Stone Face

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

She stood on the ledge and watched the edge of the world dissolve into fire.

It had been a long day, waiting. He did not come. She did not know when he could. Only that he would when he managed to get free.

As she had.

It was their place. Before. It will be their home. Now.

They’d found the small cave down the rock-face when they were still children frolicking in the waves. They’d been rolling with a large piece of driftwood one day when the currents had taken them farther than they’d expected. They’d tried to reverse course but it was futile to fight the sea. It was after reality had set in and they’d began to fret in earnest, that they’d spotted what looked like a black tooth on the jagged cliff. As Merlin tried to point to it, the log rolled, depositing the two of them into the waves and bestowing a farewell knock on Marla’s head. It had gone black behind her eyes after that.

Merlin had managed to drag her to and onto the surf-beaten rocks, scraping both of them raw in the process. He claimed the seals had helped him and she never doubted it. Nor that the seals had likely rolled the log in the only spot the two of them might’ve had a chance of getting to the shore unbroken.

They had clawed their way slowly up to the ledge, crying and more than a little frightened, only to find that what had appeared a black tooth from the sea, was in fact a cave’s mouth that was dry and deep enough to offer shelter. The marvel had calmed them enough to explore, and they’d found a precarious but doable foot- and hand-hold way to gain access up to the top of the cliff. And from there across the moors home.

They’d made a pact to never tell anyone about “Stone Face” — named for how the features could be read in the rock above the ledge. They suffered the indignities of being mocked for slipping into a whirlpool — the story they’d made up to explain their miserable condition and the lateness of their arrival home — and they endured the punishment of being forbidden from going to play in the water for the rest of that long summer, and the drudgery of extra chores.

It did not matter. Their secret sustained them. As had their rare visits to Stone Face via the barely-there climbing way. It was their refuge and all the more a miracle to them for how no one had known of it (or at least not in their lifetime, for there were signs of hearth-fires on the blackened ceiling and some stone flakes that could cut deep and might’ve been a tool in someone’s hand). It was their place of hopes and dreams and stories.

Then time came and Merlin was indentured to the Smithy, and Marla was sent off to scrub the floors and bear the fists and the bastard children of Lord Bowery, a man of no nobility in deportment or form. She tried to endure him, but the core of her rebelled against his injustices and his brutal invasions. She fled.

The Smithy’s apprentice was due to bring brackets to the manor’s door that week. She had to trust that he would find out she was gone.

And that he would come for her.

To make Stone Face, home.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto: Stillness

 

 

A Roof Over Her Head

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Photo prompt: Michael Gaida @ Pixabay.com

 

It looked deserted from the outside, and if someone risked a broken neck to view the inside from the roof, it did not look all that more promising from that angle, either, which was exactly as intended.

It would not do to broadcast the availability of shelter when there were more who sought to ruin what was left than wanted to actually have a roof over theirs.

Better it appeared abandoned and on its last legs already.

The rules were clear: You do not venture out of the pits without permission, and never in daylight. No light allowed during nighttime. Night-vision goggles only. The internal covers at the bottom of pits, which obscured the actual bunker, were to be drawn only after the scopes ensured no one was in the perimeter. The motion sensors were examined weekly. The roof’s latches every other. They could take no risks.

Few had a roof over their heads since the cataclysm, and those who had been fortunate to find or be allowed under one, did best if they kept a low profile or they were certain to lose it. The roof. And the head.

Dingo knew all that.

He also knew that Marlee was out there somewhere, and that the only way for her to find him was for him to plant a signal she would recognize.

How, though, when he was still a Probational and wouldn’t be trusted to come topside without escort for another month?

He tossed and turned on his berth until Steven threw him out, ordering him to go jog on one of the treadmills till he got sleepy.

The common room was empty. The airlock doors blinked slowly to indicate the pit covers had been opened.

It won’t take but a moment to leave Marlee a sign.

 

 

 

For the FFFC photo prompt

 

Forget The ABC

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

“If you knew where it goes, would you follow?”

Efran peeked down the leaf-strewn stone shaft and rough steps. “I can see where it goes,” he pointed. “There.”

Jerow shook his head. It could be difficult to know with Efran, whose disposition tended to be ebullient to the point of daft, whether the lad was deliberately vexing or totally clueless. “Yes, you see what looks like the bottom of the stairs, but what’s behind it? Where does it go?”

Efran took anther step and leaned closer to the crack between the stones, absentmindedly pushing back the locks of hair that forever escaped out of his braid. “Well, only one way to know.”

“Wait,” Jerow reached for Efran’s arm. He glanced behind him toward the encampment they’d wandered away from. The trees obscured it. Unless others were stretching restless legs while the elders deliberated the day’s route over morning tea, no one would know where they are. “Shouldn’t we tell someones?”

“Why? So they open a whole new round of discussions about who should be allowed to go down there first and at what auspicious hour?”

Jerow had to admit Efran had a point. If the elders knew about this, they’d probably find reason to forbid it, and if they didn’t know about this, they’d forbid it all the more. Probably claim ABC and CBC.

“Advice Before Carelessness” and “Caution Before Curiosity” were endlessly drilled and just as often resented. How was anyone to learn anything new or do anything exciting if inevitable delays always took precedent to investigation?

Still, he wondered if in this particular case there was merit to at least asking before launching oneself into a crack in the ground. They were, after all, in what everyone knew were haunted territories. He looked around again, almost hoping for someone to stop them.

“Forget the ABC!” Efran dropped his feet onto the steps and used his arms to brace against the narrow walls. “I want to see! Stick to your letters or come with me!”

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

Writing Voyage

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People ask me, “Why do you write?” and my inner retort often feels like: “Why do you not?”

I don’t usually reply this aloud, however. I realize that such deflection is far from giving an answer, and that there are probably as many reasons to write as there are not to. Belonging to the former group, I cannot imagine life without words put down on paper and/or screen, even if I know it is not the only way to live. So it stands to reason that there would be those from the latter group who find in quite confounding to imagine why one would want to type letters onto screens for recreation.

Why then, do I write?

Beyond the obvious to me “because I do …”, my answer varies, but it often returns to “because it feels as natural as breathing and just as necessary.” Writing is essential to me. It feels like home. It is the place of flow, even if not always of comfort. Writing takes me places that I never knew I would be visiting, into mind-nooks and crannies I’ve forgotten I had known and some that I never owned and yet somehow remember. Writing deepens how I think, what I comprehend, how I understand it. It plumbs my heart for meaning and compassion, it weaves my thoughts so that they make a tapestry from smallish bits of living. Words offer vistas that lie hidden under the everyday, patiently (and not so patiently) waiting to be breathed onto page and screen.

 To me writing is often fun. The best kind of delight, when I am immersed and floating down creative currents. Though some parts of writing can be tedious, they are to me never boring. Words paint pictures within me. They have me revisit. They bring alive people and places. They animate thoughts, realities, events, suspense and resolution. More than anything, writing surprises me. It is as if stories unfold and I am naught but the typist of their unveiling, a tool for their formation.

I write because I can, and because it seems impossible not to.

As Miller said, “writing is, like life, a voyage of discovery” and it is one to which I do not want to say good-bye.

If you, reading this, write: would you share why?