No Time For That

 

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There was never enough time.

For that.

No time for the things that mattered but were not deemed essential. 

No time for the space that was given no paths to traverse.

None for the slow breath that could have allowed a pause

In the constant

Race.

Because there was never time.

For that.

Too much buzzed already

From the break of dawn to the collapse of night.

No time for

Time.

And so, she stopped it.

 

Stopped time.

 

She let the hands rest.

Let the heart expand inside the fluttering confines of the

Chest.

She let the breeze

Set

The pace.

The leaves, believe.

The ground stretch long and wide beneath

The feet.

The skies expand across

The dawn.

To let

The space that had

Held on,

To finally

Allow itself to be

Redrawn.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Bronzed

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“How will I know it’s over?” Marika fretted.

“You will,” Jurena assured. A month older, she was already Bronzed.

“But …”

“But nothing …” Jurena lowered the edge of the tent and stole away. She wasn’t supposed to be anywhere near Marika. Especially not tonight.

Marika listened to the silence. She shivered and tried to not think of Undine, her neighbor, who had never reappeared. Not all did.

The darkness filled her, thick as molasses. Her limbs grew heavy. Her ears began to ring.

Perhaps it was the magic.

Perhaps it was that drink.

Shadows entered, and Marika’s mind filled with molten spears, lava on dried grass. Encroaching. Coming near.

The fire lit her from within. The biting ants. The heat. The pain.

She screamed.

Perhaps she dreamed.

By dawn the elders had removed the gloves. The bullet ants were still.

Marika’s hands were bronzed with stings.

An adult’s.

Her childhood scoured clear.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

Note: I don’t know why this photo brought up the image of a years-ago-seen video about Initiation With Ants video, filmed by National Geographic. But for some reason it did, and so I let it take me where it wanted to lead.

 

The Lost

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It wasn’t the hunger. Or the cold. Or the worry that their bruises won’t have time to heal before another layer made lace of the colors on their skin, to serve a lesson in horror and morals for their kin.

It was, more than anything, the despair.

The utter loneliness within.

The feeling that there will never be another way to be. Another way to live. Another place to be.

For the Commune was The Law, and The Law was The Faith, and The Faith was the whip and the rope and the cellar’s dirt floor.

The Law was everything.

Until.

That day when someone – who some later said was of the lost who were forbidden to be let back in – breached the fences. Ignored the “No Entry” sign circling the fields. Climbed through the grasses. 

With a lens. And later, with the law.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

The Shut One

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They’ve learned to speak naught about it.

So well that they almost forgot it was. There. Tabooed.

She had tried justifying to herself later. How there had been much to cope with and such minuscule leeway. How choice never truly was, a choice.

But as well as she could explain the circumstances, she could less and less forgive. Herself for the blind eye that she’d turned. Them for making it so that she’d needed to. For making it so that they could not even talk of it amongst themselves.

The crushing price of secrets. A cost calculated not with arms and legs, but hearts.

It haunted her. Nowadays. Now-a-nights.

The shuffling beyond the darkened window. The locks. The cries. The scraps that weren’t really for the dog.

By the time she’d grown enough to contemplate a rescue, there was naught to save.

Her sister. Feeble. Gone.

 

 

For Cristina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Gateway

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She pulled the reins gently, but Mathilde was already slowing. Perhaps the mare knew where to stop. Perhaps she understood Elana’s shift in the saddle.

The horse tensed under her thighs.

“I know you want to gallop,” Elana patted Mathilde’s sable neck. “We’ll just stop here a minute.”

Mathilde snorted, then lowered her head to nibble on a cluster of dandelions by the gatepost.

“It’s been too long,” Elana whispered. To herself. To the plaque the ancestor she was named after had placed at the property’s threshold. A crest. A warning. A gateway.

Elana reached and Mathilde pranced sideways, bringing them flush with the square of gray granite. “Thank you, Em,” Elana breathed.

Her fingers traced the carvings and rested on the wheel of time.

The air around them shimmered. Bent. Restored.

The pasture rippled in the sun and she heard a clash of swords. Laughter.

“Let’s go visit Great-Grandam!”

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Green Grace

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“I didn’t even know where she lived.”

Maya shook her head, agreeing. “Don’t think anyone knew.”

“I did,” Sydney whispered.

Deena and Maya turned to her and stared. Tears made a path through the makeup on Sydney’s cheeks, ruining an hour’s worth of work in front of a mirror.

“Spill …” Deena demanded after Sydney said no more. “You brought us here!”

“Yeah,” Maya echoed, encircling the overgrown garden and weed-filled greenhouse with her arm. Goodness knows the condition of the stone cottage. “How come you know where Rock-For-Heart…” she shrugged apologetically at Deena’s kick. “Sorry, now that she’s, um, gone…where Professor Rockfort lived?”

Everyone gave a wide berth to the gruff professor in musty tweeds and bushy eyebrows. Her snap was prodigious, and her marks were stingy. Why would anyone even want to know where she lived?

“Her name was Grace,” Sydney sniffled. “And she was my great-grand aunt.”

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Frozen In Time

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“What’s he doing there, Papa?”

“Serving his time,” he didn’t need to look to know what his granddaughter was pointing at. He could see it with his eyes closed. In his sleep. Seared into his very dreams.

“What time?” the innocence in the child’s voice returned him to the present. She could not know. So many died so she would not need to.

“His time in war,” he explained.

“To fight?” the green eyes were round under the cascade of unruly hair. The girl never could abide any hair-ties. Her mother despaired. He found it enchanting. He’d forgotten what it was to have hair

He nodded.

“But he’s just watching,” the child noted.

“Yes,” he nodded.

“Forever?”

He looked up at the man frozen in time. So many of them were.

“I hope not, child.”

She pressed his hand.

“I shall bring him a blanket,” she said. “And a pup.”

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Robin’s robin

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“Tell me again, Grandma,” the child burrowed into the bedclothes.

“You heard it a million times,” she ruffled the girl’s curls.

“But it’s my favorite story, Grandma!”

The woman smiled. Begging was part of the ritual. Their dance of love. She made herself comfortable and felt the small torso snuggle closer.

“Remind me again how it starts?…” she teased.

“Grandma!”

“Silly me. Of course I remember… So, there you were, born early and a little wrinkled.”

“A lot wrinkled!”

“Yes, a lot. And with a howling mouth ajar like a hatchling calling for a juicy worm …”

“Eeew …”

“And we didn’t know what to call you …”

“Till you saw my hair …”

“Which was as rusty as a robin’s bib.”

“And …” the child wriggled with anticipation.

“And it is clearly the right name, because a robin has been nesting in the tree outside your window ever since!”

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Wild Away

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Margot leaned closer to examine the stake. Her smile grew.

The child should be called Gretel, with such clues.

Then again, Margot was no evil stepmom. Or at least, not evil … The two of them couldn’t help not being biologically related.

Not any more than the girl could help being wild.

The social worker believed the latter a hindrance. Understandable, perhaps, given how many placements the child had lost. The system found it inconvenient to have a lass with more wilderness than tameness, who needed space and took it. Knowing Grenadine’s history, how could they not see why she’d tolerate no leash?

“This child will run away,” the social worker had warned when Margot said she’ll have her. “You’re so rural, you’d have no help keeping her contained.”

Margot had no plan to do so.

The child was free. The sticker meant that she’d be home by dinner.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

No Thoroughfare

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“Mama, come quick!”

Marybeth lifted her eyes from the soapy water and straightened, rubbing her aching back with a dripping hand. Luke’s face was flushed. The boy was excitable, and she was of a mind to scold him for being over-dramatic, but something in the whites of his eyes stayed her tongue.

“What is it?”

“Just come, Mama, please!”

She sighed and wiped her hands on her apron. “Come where?”

“The back. By the woodlands,” Luke ran ahead, turned, returned, and grabbed her hand. Hurrying her.

“Slow down, boy, nothing to be gained by spraining ankles.”

He inhaled as if to argue, but did not. Good lad.

They walked.

What on…?

She grabbed his shoulder and felt him shiver.

Whatever had gone through had to be monstrous.

The sun found a cloud. A shadow grew. A full moon was soon to follow.

Ankles be damned.

They turned and ran.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge