The Marianna

 

He did it. He’d pared it all down and tucked it all in and stocked her all up.

He was down to one set of waterproofs, two pairs of jeans, three tees, four pairs of socks, five undies, six favorite CDs, seven books.

He was going for eight apples, nine carrots, and ten bananas, but he ate two bananas walking back from the store. So there was that. In any event, there were many other odds and ends he didn’t count but that counted just as much: sleeping bags, towels and dishes and batteries, the manual pump. All the things that would make it home.

For it was going to be. Home. The first he’d ever owned.

This boat: The Marianna.

His little sister had always dreamed of living on one, and her yearning settled in him after she died.

He smiled at the sky. “Welcome aboard, Marianna. Let’s fly.”

 

 

For Crispina’s CCC #53

 

The Essentials

 

Finally.

She shrugged her pack off and lowered herself so her back rested against a tree, blessing — for the umpteenth time — the waterproofs she’d splurged on several years ago.  The purchase had meant giving up puddings for two months, but she’d never regretted the trade-off.

Food was essential, but so was heeding nature’s call for spending time in the outdoors. It was required nourishment for her soul.

In any weather, no matter damp or cold.

Soon she’d make the tent, gather wood, and light a fire to cook her oats on. But first she just sat, filling her lungs with air and her mind with calm contentment.

Raised in the city, she didn’t know how hungry she was for the outdoors until friends invited them to join a camping trip. She was ten.

Her parents hated every minute of it. For her, it had been like finally finding home.

 

 

 

For Crimson’s Creative Challenge #52

 

Itsy Eats it!

 

She’d had it with replacing the gate five times in a season.

She’d had it with coming back from any length of trip to find her garden in shambles, her gazebo in ruins, and her abode filled with debris. There were always some of her favorite things broken or missing.

Something had to be done.

This might not look like it’d stop determined burglars, but it should at least cause pause to the majority. If any dared try.

It didn’t matter that it was made of bent reeds, or that she’d been advised to seal the opening with bricks. Too much stone felt heavy. And anyway, she found pleasing beauty in the symmetry, in the way light filtered through. It was like a window to the world.

Also, Itsy came with references and guaranteed the work.

“Itsy build,” the industrious worker promised. “And if something break in. Itsy eats it.”

 

 

 

For the Crimson Creative Challenge #51

 

 

Their Dream

 

In his dreams he sees a mansion, flanked by rows of old-growth trees, fenced by sturdy brickwork, gated by imposing wrought iron spiked by gold.

In his dreams, he sees a driveway that spells out the expectation of his wealth. He envisions sprawling gardens, floors of endless rooms, and lavish halls, and a multi-car abode.

In his dreams he sees the pools, the tennis courts, the deck, the dock, the boat.

In her dreams she sees a cottage on the edge of forest, amidst the rolling meadows heading into dunes and shore.

In her dreams she sees the cozy rooms, the closeness of the furnishing, the softness of the rugs upon the cool slates of the floor.

And when he shares his dreams and scoffs at hers and tells her that she dreams “far too small,” she knows that their shared one won’t go where they’d thought it would, before.

 

 

For the Crimsons Creative Challenge

 

 

Become Stone

Photo: #CCC48

 

She crouched and tried to still her heart and limbs so the water would not give her away in wavelets or ripples.

Her teeth chattered. She wasn’t dressed for wet and the day’s sun had little warmth, none of which reached the shaded culvert.

She strained to listen.

She did all she could think of to hide her steps, but she wasn’t likely to escape the dogs. If they brought them. Oh pray please, please, that they did not. Not the dogs.

Her breath hitched and she bit down on her lip to try and swallow the sob that rode on it. The metal taste of blood filled her mouth. She heard barking. Surely the dogs could smell it. And her fear.

She closed her eyes and prayed to become stone.

She would not feel their chains, the bites, the clubs, their touch, their lashes, if she were a stone.

 

 

 

For the Crimson Creative Challenge

 

Up Or Down

 

She could go up

Or down

On the path

Into town.

There the low road

Awaited,

Full of snarls and

outdated.

Or she could take

The high

With its twists,

Turns,

And sighs.

 

She could go up

Or down

On the path

Into town.

So she paused to

Reflect,

How to best

Course correct,

And decided it

Best

To give the high road

A test.

 

 

 

For Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

At The Window

Wacton church window

 

She’d drag her trunk over every time she was left alone. It did not happen nearly often enough, so she faked head-hurts when her need got too great.

She’d drag the trunk over and place the foot-stool atop it. Gather her skirts and climb to stand precariously on it, balancing on tiptoes.

It was the only way to reach the window.

It was the only way to look out.

The only way to see the fields. The light upon the water in the distant pond. The green or bloom or brown or white of seasons. The birds. The trees. The world outside.

She didn’t know how long she’d have to stay confined to the Women’s Tower. Probably till she was of age to be married off and be conveyed in a shuttered carriage to the Women’s Tower in some other lord’s estate. The curse of her birth.

Highborn girl-children did not go out of doors very often. They did not spend time in the courtyard after infancy and were never unveiled or unaccompanied. Their chastity required they not be seen.

She watched the peasants’ children frolicking. She watched the girls work the fields, herd the geese, chase stray ducklings, spread seed for the hens, milk the goats, cut the hay, grind the wheat, slap cloth against the rocks at the sparkling stream. She could almost feel them breathe, though when she tried to draw breath herself it only let in suffocation. So much so she sometimes did not need to fake a head-hurt after that.

The latticed windows did not open. Two narrow slats near the corners of the tower room did respond to her mother’s lock in fine weather to allow air through cracks barely as wide as her wrist. Not that she was allowed to try and push an arm through them. It would be unseemly.

Still, she tried. Once. The marginal openings met a stone ledge’s resistance after a few inches’ opening.

Protection from invaders and wild-men, she was told.

Guarantee against escape of any kind, she thought.

 

 

 

For Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Waterproof

Girl on Bank CCC25

 

“How come she’s not wet?” Ricky whispered.

Tim shrugged, but his own eyes were round.

The two were lying on the bluff above the pond on damp bellies, and passing a pair of miniature binoculars between them. Tim’s Nan would have his hide if she found out he’d ‘borrowed’ them, but Nan was dosing after an early toddy … And anyway, they needed the binoculars to spy on Gertrude, their new neighbor, who they suspected was a covert operator, or a witch, or both.

“She’s been sitting there forever,” Ricky groaned. Spying was a lot more glamorous in movies. And less muddy. “I’m soaked. How come she’s not wet?”

Tim fiddled with the binoculars. The dials didn’t work much but it made him feel important, if only because he forbade Ricky to touch them. “Must be she used spells. To make her waterproof.”

 

 

For Crimson’s Creative Challenge: #25