The Seeing

 

“When I die,” she’d say, “I will not be truly away from you.”

Both sides of the statement used to worry him when he was little.

“Will I see you?” He once fretted. It was the day they had buried the pup who did not last the night. The runt who never whined and did not wriggle by the time the sun awoke. They’d laid the tiny bundle under a small mound of dirt in the yard. And it was lost to sight.

“In a manner of speaking,” Grandma had replied, untroubled. “For not all seeing is done with eyes.”

He did not understand her then.

Or when she died.

He wasn’t sure he understood her still, with many years passed.

Her absence a hole in his heart.

Then he came across the giant burl.

And he felt her in it. Waiting. Smiling. Seen.

He carved her out.

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Spree Time

(Photo: David Libeert on Unsplash)

 

No wallet? No problem.

He’d lived without one as a child and did not remember being hungry. Or at least, not so hungry that he could not muster energy to wrangle grub from whatever lay around.

His grandmother had taught him. Raised through famine she had become an expert forager. There were few edible things she did not recognize or know how to procure.

“If you’re awake, you can find food,” she’d say.

He was awake.

It was time to dumpster dive.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Forage in 82 words

 

Wrinkled Thorns

 

She always left one rosebush alone. Let the flowers bloom as they wanted, curl and unfurl as they wanted, dry and droop as they wanted.

“It is an eyesore,” her mother-in-law criticized, ever eager to point out imperfections to the daughter she did not birth and that her son had chosen to love more than he ever did the one who’d labored to bring him into the world.

“Perhaps,” she smiled, but did not yield.

Thorns and wrinkled petals seemed fitting. Frosty resentment prevented closeness, but the old woman had given life to the man she loved. It was enough.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Photo prompt: Dale Rogerson

 

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

 

 

What She Left

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(Photo: Sergiu Vălenaș on Unsplash)

 

There was not much there for her to

Bequeath:

A bit of lore.

A song no one had sung

Before.

Handwritten maps of forest paths

That others were likely yet to

Find.

A man’s sweater someone must have left

Behind.

Assorted photos of odd things,

Like stumps of trees

And rocks

And feathers that her favorite cat would

Bring.

There was not much for her to

Bequeath.

But what she had,

All could concede,

She loved and therefore

Was itself

A gift

Of life well-lived.

 

For Sammi‘s Weekend Writing Prompt: Bequeath in 85 words

 

Time’s Tread

worn-steps SueVincent

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

She could swear the old house breathed at night. That the walls spoke.

It was the age of things, she thought.

She’d ask, but the next door neighbors gave off a distinct air of distance and her mother was too occupied with damp ceilings, leaky pipes, and bone-dry bank account. There were questions one did not bring up unless adults were in the right mindset, which was rare enough during calm times, let alone through times of grown-up strife.

So Sally kept her own counsel on the matter of whispers between bricks and words in languages that sounded just a step to the side of comprehensible. It had scared her at first to hear them, but when she set her heart to listen she came to realize that there was no malice in the voices. Or none that raised the hair on the back of her neck, which had to be good enough.

After some time, Sally thought of them as friends.

She had few besides.

A moldy suitcase in the attic spoke of travel and held the faint smells of smoke and grime and sweat. There were some clothes still in it: Petticoats holey with moth and yellowed with time; a faded dress that might have been dark blue or purple at the time; a pair of shoes with buttons, the leather wrinkled like the face of Grandam in her casket; some papers in ink-spotted writing that mice or something else gnawed on; a locket.

She fretted about the latter. She wanted to open it. She shuddered at the thought. She dared herself to do so. Hefted it. Stared at the latch. Could not bring herself to undo it. This felt more personal than the split drawers in the suitcase, with the faint brownish stains on them.

She left the locket closed. But she did find herself drawn to hold it. Dreamed of wearing it. Of the dark blue dress. Of bonnets and petticoats.

One morning, when no other dreams found space and her nights became filled with whispers, she decided to wear the locket on her necklace. The small, intricately carved metal heart felt cool against her chest. She hid it underneath her shirt.

Sally could hear her mother arguing on the phone with yet another contractor, voice shrill as she tried but could not quite keep desperate frustration out of her voice. Sally tiptoed down from the attic to the landing and slipped quietly out of the house to sit upon the stoop. The damp chilled her bottom, seeping through the fabric of her pants. She shuddered.

And it was no longer pants she wore, but skirts, dark blue, cascading around her knees and covering the indentation in the steps. Ancient, those.

The door of the adjoining house opened, and a butler poked his head, complete with white gloves and pocket watch.

“Good Morning, Miss Grenadine,” he bowed slightly in her direction.

She smiled, entranced by how neither her lips nor her eyes were her own.

“It will be a sunny one, once the mist burns off,” he said.

She nodded and plucked a petal off of her skirts. She did not quite trust her voice.

The butler bent to pick a newspaper off the stoop, tipped his head in her direction, and closed the door.

Her hand reached for the locket, which was hanging over ruffles and a row of tiny buttons. It felt warm.

“The longer you sit the further you will travel.”

She turned her head to the sound but saw no one. A crow perched on a stone across the next door’s stoop, beady eyes regarding her with something between expectation and reproach.

The bird did not open its beak but the words unfurled clearly in her mind. “Some things are better left unopened.”

The locket.

The crow nodded, reading her mind. “But that does not mean keeping your eyes shut.”

She did not understand.

“Listen. Watch. Observe. Live on.”

Riddles. Crows were known for riddles. She shook her head and looked down at her knees to see a woolen skirt, knit stockings, an apron. Her arms in sleeves.

“Visit the past, but don’t forget to leave your own steps on the stairs,” the winged messenger noted, bobbed its head. Flew on.

“Sally?” Her mother’s voice sliced through the air.

She blinked.

The crow was gone. Her legs in sneakers on the step. The stairs the same.

She rose and eyed the door, the bowed indentation in the stones that led to it. Walked down to the pavement, turned, and pressed her feet into the tread.

She climbed. Making a path for someone from another time.

“Coming, Mom!”

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’ WritePhoto

 

 

By Design

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Photo by Aditya Wardhana on Unsplash

 

Perhaps it is, really,

By design

Where we are born

And how we live

And how and when and why

We die.

 

Perhaps it is

By fate,

That we can love

And we can laugh

And dream

And struggle to let go

Of hate.

 

Perhaps we’re each

A stitch

In the tapestry

Of an overarching

Plan,

(That we do

Or do not

Understand).

 

Yet still the truth

Remains,

That our strength is

Bound to fail at

The weakest

Thread.

And that we each have a

Part in

Whether we

Mend

Or shred

The possibilities

Ahead.

 

 

 

For RDP Sunday: Design

And just for fun, also for Terri’s Sunday Stills: Yellow

 

By Heart And Hand

desert pool AmitaiAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 

There is water

For the thirsty

Even

In the desert,

Where heart and hand

Were put to work

With foresight of what

Must be done,

To hold

What would otherwise

Be lost

To shifting sands

And blazing sun.

 

 

 

For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Manmade

 

 

Blue Earth

Blue Earth NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

On this Earth Day

As we are all

One,

Cooped in

Holding on,

Blue around the fingertips

Blue around the lips,

Blue in oceans, and

In the reflections of the deep,

Blue in sorrow

Blue as sky lift

Dark sapphire

To the reified aqua

Of hope.

May we rise

Like the sun,

And not forget how

We can

Help each other

Cope.

 

 

For Terri’s SundayStills: Earth

 

 

The Big Scale

scale SmadarHalperinEpshtein

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

In the big scale

Of things

Where watershed moments

Froth and fall in

Flush forward,

Each of us but a dot

Drenched in mist

Hoping life

Flows without

A fast-forward.

 

 

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Scale