Profit Margin

old-boat-at-bc-marina CrispinaKemp

 

He walked around the boat.

Excellent. Most people would not give it another look, which was exactly what he had intended.

They’d done a good job, aging the structure so it seems derelict, abandoned, old.

The bits of metal, old jerrycans and the ‘who-knows-what-plagues-hide-under-this-junk’ that were strewn about only augmented the effect. The well-placed rusty barbwire didn’t hurt, either.

Perfect.

Very few knew that once aboard and down the hatch, the innards were state-of-the-art creature comforts and the latest in surveillance.

There had been too many botched drops lately. Too many intercepted by an over-zealous coast guard. It was a shame that their contact inside had been exposed and that greasing of hands was no longer appreciated. Mateo had been taken care of, of course, to minimize risk of blathering. But supplies still needed to get through. Profits required solutions.

He nodded his approval.

Beside him, Boris exhaled. “Thanks, Boss.”

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

One For The Mists

low-cloud SueVincent

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

Her people came from the place where the mist rests on the turf and the ladder to and from the heavens can unfurl. It was where they all still lived.

It breathes, mist does. The fog kisses the lungs in moisture like that from which all of them had come: the womb, the sea, the ocean sky.

Alana still dreamed of days before her mind awoke to awareness. Cocooned inside her mother, growing to the beat of steady drums and gurgling songs.

“Wombs are portable heaven,” her grandmother said, the peat spade matching her words thump to thunk. “All is created. All is attended to. All is removed that no longer belongs. it is magic personified.”

And magic has a price, Alana thought. For all things do. Sometimes it sends a mother back to heaven. Sometimes it sends back both if the ladder into heaven leans in too close.

Her grandmother, Meara The Midwife, had delivered her into the world. As she had practically everyone Alana knew. Nana also helped ease the passage of women, including that of her own daughter Nola – Alana’s mother – back into the mists of old where breath was no longer needed to sustain the soul.

“It is a blessing to be from the land of mist,” Nana’s strong arms tossed a steady stream of peat blocks for Alana to stack. “Even if blessings can carry a cost,” she added, pausing for a moment to rub the small of her back, and to regard the ten-year-old.

The child’s auburn curls escaped the confines of her kerchief and any ties and ribbons one tried to wrestle them into. She was a quiet one, even as a wee lass, green-flecked eyes like moss on peat and cheeks like peaches in cream. Observing. Taking in.

She’s one for the mists, Meara thought, but never said. One did not make words for such things. Not for anyone. Let alone for the granddaughter one wrestled back from heaven’s ladder. Born too early, this one was, and at the same time too late for her mother’s life to go on.

Meara sighed and smiled small reassurance at Alana, whose features tightened in response to her grandmother’s exhalation. A mist child indeed, this one. Reading others in the smallest of breaths.

Nola had been this way. Sensitive. Perceptive.

Secretive, too. In many ways like the babe she’d borne. Half of her time spent in dream and memories of mist.

Meara shook her head to clear her own. She pointed her chin toward the ground. “A few more of these and we’ll head home. Let us see if we can get there before this bank of fog rolls down to completely mist up our path through the bog.”

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

The Two Towers

PHOTO PROMPT -Copyright-Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Photo prompt: Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

“He’s gonna do WHAT?!!”

Oh oh, never should have said nothing. I swallowed and inspected my sneakers. Found a stain. Hopefully mustard.

Mom grabbed my shoulder.

“Marcus Anthony Jeremiah Rivera, what did you just say your brother was up to?”

Her face told me it’d be as bad for the messenger if I didn’t confess. I was toast. Benito was gonna beat me up soon as she was done with him.

“See those towers?”

Her eyes narrowed.

“Benito saw a big rope between them and he said it’s perfect for zip-lining.”

Way Mom ran, she should’a been in the Olympics.

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

 

Garden Muse

stella-de-smit-tZ3ddh8E8us-unsplash

Photo by Stella de Smit on Unsplash

 

She walked along the beds,

Hands trailing over stakes

Heavy with vines

And sugar snaps.

Orange peeked

From underneath green hats

Far too wild for small heads.

Blushing tomatoes danced

Cheek to cheek

With peppers.

She smiled.

The garden will make

Good salad

Tonight.

 

 

For the dVerse quadrille challenge

 

 

The Misanthrope

sarah-kilian--Xh68QBar8I-unsplash

Photo: Sarah Kilian on Unsplash

 

There is nothing anyone could say to change his mind.

Or his attitude.

Or his demeanor.

One could hardly expect him to respect those who practically asked to be demeaned, who did not try to rise above their lassitude, who did not take the opportunity when it presented.

So what if his wealth was carved out of others’ misery?

Someone had to do it. Someone had to step up to the plate and be the boss.

What did they expect him to be? A sniveling, prattling sissy like the ones who follow him?! They are lucky to have him.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Misanthrope in 99 words

Disclaimer: No offense intended to any amphibians. I know they are better than that. Image presented for illustration purposes only….

 

Everything She Needs

shadowed-me CrispinaKemp

 

She took one last look around, another in the mirror.

Waterproofs. Umbrella. Boots. A change of clothes tied around her waist. A utility apron with ration-filled pockets. Some necessaries. Her pen and notebook. Basic first aid. Matches. Tarp. The photo. And her courage, tightly wound into the center of her chest.

She was ready.

There were no roads or maps where she was going. She’d hike up then use her wits and hopefully the scent of memory, awakened, to find the place. She didn’t know how much the faded photo would help, with the quarry and the landslide and the decades passed since the plate was exposed. Still, she took it. Her soul told her that the photo did not wish to be left behind.

She walked into the dawn. She had everything she needed.

If fates smiled, she’d find the ruins of Witch Wilma’s home. Her great-great-grandma’s tomb.

 

 

For Crispina Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Clara Of The Clock

fantasy SueVincent

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

There were bells above the clock in the tower. A tiny room above that, with blue shutters that could close themselves to everything or open to the four corners of the world. A taller turret still above it, its naked windows whistling in the wind. And over that a peaked roof with a metal creature perched wide-winged, inviting lightening.

To Clara, this was home. The keeper of the hour and the minder of the rectory below, she was forever scaling spiral steps and ladders.

Up and down the narrow stair that spun inside the tower to the clock-room, then up and down the ladder that hiked along the breezy bell balcony to her room, and up and down again on the metal rungs that climbed the room’s wall to the turret and the vast horizons beyond.

Father Brown used to climb up and down, too, though thankfully he’d grown too corpulent to lift his body up so many stairs or hoist himself up the ladder. She did not think he would even fit through the entrance in her room’s floor anymore.

Good.

For he was never meant to fit into any of her entrances anyway.

She was better off with him too fat.

Fearless, they said she was, to live so high above the village, buffeted by winds half-way into the sky, not to mention, in total loneliness. Unnatural, they called her, to prefer the company of birds and clouds to that of other people, or a man.

They were right. About the latter.

Birds did not raise a hand to her. The clouds did not box her ears or pull her hair or force themselves inside her.

There was solitude in the small room where the air was clear and the noises of the village did not reach. Just the swish of the wind and the clarion sound of the bells and the heavy heartbeat of the clock, ticking like the heart she’d almost forgot, the heart inside the chest she must have laid a head on in the first weeks of her being and before her mother – and her life – turned cold.

Through years of misery in the orphanage, with cruelties of every kind meted by the nuns and priests and older children who sought to repay their own experienced agonies onto those smaller than them, she gazed at the part of the clock-tower she could see, and dreamed of heartbeat.

When Father Brown came to the orphanage to pick a new housekeeper to “serve God” in the rectory adjacent to the church (and tower), they lined up the girls for him to choose from. She trembled with both hope and horror.

