The Essentials

 

Finally.

She shrugged her pack off and lowered herself so her back rested against a tree, blessing — for the umpteenth time — the waterproofs she’d splurged on several years ago.  The purchase had meant giving up puddings for two months, but she’d never regretted the trade-off.

Food was essential, but so was heeding nature’s call for spending time in the outdoors. It was required nourishment for her soul.

In any weather, no matter damp or cold.

Soon she’d make the tent, gather wood, and light a fire to cook her oats on. But first she just sat, filling her lungs with air and her mind with calm contentment.

Raised in the city, she didn’t know how hungry she was for the outdoors until friends invited them to join a camping trip. She was ten.

Her parents hated every minute of it. For her, it had been like finally finding home.

 

 

 

For Crimson’s Creative Challenge #52

 

Uduru’s Sudan

sudan-2895726_1920

Sudan, Khartoum (Photo: Amma Hareib on Pixabay)

 

Uduro held her head high, the wrapped money tucked securely in a fold of her clothing. Only a small amount was in the beaded purse. No need to give pickpockets reason to try and outsmart her. She knew better than most.

The market’s alleys welcomed her, coolly shaded under the roof. The dimmer light was soothing. She inhaled, sated. Shoes. Spices. Food. Clothing. Utensils. Leather goods. Whatever she needed could be hers. She walked slowly as befitting her status, her back straight with pride.

She was back.

No longer the barefooted street urchin, begging for leftovers, scurrying from grabby hands while carrying favors for a scrap and a slap.

She was now the wife of a man who owned three stalls on the Souk’s main road. And a whole house. She was the mother of a boy who was never hungry. Umm Faheem, they called her now, in Uduro’s Sudan.

 

 

 

For the What Pegman Saw challenge: Sudan

 

Set The Sun

sunset wonderland CA NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

Set the sun

Gently behind the loops

Of the day.

Behind the curves and the slopes

That turned your world

Inside out

And your plans

Upside down

And away.

Spread your wings

And head home

To where nestlings

Await

And the feathers of evening

Welcome you

At the gate.

 

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Sunset

 

 

Driving Mrs. Mama

Photo prompt: © Linda Kreger 

 

“Hope the driver remembers.” Ella fretted.

Lynn shrugged. “He’ll have to run us over if he forgot.”

“You two, line up already and stop the chatter!”

“Shush, Jerry! Let us cherish the fruits of our labor.”

Your labor?! Who manned the table saw and has more splinters than a cactus?”

“Poor Bearded Baby … I sanded them all! Quiet, here she comes!”

The van stopped at the cul-de-sac. The driver walked around to the rear and wheeled Mama down.

“Welcome home, Mama Jean!”

“Hey, Ella, ditch the camera! No slackers till the Driving Mrs. Mama Home Train clears the ramp!”

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

In A Moment

Photo Prompt © Ted Strutz

 

She sat with her nose glued to the window, ignoring the roar of the engines and the bawdy chatter in her headphones.

It was cloudy when they’d taken off, with only little visibility. Now miles of forests stretched in all directions, the greenery as dense and impenetrable as her father’s face the last time she’d seen him, brooding and taciturn even by his own standards.

A glint of water sparkled in the distance and the pilot banked to the right to circle toward the lake. Suddenly she could not breathe.

It’s been a long ten years.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

Homecoming

Homecoming NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

As you descend toward the shore

You see

The water

Lapping

At the edges

Of what will

In a moment be

The touchdown to your welcome home.

 

 

Note: This photo was taken last month, on a cellphone, from behind the thick windows of a Boeing 787 on approach to JFK (shadow of the aircraft on the water).

For Travel With Intent’s One Word Sunday: Aerial

 

The One Place

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

She ran and wouldn’t stop till she got there.

It didn’t matter that she had a stitch in her side or that something hard in her backpack kept slamming into her ribs or that the lower branches of some trees slapped burning licks against her cheeks.

She would not stop.

At last she saw a glimmering reflection and the slight opening in the dense woods that signaled she was almost there.

Her attention drawn to the sight ahead, she missed a crawler root and fell hard. She lay there, the breath knocked out of her and pain coursing through her body where it hit the ground. A gnarly stump poked out of the earth not two inches from her eye. It would have done real damage.

She was almost too miserable to care but her eyes still filled with tears. For the pain. For the helplessness. For the exhaustion. For so much more she could not find the words for and couldn’t afford to. Not yet.

She had to get up or she’d never move again. The backpack pressed heavy against her and she couldn’t help but remember other weight pinning her down. Unwelcome. Uninvited. More tears sprung. Then sobs that came from someplace between her diaphragm and belly button and competed with the stitch already jabbing through her chest. It was too much. It had all been. Too much.

Finally, after what seemed a decade, her breath calmed and she found strength to push up to her elbows, then her knees, then up to lean against a tree and shift her weight gingerly onto each leg.

Nothing broken. Or nothing broken that would prevent her from getting there. Her elbow throbbed and she was bleeding from scratches on her face and a badly skinned palm. There would be more abrasions underneath her pants where a tear bloomed red at the knee. But she was up, and some burden had lifted in the crying, even if it left her heart hollow with sorrow and echoing with despair.

She filled her lungs with a long breath and a tardy sob escaped to join the others but then her body shuddered one last time and she steadied.

She walked on. Not running now, just dogged determination.

The forest peeled away to reveal the clearing. The pond glowed and the purple light remained as she’d remembered. Lush greens licked the muddy banks and a clump of cattails whispered in an almost nonexistent breeze. The tree, too, was still there, just as it had been before: it’s bark missing in places, it’s silvery leaves rustling as the very breath of the place coursed through it from root to leafy tip.

“I’ve come back,” she breathed, and touched her scraped palm to the exposed trunk. Skin to blood to skin.

An echo filled her chest and she knew it knew her, and the relief made the jagged hole in the center of her self heal some.

This was the one place she never felt completely alone in.

She’d last left it thinking that her old life would not chase her to the new, and she had tried – for longer than she thought she could endure – to pretend that she no longer longed for what she had believed in and had given up. She could give it up no more.

“Will you help me?” she whispered. “I’d forgotten how.”

And the tree rustled and a ripple ran across the water and into her core, and her body softened so completely that she slid to sit leaning against the trunk. Welcomed. Invited. Warmed.

She’ll sleep. And she will dream. And she will wake to find the way back to herself. To her true realm in her rightful time.

 

 

For Sue’s WritePhoto prompt

 

The Boy Who Was Very Brave

 

left human injected with hose on white textile

Photo: rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

 

“Be brave,” he said, and closed his eyes to ward off at least the pain of seeing his skin pierced by sharpness.

“Just a scratch,” the nurse stated in rote-like monotone, forgetting that for this boy nothing at this point was ‘just a scratch,’ especially not with veins well worn from prodding, let alone in a child who must struggle to understand why any of this was necessary.

“Be brave,” he said again, and his voice shook, and a tear slid under his lids and traveled down the small cheek to settle on his ear like a tiny sorrow-diamond.

“I’m sorry,” the nurse pressed her lips together when the third poke failed and another scarred blood vessel rolled under her needle. She’ll have to try another site. How on earth did someone not put a port in this child yet?

“Be brave,” the boy clenched his eyes to slits but more tears fled. “Be brave.”

The nurse looked up, distressed by his determined resignation. She paused and placed her gloved hand on his cheek. “You are,” she said. “Very.”

Eyes still shut, he shuddered and she wasn’t sure if he understood. She pulled a chair to his gurney and smoothed his hair. Someone from the Children’s Home had brought him to the hospital with another flareup, but the orphanage was too short-staffed to have anyone stay with him, especially when the boy wasn’t fussy and reportedly “used to” the hospital.

As if there could be such a thing as a child being “used to” being alone in a hospital.

“You are brave,” she repeated. Her eyes stung and perhaps the emotion in her voice more than her words filtered through his bracing because his eyes opened to meet hers.

“You don’t deserve any of this,” she said. “No one does. What you do deserve is to get better, and for people to really see and understand how brave you are. You are so so brave.”

Another tear rolled toward his ear. She hoped this one wasn’t from fear but from recognizing a connection.

“I’ll be as gentle as I can,” she promised. “I know this must be awful, but I need to get a line in for your medicine. Can you be brave for me just a bit longer?”

He held her eyes before he nodded.

“Good boy. So let’s just get this over with?”

He nodded again and this time did not close his eyes but hung them on her face. He did not look away or make a sound as she flicked and poked and needled.

“Good lad,” she praised, relieved, as she finally placed the clear bandage over the IV.

He took in a long breath.

“Can I get you anything?” she lingered, wanting to do something for this boy, so small and pale and alone.

He nodded.

“Some juice or crackers, maybe? It’ll do you good to get some of these in you,” she chattered. “I bet we have some toys I can borrow from the playroom for you.”

He held her gaze.

“Can I go home with you?” he asked. “I promise to be brave for you. I’ll be brave every day.”

 

 

(*Based on a true story.)

For Six Word Saturday