Allegiance

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

They called her Allegiance.

Contract and insurance, she was. Revered and guarded, both.

So well revered and so well guarded, in fact, that with time she became almost forgotten and had turned more a symbol than a soul. She sometimes wondered if she was in that way not too dissimilar to many of her kind through time, even if they had been so for far shorter spans.

Women often were made ornamental. Used as symbolic pawns, utilized as cementers of allegiances, then blamed for those that broke.

It helped her feel less lonely, knowing that even in her immortal isolation she was still in some way a member of a community of others who’d been perched into positions, as she was, without much of a choice. Possessions and producers, keepers of the continuity of power, serfdom and thrones.

They called her Allegiance.

And she sat in her fortified tower, aware of the two rows of guards: One row looking out against any who may get it in their minds to sabotage, the other row looking in against any indication that she may get it in hers to leave.

They needn’t have worried. At least not about her.

There was enough of misery without adding heads to spikes in any kind of rebellion, where those most likely to be harmed were those least likely to have been given part in the decision.

She accepted her place. A figurehead to keep the heads of others firmly on their shoulders and their children’s hearts safer from the sorrows of orphanage and war.

So she stayed.

As centuries passed, those who’d placed her there took less care with guarding her and the promises she’d represented. The tower crumbled. The guards played cards and drank and slept and grew lazy, and she took comfort in knowing that at least this meant they weren’t in battle. Even if she shivered, windowless, her walls crumbling all around.

Perhaps, she thought, as winds whistled and the stories of her had become lore printed onto metal plaques for tourists to ignore, it was all as it should be.

Perhaps one day there will not be a need.

Perhaps one day allegiances will be built-in, rather than built-up and set with guarded fences that time and lassitude and apathy were certain to erode.

Till then, Allegiance waited.

For the moment, the ruins of her tower stood.

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

Portal To Tomorrow

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Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

In the portal to

Tomorrow

Let the trumpets

Ring not

Alarm

And rush to

Harm,

But stop to the

Hubris

Of war.

In the portal for

Tomorrow

May those men

Who rashly

Spend

The life of

Others,

Know the call

Of trumpets

Often heralded

Only pain,

More gore.

Enough.

Enough.

No more.

 

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Portal

 

 

The Great Loss

 

“Did Great-Grandpa really fight in the Great War?”

“He did.”

“What made it great, Mama?”

She sighed. This place’s heaviness only settled thicker during the holidays. She’d come every year on Christmas as a child. Too infrequently since. The ocean’s breeze whipped hair into the boy’s eyes and she tucked a lock behind his ear. He so reminded her of herself.

“Grandma Rose said it was because the Heavens everywhere lit with the great number of souls and broken hearts. The Great Loss, she called it.”

“A lot of Christmas angels, Mama?”

“Perhaps so.”

“I think Great-Grandpa is one, though.”

 

 

Note: Dedicated to all who are missing loved ones during the holidays, to all who are no longer with us for they’d given their lives (or parts of their souls) for others, in search of peace, in hope of no more war or hate or greed. May we do better, as a species. Let there be true peace on Earth.

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

(Thank you Sandra Cook for the evocative photo prompt!)

 

 

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

Slivers Of Dreams

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Photo: Marina Shatskih on Unsplash

 

All those dreams that he had

As a child

Snug

Under covers

At night,

His tattered teddy

In arms.

His dreams

Parsed out

Into slivers

When

Under stars

At war,

His battered rifle

The only thing

He could

Hug.

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt: Dream

 

 

Gone Today

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Photo: Keith Channing

 

They came for the car today.

It’s just a car, she tried to tell herself. It would not make sense to keep it. Not with the fees and with the debt on it only increasing. Oh, she tried, but there was no way around the loss of it.

No way around loss. In general.

She couldn’t bear to go outside to see it off. She stayed indoors, her nose glued to the window, her sweaty palms pressing life-lines into the glass, her heart in shreds.

It’s been his car.

And he would not be coming home to drive it.

 

 

 

 

Note: Dedicated on this Veterans Day (US) and Remembrance Day (The Commonwealth), to all who fought and won and lost and left and returned, or left and did not return, or not in the same way they’d left. And to the many who still are away in uniform. You are seen. You are known. May all come home whole. And may humanity one day learn peace and no more war.

For Keith’s Kreative Kue #237

 

 

The Tree

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Photo: Amitai Asif

 

“I will wait by the tree,”

She had said.

“At the fork where

The road

Meets the lush, green

Horizon.”

Wait she did,

Day again and again

And a month, and another.

Wait until they had come

Trudging home

From the war,

Wearing smiles, but

Carrying the weight

Of their sorrows

Around them.

 

 

 

For Becca Givens’ Sunday Trees

 

Not Yet History

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Photo: Tomasz Mikolajczyk on Pexels

 

“Are these from olden times?” the boy’s eyes were round with wonder.

“Not so olden,” his mother sighed. “We have some in our bomb-shelter. Everyone was fitted with a gas mask during the Gulf War. We had to carry it everywhere. Even preschoolers like you.”

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Mask in 45 words