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

 

Portal To Tomorrow

B alarm trumpet SmadarHalperinEpshtein

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

In the portal to

Tomorrow

Let the trumpets

Ring not

Alarm

And rush to

Harm,

But stop to the

Hubris

Of war.

In the portal for

Tomorrow

May those men

Who rashly

Spend

The life of

Others,

Know the call

Of trumpets

Often heralded

Only pain,

More gore.

Enough.

Enough.

No more.

 

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Portal

 

 

Blend In

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

They walked toward the light. The brambles, the thistles, the burrs, the thorns — all attempted to snag and ensnare and scratch and mark them for what would be held as treachery.

Still, they walked. Some of them bare-legged and bleeding. Others somewhat better clothed, but not much better off once flaps of torn fabric opened windows to the ravages of all manner of sharp things.

They walked toward the light. The dark, the fog, the cold, the hunger, the fatigue — all conspired to force them to turn back.

They did not.

Not when the tunnel they had managed digging, spoonful by spoonful of rock-hard soil, hiding the scrabbling sounds under the cover of endless mandatory chanting, could finally accommodate a slithery passage underneath the electrified fence.

They’d been digging it for months.

Waiting. Counting. Hoping. Dreaming. Fighting against those who dismissed the possibility, against those who threatened to give them away, against the weighing down by those who’d surrendered to messages of futility and given up.

It had been a fluke, really. A careless corner of a printed flyer that the wardens did not burn completely. A few lines and enough to give them the potential for a plan.

But they had to destroy the evidence. And not everyone believed.

Sometime even they began having doubts.

When the light arrived, many of them cried. Surreptitiously, of course. Lest the guards see. Lest they be found out.

And when the cold bit deep enough to keep the guards huddled by the watch-station’s stoves, and when the hour was late enough for no more chants to be required, they wriggled, one by one, under and out.

And fled.

Toward the light.

Where the masses congregating in the desert could swallow them. Where they would be hidden in the flocks of floodlighted extras dressed in rags. Where their dust and grime and hollows under eyes, would blend in with the crowds in caked-in dirt and post-apocalyptic make up. Where their actual horror, worse than any movie, could be made less real at last.

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto Challenge

 

 

In The Years

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Photo: Ian Schneider on Unsplash

 

In the years full of sorrows

They held on to the

Joys,

From the years when the

Smiles were more frequent than

Oys.

 

In the years where

Frustration

Overtook hope or

Peace,

They held on to conviction

That life can evil

Resist.

 

In the years where the wrong

Bloomed in hate

Unconcealed,

They held on to the truth,

So harm may be

Revealed.

 

In the years where they saw

Order crumble,

 Laws evade,

They held on and remembered:

Hope finds way,

Light’s ahead.

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt: year

 

 

Relative Loudness

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Photo: Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

 

“It’s way too loud!”

Maria smoothed her skirt. Her mother’s sense of what wasn’t “too loud” was limited to washed-out grays, faded pastels, and the kind of drab that would put even a hyperactive child to sleep. “I like it.”

“You can’t possibly think you’ll get the job dressed like this.”

Her mother always went for the jugular.

Maria shrugged. She’d learned the hard way that to show her wounding only meant that more of it was certain to be dished out.

“Don’t come crying to me when someone more professional gets the position,” her mother added.

“Thanks for the support, Mom,” Maria sighed. She grabbed her bag, checked to see that the bus card was in her pocket, and walked out, deliberately ignoring the foyer’s mirror. She’ll give herself a final once over later, against a store’s window or parked car if she needed to. Any reflective surface would be more forgiving than her mother’s eye.

Some days the anger churned inside her like a witch’s noxious brew. A dash of fury, an evil eye of newt, a cup of resentment, a clump of shame, a fistful of sorrow, all stirred with the bone of a dog left to die in the street under a full moon.

“She can’t help it,” Sam, when he was still around, would try to soothe her. He was spared the worst of their mother’s tongue-lashings, being a boy and therefore less intrinsically prone to disappointing her. But he was well aware of how their mother’s wrath was doled onto Maria, and he’d even take blame where he could, knowing he wasn’t likely to be punished for the same misdemeanor, and that he’ll get off lightly when he was. “Mom sees in you everything she wants to be and cannot.”

It was truth. It was also small consolation.

“I can’t help it that she had less opportunity,” Maria would pout in answer. “It’s not my fault she was kept home to raise her siblings and never got to finish school. It’s not my fault she feels unable to try anything, or that Dad liked pointing out how uneducated she was.” And still … more often than not Sam’s reminders of where their mother had learned criticism toward daughters, and of the inordinate amounts she’d had to put up with, did help awaken a measure of empathy.

Some days less than others, though.

And on this particular morning Maria had very little of it to spare.

She’d worked hard to prepare for this job interview, and she’d put much thought into the clothing she selected. The turquoise top and a the splash of magenta in the beaded necklace were meant to put a bit of color in her pale complexion. She coupled that with a dark blue skirt with a banana-yellow belt. A matching silk scarf was tied around the handles of her rather overtired bag. She wore a single turquoise bangle on her wrist, and the dark blue pumps she’d kept for special occasions. Her hair was pulled back from her face behind one ear to reveal a single studded earring, and fell in soft curls over her cheek on the other side.

She thought she looked nice. Till her mother’s acid raised welts of doubt.

A whistle sounded and she turned around fully prepared to frown, only to have her lips turn up when she saw the whistler.

“You look glam!” Her eighty five year old neighbor leaned onto his rake and grinned at her through few remaining teeth. “Big day?”

“Hi Mr. Green,” she smiled back. “Yes. I mean, I hope. Job interview.”

“Ah,” he nodded sagely. “And you sure do look the part! Go get ’em! And don’t you let yourself worry none. Tell them all the good things that you are and can do, and don’t you be shy about it, either. It’s is your time to shine, so you go ahead and speak up as loud as anything. Show them who you are so they not miss the chance to employ you. And swing by on your way back to tell me how it went, will you now?”

She nodded. She did not trust her voice …

But her heart felt warmed and her feet were lighter as she walked toward the bus, every window reflecting rosy cheeks and a sparkle in her eye.

 

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS challenge: Loud

 

 

You’ll See

Photo prompt: © Mikhael Sublett

 

“You’ll see,” he lifted the mallet to strike again.

She cringed as plaster and glass and bits of home clattered to the ground. Every resonating thud another shattering, another ruin, another wound that would not heal.

She bit her lips and knew she’ll never be the same.

For not stopping him. For not standing up to him. For not listening to all who’d warned her that he was a loose cannon who’d bring only sorrow. For insisting she loved him.

She saw now.

And stood silent as his mallet dented will. Her life in shards, devoid even of tears.

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Note: Dedicated to all who live with violence and do not know a way out into help. Know that there is always hope, that you deserve a chance to heal, and that you need not carry shame.

 

Over Barricaded

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Photo: Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

 

There was a wall in there.

A barricade against the world.

He’d built it, bit by bit, from hurts and slights and bigger woes.

And hid.

Within.

Where he thought he’d be safe, and from where he could watch from a distance, reassured by barriers and gates and locks and elaborate booby-traps that made sure no one got too close.

There was a wall in there.

And a moat.

Alligators, too. For insurance.

Only that they had become hungry with the years, as less people even attempted to get near him, and therefore there was less bait.

So that he was, in many ways, imprisoned.

He’d been young when he’d built the wall, and he didn’t plan ahead. So needy of a solid barricade he’d been, that he never made a way to unlock the gate.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Barricade in 136 words

 

 

Night Flight

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

It was the island that saved her, in the beginning, in the middle, in the end.

At first it had been the noting of it. The realization that there was a place, not large and yet separate enough as to hold its own. Like herself, if she could manage it.

She wasn’t sure when exactly the understanding settled, only that she’d come to trust that if she ever had to, she could go there. To be safe.

That knowledge had held her in the years of interim. The island was the picture that she’d scanned across her mind each night as she tried to not take notice of what was taking place in her, on her, all around her. She took herself there, in a sense, long before she actually did. She nursed her wounds with the option. It was a salve onto her lacerated soul.

Then came the end.

Or the beginning.

Of other things. Of opportunity. Of a rebuilding of what she could be and didn’t until then form into a tangible possibility.

She made her way there under darkness. She’d had all the facts by then, gathered through secreted research and observation: the distance, the temperature of the water in different seasons, the topography, the places where there had been some shelters, and the times when people weren’t likely to frequent.

It rained the night she fled. A calculated risk she took and refused to worry could backfire. To stay would have been worse. She wouldn’t, anyhow.

The chill sucked her breath but also numbed her agony. She swam. She swam. She slammed laden limbs into the water and took herself onto the island and clenched her teeth against the chatter. The crossing had taken all she had. Almost. Just almost.

For from the flicker of willpower that remained, she lit a shallow fire, and the flame sustained her through the night and into dry clothes and the final ease of trembling. By the next night she slept, and by the third she made her plans for what else she’d need to be doing.

And she laughed.

For the first time in a long time.

Because she was safe.

She was not large, but she was now separate enough to hold her own. And she was strong.

He’d look for her, but he would not risk telling others, and he would not seek her where she was. She knew.

Her father feared the water, and from the moment she’d realized how the island could offer an escape, she’d made sure he believed she feared the water, too.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s Write Photo challenge

 

Comunicar el Trauma – JUST PUBLISHED!

Breaking News!

I am delighted to share that my book, “Communicating Trauma” has just been published in Spanish! Yay Hurray!

CT spanish NaamaYehuda

Comunicar el Trauma – Na’ama Yehuda

 

Comunicar el trauma:Criterios clínicos e intervenciones con niños traumatizados

 

From the publisher:

Comunicar el trauma explora diferentes aspectos del lenguaje y la comunicación y cómo su desarrollo se ve afectado por el trauma y el desbordamiento emocional de los niños. A lo largo del texto, múltiples estudios de caso describen de qué modo los distintos tipos de trauma infantil afectan a la capacidad de los niños para relacionarse, atender, aprender y comunicarse. Estos ejemplos nos brindan diferentes maneras de entender, responder y apoyar a los niños que tratan de comunicar que se sienten desbordados. Psicoterapeutas, patólogos del habla y del lenguaje, trabajadores sociales, educadores, terapeutas ocupacionales y físicos, personal médico, padres de acogida, agencias de adopción y otros cuidadores y profesionales de la infancia encontrarán, en este libro, información y consejos prácticos para mejorar la conexión y el comportamiento, paliar la falta de comunicación y conseguir que los niños más problemáticos sean escuchados.

◊◊◊◊

“Un libro fascinante sobre el trauma infantil y el modo en que los niños expresan su sufrimiento y que, más importante aún, constituye un mapa para la curación. Escrito con gran sensibilidad, cariño, comprensión y sabiduría clínica, este libro es una joya diáfana y accesible, que incluye conmovedores e instructivos ejemplos de casos. Tanto los padres como los profesionales encontrarán en sus páginas una valiosa ayuda.”

–Ono Van der Hart, PhD, Universidad de Utrecht, Holanda 

◊◊◊◊

For more information about the English edition go to “Communicating Trauma” (or look under the — soon to be updated… — Books and Publications tab at the top of the page).

 

A Piece of Peace

To ride AmitaiAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 
She wanted just

A slice of peace.

A piece of what she’d seen

Available

To others

And advertised as

Something one could

Reach.

She wanted just a taste

Of what it could be like

To know

Release.

Meanwhile she knew

She had to make do

With

Internal

Armistice.

 

 

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Peace