Long To Fade

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(Image: Alicja_ from Pixabay)

 

“Where have you been?!” her mother’s elbows speared the air like wings on a falcon, keen to dive.

The lass lowered her head and hiked her apron in an offering. The contents would not account for hours wiled away from chores, but they might reduce the heat of what promised to be imminent suffering.

“I went out to the hazel wood, because a fire was in my head,” the child demurred, unpinning one side of the apron to reveal a mound of early hazelnuts, “in eagerness to bring your favorite, Mother. Seeing how the morrow is your saint’s day.”

The woman’s scowl budged none. “A flatterer as well as an idle hand. I know a hasty crop when I see it. Now, as you are so eager, fetch a switch of hazel and I’ll give your hide a fire that will not soon fade.”

 

 

For the dVerse prosery challenge

Poetry prompt from W. B. Yeats

 

 

The Present

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(Photo: Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash)

 

She was shaking when I entered the room. Hands wringing, lips trembling, her eyes a shade of numb I had rarely seen.

Mary had called me. She had come to check on her and bring a midday repast. Mother being too proud to ask for help, even though her legs no longer held her sturdily or long enough to cook herself a decent meal.

Appearance and stoicism were Mother’s barometers of standing.

Socially and otherwise.

Not that you’d know it from her mascaraed cheeks.

She pointed to the antique book I had gifted her the previous evening. 

I understand, therefore I’ll live,” was scribbled in the cover. “R.B. 1941

Mother pressed a notepad on me. Scribbled on it were the same words. Same letters. An older hand.

“I forgot,” she whispered, caressing her initials. “But reading what I have just written, I now believe.”

 

 

Prompt quote: “Reading what I have just written, I now believe.” (Afterward by Louise Gluck)

For the dVerse prosery challenge

 

Whistling Into Wind

 

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(Photo: Janko Ferlič on Unsplash)

 

She had vowed to not come back. Ever. Not to live. For sure not that.

It did not mean she would not try to visit. Or to glimpse. To set out in a morning’s determination only to curl around via rambling roads and pause at every bridge and barn until it got too late to see a thing or she lost nerve and drove home steeped in a tired mix of relief and disappointment.

“I’ll come with you,” Elmira finally said. She placed a warm hand on the base of Anastasia’s neck, hoping to soften the tension it held whenever memories threatened flood.

Anastasia shook her head. “There is nothing behind the wall except a space where the wind whistles.”

“And yet,” Elmira kneaded gently, “the Orphanage’s whistles still tell stories. Perhaps the likes of which your soul insists ought to be heard.”

 

 

Prosery prompt: “there is nothing behind the wall except a space where the wind whistles” from “Drawings By Children” by Lisel Mueller

For the dVerse prosery challenge

 

 

A Matter Of Scope

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(Photo: Anna Sullivan on Unsplash)

“It was never a matter of reach, but of scope,” Morris mouthed the words around his pipe.

Ethel harrumphed under her breath, but gently. She had to take care to not move the petals or she would have to restart the lot, and there was nothing she disliked more than having to redo tediousness. Be it in business or in marriage.

“Cannot see what you find in him,” her mother had criticized her daughter’s choice of man.

“Perhaps we look at him through the wrong end of the long telescope of Time,” her father had chuckled in knifing disapproval.

“Too long a telescope it must be,” her mother had deadpanned.

Her parents were both gone now. To the shorter end of cholera. Left Ethel and Morris the house. And a failing botany business which they were slowly but assuredly pressing into sought after art.

 

 

Prosery quote: ‘We look at him through the wrong end of the long telescope of Time’ (Hummingbird, D.H. Lawrence)

For the dVerse prosery challenge

 

Night Camp

 

During the days there was glare and heat and baking sand and the parched tongue hoping for good water.

But at night, when they made camp, and the chill spooled at their feet and the camels chewed their cud and the humans picked the last crumbs of quick bread off their lap and the blankets were unrolled and small sounds of conversation carried on the breeze; there was ease, and sweetened tea, and the slowing beats of hearts ready for sleep.

And the sky, a dome of diamonds, flowing over them, the old and young and man and beast, as in their dreams they sleep with the moon and swim in the waters soon to ripple under the sun to the east.

