Tag Archive | prompt: ladiesbingo

(Range) Ladies’ Bingo: Transformation – The Unicorn/Factory & Ursel

Written for my [community profile] ladiesbingo card after Change and with a nod to Strange

Short Summary: The unicorns keep the water clean for the villages, but the price they demand is maidens… and their children are born from those maidens.

Content Warning: The unicorns in these stories are heavy on the rape metaphor, and it’s very heavy in the below story. Also, violence, via unicorn horn, discussed in the past tense.

I think this has an ending but it wasn’t sure.

People, as a rule, were not very good at keeping secrets.

The more unusual the information, the worse they were at keeping them close.

There was a girl in Shepachdar’s tavern, and she was a unicorn-born who hadn’t changed, already an anomaly.

There was a foal in Lastowe that had changed early, and it had grown wings instead of a horn, strange beyond strange – and yet it seemed to be needed.

How will he mate? some people muttered. But very quietly: they didn’t talk too loudly about what happened down at the river. They might know – almost everyone knew. The unicorns and the maidens, they made more unicorns, and there was blood, there was always blood, whether the result was a dying girl or a pregnant one.

What will come of the girl? some people asked. They were far less quiet about that; personal tragedy was interesting, it was personal, and it didn’t come tainted with the guilt of the Silver Road and the blood of all those young girls.

Eventually, the questions came back to the tavern in Shepachdar, and back to Ursel, the girl with the nubbin of horn on her forehead.

“So…” It was Fazenia who asked, Fazenia who had started this whole mess rolling. “If you haven’t changed…”

Ursel sat down and stared at Fazenia for a long time. The men looked away. The other bar-maids looked away. Fazenia did not.

“Every child a unicorn sires is a unicorn,” Ursel began. “This is the truth of things.”

Around her, people were muttering. Fazenia, who had gone down to the river in her own time, held Ursel’s gaze and waited.

“Common knowledge says it’s the horn, but that is only a an indicator of certain things.” She touched the nubbin on her forehead. Fazenia touched her own stomach, below the navel. “I know,” the woman who should be a unicorn continued, “that many children are born after the river trips, and more than half of those are born with no horn. Those births are easier. Those men live fine lives, and their daughters have an easier time of the river. Those women… they either have an easier time at the river, or everything goes horrible.” She ducked her head. “Unicorns, the ones who have four legs and who swim the river, they are not human, whatever they were born. They don’t think like humans, and they don’t communicate like humans. And unicorns either favor the two-legged of their kin, or they hate them unbearably.”

Fazenia’s fists clenched in her lap. Ursel, now, was the one to look away, but just for a moment.

“I digress. Every child conceived at the river is a unicorn. I know. So many babies you have all seen, maybe yourself, maybe the child you raised as your own. All unicorns.”

Somewhere, someone opened their mouth. One of the bar-maids shushed them before they cloud say a word.

Ursel nodded, although nobody had asked anything. “It’s not what we’re taught, any of us. Only the ones who transform – only the sons, and not all of the sons. I think many mothers tell themselves that the daughters, the sons who don’t change, that they all come from somewhere else. But the truth, as I have been told it, is that we are all, every child the unicorn-horn puts into you, unicorns.”

“Who told you?” Fazenia’s voice was very quiet. Nobody in the bar had trouble hearing it.

Ursel hesitated, swallowed, and nodded. It was a fair question.

“I didn’t change,” she said, which was obvious to everyone. “I was born with the shining spot on my forehead, but my mother ignored it, because I was born a girl. When I was a young child, the nub developed, the way it did for some boys. My mother styled my hair to cover it.” She brushed her hair out of the way. “We pretended it was a place I had hit my head, or a strawberry mark. When the boys in the town started, you know, their voices changed and then, if they had the nub, they changed, my mother sent me to live with my aunt and uncle, who lived far from the water. She was keeping me safe, she said. I didn’t question it. I was a good child.”

“But I got the black bean, when I came back home. That’s what my village does, draws a black bean to see which girl goes down to the river. And I went, because how could I not? I was a child of the village, the same as anyone else. We hadn’t told anyone, not even my mother’s husband, what I was. And I went down to the river.”

Fazenia reached out, dropped her hand, and reached out again. Ursel didn’t pull back, so Fazenia put her hand over the barmaid’s.

The men were silent. The other tavern girls were silent. This story ended badly so many times, even when it ended well in the long run.

“The biggest unicorn I had ever seen came up to me. She — it was a mare, and those are so rare, you know — she touched her horn to my forehead, and it was…” Ursel’s voice broke. “I didn’t belong there. Too human,” she told me, and I could feel her horn pressing… pressing into the nube where my horn should be growing. Too much, too full, too many words.” Ursel looked up. “I have been looking for an explanation since that day. I had to many words. I was too full of humanity. Why?”

“My daughter,” Fazenia spoke softly, her voice like water over gravel. “She went down to the water. No horn, no nothing, but she’d been born from the unicorn stab.”

The whole bar flinched. Nobody said stab connected to unicorns. Nobody but those who’d felt the horn.

“She went down to the water, and this stallion, he… he savaged her. I wasn’t supposed to be there, you know, it’s the thing between the girl — the young woman and the river. The unicorns. But I hear her scream.

“So I ran down, what mother wouldn’t?” The dryness in her voice spoke of mothers who hadn’t, all the mothers who listened and bit their lip and did nothing while their daughters screamed. “I ran down, and there’s this giant stallion. standing over her, his horn red with her blood, and still shining, still looking pure, ridiculous, I remember thinking, how can he be pure, with her blood all over him? but he was still pure like the snow, white, even the black-red of her blood shining. And,” she pounded her fists on the table. “And he spoke to me. That creature, that monster, he spoke to me.

“‘Too human,’ it said.” She spat the words out. “‘Tainted. She tastes of the clear water where it meets the factory’s spew. It sickens me,’ he said. Sickens him, my beautiful daughter, bleeding out on his shore.” She slammed her fists into the table. “And his delicate stupid horsey taste-buds nearly killed my perfect daughter…” She looked up at Ursel. “And you’re telling me it’s because he made her? His kind made her, slammed their horn into me and put her in there, and, and, and that thing that the unicorns made, that perfect daughter,” she repeated with an angry sob, “that’s too much for them?”

“They don’t like making girls,” Ursel admitted very quietly. “I think. They don’t like talking, you know, and they do it so rarely. But something about the seed of theirs turning to a girl… we taste too much of humanity.”

“But,” an unwise barmaid offered, “wouldn’t we all, then? We’re all human. And yet, she said..”

Fazenia grimaced. “‘Where the river meets the factory water. Those bastards. They piss in our stream and call it pure and clean.”

“The factories?” one of the men asked, more cautiously than the barmaid.

“No.” Ursel touched her forehead. “The Unicorns. We’ll never be enough for them… because we made them.”

It wasn’t quite a sob she made, and not quite a whimper, but Fazenia made the noise for both of them, sob and wail and whimper in one long noise. Mother and foal and yet never kin, they sat together in the center of the bar with their tears and their scars.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1188427.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

Ladies’ Bingo: Tragedy – Aunt Pearl

Written for my [community profile] ladiesbingo card riffing off of The Strength. See also Deborah’s Tag..

Short Summary: Aunts in the Family hold the magic, channel it, and generally direct the family – although the older women (grannies and mothers) often hold as much secular power, if not more. Aunts are childless, unmarried…

…except sometimes, it seems, when they’re not.

Pearl was worried. She was more than worried, she was terrified. More than just terrified, she was living in fear of her grannies and sisters, a fear that no normal woman would have grounds to understand, much less feel.

She’d kept it a secret as long as she could, and that had been months longer than she’d thought she’d be able to. She’d used every charm she thought safe and some she wasn’t sure about; she’d used every deceit and a few fashion tricks from her friends not in the family. Those friends knew – and if the grannies found out that, Pearl was doubly and triply doomed. She’d gone out of the family for help.

Now she was going out of the family to escape. She’d packed up everything she thought she could get away with. Half of it she’d mailed ahead – some to a distant cousin, back in New York; some to her friend Ilene, in Missouri, where she was going; some to her grannies’ gran, living in peace in a house nobody bothered without an express invitation, just three miles away but might as well be on the moon.

What she hadn’t mailed, she had with her now, on the platform at the train station. She’d left a note, warded so that it didn’t reveal itself too soon. She’d mailed her niece Cora another letter, this one more explicit. She’d… she’d… she’d… She took a deep breath. She’d done everything she could, and there was nothing left but to get on the train and go far, far away.

“Did you think we wouldn’t feel the shift in the power, you ridiculous girl?”

The voice snuck up behind her like a snake. Pearl held as still as possible, knowing that wouldn’t help, knowing she couldn’t help but do it. She said nothing. There was nothing to say against that voice.
“If you don’t turn to speak to me, your death on this platform is going to be a mysterious tragedy. Did you think you held all the power? Did you think you had all the knowledge?

