Flash Fiction: Late Night at the Carnival of Souls ~ Outside the Margins with Anna Zabo

Join Prism Book Alliance® as Anna Zabo goes Outside the Margins today.


This is a late birthday gift to Brandilyn, who invited us to write her a piece of flash fiction based on a picture prompt. I chose her original prompt:


Late Night at the Carnival of Souls

Even as a child, there was something about carousals that chilled my bones, but I loved them so. Light and dark. Color and sound. Movement and frozen life. I was drawn to the horses and the animals and the music, the brightness and cheerfulness of the other children who laughed and screamed to the rhythm of old music during summer days.

Now, I wondered if they ever looked as I did at the horses, at their faces. Some were frozen in happiness, some in fear, and others—others had an emotion I had no words for as a child.

When I was a teen and could stay late at the carnival, the carousal became a place for kisses and the tenuous first steps of romance—or of lust. The up and down motion that mimicked horses running mirrored the later dances behind bleachers, hushed in bedrooms, or in back seat of cars parked in the dark of night.

I disappointed more than one girl who wanted to ride as fast as the wind with me. Though I played football, it wasn’t the girls who intrigued me—nor my fellow teammates for that matter. They were like me: built and big and full of power. I knew myself and I was not what I wanted.

No, I longed for the boys who didn’t care—the ones who borrowed their sister’s eyeliner and lipstick and nail polish. The long and limber, who moved fast and slow at the same time. The ones who walked like panthers and watched with the sharpness of crows.

They followed me too, I knew. I saw the smiles and the knowing glances and I suddenly understood the ecstasy of the carousal horses.

But I lurked too far in the normal word of football and jeans and jocks to venture into theirs, though I longed to ride the carousal with them and discover what those lips tasted like. I wanted to know the length of arms and legs and chest.

Later, much later, I discovered places like the carnival, places of light and darkness and music and liquor. Spaces full of lust and desire and dusted with the promise of hope—and I learned the rapture and the misery of love. Of sex. Of men.

I don’t know what drew me out that summer night. Perhaps a sound or the faint trace of calliope music on the breeze, but I stepped off my porch and walked into the woods. Cotton candy and laughter twisted through the limbs of the trees and brought me to a clearing and there—there lay a carnival like the ones of my youth—but without the innocence and the cruelty I remembered.

He stood by the carousal, long and lean and painted. Naked but not and with no shame at all. Poised like the horses, but not frozen, not at all. He was raven dark, pale as the moon, and when he caught my gaze, I was the one who reared like the wooden horses behind him—full of fear and joy and longing.

“Do you wish to ride?” His words were shards of color and flashes of laughter.

“No.” That was never what I had wanted—for the ravens were clever and knowing and knew the way.

His smile was as deep and dark as his eyes. He stretched out a hand wrapped tight black with leather and I took it.

I had strength. I understood power, order, and rules and I didn’t wish to ride.


~Anna Zabo


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About Anna Zabo

Anna Zabo writes contemporary and paranormal romance for all colors of the rainbow. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which isn’t nearly as boring as most people think. You can find her online at http://www.annazabo.com/ or more often on Twitter as @amergina.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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