This is my entry for the "Halo" contest at The Clarity of Night, a text inspired by the image below. It was a wonderful experience, just trying to concentrate a whole story into 250 words... Thank you, Jason!
I burrowed in the warm moss, covered myself with drying leaves and branches. No barking yet, only the quiet hum of the forest. The castle’s in a far-off world.
Mother’s visiting again, with all her pomp, her smells of vervain and lavender, her syrupy voice.
I had to flee, even knowing that Nanny would chastise me if they brought me back. Better the whipping, than the ordeal of Mother’s false concern. I cringe at the memory of her silky fingers, lifting my chin to examine my crooked face; of cold tears rolling on her rosy cheeks – perfect crystals on exquisite porcelain; of her disgusting pity, suffocating, menacing.
Last time she visited, she and Nanny shared again those dreadful whispers about the asylum.
I’m older now and won’t be fooled by the contorted dolls they gave me anymore, by the hunchback servants, playing a tragicomedy for the hideous dwarf that I am. I know what that place is. I’d rather run away than let them lock me there.
Only Sara knows about this glade. She has to get my message. I can subsist several days here, hoping they’ll give up in the end. That, annoyed, she’ll return to her perfect world. That I’ll depart.
My secret friend, the circus girl, will come to take me to her mates as we’ve agreed, and if she’s late, no matter; the earth is warm, the sunshine filtering through the soft leaves, soothing. I’ll sleep the wait away, dream with the trees.