Perfect

spring SueVincent

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

Finally, the light was right, the water mirrored what it ought, the sky spread silk above her head. Even the dotted white of sheep lent the necessary movement to what might otherwise feel a specter of a time too soon or too late.

It was perfect.

Stella pressed the sole of one foot against the trunk and leaned into the tree behind her, balancing the rest of her weight on the other leg. All through her childhood, this preferred pose of hers had driven her mother to distraction.

Though long passed, the memory of a particular exchange about it was yet to fade.

“God gave you two feet to stand on. Use them!” Her mother had demanded.

Stella must have been six or seven years old then. “I am,” she had countered, exasperated with the constant admonitions of what felt to her a perfectly reasonable way to stand. “God also gave me a knee that bends. I’m using that, too.”

Her mother had made her “use her bending knees” to kneel on dried peas for most of that evening, punishment for using God’s name in impertinence. Apparently God also gave children the gift of parents they were not supposed to talk back to.

Stella had carried the bruises of that evening for weeks thereafter, and the ache for longer. She learned to keep quiet when reprimanded, and to adjust her posture and compose her face and straighten her back and never slouch or run or climb or get mud on her skirts or expose her legs. But she still found ways for small rebellions. And whenever she was out of her mother’s line of sight, Stella never did stop planting one sole against a tree or wall when standing. Not even when her brother, whose maleness allowed him liberties that would not be tolerated in a girl, gave her secret away by calling her “Stella Stork.”

And a kind of stork I indeed am, she thought to herself, and pressed her foot into the tree in a sigh of freed determination.

Midwifery did not quite pay the bills. Nor did her artistry through painting. However, between the two callings she had found a certain kind of balance. Granted, she often got paid for the former in apples and hens’ eggs, and while those filled her belly they did not translate into peat or cloth or rent. However, the commissioned illustrations for “Country Ladies” magazine did compensate in some coin, and she had recently been asked to provide a “pastoral series.”

Stella gazed at the scene, adjusted her easel, lifted her brush, and leaned further into the trunk behind her. The past receded. The future waited. The present moment lingered, perfect, as the hours rolled.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s Write Photo

 

 

Slivers Of Dreams

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Photo: Marina Shatskih on Unsplash

 

All those dreams that he had

As a child

Snug

Under covers

At night,

His tattered teddy

In arms.

His dreams

Parsed out

Into slivers

When

Under stars

At war,

His battered rifle

The only thing

He could

Hug.

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt: Dream

 

 

Simon’s Snack

Photo prompt: © Ronda Del Boccio

 

“Peach jelly and olives?! Are you serious?”

“As a heart attack.”

Jack shuddered. This may well be the end result.

Jill’s pasta sauce concoction reminded him of “after-school snack” on days his mother had to work late and the school-bus would drop him off at his uncle’s house. Uncle Simon would have a tall glass of bluish milk waiting, alongside a dish of crackers topped with lemon-lime marmalade and loaded with sardines.

The mere thought of Jill’s recipe gave him the runs.

Good. Saved by the throne.

“Sorry, Hon. I must’ve caught something at work. I better have plain toast.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Note: Dedicated to my cousin Noam, who reportedly loved sardines-and-jelly sandwiches. I remember being horrified by the very idea and saddened that he would never enjoy them again. Four years my senior, he died at war, just weeks past his nineteenth birthday. We miss you, Noam (sandwiches and all)!

 

Memory Lane

Aharonson NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

Down memory lane

Where small feet

Came to learn,

And the stories

Of pain and resistance

Remain,

Where the concepts

Of secret and magic

A house may

Contain,

Filled my mind with

Both worry

And wonder

Again

And again.

 

 

Note: The photo (taken in 2008) is of the fence and alleyway hugging the perimeter of an estate in my childhood town where science, historical espionage, ‘betrayal by pigeon’, capture, torture, hidden tunnels, and suicide were all shared in pretty graphic detail with primary school children during school-tours of the location (complete with yellowed photos, blood stains, personal effects, pistol, tunnel in the bathroom and all). The museum hosted children from all around, but us local kids held the place (which was and still is located right near the town’s center), in a combination of fascination, awe, horror, and perhaps a sprinkle of pride for a perceived association with the courage and tragedy of a local heroine. Though I don’t think they tell this to kids quite the same way these days, the stories and memories remain.

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Back Catalog

 

The Fifth

Me-age10mos-story telling

Me, telling stories at 10 months

 

Fifth of seven, all girls, I was born

Telling tales.

Far enough to duck rules

For first, middle, or last,

I grabbed place

To be me

And held on

Talking fast.

 

As what shouldn’t be

Grew

And real life wove

Impossible,

Words remained

Nonetheless

In my soul

In my brain,

To be clasped

And sustain

Life and joy

Times again.

 

 

For Terri’s Sunday Stills Challenge: Fifth

 

Radium Springs Roulette

radium springs ga casino pc

 

“Well then,” Mom exclaimed.

She was going over Poppa’s papers while I boxed seemingly endless books.

I looked up. There was an album in her lap, black pages empty but for an old postcard.

“He denied it when I’d said he’d taken me there,” Mom whispered. “I was young and believed him, but my heart knew all the same.”

I shook my head. Poppa was as straight-laced as they came.

“He gambled,” she explained. “A salesman meant frequent traveling. He used it to hide visits to casinos.”

She fingered the card. “Radium Springs Casino. I knew I hadn’t dreamed this place. The deep blue water wove tightly with the wheel.”

I gazed at the memento. At my mom.

“I was not-yet-four,” she sighed. “Thomas was just born and Dad took me to ‘work’ so Mom could rest. He played the roulette. … Perhaps his keeping of the card was another gamble.”

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Radium Springs, GA

 

Messenger

Messenger DvoraFreedman

Photo: Dvora Freedman

 

Above it soars,

Large feathers splayed,

A messenger

Of times ahead.

With blessings given,

Seasons’ change,

It rises

O’er the home range.

 

 

For Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: In flight

 

Pancake Danger

 

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This “Danger!” photo challenge made me laugh (okay, chuckle nervously, more like). Because to a child – or the adult remembering – the mismatch between what they know should happen and what seems not to, defies any sense or comprehension.

This was my reaction, as a young child, to the Balancing Rocks in Zimbabwe (at the time Rhodesia), to the southwest of Harare (at the time Salisbury). People strolled their leisurely horror … pointed and laughed and photographed their versions of pre-selfie memorabilia. My siblings climbed onto their certain crushing deaths, and no one seemed perturbed by the giants waiting to turn ant-humans (or their vehicles) into pancakes.

 

balancing rocks zimbabwe

Balancing Rocks. Photographer Unknown

 

Photo Challenge: Danger!