Perhaps he liked seeing both feelings warring in her, for he let his eyes travel the length of her body before curling his finger in her direction and telling Mother Superior that “this one would do.” She had just turned thirteen.

She kept house and cooked and cleaned and tried to keep away from his fondling hands and pinching fingers and the parts under his robes. She wondered if the former housekeeper had wished to ail and had welcomed the opportunity to die.

Then again, perhaps the previous girl did not know of the tiny room above the bell-tower. She herself only found out about it when Father Brown twisted an ankle and she was required to complete a few tasks there on his behalf. She was immediately entranced. By the openness. By the freedom. By the possibilities.

The next day she went to see Mother Superior under the pretense of needing salve for Father Brown’s leg but with the real aim to have someone clothe her request in piety. “It is but a small room, but I feel nearer to God there,” she told the nun, hoping to mask her awe as faith.

“And,” she whispered, “it could be more proper for Father Brown, too, to have me in separate lodging.”

The head nun frowned in reproach then tented her fingers to consider. The rectory had only the one sleeping room, and so housekeepers slept on a pallet by the kitchen stove. Even the most pious man may need a drink of water in the night. Best to put away any Eve where she could not lead a man to sin.

“You are wicked to even have such thoughts,” Mother Superior admonished. “Perhaps it would be best to remove you to the tower.”

Clara lowered her eyes in relief.

Father Brown was farthest from enchanted with the new arrangement, but he could hardly argue with Mother Superior’s suggestion. Nor could he claim that a woman should not scurry up and down the tower ladders in her skirts when he himself had sent Clara to do so.

Oh, he made sure to let her know there was no sanctuary from him in the tower. But she focused on the heartbeat of the clock and let it speak louder than his thrusting, and she bade her time, and fed him.

He grew fat. And old. And rheumy eyed.

She grew taller. And confident. And limber in her climb. She became the sole caretaker of the timepiece, the sorter-out of the bell’s ropes, the heartbeat of the tower.

Clara of the clock.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

Not Much

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Photo prompt: © Jennifer Pendergast

 

There was nothing left to stay for.

Not much to pack, but still he managed to stuff the duffel with odds and ends. More for feel than for utility.

He won’t be coming back.

The empty cars stood, cooling, on the rails. There was an echo in his bones even with no movement. Even without any sound.

He scanned for danger. One never knew, and he had had enough surprises.

When nothing stirred, he climbed aboard. The metal floor smelled of pee and rats, but at least he’d sleep with a wall at his back tonight, a door barred shut.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

Truce

ibrahim-rifath-t-YMjMx6uKc-unsplash

Photo: Ibrahim Rifath on Unsplash

 

I put down glue to ick their feet –

They collected twigs

To cover it.

I placed a swivel-headed owl –

They watched,

Then perched right on it.

I hung CDs on a dental-floss line –

The pigeons shrugged,

And pulled it.

My peristeronic battle is at impasse.

I call it truce.

I know I’m beat.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: peristeronic in 53 words

 

 

Square One

st-olaves-mill CrispinaKemp

 

“You’ll have to climb up there to fix it,” Shelly’s voice made clear he did not think the climbing or the fixing would do any good.

Bertie sighed. It was none of it ever simple. Not with Shelly. Not with him.

Mama prophesied it when his brother was born wrinkled, whimpering, and without a dad.

“You’ll have to watch out for him,” she’d announced to four-year-old Bertie. “You’re his older brother now.”

Then mama, too, was gone, and left them with their uncle and their scowling aunt, who did not need two more butts to wipe or wallop, and Bertie had his work cut out for him. Then, and now.

Shelly couldn’t help being pessimistic. At least Bertie had had some years of motherly love.

“It’ll work,” Bertie promised, climbed.

The windmill spun. Lights came on. Then the new cable caught and tore and they were back to square one.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge