Temptation

 

The sun beat on his nape and his shirt stuck to his body, too wet to do any good in absorbing the sweat that trickled maddeningly down the center of his back and soaked the waistband of his pants.

His arms ached. Granite did not easily yield.

The soft ripples of the water mocked him, parading a breeze he did not feel. The pillar blocked what small air movement could be had. To add insult to injury, the hot stone reflected the stifling heat back at him. The path was an oven.

A dragonfly skimming the river caught his eye and he paused, mallet in mid-air and chisel in position, muscles bunching under the folds of his damp sleeves.

What if? he pondered.

He shook the thought out of his mind. Let the mallet land.

Who knew what lurked under the surface of seemingly inviting water. Better hot than drowned.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

 

No Shoveling!

 

“I’ll just be a minute,” Benito shooed his family ahead. “Don’t want you catching cold.”

He rubbed his gloved hands together. The temperature had dropped over twenty degrees in the last few hours.

“Especially you, Junior!” he pointed at his youngest. The boy had weak lungs and had just finished another long course of antibiotics. “In you go.”

“Oh, no, you’re not!” Maria planted her feet in front of her husband. “You are coming in with us. Right now. There will be no shoveling by you today. Boss Manuel insisted. Today you are a guest. After all, it is your birthday!”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

The Biggest Yield

joao-silas-eh_vUyioHhc-unsplash

Photo: João Silas on Unsplash

 

They never expected it to turn out as it had.

Sure, they hoped their hard work would bear fruit. Of course they put all they had into it. They needed sustenance, which — without gold or title or power or support or skill — meant they had to find a way to raise it.

Through thick and thin and cold and rain and mud and sun.

Some of it with bare hands. Some literally blindly, given their bad eyes.

They did what they felt they had to do. They just never expected to manage quite so well.

Not when all they’d ever been told was how unworthy and incompetent and incapable they were. A burden on others. Unproductive mouths to feed.

They’d soonest have believed they’d amount to nothing than that they’d amount to so much. Or have such plenty.

Enough to get through the winter and the early spring. Enough for next year’s planting. Enough even to give.

They had the biggest yield anyone had seen in years.

They never expected it to turn out as it had.

To have so much to eat, to be able to be those who feed.

It had to be the fairies, dusting magic onto their field.

 

 

 

For the Word of the Day Challenge: Yield

 

Perhaps

Photo prompt: Janet Puddicombe

 

The morning was overcast but the weatherman promised afternoon sunshine. “A perfect day,” the man in his not-quite-fitting suit gushed, and Lola felt protective. No one better dare mock him!

It didn’t take a doctorate to recognize what he woke in her: Her father, hiding repeated humiliations, readying to leave for yet another job interview that he already knew would likely go to someone younger and better educated, with no giveaway accent and a lighter complexion.

“Go get’em, Dad,” she’d tell him as he’d fuss over the knot of his tie or the papers in his attache.

“Thank you, Querida,” he’d say as he buttoned the jacket for his only suit, the one that didn’t fit him as it should. Or perhaps never had. He’d certainly gotten it off the rack.

She’d tried to convince him to get one tailor-made.

“I’m no big boss, Querida,” he’d always shrug her off. “Just a man looking for a job. Perhaps one day, Lola, when you’re a doctor, for your graduation, I’ll buy me one.”

She eyed his favorite flowers. Bought as she had those days, to cheer him up.

“Perhaps,” she whispered, buttoning her cape, “you’d have gotten that suit. Today, Dad.”

 

 

For the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge

 

The Project

photo by David Meredith

Photo courtesy of David Meredith, photographer

 

“I know we can do it!”

Richard infused his voice with all the pep he could muster.

The house was a dump. He wanted to put a match to it. A tent would be better to live in. The very prospect of what fixing this wreck-of-a-building would entail had him exhausted in advance. He’d fixed homes before: this project would be measured in years, not months or weeks. He could almost see the creepy crawlies inside walls, the rot above the ceiling, the mold under the floors, the who knows what in the rafters.

He hated it already.

Who buys a house sight unseen? What on earth did she expect?

“It’ll be great!” He enthused, his arm protectively around her shoulders.

She’d been so proud to find a house that could fit them all and within their minuscule budget, further shrunken since he’d lost his job. She wanted to surprise him.

He hated seeing her devastation when they arrived at their new home, belongings and kids crammed into one truck.

“The children will learn so many skills,” he stressed. “You’ll see. We’ll go room by room and prioritize.”

“It’s a disaster,” she sniffled. Looked up. Smiled. “And I love you.”

 

 

For Sunday Photo Fiction

 

 

 

 

These Walls

upstairs downstairs SmadarHalperinEpshtein

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

How many did these laboriously

Hewed walls

Close in on

As they trudged endlessly

With buckets laden

And arms weighted

Up and down

And up and down again

For more?

 

How many did they shelter

Under siege

Of catapults and

Rusted arrows

As the walls shuddered

Dust

Onto the bitten lips

And rounded shoulders

Of those crouched below?

 

How many hastened feet

Did these walls keep secrets for

Under the cover of

Night

And sentries’ snores

As lovers met

In darkened corners

To remember

Life before?

 

 

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Wall

 

 

Mumbai Muscle

india-293_1920

Photo: Simon on Pixabay

 

“This is too much.” Prama frowned at the heaped cart. “I don’t know how he’ll manage.”

“He will,” Abhi responded. He did not like the meddling of women in his business. Never had. But now that one of his eyes rested in a trash heap, he knew that customers found the presence of his wife reassuring. Better they talk to her than stare into his eye-patch and worry about the evil crouched behind it.

“Gaju is no longer a young man,” Prama insisted.

“Do not try my patience, woman!” Abhi growled. “Gaju feeds his family by the kilo-carried. Let a man earn a wage.”

“You could pay him more per kilo,” she shook her head at him, unimpressed. “You know he is too old to be hired by someone else and cannot lose this job. You overload his cart. Take care you aren’t also overloading your Karma in the process.”

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Mumbai, India

Grit of Will

up up and away

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

They don’t give up.

They push on, they keep trying.

For the plainest of skills.

Simple tasks need endurance:

Every sentence’s a summit

Every speech sound’s a triumph of will.

Such tenacious young children

Built of grit and forbearance

Marathoners of life’s endless sprints

All uphill.

Oh, how deeply they teach me

The depth of true mettle

In courage, in hope to succeed.

Their indomitable spirit

Forms a marvel:

Pure resolve wrought from steel.

 

 

For The Daily Post