If Tied

gatepost CrispinaKemp

 

“If tied,” she said, “come by.”

“If not…?” he asked.

Her shake of head stilled any of the questions he had swirling inside his. It cooled his urge to argue. He knew it wouldn’t help. He knew it would only make what was already unlikely, impossible.

In the days that followed he found every reason to visit the gatepost. He wasn’t meant to come too close, but the nearby field offered cloves that his mare suddenly required, and there were numerous trips to town that merited taking exactly the dirt road that hugged parts of the property.

He drooped with every thread-less passing.

He couldn’t sleep.

He felt angry, worried, sick.

Till one day, as he rode by on an errand for a parcel, he saw it. A pink thread. Tied.

Her parents relenting.

They’d let him court her. Even though his father, in his drunkenness, had killed their son.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

The Others’ Side

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

“Why is it this way, Mama?”

The woman let the small hoe drop from her hand. She straightened, hands over the small of her back, achy from the bending. The plot was spare, and the harshness of many a hard winter had stripped most of the topsoil off, leaving more pebbles than dirt. Still, it was better than nothing, and she was thankful.

The child had been sorting stones into piles. Larger ones. Medium ones. Smaller. There were repairs to make to walls and fences, and very little in the way of clay. Sizing stones helped make the puzzle of fitting the best bit in the best place, easier. It was a tedious chore that the girl somehow managed to make into a game. She had that magic in her, Margot did, the spark of joy that Annabelle spent every night praying would not ever have cause to slough off or be snuffed out.

“Mama?”

Annabelle nodded and turned her head toward the object of the child’s query. She’d had no option but to sit the child facing the chasm. One did not turn one’s back to the mist. Disrespectful. Ill fated. Even for children, who normally carried more protection by nature of their youth. Still, it was best to take precaution, and what the child learned early, she was less likely to forget later on and take a wrong step.

There was reason this plot was made available. Not many farmed so near the rift. Some claimed the uneasy air made foodstuffs grow small and weary.

Some did not have the luxury of growing theirs elsewhere.

“The light does not quite shine there the same way,” she said.

“What did they do?” the child’s voice was filled with pity, not fear, and Annabelle did not know whether in this particularity the compassion was something to celebrate or warn against.

“Some say they’d tied their soul to dark,” Annabelle sighed. The split and its reality was not something often spoken of. Yet unless some miracle happened and their circumstances changed, the child was destined to spend many days in close proximity to the Others’ side. It was better she heard truth from her mother, than distortions from those who felt more comfortable with lies.

She felt the child’s small hand slip into her calloused palm.

“They are not different than us, Margot. Not really. There was time before the split, before the earth heaved and the crack formed and separated this land into its pieces, where we all lived mixed together, if we even knew we were more than one kind. Now those who had happened to be on the parts that became the other side of this canyon, have the mountains dump the clouds onto them and the rapids raise a constant mist. It diminishes their sun.”

The child shuddered. Annabelle squeezed her hand to reassure her.

“There are those who chose to make their fear into a hatred, Margot. And that led to needing to make those one hated, be worthy of such ill-regard.”

“So they are good?”

“Most are. And some very likely aren’t.”

“And the big rocks?” Margot turned her head to inspect the piles she had just made. The stones balanced atop each other in formations mirroring the massive ones on the misty horizon.

“Put there, no doubt. No one quite knows why or how. Some say the ghosts of evil did it. The goblins that spit poison from the earth and crack the ground. I? I think it was people who’d arranged them. As you had the smaller ones.”

Annabelle had never shared with anyone the image that she’d seen nine months before the child was born. The figures scurrying on the impossible embankment, tucking what appeared to be smaller stones in the places where rocks nestled atop one another. The reverent silence of the people had her wonder whether they perhaps saw the rocks as headstones, memorials to those who had been lost to the maw that had swallowed so many when it had first sliced open the ground. A maw many did not believe anyone crossed.

She used her free hand to lift the girl’s chin so their eyes met. “Why did you put them this way, child?”

The gray eyes widened for a moment. In thought, not worry. “I wanted to respect the other stones, Mama. Their balance. How they don’t fall into the underside.”

Annabelle’s eyes filled. Her breath caught.

She smiled.

She never did find out who had forced her that night. She was blamed aplenty as it was, and so she never did tell anyone that she’d believed it had been someone who might’ve seen her watch them. Someone from the Others’ side.

 

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

The Visitor

 

“He should be here soon,” Ernest’s inert body belied the excitement in his eyes.

“It might not be today,” Gertrude noted. She knew he had to hold on to hope, but she could not bear to see him wade across another disappointment.

There have been far too many of late. And more coming.

“Oh, it will,” Ernest insisted.

Gertrude nodded. When he got something firmly into his head, there was little use in trying to dissuade him. Nor much to gain from it, really.

She wheeled him to a sunny spot out of the wind, arranged the blanket over his lap, and brought herself a stool. The both of them could use fresh air as well as what vitamin D they’d manage making.

They sat. She dozed off.

His cry woke her. Joy. Not pain.

“He’s here!”

Merlin, he’d called him. The osprey rested twice-yearly, mid-migration, on their chimney stack.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

If It Ain’t Broke

will-malott-I9AFPMNv_I4-unsplash

Photo: Will Malott on Unsplash

 

She refused to budge

Or borrow.

She would not allow herself

The slightest

Reach.

“If it ain’t broke,” she said,

Hiding sorrow –

Holding on to life

In tatters

Yet refusing to

Give in even

A stitch –

“There is no need to seek

A fix.”

 

 

For the dVerse quadrille challenge: Fix

 

 

More To Overcome

jon-tyson-FlHdnPO6dlw-unsplash

Photo: Jon Tyson on Unsplash

 

As soon as he arrived, she would be able to make her exit.

Take time for herself. Have a moment of calm.

She was oh-so-tired. She urged him on.

“On my way,” he said. “A few more minutes and I’ll come.”

She waited.

The minutes then the hours ticked their slow molasses of seconds. Time puddled, sticky, in her mind.

Around her the demands of life continued and her body obeyed. Her hands found zippers and did and undid buttons and washed dishes and stirred pots and hung wet linens and kneaded dough and bandaged a skinned knee and broke up fights and interrupted arguments. Her mouth managed to answer questions she did not remember being asked.

At some point her eyes no longer rose to check the clock. The sinking feeling curled up and took residence inside her gut.

She fed. She bathed. She put to bed.

She rocked. She soothed. Not knowing what she said.

As dark deepened and the night grew long, she knew.

He would not arrive.

There will be only more to overcome.

 

 

 

For RDP Sunday: Overcome

 

 

 

Make It Home

camp home OsnatHalperinBarlev

Photo: Osnat Halperin-Barlev

 

They strung up the hammock, and called it home.

There was a tent.

There was shade.

There was view.

There was fresh air.

And in the morning, sparkly tears of dew.

It wasn’t much, perhaps.

With a long trek to get water,

And so a lot to learn. Anew.

Still, they made do.

 

There had been little time to plan,

After they got the letter.

It was pay up, in whole,

Or let the owed sum fetter

Their everything into

Being a forever debtor.

So they packed what they owned

And drove away

With broken hearts and eyes the wetter.

 

At least here,

Even with no walls

There was shelter.

Which was, already,

Better.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Home in 114 words

 

 

 

 

Plenty Enough Of That

Cotton E.K.

Photo: E.K.

 

“I don’t know what we’ll do,” she sobbed.

He lifted her chin gently till the brown-speckled eyes met his. “We’ll manage,” he said, surety threaded carefully into his voice. He didn’t want her feeling as if she was weak for unraveling or wondering whether any of what she was feeling was excessive or unreasonable. It was not.

He didn’t have all the answers, either.

Only love.

He had plenty of that.

And it had to be enough.

“Everything’s a mess,” she sighed.

It was. And yet, it wasn’t. Not everything. Their care for each other had not a single tangle in it.

“It’s like this cotton field,” he breathed. “Raw fibers that are nonetheless brimming with nascent fabric potential. We’ll pick through our grief and weave love into a new life.”

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Fabric in 131 words

 

 

The Order

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Photo: Linn W on Unsplash

 

She’ll refuse, for she must,

The order

To adjust.

She will hold up the laws

And go forth

Just because.

She will not, not today,

Bow to cults

Or obey.

She’ll refuse, for she must,

In her own heart

Have trust.

 

 

For the dVerse poetry challenge: Order

 

 

The Truth

randy-laybourne-URoRBkUZ8D0-unsplash

Photo: Randy Laybourne on Unsplash

 

There was something she didn’t share, but knew.

She held it, close, against her heart. A snuggle for her spirit. They could not take away what they did not realize she understood.

So she hid her comprehension. Her perceptions. Her realizations that what was presented as truth, was not.

Real Truth, that which resonated with her soul, was different. It sang.

She’d been quite young when she’d learned how to discern the babble from the song. It hadn’t been easy to maintain Truth, to blanket her face with masks of complacent adoration. Still she labored at it, keeping hope afloat.

 

 

 

For the RDP Sunday prompt: Truth

 

 

Toppers

tall-frames CrispinaKemp

 

It wasn’t an easy thing for a Bottom-Feeder to achieve Topper status. Most born to the Lower Gradients remained in the dank shadows of the towers, foraging for what could be found.

But Bronson never took the easy route. Not in birth, where his footling position had almost killed his mama and had left him only one usable hand. Not in growing, when he was often the last to be fed and the first to be beaten. Not in young adulthood, when he decided that wit and perseverance would have to do what his physique could not.

He lurked. He flattered. He kept abreast of Toppers’ visits to the LG’s for the vices, and used his nonthreatening appearance to offer guidance, and sometimes, services.

When Lorena’s ankle broke on twisted pavement, he lent a shoulder, led her home, and stayed. Life was better at the Tops, even as a pet.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge