The Creek Don’t Rise

 

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“Tomorrow, God willing and the creek don’t rise!” Mama smacked the rug one last time, stepped back to admire her handiwork, nodded to herself, and shouldered the beater.

“But Mama,” Marlee whined, “everyone else is going!”

I watched the exchange from the safety of a leafy fork on the big tree. If Mama didn’t see me, she could not call on me for chores.

Mama stopped. “Everyone?”

Marlee straightened. Hopeful and suspicious.

“Every. Single. Person?”

Marlee’s shoulders dropped.

“Thought so.” Mama’s dress swirled prettily as she turned toward the cabin, and for a moment I could see the lass she’d been before Bobby and I and Marlee came and brought with us gray hairs and wrinkles.

“But …”

“But nothing. The creek is swelled with rain and more may be coming. No swimming. And,” she added, “You come down from that tree. I need help with the washing.”

 

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Dream Come True

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It only took him 300 years. A breeze, considering.

Many took longer. Some – like Olives and Redwoods – required a millennium to achieve Elder. No fault of theirs, of course, but still … many times longer than he’d had to.

His from-seedling brother had thought him nuts. Literally. “Wait and wait to reach Elder and all you get for your trouble is being bent out of shape, your roots hanging out, and critters crawling in your innards.”

His brother had other aspirations. “Sail the world, I would. Ride the ocean. Move on the wind.”

Elder hadn’t had the heart to tell him that he’d be just as likely to end up planked as some dark closet, with no fresh air or birdsong or butterfly-kisses. Or worse, chopped to burn.

It’s been centuries since lumberjacks carted his brother away.

He was Elder now. Guardian of the path. Home of many.

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

The Longest Walk

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The dappled path grew arms of shade to shackle her so that her legs refused to move.

Earth’s gravity cranked itself up and higher.

It needn’t be so hard, and yet each cell in her begged an excuse.

She couldn’t.

She had to.

She shouldn’t.

She must.

She wouldn’t.

She better.

Or else.

The tree-lined corridor – so outwardly calm, so beautifully straightforward – was but a hall of mirrors.

An amplifier of her agony.

For who would see it and believe her, when none had yet, and perhaps no one ever would?

The careful greenery imposed a form of blindness on others.

A willingness to only selectively see.

Appearances, she already knew, could become everything.

It made the manicured life into a wall beyond which no one saw. Or wouldn’t.

Leaving her to take.

Again.

As in every day.

The longest walk.

Home.

And its unspoken of.

Relentless,

Tortures.

 

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

Dedicated to all who live behind the veils of appearances and are kept hidden in plain sight under a mirage of perceived privilege. Abuse knows no socioeconomic boundaries. Torment knows no race, no age, no god, no faith, no intellect, no education, no level of income. May you be heard. May you find a way to be safe.

 

 

Blue Sentry

 

“Can you see them?” Lizzie swayed with anticipation. The waiting has been endless. Endless. Endless.

There was no response.

“Blue!?” she prompted.

“Hold your horses,” Lily soothed, always one to keep the peace. “He takes time to formulate and produce.”

Lizzie knew that, and that it wasn’t proper to press others to do what they physically could not. She tipped her head in guilty acknowledgement.

Still, she wished someone else was standing sentry. Not that Blue had any say. They were each placed where they were placed, and had to make the most of it. Slow as time, Blue would have to do.

And yet, it was so hard to wait.

Especially when she was finally dressed in all her finery and wanted to show it off before any got wilted.

“Car,” Blue said.

Finally! Lizzie wriggled.

“Such Impatiens,” Petunia rustled. “No finesse. All is hurry hurry hurry with them.”

 

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Refusal

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“Not all orders ought to be obeyed.”

The old man’s head was bent over the leather, but Owen read more than concentrated focus in the bony shoulders, in the jab of awl then needle bearing sinew through the holes.

“They said ‘Everyone’, Grandfather,” the youth fretted.

The fingers stopped moving and rheumy eyes met his in shared cornflower. The hue used to comfort him. A confirmation of family and familiarity. Now Owen wondered whether it also reflected the age he may well not live to be. Especially, he thought, if he did not obey …

“Look up,” the elder’s chin bobbed.

Owen squinted against glare. White sun on milky skies and swift-moving darker clouds of gray.

“You can no more change the sun’s course than a moral compass,” Grandfather noted. A cloud blotted the sun and a chill traveled down Owen’s back. “Do not obey evil. Fight it, or hide.”

 

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Horsing Around

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“Did she see you take Butter?”

Hailey chuckled, “Nah.”

The stable dame was notorious for imbibing at lunch and for the sprawled-in-chair-nap that followed. If you timed it correctly, you could saddle a horse, enjoy a ride, and return before the woman stirred awake.

“What if she found out?” Dora squirmed on Rocky’s back, and the gelding raised his head in admonition. “Sorry, Rocky,” she placed a palm on the equine’s neck.

Hailey shrugged. “Not like Butter will tattle. Right, Butter?”

The horse neighed in return, and the girls giggled.

Rocky snorted.

“Nor you, Rocky. You ain’t a snitch,” Hailey agreed.

The mare trotted languidly. She had to be just as happy for the outing, let alone with Rocky. If it weren’t for Hailey’s family’s recent trouble, and the sale of Butter to Mrs. Jolly’s stable, the horses would still be grazing together, as they had from colt and filly.

 

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Water Line

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She took herself onto the cliff each morning. Obedient. Observant. Obeisant.

Obscure as her faith seemed to those who did not understand, she nonetheless kept fast to her beliefs. To her practice. Those who shook their head did so due to limits in their vision. Their blindness did not diminish the veracity of what was, to her, as real as the rock she sat on.

She did not belittle other people’s inability.

As she wished they did not deride what they declared her “foolishness.”

To her, it was a line she drew. Of kindness. Or on harder days, of patience.

A mirror to the line that stretched across the water to reflect the passage of the Glories. The empyrean beings that took pain to skim the water in her favor.

In all their favor.

As protection.

From the monsters of the deep.

The ones she knew. The one she’d seen.

 

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Sitting Duck

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“It has no feathers.”

“Of course it doesn’t,” Molly noted. “It’s a duckling. It has fuzz.”

Duffy was not impressed. The small thing was squeaky and looked utterly too squeashy. She wasn’t even sure it was waterproofed.

She shook her head. She never was good with small squeaky, squeashy, clingy things.

“It’s only for a short while,” Molly’s voice was soft, but Duffy recognized the little waves of irritation that signaled turbulence just underneath the surface.

Best not mess with that.

Duffy sighed and peered closely at the fuzzball. “So what am I supposed to do with it?”

Molly flapped with such relief that Duffy wasn’t sure whether to be reassured or terrified.

“Just keep it out of trouble,” her sister called, already on the wing.

“What kind? How…?”

Silence.

Then a squeak.

The fuzzball waddled, pooped, and attempted to preen its zero feathers. Ridiculous.

Her nephew.

Also kinda’ cute.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Top Terrace

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Finally, the upper nest!

Getting it was not only about ousting the head of their band. Battling persistent bumble foot, Bellow Baggins was not much of an opponent anymore. The issue was the other wannabes who jockeyed for position. Not the least of them being Peg-The-Leg, a nest brother and beak in Squeal’s side since hatching.

It took finesse, skill, and a good bit of cunning to throw the competition off the ledge. Figuratively these days, but no less satisfying. For Squeal never forgot the terror of Flight-School (or as fledglings called it, Fly-or-Die days). Peg-The-Leg had the benefit of an extra nesting day and a bigger mouth. It had taken little effort for him to shove Squeal out. Almost to his death.

No matter. Time had been kinder to the peewee. Now Peg-The-Leg was taken down a peg to nesting in the eaves, while Squeal paraded a top terrace.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Writing In The Sand

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She shifted her weight and sand squeezed warm between her toes. Heated not by sun – the orb still far too distant in such early spring – but because she’s been standing still so long that the permeating chill under her soles relented to the constant pulse of lifeblood in her veins.

A bird called. Another bird returned. An insect buzzed a disharmonious song. It will be summer soon.

She felt her chest rise in a breath and her eyes skimmed the expanse of shimmering ground, patient, waiting for the tide.

Today, perhaps, he’ll come.

Today, maybe, he will return home from the wild, where waves rose high and ships dipped low to the ocean’s floor.

There was a writing in the sand. A code left by the crabs. The gulls. The seaweed.

She waited. Wavelets licked her feet.

Perhaps today something of him will wash ashore.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge