Sight #writephoto

I peered through the viewing hole in the rock and the damp moors transformed before me. The pale grass became bright and lush, the washed out sky turned blazing blue and the other rocks in the distance shimmered. I held my breath and waited.

‘There’s one!’ I cried out.

A fairy with blonde hair, wearing a green filly dress and carrying a small wicker basket fluttered by, her wings a purple irradiant colour. Her toes skimmed the short grass then she flew away.

I gasped and took my face away from the rock. I rushed around it and looked for a flash of green or purple. There was nothing but a late summer butterfly, lazily hovering above the grass.

I scampered back to the rock and looked through the hole again. Behind me, I heard my grandfather chuckling.

‘You can only see the Fae folk through that portal, Harmony,’ he spoke, ‘they use it to get in between worlds, like I told you in the stories.’

‘And I believed you, grandpa!’ I spoke, my voice slightly muffled by the rock.

‘What can you see now?’ he asked, his voice full of laughter.

I looked harder, the vibrate colours of the moor and sky stinging my eyes. I saw two small figures walking through the grass. They were male, wearing brown clothes and brown caps. They were carrying cleaning tools and looked like they were on their way to work.

‘Brownies?’ I muttered, trying to recall what they looked like in Grandpa’s big book.

‘What was that?’ he asked quietly.

‘I think those two are brownies,’ I said, coming away from the rock, ‘you look grandpa.’

‘Alas, child, I can’t. These eyes aren’t what they use to be. I lost the sight gift a few years back,’ Grandpa spoke sadly.

I nodded thoughtfully, remembering one of the stories he had told me about seeing the king and queen of the fairies. That was the last time he had seen the Fae folk. I glanced back at the rock then asked, ‘do I have the sight gift, grandpa?’

‘Probably, Harmony. It has been passed on to all the Turner children but only some of them have embraced it. Your mother was only interested up until her late twenties. Then she got married and had you. She said she didn’t have the time anymore,’ grandpa explained.

‘She never talks about them,’ I pointed out.

Grandpa nodded, ‘she’s lost her belief. That’s the key to seeing the Fae peoples and everything else too. Having a hard belief in something will always make it real even if some times you can’t actually see it.’

‘Then I’m going to hold on to my belief forever, Grandpa!’

I smiled brightly and he smiled back then I turned back to the hole in the rock. Looking through again, I could see that other world taking shape around me and the Fae people going about their lives.

 

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/08/31/thursday-photo-prompt-sight-writephoto with thanks).

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Messenger #writephoto

corvid in flight - Sue Vincent

Picking up the football which Micheal had kicked across the road, I looked up and saw a huge black bird in an nearby tree. I wasn’t sure what the bird was so I thought about the arrow diagram poster at school. Black and yellow and smallish; blackbird. All black with a grey beak; rook. Sooty black and cries loudly; crow.

‘It’s a raven that is,’ Michael said over my shoulder.

I jumped because I didn’t know he was there. I turned and pulled a face at him.

‘How do you know?’ I pouted.

‘Because I’ve seen them at the Tower of London,’ he replied.

I stuck my tongue out at him. He didn’t seem to notice and carried on talking.

‘They say if all the ravens leave the tower then England falls.’

‘What does this mean?’ I asked.

‘Don’t know,’ Michael shrugged.

We both watched the raven then with a large caw sound, it flapped its large wings and took off.

‘My granny says ravens are the messengers of witches,’ Michael added.

‘Messengers of witches?’ I repeated to myself.

He looked at me as if he knew I didn’t believe what his granny said.

‘It’s true,’ he snapped, ‘a witch tells a raven to bring her ingredients for potions and to communicate with other witches.’

‘I thought they had cats,’ I answered slowly.

‘They do, but ravens are better. They are ancient and know old magic,’ Micheal added.

I wanted to ask him if he really believed in all of this. We were too old for fairy tales but still young enough to think that supernatural people were real.

‘Maybe he’s come to take you away,’ Michael spoke in a ghoulish voice.

I shivered. hating how he stretchered the words and made his voice drip with creepiness.

‘Ravens can’t kidnap people!’ I snapped.

‘No, but they can find people who have the potential to become witches and led the head witch to them.’ Michael explained.

I pushed the ball into his chest, shoving him backwards. He was bigger and older then me but he wasn’t expecting it so stumbled back.

‘That’s so not true! A bird is just a bird And there are no witches!’ I shouted and stormed off.

I ran home which was only a few streets away. I didn’t know why I suddenly felt upset about what he had said until I saw the raven again. He was sitting on the left gate post of my house fence.

‘Hi,’ I said shyly.

He was a huge bird up close and his beak looked sharp. He put his head to one side, cawed more softly then before and jumped into my front garden. I opened the gate and watched him hopping up the path to the front door.

And that was the day my life changed…

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/07/13/thursday-photo-prompt-messenger-writephoto/ with thanks.)

Flight #writephoto

Standing up slowly, Cindy felt the aching all along her back. Gritting her teeth as the pain grow worse, she stretched as much as she could. Pausing for a few moments she then wiped her damp and wrinkled hands on her dirty apron. Feeling tried, she looked around at all her hard work. The last corridor in the castle shone with cleanness, the only thing out of place was the wooden bucket and scrubbing brushes.

Letting down her long skirts which were damp from catching wet floors all day, Cindy stumbled over to a window and opened it. Warm, late evening air floated into her face and she breathed in summer deeply. The courtyard below her, hummed with other servants hurrying to finish their tasks before the sunset. Ignoring them, Cindy looked up, over the roofs of the stables and storage huts, the top of the battlements and beyond at the green fields there.

A longing to be out there filled her and despite her tried mind, Cindy remembered once when she was very young riding with her father across those fields. The mighty horse pounding the ground, the brush of her father’s soft clothes against her back and the delight of the rushing wind in her face. The imagine went as fast as it had come, leaving a bitterness for her to dwell on.

Cindy’s thoughts turned away onto tidying up, eating and sleeping. Easing herself away from the window, a movement caught her eye and she saw two pigeons land on a nearby roof. They hopped about for a few moments then took to the dusky sky once more. Signing deeply, Cindy wished she was a bird then she could fly away too.

 

(Inspired by: https://scvincent.com/2017/06/29/thursday-photo-prompt-writephoto-flight/ with thanks)

The Prince And The Pine Cone

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The booming knocking echoed throughout the quiet castle. Wondering who was at the door at this time on a miserable night, the guard hurried to find out.

‘Who’s there?’ he called above the wind.

‘A brave man, lost and weary from fighting and travel!’ a voice yelled back.

The guard peered through the small door and looked out into the darkness. He could hear armour clinking together and the shuffling hoofs of a horse. Taking a lantern he had brought down from the tower with him, the guard shone the light outside and confirmed the figure of a knight walking his horse in the heavy down pour or rain.

‘What is your name, Sir?’ the guard asked.

You could never be too sure about travellers theses days.

‘I am Prince Adrian Bardun, of the kingdom next door. Can you offer shelter or not?’

‘Right away, Sire,’ the guard responded and opened the gate.

The prince led his horse inside and they stood for a few moments under the keep, rain water dripping off them. The guard pointed out the door to the castle and agreed to take the horse to the stable.

The prince walked up to the door and knocked just as loud. A elderly servant opened up and after making inquires, let the prince in. He was given a chance to dry off for a minutes whilst the servant went off to announce him.

The swishing of a long dress and soft padding of shoes on the castle floor, brought the prince’s head up and he saw walking towards him a beautiful a young woman. Her dress was dark blue, her hair was long and golden and she had a small crown on her head.

He bowed to her and introduced himself, ‘I’m prince Adrian Bardun. I seek shelter. I became lost in the forest and lucky happened upon your castle, my lady.’

‘I’m princess Aurora. Welcome,’ she said then turned to the servant, ‘take him to the kitchen to get warm and give him some food. And get someone to make a room up for him.’

The servant bowed, ‘follow me, sir.’

‘Thank you, your highness,’ the prince said and followed the servant to the kitchen.

The princess waited then drifted back to her chamber. She was tried after a day of helping her people sort out their disagreements. Sitting down at her table, she began to brush her hair again. It was task she greatly enjoyed.

A knock came at her door and when she told whoever it was to enter, her adviser, Walden Duner, walked in. He was tall man with a long nose, wearing a dark red robe. He was in her father’s, the king’s, service and had been for a long time. With the king being away, he had been charged with helping to direct the princess.

‘My lady,’ he said and give a small bow.

‘Sit, please,’ Aurora said.

The old adviser gratefully sank down on a small stool.

‘What do you think of our guest, the prince?’ she asked as she turned back to the mirror and carried on brushing her hair.

‘I’m not sure about him, your highness,’ Walden answered, ‘I’m not sure he is a prince from the neighbouring kingdom. I haven’t heard of him before you see.’

‘Oh. What shall we do?’ the princess asked.

‘Well…there is a test we could give him to prove if he really is a prince,’ Walden spoke slowly.

‘Go on.’

‘We pile his bed high with mattresses and blankets then we put a pine cone at the bottom and if he can feel the pine cone then he’s a real prince.’

The princess laughed, ‘that’s so silly. It’ll never work!’

‘Perhaps, it is just an old wives tale….’ Walden trailed off.

The princess finished brushing her hair whilst she thought then she spoke, ‘okay, do it. Pile everything you can on his bed and put the pine cone in. Even if he doesn’t turn out to be a prince it’ll be really funny.’

‘Yes, my lady,’ Walden said and got up to leave.

Trying to control her giggles, the princess got ready for bed.

The next morning, the princess dressed quickly and hurried to the guest chambers. On the way, she asked a maid which room the prince had been given. Going up to that door, she knocked and waited.

‘Who is it?’ the prince’s voice spoke out.

‘The princess,’ she replied.

The prince opened the door, he was dressed in trousers and a half opened shirt. The princess had not been able to see him clearly last night and he had been wearing a lot of armour too. She admired him, taking in his broad shoulders and large chest. He was a tall handsome man with dark hair.

The princess smiled up at him, lost for words.

‘Good morning,’ the prince said.

‘Yes. Good morning…How did you sleep?’ she asked.

‘Not very well to be honest, princess.’

‘Oh. I’m sorry to hear that.’

The prince held the bedroom door open wider and said, ‘I was actually just trying to see why and I think I’ve found the cause. Would you like to take a look with me?’

Wide eyed, the princess nodded and stepped into the room. Straight away she saw the bed was piled almost to the ceiling with mattress, blankets and cushions. The four poster bed frame looked like it was about to collapse and the curtains were bulging off to the side.

‘What a strange custom your kingdom has, princess. Your adviser told me this was a tradition here for guests….He refused to explain it to me. Can you?’ the prince said.

The princess smiled, fully impressed by Walden and her servants. She looked at him shyly, taking his body in once more.

‘But surely,’ the princess said slowly, ‘that’s not the reason for your bad night sleep?’

‘No, but look under here,’ the prince said.

He walked over and lifted all the bedding up and laying in the middle of the first mattress that had been bought on was a small pine cone.

The princess picked it up and looked at it. The pine cone was still complete and didn’t seem to have taken any damage from the mountain of bedding. The prince let the bedding fall back into place with a huff.

‘That, my lady, is what caused my sleepless night,’ the prince said and plucked the pine cone from her hand.

‘Oh…You felt this? I wonder how it got there…’ the princess wondered.

‘I have no idea…another custom maybe…?’ the prince asked with a smile on his face.

The princess smiled back. She lend in close to the prince, her fingers touch the pine cone as her lips brushed his.

 

(Inspired from: https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2017/05/25/tale-weaver-121-25-05-17-reversenaughty-fairy-tales with thanks.)

Drifting

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She was drifting on a sea of dreams to lands unknown.

The Giant’s Pocket Watch #fridayfictoneers

PHOTO PROMPT © Jennifer Pendergast

The wooden back of a huge pocket watch had stood in the corner of the town’s park for hundreds of years. The origins of it had long been lost, but the myth was that the pocket watch had once belonged to a giant.

The giant Haldor was running late for the yearly Giants Together meeting. As he trod over a village, ignoring the fleeing of little people far below him, he drew out his pocket watch and checked the time. Seeing, he was going to be very late indeed, he hurriedly put the watch back into his pocket.

However, he missed and the watch hit the floor. Angrily, he bent to pick it up and swiped down two cottages as he did so. Hurrying on, he didn’t notice that his pocket watch had broken in the fall.

Years later, a shepherd lad was searching for a lost lamb when he came across the back of the pocket watch. He stared up in awe at the huge wooden circle then spotting his lamb nearby, he hurried to collect her. When he returned home, he told his father about what he had seen, for the lad was too young to remember the giant Haldor. His father clearly recalled the day though.

And that was how the myth of the giant’s pocket watch began.

 

(Inspired from a prompt from; https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/03/15/17-march-2017/ with thanks. PHOTO PROMPT © Jennifer Pendergast)

Swan

swan river

The Duchess sat by the lake, looking out over the sunset kissed water. She sighed deeply and wondered what she was going to do now. She had lost everything beside a trunk full of things and her pet swan. She could cope with that though. It was the betrayal of her husband and the kingdom she would never live down.

 

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/01/12/thursday-photo-prompt-swan-writephoto)

The Visitors

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The High Priestess had heard the crying at the temple door for some time now. She had been hoping that one of The Sisters Of Syreth,  her followers, servants or anybody else taking shelter in the temple tonight would have opened the door by now. Wondering why that was, the High Priestess swished down a connecting hallway in her large and heavy blue dress.

Going through a small door, she entered and passed through the huge nave down a side corridor. The air was heavily scented with hot wax, incense and winter flowers from the mountain sides. Flickering candle light glowed from clustered candle groups, but it was not enough to keep the shadows away. A handful of people were sitting in the large, cold wooden pews. Most were silent in prayer or sleep, but every now and then sobbing, moans and whispered voices could be heard.

The High Priestess stuck to the shadows and hurried past. It was late in the night and she had all ready given a long service this evening then spent time with a number of different people. She was tried and had been trying to fall asleep, but the crying had disturbed her.

Going through the large doors into the small welcoming area, she saw the door opposite which led to the porch was all ready open. Voices and light were drifting from the area. Not bothering to be quiet she walked on and came to a stop behind a small group of people. There were five of them; two Sisters of Syreth in there pale blue robes, a male servant and a tall man dressed in a travelling cloak.

‘I am telling you, do not let them in!’ the man was saying.

‘Everybody is welcome in this temple of Syreth. She is the Goddess of protection and guardians. It is our duty to offer whatever we can to anybody who comes to our door,’ the High Priestess broke in.

The two Sisters turned and did little bows. The male servant, who was holding a lantern bowed too, but his was a lot lower. The traveler did not move and the High Priestess saw the tiredness and worry on his face. But he was also trying to mask his fear. Behind them all and coming from the other side of the temple’s double front doors the loud crying continued.

‘What is it? Who is crying out there?’ the High Priestess demanded to know.

There was a pause then the traveler spoke out, ‘creatures. I saw them on my way here and I think they followed me. You must not let them in for surely they are demons.’

‘What do they look like?’ The High Priestess asked.

‘There is two of them,’ the traveler replied, ‘one small, the other tall. They look like ghosts to me. I heard them whispering and calling out to me. But I did not stop. I rushed here and closed the door upon them and since then they have been crying,’ the traveler explained.

The High Priestess fell into thought.

‘We want to open the door to see for ourselves,’ one of the Sisters spoke.

‘Perhaps in the darkness the gentleman was mistaken,’ the second Sister finished.

‘I am not blind! I know what I saw!’ the traveler snapped.

‘Of course,’ the High Priestess murmured, ‘please see to his needs,’ she said to the servant.

The servant give a nod and led the man away. The traveler began to mutter under his breath, but he followed the servant and the steady lantern light.

The High Priestess went to the door and opened it. She peered out then stepped aside.

A strong winter wind blew harsh snowflakes into the temple and set the candles flicking violently. Coldness seeped in and snatched what little warmth there was within the stone walls away. The sound of the river gargling and the rattling of bare tree branches echoed through the temple.

The crying stopped. A large white and light brown cat padded inside followed by a pure white young female deer. Snow dusted their coats, but they seemed unharmed.

‘Do you seek shelter here?’ asked the High Priestess.

‘Yes,’ the cat spoke in a clear voice that was not male or female.

The two Sisters gasped and backed away. They reached for each other, holding hands tightly. Fear passed across their faces, but they did not run away.

The High Priestess shut the door. Snowflakes were melting in her long loose blonde hair and the wind was tugging at the edges of her dress like a naughty child.

‘You are both welcome here,’ the High Priestess continued.

‘Thank you,’ the cat replied.

‘What are your names and how can we help you?’

‘I am known as Horven, the druid,’ the cat spoke, ‘and she is the Princess Graceuvial.’

The white deer nodded and seemed to give a little bow with her long neck.

‘A Princess?’ The High Priestess breathed.

‘We have become lost in the snowstorm,’ Horven added.

‘Yes. It is quite a bad one,’ the High Priestess responded, ‘please let me take you to some warm rooms. There you can rest and I shall see to it you have everything you need.

‘Thank you,’ the cat said.

The High Priestess held out her hand then led the way into the Temple.

 

(https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/2016/12/16/microfiction-challenge-27-rescue/)

A Winter’s Dream

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The snow was falling thickly outside, burying the moor further under a white blanket. Lisbeth watched the flakes from the library windows which were the biggest in the small manor house and gave the best views. After a few moments of peering out of each of the three windows, Lisbeth climbed into the window box which was in the second window.

The window box had a soft red cushion covered seat and hand stitched square cushions at both corners. It was cosy and always made Lisbeth feel safe in the large cold library. Bending her knees up and tucking her long dark green dress underneath her, Lisbeth wrapped her arms around her legs and stared out of the window.

She could see the small dirt circled driveway, with the fountain turned off for winter. The red brick wall and black iron gates with their covering of ivy. Beyond, was the moor, which seemed to stretched out forever like the sea. Being covered in snow, the landscape looked bleak and boring, but Lisbeth knew come spring and summer, the moors would be brightly colored with flowers and alive with baby animals.

A loud knocking on the door drew her attention away and Lisbeth turned her head to see her maid walking into the library. The young woman was wearing a black dress and a white pinafore. When she got closer, having come around the big oak table that sat in the middle of the room, Lisbeth saw she had something in her hand.

‘This has arrived for you, Miss. A gift from your father,’ the maid spoke.

Lisbeth reached out a hand and took the brown paper and string wrapped packet. It was a rectangle shape and heavy. Slowly, Lisbeth unwrapped it and and found a book inside. The cover was a light brown and golden letters which she couldn’t read, spelled out a title and an author.

‘I’ll lit the fire in here for you, Miss,’ the maid said.

Lisbeth didn’t say anything as her fingers touched the golden lettering. She knew it was French, but she only knew a handful of words. Opening the book, she flipped through the pages and noticed that some of them had drawings on. In the background, she heard a fire being started then the closing of the door.

Turning the pages slower, Lisbeth come across an image that made her stop. There was a man with black curly hair and blue trousers carrying a girl in one hand and leading a white horse in the other. The horse was carrying four or six other girls through what seemed to be countryside. Lisbeth tried to read the pages on either side of the picture, looking for any words she might know. However, the few she did know give her no clue as to what the drawing was about.

Looking harder at the picture, Lisbeth tried to figure out what was going on. Clearly, this man was taking the girls somewhere. Maybe, he was rescuing them? Was he a Prince? A Lord? A poor farmer? And who were the girls and why were there so many of them? Lisbeth counted again and decided there was six of them riding the horse and the girl in his arm made seven. Were they sisters then?

Feeling frustrated, Lisbeth closed the book and set it at her feet. Resting her head on her knees, she looked out the window again. The glass was misting up and the snow was falling faster making the view of the moor even more distant. From behind her came the first curls of warmth from the fire. She heard the flames cracking around the logs, the noise was too loud in the silence of the library.

Lisbeth shut her eyes and though she didn’t want to think about the drawing anymore, she couldn’t help it. Desperately, she wanted to know who the man and the girls were.

Father will know, she thought, when he gets back from his business trip, he can read it to me.

Sighing and feeling the chill leaving her, Lisbeth went to open her eyes again, but found they were too heavy. With the fire lulling her to sleep, she let herself slip away.

When Lisbeth finally opened her eyes again, she found herself not at home in the library watching the snow falling on the moor, but outside in the countryside. The sun was blazing in a too blue sky, tall green trees were dotted around and the grass under her was long. Birds were singing, insects buzzing and the smell of flowers filled the air.

As she was wondering what had happened, Lisbeth heard the sound of horses hoofs. Getting up, she looked around and saw a road close by. Walking over, she soon saw a large white horse being led by a young man with black curly hair. He was wearing medieval clothes like she had seen in paintings. In his other hand, he was carrying a child wrapped in white strips of cloth who had very long blonde hair. Upon the horse, six other girls rode and they were also wrapped in cloth with tangled long blonde hair.

Lisbeth stepped onto the road before them all.

‘Excuse me,’ Lisbeth called, ‘Hello. Could you please tell me where I am?’

The man brought his horse to a stop and looked at her. The seven girls also fixed their eyes to her and Lisbeth could now see that the girls all looked the same, but they were different ages. They all looked weary as if they had been walking for awhile.

‘You are far from anywhere,’ the man replied.

Lisbeth frowned.

‘This is the middle of the French countryside,’ the man explained, ‘there is nothing but farmers and wine makers out here. We are days from the nearest village and a month from the nearest town.’

‘And who are you all?’ Lisbeth asked.

‘You are clearly a stranger here,’ the man spoke.

Lisbeth nodded.

‘I’m Prince Louis and these are my sisters. Our kingdom was burnt down and we could not stay there. We are traveling to the next kingdom where my oldest sister is betrothed to the Prince there.’

‘I see,’ Lisbeth answered.

‘And you?’ the Prince asked.

‘I do not know. I woke up over there.’

Lisbeth looked at the spot and fell into wondering how she got here.

‘What’s your name?’ the oldest and first Princess on the horse asked.

‘Lisbeth. That I am sure of!’

‘Do you want to come with us?’

‘I do not think I can. I am waiting for my father. He should be home soon,’ Lisbeth replied thoughtfully.

‘Then we must leave you now,’ the Prince spoke out, ‘the road is still long ahead of us.’

‘It was nice meeting you all,’ Lisbeth said.

With nods of goodbye, Lisbeth stepped off the road and watched the Prince leading the white horse away. When she could not seen them anymore, Lisbeth walked back to the spot she had woken up in and sat down.

‘How do I get out of here?’ she spoke aloud.

Resting back, she looked up at the cloudless sky and felt the heat on her skin. She felt tried and hot. Shutting her eyes, she told herself that after a little doze she would figure this all out further.

Someone was calling her name. She could hear them in the distance. Fighting away sleep, Lisbeth opened her eyes. She blinked a few times then sat up. She was back in the library. Rubbing her face, she looked out of the window, but darkness had now settled outside. Turning away, she saw her maid standing before her and the fire still burning brightly further back.

‘I fell asleep…’ Lisbeth said, ‘and it was all a dream.’

‘A pleasant one I hope, Miss?’ the maid asked.

Lisbeth nodded.

‘Would you like some supper now, Miss?’

‘No, thanks. I think I shall go to my room,’ Lisbeth said.

She slipped out of the window box and picked up the book. Even though she was tempted to open the pages and see the drawing again, she kept the book closed and walked out of the library.

Outside the snow continued to fall.

 

(From a prompt by https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/2016/12/09/microfiction-challenge-26-a-journey/ with thanks)

The Red Tree

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The Princess stopped by the thin twisted red tree that stood alone in the far corner of the glass house garden. The four branches were bearing a number of different fruits, but as of yet they were not ripe.

Leaning towards the tree, she began to sing softly and as the words left her lips, the trunk began twisting around. The branches slowly moved down towards her, making the fruit more easier to reach. She could clearly see now the fruits needed a few days longer.

The Princess stopped singing and the tree rose up once more. When the branches had become still, she began to debate which fruit she would pick to eat at the midnight celebrations of the year’s longest night. As traditions in the Kingdom of Moon went it had always been her favourite. All members of the royal family were allowed to pick one fruit from the red tree and eat it before the midnight feasting started. It was seen as a blessing for the year to come and to celebrate the true ending of the harvest.

Perhaps a plum or the pear? She thought, no, no, the orange. There’s only one of them this year. 

Lifting her eyes away, the Princess looked out of the nearest glass pane. It had started snowing again and the flakes were melting on the warm glass. Smiling, she went to the nearest door that led outside and quickly going through, she twirled around in the white fluffy snow.

 

Based on a prompt from; https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/2016/12/02/microfiction-challenge-25-the-red-tree/ With thanks.