Prompt Short Story: Final Lesson

D is a character created and owned by myself, Alexia Harvey (aka the other half of Team Cuddles) and artist Peter Hackney. They are eventually destined for a webcomic but Peter moves at the speed of a glacier (3 yrs and one episode now aaaaaalmost finished drawing!), so I couldn’t resist the urge to write this when the prompt showed up!

Millie puttered around the kitchen, humming the minute waltz as she foraged for the ingredients to make scones to go with her lunch of salad sandwiches, made from last night’s leftovers. Listening to the coffee percolate as she kneaded, it took her a moment to realise someone had materialised in the kitchen with her.

“Ahem,” came a polite cough.

Millie spun and raised her rolling pin, ready to hit the intruder sharply until it regretted every choice that had led it to this point, then stopped short, her muddy green eyes taking in the figure before her.

“So it’s you, then,” she said, putting down her weapon and forcing some wisps of grey hair back into her bun. “Coffee? Sandwich? I can offer scones if I’ve time to finish, if not I need to turn the oven off.”

A smile crossed the deep, red face of the intruder and their horns, adorned with sparkles, twitched. They smoothed down their close fitting, sequinned, ballgown, flashing their right leg all the way to the thigh, and shifted uncomfortably. “Millie, I’m glad I don’t need to begin by reminding you who I am.”

“No you don’t, I remember well – though I like this outfit better than that horrible ink-stained suit of yours. Is it time?”

“I have a proposal for you,” the visitor held out their hand and a glowing orb materialised, hovering just above their flesh. “You sold this, your soul, to me, many human years ago. You loved to ballroom dance but could never get it quite right, and you begged me for one – just one  – perfect dance. I gave you this wish. You had your dance, you won the competition and, without my interference, the heart of the man you loved, and then retired to teach others to dance instead.”

“Aye, I did…” Millie’s eyes grew brighter at the memory.

“I offer your soul back to you. In exchange for your help.”

“And what help can I give to you, Mr Devil?”

“Please, call me D, and it’s…well… There’s an interoffice ball tonight – about to start, or it will when I unpause time. I got this dress specially made, I spent all day on my horns and makeup, but I forgot that I don’t know how to ballroom dance. And, well, there’s someone…I want him to notice me, and not in the way he’s used to. Right now we have all the time we need, and…” D snapped their fingers, “You have all the youth and energy you could wish for.”

Millie felt the lethargy of age fade, replaced by vitality. Her arthritis was gone, her hair, when she looked in the toaster, was brown again, her skin denied that wrinkles had ever held court there. And she wore the gown she had won that competition in.

“I need to know how to dance your part,” D explained. “Michael, well, he’s an archangel, and I’m pretty sure he’ll lead.”

Millie nodded and held out her arms for D to step into, correcting his grip as they did so.

The kitchen disappeared. They stood in the ballroom of that long-ago triumph, a half-orchestra playing in one corner.

How long they did this for, neither could say. They never tired, their feet didn’t hurt, they simply danced, polkas, foxtrots, waltzes, and more, until Millie decided that D was good enough. 

Returning them to the kitchen, D sat Millie, once again her true age, at the table, taking up the offer of a sandwich.

“Thank you, child,” D told her softly, as her breath caught and her head drooped to the table. D caught and cushioned it, stroking back her hair as her returned soul flew to a place they would never be able to visit.

D kissed her cooling cheek and turned off the oven before they twirled out of the kitchen, and on to the ball.

I hope you enjoyed the story! If you can share the link, I’d appreciate it. You can also leave a comment or drop me a message, I’d love to hear from you. And if you can, a donation via Paypal or a sub via Patreon would be a great help towards future, and better, endeavours!

Writing prompt used:

You sold your soul to the Devil some years ago. Today he gives it back and says, “I need a favour”.

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