This is the first flash fiction I’ve ever written let alone submitted. I have a habit of over explaining so condensing this idea into 1000 words was a tough one.
I plan to eventually extend this into a full-length novel so also feel free to give me some ideas on where to take it.
The title is “Vanille’s Song” as it’s sort of a spinoff of my main series “Mykael’s Song” but for the purpose of the contest I may change it to “Happiness Is”
Edit: copy and paste screwed up a lot of the formatting and italics. here is the link to the document.
The midnight sun hung low in the sky, reluctant to set in an arctic summer. Being alive was almost one long moment when the sun never set; sleep became more elusive, and productivity more abundant. It’d been a little strange at first, if not refreshing. No one could use darkness as an excuse not to do something. “It’s late, let’s talk about it in the morning.” went out the window with the other excuses as well.
“Are you…Happy?” The word leaped apprehensively from her tongue, afraid to leave the safety of a mouth that was typically timid. Vanille’s flaxen hair glimmered in the orange light of dusk like a holographic trading card. She lay in the bay window seat, across from the bed, the high-rise overlooking a Montreal that was very much still alive at this hour.
“Someone’s been brooding,” Mykael said. He counted money as he sat cross-legged on the bed licking his thumb after every few bills. He hadn’t been sleeping much, and it showed. His milky blue eyes were sunken and a dark complexion showed more pallor than usual. He’d almost sold off the second kilo they’d smuggled during their flight from The States. He’d been lucky enough to sell the first one wholesale. All together it would fetch them about $60,000. Maybe then he’d actually get some rest. Maybe they could even heal from this nightmare, or begin to.
“Don’t deflect, please. Not this time.” Vanille drew her knees up and hugged them close to her body. Mykael didn’t look up from his counting.
“Answer your own question, first,” he said. His petulance sparked tiny embers in her dusk colored eyes, but they guttered out as quickly as they came. She waited a moment before speaking. Mykael had stopped counting, and looked at her intently.
“Yes, Yes I am, all things considered. I’m happy. I’m happy with us.” She spoke with a pensiveness that said her feelings wouldn’t be echoed. A month after Mykael incited the riot that facilitated their escape from the Dread Witches’ prison, she couldn’t be sure of anything anymore. She couldn’t close her eyes without searing images of scalpels, bonesaws, bubbling cauldrons and the maddened cackling of witches and crazed doctors. “Now it’s your turn,” Vanille turned away from Mykael to look across the room. “Both of you.”
Ariana had been quiet until now, focusing on her easel across the room. She blew a tuft of chestnut hair from her face and glanced over at them with paint mottled cheeks. She was almost done with her latest piece, an impressionist painting of the view from their apartment. She painted the only two people she’d ever loved where they sat now, though their features were faded and undefined. She liked to think of impressionist art as pixel art before pixels existed. Full-time artist wasn’t where she saw herself at 18 not to mention a full-time artist on the run as an illegal immigrant to boot. She’d been fortunate enough to get her work put in a gallery, though she sold her pieces under an alias like Mykael suggested; it didn’t bring in as much money as he did, but was consistent work. She put the finishing strokes on a window pane, setting the brush down.
“Truthfully, I don’t know,” Ariana said. Mykael and Vanille both looked at her now, taken aback by her answer. If anyone was expected to say yes, it was her, she knew. She’d always been expected to be happy because she was smart and beautiful – like beauty and brains were somehow problem-repellent. Optimism came about as often as the night sky did, these days. Running had changed her; she wasn’t sure what to make of her changes either. Mykael had taught them to always be looking over their shoulder, she was more alert than she’d ever been before, confident in her ability to protect herself and the ones she cherished. But she was always looking over her shoulder. Anxiety was a boulder and she was Sisyphus, watching the boulder roll to the bottom of the hill every time she’d push it to the top and get over it. Is this how he’s lived everyday I’ve known him? The thought made her shiver. She’d known him since they were kids, after all. “You don’t know?” Mykael asked and he wrapped up the rest of the money and locked it in a safe under the bed. “That’s not an Ari answer.” His concern added definition to the lines on his face. “That’s not an Ari answer at all…” Vanille winced, like Ariana’s emotional ambiguity was somehow her fault. She was a precious girl. They were both precious to her; there was no ambiguity where that was concerned. “I don’t know, ok? What do you want?” she could feel the edges begin to fray, and practically smell the dysfunction of their unwholesome three-person union. “No, it’s not ok.” His voice was ragged, tired even. “There’s a certain rhythm to these things, I’m not happy but I think the two of you have come to expect that by now, I’ve never been happy. Happy is your job.” “You think that shit is ok? You being unhappy is concerning, me not knowing if I’m happy is concerning,” Ariana said. “So neither of you is happy?” Vanille asked. “That’s not what I said. Well – that is what I said. Seeing you two happy is as close to happy as I’ll ever be,” Mykael said. “Where do you think I would be if I were in this alone, this penthouse? I’d be a drifter somewhere, somewhere cold and somewhere miserable, Nepal maybe.” He let out a sigh. “I did this for you two. If you’re not happy, that reflects on me.” “If one of us is unhappy it reflects on all of us,” Vanille said. Maybe she was a fool to think this could work. Fate had brought the three of them together, but Ariana had no idea what would keep them there.