All The Colors

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Photo: Rene Bernal on Unsplash

 

We are,

All the colors

Of this earth,

Broken into

Pieces of

Humanity and

Mixed together

To make into

A kaleidoscope

Of hope.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Kaleidoscope in 23 words

 

 

The Others’ Side

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

“Why is it this way, Mama?”

The woman let the small hoe drop from her hand. She straightened, hands over the small of her back, achy from the bending. The plot was spare, and the harshness of many a hard winter had stripped most of the topsoil off, leaving more pebbles than dirt. Still, it was better than nothing, and she was thankful.

The child had been sorting stones into piles. Larger ones. Medium ones. Smaller. There were repairs to make to walls and fences, and very little in the way of clay. Sizing stones helped make the puzzle of fitting the best bit in the best place, easier. It was a tedious chore that the girl somehow managed to make into a game. She had that magic in her, Margot did, the spark of joy that Annabelle spent every night praying would not ever have cause to slough off or be snuffed out.

“Mama?”

Annabelle nodded and turned her head toward the object of the child’s query. She’d had no option but to sit the child facing the chasm. One did not turn one’s back to the mist. Disrespectful. Ill fated. Even for children, who normally carried more protection by nature of their youth. Still, it was best to take precaution, and what the child learned early, she was less likely to forget later on and take a wrong step.

There was reason this plot was made available. Not many farmed so near the rift. Some claimed the uneasy air made foodstuffs grow small and weary.

Some did not have the luxury of growing theirs elsewhere.

“The light does not quite shine there the same way,” she said.

“What did they do?” the child’s voice was filled with pity, not fear, and Annabelle did not know whether in this particularity the compassion was something to celebrate or warn against.

“Some say they’d tied their soul to dark,” Annabelle sighed. The split and its reality was not something often spoken of. Yet unless some miracle happened and their circumstances changed, the child was destined to spend many days in close proximity to the Others’ side. It was better she heard truth from her mother, than distortions from those who felt more comfortable with lies.

She felt the child’s small hand slip into her calloused palm.

“They are not different than us, Margot. Not really. There was time before the split, before the earth heaved and the crack formed and separated this land into its pieces, where we all lived mixed together, if we even knew we were more than one kind. Now those who had happened to be on the parts that became the other side of this canyon, have the mountains dump the clouds onto them and the rapids raise a constant mist. It diminishes their sun.”

The child shuddered. Annabelle squeezed her hand to reassure her.

“There are those who chose to make their fear into a hatred, Margot. And that led to needing to make those one hated, be worthy of such ill-regard.”

“So they are good?”

“Most are. And some very likely aren’t.”

“And the big rocks?” Margot turned her head to inspect the piles she had just made. The stones balanced atop each other in formations mirroring the massive ones on the misty horizon.

“Put there, no doubt. No one quite knows why or how. Some say the ghosts of evil did it. The goblins that spit poison from the earth and crack the ground. I? I think it was people who’d arranged them. As you had the smaller ones.”

Annabelle had never shared with anyone the image that she’d seen nine months before the child was born. The figures scurrying on the impossible embankment, tucking what appeared to be smaller stones in the places where rocks nestled atop one another. The reverent silence of the people had her wonder whether they perhaps saw the rocks as headstones, memorials to those who had been lost to the maw that had swallowed so many when it had first sliced open the ground. A maw many did not believe anyone crossed.

She used her free hand to lift the girl’s chin so their eyes met. “Why did you put them this way, child?”

The gray eyes widened for a moment. In thought, not worry. “I wanted to respect the other stones, Mama. Their balance. How they don’t fall into the underside.”

Annabelle’s eyes filled. Her breath caught.

She smiled.

She never did find out who had forced her that night. She was blamed aplenty as it was, and so she never did tell anyone that she’d believed it had been someone who might’ve seen her watch them. Someone from the Others’ side.

 

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

One Face, A Whole World – Yom Ha’Shoah

 

This is the photo of Sarah Kol (1933-1944), my grandfather’s niece. She was murdered, age 11, along with her mother Ida, my grandfather’s eldest sister, and many others, by the Nazis in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

She is one of the millions lost to the rabid hate the Nazis practiced, spread, and fed.

Each one of those millions lost was an entire lost world.

Each murder left a gaping hole where their lives and accomplishments, their stories, their loves and joys, their children and grand-children who’d never be, would have been, should have been …

My grandfather lost many in his family in the Holocaust.

My grandmother lost many in hers.

Other branches of my family lost loved ones, too.

Many families lost even more.

Some have no one left to remember. Many have no photos. No one to tell their stories.

So we must. As we can. Tell of those we know.

Remember all.

Little Sarah’s is but one face of many.

Hers was a life all its own. Snuffed out but not forgotten.

May her memory be a blessing.

May all their memories be a blessing. Six million. More. So we remember.

So we never forget.

Little Sarah, you were born but a year before my mother. The Nazis killed you, but they could not kill your memory. You live in each of us. The memory of your mother and siblings and cousins and aunts and uncles lives on, too. I see your face in my sisters and many cousins and nieces.

We are you.

And we remember.

 

 

Not Welcome Here

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Photo: Franck V. on Unsplash

 

You are not welcome

Here,

With your

Contaminated fear.

You are not welcome

Here,

With words that hurt

And terms that mean to harm, divert,

Self-aggrandize, and

Smear.

There is a bigger risk

In hate

Than in keeping

Near.

You are not welcome

Here,

If you weaponize worry

To steer

Away from empathy,

Away from truth,

Away from the real challenges we share

As we ride great distances

On this one

Sphere.

Call this by its name.

Not by the rhetoric

Of racist,

Misinforming

Jeer.

Address it not in

Murky swamps

That deliberately

Throw mud into the

Gears.

Humanity is better

Than your insatiable need

To infect the

Atmosphere.

We’re on to you.

We see.

We hear.

We will hold steady to what

Matters.

We support the hardworking, factual and

Compassionately

Sincere.

But you?

You are not welcome

Here.

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS writing prompt: Welcome

 

 

Middle Child

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Photo: Keith Kreates

 

Her rooms were in the middle of the castle, hovering above the center of the river, sandwiched between two layers of guard rooms, bordered on both sides with sentinel halls.

Her residence, her very life, was perched between the woods on one bank and the manicured gardens on the other, split between one land and another, between a grand promenade entrance on one side and an into-the-wild entrance on the other, belonging to both and owned by neither. It was so by design.

Oh, she was no prisoner. She had the freedom of the castle and the pleasures of the adjacent lands. She could go riding or strolling, hunting or frolicking, visiting or picnicking. As long as she made sure to spend the exact time on either side of the river, as long as she took heed to show no favor, no preference, no prediliction.

Three of her attendants were timekeepers. One from each side of the river. One from a foreign country altogether. All three carried hourglasses and were charged with maintaining synchronicity. Disputes were rare, for they would mean a cease of all outdoor activities till the disagreement resolved, cause a strain on her well-being, tarnish their families, and lead to possible replacement. The timekeepers kept discrepancies to a minimum.

The comparable reality extended to everything: An exactly equal number of ladies in waiting from each side of the river, exactly the same number of servants, workers, soldiers, guards, and tradesmen who were allowed to live and work in, or gain access to the castle. The same number of her dresses had been made on each side of the river. Half the furniture, too.

The constant balancing act was tedious. It was also necessary.

“You are the bridge,” her governess had explained to her when — still a child — she was fed up with being shuttled across the castle mid-activity, so equal play time on the other side can be maintained. She did not want to have two of everything and be required to play with each equally. “You were born to end five hundred years of bloodshed.”

Her parents had defied odds and had sought alliance instead of massacres. They’d built a bridge over the fear and hate that endless war had fed. They’d began construction on the castle. They’d birthed her.

The people had watched and waited.

She was barely toddling when her parents’ carriage had gotten ambushed by some who’d believed that ending the alliance would enliven the centuries-old feuds. The warmongers were wrong. They’d killed her parents, but not the want for peace. People on both sides of the river came for the murderers. People on both sides worked to complete the castle-bridge and ensured the princess could be raised in its center.

It was on that day, cocooned in her governess’s lap, in the room above the river that had for generations divided her people, that she truly understood: After so much distrust, an exacting fairness had to be the glue that would hold peace till lasting trust could grow.

No betters. No less-thans. Not even the appearance of favorites.

The efforts to keep it so were sometimes so precise as to be ridiculous, but she preferred to err on the side of the absurd, rather than risk her people any harm.

She was the princess on the bridge.

Her rooms were in the middle of the castle, hovering above the center of the river, sandwiched between two layers of guard rooms, bordered on both sides with sentinel halls.

Her residence, her very life, was perched between the woods on one bank and the manicured gardens on the other, split between one land and another, belonging to both and owned by neither. It was so by design.

 

 

For Kreative Kue 238

Read To Remember

Photo prompt © CEAyr

 

“I read to remember,” she said, her voice steel and quiver. “I read because he no longer can and because I know he was, most very likely, reading at the very moment his life stopped, evaporated, in mid-word. I read because mine almost stopped in the loss of him and in the enormity of the awfulness that took him and so many.

“I read to not forget. Because there is a bigger spark in life than in sorrow, and because he never would have left us, and certainly not this way. If it weren’t for the planes.

That September day.”

 

 

Note: Dedicated to all the lost, and to all those who lost so much, and to all that has been changed — insidiously and indelibly for so many — on September 11, 2001. I was here. I remember and I understand why we remember and what we must remember about ourselves and about who we can be. May we hold truth. May we be the better, kinder, more humane version of ourselves.

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

Falling Skies

Falling sky NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

The skies aren’t falling

About our ears

In a squall

Of rain,

Nor in white flakes

That slough off

Of clouds

Again.

 

These skies are falling,

Bit by bit,

In tears

Orphaned

By pain,

And lost in hollows

Fed by

Hate

That’s allowed to

Remain.

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt: Fall from the sky

 

 

Will The Baby Cry?

Photo prompt: © Roger Bultot

 

“Be there in a moment, Aaron,” Miriam herded her family toward the synagogue across the street.

“Mom!” Ben protested. She drags him outta’ bed, then stays outside herself?

“It’s urgent,” Miriam apologized, eyes already on her phone.

Seven-year-old Jacob glanced at his dad. “Will the baby cry?”

“You screamed like a stuck pig at your Bris,” Ben offered.

Jacob froze. “I’ll stay with Mom.”

“Ben!” their dad scolded.

Staccato bangs echoed. Loud screams.

“The baby?!” Jacob clung to his father’s hand.

“Down! All of you!” Aaron shoved Jacob behind a car and raced to the synagogue. “Shots fired! Call 911!”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

The Vanishing Point

VanishingPoint ofirasif

Photo: Ofir Asif

 

 

At the vanishing point

They have passed

To be gassed,

Leaving us

To a world

That forever now must,

Not forget

How the place

Of no return

Has been crossed,

And we none are

The same

For hate’s shadow’s

Been cast.

In the name of those

Vanished

Who shall not be forgot,

We can vow to hold hope,

And let compassion

Outlast.

 

 

 

For Nancy Merrill’s A Photo a Week Challenge: Vanishing Point