Sentient Sorrow

“She won’t come.”

The woman raised her head.

“Who?”

“Grandma,” the child repeated. “She won’t come.”

The woman sighed. “Grandma’s dead, Lottie. It means she can’t come anymore.”

Lottie shook her head, brown curls dancing with insistence. “She can, but she won’t. It’s time to move on. She said.”

The silver stripe in the woman’s hair blinked in the light as her head tilted. “When did she say that?” she asked carefully.

“Last night.”

The woman’s eyes filled. “In the den! I thought I was sleeping!”

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Sentient in 86 words

 

 

One For The Mists

low-cloud SueVincent

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

Her people came from the place where the mist rests on the turf and the ladder to and from the heavens can unfurl. It was where they all still lived.

It breathes, mist does. The fog kisses the lungs in moisture like that from which all of them had come: the womb, the sea, the ocean sky.

Alana still dreamed of days before her mind awoke to awareness. Cocooned inside her mother, growing to the beat of steady drums and gurgling songs.

“Wombs are portable heaven,” her grandmother said, the peat spade matching her words thump to thunk. “All is created. All is attended to. All is removed that no longer belongs. It is magic personified.”

And magic has a price, Alana thought. For all things do. Sometimes it sends a mother back to heaven. Sometimes it sends back both if the ladder into heaven leans in too close.

Her grandmother, Meara The Midwife, had delivered her into the world. As she had practically everyone Alana knew. Nana also helped ease the passage of women, including that of her own daughter Nola – Alana’s mother – back into the mists of old where breath was no longer needed to sustain the soul.

“It is a blessing to be from the land of mist,” Nana’s strong arms tossed a steady stream of peat blocks for Alana to stack. “Even if blessings can carry a cost,” she added, pausing for a moment to rub the small of her back, and to regard the ten-year-old.

The child’s auburn curls escaped the confines of her kerchief and any ties and ribbons one tried to wrestle them into. She was a quiet one, even as a wee lass, green-flecked eyes like moss on peat and cheeks like peaches in cream. Observing. Taking in.

She’s one for the mists, Meara thought, but never said. One did not make words for such things. Not for anyone. Let alone for the granddaughter one wrestled back from heaven’s ladder. Born too early, this one was, and at the same time too late for her mother’s life to go on.

Meara sighed and smiled small reassurance at Alana, whose features tightened in response to her grandmother’s exhalation. A mist child indeed, this one. Reading others in the smallest of breaths.

Nola had been this way. Sensitive. Perceptive.

Secretive, too. In many ways like the babe she’d borne. Half of her time spent in dream and memories of mist.

Meara shook her head to clear her own. She pointed her chin toward the ground. “A few more of these and we’ll head home. Let us see if we can get there before this bank of fog rolls down to completely mist up our path through the bog.”

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

Zēngzǔfù’s Bridge

Image result for Jiangxi province China free

Photo: pngtree.com

 

He had made the pilgrimage as promised. He didn’t know if he believed the ancestors would know he’d kept his word, but life was complicated enough without angering spirits, ancestral or not.

And it would have made his mother happy to know he’d visited the bridge his great-great-great-great-grand (or however many generations it was) had helped build. She’d always longed to make the trip back herself, and couldn’t.

“The sweat of your ancestor dripped into the stones,” his mother had told him, “his blood and thus yours lives in them.”

He heard her voice in Jia’s when the child, sober in pigtails and pink frilly dress, studied the structure. “So this is where we came from?”

He nodded.

His daughter walked to the first pile and touched it reverently. “Zēngzǔfù built this one,” the six-year-old stated. “Nǎinai told me. She showed me in my dream last night.”

 

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Jaingxi province of China

 

Tomorrow’s Memory

Photo: Adam Ickes

 

“They do not remember who they are.”

The old man’s voice was somber without judgment. A skill born of patience shaped by the combined weights of history and time.

“It is why I brought them here.”

The elder regarded his visitor. His dark eyes pools of wisdom deeper than the lines upon his skin.

A silence stretched.

“They will not find it in this place,” Sorrowful Skies said finally.

Disappointment filled the woman’s face.

“They will sleep in the lodge tonight,” he added. “Tomorrow, they will walk like their ancestors. In bare feet on breathing land. Then they will remember.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers