For Inktober, October 20, 2020. Prompt word: “coral.” Tuckerization: Michael Wilson
(Note: Michael Wilson is the author of The Hunted Mage Trilogy, a powerful set of novels written by a master wordsmith.)
A reminder that volunteering for tuckerization only means a character in the story shares the participant’s name. Other than that, no other similar characteristics are implied.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Lea had her hands deep into the suds of the sink while washing dishes when she heard a tentative tap on the living room door. She sighed, exasperated at the interruption. The moment she had her hands in a sink or was in the middle of a shower somebody would ring the doorbell, or call on the cellphone.
“Michael?” she called, hoping her voice could reach down the hallway. “Michael! There’s somebody at the door!”
There was another tentative tap on the door when Lea heard Michael step out of his study. “I didn’t hear the doorbell,” she heard him say.
Lea paused in thought. Yes, that is odd. Why are they knocking? Quickly she rinsed her hands, curious about who would knock when everybody else would ring the bell.
She walked into the living room just as Michael opened the door to show a little girl standing on the front porch. The child’s yellow sundress contrasted sharply with the ebony hair spilling over her shoulders, contrasting with her light complexion. As Michael knelt to the child’s level, Lea noticed that one eye was a brilliant green while the other was a startling blue. Heterochromia! Lea thought. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.
“Yes?” Lea heard Michael ask. “Can I help you?”
The child turned around and pointed to the house across the street. “That’s my new home,” the child lisped. “Are there any boys or girls that can come out and play?”
Michael smiled. “Yes, we saw your family move in yesterday. We were going to come over this evening to say hello. And what’s your name?”
The little girl tugged at an ebony lock for a moment. “My name’s Coral.” She smiled and held up her hand showing her fingers. “I’m five.”
“Well, Coral, we have a daughter named Katerina, but she’s at school right now. But does your dad or mom know you crossed the street?”
“Will you play with me?” Coral asked.
Michael began to say, “Right now I’m busy, but let me walk you back to your home …” when Coral reached out and took his hand.
Lea gasped as suddenly Michael and Coral vanished. Shocked into silence, Lea could only try to breathe as her mind froze in shock.
And just as suddenly, Michael and Coral reappeared.
Still, in a kneeling position, Michael fell backward, his eyes wide with surprise when he saw his wife. “Lea? Lea!” he gasped. “What … what year is this?”
Lea felt the blood leave her face as she stuttered her response. “It’s… it’s still 2021. You and that child were only gone for a second or two.”
Bursting into tears, Michael struggled to his feet and embraced his wife in a crushing hug. “No … no,” he moaned. “I’ve been gone for fifty years at least. I thought I’d never see you again.”
He pulled back and suddenly stared at his left hand in stunned surprise. “I still have my hand? I lost that at the Battle of Molgrim’s Wall!”
The rest of his words came out in a torrent. “We went … somewhere.” He turned and pointed at the girl giggling on the front porch. “I had to hire myself out as a mercenary because we had to eat, and after ten years, Coral married some baron, and I was that baron’s man at arms and … and …” He broke down as he once again put his arms around Lea in an embrace that drove the air from her lungs. "I fought ... I had to fight ... things," he gasped.
“That was fun,” Coral said. Lea and Michael turned to the child in mute surprise. Coral spun about and skipped down the walk toward her home. Turning her head, she shouted, “And I’ll come back tomorrow, and we’ll play again!”