Might As Well

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“They don’t know how to park around here.”

Gail rolled her eyes. Just like Stella to find something to criticize, instead of taking in the big picture. And this was big! “How old are those?” she pointed at the castle’s remains on the hill. The walls stood sentry still. Empty windows portals to the past.

Mom consulted the guidebook. “11th Century. Even older foundations.”

Gail opened the window. The warm air smelled of old stone and fresh bread.

“Close that thing,” Stella groaned. “It’s probably full of plague.”

“Too late, then. Might as well stop for lunch before we’re dead.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Photo prompt: Sandra Crook

 

No Time For That

 

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There was never enough time.

For that.

No time for the things that mattered but were not deemed essential. 

No time for the space that was given no paths to traverse.

None for the slow breath that could have allowed a pause

In the constant

Race.

Because there was never time.

For that.

Too much buzzed already

From the break of dawn to the collapse of night.

No time for

Time.

And so, she stopped it.

 

Stopped time.

 

She let the hands rest.

Let the heart expand inside the fluttering confines of the

Chest.

She let the breeze

Set

The pace.

The leaves, believe.

The ground stretch long and wide beneath

The feet.

The skies expand across

The dawn.

To let

The space that had

Held on,

To finally

Allow itself to be

Redrawn.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Tall Tell

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“Why this thing?”

“They don’t like pancakes.”

Stella frowned.

Stephan chuckled. Too serious for her own good.

Her stare continued. He wanted dessert. He demurred.

“Bad accident last year. Someone got run over.” He slapped his palms for emphasis. “Totally.”

She kicked his shin.

“Ow!”

“Not the Stop sign, the lamppost! Too tall.”

Stephan’s eyes traced up to her manicured nail.

“Ah, they had to.”

Stella lowered her glasses. Warning or curious? He couldn’t tell.

“That family of giants down the street? Any shorter and the lamp ignites their hair.”

Forget dessert.

Her glare incinerated what chance he had left.

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Photo by: © Dale Rogerson 

 

Bronzed

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“How will I know it’s over?” Marika fretted.

“You will,” Jurena assured. A month older, she was already Bronzed.

“But …”

“But nothing …” Jurena lowered the edge of the tent and stole away. She wasn’t supposed to be anywhere near Marika. Especially not tonight.

Marika listened to the silence. She shivered and tried to not think of Undine, her neighbor, who had never reappeared. Not all did.

The darkness filled her, thick as molasses. Her limbs grew heavy. Her ears began to ring.

Perhaps it was the magic.

Perhaps it was that drink.

Shadows entered, and Marika’s mind filled with molten spears, lava on dried grass. Encroaching. Coming near.

The fire lit her from within. The biting ants. The heat. The pain.

She screamed.

Perhaps she dreamed.

By dawn the elders had removed the gloves. The bullet ants were still.

Marika’s hands were bronzed with stings.

An adult’s.

Her childhood scoured clear.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

Note: I don’t know why this photo brought up the image of a years-ago-seen video about Initiation With Ants video, filmed by National Geographic. But for some reason it did, and so I let it take me where it wanted to lead.

 

A Hundred Sleeps

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(Photo: © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields)

 

It will only be a hundred sleeps. They said.

What length a sleep would be, they didn’t speak.

She will awaken once the sleeps are done. They said. With eyes that darted and rounded shoulders that hid words and fingers that kept fiddling with the thread.

Nothing, she observed, of how she’d be upon awakening. What she might become. Who would tend her.

If she’d dream.

Will she still know herself? Know them?

“Only a hundred sleeps,” they said.

She turned sixteen.

They pressed her finger to the quill spindle.

Blood bloomed. Dark came.

The curse.

A yarn. A spin.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

The Lost

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It wasn’t the hunger. Or the cold. Or the worry that their bruises won’t have time to heal before another layer made lace of the colors on their skin, to serve a lesson in horror and morals for their kin.

It was, more than anything, the despair.

The utter loneliness within.

The feeling that there will never be another way to be. Another way to live. Another place to be.

For the Commune was The Law, and The Law was The Faith, and The Faith was the whip and the rope and the cellar’s dirt floor.

The Law was everything.

Until.

That day when someone – who some later said was of the lost who were forbidden to be let back in – breached the fences. Ignored the “No Entry” sign circling the fields. Climbed through the grasses. 

With a lens. And later, with the law.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Nana’s Will

floral-truck

 

“So how exactly will this work?” Maria scanned the detritus left by the fire. Remains of a lifetime of work and investment. Gone. Shards and a handful of charred pots. Is all.

“We start from seed, as it were,” Steve pressed. “We get Dad’s old truck out of the garage. Use it as a wheeled nursery.”

Maria sighed. It could work, but was she even up to it? Where there’s a will there’s a way, Nana had always said, and it matters most where there’s little will with which to find a way.

“A willed nursery…” Maria nodded. “Nana’s way!” 

 

 

For Friday Fictioneers

Photo by: © Jan Wayne Fields

Bookended

lr-prompt

 

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