Where It Broke Out

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

“This is where it broke out.”

Bender shaded his eyes from the glare and squinted at the black patch on the meandering snake of ice.

“Tis a mighty small one, then,” he noted.

Roman frowned. “That hole is bigger up close. And anyway, you should’ve seen the length of it.”

Bender shrugged and took a few steps closer, daring Roman to do the same. The ice crunched under their feet, a staccato to their accelerating heartbeat.

They would be punished for walking here. The Winter Gods had taken too many who strayed onto what masqueraded as solid ground but was in fact bog fairies lurking beneath frosted fronds. Even in summer these flats were dangerous, full of sinkholes and swampy ponds that sucked at your feet and then leeched out your blood. Children were outright forbidden from entering the bog.

Which made the space all the more alluring to boys who had to prove bravery and test the lore.

For there was a boy, the stories told, who got swallowed by a sinkhole only to be adopted by the creek and made half-human and half-snake. He could breathe both in the air and underwater, and came to hunt in winter, when other snakes were slowed by cold.

Some had said they’d seen it, slithering among the silver plants by dusk and dawn. Some even claimed to have escaped its grasp — for the half-boy-half-snake had arms that ended in sharp claws held close to it’s lower body as it undulated silently toward its prey. One man had four parallel scars upon his calf that he said were the proof of his escaping the creature.

Roman said he’d seen it, slipping out of the ice.

Bender never could trust Roman’s sight, influenced as it tended to be by what his friend wished to see but often did not. Still, to say so would be showing him a coward … so … Bender took another step, crunching deeper into the foreboding land.

Behind him, Roman breathed out clouds of exhalation accentuated by shorter puffs of terror. “Perhaps it had gone back in already,” he whispered.

“Yeah,” Bender gasped in barely masked relief. “Must have. After all, it is almost full light. Nothing for it but for us, too, to head back.”

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto prompt

A New Dawn

pink sunrise KarenForte

Photo: Karen Forte

 

“…There’s a special beauty to the world resuming definition. I always loved pre-dawn and the gradual emergence of the world from under wraps of darkness. A hesitant light followed by a glorious brush of sunrise obliterating the black with oranges and yellows so bright you must look away and blink, only to find morning had arrived.

I walked faster now that I could see more of the ground in front of me. Brambles and tangled roots were easier to avoid and step over when I didn’t need to test every step.

Sunrise in the forest felt gentler than the ones I’d sat through on my porch. Not so much a blinding line of light across the sky as it was a filtering of color working its way from the canopies above and down the foliage, branches, trunks and finally the ground. Tired and worried, I still found myself mesmerized by the wonder of it all. Goosebumps covered my arms not only from the morning chill but also from something that felt almost like a memory: pink sky chasing blue across the ceiling of the world, the dazzled dance of dust along the shafts of molten, golden light. It felt familiar. Maybe I had seen a forest-sunrise during my own life’s dawn. …”

(Excerpt from “Outlawed Hope”)

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Sunrise

 

Waiting For Sunrise

waiting for sunrise InbarAsif

Photo: Inbar Asif

 

Silently

Night retraced

Steps across

Dawn’s new ledge

As the dark

Slowly braced

For light soon

To emerge.

 

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Light and dark