who were at the playground, on the other side of the field. Two small birds landed in the grass several feet away and started pecking at the ground.

“She hasn’t texted me back all week. I haven’t heard from her since that night,” he said. He placed his phone on the table with a soft thump.

Lana’s girlfriend slid over to Scooter’s side and sat next to him on the bench. Her short, brown hair was shaved on one side and she wore a leather jacket even though it was summer. She popped her gum and gave him a playful punch on the shoulder.

“Hey. Don’t worry about this. Maybe she lost her phone, maybe she had a family emergency, and maybe she doesn’t want a relationship after all and is too scared to tell you the fuckin’ truth. You can sit here on this beautiful day with friends, driving yourself crazy with maybes, or you can accept the fact that you had an amazing time with this girl, which might lead to something more. Or it might not. But you can’t let one person blind you from all the affection you already have in your life. Keep your door open to all forms of love and the right person will find their way in. This is one girl. Let her come to you. And if she doesn’t, then move on. But for now, spend this day with us. Don’t spend your day with maybes,” she said.

Lana hopped down from the table and smoothed out her skirt before sitting next to her girlfriend. She reached over and held Scooter’s hand.

“Court’s right. We can go out. We can have fun. And we can make new friends, new memories, and new stories. You don’t have to stay stuck in this chapter,” she said.

He nodded and smiled a bit, revealing his dimples.

“You’re right. I guess I just wanted to have someone by my side who could help me forget to be sad.”

Courtney gave him a playful nudge in the ribs.

“That’s what the night is for,” she said.

Behind them, Scooter’s phone vibrated and rang. He picked it up off the table and looked at the caller ID. A picture of a girl with brown hair appeared on the screen along with her name. It was Skyler. He looked at his friends as if wondering if he should answer it, and Courtney gestured with her hands to say that he should.

“Tell her that the three of us are going out for milkshakes,” Lana said.

“Yeah,” Courtney agreed, “she should come.”

Scooter took a breath and answered the phone. He walked away from the bench and the two birds who were in the field flew off into the sky together. When he walked far enough to get some privacy, he cleared his throat. Lana rested her head again on Courtney’s shoulder, the two of them were barely able to hear Scooter’s soft hello.

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#fiction, short stories

Tribes and Secrets

Lori stood in the middle of the desert. She wiped the sweat from her forehead and pulled her blond hair back into a pony tail. Her heart was racing and she wrung her hands. Mae leaned against the faded red truck and guzzled cool water from her canteen, letting it drip onto her chin. She wiped her mouth and smiled a half smile, but Lori couldn’t bring herself to calm down. She always felt at peace when she was around Mae, but now she wished she could hide under a desert rock and never come out.

The sun was scorching and the air was dry. The dirt could be heard grinding under Lori’s boots as she paced back and forth. She fiddled with the canteen that was strapped onto the belt of her denim shorts and smoothed out her tank top. She put on some lip balm and picked at her nails, anything to postpone doing the thing she came here to do. Mae cleared her throat and asked her what she waiting for.

“What did you wanna show me? We’re only a few miles from town,” she said. Her shoulder-length brown hair hung down, loose strands blowing into her face. Her skin was tan and her brown eyes sparked with curiosity, but were also steady with trust. One sandaled foot was crossed over the other as she leaned against the truck without a care in the world. Lori took a breath and wondered if it were obvious that her hands were shaking.

“Do you trust me?” she asked. Mae nodded.

“Mhmm,” she said, and took another sip of water. She crossed her arms and looked amused the way she always did when Lori was stressing out over nothing. But this time, it wasn’t for nothing. For better or worse, this was going to change everything. It was the worse part that Lori was afraid of. She decided to stop procrastinating and walked away from the faded trail and toward the sand dunes. There was the occasional shrub that poked out of the ground, but for the most part, this area was all sand. She picked up a fistful of the hot, smooth sand and let it slip through her fingers. The familiar feel of it comforted her. This was her place, and for a moment, she almost forgot that she had something to lose.

She thought of facing Mae, of explaining why she brought her out here. Of telling her that this wouldn’t change anything, and that she’s still the same person she’s always been. Instead, she stood up straight and closed her eyes. The sun was hot on her skin and she focused on the quiet rhythm of her breath. The ground was soft beneath her feet and she channeled her connection to it, her connection to the earth. Her hands moved back and forth in slow movements, as if she were conducting an orchestra, until the sand around her began to move, too. She opened her eyes and let the sand twirl until two rows of it were spiraling toward the sky. She paused, letting the sand hover for a moment, and then she lowered her hands, one over the other, until the sand lay flat on the ground again.

Every time she used her powers, she felt a connection to her ancestors. This was who she was, this was where she belonged. But that good feeling was interrupted by the fear of what Mae would think now that she knew her secret. She turned around, inch by inch, until she was facing her again. Mae looked at her, but said nothing, and it was hard to read her expression from this small distance. Her hands were at her sides and she didn’t move. Lori walked over to her until she was just a few feet away. She met her eyes, but her expression was blank.

“Mae?” Lori asked. She wanted to reach out and stroke the loose strands of hair from her face. Instead, she waited to see what she would say. She was afraid that she wouldn’t say anything at all when Mae cleared her throat and furrowed her brow.

“I had a hallucination,” she said. Lori shook her head and when she spoke, her voice shook.

“No. It was real. What you just saw, what I just did, it really happened.” The words hung in the air for a moment. This time, Mae shook her head.

“But you’re not a—“

“—a telekinetic. I am.” She toyed with the silver and ruby ring on her index finger that Mae had given her a few weeks ago. “I know I should have told you sooner it’s just I only just found out about it myself. I’ve been seeing a teacher, a master actually. Master Jong. He’s been teaching me about my tribe and my history. I know it’s a lot to take in, but I—“

“No.” Mae looked at her with her wide eyes and a single tear streamed down her face. “N-no. You c-can’t. You can’t be one of them!” she spat.

“Let me explain. I’m still the same person. Please, just hear me out.” She took a step forward and Mae jerked away.

“Don’t touch me.” She reached for the door handle to get in the driver’s side of the truck. Lori used her powers again. She didn’t mean to. It was a reflex, she panicked. With a flick of the wrist, she sent the truck flying ten feet ahead of them, kicking up dirt on the road. Mae screamed and glared at her. “You could have run over my feet!”

“Sorry, sorry, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean it, I panicked. Please, if you just let me explain—“

“You’re a monster,” she said. The words stung and tears welled up in Lori’s eyes. She reached out and Mae backed away. “I’m leaving and you’re not going to stop me.” Her voice was firm but her eyes had a hint of uncertainty. She knew her words were powerless. “I’m taking the truck. You can walk back to town by yourself.”

“Please,” Lori started. She was sobbing now. Hot tears streamed down her face and she sniffled. “Please, d-don’t do th-this. You s-said you l-loved me.” Mae clutched her hands together and her expression was pained.

“Just stay away from me.” She went over to the truck, looking over her shoulder to make sure Lori wouldn’t use her powers again. She hopped in the truck and drove off, leaving a trail of dust behind her. Lori watched as the truck moved farther away. She ran and yelled after it.

“Fine, just go! Just take my truck and go!!” She yelled. She stopped running to catch her breath, placing her hands on her knees for support. Still sobbing, she let herself collapse onto her hands and knees and cried into the palms of her hands. She had a sweater wrapped around her waist and used its sleeve to wipe the snot from her nose. She knew this would be a lot to take in, but she didn’t expect her to leave her in the middle of the desert. Was this it then? Were they over? Mae meant more to her than anything else in the world. She would give all this up, if she could…

She thought about how she would have felt three months ago if someone had told her they were a telekinetic. She would have run off, too, no doubt about it. She expected this kind of reaction, but she wasn’t prepared for how much it would hurt. She tried to compose herself and reached for her canteen when she realized she had no water left. All the extra food and water was on the truck. Her truck. She was still a good 6.5 miles away from town and everything she owned was at Mae’s apartment. She didn’t even have her cell phone. The sun was hot on her skin and she was fatigued from using her powers, especially after moving something as heavy as a car. But that didn’t matter. Feeling sorry for herself would have to wait until later. Right now, she had to get out of this desert.

She’d barely been walking five minutes when she began to feel faint. She was about to sit down at the side of the road when she heard a vehicle coming toward her. It was Mae driving her truck. She pulled over and sat for a moment, still clutching the steering wheel. She got out and walked over to Lori, pausing a few feet and away, her eyes cautious. She started to reach out, but then pulled her hand back. Lori couldn’t stand to see her be afraid of her. Her blue eyes met Mae’s and she tried to express everything she was feeling with one look. When she spoke, it came out in a whisper.

