Embers Hot As Coals

Photo prompt: Sue Vincent


She could feel them.

That’s why she came.

Why she took every opportunity she could to escape the drudgery of sewing and hoeing and weeding and feeding and washing and threshing and mending and tending and all the multitudes of tasks that never seemed to end and somehow only multiplied.

“It’s life,” her mother had sighed, when as a young child Mayra had burst into tears of fatigue and frustration when yet another basket of wash needed to be scrubbed. “We rise, we work, we eat, we sleep.”

Mayra, a dutiful daughter, had just nodded and sniffed and bent to her work. But inside her a restlessness rippled. She was expected to grow up to be like her mother: solid and stolid and capable. The capable part she was on path to mastering, if painfully slowly. But solid she wasn’t, in her wispy willowy frame, and stolid she could not be, when her feelings and thoughts bubbled in her mind like an ever boiling pot that used embers as if they were coals.

She would boil over. She would.

If she didn’t manage to find a chore that allowed her to put some distance between herself and the village and to reconnect with the souls amidst the stones.

They calmed her. They reached around her with fingers as wispy as her hair and plucked the edges of too-sharp words and smoothed rough irritation off of her being.

Most people avoided the stones. “They are haunted,” they whispered, as if that was a bad thing.

Mayra said nothing. Perhaps it was something in her that needed ghosts to sooth the places that she felt would otherwise burst and cause harm. Perhaps her difference drew her to what others knew to keep away from.

Still she came.

In secret. To avoid blame.

It was only when she was about to wed that she realized it had been her mother who’d conjured errands out of thin air for her, so the child could manage some relief.

“For some, this is life, too,” her mother smiled.

It was a rare transformation of the face that often showed so little beside focus on the thing at hand, and suddenly Mayra saw the girl her mother had been, reflected in the sky-hued eyes.

“You, too?” Mayra whispered.

Her mother’s eyes twinkled. The berries. The mushrooms. The bark. The herbs. The kindling that could not wait till the morrow to collect. All those times when her own pot was set to almost overflow atop life’s embers, hot as coals.

“I did, and I do. It is our grandmothers there, helping you.”




For Sue Vincent’s Write Photo challenge



25 thoughts on “Embers Hot As Coals

    • πŸ™‚ It is an amazing realization, isn’t it, when one sees their parents – especially, perhaps, their mother – as a woman who’d been a girl and through all the phases we go through, too (and with similar whims and needs and wishes and dreams and and and …). Yay to being one of a long line of women, since the first woman. To us. Unbroken.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t think we can begin to understand who we are until we make that leap to seeing parents as ‘just’ people…as fragile and fallible as the rest of us. Then we can learn to accept, and perhaps forgive and let go of the past… and welcome them into our hearts as human beings, not childhood idols.
        And yes… to us. Unbroken.


      • I believe that most time that’s true. Sometimes, in extreme cases, however, a maturing child might have to deal with a different kind of realization. One that comes with seeing a parent for who they really are and knowing they cannot change them … Children will attach to parents no matter how abusive or narcissistic a parent is – they NEED their parents, and need to take on all the blame so that they can continue to have someone to rely on. Sometimes maturation leads to realizing things (and expectations or hopes) we need to let go of, including, sometimes, that there’s little to welcome and a lot to guard against, and that the parent might never change or be capable of repair or safe connection. Thankfully, those are rare situations. Both realizations, however, require the maturation of seeing a parent as more than just in the role of a parent. For good or bad. Hopefully most often for good, not bad …


      • Yes! Forgiveness and continued connection need not be tied together. And yes, the power of compassion – toward others, toward oneself – is immense. It absolutely and completely changes things. πŸ™‚
        Here’s to repair where possible, and healing regardless …


Feedback welcome! Please leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s