Legal Theft Project: Security Blanket – Part 2

She woke up deliciously warm. She blinked sleepily and held the comforter up to her chin. Soft as a cloud and warm as a bakery at mid morning and twice as cozy, she adored her bed. She’d picked out the delicate violet duvet cover and the soft cream flannel sheets. Rolling over she looked at the narrow window and smiled at the pale rose curtains she’d made herself. She hugged her teddy bear as she gave thanks for another day where she wouldn’t worry about if she would eat, or if she would get too cold, or if… There were too many ifs to list. So many things she did not take for granted, not for one minute. Long sleeved floral pajamas. Slippers to keep her feet warm as she slipped out of bed.

The sun was up and warming the clouds, making the snow piled outside look like a glittering down blanket. Her breath fogged up the window and she drew a star in it. Gliding over to the door, she cracked it open and took a deep breath. The morning smelled of cinnamon rolls, citrus, and pine. She slipped down the stairs and perched on her usual stool.

Her guardian looked over from icing the cinnamon rolls and smiled at her. “You can open your stocking if you like.”

She glanced over at the pretty tree, with its white sparkling lights and elegant decorations, a couple brightly wrapped boxes underneath. Then over at the fireplace where two stockings hung, both pleasingly full. She smiled and shook her head. “I’ll wait for you.” Sitting very politely she watched the progress of icing swirling over cinnamon rolls.

Something festive and orchestral played softly from the hidden speakers. This was only their second Christmas, and it was far more deliberate than that first holiday when she’d snuck in a pint sized tree. He’d blinked, asked her if she wanted to celebrate, and then gone out and bought garland and holly and stockings and candles. The tree was bigger this year, the garland fresh, and all of the uncertainty was banished.

Cinnamon rolls frosted, kitchen tidied, he turned back toward her and smiled. “They need to rest for five minutes.”

The grin took over her face like sunrise and drew some matching warmth out of him. She took down his stocking and he took down hers, and they exchanged. He sat down in his arm chair and she sat on the floor next to the coffee table. He’d gifted her two bottles of good ink, hair ribbons in a cascade of pastel shades, a new pair of sewing scissors, some candies, and a tea cozy shaped like a cat. She’d given him a set of gourmet sea salts, an oven thermometer, a fine ball point pen, an orange, and several smaller exotic fruits. Finally, she gave him a hug. For the first time, she knew they would both be warm that year. And possibly the next year. It was a good thing to count on.


This first line was stolen by a gang of thieves awhile back. So I decided to steal it too. See Part 1 or the other stolen works by clicking the links.

Legal Theft Project: Security Blanket-Part 1

She woke up deliciously warm. There was a faint crackling of a fire and a richly scented promise of chocolate nearby. For three whole heartbeats she forgot about cold and fear. She let out a silent breath and fully opened her eyes. She was in a sparsely decorated living room. Two windows, sealed, no latches. Three doors and an archway. Light and sound came through the arch. Clinking and clanking of a kitchen and the subtle rustling of cloth from a single person moving. The other doors, two interior and one exterior. Exterior door locked. Interior unlocked.

The coffee table in front of her held a tray with a small mug of hot cocoa and a plate of gingerbread.

“You’re awake.” A man was standing in the archway, leaning against the frame. She froze, looking for warning signs, but he didn’t come any closer. “I found you on the roof. You were too cold. I thought you might die. I brought you in. Made sure you were warm. The cocoa and gingerbread are yours.” He stopped briefly, but she did not reach for the treats. He didn’t nod but she got the sense of one anyway. “I am going to go back into the kitchen to make some soup and a sandwich. Then I will bring them out on a tray, and you may have them as well. After I leave the tray, I am going to go through that door,” he nodded at the interior door closest to him, “and not come out until tomorrow morning. You can sleep here. The other door is the bathroom. Use what you need.” And he turned back into the kitchen like he said he would. Adults said a lot of things. Some times they did what they said, but most times they didn’t. She made sure she had a clear view to the kitchen before taking the mug and slowly sipping the cocoa. It warmed her insides just as delightfully as the blanket and fire had warmed her outsides. The whole environment soothed the familiar ragged edge to a strange ache. She set the empty cocoa mug down and clutched the blanket around her shoulders.

“I’m coming in now,” the man said from the kitchen.

She slipped off the couch and moved to the end farther from him, keeping the arm between them. The man walked to the coffee table and set down the tray. “Tomato soup and grilled cheese. Leave the dishes on the tray when you’re done. I’m going to my room now. I hope I’ll see you tomorrow.” He nodded to her and left through the other door.

The grilled cheese was crackly brown with butter and the tempting cheese melted slightly out of the sides where it got all crispy. The bowl was small and the sandwich was a half. She sat down and took a small bite of the sandwich. Her eyes closed. Cheese and bread had never tasted so good. In small bites, she ate the entire sandwich and the soup. For the first time in weeks she really felt full.

She left the dishes on the tray and went to explore the bathroom. She washed her face, re-braided her hair, and perused the linen closet. Among the linens, she chose a sturdy grey pillow case and carried it to the kitchen. There was a distinct lack of Ziploc bags. All the food was kept in glass or ceramic containers. Half had labels she didn’t understand. She did find aluminum foil, parchment paper, and plastic wrap, so she made small packets of essentials as she raided the pantry. Dried fruit and nuts, packets of uncooked rice or dried beans, or any other non-perishable, she made well thought out packets of supplies, wrapped them carefully, and packed them in the pillowcase. In case she had to run, at least she wouldn’t be hungry. Her eyes were getting heavy as she made sure everything was meticulously back in its proper place in the pantry. Clutching her running bag, she dragged her feet back over to the couch. Clambering onto it, she tucked the bag between her body and the back of the couch so it wouldn’t be seen and pulled the blanket up over herself. The fire was mellow and low and she was warm from food and the soft hug of the blanket. Her eyes closed and she hoped that this dream, maybe, could last a little longer.


Thieves abound! See who stole this first line over at the new Legal Theft site.

Legal Theft Project: The Vanishing Trick

Mommy says my goldfish ran away today. This is the third fish that’s run away. She never tells me where they go. Just that they’re not here, they’ve gone. Vanished. When the dog ran away, I knew first. I saw the hole in the wall. I saw the fur caught in the rough edges of the break. The traces of her left behind. Sometimes I think I see her around. Like she never left the neighborhood. Not knowing anywhere else to go. That’s the secret they taught me. The fish whispered how easy it was to silently disappear and the dog showed me that it took work and rough edges. But neither of them have been caught. At least, I hope Ruff avoided the dog catchers. Or if they caught her that they took her to a place where someone took care of her, and she can find a new family. That seems possible for dogs.

When I run away, I know where I’m going. I’m going to leave quiet – right in the morning, just when everyone’s waking up. I have a bag. I have my bolt-hole. I will bolt out of the back door quiet as a fish and run. Run even if it hurts. Run far and fast. Then I will walk and walk and walk until I come to the big stone buildings, covered in moss and I will climb there. Hide there. I know you have to have somewhere to go. Vanishing is a complicated trick. You need a special place. A possible place. Somewhere big yet cozy. Somewhere with people, but not too close. A safe busy place with many edges, but not too many doors. Somewhere above where the things that chase can’t find you. I found it by following the books. It was the loveliest place I’ve ever seen. And way up top above the shelves I’ll make a room for myself. Maybe my fish and dog will find me there. Maybe not. Probably not. But mostly, I’ll be gone. I’ll leave tomorrow.


I’m a thief, as I stole this first line from Kathryn. Check out where all the other goldfish went by visiting the thieve’s court.

Legal Theft Project: Join the Dance

Kadie knocked on the door, but wasn’t sure her polite tapping would be heard over the conversation and motion inside. She took a deep breath, opened the door, and stepped into the music and chatter. She glanced around the long hall. People gathered in small groups, chatting and demonstrating dance steps. The band warmed up at the top of the hall, tuning fiddles and talking setlists with the caller.

Kadie slipped over to the long table and settled her purse, coat, and water bottle along the back edge. Just being around people felt electric. She smoothed a hand down the knee-length skirt of her dress. The dress was a personal indulgence, a joyful lavender sundress that swirled when she spun. Footsteps approached and she turned with a smile. The woman smiled back.

“Hi, I’m Luella. I haven’t seen you before, are you new to contra?”

Luella had a kind face, Kadie thought. “I travel often, so I’m new to the area, but not new to contra. I’ve danced across most states. Everyone is always so welcoming. Do you come here often?”

The girl was charming. “Every week since I could stand,” Luella replied. “Met my husband here.” She beamed and glanced over at a tallish man demonstrating simple steps to the cluster of first time dancers.

“That sounds lovely,” Kadie said. She said it with such wistfulness that Luella was forced to reconsider her age. She had initially assumed that the girl was in her mid twenties, but with her face softened with longing, she looked closer to nineteen.

“Well, I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time tonight. You come back anytime you’re in the area, sweetheart. What was your name again?”

“Amber,” Kadie said. Luella smiled and introduced her to a young man who asked her to dance the first set.

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Kadie spun, whirled, glided, and flew. She never lacked for partners, never stopped long enough to get a drink. She charmed the room,  waltzed with a man who was ninety years if he was a day and made it seem effortless, and she herself was deliriously happy. And with all that she still managed to disappear right after the last dance.

At her car, safely away from the hall, she shrugged into her coat and drank her water. She hopped into her rental car and vanished into the city streets. It was worth the risk of forming a pattern, it always was. Being alive, being happy, not being alone was what this race was all about. If she didn’t form the patterns that made her happy she may as well give up already. Unbidden, her hand rose to massage the side of her neck. She might be living on borrowed time, but for as long as it lasted, she was going to live it.

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I’m a thief! I stole this line from Gwen over at ApprenticeNeverMaster. Check this page for the ongoing rings of thievery.

Legal Theft Project: Hidden Pages

She felt an immediate kinship with the book. It was small like her. Fragile like her. Both of them liked to hide and pass unnoticed. She hoped the book would like her even though she disrupted its quiet. Books were meant to share knowledge, even secret books hidden in the crease between the shelf and the wall. They just waited for a patient observant person to pick them up. She was that kind of person. She took the book out of her pocket and gave it a closer look than she had in the library.

The thin text bound in old leather just barely starting to flake with age. Embossed on the cover was a complicated design of twisting curves and angles in no pattern she had seen before. There was no title. No gilt on the binding and no author’s name. When she opened it, dust fluttered into the air and dissipated.

Her brow furrowed in interest. The first page had a different sigil and was written in three different alphabets. She needed better light. She moved from her desk to the thin window seat Finn had carved for her. The natural light waved through the old glass, but it was better than by her desk. Three feet made a lot of difference. Definitely three alphabets and intermixed as well. Her eyes lit. This was a puzzle. A complicated puzzle.

Tatterdemalion got paper and a set of pens. She shifted one of her crates to the window to act as a writing surface. And lost herself. Each apparent chapter had a different sigil. The book could be read from two directions. She wrote notes and ciphers and shifted with the sun like a cat napping. She looked up when the sun became too dim to read by. She considered getting a candle… but… she didn’t want to share yet. She bit her lip. Elias always noticed secrets. Secrets and new things and things that were out of place, so, it would have to be not out of place. She would have to not be out of place. She would need another mystery. Or… it could just be boring. That was better. She had a new project and could focus on one aspect of it. Tatter smiled to herself. Trying to outthink Elias was fun.

She moved the furniture around a bit, tucked the old book into her personal stash of possessions, and picked up the book of poetry she was translating. Yes, she could effuse on the wonders of this poetry for hours. She was so pleased she had multiple interests.

She lit a candle and sat back with her poems before she wondered why she wanted to keep the book for herself. She worried at the edge of her skirt. She just, didn’t want Elias to beat her to the answer. He wouldn’t tell her if he had. But… she wanted something just for herself. Elias was running off getting into strange new trouble every day and Finn was being all growly as he grew and now she had a book. That must be it. She nodded, smiled to herself, and began finding an accurate translation for the third verse.

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My friend Bek over at BuildingaDoor stole this first line to write “A New Book.” Look out for thieves!

Legal Theft Project: Growing Pains

He stepped into the room quietly, and wavered by the doorway as if he wasn’t sure she had heard him. Which was ridiculous because she had ears like a cat and he was about as quiet as a horde of elephants. He just didn’t want to startle her. She had to admit he was making some progress. From full sized elephants to pygmy elephants. Tatter closed her book and blinked up at him. “It’s you. I wanted to talk to you.”

Finn looked confused. “You wanted to talk to me?”

She nodded decisively and waved him in. Finn hunched his shoulders as he came through the narrow door. His arm hit the doorframe anyway and he winced. Tatter could not help but pity him. It wasn’t his fault there was suddenly so much more of him.

“I wondered if you were sick or if someone was causing you trouble. I haven’t noticed anyone, but you’ve been,” she paused and bit her lip. “…odd recently.”

Finn folded into a sitting position on the floor and sighed. “I know. I think it’s the growing. Making me irritable and things.”

“I wasn’t that irritable,” she said.

“No, but we’re different people. Maybe I get moodier because there is so much more of me.” He looked ruefully at toes. “I’m not trying to make an excuse. I just don’t know anything I can do about it.”

“So it’s not that you’re mad at Elias or I? Or thinking of going elsewhere for awhile?” Tatter shrugged her shoulders sideways and looked away. Which in anyone else would have been a defensive nonchalance, in Tatter, it was something softer because she never hid her hurt. Finn wasn’t sure she knew how and he hoped she never learned. It would sadden him.

“No, I’m not going anywhere and I’m not mad. I get grumpy at Elias because he likes to know the whys of things, and I don’t have answers. That and if I do find answers, I might not tell him just because he’s been so annoying.” He said it with a smile and tried to lean back, but he ran into more things.

Tatter giggled. “I’m sorry.”

“S’okay. Humor is better than swearing.”

“And you are very good at that.”

Finn gave up and curled back into his previous lotus like position. “I could teach you if you’d like.”

That won a grin from her. “I don’t think I would ever use them.”

“But you could know.”

She shook her head. “I’m not Elias.”

“I’m glad, one Elias is more than enough.”

“I think he’d get grumpy if there were many of him.”

“I think you’re right.” He stood up. “So we’re good?”

“Yes.” She nodded. “Was there anything else you wanted to talk about?”

“Oh, I just, wanted to let you know I’m around. Even though I’m I don’t know, large.” Finn scuffed his feet.

Tatter looked at him seriously. “I always know when you’re around. It makes me glad.”

Finn held out his arms, and Tatter obliged him with a hug.

“I’m glad.” He stepped back. “And hungry again.”

“Then you should go find something.”

“I shall, assuming I don’t get stuck in the door.”

“I think you would win if you got in a fight with the door. You know its weaknesses.”

Finn laughed, tossed a wave over his shoulder and descended the stairs. Tatter listened the clatter of his feet on the stairs. Maybe in a couple months he would be in charge of his elephants. It would probably make them all feel better.

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I stole this first line from Gwen at ApprenticeNeverMaster. The ring of thievery goes ever round.

Legal Theft Project: Light and Knowledge

That light was not supposed to be on. Tatterdemalion watched the sky. Taking another route through labyrinthine rooftops to avoid the lit window would result in her getting wet. She had little regard for her clothes, but the books tucked into her cloth satchel would never survive a drenching. She bit her lower lip and worried it for a moment before inching down the rooftop. She dropped carefully onto the palm width stone ledge that ran along the building, under the windows. She dug her fingers into the grout between the masonry and smiled to herself. Ignoring the slick twist in her stomach she escaped into the feel of the stones. She felt the age and strength in walls that sheltered so much of what she loved. Stone was simple and solid and kept so much in a simple geometric shape. Thoughts toying with geometric equations, Tatterdemalion approached the lit window.

Breathing evenly, she reasoned that it was a rare thing for a person to look out their window. A bit of shadow was commonly assumed to be a dark cloud passing over the sun. Academics rarely looked out their windows. They were often much more concerned with their texts and manuscripts to be concerned about an odd sound and flicker of light. Or so Tatter told herself.

She peeked into the lighted window, if the room’s occupant had happened to glance contemplatively out at the gathering storm, he may have seen two large gray eyes beneath aristocratic brows before they ducked out of sight. The man in the chair had dark hair going to a silvery grey in long streaks. Tatter watched as he bent over the thick tome on his desk. A bit apart, his right hand held a pen and he scrawled notes onto a sheaf of papers. His apparent engrossment settled Tatterdemalion’s stomach and her heart warmed. She knew this row of windows for she often snuck into them. Professors always had the best reference materials. She watched for a few moments longer before quietly shifting across the window. Her toes picked out the familiar grooves in the stone. Soon it would be too cold to go barefoot. She would need to lay in a bit more food.

She froze still as a rabbit at the sound of the window opening.

“Why, hello.”

She turned her head just enough to look back. The professor looked back at her out of deep blue eyes. His thoughts running faster than Tatter could guess. Then she hastened off the ledge and over the rooftops. She scurried over the roofs, around chimneys, and scrambled over gargoyles until she reached her attic. She swung inside and latched the window. Shaking, she collapsed on the nest of blankets and pillows she used as a bed. Someone had seen her. She must be more careful. She swung her satchel off her back and cradled it in her lap. No one would ever make her leave. She would just stay quiet and careful and the man would forget he’d seen her.

Professor Lawrence Rutherford closed his office window and wondered. He made a careful note in his journal, closed his current project, and retrieved his pipe. He needed to think.

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It’s that time again. I stole this line from fliptheotter. She’ll post the original tomorrow. Wonder who stole mine….