Monday, December 2, 2013

Prompt: The godmothers’ boon, Part 1

Thanks to Yan Nam Ko for permission to use his beautiful image, “Godmother Room”!

“There’s no talking in the sanctuary, please,” the acolyte said with an imperious sniff. She clearly disapproved of happy baby cries, and I could only imagine her face if Clarene’s cheerful chirrups turned cranky or distressed.

It had been a long journey, and Wildap had walked more than his share so I could ride with Clarene. I still tired so easily. But at least she had been an easy baby for the entire trip, even when it rained and I hunched over to keep her dry. She had reached out her tiny fist and laughed when the raindrops ran down her arm.

This morning had dawned with fiery red and orange skies. Beautiful, but it bode ill for our return journey. I tried to push such thoughts away. Happy thoughts bring happy gifts, they say. It wouldn’t do to draw the ire of any of the godmothers. Wildap didn’t really believe, but he knew how important it was to me, so we had made the journey and now – freshly bathed, clothed and fed – we were ready to enter the godmothers’ sanctuary.

“Please follow me carefully and watch your step,” the acolyte continued. “When we reach the front, you’ll hold the baby—”

“Clarene,” I said firmly.


“Her name is Clarene, after my great-grandmother. My family has always brought our children to the godmothers,” I assured her, hoping she would appreciate our commitment. We didn’t have much to offer – no one in Bralia did these days, outside of the Eternal Families. But Wildap and I could both read and write and sum. We weren’t ignorant rubes, and I was becoming uncharitably tired of her manner. Happy thoughts, I reminded myself.

The acolyte looked at me closely for a moment, but did not even glance down at the baby in my arms. Without comment, she handed a small white pitcher to Wildap. To me, she said, “You will hold Clarene,” emphasizing the name, “over the wishing bowl, and you,” nodding to Wildap,” will pour the water over Clarene’s forehead as you both ask for the godmothers’ boon.”

Dogs in house

Crazy Heart soundtrack

Time writing
~40 minutes

December word count


  1. Prompt: The godmothers’ boon

    Sennie held the bound scroll close to her chest and looked up at the imposing wooden door in front of them. “What are you going to ask for?” she whispered to her twin sister Lilla.

    Lilla shrugged, her own grip nearly crushing her scroll. Inside would be their adult names, names their godmothers had chosen for them at birth. No one had seen them, not even their parents.

    Some children claimed the scrolls were empty, and it was all a grand trick by the adults. Versions varied on whether you got to choose your own name, or if your parents showed up in the chamber to bestow it. Surely Limping Donkey would have picked a different name if he got to choose; but his parents were too proud to have given such a name to him as well.

    Some people said Beauteous Swan had made up her own name, eschewing a less-vain moniker provided by the godmothers. But Sennie doubted it; Beauteous Swan was actually rather tame by Pelli’s — as she used to be know — standards.

    The door opened and a robed man stepped through. “The eldest?”

    Sennie prodded Lilla, and she stepped forward, looking back as the door shut. Now Sennie was alone. Her hand spasmed, and she creased the scroll.

    She flipped it back immediately. She stuck her fingers as far into the centre as she could reach. She did not know what would happen if she showed up with a damaged scroll. Their parents had kept these safe for so many years.

    “The younger?”

    Sennie looked up to see the robed man back at the door. She swallowed and pulled her fingers from the ends of the scroll. Following him through the door felt like stepping into a different world – it was far colder in the temple than outside. The man opened the door to a vaguely blue room, and stepped back.

    She walked into the blue room, which was blue due to sunlight filtering through coloured glass. Statues of the godmothers stood at the head of the room, on a pedestal. They wore variously peaked hats and flowing garments of their particular time. All held some kind of weapon, and the centre one also held a book. She was the keeper of the names.

    Sennie stopped in front of a low stand, similar to a priest’s lectern, but usefully low for the children for whom it was meant. Her fingers shook as she pulled the ribbon off one end of the scroll. The stiff paper remained rolled tight, and she forced it open, unrolling in uneven jolts from one repetition of her crease to another.

    She smoothed the page as best she could on the stand. The writing was smaller than she had expected, looking lonely on such a large sheet of paper.

    “What boon do you request?”

    Sennie looked up at the statues. The centre one had shifted. She pressed shivering hands down on either side of the paper, and squinted, trying to make out the tiny words.

    “What boon?”

    _The words!_ She jumped away from the stand, and the paper sprung back into a roll. “I’d like a different name,” she said.

    Time writing: ~40 min

    1. Ooh, I like it! The writing at the end reminded me a bit of Chihiro signing away her name in Spirited Away :)

  2. Interesting world! I like the point-of-view character's voice.