Fraud Code

black and white childhood children cute

Photo: Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

She caught her sister’s eye and an unspoken understanding passed between them.

They’d perfected their “Fraud Code” through years spent in the shadow of a charlatan, and it took nothing more than a gaze for them to signal – and validate to each other – recognition of ‘another one.’

Their childhoods’ costs aside, at least they could sniff out similar quacks from afar.

 

 

For the Weekly Writing Prompt: Charlatan in 61 words

 

 

The Cursed

close up photography of hand near window

Photo: Renato Mu on Pexels.com

 

They were never meant to be

Accepted.

 

They were never meant

To be

Approved,

Or approved of.

 

Cast-offs,

They were the anathema

To all some saw as

Civil

Or normative

Or worthy of.

 

They were cursed

By those of privilege,

Who for added

Privations

Then denounced them

As being

Incapable of

Love.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Anathema in 52 words

 

 

The Toll

Alabaster_canopic_jar_with_portrait_of_Imseti,_Egyptian,_800_Wellcome_L0058406

Photo: Alabaster canopic jar (Wikimedia)

 

She was impervious to their taunting.

To the words

That meant to hurt

But found no inlet

No crack

In what seemed her

Flawless control.

 

She was impervious to others’ love

As well.

The doors of her alabaster soul

Had slammed shut

After her spirit had peeked

Out

Only to find more harm

Than she knew she would be able

To endure if she were to

Somehow

Remain whole.

 

She was impervious to much,

But not to beauty.

She could not give up

That

Without crumbling.

And so she lived

In stoic

Understanding

Of the world,

And its toll.

 

 

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

 

 

A Bell To Tell

bell boy SmadarHalperinEpshtein

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Ephstein

 

What lesson does history tell

Of shattered bits,

And scratched on bells?

Can peals of old

Be heard

Be said

So we not ruin

What’s ahead?

 

 

For the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: History

 

Have Heart For A Better Humanity

at the end of a day

Photo: Monique Laats on Pexels.com

 

When a place of worship crumbles

Into hell of gore and pain,

And the sorrows of the many

Become what connects us all again,

Know that care can conquer ugly

And that compassion outdoes hate’s disdain,

As long as we eject terror

To heed the better, deeper call,

That anything that harms our kinship

Diminishes the very core of all,

Just as anything that builds it

Can lead humanity to standing tall.

 

 

For Debbie’s Six Word Saturday

 

The Key

Photo Credit: Sue Vincent

 

Practically everyone but the real-estate agent had been against him purchasing the place.

“That heap of rot is a death trap,” his friend Tomas had said.

“It is haunted,” Fran had shuddered. “You’ll get murdered in your sleep and become another ghost, just like them.”

Others hadn’t been much subtler:

“The place is a wreck!”

“This monster will eat up all your money and spit you out broke and homeless.”

“Are you out of your effing mind?”

“Gosh, Dude, you need a shrink!”

To be fair, the last two statements were probably true. … Not that this stopped him from finding ways to manage all these years without a shrink. Not that there weren’t times during the first year in the house, when the old thing seemed intent on falling about his ears and his bank account skied a Black Diamond toward zero, when he didn’t wonder whether his mental health was sliding south just as precipitously.

But he’d held on to his bootstraps and soldiered on. In part to not lose face but mostly because he had indeed sank so much of his limited assets into the house that there was no way out but through. He gave up his rental apartment in town and erected a tent in the middle of the mansion’s living room where the roof leaked the least. He uncovered the well and hauled out buckets of muck before clean water once more found purchase. He cleared paths through the overgrown hedges and the man-height weeds that overtook what had been a lawn around the house. He scraped moss and mold off of stone walls. He evicted pigeons, rats, squirrels, countless spiders, and a skunk that made sure her discontent lingered. He discovered woodwork under paint, a carved gate under briars, a clubfoot tub under rubble, and a door to a hidden passageway behind a rotting cabinet.

Here and there a friend would agree to help with this or that, and twice he’d hired someone with engine-muscle to lug out things that needed more than human-power. But most his friends couldn’t help (and some refused to ‘enable’ what they declared an insanity), and hiring anyone ate big bites out of a budget that wasn’t hefty to begin with. So he buckled down and did much of the work himself, making small but steady dents in a mountain he did not think would ever yield to order. The list of things left to do only kept growing: parts of the roof needed repair, the kitchen floor needed replacing, the electric lines were too ancient to hold power, the pipes leaked, and the sewers were more roots than flow. The work was Sisyphean.

And still … between moments of sheer desolation and utter despair, he realized that he was actually sleeping soundly for the first time in his life. A smile would sneak onto his lips as he sanded this or patched up that or cleared another mess of spider webs or thickets. He hummed an ear-worm for a whole weekend and no one shushed him for not being able to carry a tune.

It was as if he’d accepted the house and its flaws, and the house in return had accepted him. He felt happy. He felt at home.

The realization stunned him.

Though he wouldn’t have been able to articulate it at the time, he came to understand that the reason he had been drawn to purchasing a run-down estate with overgrown grounds in the middle of a god-forsaken forest, was in part because of memories of another building surrounded by a tall stone fence: the “Home” that never truly was one and yet had been the only model he’d had.

He’d accumulated more moments of abject misery in the “Home” than he ever wanted to recall. Countless nights yearning to be old enough to leave … even as he’d feared the day he would be made to do so.

This long-neglected house with its aged stone fence and beautiful wide gate, was his. No one could tell him he’d aged out and could not stay. No one could tell him that his bed is needed to make room for someone else, or that it was time for him to fend for himself and no longer rely on the charity of others to feed and clothe and put a roof over his head.

It didn’t matter that the repairs would take years and that most of the rooms would not be usable for just as long. It didn’t matter that he didn’t have a clear plan for what he’d use all these rooms for. What mattered was that this old place was real. That it was full of history and memory. That it stood firm onto the ground and offered to be the roots he’d otherwise have no way to lay claim to. This house was him. Healing it was the key to who he could become.

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s Write Photo prompt invitation

 

The Critic

silhouette of a man in window

Photo by D. Tong on Pexels.com

 

It was his job to be the critic.

He’d taken it on when he was but a child and there was naught by chaos all around him.

Criticizing was a way to put some order into madness, to have at least the illusion of control.

Not that he’d criticize them openly and risk the switch or belt or backhand or the things that were … well … worse.

But criticize he did.

Mostly himself.

At first as practice.

Then as habit.

Then as something he would do without even a pause to think.

Offer a knifing critic.

Of his actions. Of his wishes. Of his hopes. His thoughts. His dreams.

What had began as coping, turned a prison.

And the jailer was inside him.

The sentencing, his own.

 

 

 

For the SoCS Saturday Challenge: Critic(al)

 

Unworthy

three line tales, week 158: a border with a barbed wire fence

Photo: Robert Hickerson via Unsplash

 

They brought them in at dark, under the covers of secrecy and night.

Children, torn from loved ones, placed behind barbed wire, watched by burly guards.

“Your fault for coming,” they were told. “And now you’re too much work to reunite.”

 

 

For Three Line Tales

 

Determined

Delicate DvoraFreedman

Photo: Dvora Freedman

 

Rise above

Hardship’s fray

In gentle curls

Of delicate

Pink,

And an underbelly

Of powerful

Orange

Smelted from the

Brink.

 

 

For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Orange and Pink

 

 

The Cost of Living

smallpox hospital Roosevelt Island IngeVandormael

Photo: Inge Vandormael

 

She had come to make a new life.

She found illness. She found death.

And life, perhaps, hiding in the shadows

Of her convalescing sorrow,

Waiting

To take hold.

 

She had come in search of meaning.

She found a babble of confusion.

Within. Without.

Rising skyward. Buried underground.

She found hope, too. For things she didn’t know

Even had names

But sprouted meaning

In the corners of what she believed

Was ruined,

But had in fact been opened

To allow in the winds of change.

 

She came seeking answers,

And found the cost

Of living

Paid for little more than added questions,

And that she had to look

Quite closely

At what wasn’t there,

To find

What she did not even know

She had been searching for.

 

 

 

Photo: The old Smallpox Hospital on Roosevelt Island (a narrow island set in the East River between Queens and Manhattan).

For What Pegman Saw: Manhattan Island