The Winner

wesley-eland-678737-unsplash

Photo: Wesley Eland

 

It was never about the money, or the endless calculations, or the disappointment she learned to expect and accept. The odds were against her. She knew that. Everyone said so. Many laughed.

And yet …

She could scarce believe it when she saw the numbers and date and words line up, when she knew that for once — in the way that mattered most — she was the winner.

She rubbed her eyes. Checked everything again.

She called to double check. Her heart thrumming in her chest.

She wrote down every detail: The place. The time. The plan. The day when her life would forever change.

Or had it changed already?

That night she tossed and turned and even though she finally fell asleep, she woke before dawn with her heart aflutter, and gazed into the ceiling till the morning brought with it the first few rays of sun.

A day reborn. Herself, perhaps, as well.

Nights will never be the same, she thought. Nor mornings.

Nor any other time in any other hour. Winter or summer. Light or dark.

She counted down the days, excited beyond words and somewhat frightened — should she tell? Who to? How much to share? How much to keep to herself?

Eventually she’ll have to. …

Oh, there will be a celebration! She could list in her mind the friends who’d rejoice with her. She could also note the dread of recognizing those whose green-eyed-monsters might awaken. Will she lose friendships over this? Will jealousy taint what she’d never quite dared to believe would be awarded her?

“I won the lottery,” she whispered to herself, holding the bit of paper between shaking fingers. “They’ve checked it out and they’ve agreed. It’s approved. Two more weeks … I won’t believe it till I’m there. Till after. Till I’m back home with a new life in my hands.”

She pulled out the photo. Drank it in. The ebony chubby cheeks. The dimple in the elbow. The eyes. These eyes …

“I’m coming, Bomani …” She kissed the picture that the orphanage included with the adoption papers. “Mama’s coming for you, my little son-to-be.”

 

 

For V.J.’s Weekly Challenge: Lottery

 

Shadow Path

shadow path OfirAsif

Photo: Ofir Asif

 

He took the path in shadow, and it seemed he was forever chasing sunlight as it progressed across the crater faster than his feet could carry him.

Bone-dry tired as he was.

It was better, he supposed, to be in the shadow. He was, he knew, perilously close to collapse.

Still the sun called to him. The shimmer played a trick upon his eyes and he craved the light even as he knew to fear it.

He’d been crossing deserts for what felt like a millennia of a parched destiny.

In linear time it had not been even quite a week …

Since he took the path of shadow.

In life. In hope of refuge. In this.

The sun slunk lower, further elongating the darkened tide of baked dirt, spreading to gobble up the fast receding patch of light.

He’d need to make camp soon.

One time had been plenty to be taken by surprise.

He knew.

Shadow will not wait long to turn into pitch dark.

 

 

 

For Terri’s Sunday Stills: Path

 

 

 

Glacial Undertones

Glacier AmitaiAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 

He will carve mountains

For them.

Slow but steady

In his pressure.

Relentless

In the calculated cold of his

Convictions,

That curl like tight fists

Under an unquestioning love.

He has carved himself

In the process,

Into valleys of sacrifice.

Carved them, too,

Into mirror images

To reflect the truths he holds.

He will carve mountains

For them,

Heavy-handed and doggedly

Protective.

Glacial with volcanic undertones.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Glacial in 66 words

 

 

Not Disappointed

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Cape Disappointment (Photo: John Westrock on Upsplash)

 

The damp timbers creaked under her feet as she wondered if the fog would lift. She half-hoped it would not.

She was still small and timorous when her uncle had brought her here for the first time. “And you won’t be disappointed,” he had laughed, the lines about his eyes creasing in merriment.

It was only later that she understood his joke. It still made her smile.

Indeed, she loved Cape Disappointment. Even in the fog. Perhaps especially in the fog, in its unique magic. She’d read that almost a third of a year’s hours are spent in fog on the headland, masking rivers, hugging sand.

A gust of wind dripped cold into her collar and she laughed. Her uncle used to shake a branch onto her. This felt like a gift.

“You were right, Uncle,” she wiped a tear. “This place did not disappoint. Neither did you. Not once.”

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Cape Disappointment, Washington, USA

 

 

Remotely Social

Heidi House AtaraKatz

Photo: Atara Katz

 

She’d have preferred to not have even as much contact with others as the job required, but the alternatives were worse, and she couldn’t argue with the benefits:

A roof over her head.

Supplies.

A stipend for the necessaries.

The most-days-solitude.

Granted, there were days when she could feel the walls press close around her and the vistas felt airless. She’d scan the horizon, then, wondering when someone would stop by that she could talk to. Vulnerable in her need, her fingers would reach for the radio, yearning to hear a voice that was not her own, and she’d make some excuse about checking the weather or changing the date of the next airdrop.

And yet she could not wait to end the conversation – if that was what one could call the brief exchange with the dispatch to arrange a fly-by or a stop-drop of supplies – so the last of the vowels could evaporate into the quiet.

Human contact suffocated her.

Its lack bore holes into her soul.

It was untenable, and all she could do is try and find some semblance of balance between loneliness and overwhelm.

There were no roads to the respite cabin, only footpaths, or for those who braved the crosswind, a rocky field in which to try and land a chopper. The nearest town was a hard three-days trek through the mountains.

Once in a while she’d see a shepherd who’d misread a storm and sought shelter. Sometimes another ranger would stop in during an upkeep task, to resupply or send an update to headquarters. Those were hardy, silent persons like herself, who welcomed a warm bowl of soup, a place to dry their clothes, and a break from the wind, but needed little in the way of clucking.

The trekkers, for whom the respite cabin was intended, thankfully limited themselves to the brief season when the weather was most forgiving. Her outpost was stationed on what was a remote route even for the most intrepid hikers, and yet some evenings in midsummer the small cabin would be bursting at the seams with chatter and the smell of unwashed feet, damp shoes, and giddy overconfidence. The bunks slept eight. To have even three occupied felt to her like eighty.

The trekkers would all leave in early morning, bellies full of oats and faces flushed with sleep, and she would not know if their eagerness was for the day’s exertions or to get to where they could safely gossip about the agonies of trying to wrest a word out of the reticent resident ranger.

She’d grow skinless by the time fall brought with it a piercing cold and the relief of rarer human sightings.

It would be weeks into winter before her fingers reached for the radio, pining to hear another person’s word.

So she was not prepared for the knock that came, an hour into night in early winter.

There was no storm. No ranger’s late arrival. No shepherd.

Just a youth. Half-frozen and her belly swollen, and in her eyes a look that pleaded urgent need even as it warned to keep a distance.

It could have been herself.

Fifteen years back.

 

 

 

For the SoCS prompt: Social

 

 

Weighted

Weighted SmadarHalperinEpshtein (2)

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

The weight of the world

On his shoulders.

His heart thumps a fatigue

In his chest.

Eons stretch

Since certain with brawn

He sought

With his strength

To impress.

 

 

For Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: open topic

 

 

Endless Harmony

a solitary figure on a beach against a wide ocean.

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

She’d never have believed the vastness had she not been there to see it.

In person.

On the edge of endlessness.

The breath of eons crashing at her feet.

The spray of ancient rhythms that had been there

All along.

Through war and storm and hope and flood and cold and warm and days like this when no one but herself was there to witness it.

She’d never have believed the power that it held, contained within each curl of wave, in every roll of whitecap licking sand.

It filled her.

With awe and ache and gnawing yearning to something that went beyond her words and into thoughts unformed, or perhaps ones made of memories in utero: the hiss, the beat, the drums of hearts.

And this.

Another memory

To merge into

In endless harmony.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto (2nd week)

 

Left Behind

 

They walked around, eyes wide, not touching anything.

“It’s like a museum,” Lilly breathed.

“Only with ghosts,” Samantha shuddered.

Lilly shot her a warning glance and slid her eyes toward Mikey. As it was the boy woke up screaming every night.

This was the first intact house they’d seen. Well, almost intact. It had a roof, walls, and shutters that had protected some of the windows. It even had a wood-burning stove. They needed the shelter more than any ghost might, and Mikey didn’t need additional terrors.

She forced a smile. “Let’s find some water and make tea, shall we?”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

Headway

Headway AmitaiAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 

One man.

One sail.

One boat.

One day.

The rock of waves

Holding a sway,

He grasps the bar

Through misty spray,

As mountains loom

In white and gray.

 

 

For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: One

 

Wagon Trail

wagon trail PhilipCoons

Photo: Philip Coons

 

Hitch the horses to the carriage,

Pack the trunk

(Or wagon) full.

There’s a lot yet to discover,

As we hit the road.

Now pull!

 

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Road