Bookended

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She stood back to appreciate her handiwork.

A mix of tidiness and lived-in disarray. The books. The pillows. The cozy afghans on the couch.

“She’ll love it,” he said from behind her, and she jumped. She hadn’t heard him enter.

She leaned against his chest. Felt the thrumming of his steady heart.

“How do you know?” she fretted.

“Because it’s not about perfection, but about having enough support so that no matter how you wobble,” his hand rose toward the bookshelves, “you’re bookended by love.”

She kissed his palm.

“Let’s go get our new daughter, then. Bring her home.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s FridayFictioneers

Photo: Dale Rogerson (thank you for the homey, inviting photo prompt inspiration! This room makes me wanna curl up with a good book on the couch. xoxo, your NYNF)

 

 

The Shut One

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They’ve learned to speak naught about it.

So well that they almost forgot it was. There. Tabooed.

She had tried justifying to herself later. How there had been much to cope with and such minuscule leeway. How choice never truly was, a choice.

But as well as she could explain the circumstances, she could less and less forgive. Herself for the blind eye that she’d turned. Them for making it so that she’d needed to. For making it so that they could not even talk of it amongst themselves.

The crushing price of secrets. A cost calculated not with arms and legs, but hearts.

It haunted her. Nowadays. Now-a-nights.

The shuffling beyond the darkened window. The locks. The cries. The scraps that weren’t really for the dog.

By the time she’d grown enough to contemplate a rescue, there was naught to save.

Her sister. Feeble. Gone.

 

 

For Cristina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Gateway

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She pulled the reins gently, but Mathilde was already slowing. Perhaps the mare knew where to stop. Perhaps she understood Elana’s shift in the saddle.

The horse tensed under her thighs.

“I know you want to gallop,” Elana patted Mathilde’s sable neck. “We’ll just stop here a minute.”

Mathilde snorted, then lowered her head to nibble on a cluster of dandelions by the gatepost.

“It’s been too long,” Elana whispered. To herself. To the plaque the ancestor she was named after had placed at the property’s threshold. A crest. A warning. A gateway.

Elana reached and Mathilde pranced sideways, bringing them flush with the square of gray granite. “Thank you, Em,” Elana breathed.

Her fingers traced the carvings and rested on the wheel of time.

The air around them shimmered. Bent. Restored.

The pasture rippled in the sun and she heard a clash of swords. Laughter.

“Let’s go visit Great-Grandam!”

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Green Grace

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“I didn’t even know where she lived.”

Maya shook her head, agreeing. “Don’t think anyone knew.”

“I did,” Sydney whispered.

Deena and Maya turned to her and stared. Tears made a path through the makeup on Sydney’s cheeks, ruining an hour’s worth of work in front of a mirror.

“Spill …” Deena demanded after Sydney said no more. “You brought us here!”

“Yeah,” Maya echoed, encircling the overgrown garden and weed-filled greenhouse with her arm. Goodness knows the condition of the stone cottage. “How come you know where Rock-For-Heart…” she shrugged apologetically at Deena’s kick. “Sorry, now that she’s, um, gone…where Professor Rockfort lived?”

Everyone gave a wide berth to the gruff professor in musty tweeds and bushy eyebrows. Her snap was prodigious, and her marks were stingy. Why would anyone even want to know where she lived?

“Her name was Grace,” Sydney sniffled. “And she was my great-grand aunt.”

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

A Case of Spoiled Rotten

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“You’re pouting.”

He hated crowds. “I’m not having fun, Ma.”

“Then why come? You could’ve stayed behind, along with the long face.”

Mani sighed. “I tried.”

“So now I tied you up and carted you along?”

Pretty much, emotionally. He shook his head. “Sorry, Ma. I’m in a mood.”

“A mood? What’s a mood? If you bled like a woman, you’d know about having a mood. You just have a case of spoiled rotten.”

“Yes, Ma.” It was easier to agree.

Ma craned her head. “Ah, now, lets see if these Jewish Greeks can cook anything worth eating.”

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Photo prompt © Roger Bultot

 

Almost Time

Storm Approaching Naama Yehuda

(Photo: Na’ama Yehuda)

 

The skies darkened. A distant rumble rolled.

She stared out the window and tried to suppress the nub that tugged and pulled and nibbled at her innards. The others seemed oblivious. But she knew.

It was almost time.

She’d foreseen it.

They had dismissed her premonitions. Her knowledge of things hidden. How what she willed, was.

The clouds gathered. Answering her call.

Her mind wobbled under their layered, quickened swirl. From the effort of control.

A flash of movement.

A voice.

“Come away from the window, Ms. Bentley,” Nurse Tabitha manifested at her elbow. “It is time for your medicine.”

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers.

(And how fun that you chose to use my photo! 🙂 )

 

A Work Of Art

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“Grand, isn’t it?”

Grand indeed, Sebastian nodded, too distracted by the elegant turn and glowing skin of Maruska’s neck to care about the stained glass in the ceiling.

“Sebastian!”

Sebastian averted his eyes skyward and felt warmth rise under his collar to color his cheeks. The realization made him blush harder. He hated how his face became an open book.

Get a grip! he admonished himself. She’s taken! In fact, they were waiting for Alexander to join them. The rock on her ring was surely intended to outshine any other splendor.

“A work of art,” Sebastian murmured. And meant it.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Photo: © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

Frozen In Time

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“What’s he doing there, Papa?”

“Serving his time,” he didn’t need to look to know what his granddaughter was pointing at. He could see it with his eyes closed. In his sleep. Seared into his very dreams.

“What time?” the innocence in the child’s voice returned him to the present. She could not know. So many died so she would not need to.

“His time in war,” he explained.

“To fight?” the green eyes were round under the cascade of unruly hair. The girl never could abide any hair-ties. Her mother despaired. He found it enchanting. He’d forgotten what it was to have hair

He nodded.

“But he’s just watching,” the child noted.

“Yes,” he nodded.

“Forever?”

He looked up at the man frozen in time. So many of them were.

“I hope not, child.”

She pressed his hand.

“I shall bring him a blanket,” she said. “And a pup.”

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Robin’s robin

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“Tell me again, Grandma,” the child burrowed into the bedclothes.

“You heard it a million times,” she ruffled the girl’s curls.

“But it’s my favorite story, Grandma!”

The woman smiled. Begging was part of the ritual. Their dance of love. She made herself comfortable and felt the small torso snuggle closer.

“Remind me again how it starts?…” she teased.

“Grandma!”

“Silly me. Of course I remember… So, there you were, born early and a little wrinkled.”

“A lot wrinkled!”

“Yes, a lot. And with a howling mouth ajar like a hatchling calling for a juicy worm …”

“Eeew …”

“And we didn’t know what to call you …”

“Till you saw my hair …”

“Which was as rusty as a robin’s bib.”

“And …” the child wriggled with anticipation.

“And it is clearly the right name, because a robin has been nesting in the tree outside your window ever since!”

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

The Reunion

 

The house was unassuming. Outdated decor and mild neglect, but nothing to write home about. That is, till they took the stairs to the basement, passed through what appeared to be a closet and headed down another and much longer flight into a stone walled damp. The steps ended with a heavy door: creaky metal hinges, old timbers, and the smell of aged oak.

Gabe’s heart threatened to sink.

Excitement was fine. Dungeons? Not so much.

How well did he know this man? College reunion be damned.

“Ta-da!” Bart flicked a switch.

A shrine.

To wine.

Just like old times.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Photo promot © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields