If Tied

gatepost CrispinaKemp

 

“If tied,” she said, “come by.”

“If not…?” he asked.

Her shake of head stilled any of the questions he had swirling inside his. It cooled his urge to argue. He knew it wouldn’t help. He knew it would only make what was already unlikely, impossible.

In the days that followed he found every reason to visit the gatepost. He wasn’t meant to come too close, but the nearby field offered cloves that his mare suddenly required, and there were numerous trips to town that merited taking exactly the dirt road that hugged parts of the property.

He drooped with every thread-less passing.

He couldn’t sleep.

He felt angry, worried, sick.

Till one day, as he rode by on an errand for a parcel, he saw it. A pink thread. Tied.

Her parents relenting.

They’d let him court her. Even though his father, in his drunkenness, had killed their son.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

A Key To The Heart

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

The last thing she believed was that her great-grandmother’s words had been literal.

The old woman was prone to tall tales, lore and fairies, rumors and gossip, odd potions and odder notions. There were always layers of meaning. Lessons. Some ancient moral to decipher. A hidden understanding.

As a young child, Patricia was fascinated by Gramma Gee. She would spend hours dreaming about the meaning of the words of mystery from the wizened woman who had more wrinkles than skin and whose spine bent halfway parallel to the ground.

But by the time she turned an adolescent, Patricia found the elder’s cryptic talk to be boring, dated, and annoying. She only went to visit to assuage her mother’s guilt, and even then did so without enthusiasm and for the briefest stay.

When Mom died at the end of a long illness while Gramma Gee continued living, Patricia — then a college student — stopped visiting altogether. She’d convinced herself that the old woman in the cheerless room in the old people’s home was senile and would not know the difference, but in her heart’s heart she knew that she was angry. Every day the ancient lived felt like one stolen from her mother.

Patricia wondered if her mom had felt that way after Nana died. The sudden death that bled Nana’s life into her brain had left Mom bereft and lonely. Patricia was not quite four years old at the time.

It did not seem fair. Two holes bracketed by a woman so old there could not have been a good enough reason for her to still live.

Then, on Patricia’s twenty-sixth birthday, Gramma Gee breathed her last. She’d just turned ninety-five.

She left Patricia everything: Two tattered suitcases of documents, moth-eaten blankets in a trunk that could have come out of a horror movie, a box of knickknacks, and a four-leaf clover key wrapped in a piece of leather in the shape of a heart.

“There is a key to the heart, and you can use it.”

Patricia had heard Gramma Gee say this phrase more times than she cared to remember. She’d thought it romantic at some point, then irritating.

But was it more than an expression? And if so, a key to what?

The attorney who was the executor of Gramma Gee’s meager estate was no help. A harried man with droopy spectacles and droopier hair, he had not much to tell her. “It could be in the documents,” he said, nicotine-stained fingers fidgeting for her to sign the papers on his desk and let him go handle some other oldster’s odds and ends. “I believe there’s a deed among the documents. To some house in the old country. I don’t expect it to still be standing. Most are not.”

It was mostly not.

But a section was, and part of a stair sticking out of broken walls. And the owner of the bed and breakfast nearby had a small tractor and a strong son he could lend. When they cleared away the rotten beams and tumbled stones and mounds of weeds, there was an intact part of ancient wall revealed, and more steps.

And at the end of those, a closed door. Set with a heart-shaped lock.

She had the key.

And she could use it.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto challenge

 

The Promise

 

“It’s not much,” Eric noted.

“That it isn’t,” Morris agreed. “Still …”

Eric nodded. It was better than their tent in the woods. “Walls look sturdy.”

“That they do.” Morris circled the dilapidated farmhouse, hands clasped behind his back. A habit left from years of teaching and one he wasn’t particularly happy to be reminded of.

It still hurt. To have been cast aside. To not be wanted anymore.

“So, she just left it for you?” Eric tried to keep the eagerness out of his voice. He’d hoped for some juicy details ever since Morris had told him about the inheritance.

“That she did,” Morris replied.

He remembered her, of course. Juliette, the brunette. They’d been a couple, in a manner of speaking. “What’s mine is yours,” she had promised. Years ago.

Then they’d parted.

Not once had he thought it to mean anything beyond what she’d shared with him then.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Out Of The Blue

Photo prompt: © David Stewart

 

The streets still shone with wet but the dome of sky stretched clear above. The wind had swept away the clouds.

She shivered even though the air was warm. Perhaps it was the damp that had her reaching for her shawl.

She hugged herself and wondered if she’d ever know whether he had left because he wanted to or because he had no other choice or because he did not know any better.

“Where are you?” she whispered.

She jumped when the fountain unexpectedly came to life and bathed the roundabout in blue.

It felt like a hello. From Hugh.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

Treasure In The Sand

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Galway, Ireland (photo: Fum Bally on Unsplash)

 

He leaned on his elbows and watched, periodically checking the clock and the tide-chart that hung next to it. Any moment now.

The briny air tickled a sneeze out of him, and he debated whether he had time to go fetch a handkerchief or if he could just use his shirt. Laundry day would not be for another full week. The handkerchief won. He rushed back to the window, flushing with a combination of exertion and embarrassment.

It was sobering to be faced with his own obsession.

The waves hissed and brushed against the beach. The ocean sighed. The breeze picked up. It would rain tonight. He believed his bones.

Then he saw her, walking on the exposed strip of rock-spattered sand. Her head was down, searching. She held a plastic bucket in her hand. It had seen better days.

They both had.

She was his treasure in the sand.

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Galway, Ireland

 

 

The Footprints Of Her Years

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Photo: Louisa Potter on Unsplash

 

 

She spilled

A trail of tears

Along the footprints of

Her years.

 

At first she was the

Princess.

The apple of her parents’

Eyes.

Half-grown, she had become

The Black Beauty

Sitting on the class’s

Throne.

 

When she first met him,

He was her wizard.

Jacob

Of the dazzling blue eyes.

 

They all followed him

Like cattle.

She swooned

Into his charm.

Into what she believed to be

His tender and true

Heart.

 

But her prince charming

Turned into

The Czar

Who wielded

A sharp tongue like a

Purple sword.

Who called her

Drab.

Unlovable.

A lazy housewife.

 

With her

No longer his

Purple queen,

He left in search of

Better.

Found his golden acre.

 

 

And she,

In tears of ice

Wept storms,

As blue fire

Drew Aurora Borealis

Across her broken heart.

 

 

 

For dVerse poetics

 

 

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

 

 

Frazzle Dazzle

bears SmadarHalperinEpshtein

Photo: Smadar Epshtein

 

She refused to stop her fretting.

He could not get her

To relax.

She was adamant the world

Was ending,

That they were about to breathe

Their last.

Nothing he did could

Distract her.

Not the honey.

Not the charm.

She was frazzled,

And he should have known

To not try

Bedazzling

To disarm.

 

 

 

For RDP Sunday: Frazzled

 

 

 

Plenty Enough Of That

Cotton E.K.

Photo: E.K.

 

“I don’t know what we’ll do,” she sobbed.

He lifted her chin gently till the brown-speckled eyes met his. “We’ll manage,” he said, surety threaded carefully into his voice. He didn’t want her feeling as if she was weak for unraveling or wondering whether any of what she was feeling was excessive or unreasonable. It was not.

He didn’t have all the answers, either.

Only love.

He had plenty of that.

And it had to be enough.

“Everything’s a mess,” she sighed.

It was. And yet, it wasn’t. Not everything. Their care for each other had not a single tangle in it.

“It’s like this cotton field,” he breathed. “Raw fibers that are nonetheless brimming with nascent fabric potential. We’ll pick through our grief and weave love into a new life.”

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Fabric in 131 words