Splinter of a Wooden Heart

There are a couple of contests that I like to write for on a regular basis. The first is of course the Indies Unlimited flash fiction challenge, but that comes up on Wednesdays. The other is one that I have only been able to work with haphazardly over the past 9 months or so (longer story that I may or may not discuss later). But either way it has been a crazy thing to fit these stories into my timing.

Wait, I didn’t really say anything here did I? Sorry, the other one I really like is the monthly challenge over at the Cult of Me. In that challenge we are given a picture and 500 words to come up with a story. We’re talking pretty much any kind of story imaginable though it should fit in with the picture in some way.

The important thing isn’t really the idea of winning, but it’s nice when it happens. The thing I push for is just another story to write every month, like I need more reasons to tell stories. Anyway, like I said the winning isn’t the most important thing but when it happens, well, that’s just icing on the cake or something to that effect.

So the story you are about to read, took 2nd place for the month of April. Pretty decent showing I think. If you get a few minutes, check out the other stories that placed this month. 500 words per story makes for some quick reading. You can also see the image that sparked this story.

Splinter of a Wooden Heart

With the tap of a hammer the last tack pressed into place and Serien finished the puppet. The demonic beast would play the villain in his latest performance.

They once questioned his abilities for creation. How could he paint the pieces before he assembled the puppet? Wouldn’t hammering them together mar and scratch his paintwork? He stopped listening long ago. It was the creation that mattered to him.

The painting gave each piece life and substance. The puppet became a part of him through the process. He knew their character and voice long before they were ready to move and perform.

“All we have left, is a name,” Serien said. “What would you like to be called?” He adjusted the puppet to a sitting position and moved its right arm so that the hand rested on the puppet’s chin. Serien sat and thought with the puppet as he searched his thoughts for a name.

The word shard boomed crystal clear in his mind, a word he remembered from the start of this puppets birth. He carved and scraped at the wood to form each piece. At the time he had pushed it away. Shard was a piece of a gem, a mineral that had nothing to do with wood or life. Still the word thundered through his mind.

Serien stretched his arm across his work bench and retrieved a paddle and string for the puppet’s last connections. With the new strings attached he brought the puppet to life. His pull of the strings and paddle gave the puppet a semblance of something more than just wood.

After a few minutes he set the puppet in a stand next to others that would perform in their next show. Again the word shard popped into Serien’s mind as he looked at the puppet next to the others. The monstrous puppet was no bigger than the others but its horns and hooves marked it as something alien and different.

He had worked for some time on each of these new puppets but this last one, the demon, had been the most difficult. Without clothes and attachments for the head like hair or a beard, there had been nowhere to hide any mistakes.

“My name is shard.”

Sirien had turned his attention to the cleaning of the workbench. The voice hadn’t been in his head. He glanced around the shop knowing he would still be alone.

Shard had fallen from the stand. The demon sat on the edge of the counter; leg’s crossed and arms at its side. Its paddle lay on the counter and the strings that controlled it had been cut. But it was the change in the puppet’s appearance that caught Sirien off guard. The wooden flesh had softened. The creature looked exactly as it had in Sirien’s mind, though now it had become something more.

“My name is Shard.”

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