Content Warning

Greetings and Salutations.
Because my stories have bite, they can contain content that isn't suitable for work or children. Not a lot of truly graphic sex or violence, but there are some questionable or heated posts. F-bombs are not uncommon, so watch your footing.

Friday, December 21, 2018

#FridayFlash - In Bloom

I submitted a story to an anthology recently, and the theme was "Temporally Deactivated". Explore what we thought that meant, and not just dead. With that theme in mind, and watching many of bulbs growing a full season and a half early, I came up with this piece.


"What is your secret?" I asked Sammie as I joined her on the deck. I was hours early for the ritual, and she was still working with her flowers. This was only my third visit, but I'd yet to see her without a plant in hand.

"Secret for what?" She didn't look up from her work table, hands busy dividing hyacinth bulbs. Six pots waited for the transplants, half full of dirt, intricate designs painted up their sides.

"Keep all these bulbs in bloom all year?" I bent to sniff one of her giant black tulips. "I mean, it's October, and this guy just opened up. Do you have a hothouse I don't know about?"

She smirked, setting her knife aside, and looked at me with knowing eyes. "No hothouse. This is where they all live and grow." She gestured at the verdant deck and the flagstone patio below. Outdoors, exposed to the cycles of Nature, and yet she had tulips and daffodils and hyacinths in fresh bloom.

"Is it a spell?" I asked, voice lowered. No telling how far my words might travel, and the neighbors didn't know a coven of witches met here every full moon.

"Not a bad guess," Sammie answered. "Only Tasha figured it out faster than you did." She drew a pot closer, then selected one of the young bulbs. She worked efficiently to set the little ones in their new home, then cover them up with dirt.

I made a mental count of all her plants, guessing that even the rooms I hadn't seen were full of greenery. Not all of them bloomed out of cycle, but the majority did. "That's an awful lot of power to feed that many spells."

"You're right, it would be. If I were actively making them grow." Sammie began another planting.

A frown grew as I moved closer to her work table. I was a young witch with much to learn, but I couldn't suss out what she was doing. "I've yet to hear of anything that would make this possible. How are you doing this?"

Sammie slid a pot toward me without looking, focused on her next planting. "Your only clue: it's the sigils."

I picked up the pot, heart racing with excitement. Few witches worked with sigils, doing most of their magic sympathetically or with ritual. To my limited understanding, sigils were an artistic representation of the spellcaster's will, and they functioned on their own once empowered.

Because I knew so little of this magic, I saw only doodles and pictograms. A sun and moon balanced on either side, tied together by meandering strings. It was a beautiful, rhythmic patter, taking the eye on a constant journey. The longer I stared, the more the sigil seemed to glow and sparkle with an inner light.

"The plant fuels its own spell," I whispered, a spark of intuition rising to the surface.

"You are a good one," Sammie replied. The coven leader finally stopped her work to look at me, eyes brighter than her smile. "Would you like to know what it means?" I nodded enthusiastically, and she took the pot back to begin the explanation.

"My teacher called this a variation on a temporal deactivation. Rather than stopping time, I'm merely picking where it starts. The pot then lives at the normal pace of the seasons, but always as if from when I set it. Which, for my hyacinths, is the Spring Equinox. The spell requires very little power to maitain its field, which the plant is more than capable of providing."

I met her gaze, wonderment stirring through me. Plenty of people, witches included, would think this a waste of power and resources. But not I, and clearly not Sammie. "This is amazing."

She clasped my hand, laying it on the pot. "Would you like to learn how?"