His Shadow

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Photo: Andy Falconer on Unsplash

 

They want to add more activity to his day. More interests. Better engagements. A hobby. A new skill.

They don’t understand.

He is fine during the days. It is the night that haunts him. Not the dark, but the solitude. The walls closing. The suffocating silence where his breath fills all the space till there is no air left. No room for words.

Then there’s the fatigue and how it erodes all his resistance. Lets the blackness in.

They offered medicine. Said it will help him fall asleep and stay asleep.

It did.

And it made it worse.

Now his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream and he cannot find the door to waking.

He feels mummified. Lost in the abyss of thoughts and memory.

The bombs. The mines. The child.

He couldn’t save him.

Guilt swallows all.

How could there be a dawn?

 

 

 

Note: Dedicated to all whose deepest wounds are unseen. May you find your dawn.

For the dVerse prosery challenge: maya angelou

The quote prompt: “his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream” from “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou

 

One Face, A Whole World – Yom Ha’Shoah

 

This is the photo of Sarah Kol (1933-1944), my grandfather’s niece. She was murdered, age 11, along with her mother Ida, my grandfather’s eldest sister, and many others, by the Nazis in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

She is one of the millions lost to the rabid hate the Nazis practiced, spread, and fed.

Each one of those millions lost was an entire lost world.

Each murder left a gaping hole where their lives and accomplishments, their stories, their loves and joys, their children and grand-children who’d never be, would have been, should have been …

My grandfather lost many in his family in the Holocaust.

My grandmother lost many in hers.

Other branches of my family lost loved ones, too.

Many families lost even more.

Some have no one left to remember. Many have no photos. No one to tell their stories.

So we must. As we can. Tell of those we know.

Remember all.

Little Sarah’s is but one face of many.

Hers was a life all its own. Snuffed out but not forgotten.

May her memory be a blessing.

May all their memories be a blessing. Six million. More. So we remember.

So we never forget.

Little Sarah, you were born but a year before my mother. The Nazis killed you, but they could not kill your memory. You live in each of us. The memory of your mother and siblings and cousins and aunts and uncles lives on, too. I see your face in my sisters and many cousins and nieces.

We are you.

And we remember.

 

 

Call Home

Photo prompt: © Douglas M. MacIlroy

 

“Do you still have it?”

“Let me see,” he nodded at the screen even though he knew she couldn’t see him.

“Okay.”

The tremor in her voice told him everything: How tender she felt, how brave she was, how she couldn’t bear for him to ask directly lest it shatter what brittle control she managed to maintain.

“Got it,” he breathed. Attached. Hit ‘send.’ “Check your email.”

The line was silent. Then her voice, full of tears. “I knew it. I knew it hadn’t been a dream. She said she’d visit. From the after. Exactly this way. … And she came.”

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

Quite Simply

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Photo: Zane Lee on Unsplash

 

“Quite simply,” she said,

“The very times when some in power

Are seeking to perplex you,

Are the times when you best make sure

That you are not at all confused.”

 

“For when what should be simple

Is deliberately made unclear,

And what’s logical is spun

Cheaply to cost dear,

It ought to signal your eyes

To remain widely open,

And your ears to insist on holding only

To the truth.”

 

She sighed and touched the blue print

Faded on her arm,

Seared like yesterday

In her heart and mind.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Challenge: Perplex in 90 words

 

 

Epoch’s End

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Photo: Amitai Asif

 

As her eyes finally

Closed

And her breath

Not returned,

She knew

What awaited her

Just

‘Round the bend:

A new journey

Ascends

Life beyond

Epoch’s end.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Epoch in 27 words

Note: Dedicated to all who face the final journey … and thus to all … for we all would. May we walk life’s path the way we can and should.

 

A Slowly Fraying Memory

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Photo: Free-to-use-sounds, on Unsplash

 

 

From the hollows of despair, they fled.

The shirts on their backs and the children

In their arms, all they could manage to

Take.

Even the abysmal shelters they had recently

Been made to call

Home,

No longer gave any protection or

A chance at repair or

Reform.

They left, dodging death and finding

Further fright to

Flee,

And in their hearts they held on

Tightly

To the slowly fraying

Memory,

Of days when life was softer

And beds were warm,

And babies slept

Well kept

Safe from war and hate and

Harm.

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Abysmal in 93 words

Note: Dedicated to all displaced, terrorized, pressed, oppressed, persecuted persons everywhere, and to the many millions who had, throughout history and in recent memory and in today’s times, been forced to further risk their lives by leaving what had once been home and safety behind, for the unknown.

 

A Visit From Paul

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Milford, Delaware (Photo: Ray Hennessy on Unsplash)

 

“He comes to visit,” a man’s voice jarred her out of her reverie.

She’s been watching a waterfowl in the sparkling water. It’s been staring back, she felt.

“The bird?” she turned. The speaker was a frail-looking man who still managed a bearing that stated “military.”

“If it is that.”

She glanced at the crane. The oldster sounded neither confused nor joking.

“Tell me,” she rose to make room on the bench.

The man extended a hand to shake. “Smith. US Navy.”

“Marcia,” she returned.

They used to build ships in Milford, he told her. Built the four-masted Albert F. Paul, too. Launched it from the Abbot shipyard in 1917.

“174 footer, she was,” Smith sighed. “I would’ve been onboard, you see, if I hadn’t been injured. Would’ve gone down with my mates when the Germans torpedoed her in 1942.”

“The fallen seamen,” he lifted his chin toward the bird, “they visit me.”

 

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Delaware

 

For Eternity

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Photo: Freddy Castro on Unsplash

 

He visited her grave every year on the day they’d met. Every year on the day he’d proposed. Every year on the day they’d gotten married. Every year on the day she’d passed on and left him bereft of the best part of himself.

Sometimes if he was alone in the cemetery, he’d stretch on the ground near her headstone and mouth the words she’d left him in her note. She’d given him the sealed envelope shortly after she was diagnosed. Made him promise not to open it. Until. He knew them all by heart.

The Rock cries out to us today,” she wrote. “You may stand upon me, But do not hide your face. You are and always have been my core. My spirit will no longer be bound to this body, but our souls will continue traveling together. For eternity and beyond.”

 

 

(Note: Italics = prompt quote by Maya Angelou)

For the dVerse Prosery challenge

 

 

Up In Smoke

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Minsk (Photo by Anton Rusetsky on Unsplash)

 

“These stacks look like a hand,” Bella rested her chin on the window’s ledge and gazed at the golden hues of sunset over Minsk. It was beautiful.

“A hand with six fingers.”

Bella scowled into the glass. In her mother’s tone she heard challenge, dismissal, and disdain. It stole the luster off the previous moment’s calm. She resented the coldness with which her mother marred everything during this visit. It felt like a smudge she could not wipe.

So she was surprised when her mother came to kneel on the bed by her, close enough to touch. Close enough to feel the trembling. Her mother rarely cried.

“Six fingers for the six millions,” her mother whispered. “And these clouds like burning souls against the evening sky. Everyone my mother had known. Our whole extended family. Burnt. Dead. Gone. This city will never be free of them, Bella. They speak on.”

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Minsk

 

The Great Loss

 

“Did Great-Grandpa really fight in the Great War?”

“He did.”

“What made it great, Mama?”

She sighed. This place’s heaviness only settled thicker during the holidays. She’d come every year on Christmas as a child. Too infrequently since. The ocean’s breeze whipped hair into the boy’s eyes and she tucked a lock behind his ear. He so reminded her of herself.

“Grandma Rose said it was because the Heavens everywhere lit with the great number of souls and broken hearts. The Great Loss, she called it.”

“A lot of Christmas angels, Mama?”

“Perhaps so.”

“I think Great-Grandpa is one, though.”

 

 

Note: Dedicated to all who are missing loved ones during the holidays, to all who are no longer with us for they’d given their lives (or parts of their souls) for others, in search of peace, in hope of no more war or hate or greed. May we do better, as a species. Let there be true peace on Earth.

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

(Thank you Sandra Cook for the evocative photo prompt!)