Hard Earned Wisdom

 

Heart Stone was in the path so people would slow pace as they neared Sentinel Rock.

It was a caution.

And a point of respect.

One did not pass by without giving Sentinel Rock at least that much in respect, and almost all knew better than to try and trick the ancients.

Oh, you could gallop past without a care in the world, but care was sure to catch up with you soon enough: A broken foot, a crack in your mount’s hoof, an ache that kept you up at night and led to carelessness the next day or the one after.

Heart Stone was there for a reason, and only fools rushed in.

Fools like him.

He should have known better.

Now he nursed a bee sting in a place no bee should sting, and he had no one to blame but himself for the carelessness and the ensuing punishment.

He told no one. Ashamed at his foolery.

Tossing in distress upon his pallet he pledged to pay his respect the very next day, and to bring with him an offering. He should have known.

Sentinel Rock saw everything, and Heart Stone kept no secrets. Stone spoke to stone.

On the other side of the hut his grandmother placed her hand upon the rock wall’s foundation and sighed in quiet realization. It was the price of youth.

She knew.

Long ago she, too, had to learn to heed the ancient’s lessons and slow her pace to match. Her crooked wrist still carried her own scars of hard earned wisdom.

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s Write Photo

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

 

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

 

Outed

folly- CrispinaKemp

 

“What is this place?”

“An outhouse?” Marti sniffed, perhaps for clues.

Barbara wrinkled her nose. Marti always did have a potty brain. “It would not make sense without a door, now, would it?”

“Ventilation?” Marti doubled down. “And anyway, a door could be removed.”

“No hole in the ground,” Barbara pointed out.

“Could have been filled in or covered.”

Barbara shook her head. Even covered in leaves and mud, the floor of the small structure looked too evenly tiled for that.

“So, if you such a genius,” Marti sneered at his know-it-all cousin, “what do you think it is?”

Barbara inspected the arched entrance, the partially enclosed back wall, the proximity to the ancient manor’s fence. A guard post, she thought, but did not say. There would be no fun in that.

“A portal to Avalon,” she stated loftily.

“Ah,” Marti retorted. “As I said, it is an outhouse, then.”

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

Going Farther

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On the tenth visit on the tenth week following her tenth birth day, she took ten additional steps beyond the Big Tree Boundary.

She went Farther.

At first nothing happened. The woods looked as they had before. The trees no different in the Farther Realm than they were in the land she’d known and was allowed in until then: Green branches, a ground springy with the fallen leaves, wind whispering in the tree tops, birds’ song.

Then the light shifted and the air shimmered with a sense of something else. A being with.

She shuddered. Not in fear but with expectation. Not everyone went Farther, and none she knew spoke of what they’d found.

She stilled. The world around her blinked. The forest floor awoke.

Her heart raced and she inhaled. Her soul spoke. She knew it! She knew it! She’d be among the few allowed to see Fair Folk.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Together

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Photo: Nicola Nuttall on Unsplash

 

They walked through fields

Of  heather

Seeking remedy

For those

Soon to be together,

Gathering the makings

Of the broom

They’d use

To sweep away their

Woes.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Heather in 27 words

 

 

 

One For The Mists

low-cloud SueVincent

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

Her people came from the place where the mist rests on the turf and the ladder to and from the heavens can unfurl. It was where they all still lived.

It breathes, mist does. The fog kisses the lungs in moisture like that from which all of them had come: the womb, the sea, the ocean sky.

Alana still dreamed of days before her mind awoke to awareness. Cocooned inside her mother, growing to the beat of steady drums and gurgling songs.

“Wombs are portable heaven,” her grandmother said, the peat spade matching her words thump to thunk. “All is created. All is attended to. All is removed that no longer belongs. It is magic personified.”

And magic has a price, Alana thought. For all things do. Sometimes it sends a mother back to heaven. Sometimes it sends back both if the ladder into heaven leans in too close.

Her grandmother, Meara The Midwife, had delivered her into the world. As she had practically everyone Alana knew. Nana also helped ease the passage of women, including that of her own daughter Nola – Alana’s mother – back into the mists of old where breath was no longer needed to sustain the soul.

“It is a blessing to be from the land of mist,” Nana’s strong arms tossed a steady stream of peat blocks for Alana to stack. “Even if blessings can carry a cost,” she added, pausing for a moment to rub the small of her back, and to regard the ten-year-old.

The child’s auburn curls escaped the confines of her kerchief and any ties and ribbons one tried to wrestle them into. She was a quiet one, even as a wee lass, green-flecked eyes like moss on peat and cheeks like peaches in cream. Observing. Taking in.

She’s one for the mists, Meara thought, but never said. One did not make words for such things. Not for anyone. Let alone for the granddaughter one wrestled back from heaven’s ladder. Born too early, this one was, and at the same time too late for her mother’s life to go on.

Meara sighed and smiled small reassurance at Alana, whose features tightened in response to her grandmother’s exhalation. A mist child indeed, this one. Reading others in the smallest of breaths.

Nola had been this way. Sensitive. Perceptive.

Secretive, too. In many ways like the babe she’d borne. Half of her time spent in dream and memories of mist.

Meara shook her head to clear her own. She pointed her chin toward the ground. “A few more of these and we’ll head home. Let us see if we can get there before this bank of fog rolls down to completely mist up our path through the bog.”

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

A Thicker Thread

cubed-nut CrispinaKemp

 

“They left it here for a reason.”

Barbra rolled her eyes. There was hardly a thing Robin would not make a story of. “Okay, I’ll play. Who did and what for?”

Robin approached the holed-out structure with something like reverence. The round openings were just large enough for small children to wriggle through and climb and sit on with legs dangling. She had, when young, though she hadn’t seen many playing on it recently. Perhaps it meant the time was nearing.

“The fuamhairean had,” she said. “The giants left it but they will come back.”

“And supposing they exist, what could possibly be their reason to deposit it here?”

Robin sighed. Barbra wasn’t a believer. She wasn’t expected to understand. Still, it was important to explain. “It is a bead for their necklace. Their string tore. They’re waiting for the elves to weave them a thicker thread. It takes years.”

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

* fuamhairean – “giants” in Scots Gaelic

 

 

A Reservoir Of Fate

gunton-well CrispinaKemp

 

Mauve wondered what lay behind the walls. The structure was heavily surrounded by briars, vines, and weeds that would leave welts on anyone who tried to make their way through them. Though many of the plants seemed native to the area, she couldn’t avoid the feeling that their placement and proliferation was intentional.

She saw no opening. The smooth walls were obviously water tight, and the pipe that drained into the small semi-circular pool hinted at some kind of reservoir. But who would build one and leave no means of entry? Why? Why in the forest?

“‘Tis magic water,” Mrs. Ainsley explained that night, wooden spoon stirring pots over the fire.

Was the old woman joking? Mauve couldn’t see her face.

“I would not drink it,” the enigmatic bed-and-breakfast hostess added. “Too potent. But rinse your feet in it if you wish. Been known to change some young folks’ fate.”

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

The Light On

Photo: Sue-Z

 

They left the corner light on at night.

A habit.

A ritual.

An understanding.

The stone path had been there before they bought the property, and the remains of a lantern post. It was right where they’d wanted a vegetable garden, and so at first the plan was to plow the area clear and remove the slabs and pebbles.

But then the hoe broke.

And then the belt on the mower.

And then there was the matter of their daughter’s bellowing every time they tried to work on that part of the yard.

She was barely two at the time. Not quite talking. And yet she managed to throw “No! No!” tantrums and pull at their clothing and plop herself in utter-toddler-dejection right onto where they aimed to work.

“You best give up,” their neighbor nodded her warty chin, sage eyes not unkind in understanding.

It was the Fair Ones, she explained. They had their own paths. Their own energy highways.

“The ancients had marked it. To hold space and to deter the mischief. It is easier. And the young ones can still see.”

They left the light on.

Repaired the path.

Moved the vegetable garden.

Life was better calm.

 

 

 

For Sunday Photo Fiction

 

 

In Their Skin

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Photo: Keith Luke on Unsplash

 

Eons had passed

Since when they had

Their skins

Stolen

By man.

 

They learned to love

The life they had

Yet dreams

Cried hope

Aground.

 

Till secrets told

By men at night

Got heard

And sang

Around.

 

And off they went

The selkie all

Safe in

Their skin,

Unbound.

 

 

For the dVerse poetry challenge: Selkie