15 Minute Ficlet Prompt: “Maddening”

Posted September 17, 2017 by Amber in Memes / 5 Comments

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Fifteen Minute Ficlets (#15MF) is a weekly Sunday writing challenge hosted here on The Literary Phoenix.  Based on a single word, write a short story in fifteen minutes.  The word count is irrelevant.  Just write your heart out for 15 minutes and be inspired by the word.  You never know what you’ll end up with!

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“Maddening”

adjective
1. extremely annoying; infuriating.

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Study Time

The delicate chiming noise permeated the air in the nearly empty library.

Jacob ignored it.

Heavy tones surrounded him in a fortress of mechanical engineering secrets and academic prowess.  No less than seven books were opened on the table before him, and his parchment was at least as long as his army and filled with tiny, nearly illegible writing about the effects of motion and time and interference of the elements.  Bored to tears, each sentence was an exercise in willpower and he could not afford to be distracted.

Another chime.

Ignore her, he pleaded with himself.  The muscles in the back of his neck tensed.  You can’t afford to fail this report.

In the last six moons, Jacob leBrenne had failed to turn in no less than twelve mechanical reports.  It was only through the insistence of his father – the university’s most generous benefactor, these days – that he had not been thrown out of school.  The leBrenne fortune relied on an intimate knowledge of mechanical engineering and complicated machinery.  His father intended to pass the factories down to his only son when he died, and he would do whatever it took to make sure Jacob did not run the business into the ground.  Therefore, Jacob was given a last change to prove himself and maybe he could do it if that maddening sound stopped.

His head shot straight up and he slammed his quill against the table.

Across the room, his little sister Winnifred sat in a pile of lacy skirts, her little feet barely sticking out in front of her.  In her hands was a tiny metal triangle.  It was the kind the cooks used to call the factory workers in for meals, but in miniature.  She stared at her step-brother with wide, frozen eyes.

“Winnie if you do not stop that noise right now, I shall tell your mother you’ve been running around barefoot.”

Propriety and a lady’s place were of utmost importance to the Lady Wynona.  She would be most displeased to hear that her daughter was improperly attired.  Her reaction to it could range from a good scolding to several lashes, depending on her humor that day.

The little girl shrugged and tugged on one of her yellow curls.  “Momma’s in the country,” she announced, then chimed the triangle again.  That horrible, maddening chime.  It filled every shadowy corner of the mansion’s library and burrowed itself into Jacob’s ears.

He had forgotten the Lady was in the country.  It had been an impromptu visit to her ailing mother, who now lived in their spacious country estate.  The clean country air was good for her – that’s what the doctor’s said.  Jacob fully approved of the relocation due exclusively to the fact it meant she was not longer hovering over him and adjusting his shirt collars or complaining about ink smudges on his face.  A disgrace to your family name! the old woman would tut in a shrill voice.  Good riddance to her.

Jacob adjusted his tactics.  “Winnifred, if you do not stop, I shall throw a book at you.”

The little girl grinned.  Jacob felt something crawling in his mind, the way an inspect would walk over his hand.  He pushed the feeling out, knowing the child was trying to see into his head.  “You wouldn’t dare,” she decided.

Jacob raised an eyebrow and hefty the most aerodynamic book he saw on the table and chucked it in her direction.  Although it fell well short of where she was sitting, Winnifred gathered up her voluminous skirts and scampered from the room.  Jacob listened to her hurried footsteps as she raced down he corridor, then relaxed back in his seat and returned to his work.

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The Story

Jacob and Winnifred leBrenne are characters in my Sin Series books.  They live in a fantasy world where anything out of the ordinary is superstitious and having magical gifts is punishable by death.  This scene takes place long before the start of the books, before Jacob runs away from an arranged marriage and meets Liselle, joining the wandering mages.

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To join, link up in the comments below with the URL to your blog POST (not your blog), and I will make sure that you get added to the post!

Remember to read everyone’s ficlets, and to have fun! 🙂

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5 responses to “15 Minute Ficlet Prompt: “Maddening”

    • Amber

      Thank Nicole! This series has been something I’ve written and rewritten since I was in middle school… I know the characters like the back of my hand, but I just can’t seem to get the plot right!

        • Amber

          I actually workshopped the first three chapters in college, and the feedback was good. Unfortunately, those were areas I was confident on anyway… I just need to figure out where I want it to go! I agree though – readers are super helpful! I need to find myself a nice new group of writers… the group I used to be part of has all gone their separate ways, so I need to find new people who’d be willing to read a manuscript.

          ‘Til then, I’m revising another old story.

          I hope you’re able to get the plot working on the story where you love the characters, as well!