The Street

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Photo: Robert Almonte on Unsplash

 

 

The night is not as I’d expected it to be.

The sirens are silent. The windows dark. The very air seems still.

It had been a close call. Too close, almost.

I glance at Malachi. He returns a tremulous shrug.

“Will we be alright?” I ask. I didn’t mean to say it out loud, but the words could not stay in. The sound — although barely above a whisper — boomerangs in my chest.

“We might be,” he mouths.

At least I think he does. I cannot hear much above my heartbeat thundering in my ears. Everything inside me feels tight. I don’t remember being so unnerved. Not since. You know. The other time.

“Will they return?” Fear dries my mouth.

“Who knows.”

We reach the corner and separate. The night breaths as I hurry home and we go in different directions down the imperturbable street.

 

 

 

For the dVerse prosery challenge

Prosery prompt: “We go in different directions down the imperturbable street” (from the poem “An Aspect of Love, Alive in the Ice and Fire” by Gwendolyn Brooks)

 

 

Hide And Go Seek

memory SueVincent

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

It was the best place to play hide and go seek.

At least, that’s what they wanted him to think.

It was also the best place to go missing.

Not that they’d tell him. …

He had no reason to suspect anything was amiss. Not when the whole troop of them had ran together all the way to the weathered monoliths that dotted the small glens by the ancient cliffs. Not when the game had ensued with much merry running and grabbing and stone-circling. Not even when most of the children had headed back home for supper as dusk neared, but he was invited to stay “and play a bit longer” with a handful of the most popular kids.

He was new in town. He felt included. He felt welcomed.

He should have felt scared.

“He just disappeared,” they later said. “We thought he’d gone home with the others.”

“It has happened before,” their parents nodded, wrapping arms around the shoulders of their feet-shuffling children and forming a united wall against the ashen faces of the boy’s parents, the newcomers who never should have come, who never could belong. “The boy must have wandered away in faded light and fallen into a sinkhole.”

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

The Culvert

 

“Where does it lead?” Mina crouched and tried to peer behind the metal grate. The concrete tube curved away.

“To the factory,” Josh replied distractedly. Her derriere was hanging utterly too close to the water.

“Are you checking me out?” she teased. She knew he preferred men.

“More like watching out for you,” he pouted. His friend could read his mind even when her back was turned. He loved and hated her for it.

She twisted to peek at him. “The danger being?”

“Getting wet.”

Mina laughed. Josh was fussier than her own mother. “I won’t melt.”

“Not from normal water, you wouldn’t, but there’s a reason the factory was ordered closed, and why authorities reinforced the grates on this culvert. Only God and the now-dead-factory-owners-and-workers know what’s in there. I don’t like this.”

Mina’s witty retort fizzled when she caught sight of movement, barreling toward the grate.

She screamed.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge #60

 

Not Blueberries

Not Blueberries NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

“Look, Mama,” the child called, a soft fist held aloft as she ran, delighted, toward her mother. “I found some polka-dot blueberries!”

“Wait, where? Let me see? Those aren’t … Did you eat any?”

The child shrugged and twirled away, fingers closing protectively over a grimy palm that still held some blue orbs of what-mama-said-are-not-really-blueberries.

“Wait! Get back here. I need to see those again … Are you sure you didn’t eat any? They could make you very sick! And …” the woman looked around their deserted picnic blanket. “Where is your brother..? Where’s Eric!?”

“Oh,” the little girl pranced out of reach, and gestured vaguely in the direction of the trees beyond the forest clearing. “There. He found polka-dot strawberry mushrooms!”

 

 

 

Note: Inspired by a true story of a family I know, whose summer picnic ended up with a call to Poison Control, an ambulance, and two children in the Emergency Department. One child was fine. The second child eventually got better. Mama still can’t touch berries or mushrooms. Teach your children about the dangers of foraging and instruct them to not pick or eat (!!) any plant they don’t show you FIRST. …

For Terri’s Sunday Stills: Danger

 

The Fence

Photo: © Russell Gayer

 

“We don’t go There,” Mama always warned. “Ever.”

“There” was beyond the fence. Where the embankment locked in perpetual shadows and where the yellow cliffs rose shining in the sun and where the scary things lived and mortal danger was certain to find you.

As a child I never questioned the relative flimsiness of the wire fence and how it possibly prevented such pervasive awfulness from invading the compound.

It wasn’t until much later that it occurred to me to wonder whether both the fence and its electric bite were there to keep us in.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

Trestle Wrestle

rr-tracks-at-harpers-ferryc - Dawn M. Miller

Photo Prompt: Dawn M. Miller

 

“Stop it!”

Harry’s voice ricocheted off the cliffs. He could feel reverberations from his running traveling through the wooden trestles underneath his feet. Other thuds shook the bridge as well.

The figures didn’t even pause. Gordon swiped a leg under Thomas and the larger man went to the rails but grabbed hold of Gordon’s clothing. They rolled and the men would’ve tumbled off the tracks if it weren’t for Gordon’s belt catching on a spike.

Harry bent mid-stride to grab a stout stick.

It seemed he’d have to knock the two unconscious to stop them from killing each other.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

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.

 

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Balancing Rocks. Photographer Unknown

 

Photo Challenge: Danger!