Self Employed

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“This is not what we invested all that tuition money for, Robert.”

His mother’s voice remained soft, even pleasant. One may think she was but mildly annoyed.

Rob knew better.

It was the same voice that had sent his boyhood self to the attic without dinner for the slightest infraction. That left a small child to shiver there through endless winter nights. That told his father to retrieve the paddle and “do what needed to be done to make a man of an ungrateful son.”

“I am sorry, Mother,” Rob bowed politely in her direction. Bowed just enough to let her know that he no longer cared nor feared her. “I had made it clear that your plans did not fit mine.”

“Your father expects a partner,” she stated. Ordered.

“That ship had sailed, Mother,” he replied. “I bought the farm. I’ll be my own man. Chart my own course.”

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

A Leap Of Faith

 

She always knew the road could end.

Rickety throughout, it got almost impassable in places. It was a folly, she’d been told. A fool’s errand. Doomed to fail.

The way had never been fully completed, quite possibly never fully traversed. So many had abandoned it that there would be no rest stops, no soft places to lay one’s head.

Indeed, each step confirmed the lack of maintenance.

Still, it was her path to take, her journey to attempt.

And when she faced the maw, the utter void of all support, she knew.

She could turn back.

Or she could leap.

 

 

 

For Rochelle‘s Friday Fictioneers

Photo Prompt: © Alicia Jamtaas

 

 

One More Time

 

It was going to be a stretch, but the alternative was silence.

And they could not. Not with the possibility that someplace, someone, was still listening.

After all, you never knew what people managed behind closed doors with all kinds of inventions that obscured their virtual footprints from those who’d mine their minds for false and profit.

Hadn’t there been exploitation in them, too? In their own broadcasts?

“We hold to truth,” Boss said.

And fastened onto truth, they nodded.

“Good evening, folks,” they said with tight smiles flickering. “We have the news. After which we will bid you goodbye.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Photo prompt © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

A Thorny Issue

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Photo: Andrey Grinkevich on Unsplash

 

There would be no smooth solutions

No easy way to extract

Themselves

From the tangle

They had let grow

All around them.

 

Only one way out was left:

Through the bramble,

Through the sorrow

Through the scars that would

Need nursing

Back to truth.

 

 

 

For the dVerse quadrille challenge: Bramble

 

 

 

Slip From Grip

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Enslaved persons cutting sugar cane on the Island of Antigua, 1823, (The British Library)

 

 

She fed them well so

They would

Sleep,

And silently

She gave the slip,

To all she knew

Yet did not sweep

Away the bite

Of whip.

She fled,

So the child in

Her belly’s keep,

Would not writhe, helpless,

In another person’s

Grip.

 

 

For the dVerse quadrille challenge: slip

(Note: Dedicated to all who suffered and still suffer under the yoke of injustice, discrimination, racism, and pretense. We can do better than this. We must do better than this.)

 

 

 

 

Her Heart Be Known

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Photo: alexandra lammerink on Unsplash

 

She did not know how

To have her heart

Be known,

Other than to

Let her spirit

Be flush with

Hope,

And to allow her

Soul to

Blush bright

With the

Intent,

Even if

Her words paused,

Timid,

From the moment

She’d left

Home.

 

 

For the dVerse quadrille poetry challenge: flush

 

 

The Order

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Photo: Linn W on Unsplash

 

She’ll refuse, for she must,

The order

To adjust.

She will hold up the laws

And go forth

Just because.

She will not, not today,

Bow to cults

Or obey.

She’ll refuse, for she must,

In her own heart

Have trust.

 

 

For the dVerse poetry challenge: Order

 

 

Active Trust

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Photo: Ofir Asif

 

Twixt the tethers of Heaven

And Earth,

Swings the trust

In the ropes

That you’d learned but

Perhaps

Did not quite

Yet test out.

 

 

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Action

 

 

Wingspan

 

“I will not have everyone out in the cold!” Mrs. M’s hands were planted firmly on her hips, and when Mrs. M’s hands were firmly on her hips, any who knew what was good for them knew to nod submissively, back up slowly, and give up.

Not Tim.

Sometimes I wondered if he had no survival reflexes or if he confronted the headmistress exactly because he didn’t care to survive.

“We don’t have to be out, out,” he argued.

Mrs. M’s cheek twitched. Oh-oh.

I backed up just in case. If she reached for the switch it would be best to not remain within wingspan.

“We can use the hot-house,” he pressed. “Sunlight and no wind. We’ll be fine.”

The twitch stopped. I held my breath.

“Most panes are intact.”

Mrs. M nodded.

I gaped.

Tim won.

Cramped orphanage or not, he found a way for outdoor play in wintertime!

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimsons Creative Challenge #61

 

 

 

One Thousand Steps

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

The snow fell softly in the early hours, blanketing a brittle frost with a bridal veil.

She undid the entrance flap and shivered in the chill. Her thin underclothing was not sufficient for the cold. She retreated back into the shelter to don her clothes, lace her cloak, and pull on her boots.

Still when she emerged from the tent, her breath caught in the frigid air. She welcomed it. She needed her wits about her, today more than most.

Her feet crunched over the frozen ground as she hurried to relieve herself by a nearby tree. The warmth leaving her body felt palpable. In it there was relief and wariness, both.

She did not fold the tent but she did not know if she’d return to it. What she did not carry along might not be seen again … and she would not be carrying much. She was warned to bring naught but herself.

“You’d have no need for anything,” were the instructions.

The words could be ominous or comforting. She wasn’t sure which it was and she didn’t think she was meant to be certain about it. Or about anything.

There was some food left in her pack, but her stomach did not feel ready for any digesting. She drank some water instead. It tasted flat and smelled of the container it’s been in, but it would have to do. She didn’t know where water sources might be found and even if she saw some on the path she didn’t think she’d be able to avail herself of any.

She shuddered again. Of fear. Of cold. Of worry. Of expectation. Of trepidation. Of all of the above.

It will be what it will. She had little choice now. She’d given her word, and what follows was not for her to decide on anymore.

She turned her back to the tent and began counting paces. The location for her tent had been marked. The one thousand steps were to be taken away from it, with the rising sun at her back.

She mouthed the numbers, ignoring the breeze as it tunneled under her cloak, the errant twigs that grabbed hold of her hood and deposited wet fluffs of snow on her hair, down the nape of her neck, on her back. No one had said what will happen if she lost count. She did not intend to find out.

The steps became a meditation of intent and tunnel vision. The world receded into the yard immediately ahead. Then the next. Then the next.

Nine hundred ninety nine, she breathed.

“Turn around.”

She jumped. The sound came from the space her body had just vacated.

She turned only to be blinded by the sun’s glare, rising through the narrow branches of a sapling. The light speared her.

When she finally adjusted, she was elsewhere. The forest was no more. The world as she’d known it, gone.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto