Sun Set

Sun set AtaraKatz

Photo: A.Katz

 

As the sun’s last light

Paints mountains

Red,

May worry find a safe

For stashing

Dread:

That morning might

Not come

Again,

That homes might turn

From hope

To strain,

And children’s cries

Will sound

In pens,

As they wake

More memories

Of pain.

 

 

 

For dVerse Quadrille Challenge: Sun

 

The Blues

TheBlues NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

Stand up

To the dimming of

The light

By cruel

Injustice.

Be the lone voice

If you

Must.

Hold tall

Against the winds

That wish to

Break right

Into wrong

And form

Wrong

Into common practice.

Behold the skies

In blues

And clouded

Sorrow,

Even as you keep

Fighting for

Better today

And a just

Tomorrow.

 

 

 

For July Blues

 

 

The Grimace

silas-baisch-WY14uiLYMFA-unsplash

Photo: Silas Baisch on Unsplash

 

It was not quite a smile.

It was born not in joy

Nor in any enchantment,

But in desperate

Hope

To forestall

Shame

As it loomed,

A storm

In the fast shrinking distance.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Grimace in 33 words

 

 

The Instructions

luma-pimentel-1vnB2l7j3bY-unsplash

Photo: Luma Pimentel via Unsplash

 

“I’ve written it all down,” she’d said.

“Anything you need to know is there,” she’d promised.

“It’ll a breeze,” she assured me, one hand already on the door handle. “I won’t be too long. It’s just a short gig. A few hours at most. He’ll likely sleep right through to my return anyway.”

But the baby slept through about five minutes and then would not stop crying and I had no idea what half of the terminology for baby-brand stuff meant or what “up to the spoon line” was supposed to be when I couldn’t find any spoons with lines, and no clue how to “keep a hand on the baby at all times” while also needing two of them just to untangle the tabs on the darn diaper and another two to keep the baby’s feet from kicking it away … And the clean bottles came separated from nipples, which had multiple unrelated parts that needed assembly like an Ikea cabinet from hell … And what on earth is a spit-up cloth and how is it different than a towel or a blanket?

Speaking of, how does one swaddle a baby without dislocating something in the process of making it into a mummified burrito?

And did I mention the baby would not stop crying?

 

“You’re a saint, Rick!” she’d said. Even kissed me on the cheek like I was some long lost brother and not the neighbor who happened to live next door and perhaps smiled a few times at the baby on the elevator.

“I know it is last minute but I’ve been waiting months for the opportunity … I’ll make you dinner,” she’d promised, and her relief at having a solution for the baby was so palpable that I felt guilty extricating myself from what she’d misunderstood as “yes” when at the very most I’d meant “maybe, but not really.”

 

“It was a breeze,” I said.

“He woke up but is now sleeping like an angel,” I assured her, ignoring the baby’s heft on my desperate bladder. I hadn’t dared to move, lest the baby woke again.

She looked tired and worried and sad and a little worse for wear, and I wondered how the gig went but didn’t want to ask after she appeared to hold back tears when I’d asked if she had a good time.

“Did the instructions help?” she asked instead.

I nodded. “Perfectly.”

 

 

 

For the SoCS Prompt: Instructions

 

The Proposal

Photo prompt: Sue Vincent

 

“You might as well open your eyes now.”

His gravely voice was somewhat amused but carried in it the edge of impatience she’d recognized from her own father. A dismissive tone that simultaneously mocked and tolerated females’ flair for the emotional while also warning said females to not mistake momentary patience for leniency.

Muriel swallowed any sign of sigh. Her body ached from three days rattling on wooden wheels over rocks and gravel and muddy ruts and unexpected pits. To make matters worse, the girl-servant who’d been her companion since childhood, hadn’t been allowed to accompany her, and the rough hands of service women who did not know her, had tied her stays too tight and left the knots digging at her ribs and the small of her back.

She’d closed her eyes in part to manage the ever present nausea of travel forced on her at the opposite direction of movement. However, a goodly bit of it was in order to allow herself at least a semblance of private space in the confines of the carriage. His eyes undressed her either way, but at least she could pretend to not see it.

Her time for privacy was up.

She forced her eyes open and nodded the politest smile she could manage at the man who would be her lord and father-in-law (and if his leering told her anything, also the master of her body, son or no son).

He scared her and his eyes were cruel, but she’d learned at a young age to hide revulsion under a lowering of lashes and to nod compliance as means to reduce inevitable harm.

“You are a girl-child, Muriel,” her mother would soothe and scold her as she gently rubbed salve onto what new welts and bruises another lashing had left on the child. “No matter what they do or ask of you, you must not disobey.”

And yet even her mother, the mistress of the manor, who embodied the balance of stately conduct and humility before her betters, sported the occasional split lip from her husband, Muriel’s father, along with other wounds in areas best left unmentioned. All a female could do was walk the tightrope in attempt to limit scope and frequency of pain.

Muriel raised her eyes to meet the heavy brow of the man who occupied the seat across from her. She calmed her voice so it not reflect her fretting mind.

“Have we almost arrived, My Lord?”

His eyes flicked to the window and she leaned to look through the opening, acutely aware that this brought her body perilously close to his lap.

The lake sprawled at the side of their conveyance, the water undulating lightly in the breeze as afternoon clouds gathered. Into it grew a spit of rock and on top it a castle, stout in stone and strong in somber presence. It was far larger than the house she’d left behind. Gloomier and more glorious, too.

She wondered how long it would be before she could once again see it from this or any vantage point. Some lords did not allow their women to leave their rooms, let alone the courtyard. Especially not the newly arrived, who might attempt to steal a path out of marriage by seeking the luring company of nymphs at the bottom of lakes.

She let her gaze linger on the castle before straightening.

“It is beautiful, My Lord,” she said.

His eyes narrowed then relaxed and she was glad she didn’t need to lie about it. He’d probably know if she had.

“Your new home,” he noted, almost kindly.

Her stomach lurched. Home or jail, there may not really be a difference. Still, as the carriage continued toward the future that this man had proposed and her father had accepted, she felt she may have passed some test that if she managed to maintain the credit of, could bring her — if not safety or protection — then perhaps a lesser measure of misery.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto challenge

 

Shadows’ Way

shadows NaamaYehuda (2)

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

As the shadows lengthened

At the end of day,

She paused,

Reflecting,

On the direction

Of her way.

 

 

 

For Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Shadows

And while we’re at it, for today’s Which Way Challenge

Relativity

Photo Prompt: Dale Rogerson

 

“Your grandfather must be turning in his grave.”

She’d made bitterness her trademark, so finding meaning usually entailed having to decode gradients of dismay.

He figured this one was a 67 out of 100. Enough disgust to call attention to how the “good old days” were better than modern progress, while not completely dismissing the comforts of advanced technology.

“Clean power is good for the lungs,” he cajoled, half-hoping for an argument. It was his Grandma’s genes he carried, after all.

“Pah,” she wrinkled her nose. “Nothing wrong with a bit of soot to get people appreciating real power.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

These Walls

upstairs downstairs SmadarHalperinEpshtein

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

How many did these laboriously

Hewed walls

Close in on

As they trudged endlessly

With buckets laden

And arms weighted

Up and down

And up and down again

For more?

 

How many did they shelter

Under siege

Of catapults and

Rusted arrows

As the walls shuddered

Dust

Onto the bitten lips

And rounded shoulders

Of those crouched below?

 

How many hastened feet

Did these walls keep secrets for

Under the cover of

Night

And sentries’ snores

As lovers met

In darkened corners

To remember

Life before?

 

 

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Wall

 

 

Keepsake

Photo prompt: http://mrg.bz/n22FGA 

 

He kept it all these years.

A memento of sorts. Something to remember things by. A penance, perhaps. Or a tribute. Sometimes he wasn’t sure which one it was. Or both.

Some nights he’d leave their bed, her light breath highlighting the heaviness that had kept him from sleeping, and walk to the garage just to look at it. To remind himself of what is real and what was possible and what should never once again take place.

Even if it could.

It was the only lie he’d ever told her, though in truth it had led to many more lies — of omission, of deflection, of withholding aspects of himself he could not let her know about. Not ever.

Or did he someplace hope to one day let her know?

For why else would he keep it?

Sometimes he thought that his refusal to do away with it was his way of warning. Himself. To not allow himself to fall into an illusion of what he was not. Perhaps a warning to her, too, to read between the lines of what he couldn’t tell her.

Of the damage he could do. Even in accident. To the ones he’d loved.

 

 

 

For the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge