Relativity

Photo Prompt: Dale Rogerson

 

“Your grandfather must be turning in his grave.”

She’d made bitterness her trademark, so finding meaning usually entailed having to decode gradients of dismay.

He figured this one was a 67 out of 100. Enough disgust to call attention to how the “good old days” were better than modern progress, while not completely dismissing the comforts of advanced technology.

“Clean power is good for the lungs,” he cajoled, half-hoping for an argument. It was his Grandma’s genes he carried, after all.

“Pah,” she wrinkled her nose. “Nothing wrong with a bit of soot to get people appreciating real power.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

In Translation

valentin-salja-762005-unsplash

Photo: Valentin Salja via unsplash

 

“You can’t do it.” Lizbeth scowled.

Betty shrugged a shoulder at her cousin and put the hand-bound manuscript in the box beside her.

“You’ll ruin it.”

“I won’t,” Betty countered. “I’ll be gentle.”

“That’s not what I meant!” Lizbeth folded her arms and planted her feet firmly on the dusty floor of their late aunt’s apartment. Her color rose. She was jealous but would never admit it.

Betty always got the best of everything: Summer camp, long visits with Aunt Mathilde, a degree in writing, even a dad who taught her Swedish.

“I’ll be gentle in my translation,” Betty caressed Aunt Mathilde’s poetry booklet. “Dad will help. Her words languished long enough without being read.”

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Translation in 115 words

 

 

Two By Two

twins OfirAsif

Photo: Ofir Asif

 

“Do we have to?”

“For the hundredth time … yes, we do!”

“But no one else is going!”

“No one else will be around for long.”

She felt his pouting through the ground. His clomping had a rhythm for each mood, and this one spelled: I’m thinking of an answer to refute you. She counted his foot-beats and waited. Never took more than a minute, with this kind.

“So Noah says.”

She couldn’t help but smile at his predictability. “So he does.”

His tetchy steps continued, unconvinced.

She said nothing but upped their pace a bit. It wouldn’t do to be late for this one. They cleared the lee of a dune and a gust of wind blew sand into their faces. She shook her head to clear it from her ears.

“And you believe him?”

At that she paused and turned her head toward him. “I’d rather believe him than perish.”

“But look!” He bellowed, and if she hadn’t known him well she would’ve missed the fear under the notes of clear frustration. “There’s not a drop around.”

She sighed. For all her projected certainty, he was voicing the doubts she did not let herself express. The blue skies mocked her loyalty, and the parched ground billowed dusty clouds as proof of the utter lunacy of leaving the herd to follow some two-legged prophet and his nightmare.

And yet, her own dreams had been filled with thunder. She’d wake startled, breathless with the premonition of a fruitless escape from tumbling mud that rose above the highest dune and all the way to the horizon and beyond.

She breathed and chewed her cud a moment before resuming her walking. She’d rather be a fool who lives. Especially with the calf that she could feel kicking in her womb.

“Noah said he’ll have fresh hay and all the food and water we can stomach,” she cajoled.

“Alfalfa, too?”

She grunted her assent along with her amusement. Her mate had always been partial to alfalfa, and the rare treat’s season had long passed.

“He promised some of that, yes. And barrel-loads of dates.”

His footfalls overtook hers, excited now. “Dates?! Why didn’t you say that sooner? Stop dawdling and pick up your feet! How much farther to that ark, you said?”

 

 

 

 

For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Two

 

Glacial Undertones

Glacier AmitaiAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 

He will carve mountains

For them.

Slow but steady

In his pressure.

Relentless

In the calculated cold of his

Convictions,

That curl like tight fists

Under an unquestioning love.

He has carved himself

In the process,

Into valleys of sacrifice.

Carved them, too,

Into mirror images

To reflect the truths he holds.

He will carve mountains

For them,

Heavy-handed and doggedly

Protective.

Glacial with volcanic undertones.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Glacial in 66 words

 

 

Mood Shift

groynes-2779479_1920 TimHill on Pixabay

Photo: TimHill on Pixabay

 

The mood shifted,

Scudding and persistent,

And she knew that no matter the allure

To try and reach out

To touch it

In attempt to stop

It’s flow,

To do so would only

Poison them with

Mercurial glow.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Mercurial in 38 words

 

 

It’s The Tropics

Photo prompt © Susan Eames

 

“How long has he been sitting there?”

Brody shrugged. “Was there when I got here.”

Linda glanced at her husband’s torso. Brody had two hues: pasty-white or lobster-red, and it took him about an hour to transform from one to the other. He was reaching lobster status. At least an hour, then.

“What’s he doing?”

Brody scratched under his shades, and Linda noted to herself that his face was following his chest’s example. “On the phone?”

“Put your shirt on, Captain Obvious. But why there? Is he watching for something?”

“It’s the tropics, Dear. Pirates, runaway coconuts, or tsunamis.”

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictoneers

 

Homespun

astronomy background constellation cosmic

Photo: Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

“Can’t say I’ve known all along,” he said.

She snuggled deep into his lap, safe under the quilt, warmed by his heartbeat, listening to the song of the stars as they marched across the canopy of the world.

A different sky. This was.

The other half of life, perhaps. Better, even, now that she found home.

She, too, hadn’t known. Rotation, yes, but only as rounds of emptied hope.

Though her soul perhaps did know. It must have seen the edge of the world spin, and held on, to keep her whole.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Spin in 92 words

 

 

It’s Your Sign

josh-rangel-513683-unsplash

Photo: Josh Rangel via Upsplash

 

“It’s your sign,” she said.

“I don’t care,” he muttered.

“Yep, in your sign, too.”

He scowled and she laughed and he knew that anything he’d do or refuse to, would become her proof of the zodiac dictating his life, actions, tastes, worldview.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Zodiac in 43 words

 

 

The Intertwined

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

“Meet me by The Intertwined tonight,” the note said.

Nate trembled. He fingered the rough edge of the faded construction paper and the sensation lifted him into memories filled with the scent of glue and the sounds of children.

It’s been how many years since? Thirty. At least.

He inspected the note again, as if expecting more words to appear among the scrawled letters on the hand-torn bit of yellowed-green. None did.

It was not signed, but even after all this time there would be no mistaking it. Not by him.

Elinor.

Kindergarten sweetheart and schoolyard tormentor, both.

What did she want? Where had she been? Why write him now? Why him? Why this way?

Tears pressed behind his eyes and he was surprised by their intensity. The last time he’d felt that way (well, the last time he consciously admitted to it being so), was when he’d seen that ad, twelve years ago. The image of it unfurled behind his mind’s eye, never really forgotten: “Missing. Elinor Bricks. Age 23. Long dark curly hair. Blue eyes. Medium height and built. Last seen walking into the woods south of Sparrow Street, wearing blue pants, gray jacket, sneakers, and a brown messenger bag.”

Two weeks of searching before the police had folded their tents and left the flyers for the wind and squirrels.

Three months before he could sleep.

Four years before he let himself date anyone. Two more before he married. Five before he lost Marianne and little Morris as the baby tried and could not be born.

Could that have been only last year?

His heart had been hollow. Since.

Now this.

“Meet me by The Intertwined tonight,” the note said.

Their ancestors had planted those trees over a century ago. Hers and his. Far apart enough to stand alone. Close enough to weave together roots and canopy. They were a symbol of connection. The place where marriage took place and funerals left from. Where roots spread fingers to hold on even as they reached to grip new spaces. It was the very place where past and present, love and life and loss and longing intertwined.

His fingers spread over the bit of paper, reaching to embrace it, and interlacing words with the unknown.

He trembled.

His heart thundered.

“I’m sorry, Marianne.”

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto Prompt: Rooted

 

Tea For One

Reena Saxena

Photo Credit: Reena Saxena

 

It will be tea for one. Again.

She boiled the water in the pot they’d gotten on their honeymoon in Venice, and she spread the tablecloth he’d always said reminded him of his grandma’s parlor (and had always added “in the best way possible” when she’d frown).

She rearranged the mismatched chairs left from the two sets they’d combined when they moved in together, but then returned the plaid one so it rested half-turned to the table and half-facing the radio. Like old times. Like the many evenings when she’d mend some this or that or mark her students’ lessons, while he’d lean forward onto one palm and watch her from the corner of his eye even as his attention was on his favorite broadcast.

“I have eight favorites,” he’d often chuckle. “One for each day of the week and two on Sunday.”

“But none as favorite as you,” he’d always add, just because he knew it pleased her to be reminded that she mattered more …

 

She turned the burner off when the kettle wailed, a lone wolf in the night. She spooned some of the good tea into the teapot, and poured the water on the leaves to let it steep, then capped the pot and dressed it with the cozy she’d made from his favorite sweater when it had too many holes to patch and too much love to throw away.

“You don’t toss away much,” he’d tease her, and they both knew it was both compliment and understanding. They’d grown with little and later had even less, so she had learned to not let go of things too easily.

“I do keep you around, don’t I?” she’d tease back … some days only half in jest for how he’d manage to so exasperate her. Muddy shoes inside the house and socks that never quite made it into the hamper, and an infuriating tendency to not recall the milk or pay the mortgage. Never mind remembering her birthday or their anniversary.

Or the time he’d strayed from vows … and bore a hole into her heart that never fully mended.

She’d forgiven him for that. Of sort. Or as much as anyone can a betrayal. For she’d come to understand it was based less on his disrespect of her as it was on his embedded insecurities. He’d cried in shame when he’d confessed his indiscretion and she’d ended up comforting him, feeling both tender and resentful.

He’d bought her the tea caddie after that. The hand-carved thing of beauty had cost a ridiculous amount and did little to improve upon the one they’d had already … other than in how it served as a reminder for the cost of pain and of his commitment to penance.

 

She passed a finger over the caddie’s rounded top and felt each curve like a canyon of memories in her heart. When she’d fallen ill after their failed attempt at parenting, and the bills kept mounting, he’d almost sold his beloved radio to make payments. Yet he’d refused to discuss letting go of the caddie.

“It is worth a small fortune,” she had tried.

“And that is exactly why it is befitting of you that it stay,” he had replied.

 

She sighed and sat and poured the tea into her cup and watched the steam cloud the glass as the fluid rose like unabated sorrow.

It was their anniversary. The third since he’d left her, this time to where no tea caddie and no amount of tears could remedy.

“Do not hasten to follow,” he’d begged her promise when they both knew it was time. “Go on and live for me.”

Perhaps she wouldn’t have promised had she known quite how bereft she would be without him. Yet she had given him her word, and she was not about to introduce betrayal into the fabric they had so labored to repair.

It will be tea for one, again. Today.

 

 

For the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge