Nailed It

stable-door CrispinaKemp

Photo: Crispina Kemp

 

He could never abide a wiggle.

Not a wriggle. Not a waver. Not the smallest bit of leeway.

Give an inch they’ll want a mile. He was one for nipping any jiggle in the bud.

Sure, the place was old, but it was built a-sturdy, and it stood the test of time. A war. A drought. A famine. Years could lend a touch of wrinkle, but that was no excuse for creaky hinges or a swinging that was anything but right.

Doors should no more need replacing than the people who had built them. Neither ought be done away with when they’re ripe.

So at the very start of wobbling, he cut a bar to measure, took the hammer and the odd-and-ends crate, and firmly nailed the wood across the geriatric slats.

Not unlike the way the surgeon had patched his hip and clinched his femur on to that.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

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

 

 

River Run

 

She could not sleep for the excitement.

A dream come true. A lifelong prayer answered.

She lost count of the times they’d gone without, made do with little. They saved. They scrounged. They worked. They sought. They searched. They found.

Only to be turned down. Back onto the merry-go-round.

It was not for sale. It was too old. It was rotten. It was tied up in legal battles. It was too large. Too steeply priced. Too small.

She almost lost hope.

Then this. Beat up and needing some work. Their Goldilocks perfection.

He didn’t want to sell. His late wife’s boat. Her family’s name. Nope.

They begged. They pleaded. They tried to explain.

Finally … he relented. Perhaps they wore him down.

They drew the contract. Argued. Fretted. Signed.

The boat was theirs.

“You must rename her,” he stressed, pen in hand.

Of course.

Tomorrow it will become her River Run.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

He’ll Do

 

The new hay-bringer was a handsome one. Calm posture. Wild mane. Warm eyes.

The others hung back as Bella stepped forward to inspect. Molly, heavy with foal, nickered a soft warning, and Bella swished her tail in understanding. Yes, she, too, was expecting, but she was not afraid.

She advanced to within a hoof-kick-space. He stayed put, unperturbed.

He carried no fear smell. No twitchy legs. No mouth yells.

Bella lowered her head some, and he held out his hand for a sniff. Sweat. Musk. Iron. Grass. Faint carrot smell.

She shook her mane, and he laughed and reached into an opening in his leg coverings to reveal an orange section of the vegetable. Offered it on an open palm.

Bella nosed it, lipped, chewed. Good.

She approved.

She tapped her hoof and felt the air shift behind her from tension to curiosity.

He’ll do.

Perhaps he even has apples.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

 

The Promise

 

“It’s not much,” Eric noted.

“That it isn’t,” Morris agreed. “Still …”

Eric nodded. It was better than their tent in the woods. “Walls look sturdy.”

“That they do.” Morris circled the dilapidated farmhouse, hands clasped behind his back. A habit left from years of teaching and one he wasn’t particularly happy to be reminded of.

It still hurt. To have been cast aside. To not be wanted anymore.

“So, she just left it for you?” Eric tried to keep the eagerness out of his voice. He’d hoped for some juicy details ever since Morris had told him about the inheritance.

“That she did,” Morris replied.

He remembered her, of course. Juliette, the brunette. They’d been a couple, in a manner of speaking. “What’s mine is yours,” she had promised. Years ago.

Then they’d parted.

Not once had he thought it to mean anything beyond what she’d shared with him then.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Temptation

 

The sun beat on his nape and his shirt stuck to his body, too wet to do any good in absorbing the sweat that trickled maddeningly down the center of his back and soaked the waistband of his pants.

His arms ached. Granite did not easily yield.

The soft ripples of the water mocked him, parading a breeze he did not feel. The pillar blocked what small air movement could be had. To add insult to injury, the hot stone reflected the stifling heat back at him. The path was an oven.

A dragonfly skimming the river caught his eye and he paused, mallet in mid-air and chisel in position, muscles bunching under the folds of his damp sleeves.

What if? he pondered.

He shook the thought out of his mind. Let the mallet land.

Who knew what lurked under the surface of seemingly inviting water. Better hot than drowned.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

 

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

 

 

No Line

 

“There’s no line!” Margo pulled Adina’s hand with one of hers and pointed with the other. “Let’s hurry!”

Adina followed Margo’s finger, shielding her eyes from the sun. It’s been a long day already and they’d only gotten in a little over an hour ago. The drive. The stops. The lines for the tickets. The lines for the entrance. The lines for the bathroom. The lines to the lines …

Her eyes met the target.

What was that!?

A contraption rose ahead, metal-barred and plastic-sheathed, crisscrossed with steps and zigzagged horrors.

“Come on!” Margo danced on the balls of her feet, ecstatic.

Adina felt the hotdog that she didn’t even eat yet threaten a revisit.

No way she was going up that thing. Nope. Ain’t gonna happen.

“Must be a reason no one’s there,” she tried.

“Yeah! Because it is ‘by reservation.’ Aren’t you glad I called ahead and made one?”

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Of Moods And Bangs

https://dalectables.files.wordpress.com/2020/05/horned-cattle.jpg

 

“Are you guarding the entrance?”

There was no response.

He didn’t really expect one. Not when she was in a mood.

She was going to just lie there by the narrow path between the wooden pallets that served as makeshift bridge and entrance, and stare at it as if the others would miraculously manifest by the force of her willpower alone.

“I think there’s a new herd coming from the east,” he noted.

No movement. He didn’t think she’d fall for it. Still, was worth a try. One never knew.

For his part, he did not grace her with a turn of his head. She did not deserve a sway of his magnificent woolly bangs, the pride of Farmer Jones, the envy of his peers, the feller of many a heifer.

He stood his ground. She guarded hers.

The flies buzzed.

It was going to be a very long afternoon.

 

 

 

For Cristina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Home Sweet Home

cob-cottage CrispinaKemp

 

They stopped the car down the lane and walked the last few hundred yards, wanting to see the cottage unveiled.

“Grandma would be proud,” Tilly sighed. The roof had bowed in and the walls had extensive water damage the last time they’d seen the place.

“Not about the fence, she wouldn’t.”

Tilly grinned. Her brother never could let an opportunity to find fault go unheeded. And … the fence did need propping. “A stray dog or deer knocked it. Surely it’ll be easy to mend.”

“Hmm.”

Tilly looped her arm in her brother’s. The cottage finally looked the way she remembered, the way Grandma had maintained it all the years she’d lived there and until she had to go into care.

Once more it was going to be home sweet home.

“Let’s get the car, and my things,” Tilly said. “We’ll be bringing Grandma along, in spirit, if not in form.”

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge