Embers Hot As Coals

Photo prompt: Sue Vincent

 

She could feel them.

That’s why she came.

Why she took every opportunity she could to escape the drudgery of sewing and hoeing and weeding and feeding and washing and threshing and mending and tending and all the multitudes of tasks that never seemed to end and somehow only multiplied.

“It’s life,” her mother had sighed, when as a young child Mayra had burst into tears of fatigue and frustration when yet another basket of wash needed to be scrubbed. “We rise, we work, we eat, we sleep.”

Mayra, a dutiful daughter, had just nodded and sniffed and bent to her work. But inside her a restlessness rippled. She was expected to grow up to be like her mother: solid and stolid and capable. The capable part she was on path to mastering, if painfully slowly. But solid she wasn’t, in her wispy willowy frame, and stolid she could not be, when her feelings and thoughts bubbled in her mind like an ever boiling pot that used embers as if they were coals.

She would boil over. She would.

If she didn’t manage to find a chore that allowed her to put some distance between herself and the village and to reconnect with the souls amidst the stones.

They calmed her. They reached around her with fingers as wispy as her hair and plucked the edges of too-sharp words and smoothed rough irritation off of her being.

Most people avoided the stones. “They are haunted,” they whispered, as if that was a bad thing.

Mayra said nothing. Perhaps it was something in her that needed ghosts to sooth the places that she felt would otherwise burst and cause harm. Perhaps her difference drew her to what others knew to keep away from.

Still she came.

In secret. To avoid blame.

It was only when she was about to wed that she realized it had been her mother who’d conjured errands out of thin air for her, so the child could manage some relief.

“For some, this is life, too,” her mother smiled.

It was a rare transformation of the face that often showed so little beside focus on the thing at hand, and suddenly Mayra saw the girl her mother had been, reflected in the sky-hued eyes.

“You, too?” Mayra whispered.

Her mother’s eyes twinkled. The berries. The mushrooms. The bark. The herbs. The kindling that could not wait till the morrow to collect. All those times when her own pot was set to almost overflow atop life’s embers, hot as coals.

“I did, and I do. It is our grandmothers there, helping you.”

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s Write Photo challenge

 

 

In The Years

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Photo: Ian Schneider on Unsplash

 

In the years full of sorrows

They held on to the

Joys,

From the years when the

Smiles were more frequent than

Oys.

 

In the years where

Frustration

Overtook hope or

Peace,

They held on to conviction

That life can evil

Resist.

 

In the years where the wrong

Bloomed in hate

Unconcealed,

They held on to the truth,

So harm may be

Revealed.

 

In the years where they saw

Order crumble,

 Laws evade,

They held on and remembered:

Hope finds way,

Light’s ahead.

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt: year

 

 

Middle Child

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Photo: Keith Kreates

 

Her rooms were in the middle of the castle, hovering above the center of the river, sandwiched between two layers of guard rooms, bordered on both sides with sentinel halls.

Her residence, her very life, was perched between the woods on one bank and the manicured gardens on the other, split between one land and another, between a grand promenade entrance on one side and an into-the-wild entrance on the other, belonging to both and owned by neither. It was so by design.

Oh, she was no prisoner. She had the freedom of the castle and the pleasures of the adjacent lands. She could go riding or strolling, hunting or frolicking, visiting or picnicking. As long as she made sure to spend the exact time on either side of the river, as long as she took heed to show no favor, no preference, no prediliction.

Three of her attendants were timekeepers. One from each side of the river. One from a foreign country altogether. All three carried hourglasses and were charged with maintaining synchronicity. Disputes were rare, for they would mean a cease of all outdoor activities till the disagreement resolved, cause a strain on her well-being, tarnish their families, and lead to possible replacement. The timekeepers kept discrepancies to a minimum.

The comparable reality extended to everything: An exactly equal number of ladies in waiting from each side of the river, exactly the same number of servants, workers, soldiers, guards, and tradesmen who were allowed to live and work in, or gain access to the castle. The same number of her dresses had been made on each side of the river. Half the furniture, too.

The constant balancing act was tedious. It was also necessary.

“You are the bridge,” her governess had explained to her when — still a child — she was fed up with being shuttled across the castle mid-activity, so equal play time on the other side can be maintained. She did not want to have two of everything and be required to play with each equally. “You were born to end five hundred years of bloodshed.”

Her parents had defied odds and had sought alliance instead of massacres. They’d built a bridge over the fear and hate that endless war had fed. They’d began construction on the castle. They’d birthed her.

The people had watched and waited.

She was barely toddling when her parents’ carriage had gotten ambushed by some who’d believed that ending the alliance would enliven the centuries-old feuds. The warmongers were wrong. They’d killed her parents, but not the want for peace. People on both sides of the river came for the murderers. People on both sides worked to complete the castle-bridge and ensured the princess could be raised in its center.

It was on that day, cocooned in her governess’s lap, in the room above the river that had for generations divided her people, that she truly understood: After so much distrust, an exacting fairness had to be the glue that would hold peace till lasting trust could grow.

No betters. No less-thans. Not even the appearance of favorites.

The efforts to keep it so were sometimes so precise as to be ridiculous, but she preferred to err on the side of the absurd, rather than risk her people any harm.

She was the princess on the bridge.

Her rooms were in the middle of the castle, hovering above the center of the river, sandwiched between two layers of guard rooms, bordered on both sides with sentinel halls.

Her residence, her very life, was perched between the woods on one bank and the manicured gardens on the other, split between one land and another, belonging to both and owned by neither. It was so by design.

 

 

For Kreative Kue 238

The Strength Of Stone

Ethiopia OfirAsif6

Photo: Ofir Asif

 

The strength of stone

Allows the rounding of its

Edges by time

And rain.

It lets the earth

Scour its base

As flood-paths swirl

And drain,

Even as it lets itself

Maintain

A firm place

To lean

One’s burden on,

Again.

 

 

Note: My nephew took this photo in Ethiopia, and I am humbled and moved by the beauty of it, and the eons it carries and the beginnings – and middles, and ends – of so many things it had seen.

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Stone

 

 

Not Fall

No fall PhilipCoons

Photo: Philip Coons

 

Just you wait

And you’ll see

The real brave

I will be!

I will walk

With feet bare

From right here

To right there,

Without wobble

At all

I will cross

And not fall!

 

 

 

Note: It is WAY too early yet for me to do anything relating to the other meaning of the prompt word. So, nope … it was gonna be a “not” for me … 😉

 

For The Tuesday Photo Challenge: Fall

 

 

Whale Of A Time

Photo prompt: Dale Rogerson

 

Finally.

They sent the younger children on their way. They cleaned up after breakfast. Hung the wash. Made the bed. Picked up after the husband, the father in law, the older sons (who in almost all cases were sprawled, asleep, with an empty plate of this or that by their side, as boys of certain ages seem to be).

The market waited. And the dinner to start. But for the next hour, there was just them. Their gossip. Their shared stories of the minutia of struggles and laughter.

It was their sanity’s lifeline, midday at Juanita’s “Whale Of A Time.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

A Fleeting Equilibrium

balancing rock formation

Photo: Tina Nord on Pexels.com

 

She held her breath and waited for the instant

In time

Where Earth’s equator passed through

The center of the sun.

Imperfectly balanced

As it was

By arcs and tilt and latitudes,

She cared not about

The argument that it could never be

In ideal form,

Or that the exact timing

Varied

With convictions

And perceptions of the mind.

She paused nonetheless,

Determined

To witness the fleeting equilibrium

Of light and dark,

And the shift of balance

That it could,

perhaps today, allow.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Equinox in 83 words

 

The Balance

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

 

She did not understand where the castle had gone.

Tumbled walls

Like broken bones.

 

But the well was still there,

And the sword

Wrapped in stone,

Had waited stored

Well ensconced.

 

She took the hilt

Spelled the spell

And the blade pulled out

Clean

Glowing green,

Showing

All was still wrong

Just as all was still well.

 

She took a deep breath

And exhaled.

Because though

Times had changed

At least the balance

Remained.

 

 

For Sue’s Thursday WritePhoto Prompt: Blade

 

Spill The Beans

dip AmitaiAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 

Spill the beans

On what is

And never

Should’ve made

Secret.

Share the stories

You know

And others

Also

Have lived.

Find the balance

Between

Private stashes

Of sorrow

And the tender joys

To be had

In remembering

Both.

 

 

For The Daily Post