New Neighbor

 

“What on earth?! Have you seen her?”

Molly looked up from her coffee. The swirl of mocha infiltration on the milk froth in her cup was fascinating. She licked her upper lip, tasting calm and morning.”Seen who?”

“Her!” Abby flicked her head urgently in the direction of the kitchen window.

“Do I have to?” Molly pouted. Her sister was altogether too excitable. Surely there was naught wrong with sitting idly with one’s breakfast. However, she could not recall the last time Abby did anything but gobble down her toast, gulp her tea, and pop right up in search of dishes to wash, counters to wipe, cabinets to put to order, or lists to make.

Abby’s chest rose in what was certain to turn lecture.

Molly sighed, stood, and craned her neck to see. White uniform. Red crosses. Pink rubber gloves. “Oh, her? Sheri. Our new neighbor. A nurse or such.”

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Tiny Tidings

 

The dreary times were soon to pass.

No matter that her breath still steamed both outdoors and inside the drafty house. No matter that her red fingers barely bent with swelling and that the chilblains on her toes still burned and ached and itched. No matter that she took so long to warm come night that she almost despaired of sleeping.

The dreary times were soon to pass.

She knew.

True, it was still frosty.

But the cold was dying.

She knew, because the ice formed only on the very edges of her washbasin and because what frost adorned the ground in the morning would transmute into miniature mirrors of dew by the time the sun rose higher in the sky.

And because she saw the primrose.

Blooming.

Out there.

In audacious glee.

If the tiny flowers could endure the remnants of frigidity, so could she.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Limbo

(Photo: Crispina Kemp)

 

He leaned back and sighed in contentment.

It was never a simple thing, to find comfort. 

He sighed again. Just for the pleasure of it.

A bird chirped over his head, and he lifted his chin to greet it.

“You got it, Feathered Friend,” he smiled.

Birds understood the impossibility of confinement. How one needed room. To fly. To move. To preen. To be. To keep balance.

It was not a simple thing, to find space for one’s wingspan.

Especially not for his.

“Daddy Long Legs,” people had called him, and not with kindness. “Spindly Spider Man.”

He couldn’t help his lanky limbs, how his pituitary did something that made his long bones longer and lacked a way to let them know he was past growing age.

How long? He didn’t know.

Limbo sighed, stretched his legs, and rested his feet on the stump.

One day at a time.

 

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

A Long Way Down

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“This place will never do,” Aaron shook his head.

“It’ll have to,” Ella tucked the edges of frustration back into the crevices that practice had made almost foolproof. Almost. One could not get complacent.

She’d seen what happened when one did, and the cost was never worth the temptation of release.

“We’ll make it work,” she added before Aaron could add argument to what they both knew will have to be managed anyway.

The steep plot of thicket-covered land was all they had. A measly inheritance, perhaps, but better than the debtor’s jail … and the ways one had to pay debts with one’s body. Piecemeal. By the hour. By the man. They could neither of them survive it again.

“It is a long way down,” Aaron acquiesced. “The stairs are rotted.”

“A longer way up for those who do not know the path,” Ella smiled. “We’ll do fine.”

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

His Lamppost

 

They didn’t quite expect him to show up as he had, but most of them who’d known him weren’t all that terribly surprised. Not really.

Not when he had made himself comfortable under that very lamppost, every evening and in every weather, for as long as anyone could remember.

It almost made sense, then, that he would.

Manifest.

From the beyond.

Some began to keep a distance from that corner after dark.

Others, though, just walked on by.

“Evening, Mr. Barns,” they’d tip their head in the direction of his halo.

Even when alive, he hadn’t been known to respond.

 

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

Gone Fishing

 

“Where is that boy gone to again?!”

Mama’s head appeared at the open doorway, floured hands held in the air as to not touch the shutters. The afternoon sun chose to appear from behind a mass of clouds and lit the hair around her face. The braid she’d pinned in place each morning was unruly by this time of day, and the hairs glowed like a golden crown. A smidge of white colored the edge of her eyebrow where she must have wiped at it with her baker’s hands.

“I’ll go look for him, Mama,” I tapped my sister’s shoulder and readied to rise.

Mama glanced at the sky and shook her head. “No, Mauve. Stay and finish this while there’s a daylight.”

I nodded. Bethany’s long hair was draped across my apron, with parts already pinned away as I went through it strand by strand to clear it of the unwelcome visitors we had found in it the other day. We would all of us suffer the consequences if my younger sister’s locks were not tended to immediately.

“Perhaps Lena knows,” Bethany mumbled, her cheek flush against my lap.

“Hmm.”

I would almost feel Mama’s eyebrow rise.

Lena lived in the next farm over.

A moment stretched, then the bottom flap of the door swung open and Mama stepped into the yard. She circled around so that Bethany could see her without having to move her head and upset my nitpicking.

“Well?” Mama prompted.

Bethany squirmed. Even at six, she knew a shaky ground when she was on it. Gossiping was tricky. Gossiping about one’s older brother was trickier still. Especially when one may want to stay in the favors of that very brother so he would carry one’s tired self on his shoulders or share a piece of his bravely harvested honeycomb.

“Out with it, Lass!”

Bethany sighed. Being out of Mama’s good graces would be far worse than anything Jimmy could dish out.

I caught Mama’s eye on the sly. She appeared cross, but I knew she was controlling her expression, and I did not trust my giggles (or hers) if our gaze met.

“I saw Lena sneak behind the barn earlier … with …” Bethany hesitated, “with a picnic basket.”

The path behind the barn led to the small meadow that terminated in a small wood on the banks of the stream.

“And?”

Bethany’s sigh deepened. Once Mama had someone on the hook, there was no slipping off it.

“And … I saw Jimmy with the pail and rod.”

Mama’s hands landed on her hips, flour forgotten.

Bethany gasped. I bit my lips.

“So the lad’s gone fishing,” Mama stated.

She turned half-away but I could still see her purse her lips against the chuckle. “He better not become the bait.”

 

 

 

 

For KL’s WritePhoto writing challenge – Thank you for continuing Sue Vincent’s weekly prompt!

Photo: Neptune Image by KL CALEY

 

 

The Cathedral

 

They wove the curtained tapestry from centuries of hopes and dreams, and from billions of flower petals and puffy dandelion seeds blown into the wind.

They watered it with the misty breaths of “love me, love me not.”

Fed it with the light that emanated from eyes that had found the answer.

Knit it with the gentleness of fingers reaching out to hold.

Paced it with the heartbeats of the young and old.

All that was necessary.

The best of humans.

And it rose.

A cathedral of magnificence.

Delicate but strong.

Made with magic.

Laced with stories.

Wrought by fairies.

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Photo prompt: © Liz Young

 

Spring Loaded

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(Photo: Crispina Kemp)

 

A steady stream of arms laden with crinkly cellophane bundles traipsed through the narrow entrance corridor, up the stairs, around the bend, and past the out-of-order elevator.

The smells of urine, rust, and peeling paint receded. Giving way to vases, boxes, baskets, floral foams, and rubber bands.

There were roses. Lush buds with intrepid blooms unfurling their blushing petals amidst a proliferation of snowy Baby’s Breath.

There were carnations in white, fuchsia, orange, and a teal-blue hue that nature did not make but lent a Caribbean Sea vibe to the bouquet.

Daffodils and tulips, proud atop their stems, even if their own growth did not commence in frosted ground but in the cushy climate of the nursery.

And Gerbera daisies in a smiling rainbow of colors resting atop greens.

The room brimmed with the scent of flowers.

If she could not wait for spring, they would bring spring to her.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Green Throne

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Not many could make stone into illusion.

She could.

Her hands carved softness into unyielding rock. Made age appear into the moss as if the stone itself shed velvet, hewed damp to seep from underneath the surface as if through the core of sighing cushions, long forgotten, left to rot.

Only it was not.

Instead of a discarded chair, it was a throne. A headstone.

A memorial to the man who’d scooped her out of orphaned desperation, who brought her here, who led her to her heart’s forgotten home.

She held the memories of his calloused hands atop her shoulders. Steadying her mallet, guiding her chisel, letting her learn. Letting her fail. Letting her know she was worthy. As was he. Just because she was.

His masonry was practical. Fences. Houses. Walls.

Hers sang to the forest floor as she carved. His armchair, reincarnated.

For eternity. Her parent of soul.

 

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Almost Ready

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She practiced every day the sea was calm and some days when it was not but the waves called her anyway.

“Your lips will permanently blue,” Lucy, her twin, chided.

Leena shook her head and tightened the proffered towel around her shoulders. Her fingers were numb and the damp cloth almost slipped.

Lucy sighed. She used her brooch to pin together the towel’s ends, then rubbed Leena’s back to help the blood flow. She could not dissuade her younger-by-ten-minutes sister from swimming. Leena was all stubbornness once she’d set her mind to something. But Lucy could make sure Leena did not go to the beach alone, and that someone was there to help warm her up and get her safely home.

“I’m almost ready, Lucy,” Leena gasped through chattering teeth. “Next time Cousin Ned visits, I’ll beat him to the logs. He will not get to call me Weakleena again!”

 

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge