Newfound

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(Photo: Jon Tyson on Unsplash)

She lay in bed and let the day’s words wash over her.

A soft stream in the mayhem.

“You’re a tenacious child,” her teacher said, eyes smiling. “You’ve tried and tried and made this grade your own. Not everyone would have continued, but you did. I am so proud.”

Tenacious, she mouthed into the dark and tuned off shouts and thuds and cries. So proud, she curled into the glow of newfound understanding.

 

 

For Sammi‘s Weekend Writing Prompt: Tenacious in 73 words

 

All Things Considered

 

All things considered, she had everything she needed.

More than she thought was there, really. More than some might consider necessary.

She leaned back in her chair, then leaned forward to straighten a stray implement. Adjust another.

“Orderly desks make orderly minds,” Papa always said. Pointedly.

She might not manage to get much order in the latter, but she sure could try to tame the chaos of the former.

And it did look better organized, she had to admit.

Now, if only the desk could fill loan applications. Or order funds to her account so she could pay the bills.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Photo prompt: Jan Wayne Fields

 

 

 

Vault

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(Photo: Tim Mossholder on Unsplash)

 

Rise to seek the freedom

In the air above the

Obstacle.

Find clearing that will give you

Path to pass

Beyond

The fence.

 

Learn the code that holds

The keys to better

Places.

Then you can let worries of

Shattered spaces

Lift,

And release the latch from fear

To what will let you

Step openly

Away.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Vault in 56 words

 

Pathfinder

bus-interior-wet-day CrispinaKemp

 

It was going to be better once she got there. Not like last time.

She held her purse on her lap with both hands, knees together, spine away from the cushion and her body swaying lightly with the movement of the vehicle, as she watched the world roll ahead of the front window, indistinct in the liquid grayish light.

It’s been raining for hours. A persistent misty drizzle that had dampened so many of her earlier years. She shuddered even though the bus was overheated. Perhaps because she sat in her coat.

The driver leaned on the horn and she released one hand to steady herself against a possible braking. Her seat in the center of the last row had no armrest, but it was the only one with a clear path out.

She always needed to have an unobstructed way out.

And yet, there she was, going back.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

 

Untended

 

“He gets the room behind the bush,” Mama ordered.

“But Mama,” Samantha tried, “we’re in the country now.”

Mama shook her head.

Samantha swallowed a sigh. This was the middle of nowhere. No neighbors. No roads. Old growth all around. Barely a dirt path to the cottage from behind the barn.

There will be no arguing with Mama.

She caught Daniel’s eye. He did his little special wink at her and she wanted to cry. He was comforting her even though it would be he who will be stuck in a room with barely light and zero view.

His eyes flicked toward the barn, and she understood — at least in the house he’d be warm, where she could keep an eye. At least Mama wasn’t hiding him in the barn.

Mama could not stand his disfigurement. Reminder of the fire she did not tend. The baby she let burn.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Brief Impact

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Photo: Esperanza Algaba Davila on Unsplash

 

They didn’t think they’d leave such an impression. After all, they were only passing through, a transient band of transients in a town built on foundations set in stone.

And yet, as they left, colored wagons clattering on paved roads not made for wooden wheels or tender hooves, they were followed by a line of children.

Like a piped piper for the unloved. Seeking a better home.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Impact in 67 words

 

 

 

Clara Of The Clock

fantasy SueVincent

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

There were bells above the clock in the tower. A tiny room above that, with blue shutters that could close themselves to everything or open to the four corners of the world. A taller turret still above it, its naked windows whistling in the wind. And over that a peaked roof with a metal creature perched wide-winged, inviting lightening.

To Clara, this was home. The keeper of the hour and the minder of the rectory below, she was forever scaling spiral steps and ladders.

Up and down the narrow stair that spun inside the tower to the clock-room, then up and down the ladder that hiked along the breezy bell balcony to her room, and up and down again on the metal rungs that climbed the room’s wall to the turret and the vast horizons beyond.

Father Brown used to climb up and down, too, though thankfully he’d grown too corpulent to lift his body up so many stairs or hoist himself up the ladder. She did not think he would even fit through the entrance in her room’s floor anymore.

Good.

For he was never meant to fit into any of her entrances anyway.

She was better off with him too fat.

Fearless, they said she was, to live so high above the village, buffeted by winds half-way into the sky, not to mention, in total loneliness. Unnatural, they called her, to prefer the company of birds and clouds to that of other people, or a man.

They were right. About the latter.

Birds did not raise a hand to her. The clouds did not box her ears or pull her hair or force themselves inside her.

There was solitude in the small room where the air was clear and the noises of the village did not reach. Just the swish of the wind and the clarion sound of the bells and the heavy heartbeat of the clock, ticking like the heart she’d almost forgot, the heart inside the chest she must have laid a head on in the first weeks of her being and before her mother – and her life – turned cold.

Through years of misery in the orphanage, with cruelties of every kind meted by the nuns and priests and older children who sought to repay their own experienced agonies onto those smaller than them, she gazed at the part of the clock-tower she could see, and dreamed of heartbeat.

When Father Brown came to the orphanage to pick a new housekeeper to “serve God” in the rectory adjacent to the church (and tower), they lined up the girls for him to choose from. She trembled with both hope and horror.

Perhaps he liked seeing both feelings warring in her, for he let his eyes travel the length of her body before curling his finger in her direction and telling Mother Superior that “this one would do.” She had just turned thirteen.

She kept house and cooked and cleaned and tried to keep away from his fondling hands and pinching fingers and the parts under his robes. She wondered if the former housekeeper had wished to ail and had welcomed the opportunity to die.

Then again, perhaps the previous girl did not know of the tiny room above the bell-tower. She herself only found out about it when Father Brown twisted an ankle and she was required to complete a few tasks there on his behalf. She was immediately entranced. By the openness. By the freedom. By the possibilities.

The next day she went to see Mother Superior under the pretense of needing salve for Father Brown’s leg but with the real aim to have someone clothe her request in piety. “It is but a small room, but I feel nearer to God there,” she told the nun, hoping to mask her awe as faith.

“And,” she whispered, “it could be more proper for Father Brown, too, to have me in separate lodging.”

The head nun frowned in reproach then tented her fingers to consider. The rectory had only the one sleeping room, and so housekeepers slept on a pallet by the kitchen stove. Even the most pious man may need a drink of water in the night. Best to put away any Eve where she could not lead a man to sin.

“You are wicked to even have such thoughts,” Mother Superior admonished. “Perhaps it would be best to remove you to the tower.”

Clara lowered her eyes in relief.

Father Brown was farthest from enchanted with the new arrangement, but he could hardly argue with Mother Superior’s suggestion. Nor could he claim that a woman should not scurry up and down the tower ladders in her skirts when he himself had sent Clara to do so.

Oh, he made sure to let her know there was no sanctuary from him in the tower. But she focused on the heartbeat of the clock and let it speak louder than his thrusting, and she bade her time, and fed him.

He grew fat. And old. And rheumy eyed.

She grew taller. And confident. And limber in her climb. She became the sole caretaker of the timepiece, the sorter-out of the bell’s ropes, the heartbeat of the tower.

Clara of the clock.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

Not Much

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Photo prompt: © Jennifer Pendergast

 

There was nothing left to stay for.

Not much to pack, but still he managed to stuff the duffel with odds and ends. More for feel than for utility.

He won’t be coming back.

The empty cars stood, cooling, on the rails. There was an echo in his bones even with no movement. Even without any sound.

He scanned for danger. One never knew, and he had had enough surprises.

When nothing stirred, he climbed aboard. The metal floor smelled of pee and rats, but at least he’d sleep with a wall at his back tonight, a door barred shut.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

When It Leaves

shimmer SueVincent

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

“What is that thing?”

Melanie squinted against the glare. Shrugged. “A microscope with duck feet.”

Tony frowned. His sister was easily the most annoying person to ever occupy the Earth. Well, after James. James was worse.

The boy stole a look behind him as if expecting James to manifest, even though he knew that the youth was many miles away. You just didn’t know. With James.

Melanie rested her chin on her knees, hummed under her breath, and played imaginary piano with her toes, watching the sand swish around her soles. She was hungry. She wondered what they’ll have for dinner. She lifted her head to glance around. The beach was slowly emptying but it was too early to check the bins.

And anyway, it was Tony’s turn.

She couldn’t keep doing everything for him. He was never gonna learn.

Her stomach growled and she sighed and squinted again at the odd shape on the sand. “Yep,” she pursed her lips. “Definitely a microscope with duck legs.”

Tony made that sound in his throat that she knew meant he was distressed but didn’t want to show it. She ignored him. He had to toughen up.

The quiet between them lingered. It felt stretchy. Like a taught rubber band wound over a finger. Melanie stared. That thing didn’t move.

“It’s an alien,” Tony finally said.

Melanie nodded. Could be.

Tony breathed. “I wonder where the spaceship is.”

“Yeah.” Melanie sat up, suddenly intrigued. “And I wonder when it leaves. You think that if we ask, it would agree to take us with?”

 

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

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