No Shoveling!

 

“I’ll just be a minute,” Benito shooed his family ahead. “Don’t want you catching cold.”

He rubbed his gloved hands together. The temperature had dropped over twenty degrees in the last few hours.

“Especially you, Junior!” he pointed at his youngest. The boy had weak lungs and had just finished another long course of antibiotics. “In you go.”

“Oh, no, you’re not!” Maria planted her feet in front of her husband. “You are coming in with us. Right now. There will be no shoveling by you today. Boss Manuel insisted. Today you are a guest. After all, it is your birthday!”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

Tomorrow’s Orb

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

” … And that is when the sun became the liquid gold …” Marianna tucked the blanket tighter around the child and bent to kiss the flaxen head. The short soft hairs tickled her lips. She hadn’t yet gotten used to the severe buzz cut. She resisted touching her own head.

“…and in the morning?” the little one murmured, half-asleep.

“It will turn itself back into an orb and rise into the dawn …”

The almost translucent eyelids fluttered open once to rest on the flaming horizon, before closing, heavy, onto the small cheeks. The girl’s breathing deepened and slowed in time with the surf, arms secured around a well-loved doll.

Marianna stared at the reflection of molten lava on the water, listened to the murmured rush of the waves, rocked on her heels, and hugged herself.

At least the weather’s holding.

The child turned. An arm slipped out of the protection of the blanket and Marianna tucked the slim limb back under the covers, securing the doll where it could not be seen. It was a forbidden toy, yet Marianna could not bring herself to discard it. Not when so much had already been lost. She swallowed, and her hand rose of its own accord to feel the expanse of her head, the hair no longer there.

It was the least of it. Better they be seen as male, anyway.

The sun sank, gold, into the sea. She thought of the bedtime story and of the simple acceptance of young minds. Of the trust, the effervescent hope. Her own breath deepened as her daughter’s face at rest loosened a coil of tension in her chest into tendrils of comfort.

They’d made it this far. The beach was secluded. The trees and darkness offered their own respite. She, too, needed sleep.

May morning come, she thought. She lay her head on their pack of belongings and spooned the child against her heart. The last of the light licked the dampness from her cheek. May we safely see tomorrow’s orb rebirthed.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s Write Photo prompt

 

 

Over Barricaded

pawel-czerwinski-0lCqhJxu6D8-unsplash

Photo: Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

 

There was a wall in there.

A barricade against the world.

He’d built it, bit by bit, from hurts and slights and bigger woes.

And hid.

Within.

Where he thought he’d be safe, and from where he could watch from a distance, reassured by barriers and gates and locks and elaborate booby-traps that made sure no one got too close.

There was a wall in there.

And a moat.

Alligators, too. For insurance.

Only that they had become hungry with the years, as less people even attempted to get near him, and therefore there was less bait.

So that he was, in many ways, imprisoned.

He’d been young when he’d built the wall, and he didn’t plan ahead. So needy of a solid barricade he’d been, that he never made a way to unlock the gate.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Barricade in 136 words

 

 

Itsy Eats it!

 

She’d had it with replacing the gate five times in a season.

She’d had it with coming back from any length of trip to find her garden in shambles, her gazebo in ruins, and her abode filled with debris. There were always some of her favorite things broken or missing.

Something had to be done.

This might not look like it’d stop determined burglars, but it should at least cause pause to the majority. If any dared try.

It didn’t matter that it was made of bent reeds, or that she’d been advised to seal the opening with bricks. Too much stone felt heavy. And anyway, she found pleasing beauty in the symmetry, in the way light filtered through. It was like a window to the world.

Also, Itsy came with references and guaranteed the work.

“Itsy build,” the industrious worker promised. “And if something break in. Itsy eats it.”

 

 

 

For the Crimson Creative Challenge #51

 

 

I’ll Be The Quiver

annie-spratt-t3IYuQZRDNE-unsplash

Photo: Annie Spratt on Unsplash

 

I’ll be the quiver

For the arrows

You don’t yet know

How to hold.

I’ll guard the darts

The barbs

The jagged

Points,

Safe within the

Burnished leather

Of my years,

Till you grow enough

To be the quiver

For your own

Sharpened spears.

 

 

For the dVerse quadrille challenge: quiver

 

These Walls

upstairs downstairs SmadarHalperinEpshtein

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

How many did these laboriously

Hewed walls

Close in on

As they trudged endlessly

With buckets laden

And arms weighted

Up and down

And up and down again

For more?

 

How many did they shelter

Under siege

Of catapults and

Rusted arrows

As the walls shuddered

Dust

Onto the bitten lips

And rounded shoulders

Of those crouched below?

 

How many hastened feet

Did these walls keep secrets for

Under the cover of

Night

And sentries’ snores

As lovers met

In darkened corners

To remember

Life before?

 

 

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Wall

 

 

Left Behind

 

They walked around, eyes wide, not touching anything.

“It’s like a museum,” Lilly breathed.

“Only with ghosts,” Samantha shuddered.

Lilly shot her a warning glance and slid her eyes toward Mikey. As it was the boy woke up screaming every night.

This was the first intact house they’d seen. Well, almost intact. It had a roof, walls, and shutters that had protected some of the windows. It even had a wood-burning stove. They needed the shelter more than any ghost might, and Mikey didn’t need additional terrors.

She forced a smile. “Let’s find some water and make tea, shall we?”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

Fuzz Guard

 

Ducky AtaraKatz

Photo: Atara Katz

 

Listen up

Little fluff

There’ll be no mischief

And stuff.

Best make sure

That you stay

In the shallows,

If you don’t

Wish to meet

Claws as gallows.

There will be no

Dissent

Till wings let you

Ascend.

So since you are yet

To create

Actual feathers,

You will heed

Pond-time rules

By your elders.

 

 

For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Feathers

 

 

The Place

Photo prompt: Sue Vincent

 

“I’ll take you to the place,” she promised.

“The place where you came from?” the boy pressed. “Your before home?”

“If it is still there,” she nodded, her eyes clouding over with something between wistfulness and worry.

She watched his eyelids flutter as he curled onto his side and into sleep. There was much to do and little time for it, and still she couldn’t bring herself to rise from his cot. It wasn’t how she thought it would be. It felt too soon. He didn’t know a thing.

Not that she really had a choice, anyhow.

The place. She wasn’t sure exactly what would happen when they got there, or what it would mean to her or to the boy she was entrusted to protect. What would her protection of him entail now that she’d been discovered?

She gazed at the child. He was hers. At least as far as one could belong to someone else, he was.

Most people thought they could not look more different than each other. Her translucent skin to his ebony, her pale eyes to his endless pools of black, her sprinkling of wispy flaxen hair to his rich dark mane. She’d kept his hair in cornrows for tidiness and practicality, but often enough she coaxed him to let her undo them so his hair rose in a magnificent halo about his head. Her princely lion of a child. They didn’t have such locks where she’d come from. He truly was one of a kind.

“Adopted?” nosier people would ask what many others thought but didn’t dare to verbalize.

“In a way,” she’d respond, knowing full well that the answer raised more questions, yet she refused to lie. For he wasn’t. Adopted. Not in the way they’d think.

He was. Just. Hers. Seeded in her before she even understood what he was or would become.

And they were as alike as any, anyhow, considering where she was really from.

A noise jarred her and she looked up to see a mouse scurry across the cabin floor. It reminded her of other footsteps: dangerous and inevitable and far less welcome.

She got up and as the night deepened she did what had to be done. Finally she secured a small bag to her bike and hoisted the still sleeping child into her lap. She wrapped a strip of sheet around them so he could remain snug against her while she pedaled.

She rode through the woods till morning lit the trees and the birds fleeted ahead of her wheels and small living things skittered into the bushes to avoid her.

They knew, she thought, that she was not of them, and neither was the boy who nestled, oblivious, with a head atop her breast.

There would be no hiding who they were. Not anymore.

The light intensified to shine beyond the sun.

There it was. The place. The bright beam.

She dismounted and her legs shook not from hours of pedaling, but from knowing.

And from failure.

She let herself be found out before he was adult enough to continue. She did not protect him long enough to fulfill the promise he held for their kind.

The ship’s beam wavered and the gears in her heart thudded as the light shimmered sorrow through her skin.

They’ll take only him.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto Challenge