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)

 

Reprieve

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She lifted her face to the sun and felt the vibrant scents of waves and freedom fill her lungs. The whole of her relaxed as if on cue. Pre-programmed. Indelibly tuned in to the whoosh of ocean breath that she could not yet see but every cell within her remembered.

Her heart swelled and her chest rose, liberated.

The moment coursed through her in liquid satisfaction.

Surf. Ebb. Swish. Flow. Hiss. Sand-licking waves.

Another inhalation of the salty tang and behind her she could hear the sounds of other people readying to take the path from car-park to sand. A child protested. A man’s voice soothed. A door slammed. A moment later a discordant melody of feet clip-clopped onto the faded wooden slats, drumming a crescendo of expectation through her bare feet.

The beach.

A needed reprieve.

At home at last by the ocean where her soul had always lived.

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

One More Time

 

It was going to be a stretch, but the alternative was silence.

And they could not. Not with the possibility that someplace, someone, was still listening.

After all, you never knew what people managed behind closed doors with all kinds of inventions that obscured their virtual footprints from those who’d mine their minds for false and profit.

Hadn’t there been exploitation in them, too? In their own broadcasts?

“We hold to truth,” Boss said.

And fastened onto truth, they nodded.

“Good evening, folks,” they said with tight smiles flickering. “We have the news. After which we will bid you goodbye.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Photo prompt © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

Don’t Blink

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“Is he asleep?” Andy’s small head spun toward Elisha’s, but only for a second. The boy did not dare, or couldn’t bear, to look away. What if in the one second that he wasn’t looking, he would miss a blink?

Elisha shook his head, and Andy, eyes already on the ice, felt more than saw the movement. He shuddered in part-awe, part-terror.

The last time they met was in summer, when Uncle Morris and Aunt Samantha came with Elisha for a visit. Andy hadn’t quite believed Elisha’s stories about ponds that swallowed giants and ensnared them under icy waters, leaving them forever blinking at the sky.

The eye, however, proved it.

 “Can he come out?” Andy croaked. His throat felt frozen.

“Not before spring,” Elisha soothed, sated by his younger cousin’s fear and feeling a tad guilty for it. “And you’ll be home and far away from here by then.”

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Reality Check

 

The audience filed in. Excitement filled the air. A buzz of swishing coats and hushed conversation. Flash of cameras.

A few fans sidled reverently to the still-empty stage.

“I see his water bottle!” Millicent pointed.

“I know!” Brenda answered breathlessly.

The two grabbed hold of each other, starry-eyed with anticipation.

Their idol.

They could hardly believe they were about to breathe the same air as he.

A curse sounded. A figure stumbled into sight. Two men rushed behind to all but drag it back offstage.

“Could it…?” Brenda whispered, crestfallen.

“No!” Millicent demanded. “He won’t. Let’s find our seats.”

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

Times Immemorial

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It was an odd request, but she had always been eccentric and there was no harm in entertaining it. Perhaps even some benefit.

In return she would bequeath a third of her small fortune toward the maintenance of the seawall. The annual expenditure taxed townspeople for more than they cared to pay yet had to: Without the seawall there could be no beachfront properties, boardwalk, no hospitality.

Sure, it would alter the skyline, and for some would block the light a part of each day. But protestations were outnumbered by those who prophesied how the addition would bring curiosity and with it, added revenue.

She got her lighthouse. And the lift inside to help her now-frail body reach the top. In all but the worst weather, she spent hours there each day, white hair whipping in the spray.

“Our Rapunzel,” tour-guides could be heard whispering. “Been there from times immemorial.”

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

 

 

All Things Considered

 

All things considered, she had everything she needed.

More than she thought was there, really. More than some might consider necessary.

She leaned back in her chair, then leaned forward to straighten a stray implement. Adjust another.

“Orderly desks make orderly minds,” Papa always said. Pointedly.

She might not manage to get much order in the latter, but she sure could try to tame the chaos of the former.

And it did look better organized, she had to admit.

Now, if only the desk could fill loan applications. Or order funds to her account so she could pay the bills.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Photo prompt: Jan Wayne Fields

 

 

 

Subdued Sacrilege

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“Simply look down instead of up,” Manny pushed his hands deeper into his pockets and hiked his shoulders up against a chill no one else probably felt. It was 99F outside.

“But the basilica is right here, and so beautiful!” Danielle exhaled wonder.

My point exactly, Manny thought, but did not say. Recruiting was a subtle thing.

Instead he nudged the water with his shoe, rippling the surface to distort the reflection of the edifice. Almost spitefully the puddle settled back into the sharpest mirror, and Manny half expected his superiors to appear in frowning disappointment at his dismal conversion pace.

“What it is?” Danielle responded to his sigh, her eyes still gazing in the opposite direction of the Netherworld, and therefore opposite to where he needed them to be.

“Nothing,” he muttered, deflated.

Her softly luminescent hand appeared. “How about we go into the church and pray about it?”

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Seeking Silver Linings

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Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

It wasn’t about giving up. It was about silver linings.

Or about looking for them. At least.

Better than seeing the mess inside her mother’s house. The junk that kept arriving, accumulating, suffocating. Better than listening to the endless arguments between her parents. Or to the cries of the neighbor from across the street. The police there every other week. Mostly on payday, when the neighbor’s husband was drunk. Fancy neighborhood. Broken lives.

So, she curled up by the window, eyes to the sky, watching fluffy clouds drifting by.

Perhaps the silver lining will ride in on the next one.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers (I mean, how could I NOT participate when Rochelle chose to use one of my photos today?! Happy, healthy, and a BETTER 2021, everyone! And to all the children in homes-of-crisis: Hang in there, it gets better, you are worth it, you are seen!)

 

Watching

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“See there?”

Marie squinted against glare. “The windmills?”

“No.”

David’s finger shook along with his head, and Marie felt the wheelchair’s handles vibrate. The sorrow hit her, unexpected as always. Most days now she managed to surf life without being blindsided, but it was harder to do in this place, his favorite, where everything reflected the losses. His. Hers.

“The bird,” David insisted, his reedy voice robotic with timed inhalation.

His inflection was one of the first things to go, and its absence had robbed away a part of David that she’d adored from the moment he had first looked at her, dewy-eyed from birth, and mewled a symphony of baffled indignation.

“Ah, yes, the bird on the poles! I see it now,” she filled the space with words to compensate for his worsening inability to speak in sentences.

“Watching,” David exhaled, satisfied.

For the end? Marie silenced her sigh.

 

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

Note: Dedicated to all parents and caregivers, and to all who are navigating the throws of progressive illness. May you find peace, and space to breathe in, and may you know moments of joy and an abundance of love through life’s difficult path.