Featured Story, Week of Sept. 22, 2018: "Clarissa"


Each week we feature a story written by one or two of our group members at our weekly meetings. For this week's featured story we passed around the Brainstormer prompt generator app for an idea, and centered on a theme of the first day of fall. The random prompts for this story were "loss of a loved one," "mechanized," and "insects." We had 20 minutes to write.

CLARISSA

By Susan Lee

The sunset had never been more beautiful, Clarissa thought, tucking her skirt underneath her as she lowered herself on to the grass. And nothing would be as beautiful as this sunset on this day, at least for her.

Clarissa closed her eyes, letting the colors dance on the inside of her eyelids. She was grateful for their translucency as many others like her didn't have that advantage. It was a weird thing to appreciate - translucency - but there you go. The warmth of the sun mixed with the coolness of the almost-evening air, brushing against her cheek.

After a moment, Clarissa realized it wasn't the air brushing her cheek but a small wing. She opened her eyes to find a small butterfly hovering near her, its thin metal wing unintentionally caressing her face. She didn't mind. It was nice to share the sunset with something. And she liked the way the colors of the sun danced on the jointed wings of the insect, adding a bit of glitter to the gathering dusk.

Clarissa raised her hand and butterfly lit on her finger, balancing delicately on its little tin feet. It almost tickled as it moved to find a more comfortable spot and Clarissa laughed. Her laughter turned to music as her voice box got confused for a moment, but she didn't mind. The music was as pleasant as laughter anyway.

It didn't take long for the sun to finish its trek across the sky and tuck itself in for the night. Clarissa sat for a moment longer, cherishing the moment, embracing the early dusk sky filled with purples and blues and golds. She wished she could wait until the sky was dusted with stars but she knew she didn't have the time. There was something she had to do.

Her knee joints clicked as Clarissa stood. She shook the grass and leaves from her silken dress. Wouldn't do to have such things clinging to her when she returned home. She had to be perfect, otherwise they would know she had gone wandering. And that just wouldn't do.

The butterfly flapped its jewel-filled wings at her as it lifted off into the sky. Clarissa waved, hoping she would see it again. It was one of the few insects that had been created that was made simply for beauty, not for productivity. Sometimes, beauty was more important.

Her feet made almost no sound as she made her way along the path back to the house. They would be home soon and she had to be there when they arrived. After all, Sarah needed her.

Being only twelve inches tall made it difficult to get to the door handle but Clarissa managed it. Just as she turned the knob, she heard the tinkle of something behind her. Turning, she spotted her key on the ground. It had fallen out of its spot in her back. Shoot. She'd have to have one of the others help her put it back into place. She scooped it up and closed the door.

it took some time to get up the stairs but Clarissa had gotten good at it. She got into the bedroom just as she heard the car pull into the drive. The others were all in their places, their own afternoon adventures concluded. Bertie, the Bee helped her put her key back in place. She had helped him when his pull string had gotten tangled, so he was happy to repay the favor.

Clarissa climbed up into the window and watched as Sarah and her father got out of the long black car. She was glad to see that Sarah smiled briefly as her father said something. But the sadness returned almost immediately.

Clarissa climbed back down and the others helped her get back up on the bed. She centered herself against the pillow, fluffing her skirt out around her. She had asked Bertie to wind her up so she'd be ready when Sarah came in.

A moment later, the door opened, framing Sarah in the hallway light. It was hard to see such sadness envelope a six-year-old and, for a moment, Clarissa wished that she could cry. But she knew crying wasn't her job.

Sarah climbed up on the bed, not bothering to turn on the light. She wrapped her little arms around Clarissa, wetting Clarissa's dress with her tears.

"I miss her so much, Clarissa," Sarah whispered. Almost by reflex, Sarah hit the button on Clarissa's back.

"I'm your best friend always," Clarissa assured Sarah. "I'll always be here for you."

Sarah paused at the unfamiliar phrase. Then she hugged Clarissa even more tightly.

"I love you."

I love you, too, Clarissa thought, knowing that phrase was not in her vocabulary, but knowing that Sarah understood it anyway.

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