Become Stone

Photo: #CCC48

 

She crouched and tried to still her heart and limbs so the water would not give her away in wavelets or ripples.

Her teeth chattered. She wasn’t dressed for wet and the day’s sun had little warmth, none of which reached the shaded culvert.

She strained to listen.

She did all she could think of to hide her steps, but she wasn’t likely to escape the dogs. If they brought them. Oh pray please, please, that they did not. Not the dogs.

Her breath hitched and she bit down on her lip to try and swallow the sob that rode on it. The metal taste of blood filled her mouth. She heard barking. Surely the dogs could smell it. And her fear.

She closed her eyes and prayed to become stone.

She would not feel their chains, the bites, the clubs, their touch, their lashes, if she were a stone.

 

 

 

For the Crimson Creative Challenge

 

Horse Lord

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Photo: Mongolia; Anudariya Munkhbayar on Unsplash

 

The floods had culled the herd. The fires cleansed the land of dead, returned the grasses to the dirt, where bones lay, staring at the sky, unbleached. They will not be interred.

A falcon soared above their heads. It dove and disappeared, its freedom deferred, its sight hidden under the dark small caps it let have drawn over its vision in a servitude preferred.

The stallion whinnied. The yearlings, cocky and too young to know better, had cantered up ahead. They stopped at the sound of his impatience and turned about as their obedience stirred. But the mares and foals kept close on dancing legs. The smell of smoke still in the air rendered them simultaneously docile and quick to bolt, their reason blurred.

He knew why that was. The two-legged that had fled, have returned. And the smoke curling from the nostrils of their leather dwellings rose, awakening dread.

 

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Mongolia

 

 

Metastasis

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Photo: Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

 

It lingered, hidden.

It’s potential ever present

Yet hoped

To in deep sleep

Remain.

Till it found purchase

Someplace where the

Balance

Could not be

Maintained.

 

“It’s metastatic now,”

They said

And shook their head

And watched her deep breath

Rise

Along with the determination

From last time,

Returned.

 

It will be

What it will,

But even if equilibrium

Was difficult to

Attain,

She was going to meet

Life

Head on

Again.

 

 

 

Dedicated to those who are facing this challenge now: You got this. We got you.

For Linda Hill’s SoCS challenge: “-tast”

 

 

On Delicate Wings

On delicate wings NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

What had happened to you

In the short life

You knew?

Your wings’ rhythm

Aflutter

To a drum

Gone

Askew?

Your beauty imbued

By what could life

Subdue,

You flit on right

Through,

Gloriously determined,

To be you,

To be you.

 

 

 

 

For the Sunday Stills challenge: A bug’s life

 

 

Not Doom

Not Doom NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

I am not yet

Extinct

From here.

The winds that came

Once more

To blow me into an

Oblivion of preemptive

Grief,

Are yet to fray

The threads that

Hold me

In the hope

That this time, too

Will turn

A test, not

Doom.

 

 

 

For the dVerse Quadrille Poetry Challenge: Extinction

 

They Live In You

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Luanda, Angola; by Jorje sa Pinheiro

 

“Why is the top of that mountain rusty?” he asked.

His grandmother’s hand tightened gently around his wrist, then released it, almost in apology.

“For your ancestors,” she said.

He looked at her, uncomprehending. She had a way of speaking without saying everything she meant or with saying more than she meant and then cloaking it so it was still a tangle of implied meanings. He didn’t always know which it was. Or both. Her lined face was held up in what looked more like grief than awe.

“Grandma?” he asked.

“This rust is the mountain holding up the iron bled by your great-grandfather’s chains and the chains of those before him, and before, so many generations that the rust of those shackles rose up. It is the blood of the mountain and like the blood in your veins, it is them. They live in it. They live in you.

 

 

 

For the What Pegman Saw challenge: Angola

 

Delicately

Delicate AmitaiAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 

She flitted gently by his head.

The slight bow noted, the sorrow that was there

But perhaps not heard.

 

She knew he had to hold himself up

All this time

That it was the only way

He’d learned.

And yet she could discern the hidden

Effort that it took

To rise against the gravity,

In times where drought of hope

Returned

Again and again and again.

 

She understood the energy required for

Making the Herculean appear effortless,

To constantly correct

The wobble under

Winds and strain.

 

She hovered for a moment

Letting a space of permission

Manifest

Before she landed, feather-weighted and,

Delicate

On his chest.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Delicate in 106 words

 

Light Ahead

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

After weeks of gray and thistles and ceaseless wind that scraped her raw, there was light.

She could scarcely believe it at first.

The cloud cover had been so complete for so long that she’d began wondering if there was even a real sun still behind it. The revolutions of soupy daylight and inky nights felt equally murky as every step became oppressive. She had waking dreams of being lost inside a massive warehouse, a mouse in a maze, endlessly seeking an exit yet seeing none.

She wondered whether there was still use in trying. She was oh so tired.

Now there was a break. The sky spawned a cavity and the leaden heavens began to dissipate. She could discern a layer of ease in the distance.

And light, streaming like caressing fingers ahead. Showing the way home.

 

 

 

Note: Dedicated to the all-too-many who are staggering through their personal wilderness, caught in the molasses of gloom, and thinking of giving up — keep on, hold on. There’s light ahead, and we’re leaving it on for you.

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto challenge

 

 

A Stranger’s Eyes

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Photo: Conner Baker on Unsplash

 

Her hand clasped the steering wheel and she fought against the tears that threatened to blur the road ahead.

The wheels whirred over miles and miles of black as the stars spread a rotating canopy over her car. A bug atop a line drawn in the sand, she was. A smidgen on the wide expanse of life under the heavens.

She won’t go back.

She could not allow it.

He had her squelched under his thumb for so long that she did not recognize her own face in the mirror. Her eyes had become a stranger’s.

“There are times,” her mother once said, “when a woman must believe herself. You may think yourself broken, but you will love again the stranger who was your self.”

She’d thought it cryptic at the time, melodramatic.

She understood now. “I’m coming home to myself at last, Mom.”

 

 

 

For the dVerse Prosery prompt: Love after Love in 144 words

 

 

Collateral Damage

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Photo: Sharon McCutcheon via Unsplash

 

“They’re collateral damage,” he said, and gestured toward the flash of news images across the screen. “It’s not anything personal against them.”

He shrugged as if his words explained all of what happened. Of what continues to take place.

“They never should’ve put themselves in this situation,” he added, perhaps because he’d perceived my incredulous stare as an invitation to explain further, or perhaps because someplace, somehow, he felt ashamed. That is, if he was capable of shame, which as the evening dragged on I found myself increasingly doubtful of.

I glanced at Brenda, whose dinner plate seems to have become her world. Her absconding only made me angrier, but the boulder in my throat allowed no sound. I shook my head.

“Well, they could’ve stayed where they were,” he retrieved a comb out of his pocket and proceeded to slick back his salt-and-pepper hair, and the outrageously incongruous act against the reality of utter misery, somehow released my breath.

“They are children!” I choked on the word, but the rest tumbled out behind it as if afraid to become lodged again. “They could not make the decision to stay. They had no choice where to be born. Or who they were born to, or whether or not to put themselves in any situations.”

He continued to groom himself with the comb and I fought the urge to grab his arms and toss away the thing, one of the many things, the children were denied.

“Their parents should’ve taken better care of them,” he added blandly.

I took in a deep breath. “Even if that was true, which it is not in the vast majority of the cases, how does that make it acceptable for others to deliberately traumatize these children further?”

He raised an eyebrow in disdain to signal that my upset was the overreaction. “If their parents stayed in their own countries,” he stated sedately, “instead of coming here, the children wouldn’t get locked up. It’s simple, really. If a person doesn’t want their kids to suffer, they should not do certain things.”

“So now we’re talking like the mafia? Threatening people with harm to their kids?”

“Calm down,” he drawled. “Now that people know their kids wouldn’t have it easy here, perhaps they’d think before they decide to make their kids into collateral damage. If they did as they were told and stayed wherever it was they belonged, none of this would have to happen.”

I inhaled and glared at his wife, the colleague whose silence at the face of cruelty made her increasingly less of a friend. Her eyes scanned the wall someplace not quite behind my head.

“So you approve of terrorizing children,” I stated, my fingers groping for my purse. Her birthday dinner or not. I was done. “This is exactly what mafia does.”

He actually cackled. “They’re the mafioso. It’s their fault if their kids are cold and wet and getting hurt. What did they expect, crumpets and tea?”

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS writing challenge: co-