Remotely Social

Heidi House AtaraKatz

Photo: Atara Katz

 

She’d have preferred to not have even as much contact with others as the job required, but the alternatives were worse, and she couldn’t argue with the benefits:

A roof over her head.

Supplies.

A stipend for the necessaries.

The most-days-solitude.

Granted, there were days when she could feel the walls press close around her and the vistas felt airless. She’d scan the horizon, then, wondering when someone would stop by that she could talk to. Vulnerable in her need, her fingers would reach for the radio, yearning to hear a voice that was not her own, and she’d make some excuse about checking the weather or changing the date of the next airdrop.

And yet she could not wait to end the conversation – if that was what one could call the brief exchange with the dispatch to arrange a fly-by or a stop-drop of supplies – so the last of the vowels could evaporate into the quiet.

Human contact suffocated her.

Its lack bore holes into her soul.

It was untenable, and all she could do is try and find some semblance of balance between loneliness and overwhelm.

There were no roads to the respite cabin, only footpaths, or for those who braved the crosswind, a rocky field in which to try and land a chopper. The nearest town was a hard three-days trek through the mountains.

Once in a while she’d see a shepherd who’d misread a storm and sought shelter. Sometimes another ranger would stop in during an upkeep task, to resupply or send an update to headquarters. Those were hardy, silent persons like herself, who welcomed a warm bowl of soup, a place to dry their clothes, and a break from the wind, but needed little in the way of clucking.

The trekkers, for whom the respite cabin was intended, thankfully limited themselves to the brief season when the weather was most forgiving. Her outpost was stationed on what was a remote route even for the most intrepid hikers, and yet some evenings in midsummer the small cabin would be bursting at the seams with chatter and the smell of unwashed feet, damp shoes, and giddy overconfidence. The bunks slept eight. To have even three occupied felt to her like eighty.

The trekkers would all leave in early morning, bellies full of oats and faces flushed with sleep, and she would not know if their eagerness was for the day’s exertions or to get to where they could safely gossip about the agonies of trying to wrest a word out of the reticent resident ranger.

She’d grow skinless by the time fall brought with it a piercing cold and the relief of rarer human sightings.

It would be weeks into winter before her fingers reached for the radio, pining to hear another person’s word.

So she was not prepared for the knock that came, an hour into night in early winter.

There was no storm. No ranger’s late arrival. No shepherd.

Just a youth. Half-frozen and her belly swollen, and in her eyes a look that pleaded urgent need even as it warned to keep a distance.

It could have been herself.

Fifteen years back.

 

 

 

For the SoCS prompt: Social

 

 

Perpetuity

a channel of water flowing out to sea, with the sun reflecting on the water.

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

“You know,” she said, “this will be home.”

I looked around. Marsh and bog and semi-dry patches that high tide or rain were sure to turn completely water logged. It looked a misery.

“It will, too,” she added, even though I hadn’t said a word. She always knew to read my body’s thoughts, even when I voiced no words and moved not a muscle.

Some days it made me hate her. For my utter lack of privacy.

Other days I felt indebted beyond measure for not having to find ways to explain when words had never been accessible enough to match my thoughts with meaning. And for being seen by her when no one else seemed able to or cared to try.

“Wanna know how?” Fiona pushed a heavy lock of hair off of her eye and I knew then that she already had a plan, and that the plan was sounder than the muddy ground we stood on. I knew that gesture, that flowing move of clear-eyed determination that carried with it more than just a touch of crazy. For neither one of us was sane, but Fiona was nuts enough to get us out of scrapes I did not see a way out of. Somehow my sister, younger by three minutes and wiser by ten decades, thought ahead in moves others did not appear capable of anticipating. It had saved us, more than once, of certain death.

She was about to do so now.

“How?” I asked, though I knew she didn’t need me to.

“Stilts.”

She yanked a twig out of the soggy ground and scratched a diagram into the patch of godforsaken earth in the end of nowhere anybody, that an hour earlier I did not know existed, let alone that it belonged to us by ancestry through crumbling deeds that no one since an ancient relative had made use or taken any heed of.

“They thought the place too wet,” my sister noted as the outline of an elevated house rose like a phoenix from the lines she etched into the dirt. “But not Friar Felix. He saw the same potential that I see. The fish and clams and seaweed. The crabs. The cattails by the spring that makes the stream that gurgles out to the sea. A place to be.”

She glanced up at me and the hazel in her eyes reflected the sun’s rays along with something far older. Like a memory not of hers that nonetheless also held on to our own desperate need for belonging.

“I don’t know if he knew, Finley, but Friar Felix had bequeathed the deed to this land to his sister’s children, and to their children’s children in perpetuity.”

My sister turned her gaze onto the water and her voice dropped to a whisper in the wind.

“We are those children’s children’s children, Finley. This is our home. It will be home. You’ll see.”

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto Challenge

 

 

Climb Up

climb up OfirAsif BW

Photo: Ofir Asif

 

Climb up

From the abyss

Toward the sun

Upon

The meadows.

Climb up

From way beneath

To where clouds are

The only

Shadows.

 

 

 

For Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Chutes and ladders

 

Vulnerable To Sputter

windbreak AmitaiAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 

Freedom

Doesn’t require

You relinquish all

Protection,

For without it

Flames become

Vulnerable

To sputter,

Or go astray

In the

Wind.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Vulnerable in 21 words

 

Essentially

bridge over quiet water SmadarHalperinEpshtein

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

“Essentially, it should just be a matter of putting one foot in front of the other,” Dan noted, raising a mischievous bushy eyebrow and staring meaningfully at the assembled group of aspiring hikers. “Only that for some of us this might be an impossibility, seeing that … well …”

The participants laughed.

The six youngsters had barely five feet between them, let alone the assumed two per beating heart.

Dan had none.

“So,” the bearded guide waved a muscular arm over the skateboard that supported his legless torso. “We do something better.”

He pointed at each of the youngsters and their varied modes of conveyance. “We glide, we slide, we roll, we hop, we drive. We do whatever is necessary, and …” he chuckled, “because lunch will be served at the end of this path, we best get started or we’ll also end up doing it hungrily.”

 

 

For the SoCS challenge: ends with -ly

 

Three’s Company

desert trio flower OsnatHalperinBarlev

Photo: Osnat Halperin-Barlev

 

Amid pebbles and sand

Atop tenacious pale greens

Three mouths unseal

In communal reveal

To welcome

Potential

Under an

Arid sun.

 

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Trio

 

 

Walk This Way

Ein Pit OsnatHalperinBarlev

Photo: Osnat Halperin-Barlev

 

Walk this way

To the water

Where the goats

Cleared a path.

Walk this way

Where the feet

Of the ancients

Have passed.

Walk this way

Little brother

I will give you

My hand.

Walk this way

And together

Our adventures

Expand.

 

 

For Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge

 

Make Way

Mulch path Central Park NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

There’s a path in the park

Lined by mulch from trees past

So that every step presses

What had grown,

What won’t last.

 

 

For Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge

No Underdog!

Photo Marnie Russ

Little Roo. Photo: Marnie Russ

 

The runt of the litter. The smallest of smalls.

A birth’s afterthought. The last of the lot.

She was given some frowns.

She was given less hope.

She was not much to look at.

A long shot, underdog.

Yet inside her she had something fierce

At her core

She was never the winner

But she was something more:

She worked harder than hard

She learned patience from woe

She grew up,

She believed

She perceived and she saw,

She found footholds in smiles

She made steps from each praise

She climbed up rungs of hardship

Found her stride

Found her ways

To amaze.

 

 

Click her for more about Little Roo’s story 

For The Daily Post