Middle Child

P1010891a

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

 

Inoculate

compassion SmadarHalperinEpshtein

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

It can spread.

It can blight.

It can seek a new host

To infect

With malaise.

But the ill

Need not creep

Onto me

Onto thy.

We can rise

Above rudeness.

Inoculate

Against hate.

We can choose to

Remain

Stubbornly

Humane.

 

 

For The Daily Post

Deplete Hate

make a case OfirAsif

Photo: Ofir Asif

 

Let us deplete

The harm

The hate

So more room’s left

To tolerate

The differences

We may create

As we attempt

To integrate

Beliefs well overdue

Update.

 

 

For The Daily Post

Static In The Air

Never again7 OfirAsif

Photo: Ofir Asif

 

There is static in the air,

Discord at what can no longer

Remain unchallenged.

There’s a buzz

To hold accountable

The hate and prejudice that has no space

Among the truly civilized.

 

There is hope amidst the noise:

The march of feet and hearts

That will not stay silent

At disrespect and bullying.

The sparks of light

That multiply to pull aside

The medieval darkness

Some wish to blanket over progress.

 

There is static in the air.

It crackles with potential.

May it smother ignorance

With wisdom.

May it end violence

Through empathy

And tolerance.

 

 

P.S. Since several of you had contacted me to ask about the photo: my nephew took this photo at the Gas Chambers in Auschwitz. The staining on the ceiling is from the Zyklon B poison. I thought this photo was an apt backdrop for the evils of racism and why it cannot be allowed to rise, no matter where or against whom or by.

For The Daily Post