 

 

 

Prosery prompt: “In their dreams they sleep with the moon.”–From Mary Oliver, “Death at Wind River”

For dVerse Prosery challenge

 

 

Their Bag End

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Photo: Tyler Lastovich on Unsplash

 

They never did make it back from their destination. Not for lack of trying. Not for lack of plans. Not even for lack of courage or stamina or all the things that make a journey circular. There and back again. Like Bilbo Baggins looking for an adventure and finding more than he had bargained for (or perhaps precisely what he needed); they, too, found more along the way than they had intended.

The path slowed everything. Time turned to stone.

And when it was over, said and done, it was a time and there was never enough of it.

They took too long.

So much that life passed by before it could lead them back to where they had come from.

Perhaps where they ended was precisely where they needed to go.

Only that unlike Bilbo, they did not return to their Bag End.

 

 

(Prompt: from “A Time” by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke)

For the dVerse Prosery Challenge: A Time

 

 

Red Moon Riding

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Photo: Niklas Priddat on Unsplash

 

She let the shudder travel from the roots of her hair to the nape of her neck and down her spine to the place where the calving of her body started. The skin on the small of her back awoke. She sighed.

It wasn’t the chill in the air that had her trembling, even though the breeze could explain the raised goosebumps on her skin. It was the vista that had shaken her. And the memories it sought.

Oh, this was a different place. A different time. Yet somehow these still were the same sky where a red moon rides on the humps of the low river hills spreading below it. Transporting her. The earth roiled under a tapestry of dark and starlight, of shade and voids and hidden stars. Her breath drowned in wonder and sorrow: for lost beginnings, for hopes come dawn.

 

 

 

Prosery Prompt: “a red moon rides on the humps of the low river hills” (Carl Sandburg’s Jazz Fantasia)

For the dVerse Prosery challenge

The Street

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Photo: Robert Almonte on Unsplash

 

 

The night is not as I’d expected it to be.

The sirens are silent. The windows dark. The very air seems still.

It had been a close call. Too close, almost.

I glance at Malachi. He returns a tremulous shrug.

“Will we be alright?” I ask. I didn’t mean to say it out loud, but the words could not stay in. The sound — although barely above a whisper — boomerangs in my chest.

“We might be,” he mouths.

At least I think he does. I cannot hear much above my heartbeat thundering in my ears. Everything inside me feels tight. I don’t remember being so unnerved. Not since. You know. The other time.

“Will they return?” Fear dries my mouth.

“Who knows.”

We reach the corner and separate. The night breaths as I hurry home and we go in different directions down the imperturbable street.

 

 

 

For the dVerse prosery challenge

Prosery prompt: “We go in different directions down the imperturbable street” (from the poem “An Aspect of Love, Alive in the Ice and Fire” by Gwendolyn Brooks)

 

 

His Shadow

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Photo: Andy Falconer on Unsplash

 

They want to add more activity to his day. More interests. Better engagements. A hobby. A new skill.

They don’t understand.

He is fine during the days. It is the night that haunts him. Not the dark, but the solitude. The walls closing. The suffocating silence where his breath fills all the space till there is no air left. No room for words.

Then there’s the fatigue and how it erodes all his resistance. Lets the blackness in.

They offered medicine. Said it will help him fall asleep and stay asleep.

It did.

And it made it worse.

Now his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream and he cannot find the door to waking.

He feels mummified. Lost in the abyss of thoughts and memory.

The bombs. The mines. The child.

He couldn’t save him.

Guilt swallows all.

How could there be a dawn?

 

 

 

Note: Dedicated to all whose deepest wounds are unseen. May you find your dawn.

For the dVerse prosery challenge: maya angelou

The quote prompt: “his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream” from “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou

 

According To Plan

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Photo: Jon Sailer on Unsplash

 

So far all went according to plan.

Part serendipity, part preparation, part desperation. Sheer stubborn, too. She needed all of it.

She slunk around the building, her heartbeat almost drowning out the hum of voices reverberating in the air. She used to find the monotone of prayers soothing. Now it was the buzz of wasps.

Thomas had promised to keep any from straying. Promises were at most hopes in the Commune, but indeed the path seemed clear. Where normally there would be at least one man leaning against the door in fake calm that nonetheless effectively barred the exit, there was naught but empty space. The guards imbibed.

She quickened her pace. She’d have to time it perfectly. The once-daily pass-by train was her only chance at freedom. The rails shook. No one left and no on came on the bare platform. She leaped.

 

 

Prosery prompt quote: “No one left and no one came on the bare platform.” Edward Thomas

For the dVerse Prosery challenge: Edward Thomas