The Key

The Key SmadarHalperinEpshtein

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

The key to every

Good adventure,

And a day out

To sights see,

Is a how to prevent a

Misadventure

By finding a good place

To pee.

 

 

 

(Note: I know I took some liberty … with the concept of “the key” … And, yes, I’ve used the photo before, but sometimes you just got to have another ‘go’ … 😉 )

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Key

 

The Constitutional

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

“He never would’ve been out there without his hat.”

Elizabeth shook her head in suppressed exasperation. Of course her mother would find fault.

The older woman perched on the edge of the folding chair that Elizabeth and the fresh-faced health-carer had dragged over for her. The flickering episodes of weakness and disorientation had grown more frequent since Grandfather died. Perhaps it had been the shock of finding him, as her mother had, slumped against the edge of the bathtub. Perhaps it had been the letting go that followed endless years of caring for an increasingly ailing parent. Perhaps it was her mother taking on the role of family invalid.

The doctors certainly did not seem to know.

Or know the difference.

Not that Elizabeth could not understand the wish to let go. She could. Very much so.

Caring for her increasingly moody mother gave her a taste of what it had to have been like for her mother to endure the constant worry over and never-ending bitterness of a man who could no longer do what had sustained him. The amicable if somewhat taciturn grandfather had turned into a fussy, verbally cruel, bed-bound tyrant. Her mother’s father had to have become insufferable.

A little like her mother was becoming.

“They should’ve made a hat. It’s all wrong without a hat.” Her mother scowled.

The figure on the hill leaned into the wind. Impossibly lithe and utterly determined, it embodied how Elizabeth the young child had known him. As far back as she could remember, Grandfather never missed a day of what he’d called his “constitutional.” Rain or shine or wind or hail or mist or blazing sun, her grandfather would leave on his solitary afternoon walk, returning — like clockwork — when the sun had disappeared behind the hill.

Elizabeth would wait for him, her child’s body pressed against the stone fence that bordered the estate, and watch his shadow edge on home, his walking stick as part of him as any limb could be. At some point his tweed pants would materialize at the bottom of the shadow, and in another step or two the rest of him would unveil into certainty.

By the time he’d reach the gate, his windblown face would hold a smile for her. He’d nod a welcome, compensating with it for the long wait, for the yearning that he’d take her along (he never did, nor had he taken any of his children before that), and for the fluttery worry that perhaps the shadowed figure was not Grandfather at all, but in fact an elf or ghost or some trickster’s apparition.

She gazed at the silhouette on the hill, its stride frozen forever in the time before a stroke changed everything.

Hat or not, this was how he’d want to be remembered.

“He’d stuff the hat in his pocket when the wind was high,” she whispered, her voice full of sudden sorrow. “He’d pull it out and put it on a step before he reached the gate.”

Her mother’s mouth opened in preparation for automatic argument, but then the wrinkled corners turned down as a quiver shook her chin.

“He did,” her voice a child’s in elder’s clothing. “It is exactly what he’d do.”

Elizabeth squeezed her mother’s shoulder and the older woman placed a trembling hand over her daughter’s.

“It is perfect, then,” her mother murmured. “I’d forgotten. Take me home, Lizzy. Let us allow him his constitutional in peace, now that he can once more go about it.”

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto Challenge

 

 

Gravity

Photo prompt © Jan Wayne Fields

 

“The box said up to 20 people,” Martin insisted.

I gazed at the purple awning below and my eyes rested momentarily on my cousin’s bare feet. He inherited Uncle Georgie’s hairy toes, I noticed. His impulsive stubbornness, too, it seems.

“That’s not what they meant,” I shook my head.

Martin glared at me as if my IQ wouldn’t make it past the bottom inch of a ruler.  “Twenty people is twenty people, Ralph. Math is math,” he announced and launched himself from the garage’s roof onto the tent.

CRASH!

And gravity is gravity … I sighed. I had 911 on speed dial.

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

Day Trip

Photo prompt: Sandra Cook

 

The day dawned gray and there was threat of rain, but she wasn’t going to be deterred by a bit of dirty weather.

She dressed him in his powder blue slicker and packed a bag with this and that. She weighed the idea of leaving the cumbersome stroller, but at three, though the boy liked walking, he lacked endurance for it.

“We going to see Papa?” he asked as the train rolled into the station.

She hesitated. She was loath to lie to him.

“Not the one you know,” she answered finally. “Though he may become it. We shall see.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

The Great Outdoors

The great outdoors NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

There’s naught much more needed

To fill the heart with song,

Than the Great Outdoors

With loved ones along.

 

 

 

For Sunday Stills: The great outdoors

 

 

In Translation

valentin-salja-762005-unsplash

Photo: Valentin Salja via unsplash

 

“You can’t do it.” Lizbeth scowled.

Betty shrugged a shoulder at her cousin and put the hand-bound manuscript in the box beside her.

“You’ll ruin it.”

“I won’t,” Betty countered. “I’ll be gentle.”

“That’s not what I meant!” Lizbeth folded her arms and planted her feet firmly on the dusty floor of their late aunt’s apartment. Her color rose. She was jealous but would never admit it.

Betty always got the best of everything: Summer camp, long visits with Aunt Mathilde, a degree in writing, even a dad who taught her Swedish.

“I’ll be gentle in my translation,” Betty caressed Aunt Mathilde’s poetry booklet. “Dad will help. Her words languished long enough without being read.”

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Translation in 115 words

 

 

Homespun

astronomy background constellation cosmic

Photo: Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

“Can’t say I’ve known all along,” he said.

She snuggled deep into his lap, safe under the quilt, warmed by his heartbeat, listening to the song of the stars as they marched across the canopy of the world.

A different sky. This was.

The other half of life, perhaps. Better, even, now that she found home.

She, too, hadn’t known. Rotation, yes, but only as rounds of emptied hope.

Though her soul perhaps did know. It must have seen the edge of the world spin, and held on, to keep her whole.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Spin in 92 words

 

 

Preview Warmth

Preview Warmth NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

Feel the midday

Glow expand

Sense the gently

Heated sand.

Dampened clothes,

Digging hands,

China they’re intent

To find.

Make the most

Of wonderland.

It previews warmth

So close behind.

 

 

 

For Terri’s Sunday Stills Challenge: Warmth

 

 

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

 

The Perfect Shoes

20190224Photo Courtesy of Susan Spaulding

 

She came across them at the thrift store, squashed in a box along with moth-eaten scarves, a pair of slacks with holes that could tell many stories, two helplessly dented hats, and some fabric scraps.

She was about to lift a shoe to ask about the price when the proprietor glanced in her direction. “Those are by the box,” he drawled. “Take it or leave it. No picking.”

“How much?” She swished her hand inside the box and shrugged, worrying he’d overcharge her if he detected interest.

“Thirty.”

Her eyebrows hiked up on their own accord. The shoes alone were worth ten times as much.

“Twenty, final offer,” he misinterpreted her gesture.

She gazed into nearby containers till her thrumming heart settled down and she could pour something less jello-like into her legs.

“I’ll take it.”

She carried the box to the car fully expecting to hear the shopkeeper’s voice calling her back to point out a mistake. No call came.

Finally at home, she rescued the shoes, stuffed them with tissue-paper, and placed them reverently under Great-Great-Grandma’s bridal gown. Family lore was that she’d had big feet and had to wear men’s shoes. Those were a perfect match.

 

 

For Susan’s Sunday Photo Fiction