Preview of "A Very Special Project" from Chest of Bone: The Knit Collection

A snippet from my short story "A Very Special Project," set in the world of the Afterworld Chronicles.

Clea Reese awoke with the suddenness of ice on flesh. She jerked up,  hands scrabbling across the sheets. The room was freezing. The comforter lay on the floor in a heap and she was coated in sweat. Her hands shook as she raked them through her hair once, twice.
Her dream couldn’t have been real. But it had been so vivid her tongue still tasted the chocolate ice cream she’d eaten in her treehouse. She shook her head. Made no sense.
Orphaned at three-years-old, she couldn’t picture her mam or her da. She had no photos of them, no mementos, nothing. Yet she’d seen them, crystal, last night while sleeping.
She dragged the comforter off the floor and wrapped it around her shivering body. She had to understand. She closed her eyes and allowed the dream to reform.

Da was knitting. Maybe he was making something for her birthday! In two days, she’d be a big girl of four.
She kept still as the pretty carving Da kept on his desk, but with her eyes she followed Da’s needles as they moved smooth and steady. They hummed a rhythm inside her. Finally, she couldn’t stand it, so on tiptoe she walked toward the big red chair where Da sat, her eyes glued to his knitting. So many different strands twisted together to form the pattern’s colors. Like a sunset—peach and orange and lemon. Beautiful.
More than anything, she wanted to learn to knit just like her da. But there was a problem…
She drew close. “Is today the day, Da?” she whispered in his ear. She made her voice bright and pretty so he would say yes.
His glasses slid down his nose, like always. His smile confused her, for it was both warm and sad. “I’m afraid not, little Clea.”
Her fist’s clenched. She wouldn’t have a tantrum. Da hated those. But her blood bubbled, because she wanted this so much. She threw out her chubby arms, wiggled her stubby fingers. “Why, Da? Why not today?”
“Soon, baby girl. Soon. But not today.”


***
© Afterworld Publishing, Vicki Stiefel