Reprieve

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She lifted her face to the sun and felt the vibrant scents of waves and freedom fill her lungs. The whole of her relaxed as if on cue. Pre-programmed. Indelibly tuned in to the whoosh of ocean breath that she could not yet see but every cell within her remembered.

Her heart swelled and her chest rose, liberated.

The moment coursed through her in liquid satisfaction.

Surf. Ebb. Swish. Flow. Hiss. Sand-licking waves.

Another inhalation of the salty tang and behind her she could hear the sounds of other people readying to take the path from car-park to sand. A child protested. A man’s voice soothed. A door slammed. A moment later a discordant melody of feet clip-clopped onto the faded wooden slats, drumming a crescendo of expectation through her bare feet.

The beach.

A needed reprieve.

At home at last by the ocean where her soul had always lived.

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Don’t Blink

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“Is he asleep?” Andy’s small head spun toward Elisha’s, but only for a second. The boy did not dare, or couldn’t bear, to look away. What if in the one second that he wasn’t looking, he would miss a blink?

Elisha shook his head, and Andy, eyes already on the ice, felt more than saw the movement. He shuddered in part-awe, part-terror.

The last time they met was in summer, when Uncle Morris and Aunt Samantha came with Elisha for a visit. Andy hadn’t quite believed Elisha’s stories about ponds that swallowed giants and ensnared them under icy waters, leaving them forever blinking at the sky.

The eye, however, proved it.

 “Can he come out?” Andy croaked. His throat felt frozen.

“Not before spring,” Elisha soothed, sated by his younger cousin’s fear and feeling a tad guilty for it. “And you’ll be home and far away from here by then.”

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Not A Bird

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“Hey! At the bottom of the cliff to the right. What do you think this is?”

Lisa adjusted the focus on her binoculars. “Can’t tell. A bit of junk?”

They were supposed to be cataloguing the different bird species they could find along their stretch of beach, but the seagulls were tiresome, and the sandpipers were too fast, and the wind had whipped so much sand around that she would certainly be carrying another pound of it just in her hair. Lisa wanted to go home. She wanted a nice bath, dry clothes, and a hot cup of tea.

“Perhaps a miners’ rail box.” Deena, binoculars glued to her face and hair tucked under a maddeningly practical cap, seemed oblivious to the stinging sand or Lisa’s rumbling stomach.

“Not a bird,” Lisa tried.

“No, but sure is a mystery!” Deena rose and pointed at the narrow trail. “Let’s go investigate!”

 

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Watch Out

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“See that thing?” Holly whispered.

“What thing?” Harold mumbled, eyes barely lifted from the miniature screen of his new smart-watch.

That thing!” Holly covered her brother’s wrist with her hand. “Over there.”

Harold sighed and looked around. Old metal fences that once cordoned lines of people. Rotten concrete. Musty dankness. A deserted skating rink. What’s to see?

“Nothing,” he shrugged.

Holly exhaled exasperation. “That bird,” she hissed.

“Oh. A brown pigeon. Unusual coloring.”

His sister’s fingers tightened around his wrist and he grimaced at the pressure on his watch. It was new. She’d ruin it before he could show it off. “Hey, let go! What?!”

“I don’t care about its coloring. It is staring at us!”

“It’s just a bird.” He scrutinized the gate. His friends were very late.

“Yeah? Bet you won’t say that when it calls millions of its friends to dive in and peck us to death!”

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Worse Things

 

“At least you got a day off and a pedicure out of it.”

There was no mistaking the jealousy in Marianne’s voice, and Belinda glanced at her scowling co-worker before returning her gaze to her toes. She had an urge to wiggle them but thought the better of it. It’ll hurt.

“I guess I did,” Belinda responded. No use adding that she ‘got’ pain out of it, too, and the sorrow of forgoing dancing at her sister’s wedding. Marianne will only make it a competition of misery.

There were worse things than torn ligaments.

She could’ve been born as Marianne.

 

 

Photo prompt: © Susan Eames

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

Blindsided

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“Once you’re out the other side you’ll be one of us.”

Marco hiked his chin to try and eye the larger boy through the slits of light underneath the tight blindfold. He wanted to take the stupid thing off. It was scratchy and smelly and made him feel sad.

But to do so would be to give up and be left out. He didn’t want to be left out. Again.

“What if I crash?” he tried but didn’t quite manage to keep the quiver out of his voice. He was afraid of the dark. And of falling. The others knew it. That’s why this test. To weave a skateboard, blind, through the concrete blocks in the underpass.

“Then,” Roberto replied haughtily, “you will have only yourself to blame for not being good enough.”

Marco blinked. It sounded wrong.

Before he could pull the blindfold off, someone gave him a push.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Not Much Sweeter

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There was not much sweeter than Grandpa Gulliver’s honey. Then again, there was not much that was sweeter than honey. Berries, perhaps, in their short season. Or maple syrup, when they found it. But there were not many maples left anymore, and those she knew of were not particularly generous with their sap now that they had to parse energy for growing.

But there was Grandpa Gulliver’s honey. The slow pouring amber liquid of deliciousness. As valuable and as glorious as gold. The warmth of happy in her mouth.

Grandpa Gulliver had built Hive Homes for the bees. Tiny mansions of industry where workers and queens could shelter from the rain under eaves that shed the snow and cut the wind.

She used to watch the ins-and-outs for hours. The buzz. The promise.

Now they stood desolate.

No bees. No Grandpa Gulliver.

Who knew they’d all be taken, sweetness gone?

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

The Long Wait

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“You coming?” Betty scanned the space to make sure nothing was forgotten, slung her pack over her shoulder, and headed for the door.

“Nope.”

“Are you serious?!” she swung around to stare at Ron.

“Yep.”

Her arms began to bend and she was just about to press her palms to her hips, when she exhaled, shook her head, and stuck her hands in her jacket pockets instead.

That’s what he wanted. Another argument. Another delay.

Not this time.

“Suit yourself,” she said.

His incredulous intake of breath was almost worth a glance. She resisted the urge.

“You’re a coward!” his words chased her in a continuation of the arguments they’d had. “I’m not a quitter. I’m gonna stay and see this slump through, and when you come crawling back, I will not let you in.”

She drove away.

The town had since dissolved but apparently Ron still waits.

Sort of.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Going Green

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“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)