Left Hanging

sole-shoe CrispinaKemp

 

She didn’t need to be quite so blunt.

Not that she ever did mince words. Or hold back actions.

It was what he loved about her. It was also what became exhausting. Fending off arguments. Splitting hairs.

He wasn’t averse to a good conversation, but was it really necessary to have confrontations about the best-by-date of parsley or whether T-shirts needed to be folded a certain way or whether such-and-such celebrity looked better before their latest procedure or if they ought to order red or yellow apples?

“You’re apathetic to the world!” she’d accused. “If you don’t care about small things, how would you care about the bigger issues?”

His sigh only infuriated her.

Perhaps it’s better that she left. But did she really have to hang her purple shoe, the one he’d gotten her, outside his window?

She used to be his princess. Now he was a stepsister.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

A Walk And A Bite

 

boy-fishing CrispinaKemp

 

“I’m going out for a walk and a bite,” he said.

No one answered.

Not that he expected anyone to. It was just a habit. A way of hearing his own voice. A way of reminding himself he still had one to use. A connection to other times and places. 

And people.

It’s been a while since there was anyone home who could reply.

He took the fishing rod and pail. “It’s time to go,” he said to the bait. “I see you ate the leaves I left you yesterday. Good job!”

The spider on the eaves stirred when he shut the door. “You keep an eye,” he saluted with the rod and chuckled. “More than one, since you have them.”

The evening light was soft. The lake was quiet. The water had barely a ripple.

“Hello there, swimmers,” he greeted. “Who would come to keep my gullet company tonight?”

 

 

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

 

 

The Farthest Ride

They were going to make a race for it.

Sherry frowned.

Why did everything have to be a race with them?

She knew there was naught a thing she could do to dissuade them. To the contrary: if she tried to, they were almost certain to up the ante, in bravado and a bit of spite.

Older sisters were never listened to. Even if they were ran to later with the scrapes and bruises and secrets that had to be kept from parents and the like.

Lots more than scrapes and bruises at risk here, though.

“I’m going to ride,” Thomas bragged. The paddle-board he’d rescued from the trash was his pride and joy. Pitiful in looks, with masking tape to hold the bits together, but serviceable. For ripples. Not for this.

“Nah, I swim,” Teddy said. “I’ll reach the farthest wind turbine before you get half-way to the first!”

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

A Point Of View

green-gate CrispinaKemp

 

“He’d left it that way on purpose,” the late owner’s grandson pointed.

Sarah regarded the old fence with its mossy stains. Bushes crowded near and the trees grew so close they’d soon be integrated into the fence. A thorny climber threatened to lock the gate from within, and she wondered how many times it or its predecessors had done so, how many times it had been gently pruned to keep the portal functioning.

“For a trellis?” she bent her knees to peek out through the slats on the ladder-like bit of fencing adjacent to the gate. The front of the property was fenced in stone. Only this portion in the rear was wooden. She almost liked it better. In her mind’s eye she saw roses. Or sweet peas. Or jasmine.

“For a view.”

She glanced up.

“Old blood feud with the neighbors.” The man explained. “But he loved their daughter.”

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

At Arm’s Length

gy-row-at-night CrispinaKemp

 

“You cannot avoid her forever,” Mom’s sewing barely paused as she cut the thread and got another length through the eye of the needle, “not when Alice lives but an arm’s length away.”

I hunched miserably over my own sewing, the tip of my tongue lodged against my teeth where it would not show but can still provide me some security. The ‘hidden’ stitch kept sprouting comas of thread on the side of the hem one wasn’t supposed to notice any. I was hopeless at needlework. Mom still insisted.

I avoided you finding safety pins in my hem, I thought to myself, and our cramped quarters allow even less than arm’s length.

“I’ll go around,” I tried.

Mom actually snorted. “You think Mrs. Munster will become your thoroughfare?”

I shrugged. Mrs. Munster’s house bridged the alley. She was a dragon, but I just couldn’t face Alice. I was too ashamed.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

 

 

Profit Margin

old-boat-at-bc-marina CrispinaKemp

 

He walked around the boat.

Excellent. Most people would not give it another look, which was exactly what he had intended.

They’d done a good job, aging the structure so it seems derelict, abandoned, old.

The bits of metal, old jerrycans and the ‘who-knows-what-plagues-hide-under-this-junk’ that were strewn about only augmented the effect. The well-placed rusty barbwire didn’t hurt, either.

Perfect.

Very few knew that once aboard and down the hatch, the innards were state-of-the-art creature comforts and the latest in surveillance.

There had been too many botched drops lately. Too many intercepted by an over-zealous coast guard. It was a shame that their contact inside had been exposed and that greasing of hands was no longer appreciated. Mateo had been taken care of, of course, to minimize risk of blathering. But supplies still needed to get through. Profits required solutions.

He nodded his approval.

Beside him, Boris exhaled. “Thanks, Boss.”

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Everything She Needs

shadowed-me CrispinaKemp

 

She took one last look around, another in the mirror.

Waterproofs. Umbrella. Boots. A change of clothes tied around her waist. A utility apron with ration-filled pockets. Some necessaries. Her pen and notebook. Basic first aid. Matches. Tarp. The photo. And her courage, tightly wound into the center of her chest.

She was ready.

There were no roads or maps where she was going. She’d hike up then use her wits and hopefully the scent of memory, awakened, to find the place. She didn’t know how much the faded photo would help, with the quarry and the landslide and the decades passed since the plate was exposed. Still, she took it. Her soul told her that the photo did not wish to be left behind.

She walked into the dawn. She had everything she needed.

If fates smiled, she’d find the ruins of Witch Wilma’s home. Her great-great-grandma’s tomb.

 

 

For Crispina Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Square One

st-olaves-mill CrispinaKemp

 

“You’ll have to climb up there to fix it,” Shelly’s voice made clear he did not think the climbing or the fixing would do any good.

Bertie sighed. It was none of it ever simple. Not with Shelly. Not with him.

Mama prophesied it when his brother was born wrinkled, whimpering, and without a dad.

“You’ll have to watch out for him,” she’d announced to four-year-old Bertie. “You’re his older brother now.”

Then mama, too, was gone, and left them with their uncle and their scowling aunt, who did not need two more butts to wipe or wallop, and Bertie had his work cut out for him. Then, and now.

Shelly couldn’t help being pessimistic. At least Bertie had had some years of motherly love.

“It’ll work,” Bertie promised, climbed.

The windmill spun. Lights came on. Then the new cable caught and tore and they were back to square one.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

4T

max-headroom CrispinaKemp

 

Luke eyed the sign ahead.

“I won’t be allowed in,” he sighed.

Sarah scrunched her forehead. “Maybe they won’t notice?”

Luke raised an eyebrow. He was 6’8″.

Of course they would notice. It was a stupid thing to say. She blushed. “I’m sorry, Luke. I mean, it’s just so unfair!”

He nodded. Such rules often were. Still many tended to accept, even embrace, ‘patriotic regulations’ … until caprice hit close to home. Or in his case, on the way back to it.

He had pooh-poohed the risk. What folly.

He wouldn’t be allowed into the City. Even though he’d been born and raised and lived there. Had committed no crime. He was banished. They’d expel him if he were still home.

The militia could shoot him on sight. Neighbors would be expected to report his presence. As of that morning, anyone above 6’6″ feet was considered a 4T security risk – Too Tall To Trust.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge