Tiny Tidings

 

The dreary times were soon to pass.

No matter that her breath still steamed both outdoors and inside the drafty house. No matter that her red fingers barely bent with swelling and that the chilblains on her toes still burned and ached and itched. No matter that she took so long to warm come night that she almost despaired of sleeping.

The dreary times were soon to pass.

She knew.

True, it was still frosty.

But the cold was dying.

She knew, because the ice formed only on the very edges of her washbasin and because what frost adorned the ground in the morning would transmute into miniature mirrors of dew by the time the sun rose higher in the sky.

And because she saw the primrose.

Blooming.

Out there.

In audacious glee.

If the tiny flowers could endure the remnants of frigidity, so could she.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Limbo

(Photo: Crispina Kemp)

 

He leaned back and sighed in contentment.

It was never a simple thing, to find comfort. 

He sighed again. Just for the pleasure of it.

A bird chirped over his head, and he lifted his chin to greet it.

“You got it, Feathered Friend,” he smiled.

Birds understood the impossibility of confinement. How one needed room. To fly. To move. To preen. To be. To keep balance.

It was not a simple thing, to find space for one’s wingspan.

Especially not for his.

“Daddy Long Legs,” people had called him, and not with kindness. “Spindly Spider Man.”

He couldn’t help his lanky limbs, how his pituitary did something that made his long bones longer and lacked a way to let them know he was past growing age.

How long? He didn’t know.

Limbo sighed, stretched his legs, and rested his feet on the stump.

One day at a time.

 

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

A Long Way Down

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“This place will never do,” Aaron shook his head.

“It’ll have to,” Ella tucked the edges of frustration back into the crevices that practice had made almost foolproof. Almost. One could not get complacent.

She’d seen what happened when one did, and the cost was never worth the temptation of release.

“We’ll make it work,” she added before Aaron could add argument to what they both knew will have to be managed anyway.

The steep plot of thicket-covered land was all they had. A measly inheritance, perhaps, but better than the debtor’s jail … and the ways one had to pay debts with one’s body. Piecemeal. By the hour. By the man. They could neither of them survive it again.

“It is a long way down,” Aaron acquiesced. “The stairs are rotted.”

“A longer way up for those who do not know the path,” Ella smiled. “We’ll do fine.”

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

Speed Dating

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He was the shy one of the waddling. Afraid to take the lead or be left behind, he maintained his place in the middle of their paddling, webbed feet rowing furiously as to not lose his place.

“Too tightly wound, that one,” his mama tilted her head in puzzlement, for there was naught wrong with him. Middle hatched, middle weight, decent feathering.

“Good thing he’d never have to lay eggs,” his aunt quacked laughter. “Or sit on them, rain or hail or thunder!”

He pretended to not hear. Bobbed amidst the plump. Scanned the water. Dove. Rose. Dove.

“They’re just a bunch of hens,” a soft squeak sounded.

He pulled his head up too fast and almost dove back just to cover up his clumsiness.

She rested effortlessly on the water, a perfect Duckess from the skein that had dropped by their pond.

“You could leave,” she added. “Come with.”

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Spring Loaded

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(Photo: Crispina Kemp)

 

A steady stream of arms laden with crinkly cellophane bundles traipsed through the narrow entrance corridor, up the stairs, around the bend, and past the out-of-order elevator.

The smells of urine, rust, and peeling paint receded. Giving way to vases, boxes, baskets, floral foams, and rubber bands.

There were roses. Lush buds with intrepid blooms unfurling their blushing petals amidst a proliferation of snowy Baby’s Breath.

There were carnations in white, fuchsia, orange, and a teal-blue hue that nature did not make but lent a Caribbean Sea vibe to the bouquet.

Daffodils and tulips, proud atop their stems, even if their own growth did not commence in frosted ground but in the cushy climate of the nursery.

And Gerbera daisies in a smiling rainbow of colors resting atop greens.

The room brimmed with the scent of flowers.

If she could not wait for spring, they would bring spring to her.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Green Throne

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Not many could make stone into illusion.

She could.

Her hands carved softness into unyielding rock. Made age appear into the moss as if the stone itself shed velvet, hewed damp to seep from underneath the surface as if through the core of sighing cushions, long forgotten, left to rot.

Only it was not.

Instead of a discarded chair, it was a throne. A headstone.

A memorial to the man who’d scooped her out of orphaned desperation, who brought her here, who led her to her heart’s forgotten home.

She held the memories of his calloused hands atop her shoulders. Steadying her mallet, guiding her chisel, letting her learn. Letting her fail. Letting her know she was worthy. As was he. Just because she was.

His masonry was practical. Fences. Houses. Walls.

Hers sang to the forest floor as she carved. His armchair, reincarnated.

For eternity. Her parent of soul.

 

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Almost Ready

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She practiced every day the sea was calm and some days when it was not but the waves called her anyway.

“Your lips will permanently blue,” Lucy, her twin, chided.

Leena shook her head and tightened the proffered towel around her shoulders. Her fingers were numb and the damp cloth almost slipped.

Lucy sighed. She used her brooch to pin together the towel’s ends, then rubbed Leena’s back to help the blood flow. She could not dissuade her younger-by-ten-minutes sister from swimming. Leena was all stubbornness once she’d set her mind to something. But Lucy could make sure Leena did not go to the beach alone, and that someone was there to help warm her up and get her safely home.

“I’m almost ready, Lucy,” Leena gasped through chattering teeth. “Next time Cousin Ned visits, I’ll beat him to the logs. He will not get to call me Weakleena again!”

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Respite Ride

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The sun splashed warmth onto her cheek and she raised her head in wonder. It’s been overcast for days. The rain spitting intermittently through heavy banks of fog. She has been so intent on her needle work, her thread meandering upon the canvas in search of hue-filled flower beds, that she had missed the change in weather altogether.

Her lips lifted and she put the sewing down. However jolly, the pattern was no substitute for the real tapestry that unfurled under bright light outside.

She made haste. There was no way to know how long the patches of blue sky will stay unclothed by clouds.

In the stables, Sally hoofed the earthen floor and shook her head to echo her mistress’s excitement.

“I know,” Mauve tightened the saddle on the mare. “We both of us cannot wait to take a respite ride. The paths await. The sun’s still there!”

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

His Hummingbird

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The day had been dreary so far. The cold. The damp. The boring wait for the car’s repair. The need to keep her body still and her mouth from chattering.

Gran did not let her wander. Or climb. Or touch things.

“You’ll get filthy.” Gran had stated. Like an ultimate sin.

At first Beth did try to argue. Daddy always said that filth is easy to wash off and that a bit of dirt was no excuse for sitting out good fun.

Gran did not think highly of Daddy.

“What judgment that man could have had in him,” Gran grumbled, “he’d given it up when he chose to leave my uterus early … and it only went downhill from there.”

Or up, Beth thought. He had promised to watch over her. Before the angels called.

“My Hummingbird,” he’d called her.

Her eyes rested on the sign. She smiled.

Hi Daddy.

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Reprieve

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She lifted her face to the sun and felt the vibrant scents of waves and freedom fill her lungs. The whole of her relaxed as if on cue. Pre-programmed. Indelibly tuned in to the whoosh of ocean breath that she could not yet see but every cell within her remembered.

Her heart swelled and her chest rose, liberated.

The moment coursed through her in liquid satisfaction.

Surf. Ebb. Swish. Flow. Hiss. Sand-licking waves.

Another inhalation of the salty tang and behind her she could hear the sounds of other people readying to take the path from car-park to sand. A child protested. A man’s voice soothed. A door slammed. A moment later a discordant melody of feet clip-clopped onto the faded wooden slats, drumming a crescendo of expectation through her bare feet.

The beach.

A needed reprieve.

At home at last by the ocean where her soul had always lived.

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge