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

 

Rocking It

Opus Penguin Rock Climb JimMoore

Photo: Jim Moore

 

It’s a steep climb

For sure

But he feels

The allure.

This rock face,

This cliff,

He can’t help think,

“What if?”

It’s a very high

Wall,

And he’s a penguin

And small,

But he’ll attempt

Still

To scale,

And he intends

To not fail!

 

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Rock

 

 

The One Place

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

She ran and wouldn’t stop till she got there.

It didn’t matter that she had a stitch in her side or that something hard in her backpack kept slamming into her ribs or that the lower branches of some trees slapped burning licks against her cheeks.

She would not stop.

At last she saw a glimmering reflection and the slight opening in the dense woods that signaled she was almost there.

Her attention drawn to the sight ahead, she missed a crawler root and fell hard. She lay there, the breath knocked out of her and pain coursing through her body where it hit the ground. A gnarly stump poked out of the earth not two inches from her eye. It would have done real damage.

She was almost too miserable to care but her eyes still filled with tears. For the pain. For the helplessness. For the exhaustion. For so much more she could not find the words for and couldn’t afford to. Not yet.

She had to get up or she’d never move again. The backpack pressed heavy against her and she couldn’t help but remember other weight pinning her down. Unwelcome. Uninvited. More tears sprung. Then sobs that came from someplace between her diaphragm and belly button and competed with the stitch already jabbing through her chest. It was too much. It had all been. Too much.

Finally, after what seemed a decade, her breath calmed and she found strength to push up to her elbows, then her knees, then up to lean against a tree and shift her weight gingerly onto each leg.

Nothing broken. Or nothing broken that would prevent her from getting there. Her elbow throbbed and she was bleeding from scratches on her face and a badly skinned palm. There would be more abrasions underneath her pants where a tear bloomed red at the knee. But she was up, and some burden had lifted in the crying, even if it left her heart hollow with sorrow and echoing with despair.

She filled her lungs with a long breath and a tardy sob escaped to join the others but then her body shuddered one last time and she steadied.

She walked on. Not running now, just dogged determination.

The forest peeled away to reveal the clearing. The pond glowed and the purple light remained as she’d remembered. Lush greens licked the muddy banks and a clump of cattails whispered in an almost nonexistent breeze. The tree, too, was still there, just as it had been before: it’s bark missing in places, it’s silvery leaves rustling as the very breath of the place coursed through it from root to leafy tip.

“I’ve come back,” she breathed, and touched her scraped palm to the exposed trunk. Skin to blood to skin.

An echo filled her chest and she knew it knew her, and the relief made the jagged hole in the center of her self heal some.

This was the one place she never felt completely alone in.

She’d last left it thinking that her old life would not chase her to the new, and she had tried – for longer than she thought she could endure – to pretend that she no longer longed for what she had believed in and had given up. She could give it up no more.

“Will you help me?” she whispered. “I’d forgotten how.”

And the tree rustled and a ripple ran across the water and into her core, and her body softened so completely that she slid to sit leaning against the trunk. Welcomed. Invited. Warmed.

She’ll sleep. And she will dream. And she will wake to find the way back to herself. To her true realm in her rightful time.

 

 

For Sue’s WritePhoto prompt

 

Merry-Go-Round

Photo prompt © Jean L. Hays

 

“Used to be a zoo,” Ol’ Joe stuffed his cheek full of chewing tobacco. No frowning from Mama could make him give it up.

I gazed at the empty parking lot. We kept the market open by sheer willpower and another mortgage.

Mama often argued it was money down the drain, but Pops would shake his head. “History is a merry-go-round, Penny. It’ll come back. We just have to hang in there a little longer.”

Then the two of them would look at Ol’ Joe, and I knew: closing the business would kill him. Grandpop’s life was tied into Route 66.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers