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

 

Tut’s Trough

Photo prompt: Sue Vincent

 

“It’s been here since time before time,” Marty’s voice rose in self-importance.

“I don’t think Mammoths would agree,” Donna deadpanned. She was tired and the tour-de-woods was becoming tedious. It wasn’t that she didn’t like Marty. She did. Or at least, she had … before he’d unleashed his inner Know-it-all in what he appeared to consider some form of seductive foreplay. It did the opposite for her.

To be fair, she’d always claimed men’s minds could be just as attractive as their bodies.

The key being ‘as important’ she sighed to herself, not the sole importance.

Marty, oblivious, nodded. “Mammoths didn’t need troughs,” he added pedagogically. “They weren’t domesticated.”

Donna slapped at some buzzing insect on her arm. The noise ceased. She’d slap away Marty’s patronizing tone, too, if she didn’t so abhor violence. These days.

The very thought stirred guilt. It wasn’t his fault she was there. It wasn’t his fault she was broken and that time hadn’t ever been kind to her kin.

She forced herself to breathe and glanced at the moss-covered structure in an attempt at interest, only to be mortified when the first thought through her mind was how much it resembled a sarcophagus and how peaceful it would be to lie in one for all eternity.

Or until some form of grave-robbers came.

She shuddered.

“You okay?” Marty’s voice filtered through her distress. “You look as though you’d seen a ghost!”

How little you know, Donna thought. “I’m fine,” she said.

The line between his eyebrows smoothed and he gestured grandly toward the vessel. “Some say it is haunted,” he leaned close to her and whispered a mockery of suspense, “for how this simple trough tricks the vulnerable into thinking it resembles King Tut’s tomb.”

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt

Overreach

Photo prompt © Roger Bultot

 

“I never meant to hurt you.”

Samuel’s words were sincere and still she found herself looking away as to not see his eyes, where a lie was sure to peek.

“The gardener should’ve never let this grow so,” she responded.

Samuel stilled, confused.

She did not explain, for perhaps it was not only the leafy fingers arching over the path and latching onto her living quarters that had been given leave to cross beyond what was sensible.

“Some bridges need be cut,” she added cryptically. “Good-bye, Samuel. Will you send the gardener to my drawing room on your way out?”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

Out Played

Photo prompt: © Anshu Bhojnagarwala

 

“It’s an effing eyesore.”

“I don’t care.”

Martin balled his fists but Susan just gazed at him.

She said nothing but he knew: Raise a finger on me and off to jail you go. The judge was clear: Anger-Management or prison. Martin took the former but could swear Susan’s infuriating behavior intended to get him the latter.

He inhaled slowly before turning away. “When Sanitation fines us,” he growled, “it’s all yours to pay.”

“Fine,” she shrugged. “Though I think they won’t.”

He glared. “Why? Got connections?”

“Nope,” she patted the rotting piano. “I’ve registered it as street art.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

When The Ice Breaks

greenland icebergs-933003_1920

Photo: Barni1 by Pixabay

 

He said he’ll be home when the ice breaks.

And every day she waited, one baby tugging at her skirts and another growing restless under her heart, and tried to not look at the field of crosses planted right outside her window. Reminders of the many who the frigid sea or dark winters or the loneliness of this place at end of the world had claimed.

Some days she hated Greenland. The endless nights. The gnawing cold. The monotony of the same few faces and the bickering that eventually picked open old scabs and gauged new hurts for the next arctic dark to revisit.

Other times she couldn’t fathom living any other place. Summer’s endless light. The sparkle on the water. Pups, babies, and not-so-babies frolicking. The wide spaces full of breath and warmth that thawed old sorrows into joy. It felt like coming home.

Will he?

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Greenland

 

Boulder Holder

Boulder holder NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

Wrapping tentative fingers

That become tangled vines

Jungle trees tell the boulder:

“You’re my rock, you are mine.”

 

 

For Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge

 

First Anniversary


 

He was coming home for the first time since and I wasn’t sure what to do with the mixture of emotions swirling in me.

Trepidation. Hope. Regret. Grief. … And woven between them the pleading thread that it will magically make it as if nothing had happened. For I wanted — oh, so wanted — to undo what could not be undone …

Nothing subdued the anxiety, so I just stood by the window and waited. For days now anything I touched and every room I’d entered was seen through his soon-to-come eyes: the new cover on the sofa, the oval mirror at the entryway that had replaced the one I’d broken in a fist of pain, the small rocking-chair just where it had always been. This window.

And the steps. The wretched spot where Ella’s head had hit so hard when she fell that the stair’s edge chipped.

“You should’ve watched her,” was all he’d said at the morgue. Or since.

Twelve months ago today.

 

 

(Wordcount: 162)

For the FFfAW writing challenge

 

Faded Charm

door hostage PhilipCoons

Photo: Philip Coons

 

If you’re broken by worry

Hanging by a thread

Filled with dread,

There are links

That can hold

Even the weary and old,

Who then ride

The hard time

Till restored faded charm.

 

 

For the Thursday Doors challenge