Upstaged

 

The lights seemed brighter than usual that night. The music louder than remembered. The movements blurred. The words slurred. The heels on the wood rung jackhammers in his head.

He clenched his teeth and dug his nails into the worn velvet of his seat to keep from squirming.

She’d worked so hard for this.

The years of training. The months of practice. The weeks of rehearsals. The days of excited anxiety as the premiere neared. The long awaited curtain calls.

He was not going to let his daughter’s performance be upstaged by a migraine. Or a stroke. Or an aneurysm.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

Blend In

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

They walked toward the light. The brambles, the thistles, the burrs, the thorns — all attempted to snag and ensnare and scratch and mark them for what would be held as treachery.

Still, they walked. Some of them bare-legged and bleeding. Others somewhat better clothed, but not much better off once flaps of torn fabric opened windows to the ravages of all manner of sharp things.

They walked toward the light. The dark, the fog, the cold, the hunger, the fatigue — all conspired to force them to turn back.

They did not.

Not when the tunnel they had managed digging, spoonful by spoonful of rock-hard soil, hiding the scrabbling sounds under the cover of endless mandatory chanting, could finally accommodate a slithery passage underneath the electrified fence.

They’d been digging it for months.

Waiting. Counting. Hoping. Dreaming. Fighting against those who dismissed the possibility, against those who threatened to give them away, against the weighing down by those who’d surrendered to messages of futility and given up.

It had been a fluke, really. A careless corner of a printed flyer that the wardens did not burn completely. A few lines and enough to give them the potential for a plan.

But they had to destroy the evidence. And not everyone believed.

Sometime even they began having doubts.

When the light arrived, many of them cried. Surreptitiously, of course. Lest the guards see. Lest they be found out.

And when the cold bit deep enough to keep the guards huddled by the watch-station’s stoves, and when the hour was late enough for no more chants to be required, they wriggled, one by one, under and out.

And fled.

Toward the light.

Where the masses congregating in the desert could swallow them. Where they would be hidden in the flocks of floodlighted extras dressed in rags. Where their dust and grime and hollows under eyes, would blend in with the crowds in caked-in dirt and post-apocalyptic make up. Where their actual horror, worse than any movie, could be made less real at last.

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto Challenge

 

 

In The Years

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Photo: Ian Schneider on Unsplash

 

In the years full of sorrows

They held on to the

Joys,

From the years when the

Smiles were more frequent than

Oys.

 

In the years where

Frustration

Overtook hope or

Peace,

They held on to conviction

That life can evil

Resist.

 

In the years where the wrong

Bloomed in hate

Unconcealed,

They held on to the truth,

So harm may be

Revealed.

 

In the years where they saw

Order crumble,

 Laws evade,

They held on and remembered:

Hope finds way,

Light’s ahead.

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt: year

 

 

Just Be Careful

https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/55a53ce21b0000f61028035c.jpeg?ops=scalefit_960_noupscale

Photo: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/march-on-washington_n_3825167

 

I knew she was going to D.C. for the 50-year-anniversary of MLK’s March on Washington. She’d been in the original one. And on the Freedom Rides. I was so proud of her. I also couldn’t sleep. I wanted her to go. I just couldn’t rid myself of a nagging worry-worm.

“Just be careful,” I texted.

“XO,” she replied hours later.

I watched the march and President Obama’s speech on TV, a lump in my throat for the path and possibility of this country. I scanned for her in the crowd, echoes of concern in my mind, hoped she wasn’t hurting.

“I’m fine,” she said two days later, “just don’t be alarmed when you see me. I tripped when I got off the bus in D.C. Broke my wrist.”

Apparently she’d wrapped a scarf around her arm and marched. Then traveled many hours home before seeing a doctor. True to form.

 

Adding this clip from that day which stands the test of time in its relevance:

 

 

Note: True story from August 28, 2013.

For What Pegman Saw: Washington D.C.

 

Metastasis

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Photo: Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

 

It lingered, hidden.

It’s potential ever present

Yet hoped

To in deep sleep

Remain.

Till it found purchase

Someplace where the

Balance

Could not be

Maintained.

 

“It’s metastatic now,”

They said

And shook their head

And watched her deep breath

Rise

Along with the determination

From last time,

Returned.

 

It will be

What it will,

But even if equilibrium

Was difficult to

Attain,

She was going to meet

Life

Head on

Again.

 

 

 

Dedicated to those who are facing this challenge now: You got this. We got you.

For Linda Hill’s SoCS challenge: “-tast”

 

 

On Delicate Wings

On delicate wings NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

What had happened to you

In the short life

You knew?

Your wings’ rhythm

Aflutter

To a drum

Gone

Askew?

Your beauty imbued

By what could life

Subdue,

You flit on right

Through,

Gloriously determined,

To be you,

To be you.

 

 

 

 

For the Sunday Stills challenge: A bug’s life

 

 

A Net of Ents

Grimm AmitaAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 

“I am not going in there!”

Maxim sighed. “We must. It’s the only way.”

Stringer shook his head. “That place is haunted. Ghosts and goblins and who knows. I bet all the creepy things from the Underworld hide here, too.”

“The Underworld isn’t real.”

Stringer gave his friend a searching look. Maxim’s voice sounded a bit less certain than Stringer would have liked it to.

“Why does it have to be us, anyway?” Stringer pouted. Every cell in his body told him to flee, to leave, to get as much distance as he can between himself and this brooding, mossy, drippy, dark, tangled, creepy forest.

“Because.” Maxim lifted his chin, exposing a scrawny neck that had only gotten more birdlike in recent weeks. “Look, I’m scared, too, but even Mathilde said it was the only way.”

“She’s just an old crone,” Stringer scratched at a scab before glancing around guiltily and lowering his voice (one never knew if she might be listening and he did not fancy ending up in a cauldron), “and a witch.”

“Exactly.”

Stringer sniffed. He hated it when Maxim got the last word and even more when Maxim was right.

Mathilde was gnarly and bent and more than a little odoriferous (whether it was lack of bathing or the miasma of whatever it is she must be concocting in that iron pot that was forever perched over the fire, he didn’t know and didn’t dare ask). She was the oldest person he’d ever seen. Indeed if anyone would know about the procedure for removing spells, it would be her … and she had been clear that the one they sought to have lifted was beyond her skill.

“Only Ents,” she’d croaked and hacked up something Stringer was certain was more than just phlegm. “Ten of them. If there are even that many left. Only they can undo an enchantment net. And only if they agree, which they don’t always. Best keep your wits about ya when ya enter Old Growth. Tear a leaf and ya’d well end up lacking a finger.”

She’d stirred the pot, giving the quaking boys a full view of her three fingered hand. “That is,” she’d added, “if ya exit there at all.”

The whole way to the ancient forest, Stringer and Maxim avoided discussing the meaning or implications of Mathilde’s words. Giving it voice was too scary and they were too excited. The hunger had taken someone in every house, and winter was poised to enter empty pantries. All they could think of was what would follow if the hex broke: bowls of broth and bread and beans and oats.

Their stomachs spoke louder than their worries.

Now the edge of the forest stopped them cold.

“Did you see her hand?” Stringer tried.

Maxim nodded.

“Do you think …?”

Maxim’s tunic rose as he shrugged. “Maybe it was frostbite.”

“Yeah.” Better that. Frostbite was awful and utterly non-magical.

“Though …” Maxim’s voice shook, and still he bent resolutely to tuck the edges of his tunic into his leggings and retie his belt so it did not flap. “Best make certain we don’t accidentally trip or tear a leaf or snap off anything.”

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS writing prompt: Ten, Ent, Net

 

 

 

Not Doom

Not Doom NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

I am not yet

Extinct

From here.

The winds that came

Once more

To blow me into an

Oblivion of preemptive

Grief,

Are yet to fray

The threads that

Hold me

In the hope

That this time, too

Will turn

A test, not

Doom.

 

 

 

For the dVerse Quadrille Poetry Challenge: Extinction

 

Ripples In The Water

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Photo: Bibin Tom (Tulabi Falls, Manitoba)

 

The dream took almost a decade to fulfill.

And there it was. Reality.

She could scarcely believe it.

First there were the logistics to overcome: savings to secure, the children to raise beyond immediate dependency, paperwork and releases to organize, complicated details to ensure such international travel would even be possible.

Then there was the soulmate to find. Or rather, to have find her.

She looked around. At the deep calm. The ripples in the water. She’d pinch herself, only  it would rock the boat and she had no intention to fall out. Not when it had taken so long to get in.

“You’ll have to adjust,” they’d told her.

“Some things you just won’t be able to do,” they’d said.

Well … stubbornness had gotten her through the accident. It got her through years of being a wheelchair-bound single parent.

It got her back into a canoe.

With Hugh.

 

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Manitoba, Canada

 

Repeat Construction

build SmadarHalperinEpshtein

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

Look, Mama! Look at this!

Can you believe how high?!

I did the whole thing by myself

And I will tell you why:

It is the tallest building king

That ever touched the sky,

And I will build it up again

Each time someone walks by.

 

 

 

For Friday Foto Fun: Construction