“I swear I’m not going to hurt you.” Mae nodded and tears welled up in her eyes.

“I know,” she said. She reached out, still cautious, and placed a hand on Lori’s cheek. She pressed her forehead against hers and lay her gentle hands around her neck. Tears streamed down her cheeks. “I’m so sorry I left like that. I do love you, I would never leave you alone like that.”

“I know.” Mae gripped her in a tight hug and didn’t let go when she continued speaking.

“One of the tribes killed my family. I was just a little girl.”

“I know,” Lori said. She stroked Mae’s hair. Her body was warm against her and it didn’t help with the intense heat of the desert, but she didn’t care. She was so relieved to have Mae back in her arms.

“I’ve spent my whole life hating the tribes. I can’t just forgive them.”

Lori stroked her back. “I’m not asking you to.” Mae pulled away and placed her hands on Lori’s shoulders.

“You’ve been carrying this secret. I can only imagine—“

“I’ve been so terrified of losing you,” Lori said. Mae held her hands in hers and smiled through her tears.

“I’m not going anywhere. I’ll listen. You can tell me everything. But first, let’s go home.” She opened the passenger door for Lori and they drove off back to town. The worst was over, Lori thought. No matter what happened from this point forward, they still had each other. And that mattered more than anything.

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#fiction

Different Kinds of Alone

Emma walked into her bedroom and let the door close with a soft click. She slipped off her black sandals and let her bare feet touch the soft, pink carpet that rested on her hardwood floor. Her lips quivered as warm tears streamed down her cheeks. She wiped them away with the back of her hand and ran her fingers through her light brown hair. Twizzler, her little dog with golden fur lay on her bed and wagged his tail when he saw her, letting it thump against the comforter.

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She scoffed and half rolled her eyes.
‘What are you so happy about?’ she thought. The bed was made, its blue and gray blanket and sheets folded and smoothed out, nice and neat. She plopped onto the side of the bed and let herself fall face-first into her fluffy pile of pillows.

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As her hands buried themselves beneath the pillows, she expected herself to sob. Instead, a few lone tears dripped down to the edge of her nose, soaking into her pillowcase. She felt empty, numb, like her thoughts were nothing more than white noise. Her peach colored blouse was bunched up beneath her stomach and one leg of her blue jeans was yanked up higher than the other, but she didn’t care enough to fix it.

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Her breathing began to slow and she clung to her pillow. She imagined lying here forever and never having to leave this spot. Her smart phone was in her back pocket, so she pulled it out and lay on her side, smoothing out her clothes. She opened the text conversation she’d been having with Jack and sniffled.

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“Hey. Wanna hang out later? Think I might order a pizza,” she typed. She hit send. A tissue box rested on her dark, wooden nightstand next to her television remote and a small stack of books. She blew her nose and a few loose strands of hair had started sticking to her lip balm. Tucking them behind her ears, she took a few slow breathes. Her window was covered by a pink curtain, but a hint of sunlight could be seen shining through it.

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A few moments later, her phone vibrated. It was a text message.
“I’d love to, Em. But I can’t, I have plans with my girlfriend. Enjoy the pizza though!” Jack said.

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A pang of disappointment hit Emma in the pit of her stomach. Tears began to stream down her face again and she let out a half sob. Twizzler walked over and started licking her elbow. She turned around and nudged him away.

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“Leave me alone,” she said. The dog looked back at her and wagged his tail again, slower this time. His little paws barely made an indent in the soft blanket. She lay down on her back and stared at her white ceiling. She was happy for Jack. But she also didn’t want to think about his perfect relationship with his perfect girlfriend. Ordering pizza on her own felt so pathetic in comparison.

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Her dog sniffed at her shoulder and placed a paw on her arm. She pet the fur behind his ears and folded her free arm so she could rest her head against it.

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“No one’s there for me, Twizzler. Not in the way I want them to be,” she said. She grabbed a thin, green blanket from the edge of her bed and pulled it up to her shoulders. She closed her eyes and imagined staying like that forever. Just like that, warm and safe. She had work to do and emails to send and needed to eat something. But for now, all she wanted was this. Peace, quiet, and the kind of alone that had nothing to do with being lonely.

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#Fiction, short stories