Jane walked the narrow lanes of The Hamlet in the thirteenth hour… the hour that technically did not exist, except for her.

She saw a quaint cottage with freshly planted window-boxes full of flowers.

Who lives there? Oh, yes… now I remember. I should… no. No.

She circled the statue of the three fates. No one yet had recognized the crone’s face as her own. Then again, she rarely let people see the wrinkles and age spots she’d earned. Vanity played her like a puppet; she hardly realized the glamour she projected most of the time.

She circled the statue again, lost in her own thoughts.

I should give them more conflict… more…

A rabbit poked its head out from under a bush, glared at her condescendingly, then hopped away.

Plot bunnies. Humph! Annoying creatures. I’ve no time to chase them now…

Circling again, then choosing a path at random, Jane spied a house with a warm glow.

Aha! Yes. One of my best efforts. Their own stories were unimportant, but here…

She drifted closer, to gaze in the window. The tableau of peace and contentment was not frozen, yet the scene did not change. A woman sat in a rocker, gently moving back and forth. The baby at her breast reached up toward his mother’s cheek. His father leaned on the fireplace mantle, a look of utter love and amazement on his face.

Here they found happiness.

Jane left the peaceful tableau and wandered from The Hamlet to The City. She used the thirteenth hour whenever she was stuck. Seeing her characters, the ones she’d so heartlessly killed off or discarded, living and breathing, taking on lives of their own, inspired her. Comforted her.

I am not cruel.

Fate is cruel, but I am not.

I am not fate.

I am NOT fate…

She failed to convince herself.

The soft whinny of a horse startled her. Although perhaps such a sound might be heard near a stable in the thirteenth hour, there should be no travellers, no one dynamic until the hour was over.

Then she remembered…

I freed him.

Jamie was watching her.

No… not Jamie. Galen. I named him Galen.

But the hour was gone. Her own rules bound her like Cinderella.

She turned into a pumpkin and was gone.

This story was written for a Write on Edge prompt about fate. It is directly related to my Marie Antionette fantasy “What Would Have Been.” No, I didn’t write “spoiler alert” at the top, although perhaps I should. You see, I love the idea I had for the story. Mainly, I wanted Marie to be given a second chance at life and love. I like the idea of having a place where a writer’s characters can go and live their own lives.

Many writers, myself included, have had the experience of a character developing a mind of their own. We may have had a plan for them, but they stubbornly assert themselves in some unexpected way. In this story, Jane had deliberately freed Galen, but she keeps forgetting that means he won’t do what she expects him to do anymore.

So… spoiler alert? Yes. This post kinda gives away the whole “Big Twist” at the climax of the story. The problem is, because I wrote this story as an exercise, writing one chapter each week, it has drawn itself out much longer than I anticipated. Readers should not have to slog through 25 chapters of boring material before the revelation occurs.

I’m providing links to the story in case anyone cares to catch up. As I said, I like the original idea and plan, but the actually story desperately needs an overhaul. I might actually do that when it’s done, and showcase the “raw rough” version with the polished final.

Or it might go on the shelf indefinitely.

What Would Have Been

The shortlink for this post is http://wp.me/p1rMYd-kF