Gates of Gold and Glass: A Short Story

I never used to like writing short stories, but lately I’ve realized how much I love venturing into that area of fiction. It’s satisfying to complete a piece more quickly than a full length novel and still deliver an emotional punch with a vibrant idea. At least that’s what I strive to do. I hope you enjoy the first half of Laydra’s story about beauty, longing, frustration, and finally daring to live.

Gates of Gold and Glass

Laydra couldn’t tear her gaze away from the gates that suddenly materialized in the JC Penney’s junior’s clothing section. Her heart started pounding, constricting her vision around the doors. Blood throbbed a beat in her head: No. That’s impossible. How?

What were they doing here?

A second later, dread curdled in Laydra’s stomach as realization hit. She knew exactly what their appearance meant. She’d been found, and now she was summoned home. 

The gates commanded her awareness as wisps of mist curled off them. Gold branches wove its outline, and prism-like grey glass filled the gaps. Such beautiful workmanship was distinctively Didaren. 

They haunted Laydra with reminders of home. 

No. She refused to let them get her.

Abruptly, she wrenched her focus away and strode through the store. The front bustled with shoppers entering, leaving, and making purchases. Without pausing to clock out, Laydra grabbed her brown jacket from behind a register and pulled it on, pushing her way out of JC Penney. 

“Hey, Leah, where are you going?” one of her co-workers called as Laydra left, but she didn’t respond to the human name she’d assumed. 

Not now. Not when her sister had found her. She had to figure out where she was going to live next. 

The streets hummed with activity, reminding her of the first day she’d spent on Earth. Hurting and alone, the streets had seemed disgustingly clogged. It was shocking how used to the noise and vulgarity she’d gotten in seventy years. The loneliness, however, had never vanished. 

Near immortality took relationships out of the picture. 

Laydra stalked down the street, hands jammed in her pockets as her hair bounced around her face in rhythm to her footsteps. 

The Didaren gates whispered in the back of her mind. The only choice was to outrun them, otherwise they would continue hunting her, appearing wherever she went. 

Why now? She’d kept her head low for years, so why was her sister determined to execute her now? Amira could really be– Laydra stifled her bitter thoughts. 

She stopped at a crosswalk, waiting for the light to turn. 

On high alert, she surveyed her surroundings. Her eyes jumped back to the alleyway behind her as the gate’s luminescent beauty materialized between the two dumpsters. 

Laydra continued to stare, transfixed by the stunning doors as people brushed past her. These humans were oblivious to what stood amidst their piles of refuse. Or who lingered at their crosswalks. 

Memories of Didaren trickled to mind. Far more elegant than Earth, and so much more vivid. A sudden keening rose in Laydra’s heart for her world, a longing to see the shining steeples and revisit the mountains where the Draeth’kan lurked. Didaren was alive compared to this listless rock, its very geography woven with magic. 

Yes, she was surviving here on Earth, but compared to Didaren, was she truly living? Perhaps she should dare to step through those gates….

Reality snapped at her like a splash of frigid water. 

“Fool,” she muttered under her breath. 

She couldn’t go back. Amira was queen, and the moment she stepped foot on Didaren again, she’d either be killed or imprisoned. Her sister considered their shared bloodline a threat to her own throne and legacy, and no amount of protesting would convince Amira to let Laydra live. 

Part 2 coming soon.

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