Going Green

mallard-drake CrispinaKemp

 

“No way Jose!” Jessie’s arms were folded in what was half stubborn refusal, half terrified self-preservation.

Derek laughed and wiggled his toes, which were caked with mud and muck and unidentifiable stuff that was best left well outside of sniffing range.

His sister groaned. “Do you have to be so gross?”

“What’s wrong with a little bit of nature, eh?” he teased. He took a step and bent to touch the carpet of green algae that covered the pond. It looked like velvet.

“Are you nuts?!” Jessie looked ready to lunge and probably would’ve pulled him back if it weren’t for the fact that it would require getting closer to the pond’s edge.

“Chill, Sis,” Derek shook his head. “It’s not like I’m gonna be eaten by Nessie.”

“Imaginary monsters don’t worry me,” Jessie’s lip curled in disgust. “Salmonella from those mallards and whatever else in this water sure does.”

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Dining Duo

 

“Remember when we used to come here all the time?” Lisa rested her chin on her palm, elbow propped onto the tablecloth, and dreamy eyes gazing out the diner’s window.

Her mother nodded, throat too full of ache to speak. She signaled for the check. Lisa looked so much like Gloria in that posture. The two had the same mannerisms, the same coloring and freckled cheeks, even the same tone. The niece’s resemblance to her aunt had been a source of joy. Still was. Always will be. But there was loss there, too.

Now that Gloria was gone.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

(photo prompt – © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields)

 

Outed

folly- CrispinaKemp

 

“What is this place?”

“An outhouse?” Marti sniffed, perhaps for clues.

Barbara wrinkled her nose. Marti always did have a potty brain. “It would not make sense without a door, now, would it?”

“Ventilation?” Marti doubled down. “And anyway, a door could be removed.”

“No hole in the ground,” Barbara pointed out.

“Could have been filled in or covered.”

Barbara shook her head. Even covered in leaves and mud, the floor of the small structure looked too evenly tiled for that.

“So, if you such a genius,” Marti sneered at his know-it-all cousin, “what do you think it is?”

Barbara inspected the arched entrance, the partially enclosed back wall, the proximity to the ancient manor’s fence. A guard post, she thought, but did not say. There would be no fun in that.

“A portal to Avalon,” she stated loftily.

“Ah,” Marti retorted. “As I said, it is an outhouse, then.”

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

Going Farther

into-the-woods-ccc100

 

On the tenth visit on the tenth week following her tenth birth day, she took ten additional steps beyond the Big Tree Boundary.

She went Farther.

At first nothing happened. The woods looked as they had before. The trees no different in the Farther Realm than they were in the land she’d known and was allowed in until then: Green branches, a ground springy with the fallen leaves, wind whispering in the tree tops, birds’ song.

Then the light shifted and the air shimmered with a sense of something else. A being with.

She shuddered. Not in fear but with expectation. Not everyone went Farther, and none she knew spoke of what they’d found.

She stilled. The world around her blinked. The forest floor awoke.

Her heart raced and she inhaled. Her soul spoke. She knew it! She knew it! She’d be among the few allowed to see Fair Folk.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Pathfinder

bus-interior-wet-day CrispinaKemp

 

It was going to be better once she got there. Not like last time.

She held her purse on her lap with both hands, knees together, spine away from the cushion and her body swaying lightly with the movement of the vehicle, as she watched the world roll ahead of the front window, indistinct in the liquid grayish light.

It’s been raining for hours. A persistent misty drizzle that had dampened so many of her earlier years. She shuddered even though the bus was overheated. Perhaps because she sat in her coat.

The driver leaned on the horn and she released one hand to steady herself against a possible braking. Her seat in the center of the last row had no armrest, but it was the only one with a clear path out.

She always needed to have an unobstructed way out.

And yet, there she was, going back.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

 

Left Hanging

sole-shoe CrispinaKemp

 

She didn’t need to be quite so blunt.

Not that she ever did mince words. Or hold back actions.

It was what he loved about her. It was also what became exhausting. Fending off arguments. Splitting hairs.

He wasn’t averse to a good conversation, but was it really necessary to have confrontations about the best-by-date of parsley or whether T-shirts needed to be folded a certain way or whether such-and-such celebrity looked better before their latest procedure or if they ought to order red or yellow apples?

“You’re apathetic to the world!” she’d accused. “If you don’t care about small things, how would you care about the bigger issues?”

His sigh only infuriated her.

Perhaps it’s better that she left. But did she really have to hang her purple shoe, the one he’d gotten her, outside his window?

She used to be his princess. Now he was a stepsister.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Take No Chances

 

It was best she took no chances. She knew how it could all turn on the smallest thing. The tiniest omission could spell disaster. Wait, better not even say that word. Best not forget the salt. She did not want to let misfortune in.

She hurried to and fro, assembling, braiding, tossing, turning. Now, where was that garlic? Best peel a few more cloves.

Whatever bad things had potential to upset this, she was not going to allow them to. Not on her watch. Not in her house.

Not when her in-laws were coming to dinner for the first time.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

A Walk And A Bite

 

boy-fishing CrispinaKemp

 

“I’m going out for a walk and a bite,” he said.

No one answered.

Not that he expected anyone to. It was just a habit. A way of hearing his own voice. A way of reminding himself he still had one to use. A connection to other times and places. 

And people.

It’s been a while since there was anyone home who could reply.

He took the fishing rod and pail. “It’s time to go,” he said to the bait. “I see you ate the leaves I left you yesterday. Good job!”

The spider on the eaves stirred when he shut the door. “You keep an eye,” he saluted with the rod and chuckled. “More than one, since you have them.”

The evening light was soft. The lake was quiet. The water had barely a ripple.

“Hello there, swimmers,” he greeted. “Who would come to keep my gullet company tonight?”

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Tommy’s Sign

(Photo prompt © Roger Bultot)

 

She was never going to be ready. There was never going to be the ‘right time.’ He tried. He really tried. But he couldn’t stand it anymore.

When she left to visit her mother, he took it downstairs. The recycling truck should pass before her return, and by then it will be done. It was for the best. She’ll come to understand.

The key in the door in the morning. “I took an earlier flight. And, can you believe it? Someone tossed a highchair just like Tommy’s! I know it is a sign from him to hold on to ours!”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

Barry’s Safari

 

“Don’t look!”

Melanie’s voice was low and urgent.

Naturally, I tried to look.

“No!” she hissed. “Stay still, Bethany! Don’t move!”

Naturally, I disobeyed. No way I was letting Melanie see something interesting and miss out on it! Bad enough she was born thirty minutes before me, and had to constantly remind me how she “was normally positioned” and I was “the butt-instead-of-head” one.

I looked … and almost had a heart attack! Not that I was gonna let her see it. I molded my almost-shriek into a grin. “Cool!”

“Bee!” she hissed.

She rarely used her baby name for me. Perhaps she was genuinely terrified.

“It’s fine, Meh-Meh,” I returned. The syllables felt simultaneously odd and soothing in my mouth. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d used my baby name for her. Being the younger twin, and always the smaller, I’d been self-conscious about not appearing babyish.

“It’s a rhino!” she mouthed.

“A baby rhino,” I tried hopefully. “I mean, I think it is.”

“Babies have mamas and even that so-called baby has a horn,” she shuddered. Her voice shook.

Suddenly suspicious, I chanced a look around to seek Gary. A moment earlier, our safari guide had ‘conveniently’ needed to go get something from the truck.

Even his silhouette appeared smug.

“So, Gary!” I called out, eliciting a gasp and a fetal position from Melanie. “Who’s that little one?”

The khaki-clad man stepped into the light of the fire he’d lit earlier. More for ambiance than for warmth. His grin was someplace between satisfied and embarrassed.

“It’s Barry,” he chuckled, clicked his fingers, and pulled a carrot out of his back pocket. “Our resident rhino.”

The gray beast sauntered closer. If Melanie could have drilled herself into the ground, she would.

“You terrified my sister,” I glowered at the guide.

I wasn’t really worried about her. I could see that she was trying to regain her composure (if not her self-respect). In fact, I was definitely going to get a lot of mileage out of this. But … she was my sister to torment. No one else had the right!

“Sorry,” his voice was only marginally contrite. “Barry is an unofficial part of the tour.”

“For those who survive,” Melanie muttered under her breath. She was still shaking.

The rhino lipped the carrot and chewed it noisily, then took a step in our direction. Melanie squeaked.

Well, those who come out butt-first apparently have stronger constitutions. I stood up. “Got more carrots?”

 

 

For Keith’s Kreative Kue