Topper

 

‘Twas the best spot in the woods and he was keeping to it.

Sure, it had almost no leaves and practically no protection from the wind. Sure, the branches whipped around in every breeze and let the cold sneak under the most primped up feathers.

It none of it mattered.

When he could perch up at the very top.

Surveil. Keep tabs. See things first. Unhindered by masses of pine needles or large floppy green things hiding one’s next dinner.

“See Topper there?” he heard a winger chatter at another. “He thinks he’s top banana.”

“Not banana,” Topper retorted, and puffed his chest for emphasis with not-so-hidden indignation. “Top crow!”

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto Challenge

Photo prompt: Sue Vincent

 

 

Tested

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Photo: Andy Feliciotti on Unsplash

 

Perhaps they did not know when it would come, or what it would require to what end. But they had to know they’d face the crucible that will reveal a moral fiber, if they had one.

They’d have to choose then: good or bad, peace or harm, truth or falsehood.

It would appear an easy choice, to go for better judgment. And yet they had so tangled themselves in the net of lies, that extrication meant losses they weren’t quite prepared to reap. Not when they hoped for revenue from crouching behind flags of insurrection.

They capitulated.

Dark history, revisited.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Crucible in 100 words

 

 

Blindsided

ccc-106 CrispinaKemp

 

“Once you’re out the other side you’ll be one of us.”

Marco hiked his chin to try and eye the larger boy through the slits of light underneath the tight blindfold. He wanted to take the stupid thing off. It was scratchy and smelly and made him feel sad.

But to do so would be to give up and be left out. He didn’t want to be left out. Again.

“What if I crash?” he tried but didn’t quite manage to keep the quiver out of his voice. He was afraid of the dark. And of falling. The others knew it. That’s why this test. To weave a skateboard, blind, through the concrete blocks in the underpass.

“Then,” Roberto replied haughtily, “you will have only yourself to blame for not being good enough.”

Marco blinked. It sounded wrong.

Before he could pull the blindfold off, someone gave him a push.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Better Happy Than Sad

 

“You think he’ll win?”

Shlomi shrugged. Elections or not, he was distracted by the scents wafting from the cart across the stone-paved alley. His wife would kill him if he drank any of the juices. Diabetes would kill him, too. So it was just a matter of whether it’ll happen on his terms.

Or not.

He sighed.

“Get that pomegranate juice,” Abdul urged. “You know no one makes it like my father does.”

Better die happy than sad.

“Abu Abdul,” Shlomi called across the narrow alley. “One pomegranate?”

“For sure, Habibi,” the old man grinned. “Want that fake-sugar in there?”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers 

 

 

Another World

Photo prompt: © CEAyr

 

“See the lamppost?”

Nick nodded.

“See that reflection?”

Another nod.

“You walk into that store and you’ll be in another world.”

The younger boy shook his head, hair so severely cut it almost looked shaven. Ruben fed him, but everything had a price. True in the orphanage. True on the streets.

“Your loss,” Ruben shrugged. “If you prefer life as it is now …” he drew the last word out.

Nick tried to see through the window. It was like a mirror. He didn’t like what he saw.

“I’ll go,” he said.

“Hat on. Bring out something good. Don’t get caught.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

Them Poor Bushes

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Photo: Burst on Unsplash

 

She figures it would be okay.

She figures it would do.

She’ll find her schedule and get back,

Within a month or two.

She figures she could do the task.

She figures it is fine.

She’d done a thing like that before,

Not quite, but in outline.

Still, she figures it a breeze.

She figures she’d succeed.

Even when history, at best,

Is wondering if indeed.

She figures this, she figures that

In neutral all her wheels,

And it becomes impossible

To not begin to feel,

That maybe it’d be easier

To let them bushes be

They’re beat from hedging here and there

And wishing they could flee!

 

 

Note: This was really just for fun and isn’t about (ahem) anyone … So similarity to any individual is (sort of) coincidental … 😉 Dedicated to all the ‘he’ and ‘she’ and ‘you’ and ‘they,’ who won’t say yea and won’t say nay, and leave us all in limbo every day …

For Linda Hill’s SoCS challenge: figure

 

 

Choosing Dandelions

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Photo: Hasan Almasi on Unsplash

 

I wake and turn my back on the clock and seek the comfort of the dream that is still floating like a bubble, already fragile, above my head. It pops and disappears and there is nothing but a vague sense of something lost. I wanted to go back into it … and yet the choice, when it was made in some subterranean neurological net within my mind, was that sleep was to escape.

The day to unfold.

Still, and throughout the mundane tasks of morning, small search-parties like tentative roots into hard-packed sand, send shoots into my consciousness to try and capture whiffs of the dream. A hope that perhaps a fleeting dandelion seed of recollection will find purchase and regrow a stalk.

A place of in-between. Perhaps a corner of my mind is still in slumber. Perhaps if I find it, I will come across the dream, robust in puffy bubble-hood, still tethered to my insides, waiting to be seen.

Sometimes writing helps.

I have too much to do.

I will ignore.

Will choose to sit and breathe and let my mind and fingers wander where they may, the sands of time, the depths of grief, the dawns of days, the fluttering delights, the warmth of recognition, the sorrows of injustice. Currents of discovery of what’s already there. A sea of tethered bubbles like a field of hot-air balloons, straining at the anchors to let loose.

I wrote of a blimp just the day before.

Was that the origin or the reaction to the imagery of bobbing thoughts and fullness so tangible it turns air into rising power? Was the blimp the source or the reflection of the fragility of any skin if pulled too tight, of the leaking deflation if seams are untended, the world upended as it spirals out of flight?

I write. I breathe.

I look pointedly away from the pink sticky notes and the open documents holding forms awaiting filling for a speaking engagement and another for an upcoming presentation and a list of emails needing a response.

I make a choice.

To chase a dandelion.

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS Challenge: Choices

 

 

Attitudes of Gratitude

Living princess A.L.

Photo: A.L.

 

I chose to write this response to Dawn as a stream of consciousness piece. No edits. No pauses. No revisiting or rethinking or rephrasing. Typos and mismatched sentences and mixed metaphors and all. It is what it is. And so it is. Here goes, some ten things I am grateful for.

  1. You. I am thankful for all of you whom I met in the blog-lands in 2019, and for those I’d met before but got to know better in 2019. I’m thankful for the glorious, tender, poetic, empathic, wise, witty, funny, delightful, mysterious things you write and post and share. For all of you who love. For all of you I love. For the kindness shown to me.
  2. Kindness. I cannot overemphasize how grateful I am for kindness. For the big things people do for each other, yes. Opening one’s home to the needy. Giving of what one has enough of to those who do not. Going all out for someone else. Yes. All that. But also for the seemingly small acts of kindness: Holding the door for someone, making eye contact and smiling, paying for someone’s coffee, carrying someone’s groceries to the car, babysitting someone’s child so they can have a moment for themselves, clearing snow from someone else’s car, slowing down at the street crossing so someone who is slower or frail does not need to feel rushed lest the light changes before they are on the other side, being the driver who waits patiently till that slow-crosser gets safely to the other side … It all matters. Especially now.
  3. Connection. Through the big and small acts of kindness. Through the words we say and the things we do and the words we don’t say and the things we could’ve done and decided not to, because it was the better thing to do to refrain. To think not only of the immediate gratification but the long term realities of who we are and what we want to know about our own choices.
  4. Choices. For being able to have them. For being able to exercise them. For being able to know what they are and not take them for granted. For remembering those who fought for them and taking on the charge of fighting to help those who have far less choice, so they, too, have the choices they should have.
  5. Patience. Am grateful for learning a bit more of it. For knowing I’ve got more to learn and that I can take the time to become better at it. Patience with others who don’t see as I do. Patience with others who need me to see as they do and even if they have a difficult time accepting I do not see eye to eye with them and likely won’t, and yet that it is okay to disagree and no one needs to feel as if they’d lost face or have less worth. Patience with the things that take time that I don’t always feel I have. Patience with myself, especially. With my body’s limitations. With others’ human limitations. With the realities of pain and the cost of histories and with the urgency to know what the future holds, even if I know I can’t.
  6. The future. Grateful for the opportunity to work toward one. To be part of what change can be done that may help ensure the next generations will have one. To be part of believing that good matters and action matters and small choices matter, and that together we can be more light than doom, more responsible than victimizing, more repairing than damaging.
  7. Repair. Am grateful for the trust placed in each breath we breathe. For the potential to repair: relationships, the fractures of mistakes, the misunderstandings that come with complicated communications and different points of views and variations on information and the tug and pull of forces that may wish to harm, but we need not succumb to. Because we are better than that, and stronger at the seams of our repair. For the potential to hold hope and action for the repair of some aspects of this Earth, too.
  8. Hope. I am deeply, deeply, deeply thankful for hope.
  9. Children. I cannot imagine this world without them. There would be no world without them. They represent, embody, live, breathe, exude hope.
  10. Love, and the power of voice. I know. Two in one. For they are often one. Written, spoken, expressed love and voice. The kind that comes through in actions, in thoughts, in educating, in offering help, in wisdom, in words, in gestures, in the myriad ways that make us who we are. And help us grow.

May every day in 2020 — and in the decade unfurling, new and brimming with what can be still be born — bring us all that we are grateful for. And the courage and power and strength and stamina and magic to dream and trust and do and move beyond.

With a heart full of tremulousness and gratitude,

Na’ama.

 

 

(Adding here a link to last year’s list. Because it made me smile to read it. I’m quite predictable to myself, I am. I am.)

For Dawn’s “The 2019 Attitude of Gratitude List”

 

 

Reconsidered Romance

Photo prompt: © Dale Rogerson

 

It was better in the movie.

She’d slipped on the snow and had a wet imprint of her behind on her dress and a freezing spot in her lower back. His shoes got drenched when he’d stepped in a slush puddle, and generated awful squeaky sounds in every step. The benches needed deicing or they risked breaking their necks if they as much as tried to climb them, let alone jump around.

“I am sixteen, going on seventeen, and I’m going back inside,” she declared, teeth chattering.

“I am seventeen going on eighteen, and I’ll beat you to the house…”

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

No Big-Mart

 

“It says this way to the manor,” Doug tugged Lily’s sleeve.

“I know,” she shrugged to release his hold. At thirty-four, he was really quite too old to tug on clothing for attention.

“So why are we going in the opposite?”

She wondered how it was that there was a time when the nasal tone of his petulance didn’t bother her. Had she simply ignored it in the beginning, when infatuation took precedence to logic? Doug was still easy on the eyes, but her heart had become wiser.

“Because the manor will still be there later, while this Farmer’s Market stall might not.”

“What’s wrong with Big-Mart?”

Her lips tightened. She couldn’t believe he actually whined. “Big-Mart has no proper food. Everything’s processed. And anyway, I’d much rather support local farmers than corporate executives.”

She cringed at the sound of her own voice. She’d become her mother. To her boyfriend.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimsons Creative Challenge #57