Showers and Half Spaces: Installment Three

So it’s time for another chapter in the short story series!

Be sure to pop on over to Myra McEntire’s blog to read her third segment.

Someone recently guessed that the overall framework was Scheherazade/1001 Arabian Nights. Ding ding. Both mine and Myra’s narrators are our own personal versions of Scheherazade, and each week we pull the prompt from a different tale. Some fables, some fairy, and some from the Arabian Nights themselves. Last week was the Pied Piper.

Can you tell what this week’s inspiration was?

Part One/Details: HERE!

Part Two: HERE!

And now, Part Three…

The girl across the aisle, the one with the red headband, leaned forward. “Wow,” she said. “That must have been a really pretty song.”

“Must have been a really strong string,” said a new voice in the cell beside her. She stepped forward, and her body seemed to chime. The sound followed her, the clink of bangles and bells. But when she slid her arms through the bars, they were bare.

I caught a glimpse of a smile in the dark cell, white as a Cheshire cat’s and just as crooked.

“Hands inside the bars,” called the guard, but the smile only widened. A green eye gleamed in the shadows.

I felt ill. I knew that face.

“Ali,” I said.

“Long time, Cassie.”

I winced at the name. I hadn’t used it in a long time.

“There once was a girl and she was lost,” Ali echoed my line. “Bit of an understatement, Cassie, even for you. How about this? There once was a girl who liked to play games. Games on beds. Games in backseats. Games in—”

“Enough,” I growled.

“The past always finds the present. I told you that, remember?” said Ali. “Sad to say you’re looking better. Murder’s done wonders for your complexion. You’re glowing.”

The girl with the red headband coughed. “I want to hear the story.”

“Which one?” asked Goldilocks. “There seem to be a few.”

“Oh, I assure you,” said Ali, folding her long tan arms around bars. “It’s all one story in the end.” Her green eye found mine, and she began.

*

The strip was filled with men so rich it weighed their pockets down. Down around their ankles. A girl on the strip could make a good living if she knew how to make music. The bangles echoed in the cell.

But a girl would get bored with the same old turns.

Then along came a man of a different sort, a rich, rich man. A girl could tell he was rich because he didn’t wear rings. Didn’t flash or sparkle.

A girl like a cat lounged on the strip and bathed in moonlight the way others did in sun. She knew the magic words to make the man open his pockets, and then forget he had.

The bangles echoed and the smile went sharp.

Then a new girl came, a mousy thing, and she saw, and she wanted, and she asked. The cat was kind and showed her how. But the little mouse was greedy, greedy. She didn’t say all the right words. And she got caught.

The rich, rich man without any rings decided to cut off her hands. But the cat leapt in and saved the silly little mouse, and the mouse, it fled, as fast as it could.

*

Ali leaned forward, her wavy hair covering half her face. She tilted her head so that the hair slipped, revealing a glass eye and a scar that ran from temple to chin.

“I’m glad I saved your hands, Cassie,” said Ali, admiring the scars left by the steel string. “You finally made good use of them.”

That’s all for this week! Thoughts? Comments? Questions? (You can always just leave a note to say “Hi!”) Can you tell what the prompt was?

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