The Culvert

 

“Where does it lead?” Mina crouched and tried to peer behind the metal grate. The concrete tube curved away.

“To the factory,” Josh replied distractedly. Her derriere was hanging utterly too close to the water.

“Are you checking me out?” she teased. She knew he preferred men.

“More like watching out for you,” he pouted. His friend could read his mind even when her back was turned. He loved and hated her for it.

She twisted to peek at him. “The danger being?”

“Getting wet.”

Mina laughed. Josh was fussier than her own mother. “I won’t melt.”

“Not from normal water, you wouldn’t, but there’s a reason the factory was ordered closed, and why authorities reinforced the grates on this culvert. Only God and the now-dead-factory-owners-and-workers know what’s in there. I don’t like this.”

Mina’s witty retort fizzled when she caught sight of movement, barreling toward the grate.

She screamed.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge #60

 

Valentine’s Vice

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Photo: Tara Meinczinger on Unsplash

 

“Where’s Valentine?”

I peered into the other room. “Lollygagging.”

“Again?! I thought I told him to give up that nonsense. He’s way too old for this kind of foolishness. I’ll douse him with cold water!”

“He’s not osculating, Mama.”

“Stop being a Peeping Tom …” Pause. Sigh. Flick of the hand. “What’s he doing, then?”

“Just dawdling.”

“With whom?”

“His phone …”

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Lollygag in 60 words

 

 

Should We Poke?

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Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

Look at that thing

With the wings,

Can it fly

Or can it sing?

Should we poke it?

Better not.

Press the fence

That keeps out tots.

 

 

For the JusJoJan daily prompt

 

 

The Vow

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Photo: Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash

 

It was to be a fervent

Vow

For all the things their souls

Allow

For hopes and dreams, and yet

Somehow

The time and place did not

Allow

And left them both perplexed,

What now?

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS (and JusJoJan) challenge

 

 

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

 

 

Maybe So

Photo prompt: Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

“I wish I could show you the Menorah, Papa!”

“I wish so, too, Leah!”

“Shall I describe it?”

“Oh please do!” he covered the mouthpiece and pressed his ear to receiver. It’ll be months before he’d save enough to hear her sweet voice again.

“We have white candles and the Shamash is melting fastest,” the child stared at her father’s photo, sent from far away. “I’ll use my new crayons and mail you a drawing! Maybe one day people will have special phones that will let them see each other!”

The fantasies of children. He smiled. “Maybe so, maybe so.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

 

Wish Upon A Star

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Photo: Diego PH on Unsplash

 

I heard her wish

Upon a star

For what she hoped

Life’s tears won’t mar.

“May it be a

Stellar year,

Where future skies

Shine bright and clear.

Where truth holds sway

Where justice weighs

Where children can with parents

Stay.”

I heard her wish

Upon a star,

And prayed it echoed

Wide and far.

 

 

Thank you to the Ragtag Daily Prompt team for this apt prompt – I hadn’t participated as frequently as I might’ve wanted to, but I always enjoyed it when I did, and I hope to continue to do so in 2020. Also thank you all in this lovely WordPress community, for the many other prompts and company and comments and delight and creativity through the year! I’m so grateful! Wishing you all a happy, healthy, just, joyful, hopeful 2020, and may it herald a better decade than the one just closing.

 

For the RDP Tuesday Challenge: Stellar

 

Keeper of the Chandeliers

 

As chores went, this was her favorite.

Granted, she made sure to keep her face flat and convey just enough tremulousness to allow it to be seen as challenging. Her superiors liked giving her challenges that needed overcoming. Especially when those could be served along with mundane duties.

She wasn’t supposed to have any, so she hid her preference. Yet inside her she rejoiced every time she was assigned the task. She was expected to approach every detail with utmost diligence, no matter the dexterity required. And at any height. Even on a rickety ladder.

Others trembled doing this, too, but hers was with pleasure, not fear. It felt like flying. She took her time, and the results were pleasing enough to be noticed. Or perhaps it was the added bonus of not having candle-wax drip onto one’s head mid-prayer.

Because before long she was made Keeper of the Chandeliers.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson Creative Challenge

 

 

 

A Long Walk

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Aosta Valley, Italy (Carl Borg on Unsplash)

 

It had been a misty sunrise. The light rode soft atop the milky white outside.

He thought it was an omen and that she ought to stay in. “You won’t see where you’re going,” he fretted.

She told him the mist would clear. She could read it in the air. She could smell it in the tang of pine. She readied her day-bag and rushed through her chores.

Still he fussed. “What if not?”

She understood. She also knew he hadn’t grown up in these mountains. His roots did not go deep into this land, while her family traced their ancestry to the Ligures. Her people lived in these environs even before the Celts had arrived.

He feared what she did not.

In more ways than one, she realized.

It was another reason that she needed to take a long walk. Exactly so she could see where she was going.

 

 

 

For What Pegman saw: Aosta Valley, Italy

 

 

His Complex

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N. juncifolius, Carolus Clusius Rariorum stirpium 1576

 

He has a bit of complex,

Or lots more than

A bit.

A tremendous,

Big

Complex.

One that logic

He won’t allow

Beat.

Some believe

It’s destructively

Unique,

But in truth

It is just

Textbook

Case

Of the morbidly

Unfit.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Challenge: Complex in 41 words