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

 

 

The Look

Atilla the tractor 1

 

“It is looking at me.”

“What is?” I was dozing off in the delicious sun on the first dry weekend we’d had in a while. The lush grass under me felt springy.

I thought the word was so apt. Springy. The double meaning of the season and the bouncy vivaciousness of it all.

“It is looking at me.”

I inhaled slowly with more resignation than irritation. I might’ve known this would not go as I had envisioned. While I was content to lie still and let the sounds of the birds and the hiss of the breeze and the faraway whir of a tractor in someone’s field fill and nourish me, Marlee had been tugging on grass-blades and clucking her tongue and shifting positions every three seconds.

She’s always been flighty. A flit-bit full of frown and furrow, forever on the edge of tumbling from one thing to another.

I loved it about her. She was the counter-weight to my molasses and the engine to my stasis. Her hypervigilance also made my idea of a relaxing afternoon where we do nothing, an utterly foreign thing.

Perhaps an even frightening one.

I opened my eyes. “What’s looking at you?”

“That.”

I raised myself on an elbow and scanned the field. There was no one there.

Marlee sat, violin-string-tight, eyes glued ahead.

I followed her line of sight. Nothing. Not even a bunny. Just a tractor that most likely belongs to the farmer whose land we might be trespassing on. I squinted against the glare – the cab was empty – there was no one there.

Marlee did not move.

Resigned now, I sat up and stared harder. A caterpillar undulated up a flower’s stem by my knee. A bird dove at the tractor, perched momentarily on a mirror, and flew away.

“The bird?” I chanced.

Marlee shook her head but her eyes remained trained on the vehicle. “The tractor,” she said. “That thing has eyes. I swear it blinked at me.”

 

 

 

For Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Home Idyll

Belize InbarAsif

Photo: Inbar Asif

 

She leaned against the painted wall and exhaled a sigh of relief.

She was finally home. Hardship over. She was free. All was going to be as she needed it to be.

The freshly laundered whites fluttered in the sea breeze and the rush of waves sang in her ears. A dun puppy yipped at a bird. The baby slept at her feet.

“Have you eaten?” Grandmama called, a loving voice on the wind.

“I’m coming,” she smiled and bent to lift the bassinet.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Idyll in 84 words

 

Emperor’s New Clothes

the-emperors-new-clothes-3-coloring-page

Nata Silina at Supercoloring.com

 

“I expect loyalty,” he stated.

A silence followed.

Shock or perhaps because

There was

No honorable way to respond.

 

“I need loyalty,” he repeated

With the implication clear:

You bend the knee

Or you are gone,

Swear fealty to the man

Or you’re a traitor

And an enemy to be scorned.

“You will always get honesty from me,”

Came the measured return.

“That’s what I want,” twisted the retort,

“An honest loyalty.”

 

As if there was such thing

As honest loyalty

To one who deemed acceptable

Only what offers

Praise and supplication,

And allows no room

For truth,

Let alone for the calling out of

The Emperor’s bare bottom

Of the barrel

Governing

Or his disregard for honor

As he dons repeated sets of

Non-existent,

Yet much lauded by him,

‘New Clothes.’

 

 

Note: As it happens, the book I’m reading and which was right by my elbow as I read the prompt … is “The Mueller Report” (w/ commentary by the Washington Post; page 296 of the book, page 35 of volume II in the report).  … And the rest, well, is history. And what will be …? We shall yet see.

For Linda Gill’s SoCS: open book, point, write

 

The Apprentice

The monochrome image shows the base of a tree with a hole, like a doorway, through its base...

Photo prompt: Sue Vincent

 

“It requires one step through.”

She squinted at the trunk. “I can see the other side.”

“So it would seem.”

She circled the tree and peeked through the opening. “It is as I said. I can see your legs.”

“I’m sure you believe you can.”

His calm voice infuriated her, but she knew that getting riled up will only lead to another long lesson in teaching her self-control.

She breathed.

He nodded.

She turned away from him and breathed again and then counted to ten for good measure. She could almost imagine him chuckling, though she knew he probably would not give her the satisfaction of seeing him react that way. Still, she could feel his amusement. It had been the hardest thing for her. His mild dismissing mockery. It was a constant reminder that she was a mere neophyte swimming furiously upstream in hope of getting even the smallest measure of trust, let alone recognition.

Why did he take her on when he had so little regard for her?

She circled the tree one more time. In part to move some of her agitation, but also to use the trunk as some shelter from her mentor’s scrutiny. She knew what her eyes told her: A hole in a tree, a gap she could toss a pebble through (not that she’d dare, now that he told her what it was), certainly of no size to fit a person.

She also knew that eyes can lie.

Still she resisted.

“Perhaps you aren’t ready.”

In spite of herself she felt her fingers clench. She hated when he did that. It made her feel like a child to be goaded.

Perhaps I am not, she retorted in her mind.

“Indeed, perhaps you’re not.”

Her eyes flew to meet his. She had suspected for some time that he could read her mind, and it felt like someone’s wandering hands rifling through her underwear drawer.

“I could read it in your eyes,” he noted, confirming rather than reassuring.

“What if I go through with it?” she sighed. She felt not so much resigned as she did defeated. He always got his way in the end. She could flail about and delay and prolong the path and belabor the process, but inevitably he got her to do things as he’d wanted. Half the time she thought his goal was to get her to where she would no longer resist him, while half the time she felt that the day she ceased rebelling would be the day he tell her that she’d failed completely.

Even now he did not answer till she asked again.

“You will see what there is for you to see.” He lifted his hand to indicate it was time for her to suspend all judgement, ignore her perceptions, and walk through the tree that he said was a portal.

“Is this the last test?” she fretted.

At that he chuckled. “It is never the last test …”

As she turned toward the tree she heard him add in a small voice that perhaps was made with mind, not larynx, “not for you, not for me.”

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

What If?

Photo prompt © Ceayr

 

“Are you sure this is the house?”

“It says 345.”

“What if it’s the wrong number?”

“It’s not.” She unfurled a sweaty fist to show him the piece of paper and its slightly smudged pen marks. “It says right here.”

“What if you wrote it down wrong?” His eyes met hers, mirroring her apprehension and amplifying the seeds of doubt that tightened shoots of worry in her stomach.

She shook her head, courage evaporated.

It was one thing to flee their miserable surroundings. Another entirely to knock on the door of the father who’d rejected them even before they were born.

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

Ancient Crush

Yam lower stone for crushing olives AmitaiAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 

You’ve seen nations

Rise

And fall,

Felt oil

Extracted

From trees’ toil.

You’ve seen

The farmers

Tend the soil,

Bread dipped

To nourish

Heart and soul,

As children laughed

And played

And lived

And died

Through centuries of

War and spoil,

While you remained

Above the boil,

Till peace returns

For olives’ roil.

 

 

Note: The photo is of an ancient base stone (called “Yam” in Hebrew) of the grinding stones that are used for the first step of extracting oil from olives. A current-day olive grove can be seen in the background to the left. Olives were first domesticated about 6,000 years ago, likely in the Mediterranean basin. Documented history of deliberate oil pressing can be found as early as 4,500 years ago (around 2,500BCE).

To this day, making olive oil involves several stages of crushing and rinsing to extract the oil. In many places, olives are still harvested by hand or by beating the fruit off of the trees. The olives are then washed, and crushed by milling stones (traditionally between a bottom stone like the one in the photo and one or two mill stone that stand perpendicular to it and roll around the base stone). The millstone/s were historically moved by use of man-power or animal power, and in some places still are. The pulp is placed in woven bags or baskets, then the baskets themselves are pressed. The liquid from the press bags gets drawn into a reservoir where oil is left to settle and separate. Oil is then skimmed off and allowed to settle again, sometimes repeatedly, to remove impurities.

 

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Ancient