New Born

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

He was born on a blustery night to a woman who huddled on the exposed slopes with naught but the protection of three wide backs to block the worst of the wind. The men crouched, arms linked and heads down, their eyes averted from what was taboo to watch, as they hummed the low sounds of incantations meant to shield the woman and babe from the demons and their own ears from the muffled cries.

There was no midwife.

The other woman had died not a full moon prior. It was a bad omen.

There was no spirit-guide. Their leader, too, had died.

Bad omens, all.

There was only the woman, panting desperately in the dark. And the three of them: One of whom in whose hearth she’d grown, one whose hearth she shared, one who’d preceded her in her mother’s womb. And a girl-child of barely eight winters. Pale and shivering and wide-eyed, she knelt before the woman, one hand on the swollen belly, another cradling the opening for the magic and terror that no man was allowed to look upon. But she would. She was too young. But there was no one else who could.

As the night stretched and the panting shortened, he was born.

By morning, they moved on.

A fresh mound under a rock marked the space where the smell of blood still lingered. The men had dug the hole, even though it was women’s work. A concession to their circumstance. They could not wait till the girl, or woman, gathered sufficient strength for the task. It was paramount that one put distance between oneself and the afterbirth, lest the demons seek to lug the babe back into the dark. The mother, too, sometimes.

They left all that behind.

He lived his first days in almost the same darkness he’d been made in. Cocooned inside his mother’s wraps, lips close enough to her breast to suckle, rocked by the same thunder and gurgle of her heartbeat and innards.

Sometimes, much later in years, he’d remember the indistinguishable. How inside and out did not differ by much other than air and hunger and the momentary cold that blanketed him when he was whipped out to be held above the ground to release his waste.

He might’ve stayed cocooned for longer had they not found the cave.

The old man saw it first. A black tooth in the mountain-side. Large enough to fit.

They waited two days to approach it. Demons have been known to skulk in the back of dark hollows, waiting to pounce. They were too few to risk it. Let alone with a helpless morsel who couldn’t even cling.

When nothing bigger than a ferret emerged from the entry, and when hares were spotted munching languidly nearby, they knew that whatever demons might have lived there once, had since long gone.

They brought an ember to the cave. And stones for a hearth. And moss and boughs for bedding.

The girl carried water from the spring. The woman made the tea and cooked the grain from her ceremonial parcel. They ate. They drank. They slept.

By morning the men came for the baby.

They held his naked, squalling form, indignant in the cold exposure, and passed him from man to man at the entry.

His life-force squealed vitality. His lungs breathed their collective previous misfortunes to the wind. His face, first reddened then purple with rage, summoned the sun to rise and fall. Someplace a wolf returned the howl.

It was a good omen.

They called him New Born. The reincarnation of Born, the spirit-guide they’d lost along with what safety they’d had where they came from. This New Born was a cameo. He was their future. Their hope in this new home.

 

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

For Eternity

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Photo: Freddy Castro on Unsplash

 

He visited her grave every year on the day they’d met. Every year on the day he’d proposed. Every year on the day they’d gotten married. Every year on the day she’d passed on and left him bereft of the best part of himself.

Sometimes if he was alone in the cemetery, he’d stretch on the ground near her headstone and mouth the words she’d left him in her note. She’d given him the sealed envelope shortly after she was diagnosed. Made him promise not to open it. Until. He knew them all by heart.

The Rock cries out to us today,” she wrote. “You may stand upon me, But do not hide your face. You are and always have been my core. My spirit will no longer be bound to this body, but our souls will continue traveling together. For eternity and beyond.”

 

 

(Note: Italics = prompt quote by Maya Angelou)

For the dVerse Prosery challenge

 

 

Dogged Dobbie

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Photo: Keith Kreates

 

“What’s he doing?”

Martha shrugged.

“What’s in there?”

She tilted her head at him, and he demurred. She was clearly occupied. She had a bone to pick and he knew that if he pushed her with one more question she’d snap his head off. Or try.

He wasn’t going to let her try.

He moved closer to his friend.

“Dobbie?” he asked the headless figure. Did she snap his head off already? No, there was a tail wag. He didn’t think Dobbie would wag his tail if he didn’t have a head. He’d be too sad. No sniff. No lick. No yum.

“What’d’ya doin’ in there?”

The tail paused, then gave a halfhearted, one-sided sway. A sign?

“You stuck?”

Hesitant then enthusiastic wag.

“How’d you get stuck there?”

There was probably no way to wag an answer to that. Not to mention that Dobbie found a way to get stuck just about anyplace. Between the legs of a chair. Under the bed. With a garbage bin over his head. …

Max sniffed. There had to have been some food up there. Dobbie never could resist anything gobbleable. Max sniffed again. Traces. It’d be all gone by the time Dobbie realized he should’ve planned a way out before he stuck his head in.

Dobbie’s tail wagged in half-regret, half-plea.

Max sighed.

“Hold on, Dobbie! I’ll get Com’eer!”

 

 

 

For Keith’s Kreative Kue #246

 

 

Embers Of Dreams

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Photo: Pablo Martinez on Unsplash

 

Blow gently into the embers

Of

Your dreams.

So the quiet flames

Of what you’d always wished

And perhaps did not know how

To do

Can lick them into hope

Anew.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Anew in 31 words

 

 

Frozen

cold AmitaiAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 

 

Inside the core of frozen

Lore

There beats a tender

Heart.

Beneath the glaciers of

Dearth

Unfurl forgotten

Paths.

Amidst the howling winds of

Cold

Whispers bid to

Start,

And feed the seed ‘neath Tundra’s

Soul

Awaiting summer’s

Part.

 

 

Note: just the other day, I watched parts of the movie “Frozen” (the first one) with a young child, in preparation for that child’s going to the movies with friends to see “Frozen 2.” Now I have an ear-worm and am yet to “let it go” … 😉

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS and JusJoJan challenges: Movie title

 

 

Allegiance

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

They called her Allegiance.

Contract and insurance, she was. Revered and guarded, both.

So well revered and so well guarded, in fact, that with time she became almost forgotten and had turned more a symbol than a soul. She sometimes wondered if she was in that way not too dissimilar to many of her kind through time, even if they had been so for far shorter spans.

Women often were made ornamental. Used as symbolic pawns, utilized as cementers of allegiances, then blamed for those that broke.

It helped her feel less lonely, knowing that even in her immortal isolation she was still in some way a member of a community of others who’d been perched into positions, as she was, without much of a choice. Possessions and producers, keepers of the continuity of power, serfdom and thrones.

They called her Allegiance.

And she sat in her fortified tower, aware of the two rows of guards: One row looking out against any who may get it in their minds to sabotage, the other row looking in against any indication that she may get it in hers to leave.

They needn’t have worried. At least not about her.

There was enough of misery without adding heads to spikes in any kind of rebellion, where those most likely to be harmed were those least likely to have been given part in the decision.

She accepted her place. A figurehead to keep the heads of others firmly on their shoulders and their children’s hearts safer from the sorrows of orphanage and war.

So she stayed.

As centuries passed, those who’d placed her there took less care with guarding her and the promises she’d represented. The tower crumbled. The guards played cards and drank and slept and grew lazy, and she took comfort in knowing that at least this meant they weren’t in battle. Even if she shivered, windowless, her walls crumbling all around.

Perhaps, she thought, as winds whistled and the stories of her had become lore printed onto metal plaques for tourists to ignore, it was all as it should be.

Perhaps one day there will not be a need.

Perhaps one day allegiances will be built-in, rather than built-up and set with guarded fences that time and lassitude and apathy were certain to erode.

Till then, Allegiance waited.

For the moment, the ruins of her tower stood.

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

Eden In A Bubble

Photo prompt © J Hardy Carroll

 

They were going to have to move.

Her health. His job.

They were going to miss so many things.

The beach. Their yard. The hours spent outdoors.

He laid in bed at night, awake. Her breath gentle at his side.

She would not complain. Even if she could still speak, he knew she wouldn’t put that burden on him. It broke his heart.

He put the shards into action. Poured his mind into design.

He’d build a bubble. An Eden in the forbidding landlocked wintry ground. A lush oasis where they could both breathe in the memories of better times.

 

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

One Month

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Photo: Jim DiGritz on Unsplash

 

 

She looked him

In the eyes, and saw

A face that tells

Of life and memory

And all the small and

Infinitely scarring

Stories of what he’d done

Because he had to

Even when it wasn’t

What he’d wanted, but

What was necessary to have

Done.

The difficult

Choices.

The privations.

The loss made in

Acceptance of the compass

Of the heart and

Mind.

His was a trustworthy face.

Plowed by honest work

And resigned to

Sacrifice.

One month

May prove to be

Not nearly long

Enough.

 

 

Last lines quote used as inspiration for this challenge:

“I looked him in the eyes at last. They were sunken and soulful, and often carried dark circles under them. The man had a trustworthy face.

‘A month?’

‘That’s all. One month.'”

(“Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart)

 

 

For the dVerse Poetics Last Lines challenge

 

Sisters Of This Earth And Sky

Friendship Craft DiklaNachmias

Photo: Dikla Nachmias

 

Ladies of the borrowed time,

Mistresses of undemanding,

Mothers bearing down the twine

To faithful understanding,

Sisters of this Earth and sky,

Daughters threading needles of

Life verifying,

Girls who hearts ignore —

I hear you roar.

Do know:

Together we’ll weave words

From crying.

 

 

For the dVerse quadrille challenge: roar

 

 

 

The Parade

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Photo: Mihai Surdu on Unsplash

 

It was partially because they needed to find something to focus on, and the months ahead stretched barren of anything worthy of looking forward to; and partially because they believed they had some yet-to-be-discovered organizational talents and this could be a good way to shine a little spotlight on them; and partially because they knew it was the last thing Mayor Perry would expect. The latter reason alone was worth the effort. Especially when it would be something he won’t be able to admit he was against and may even end up having to endorse.

So they planned a parade.

They enlisted friends’ cars for floats and roped in small sponsorships by neighborhood stores and minor celebrities. They tempted bands and cheerleaders from local middle-schools with free exposure and offered same for the martial arts students from George’s Judo (which, not to be outdone, was followed by the dancers from Teens’ Tap and Ballroom Ballerinas). They raised money (and attention) by holding bake-sales on stoops and organizing a popup donate-your-merchandise shop on the sidewalk in front of the library. They printed flyers and pinned them to bulletin boards then convinced store owners to tape some into their display windows, by telling them every one else already had.

Peer pressure worked.

Most people didn’t ask too many questions about why a “Celebrate Ourselves” parade was necessary, where it had been born or by whom or to what end. The general theme seemed good enough, and it probably didn’t feel right to be against celebrating who one was and what they belonged to and were included in.

They ordered “CO” shirts, stickers, and visors in neon-green, complete with an abstract sketch of a float-turned-banner-turned-thumbs-up to ‘carry’ the letters as the parade’s logo. They uploaded photos of themselves handing shirts to firefighters, visors to grinning grandmothers in the park, and an assortment of the stuff to slightly bewildered parents at the playground. The stickers were a hit with the kids.

They videoed themselves delivering a shirt to the mayor’s office, then sent the video to the local news, who shared it under the title: “The Mayor Celebrates ‘Celebrating Ourselves.'” Social media amplified it.

By the following morning the mayor was accosted by a reporter on his way out of the gym. The insistent young woman shoved a microphone in Mayor Perry’s face and asked whether he’d been asked to be the Grand Marshal.

“Not yet,” he mumbled.

An hour later they were in his office, neon-green shirts on, tailed by the reporter they’d tipped ahead of time for an “exclusive follow-up scoop.”

Soon enough a statement was issued and the news headlined: “Mayor Perry to Lead CO Parade.”

Sponsorships streamed on: The gym the Mayor belonged to. The bank. The local hospital. The Aerobatics Club.

Requests came in for satellite parades in nearby towns.

The national news picked the story. Talking heads nodded and argued the pros and cons.

Mayor Perry marched, neon-green shirt and forced smile on.

 

By the following year they ran for office, with the CO logo strategically in the background.

Celebrating themselves was fun.

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS and JusJoJun writing prompt