Of Moods And Bangs

https://dalectables.files.wordpress.com/2020/05/horned-cattle.jpg

 

“Are you guarding the entrance?”

There was no response.

He didn’t really expect one. Not when she was in a mood.

She was going to just lie there by the narrow path between the wooden pallets that served as makeshift bridge and entrance, and stare at it as if the others would miraculously manifest by the force of her willpower alone.

“I think there’s a new herd coming from the east,” he noted.

No movement. He didn’t think she’d fall for it. Still, was worth a try. One never knew.

For his part, he did not grace her with a turn of his head. She did not deserve a sway of his magnificent woolly bangs, the pride of Farmer Jones, the envy of his peers, the feller of many a heifer.

He stood his ground. She guarded hers.

The flies buzzed.

It was going to be a very long afternoon.

 

 

 

For Cristina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Not What You Think

Photo: Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

“We must hire someone to remove this eyesore,” Carolina’s nose wrinkled in distaste. “Never could understand hillbillies approach to disposal.”

“We could …” Stewart noted, “but …”

“But what?” Carolina hated it when he got cryptic. If there was something people ought to be, it was clear. Riddles were for children.

“… we’d have to get something else in its stead.”

Carolina’s chest rose to magnificent proportions, but Stewart knew better. He kept his eyes on her face.

“It is a shelter entry. See? Water proof. Air tight. Easily cleaned. Earlier doors kept getting flooded. You’ll want it here, dear, come stormy times.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

As One

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

It would be a long day of hiking to get to where she was going, but that only meant she’d have all those hours to herself. Time to cherish. Laura rarely had alone time now that she was taking care of three little ones. Four, if you counted the one who was adult in years but child in coping.

The others were coming by van and bike and car, and at least one that she knew of was likely to arrive by horse. Like spokes on a wheel, they where converging onto the place that had birthed and maintained their connection.

They were barely taller than grasshoppers when they had made their pact. The icy waters of the stream that slid in mirror-like pools sewn by white foam amidst the forests behind their homes, were known to either meld souls together or break them. They were adamant to have theirs fuse.

“Friends for life!” their reedy voices had risen breathless in the cold that needled every part of their unclad bodies. Only their palms, holding on to dear life, gave warmth.

Not one of them was going to admit that the submersion ritual had sounded better in the stories. Not one of them was willing to allow their fear or blue lipped trembling be the weakest cog.

“As one submerged, as one emerged!” they had cried and dipped and clung and sprung up in a sputter, pausing just a moment to stare in delighted disbelief at their hands — still in an unbroken circle, vow completed, magic done — before scrambling out onto the banks and into their awaiting piles of warm clothing.

It was unlikely that none of their parents had noticed the simultaneous wet hair and mossy, muddy patches. The river was off limits to unsupervised young. On any other day they would’ve been subjected to interrogation, yet none of them had been told off and not a one was punished. As children they’d believe themselves successfully secretive, the magic camouflaging the blatant disobedience.

As a mother now herself, Laura leaned toward believing that the real secret was the adults’, who must have seen the rosy cheeks and glowing eyes and realized the true magic of shared friendship. She found herself smiling at the memory as she walked across moors and over hills, through copses and sheep-speckled fields and bubbling streams and into the forest.

As she neared, her breath lifted and tightened in joyous anticipation. It was hard to believe it had been thirty years. They’d kept in touch all those decades. Through many moves and schools and colleges, through marriages and births and loss and celebrations — they wrote and called and saw each other in all manner of combinations. But this was the first time in a quarter century that they would be all of them together in one spot.

To submerge and renew the magic. In the stream.

From the distance came the clop-clop of what had to be Timmy’s draft horse, mixed with Sally’s giggles and Benny’s tenor mingling with Robin’s guitar strings and Bonnie’s soprano. A faint whiff of smoke filled Laura’s nostrils. Good! No frozen buns this time!

She reached to straighten the bathing-suit strap under her clothing. “As one submerged, as one emerged,” she whispered, lengthening her stride.

 

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

Home Sweet Home

cob-cottage CrispinaKemp

 

They stopped the car down the lane and walked the last few hundred yards, wanting to see the cottage unveiled.

“Grandma would be proud,” Tilly sighed. The roof had bowed in and the walls had extensive water damage the last time they’d seen the place.

“Not about the fence, she wouldn’t.”

Tilly grinned. Her brother never could let an opportunity to find fault go unheeded. And … the fence did need propping. “A stray dog or deer knocked it. Surely it’ll be easy to mend.”

“Hmm.”

Tilly looped her arm in her brother’s. The cottage finally looked the way she remembered, the way Grandma had maintained it all the years she’d lived there and until she had to go into care.

Once more it was going to be home sweet home.

“Let’s get the car, and my things,” Tilly said. “We’ll be bringing Grandma along, in spirit, if not in form.”

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Totally Tina

bluebell-yawning-tree CrispinaKemp

 

“Oh, but this will do! This will absolutely and completely do!”

Mattie grinned at her friend’s delight. If there was one thing you could count on when it came to Tina, it was exuberance. Roiling and contagious rivers of it. “I’m so glad,” she chuckled. “The Bluebells ensured this had your name on it.”

Tina walked around, unable to stand still and barely able to contain herself. Her voice jingled in the crisp spring air. “We’ll just need a ladder, of course. Marco could make one for me. And a bit of rain awning. I’ll ask Sheri to sew one. I’m sure she has some spare water-proof material that her magical fingers can persuade to cooperate.”

The tiny figure twirled, skirts flying in the sunlight. “Oh, Mattie, you are the best best best friend anyone could ask for. I can’t wait to move in! This is the perfect fairy house!”

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Man In The Straw

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

“And the man in the straw danced and danced …”

“Till the morning came and changed his chance?”

Thomas stroked his granddaughter’s head. She never tired of the story. Her favorite, and she knew it by heart. As he knew her many expressions, the myriad of small sounds she made as she dreamed each night.

She was his favorite. His only, but still his favorite. No one could convince him otherwise.

“Grandpa?” the child burrowed deeper into her blankets.

“Yes, Pumpkin?”

“Do you think the man in the straw ever wanted to be something else?”

He felt his eyes widen as he glanced down at her. Her eyes were open, too. Gone were any traces of the soft daze of moments before sleep.

“What do you think, Pumpkin?” he returned the question, uncertain whether what he’d read into it was indeed in the child’s mind, and unwilling to insert his own assumptions into what may well be a different query altogether.

There were many things to wish were different. In the folktale. In life, too. He often wondered if she so loved the old story exactly because it spoke of vulnerabilities and challenge, of facing fears and finding fault and making do and fighting on. All things she’d know more than enough of.

The child nibbled momentarily on her lower lip. “I think maybe he sometimes wanted to be the man in the spiral. Or Fire. Or the mask. Or the stag.”

“Hmm …” he nodded, hoping she’d say more, wondering if she would. There was a depth to the child. Currents he did not always understand or believe he ought to. An Old Soul, his beloved Mara had said of the newborn even in the few days she had with the child before the angels called.

“But,” the little girl sighed, curling up so her back rested against her grandfather’s thigh as he sat on the edge of her cot. “I think he knew he was the Man In The Straw …”

The pause lingered. The child yawned.

“… and that he was meant to dance and dance …” she whispered, her breath deepening, her eyes closed. “… till morning came and changed his chance…”

 

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

Elbow Grease

Photo prompt © C.E.Ayr

 

“It’s been a while since they lived here.”

I nodded. The place was filthy. A bit stinky, too.

“Nothing a little elbow grease won’t fix.”

I wished she would shut up. The property manager’s eagerness to sell the place was obvious. Her neglect of the place was, too. She might’ve spent a bit of elbow grease before showing the space.

No matter. The sorry state of the cottage might lower her price to my range.

“Why aren’t these garbage bins outside?” I ventured.

“Oh,” she fidgeted, “those are … um … kind of urns. They’d wanted to be buried in them, indoors.”

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

Not Ready To Launch

irene-d CrispinaKemp

Photo: Crispina Kemp

 

It was going to take some training, but he was going to have his crew ready in time for the summer. Earlier, if the weather decided to cooperate.

Sure, there were issues of sea-worthiness in both prospective staff and designated vehicle, but he’d made up his mind and would not be blown off course. There were rivers to cross, lakes to traverse, seafaring and fishing to consider.

To be on the safe side, he collected piles of floaters. Not the glass “witch balls” his grandfather had left in the attic, but the highly visible red plastic ones.

“This way if you drown,” he told the kids, “it’ll ensure the Coastguard can find you before the toothy fish do.”

“After such an introduction,” his wife noted, knitting needles clicking in time with her rocking chair, “what did you expect? Of course they chose to train with Cousin Bob, the bush pilot.”

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

 

Almost

beyond SueVincent

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

“I wonder how many had spent a night in this place through the centuries.”

Dennis looked up from his walking boots. The laces had knotted and he was adamant about untangling them without cutting, even though he had a spare. Mirna’s chin rested on a palm propped on an elbow, the remainder of her body already cocooned in her puffy neon orange sleeping bag.

“You look like a giant orange slug,” he smiled.

“Oh, but thank you!” she giggled, wriggling playfully. “I’ve always wanted to achieve slug proportions.”

“I bet thousands upon thousands,” Dennis added.

“Of what?”

He gestured with his head at the space that sheltered them. The ancient stones still fitting together after multitudes of years.

“Yeah,” Mirna sighed. She turned onto her belly and peered out through the mossy rectangular opening. The moors stretched, bleak, to the horizon. As the day waned, the vista appeared increasingly forbidding. “I wonder who they were.”

“Shepherds. War refugees. Travelers. Hunters. Peddlers. Serfs. Messengers. Families seeking safety from the elements,” Dennis tugged on the knots gently as he spoke, and for some reason the controlled movement reminded him of the concentration involved in getting embers out of fire-sticks. He’d tried that once, out of sheer boredom, and the effort had left him out of breath, sweaty, and highly appreciative of the convenience of flint, not to mention lighters and water-proof matches.

“And now, more travelers,” Mirna noted. She rolled over and sat up in her sleeping bag, feeling very slug-like. “Here, let me.” She reached for one of Dennis’s boots, pulled out a hair pin and used it to loosen a knot, releasing one long loop of shoelace, then another.

Dennis shook his head and handed her the other boot. “So much for my skills,” he grinned sheepishly. “At least I know I’ll manage to light the field stove and make tea. Then we can watch the sunset, snug as bugs in a rug in our matching sleeping bags, and can be almost like all those who’d rested here before us …”

A whiff of wind puffed into the shelter and a straggling ray of light licked the mossy stone above Mirna’s head. A late-day cloud raced across the bog. A bird called.

A shudder traveled down Mirna’s spine.

It felt like a hello.

Almost.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

From The Rooftops

Photo prompt: © Roger Bultot

 

It was going to be epic.

He could hardly sleep. His feet itched. His toes tingled. His fingers yearned to move.

“Count sheep,” his girlfriend grumbled. His tossing and turning was keeping her up, too.

“I can’t,” he breathed into the nape of her neck. Smelling shampoo and a hint of laundry softener.

When dawn finally neared, he crawled out of bed, exhausted and exhilarated, both.

He checked the locks and clocks. He stretched. Warming up.

His dream was coming true. The details. Permits. Plans. It had felt insurmountable. Yet here was the final countdown for the City-wide Rooftop Dance.

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers