Bookended

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She stood back to appreciate her handiwork.

A mix of tidiness and lived-in disarray. The books. The pillows. The cozy afghans on the couch.

“She’ll love it,” he said from behind her, and she jumped. She hadn’t heard him enter.

She leaned against his chest. Felt the thrumming of his steady heart.

“How do you know?” she fretted.

“Because it’s not about perfection, but about having enough support so that no matter how you wobble,” his hand rose toward the bookshelves, “you’re bookended by love.”

She kissed his palm.

“Let’s go get our new daughter, then. Bring her home.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s FridayFictioneers

Photo: Dale Rogerson (thank you for the homey, inviting photo prompt inspiration! This room makes me wanna curl up with a good book on the couch. xoxo, your NYNF)

 

 

Turned Out Well

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(Photo: Emilie Dwire on Unsplash)

 

She was never big on plans.

It drove her parents mad, but her impromptu projects did turn out well more times than they did bad.

So they said nothing when she began digging a hole in the backyard.

And weren’t sad

When gold was found

Amidst the sand.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Impromptu in 48 words

 

 

The Shut One

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They’ve learned to speak naught about it.

So well that they almost forgot it was. There. Tabooed.

She had tried justifying to herself later. How there had been much to cope with and such minuscule leeway. How choice never truly was, a choice.

But as well as she could explain the circumstances, she could less and less forgive. Herself for the blind eye that she’d turned. Them for making it so that she’d needed to. For making it so that they could not even talk of it amongst themselves.

The crushing price of secrets. A cost calculated not with arms and legs, but hearts.

It haunted her. Nowadays. Now-a-nights.

The shuffling beyond the darkened window. The locks. The cries. The scraps that weren’t really for the dog.

By the time she’d grown enough to contemplate a rescue, there was naught to save.

Her sister. Feeble. Gone.

 

 

For Cristina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

The Tallest Tears

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(photo: Na’ama Yehuda)

 

The tallest flowers caught her eye, but it was the withered daffodils that caught her breath and pressed a fist into her heart.

His favorites.

The stalwart sentinels of spring.

Outnumbered now. Outshone. Outdone.

As was he.

After utterly too short a time.

Her throat constricted. A reflex of holding what she’d learned would be a solitary cry.

“Look, Mama!” a child trilled. “The daffodils are tired!”

“Yes, darling,” a woman’s voice returned. “They did excellent work and are resting now, sleeping till next spring.”

Tears slid. It was something he’d say.

She should have known he’d send a messenger.

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers.

Thank you, Rochelle, for using my photo for the prompt this week. And, for all who manage loss, especially of those taken too young in all manners of war – may you know that we remember, and we listen, and we will not forget.

Out-Strutted

 

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They knew they’d need some help. They knew where to find it.

They weren’t very good at building anything, even less at securing it to withstand the snow, the winds, the cops.

Or so they hoped.

It was better to make use of what was already present.

What others, who had better skill and quite possibly better sense, had built.

Sure, some called it squatting. Some found them vagabonds.

But why not when the struts provided good foundations?

It was a pity, really, that so many did not understand.

The cops raided one night. Tossed the tents.

Kept the struts.

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Photo prompt © Ted Strutz

 

 

For Now

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They didn’t know where she was. She preferred it that way.

The windows were all missing. No doors. Graffiti covered the shell of building.

It was far from town, but sometimes travelers stopped to stare, and some used the empty rooms for all manner of unsavory business.

She spent most days in the nearby woods. Foraging. Snaring. Keeping watch.

At night, she kept to the relative shelter of the basement, hanging bits of chain on entryways to serve as warning chimes.

She dreamed of restorations. Of locks on doors.

She wanted more.

But it was home enough.

For now.

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Photo prompt: © Carole Erdman-Grant

 

A Matter of Faith

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(Photo: Bernard Hermant on Unsplash)

 

It mattered not how many times he’d pressed the issue, urged she ‘see the light.’

She would not deny her own reality for his. She could not worship his Gods. His requirement of absolute adherence to ideas over facts. Over reason. Over voice.

“It’s not about facts,” he insisted, annoyed by her refusal to acquiesce. “It’s about compliance. The lesson of faith.”

“That kind of faith isn’t in my lexicon,” she said.

“Then pray on it till it is,” he turned, locked the door, left.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Lexicon in 85 words

 

Gateway

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She pulled the reins gently, but Mathilde was already slowing. Perhaps the mare knew where to stop. Perhaps she understood Elana’s shift in the saddle.

The horse tensed under her thighs.

“I know you want to gallop,” Elana patted Mathilde’s sable neck. “We’ll just stop here a minute.”

Mathilde snorted, then lowered her head to nibble on a cluster of dandelions by the gatepost.

“It’s been too long,” Elana whispered. To herself. To the plaque the ancestor she was named after had placed at the property’s threshold. A crest. A warning. A gateway.

Elana reached and Mathilde pranced sideways, bringing them flush with the square of gray granite. “Thank you, Em,” Elana breathed.

Her fingers traced the carvings and rested on the wheel of time.

The air around them shimmered. Bent. Restored.

The pasture rippled in the sun and she heard a clash of swords. Laughter.

“Let’s go visit Great-Grandam!”

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

The Raise

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“Will you stop it already?”

Davie swallowed a sigh and lowered his eyes. He was making them stick out like sore thumbs.

“Only tourists and amateurs look up,” Bessie admonished, kicking a dry piece of sidewalk gum. “Real New Yorkers have already seen everything.”

Perhaps, but he had yet to. And he wanted to notice. Everything. Who lived in the tall building? Whose shoes were tied overhead? Why? Was it a memorial? A gangster’s territorial?

“Raise plow,” he read, imagining. He was looking up again.

“If we’re caught,” Bessie hissed,”the only raise you’ll get is welts from belting.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Photo prompt: © Roger Bultot

 

Green Grace

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“I didn’t even know where she lived.”

Maya shook her head, agreeing. “Don’t think anyone knew.”

“I did,” Sydney whispered.

Deena and Maya turned to her and stared. Tears made a path through the makeup on Sydney’s cheeks, ruining an hour’s worth of work in front of a mirror.

“Spill …” Deena demanded after Sydney said no more. “You brought us here!”

“Yeah,” Maya echoed, encircling the overgrown garden and weed-filled greenhouse with her arm. Goodness knows the condition of the stone cottage. “How come you know where Rock-For-Heart…” she shrugged apologetically at Deena’s kick. “Sorry, now that she’s, um, gone…where Professor Rockfort lived?”

Everyone gave a wide berth to the gruff professor in musty tweeds and bushy eyebrows. Her snap was prodigious, and her marks were stingy. Why would anyone even want to know where she lived?

“Her name was Grace,” Sydney sniffled. “And she was my great-grand aunt.”

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge