Not Much Sweeter

ccc105 CrispinaKemp

 

There was not much sweeter than Grandpa Gulliver’s honey. Then again, there was not much that was sweeter than honey. Berries, perhaps, in their short season. Or maple syrup, when they found it. But there were not many maples left anymore, and those she knew of were not particularly generous with their sap now that they had to parse energy for growing.

But there was Grandpa Gulliver’s honey. The slow pouring amber liquid of deliciousness. As valuable and as glorious as gold. The warmth of happy in her mouth.

Grandpa Gulliver had built Hive Homes for the bees. Tiny mansions of industry where workers and queens could shelter from the rain under eaves that shed the snow and cut the wind.

She used to watch the ins-and-outs for hours. The buzz. The promise.

Now they stood desolate.

No bees. No Grandpa Gulliver.

Who knew they’d all be taken, sweetness gone?

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

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

 

 

Home Sweet Home

cob-cottage CrispinaKemp

 

They stopped the car down the lane and walked the last few hundred yards, wanting to see the cottage unveiled.

“Grandma would be proud,” Tilly sighed. The roof had bowed in and the walls had extensive water damage the last time they’d seen the place.

“Not about the fence, she wouldn’t.”

Tilly grinned. Her brother never could let an opportunity to find fault go unheeded. And … the fence did need propping. “A stray dog or deer knocked it. Surely it’ll be easy to mend.”

“Hmm.”

Tilly looped her arm in her brother’s. The cottage finally looked the way she remembered, the way Grandma had maintained it all the years she’d lived there and until she had to go into care.

Once more it was going to be home sweet home.

“Let’s get the car, and my things,” Tilly said. “We’ll be bringing Grandma along, in spirit, if not in form.”

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Man In The Straw

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

“And the man in the straw danced and danced …”

“Till the morning came and changed his chance?”

Thomas stroked his granddaughter’s head. She never tired of the story. Her favorite, and she knew it by heart. As he knew her many expressions, the myriad of small sounds she made as she dreamed each night.

She was his favorite. His only, but still his favorite. No one could convince him otherwise.

“Grandpa?” the child burrowed deeper into her blankets.

“Yes, Pumpkin?”

“Do you think the man in the straw ever wanted to be something else?”

He felt his eyes widen as he glanced down at her. Her eyes were open, too. Gone were any traces of the soft daze of moments before sleep.

“What do you think, Pumpkin?” he returned the question, uncertain whether what he’d read into it was indeed in the child’s mind, and unwilling to insert his own assumptions into what may well be a different query altogether.

There were many things to wish were different. In the folktale. In life, too. He often wondered if she so loved the old story exactly because it spoke of vulnerabilities and challenge, of facing fears and finding fault and making do and fighting on. All things she’d know more than enough of.

The child nibbled momentarily on her lower lip. “I think maybe he sometimes wanted to be the man in the spiral. Or Fire. Or the mask. Or the stag.”

“Hmm …” he nodded, hoping she’d say more, wondering if she would. There was a depth to the child. Currents he did not always understand or believe he ought to. An Old Soul, his beloved Mara had said of the newborn even in the few days she had with the child before the angels called.

“But,” the little girl sighed, curling up so her back rested against her grandfather’s thigh as he sat on the edge of her cot. “I think he knew he was the Man In The Straw …”

The pause lingered. The child yawned.

“… and that he was meant to dance and dance …” she whispered, her breath deepening, her eyes closed. “… till morning came and changed his chance…”

 

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

Irreplaceable

hu-chen-tCbTGNwrFNM-unsplash

Photo: Hu Chen on Unsplash

 

She could not get enough of him.

She’d spent the last few hours gazing at him as he slept.

She could spend another lifetime.

Nothing could replace the sweet contour of his back, the curve of his neck, the fists that could fly deliciously out of tempo with his kicking, the softness of his cheeks dimpled into smile.

His breath.

Joy expanded her chest and spread a warmth under her skin that flushed through her soul to fill her with a flood of well-being.

She was his forever grandmother.

 

 

 

Note: Dedicated to all the grandmothers and great-grandmothers. To the aunts and great-aunts. To the mothers and mothers-to-be. To the grandfathers and great-grands, to the uncles and fathers. May you know this love, for nothing can replace it.

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Replace in 89 words

 

 

 

 

Cake To Go

three line tales, week 170: an unhappy birthday party

Photo via Unsplash

 

She spaced the candles as her grandmother had instructed. Not equally, but with one candle lording over a bigger chunk. “You’ll remember me by it,” Gran had said, “and by the sour faces of the ladies when they see you’d saved me some cake to go.”

 

For Three Line Tales #170

 

 

Zēngzǔfù’s Bridge

Image result for Jiangxi province China free

Photo: pngtree.com

 

He had made the pilgrimage as promised. He didn’t know if he believed the ancestors would know he’d kept his word, but life was complicated enough without angering spirits, ancestral or not.

And it would have made his mother happy to know he’d visited the bridge his great-great-great-great-grand (or however many generations it was) had helped build. She’d always longed to make the trip back herself, and couldn’t.

“The sweat of your ancestor dripped into the stones,” his mother had told him, “his blood and thus yours lives in them.”

He heard her voice in Jia’s when the child, sober in pigtails and pink frilly dress, studied the structure. “So this is where we came from?”

He nodded.

His daughter walked to the first pile and touched it reverently. “Zēngzǔfù built this one,” the six-year-old stated. “Nǎinai told me. She showed me in my dream last night.”

 

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Jaingxi province of China

 

Not So Hidden

bat cave 1 SmadarHalperinEpshtein

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

Grandpa you can’t

See me hidden

In my batman cave,

But try to find me:

There’s a world

To save.

 

For Travel With Intent’s One Word Sunday: Hidden

 

 

Rhyme Time

 

dragonhillart.blogspot.com

Photo: dragonhillart.blogspot.com

 

“Hi, bye, my, spy,” he walked in, grinning.

I smiled at the five-and-a-half year old. A head of brown curls and melt-you-on-the-spot dark-chocolate eyes, green glasses, summer freckles, a missing tooth from playground accident at age three, a superhero hearing aid. Pure charm.

“Why, shy, guy, cry?” he challenged.

“Why indeed?” I chuckled.

“Ask my dad,” he giggled. “He told me that one. One, sun, fun, done.”

“You’re rhyming a lot today!”

He nodded. “I’m practicing. My grandpa gives me a dime every time I rhyme.”

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

A Little Closer

vugust on tumblr

Photo: vugust on tumblr

 

“Granpa is no here anymore,” he stated, morose, “he go back to very far.”

The little boy raised impossibly long-lashed honey eyes to me but I didn’t think he was looking at anything in the room. His eyes were seeing through the walls and out to where a presence is not constrained by oceans, mileage, and topography.

His little face was pinched in a sad frown and he fingered the edge of his shirt, before taking in a long breath that seemed to fill not only his lungs but also return the sparkle into his eyes. He pointed a small finger at the center of his chest. Exhaled. Took another breath.

“But Granpa no really faraway,” he declared, the last two words blended into one in a sing-song. “My heart think so he only little closer very far.”

 

 

For The Daily Post