Pearl gulped quietly and did not turn around. She did not answer. Her aunt Irma had always been particularly disdainful of her, but, then again, Irma was disdainful of everyone. It was just that Pearl had been chosen by the power, and that gave her an edge Irma did not usually consider.

“This is your last chance, Pearl Maria O’Conner. If you do not turn to face me, then nothing will be able to help you. Nothing.”

“Nothing’s been able to help me for seven months now, Aunt Irma.” It was unwise, but she couldn’t help herself. The words just slipped out of her mouth. “Not you, not Aunt Ida, not even great-gran.”
“Don’t you mention her name. Don’t you dare.” Irma was getting angry. Pearl kept her feet planted exactly where they were. “You know what a pregnant Aunt does to the family.”

“Actually,” Pearl was surprised at how level her voice was. “No, I don’t. Do you?”

Irma huffed. “Don’t be difficult, child. Recalcitrant. You know as well as I do that you can’t have a pregnant Aunt. It’s not done, it hasn’t been done, and it shan’t be done.”

“The thing is…” Pearl pulled herself to her full height and eyed her elderly aunt. On some level, she quailed at her own chutzpah. But this was not the time for timidity. “…nobody knows why not. I’ve read all of the journals. I’ve visited some of the other Aunts, and read their books. I’ve look into the archives and asked the family ghosts and spirits. Nobody knows.”

“Because we do not allow it to happen.”

“So you’ve said, but the question is, again, why?

“Just because you’ve gotten yourself into a difficult position is no need to start shaking the tree, Pearl Maria. Now, will you come peacefully?”

“And if I don’t?” She had thought she could run from them. She realized now that she was going to have to be a little more firm than that.

“If you don’t, then we will take you. The child will go, the power will be severed, and you will be institutionalized for your own good. A mad child who believes her family stole her baby and her magic? The doctors will be tripping over themselves to try new treatments on you.” Irma’s smile was unkind.

“The thing is…” Pearl tok a step backwards. The train was nearly here. “I wasn’t sure what I would do, if you came for me. I wasn’t sure what you would do, either.”

Irma sneered. “Always the slow one. I never thought you were a good choice for Aunt.”

“I like to see the best in my family,” Pearl countered. “Are the others here?”

“Sondra. Laverne. The rest didn’t have the stomach for it.”

“Funny. I didn’t think I would, either.” Pearl raised her hand. “Those rituals, Aunt Irma? To cut someone off from the power? They require an Aunt. And… at their core, that’s all they require.”

Irma laughed. “Is that a threat, girl? You need to work on them, if so.”

“No. That’s why I’m not afraid of the family right now. This, this is a threat.” Pearl sighed. She knew she had Aunts in her bloodline who were dark, Aunts who would not have flinched at this. That wasn’t her. But she could do this. She could do it, for her baby. The train was nearly here.

“Well? Threaten away. I don’t have all day.”

“It’s a tragedy, don’t you think, a woman in the prime of her life — or a bit past it, i suppose, but let’s be generous — falling so ill, when she’d just come to see her niece off? A stroke, I think. So sad.” She heard the train stop behind her and stepped backwards onto the boarding plank. She twisted the magic and muttered to herself.

“There was quite a bit to read in the family archives.”

Aunt Irma shuddered and sat down abruptly. Pearl handed the conductor her ticket and her luggage, and did not watch.

The magic will be yours soon, her letter had said. Burn this letter when you’re done, and say nothing of it in the journals. I’m going to lose myself, and then I will loose the power. Remember always: the connections are between you and the family, and you and the power. To sever either is a horror and a tragedy.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1182539.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

I’m doing another Bingo, perhaps

<td width=20% bgcolor=" #cce6ff
” style=’border: 1px solid #900; vertical-align:middle’>Enemies
Regine & Cya

From the Family Library
Jason’s Roses
Alternative Professions
Cousin Artemisia
Rosaria, Cady, Lily
Relative values: Families
Aud and Zizny Back Fence
A Murder to Solve Early Morning
Summer Solstice
Everything Changes Jealousy
A Battle / Fight / Confrontation Teenagers
Beryl and Chalcedony.
Wild Card
Wild Card
Deborah’s backstory
Sensory Deprivation
Close Crop/Zoom Wabi / Sabi It will be a Terrible Scandal
Grannies/Aunt misdeeds
Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics
Electromagnetic Waves
Virginity / Sexual Inexperience All the Dead Characters are Living Together Alpha / Beta / Omega Mutation / Transformation
Outsider POV

This is [community profile] ladiesbingo, which means each prompt should involve the relationship between women.

Now taking prompts! I’ll mark the squares above as they are prompted, and your prompt has a better chance of being written if it is in line with previous prompts (so I can make a bingo, you see).

Any setting of mine and any fandom I can write comfortably is up for grabs. Not sure about the fandom? Feel free to ask!

Edited to add: The prompt explanation post

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1167896.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

LadiesBingo: Hero – Cady and Lily

Written for my [community profile] ladiesbingo card after or riffing off of Tell Me a Story. See also Heroes..

Sum-up of what’s come before: Lily’s grandma told the best stories, because she could see what needed to be told. What she told for Cady had surprised even her a little bit.

And so the young knight slew her first demon. And although she knew there would be many more demons, and many more mountains to climb, she knew she would never have to face them on her own

Cady had been telling herself those words over and over again. And so the young knight slew a demon. The young knight. A demon. Slew it. She had been whispering them to herself on her walk to school. She’d been shouting them out on the playground, when some of the other girls were pretending they were too old for such things as make-believe, and some of the boys were pretending she couldn’t be a knight, because that’s not what girls did. She and Lily – and Ken and Melissa and Pat – they went to their little corner of the playground, behind the weird thing nobody wanted to play on, that Cady thought might have been an elephant. And they played Knights and Demons, and Rescue the Princess, and, sometimes, when they were sure the teachers were somewhere else, they played Kiss the Knight.

"The knight thrust with her lance!" she shouted at the thin air. They never had anyone play the demon. they didn’t need to. They could all see where he was, the shape he made in the air.

"The lance the princess had made her!" Lily was sitting astride the elephant-thing, cheering her on. She knew the story as well as Cady, of course; it had been Lily’s grandmother that had told it to them. "The lance the Princess had carved from her own flesh and bones and, and, and heart."

That part was new. Cady’s imaginary lance faltered for a second and her steps shook.

"The demon thought the knight was weak!" Ken prompted, scoffing at the demon. "He couldn’t see what even an idiot could see!"

The story was growing. Cady took a step forward. Playground demons could be stabbed with imaginary lances.

"He couldn’t see that the princess held the most powerful of all the elements," Pat improvised. Pat’s stories were all a little bit more, uh, anime than the rest of them, but it just made everything that much more wild. Nobody else would have said the princess was riding a robotic elephant-horse-dragon, for instance. Nobody else would have given the lance a laser pointer. "The princess wielded, uh." He glanced back at Lily.

The other girls on the playground were playing marriage and divorce or some other soap-opera thing, or truth and dare. Cady had seen them at it. She glanced back at Lily, too, turning so her imaginary lance was still pointed at the invisible demon.

Lily raised her chin. "The princess wielded the hammer of love. She’d swung it with all of her might, to forge the lance for the knight. Because nobody else could make the weapon right." She grinned, gap-toothed and proud of herself. "She was the only one."

Cady found herself inclined to agree. "Nobody else could make the weapon right," she nodded firmly. "And so the Knight thrust her lance into the demon, and it fell." She shoved her imaginary lance forward.

The real demons weren’t that easy. But maybe, with Lily’s hammer and Pat’s screwdriver – sonic of course – and Ken’s flower wand, maybe she stood a chance.

Support the Thorne-Author

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1180156.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

LadiesBingo: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Written for my [community profile] ladiesbingo card and my Second Finish-It Bingo Card for [community profile] allbingo. Genique is the title character of my Space Accountant setting.

Background: Genique just wanted to go on a nice cruise. She never anticipated being kidnapped by pirates… and when that happened, she never really expected to become their accountant. Now that she is, though, she’s going to do a good job as a matter of course.

Genique had been working all day on a particularly tricky set of paperwork, pausing for a ration bar at noon but not really tasting it. It was well into the evening, but she wasn’t sure, still, about this contracted husband she’d ended up with, the problems were particularly thorny–pirates might be awful at accounting but they were far too good at hiding money–and, besides, she was having fun.

“We don’t actually pay overtime, you know.”

Genique looked up to see First Mate Cleonorayen Clyd standing in the door of the closet Genique was using as an office. “You should,” she answered absently. “Maybe then three-quarters of your crew wouldn’t be embezzling.”

“We don’t have time cards,” came a voice from behind Clyd. From the accent, it had to be Quatermaster Marist Irio. “They’d just embezzle time, then. I mean, if we had paychecks.”

“I don’t quite understand how this place works as a business.” Genique stared at the tablet in front of her. “That is, by all rights, it ought to. I mean, according to most of your books, you haven’t repaired the ship in twenty-five years.”

“Come on, we’re going out for a beer.” Clyd stepped into the small room and took Genique by the arm. “Before your poor husband comes to claim you again.”

“About that…”

“We’re not talking about him, not yet.” The Quartermaster shook her head. “We want to talk about the books, first.”

Genique let herself be led out. “I thought I didn’t get paid for overtime.”

“Oh, but this isn’t work.” Clyd was smiling with too many sharp edges. “This is… well, gossip.”

“Gossip,” Irio agreed. “And some explanations that will probably make you want to pull your hair out.”

“So also we brought you a new cap,” Clyd offered. “And we’re going to buy you some beer.”

“And a pair of shipsocks,” Irio added. “You don’t look like you have any yet, and you really need them.”

Genique looked between the two of them. “How badly am I going to regret this conversation?”

“Wellll,” Irio offered slowly, “Donnye the ship-boarder and engineer owes me a really good haircut…”

“Okay, so you really do want to talk to me,” Genique twisted her lips thoughtfully. “All right, beer and a conversation. And those shipsocks.” Her hand went to her hair. “We’ll hold the haircut in reserve, mmm, because if it’s important for you to tell me, chances are it’s important for me to know, too.”

“I told you she was a smart one,” Clyd commented.

“Who told whom, mmm? She’s a bright bulb, best thing Basi’s done so far.”

“Standing right here,” Genique reminded them.

“Well, why are you doing that?” Clyd mock-scolded with no shame. “The beer’s this way.”

“Ma’am, yes, ma’am.” Genique let herself be steered, listening but not paying too much heed as Clyd and Irio discussed various crewmates.

It wasn’t ‘till the beer was poured, they’d sat down, and Clyd and Irio had both gotten halfway through their mugs that they looked over the edge of those mugs at Genique.

“You’re brilliant at paperwork. You find missing numbers nobody even knew were missing.” Clyd took another swig of her beer. “That’s good. We need that. Problem is…”

“Well, two, maybe three problems. First problem,” Irio picked up, “is that you’re going to find numbers someone did know were missing. It’s some junior officer who’s skimming the till, yeah, we want to know. But, uh…”

Clyd picked up. “If it’s the Captain, you don’t want to know and neither do we.”

Genique considered that. “All right. So there are lies in the numbers. And some of those lies, I need to find. Some of them, it’s okay if I find. Right so far?”

“Right so far. I mean, we do need the ship to run, and we need it to keep running. And, well, you found our first lie right off — the ‘wages’” she explained to Irio. “She figured out first thing that if you work the way we hire on new captives, you’ll never be free.”

“Some people take years to get that one.” Irio smiled. “Well done. But,” and her smile vanished, “that’s the problem. You’ve got your lies and your damned lies. And the damned ones can kill you.”

Genique frowned. “Right, so, I want to be careful what I ‘find’ and where I find it. And then there’s stuff I need to be very sure nobody finds…” she sipped her beer and found herself smiling. “Well, that part’s easy. I mean, once I don’t find it, then it’s damn simple. I’ll just hide the numbers.”

“You can do that?”

Genique smiled broadly. “Of course I can do that. Text summaries, statistical analysis, double booking… I’m an accountant.” She lifted her chin. “And, it appears, a pirate. Of course I can hide a little booty.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1178439.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

LadiesBingo: Enemies – Cynara and Regine

Written for my [community profile] ladiesbingo card.

2030, approximately 19 years after the end of the world.

Cya had maps.

She had a lot more than maps, actually, enough that she’d ended up building herself another room to store it all. She had reports and charts, headcounts and vulnerability assessments, crop yields and even religious and linguistic demographics, assessing everything she could of their ruined world.

But most of all, she had one big map, and on that map was a circle labelled Addergoole and a carefully-shaded area labelled as Addergoole influence. Outside of that was a rough 50-mile circle that she’d labelled DMZ.

That was where her information stopped. She would walk herself right up to that line — and did, both literally and figuratively — find every piece of information she could, and make sure that she left with a positive relationship whenever possible. She fought monsters — rarely — fed people — far more frequently — and cleaned up roads and fallen buildings right up to two inches shy of that line.

The other side of the line was Regine’s territory, and there she would not tread, not now.

Regine had agents.

Some were former students; some were people she or her crew had helped out in the past, who owed her favors, formal or informal. Some were those who didn’t know who or what they were working for, but liked the steady pay of food, shelter, and barter goods, all rare to find in the disaster of their crumbled world.

Her agents went out into the world, looking for people and things, bringing back information and goods. They brought reports of the ruins of civilization: some places had fallen into disarray and barbarism and even two decades later had not settled into peace. Some had formed tiny city-states, boarded up and unwilling to talk to outsiders, even outsiders bearing rare trade goods. Some had turned their city-states into trade hubs, or into despotic mini-empires, or into quiet imitations of Eden, some more successful than others.

And in Wyoming, the group called Boom and the woman called Cynara were doing a little bit of all of that.

Regine sent only her best agents in that direction — the cleverest, the most subtle, the ones with the best escape abilities. She assumed Cynara did the same. She was not ready to go to war with Boom nor with Cynara herself; if her agent was caught on Boom’s territory, the volatile, explosive group might take it in their heads to start that war prematurely. Thus she drew out a three-quarter circle where she was very nearly blatant, and towards Wyoming she stayed subtle, sneaky… surreptitious.


Regine had agents, Cya knew. Every time she found one of them, she marked their position on a map. Some of them were obvious, the sort of people you only sent into territory you were certain of. Some tried to be sneaky. Some… Some Cya found only because she already knew Regine had agents. She was known for her ability to find things and people, after all. Regine should have known better.

When she caught one a mile from the Ranch where her crew lived, Cya decided polite ignoring was no longer the order of the day. She sat down with the woman for a pleasant conversation over scrounged tea and did a series of long and complicated Workings on the woman’s mind, the sort that left nearly no trace and would not be noticed until a specific person — perhaps, the person who had taught Cya Mind magic in the first place — went looking.

Then she sent the woman back to Regine with a very polite note.

I found this. I thought you might want it back.


Regine stared at the woman. She stared at the note. She stared back at the woman. “How were you detected?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” The woman could no more lie to Regine than she could fly — and flying was not her particular magic skill. “Nobody detected me. I got in, I got out, I came back to report.”

The paper note was proof enough. The fact that the agent was staring at the note with no realization that she had just handed it to Regine was, as the saying went, icing on the cake. Nevertheless, Regine engaged in an invasive search of her agent’s mind.

And there it was. The work was so tidy Regine doubted anyone else could have found it. The girl, she had to admit, was skilled. She’d written in dots and dashes of missing time and changed memories:

Stay off my lawn and I’ll stay off yours

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1172824.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

Evening in the Sunset

They had a yard.

Summer had grown up with a yard, of course, the rolling acres of the RoundTree estate, and Melinda had grown up in the ‘burbs – but Bishop had spent his whole life in apartments and high-rises.

Now, with the giant house they were renting (they’d gotten lucky, but, as Melinda pointed out, they usually got lucky when they really needed to. Summer was their good luck charm, and she was totally fine with that), they had space, they had a kitchen, and they had a back yard.

“You’re sure the landlord’s okay with a fire pit?” Bishop moved the cement pavers around one more time. “Right here look good to you?”

“I think it ought to all be one inch to the left,” Melinda teased. “Bishie, it’s fine.

“It’s more than fine. It’s beautiful.” Summer grabbed one side of the metal pit while Melinda grabbed the other. “Just like you, Bishie.”

“I’m not entirely certain I approve of that nickname.”

“Too bad.” Melinda’s smile was the sort of brilliant warmth that always distracted Summer; whilst carrying a large metal bucket, however, was not the time to be distracted. She focused on the firepit. “And Mrs. Scrooge said it was fine. Pretty much, anything that doesn’t hurt the property is fine – including thought-out improvements – as long as our rent arrives on the first of every month before noon.”

“That specific?” Bishop belatedly hurried over, only to realize that there really wasn’t an easy way for three people to carry a round object. “Are you – do you-”

“We’re not delicate flowers, Bish.” The lilies in Melinda’s hair didn’t so much belie her assertion as highlight it. “Just spot us so we get this centered in your lovely stone circle?”

Summer could no more help the grin growing on her face than she could help the rainfall or the sun shining – less, since she knew charms for both of those. There was something about Melinda, something – fiery. “I love you.”

Sometimes, she still felt a moment of panic when she said things like that. You weren’t supposed to love the girl. You weren’t supposed to say it. She’d gotten burned before.

But Mellie just grinned back. “I know.” She made kissy faces across the firepit. “Let’s put this thing down so I can remind you exactly how much.”

“Ma’am, yes, ma’am.” It was an easy carry – it was an empty large metal bucket, it wasn’t all that heavy – and a slightly more complicated getting-it-centered dance, Bishop trying to steer and mostly failing.

And then they had all wiped their hands on their jeans – or each other’s jeans or the grass, or all three – Summer found herself being grabbed into a kiss.

She drew a luck charm in the air behind Mellie’s back, just a little boost, not that they needed it, and gave in to the kiss, a long thing, with tongue and just the right amount of nose-rubbing. Mellie had a bubble butt, as fun to squeeze as it was to watch from behind.

Bishop draped an arm around each of their shoulders, and Summer opened her eyes, realizing only then that she’d closed them. “We have a yard.” The sun was setting red and fiery behind her lovers, and they had a yard. “All is right with the world.”

This fills the “Evening” square on my [community profile] ladiesbingo card and was prompted by eseme. It is set in Stranded World setting, and Bishop, Mellie, and Summer have been featured in several stories already.

556 words by http://www.wordcounter.net/

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/827753.html. You can comment here or there.

At Asta’s Funeral, a story of the Aunt Family for LadiesBingo

This fills the “Funerals and Wakes ” square on my [community profile] ladiesbingo card and was prompted by [personal profile] rix_scaedu. It is set in The Aunt Family setting, but with new characters.

616 words by http://www.wordcounter.net/

Estella had only been married for a year, but she had, having grown up down the street, known Randal’s family for far longer than that – she had, unlike some women to marry into this family, prior warning. With Randal’s family – or, more accurately, Randal’s mother’s family – you needed that prior warning.

Estella could tell, looking around the church, who had that warning and who hadn’t. Many of these women were strangers to her; Randal’s family was large, and only truly came together like this for weddings and funerals. Asta, Estella knew, hadn’t been well-loved or much-befriended, but she had been an Aunt. Every family member who could make it would be here, probably three times as many as had made it to Estella and Randal’s wedding, thank heavens.

And the priest had that look on his face that they so often did when faced with the family. It was sort of like someone had made him eat a lemon and then told him, afterwards, that he’d be given blessings in heaven and a big fat wallet, all with the taste of citrus still in his mouth.

One row forward and a couple seats over, Estella picked out a no-prior-warning woman, clinging her three children – two boys and a girl, all in Sunday best – close to her as if terrified that one of the children would misbehave. She didn’t need to worry. In the family, children were forgiven so much more than, say, daughters-in-law.

Estella glanced behind her first – there were still plenty of family members trickling in. The priest would be grumpy, but he would wait until at least all of the older generations were seated, at least if he liked preaching in this town. There was still time.

She leaned forward, mindful of her own round belly, until she could speak to the likely-cousin-in-law without being overheard. “Did you ever meet Asta?” It was best to start with simple things, things they could pretend were normal.

The woman jumped. “Ah! No, no I mean, she was at our wedding, and I saw her at a funeral a couple years past, but I never was introduced. I’m not part of that branch – oh, you probably know that.”

“Not really.” Estella used her most reassuring smile. “The family is big enough that you lose track pretty easily, and I only married in a year ago. I’m still learning my husband’s first cousins, much less the second cousins and uncles and… Aunts.”

The woman shuddered. “It’s crazy, isn’t it?”

Estella gave that one some thought. “Which part?” she tried.

“All of it!” She’d started out quietly enough, but her voice got a little loud as she went. “The ‘Aunts,’ and all the superstition, and the way the old women…”

“Easy, easy.” Estella patted the woman’s shoulder gingerly. “Look, here is probably not the place.”

The woman flushed and, less surreptitiously than she probably thought, looked around the sanctuary. “I – yeah. Sorry.”

“No, no, it’s okay. I know the feeling.” This really, really, wasn’t the place. But. “My name’s Estella.”


“Look, Jocelyn, why don’t you give me your number, and then we can – I don’t know, talk, get together for coffee? Let the kids have a play date.” If the woman was still that freaked out after three kids… “You look like you could use someone to talk to.” And the family would do better if someone soothed Jocelyn – especially before her daughters were of age.

“Oh, that would be so nice. Someone who knows all the crazy and doesn’t buy into it. Yes, thank you.”

Oh, dear. Estella mostly managed to hide her wince: crazy? She definitely needed to talk to this one. “My pleasure.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/817313.html. You can comment here or there.

Ladies’ Bingo Card

This is my [community profile] ladiesbingo card!

[community profile] ladiesbingo is a challenge for fanworks about relationships between women.

Please feel free to leave me suggestions for any square (either extant characters/settings or generic prompts); I’ll italicize squares that have suggestions and link completed stories.

Race Against Time Sudden Danger Sleeping arrangements Death Myth / Fable
Truth or Dare Genderswap Patterns Temporary Lodgings Crackfic
Sex Work / Hooker AU Sufficiently Advanced Technology Wild Card Androids and robots There’s a first time for everything: First times
Thank God it’s Friday… Again: Time Loops Possessive Behaviour Funerals and Wakes Kidfic / Babyfic Evening
That Moment (incident / chapter / episode) in detail Something Breaks / Malfunctions Contemporary AU Factories and other Industrial Spaces Warm Blooded / Cold Blooded

Edited to add: this list of (some of) my named female characters might help.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/799663.html. You can comment here or there.

Bunking Arrangements

This follows after: Taking Chances, Betting on it, Betting Time, and is before Accidental.

It fills the “Sleeping arrangements” square on my [community profile] ladiesbingo card and was prompted by [personal profile] kelkyag.

559 words by MSWord.

“There have been, ah, some changes in arrangements.” As openings went, Genique had done better. But this was the Quartermaster. “I need to change my bunking arrangements, that is.”

Genique was growing familiar with all of the officers on the pirate ship, but she had not yet entirely figured out Marist Irio, the Quartermaster.

For instance, the way the woman was looking at her now, on Genique’s home planet, would have been a leer. But there was something about it that seemed almost innocent, compared to the way, say, Genique’s older brother had once leered about a gentleman caller.

“You know, you are my type, but I didn’t think I was yours, cougar-lady. But I do get a nice plush bunk as Quartermaster.”

Ah! Genique ducked her head and hoped she wasn’t blushing as badly as she thought she was. “Marist…”

“Relax, relax! I wondered what you’d do with that. Farm folk, land folk, can be…”

“Prudes.” Genique forced herself to meet the woman’s gaze. “Yes, they can. But I’m here now, aren’t I? I’m a pirate, now.”

“Or at least a pirate’s accountant. So, who’s the lucky pirate?”

“I don’t know if he really counts as lucky…”

“Listen, pretty cougar-lady, he’s shacking up with you. I wasn’t kidding about the offer of my bunk, even if I was trying to get a rise out of you.”

Genique studied the woman, head tilted. “I’m ‘normal,’“ she reminded her. “Boring.”

“Normal’s different than boring, kitten.”

A month ago, Genique would have swallowed the pet name. Now, she shot the Quartermaster a smile she’d copied from the First Mate Clyd. “’Cougar’ is fine. ‘Kitten’, however, not so much.”

Marist Irio simply grinned at her. “Go you, cougar, you’ve got spine. Now. If you’re not looking for a room with me, are you going to tell me who it is that you’re asking to bunk with?”

“Well, I was hoping you’d tell me what the procedure was.”

“And, what, have you try to bypass it?” The Quartermaster was still grinning. “Gossip is gossip, cat-lady. And if I’m going to give you a bunking form, you’re going to tell me why you need the form, and the bunk.”

Genique looked at the wall behind the Quartermaster’s head and gathered her thoughts. “Okay. You still have a box of forms that needs detangling. I need a copy of – hunh. Do you not GET bunking change forms? I haven’t seen one yet.”

“They really don’t come up all that often.” There was something weird about the way Marist Irio wouldn’t quite look at Genique, but then again, there was something a little weird about everyone here. “It’s form Q12-18. Maybe when you’re done in the Pit we should have you redo our forms, too.”

“I’d like that.” It would make sorting out the next mess so much easier.

“You really would, wouldn’t you?” Marist shook her head. “If Basi had only known what he was grabbing…”

“Well, that doesn’t matter now, does it?” And why was she a what, anyway? “Can I have the bunk-change form?”

“If you tell me who it’s for.” Marist reached behind her, hands on a stack of forms.

“Marsey Wilswoodronny.” There couldn’t be any harm in telling, could there?

The Quartermaster’s hands moved down a form. “Ah, I see. Here’s your form.”

“Thank you.” That hadn’t been that hard.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/810013.html. You can comment here or there.