The Others’ Side

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

“Why is it this way, Mama?”

The woman let the small hoe drop from her hand. She straightened, hands over the small of her back, achy from the bending. The plot was spare, and the harshness of many a hard winter had stripped most of the topsoil off, leaving more pebbles than dirt. Still, it was better than nothing, and she was thankful.

The child had been sorting stones into piles. Larger ones. Medium ones. Smaller. There were repairs to make to walls and fences, and very little in the way of clay. Sizing stones helped make the puzzle of fitting the best bit in the best place, easier. It was a tedious chore that the girl somehow managed to make into a game. She had that magic in her, Margot did, the spark of joy that Annabelle spent every night praying would not ever have cause to slough off or be snuffed out.

“Mama?”

Annabelle nodded and turned her head toward the object of the child’s query. She’d had no option but to sit the child facing the chasm. One did not turn one’s back to the mist. Disrespectful. Ill fated. Even for children, who normally carried more protection by nature of their youth. Still, it was best to take precaution, and what the child learned early, she was less likely to forget later on and take a wrong step.

There was reason this plot was made available. Not many farmed so near the rift. Some claimed the uneasy air made foodstuffs grow small and weary.

Some did not have the luxury of growing theirs elsewhere.

“The light does not quite shine there the same way,” she said.

“What did they do?” the child’s voice was filled with pity, not fear, and Annabelle did not know whether in this particularity the compassion was something to celebrate or warn against.

“Some say they’d tied their soul to dark,” Annabelle sighed. The split and its reality was not something often spoken of. Yet unless some miracle happened and their circumstances changed, the child was destined to spend many days in close proximity to the Others’ side. It was better she heard truth from her mother, than distortions from those who felt more comfortable with lies.

She felt the child’s small hand slip into her calloused palm.

“They are not different than us, Margot. Not really. There was time before the split, before the earth heaved and the crack formed and separated this land into its pieces, where we all lived mixed together, if we even knew we were more than one kind. Now those who had happened to be on the parts that became the other side of this canyon, have the mountains dump the clouds onto them and the rapids raise a constant mist. It diminishes their sun.”

The child shuddered. Annabelle squeezed her hand to reassure her.

“There are those who chose to make their fear into a hatred, Margot. And that led to needing to make those one hated, be worthy of such ill-regard.”

“So they are good?”

“Most are. And some very likely aren’t.”

“And the big rocks?” Margot turned her head to inspect the piles she had just made. The stones balanced atop each other in formations mirroring the massive ones on the misty horizon.

“Put there, no doubt. No one quite knows why or how. Some say the ghosts of evil did it. The goblins that spit poison from the earth and crack the ground. I? I think it was people who’d arranged them. As you had the smaller ones.”

Annabelle had never shared with anyone the image that she’d seen nine months before the child was born. The figures scurrying on the impossible embankment, tucking what appeared to be smaller stones in the places where rocks nestled atop one another. The reverent silence of the people had her wonder whether they perhaps saw the rocks as headstones, memorials to those who had been lost to the maw that had swallowed so many when it had first sliced open the ground. A maw many did not believe anyone crossed.

She used her free hand to lift the girl’s chin so their eyes met. “Why did you put them this way, child?”

The gray eyes widened for a moment. In thought, not worry. “I wanted to respect the other stones, Mama. Their balance. How they don’t fall into the underside.”

Annabelle’s eyes filled. Her breath caught.

She smiled.

She never did find out who had forced her that night. She was blamed aplenty as it was, and so she never did tell anyone that she’d believed it had been someone who might’ve seen her watch them. Someone from the Others’ side.

 

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

The Grimace

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Photo: Silas Baisch on Unsplash

 

It was not quite a smile.

It was born not in joy

Nor in any enchantment,

But in desperate

Hope

To forestall

Shame

As it loomed,

A storm

In the fast shrinking distance.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Grimace in 33 words

 

 

In Thrall

WhiteTradeOnlyLancasterOhio

Photo: Lancaster Ohio 1938

 

He was enthralled.

His fate decided

By those who bought

And sold

The humans they preferred

To see as lesser than,

In order to exact a price

For their own

Self-aggrandizing,

Once freed,

His slavery was still

Held against him

In deliberate inequity,

His struggles mocked

As ‘proof’ he hadn’t been trying

Hard enough.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Enthrall in 54 words

 

 

In Denial

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Photo: stevepb-282134 on Pixabay

 

“He’d never do that.”

“But he’s such a nice guy!”

“She’s lying or she’d have complained sooner.”

“He’s a pillar of the community.”

“Why ruin a man’s name?”

“I’ve never seen him do anything.”

“He said he didn’t do it. What else do you want?”

“Kids are unreliable.”

“Women lie about this stuff all the time.”

Even when videos surfaced following one victim’s suicide. Even after he was convicted. Some kept claiming he’d been the one wronged.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Denial in 77 words

 

Visibly Invisible

cameleon AmitiaAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 

What do you see

When you look, but

Do not

Actually

See me?

 

Is it the shadow

Of what you believe

You ought to

See,

Or the reflected

Image

Of what you wish

You could

Be,

Or what you think

I must be

In order

To be visible

Enough

To be verified

As me?

 

 

For the d’Verse challenge

For the A Photo A Week Challenge: Depth of Field

Deplete Hate

make a case OfirAsif

Photo: Ofir Asif

 

Let us deplete

The harm

The hate

So more room’s left

To tolerate

The differences

We may create

As we attempt

To integrate

Beliefs well overdue

Update.

 

 

For The Daily Post

Valuable Interest

measure

Not all interest

Pays dividends.

Not all attention

Is of value.

Too often what’s at stake

Is a diversion

To some bias of

Profit,

When in truth

The real returns

Are found in

Empathy, and

Real growth is in

Addressing prejudice,

Resolving hate

And healing

Conflict.

 

 

For The Daily Post

Taper to Expand

openmind

Photo: Playbuzz.com

 

Taper your prejudices

So they not block the light

Of real understanding.

Taper your worries

So they let in

Newborn paths.

Taper your reliance on

Hearing only what fits

Your opinion.

Taper your righteous

Indignation

So it leaves room

For your heart

And mind

To truly

Expand.

 

For The Daily Post