Solitaire

 

He didn’t think much of the place at first. A chance to put his head down at night under more than just the stars or rain or ice. A plot of land to grow some food on. A space to store the crops and foraged goods that would hold him through those seasons when there was far less available that required far more effort to find.

The paperwork bequeathed him the abandoned croft and several boggy acres around it. The right to hunt and fish. The responsibility to repair and maintain the stone walls and the property, now a historical site, without altering the landscape.

“No villas, no mansions. No golf courses,” the solicitor had stated, only half in jest.

“No worries,” he’d answered.

All he ever needed was a room, a roof, a hearth.

And solitude.

For sanity.

Crowds made his belly flutter and his ears ring and his feet fidget with an ache for fleeing. The chatter made him cringe. The swift ticking of clocks made his heart skip some if its own beats.

The open spaces slowed his panic.

Calmed the bickering voices that would otherwise ricochet between his ears.

He built. He farmed. He slept. He woke. He walked.

He didn’t think much of the place at first. Then the old house became a home, the plot of land became his gem, and the hills became both fort and fortitude.

His very spirit soothed.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto challenge – Welcome back, Sue, we missed you!

(Photo credit: Sue Vincent)

 

Paused Revolution

adam-cain-xiyCHV49J5I-unsplash

Photo by Adam Cain on Unsplash

 

The sun rose bright

In the horizon

Spilling gold on

Ebbing tide.

They woke with

Tangled limbs still weighted

And lids that wrinkled

In the light.

It dawned to be

The day of changes,

When revolution would be

Put aside.

They’ll find their breath,

And mend their fences.

They’re family now.

They will not

Fight.

 

 

 

For the dVerse Poetics challenge: revolution

 

 

Bobby’s Boonies

nolan-krattinger-puAvRT5W9Mk-unsplash

Photo: Nolan Krattinger on Unsplash

 

He never thought he’d feel that way. But there he was, besotted by life in the hinterland, buoyed by the boondocks.

Who’d have believed the sticks could end up so satisfying? Sure, he gave up the sunny beaches, but while his city pals squeezed onto small spaces on the sand to swelter in the summer sizzle; he could splash right in his backyard stream, in his birthday-suit if desired.

Then there were vegetables from the garden. The birds’ song. The quiet. He had discovered his inner bumpkin.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Hinterland in 87 words

 

 

Perfect

spring SueVincent

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

Finally, the light was right, the water mirrored what it ought, the sky spread silk above her head. Even the dotted white of sheep lent the necessary movement to what might otherwise feel a specter of a time too soon or too late.

It was perfect.

Stella pressed the sole of one foot against the trunk and leaned into the tree behind her, balancing the rest of her weight on the other leg. All through her childhood, this preferred pose of hers had driven her mother to distraction.

Though long passed, the memory of a particular exchange about it was yet to fade.

“God gave you two feet to stand on. Use them!” Her mother had demanded.

Stella must have been six or seven years old then. “I am,” she had countered, exasperated with the constant admonitions of what felt to her a perfectly reasonable way to stand. “God also gave me a knee that bends. I’m using that, too.”

Her mother had made her “use her bending knees” to kneel on dried peas for most of that evening, punishment for using God’s name in impertinence. Apparently God also gave children the gift of parents they were not supposed to talk back to.

Stella had carried the bruises of that evening for weeks thereafter, and the ache for longer. She learned to keep quiet when reprimanded, and to adjust her posture and compose her face and straighten her back and never slouch or run or climb or get mud on her skirts or expose her legs. But she still found ways for small rebellions. And whenever she was out of her mother’s line of sight, Stella never did stop planting one sole against a tree or wall when standing. Not even when her brother, whose maleness allowed him liberties that would not be tolerated in a girl, gave her secret away by calling her “Stella Stork.”

And a kind of stork I indeed am, she thought to herself, and pressed her foot into the tree in a sigh of freed determination.

Midwifery did not quite pay the bills. Nor did her artistry through painting. However, between the two callings she had found a certain kind of balance. Granted, she often got paid for the former in apples and hens’ eggs, and while those filled her belly they did not translate into peat or cloth or rent. However, the commissioned illustrations for “Country Ladies” magazine did compensate in some coin, and she had recently been asked to provide a “pastoral series.”

Stella gazed at the scene, adjusted her easel, lifted her brush, and leaned further into the trunk behind her. The past receded. The future waited. The present moment lingered, perfect, as the hours rolled.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s Write Photo

 

 

Embers Hot As Coals

Photo prompt: Sue Vincent

 

She could feel them.

That’s why she came.

Why she took every opportunity she could to escape the drudgery of sewing and hoeing and weeding and feeding and washing and threshing and mending and tending and all the multitudes of tasks that never seemed to end and somehow only multiplied.

“It’s life,” her mother had sighed, when as a young child Mayra had burst into tears of fatigue and frustration when yet another basket of wash needed to be scrubbed. “We rise, we work, we eat, we sleep.”

Mayra, a dutiful daughter, had just nodded and sniffed and bent to her work. But inside her a restlessness rippled. She was expected to grow up to be like her mother: solid and stolid and capable. The capable part she was on path to mastering, if painfully slowly. But solid she wasn’t, in her wispy willowy frame, and stolid she could not be, when her feelings and thoughts bubbled in her mind like an ever boiling pot that used embers as if they were coals.

She would boil over. She would.

If she didn’t manage to find a chore that allowed her to put some distance between herself and the village and to reconnect with the souls amidst the stones.

They calmed her. They reached around her with fingers as wispy as her hair and plucked the edges of too-sharp words and smoothed rough irritation off of her being.

Most people avoided the stones. “They are haunted,” they whispered, as if that was a bad thing.

Mayra said nothing. Perhaps it was something in her that needed ghosts to sooth the places that she felt would otherwise burst and cause harm. Perhaps her difference drew her to what others knew to keep away from.

Still she came.

In secret. To avoid blame.

It was only when she was about to wed that she realized it had been her mother who’d conjured errands out of thin air for her, so the child could manage some relief.

“For some, this is life, too,” her mother smiled.

It was a rare transformation of the face that often showed so little beside focus on the thing at hand, and suddenly Mayra saw the girl her mother had been, reflected in the sky-hued eyes.

“You, too?” Mayra whispered.

Her mother’s eyes twinkled. The berries. The mushrooms. The bark. The herbs. The kindling that could not wait till the morrow to collect. All those times when her own pot was set to almost overflow atop life’s embers, hot as coals.

“I did, and I do. It is our grandmothers there, helping you.”

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s Write Photo challenge

 

 

Halfway Home

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

She never grew tired of it.

Even if fatigue had become part and parcel of her every day. Of her very breath.

It did not matter. Her fatigue didn’t, that is. At least, it did not matter as much as it would have otherwise. As much as she knew it could. As much as it had in the other place, where there was naught but white walls and white squeaky soles on squeaky clean tiles and antiseptic air and officious hands and flickering images on a screen where well-dressed persons babbled about things that did not feel relevant to her in the least.

They’d urged her not to leave.

She left.

No regrets.

Not when the trade-off was brisk air and the smell of just-trampled grass and the scent of rain and the open vistas of the world rolling down into the horizon where the sun met the mountains and the sky kissed the ground.

No regrets.

Not with the play of night and day around her, not with light that flickering on her covers and the sun licking her fingers as she lay in bed. Not with a world that breathed and changed and lived and died and reemerged. With yips of puppies racing down the lawn. The hiss of wind. The chirps of birds.

Sure, others were concerned, or so they said.

She did not share their dread.

Death did not scare her. Nor did the warnings that she’d be too far from hospital to get assistance in time if another crisis came. For a crisis was bound to come, and when it did, she knew she’d be content to face it with her face to the hills and her eyes on the valleys and the snow-capped mountains where her soul would soon roam.

For she was halfway home.

More than half, perhaps, now that most of the sand in her hourglass had been shed.

It did not matter.

She was halfway home, content with whatever lay ahead.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto Challenge

 

A Piece of Peace

To ride AmitaiAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 
She wanted just

A slice of peace.

A piece of what she’d seen

Available

To others

And advertised as

Something one could

Reach.

She wanted just a taste

Of what it could be like

To know

Release.

Meanwhile she knew

She had to make do

With

Internal

Armistice.

 

 

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Peace

 

The Keys To Happiness

alfred-schrock-IEK9fXzLZKs-unsplash

Photo: Alfred Schrock on Unsplash

 

Two years, and he could hardly remember how he’d managed to survive before.

The rush. The never ending tasks. The constant worry. The being pulled a million ways by demands and the dreams of others.

He’d run on fumes for months on end, then crash and burn in ways that hurt not only himself but also the ones whose lives were closest. All those bridges he’d burnt.

It was the last burnt bridge that had paradoxically saved him. It became a light from burning embers. He’d flown out to care for an ailing uncle, but in truth just to escape the consequences of another interpersonal disaster. He expected to discover his uncle, who’d been the family’s previous pariah, on death’s door. What he did not expect was to find him so content.

“Live here,” were his uncle’s last words. “Need little. Use less. The Keys saved me. Claim your turn.”

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Florida Keys

 

Home Idyll

Belize InbarAsif

Photo: Inbar Asif

 

She leaned against the painted wall and exhaled a sigh of relief.

She was finally home. Hardship over. She was free. All was going to be as she needed it to be.

The freshly laundered whites fluttered in the sea breeze and the rush of waves sang in her ears. A dun puppy yipped at a bird. The baby slept at her feet.

“Have you eaten?” Grandmama called, a loving voice on the wind.

“I’m coming,” she smiled and bent to lift the bassinet.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Idyll in 84 words

 

The Richness Of You

sunrise florida NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

If a hollowing sorrow

Catches your breath in a

Hold

And then folds

Like a snail

Into what can’t

Be told …

Let the richness

Of you

Spread like gold

From a long ago story

Foretold,

Like the waves’

Gentle touch

On a morning’s

Threshold.

 

 

 

For dVerse’s quadrille challenge: Rich