Safe Angle

australia s.Levenberg4 bw

Photo: S. Levenberg

 

At the edge of the

Down Under

Where water angles

Into sea,

There’s an old pool

Where you safely

Hold the sharks at bay,

And be.

 

 

For Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Lines and angles

 

Remotely Social

Heidi House AtaraKatz

Photo: Atara Katz

 

She’d have preferred to not have even as much contact with others as the job required, but the alternatives were worse, and she couldn’t argue with the benefits:

A roof over her head.

Supplies.

A stipend for the necessaries.

The most-days-solitude.

Granted, there were days when she could feel the walls press close around her and the vistas felt airless. She’d scan the horizon, then, wondering when someone would stop by that she could talk to. Vulnerable in her need, her fingers would reach for the radio, yearning to hear a voice that was not her own, and she’d make some excuse about checking the weather or changing the date of the next airdrop.

And yet she could not wait to end the conversation – if that was what one could call the brief exchange with the dispatch to arrange a fly-by or a stop-drop of supplies – so the last of the vowels could evaporate into the quiet.

Human contact suffocated her.

Its lack bore holes into her soul.

It was untenable, and all she could do is try and find some semblance of balance between loneliness and overwhelm.

There were no roads to the respite cabin, only footpaths, or for those who braved the crosswind, a rocky field in which to try and land a chopper. The nearest town was a hard three-days trek through the mountains.

Once in a while she’d see a shepherd who’d misread a storm and sought shelter. Sometimes another ranger would stop in during an upkeep task, to resupply or send an update to headquarters. Those were hardy, silent persons like herself, who welcomed a warm bowl of soup, a place to dry their clothes, and a break from the wind, but needed little in the way of clucking.

The trekkers, for whom the respite cabin was intended, thankfully limited themselves to the brief season when the weather was most forgiving. Her outpost was stationed on what was a remote route even for the most intrepid hikers, and yet some evenings in midsummer the small cabin would be bursting at the seams with chatter and the smell of unwashed feet, damp shoes, and giddy overconfidence. The bunks slept eight. To have even three occupied felt to her like eighty.

The trekkers would all leave in early morning, bellies full of oats and faces flushed with sleep, and she would not know if their eagerness was for the day’s exertions or to get to where they could safely gossip about the agonies of trying to wrest a word out of the reticent resident ranger.

She’d grow skinless by the time fall brought with it a piercing cold and the relief of rarer human sightings.

It would be weeks into winter before her fingers reached for the radio, pining to hear another person’s word.

So she was not prepared for the knock that came, an hour into night in early winter.

There was no storm. No ranger’s late arrival. No shepherd.

Just a youth. Half-frozen and her belly swollen, and in her eyes a look that pleaded urgent need even as it warned to keep a distance.

It could have been herself.

Fifteen years back.

 

 

 

For the SoCS prompt: Social

 

 

Home Idyll

Belize InbarAsif

Photo: Inbar Asif

 

She leaned against the painted wall and exhaled a sigh of relief.

She was finally home. Hardship over. She was free. All was going to be as she needed it to be.

The freshly laundered whites fluttered in the sea breeze and the rush of waves sang in her ears. A dun puppy yipped at a bird. The baby slept at her feet.

“Have you eaten?” Grandmama called, a loving voice on the wind.

“I’m coming,” she smiled and bent to lift the bassinet.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Idyll in 84 words

 

I Will Leave The Light On

LandOfGods20 InbarAsif

Photo: Inbar Asif

 

I will leave the light on

For you and those still lost.

I will leave the light on

For nights when stars hide most.

I will leave the light on

Even if some say I’m wrong.

I will leave the light on

So you know that you belong.

I will leave the light on

During storms and gale and snow.

I will leave the light on

Just so you see and know.

 

 

For Six Word Saturday

 

Not All Is Lost

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

 

They were always getting blown out of their homes. She couldn’t stand it. She knew how it felt to be homeless, especially for a youngling. And she’d seen the devastation of parents who’d returned to find some force had swept their babies off to unknown and worse places. She knew about being lost.

She was going to stop it.

At least for them.

Surely if she built it, they will come.

She kept checking and almost despaired, but one morning … there they were.

“Welcome home,” she whispered to the first eggs laid.

 

 

For Friday Fictioneers, August 3, 2018

 

Big Brother

Big Brother SmadarHalperinEpshtein

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

I will go, Big Brother

To the end of the earth

After you.

In spite of fear

I will try to repeat

All you do.

But I’ll still

Just in case

Reach for

And draw courage

From you.

 

 

For the Wits End Challenge: Childhood

 

Find a Home

 

 

The prompt for today was just too on point to ignore, when the paperback became available TODAY (!!!) and when so much of this novel is about what a home is, or what may at any moment become a place one is pushed out of or needs to run away from. The connection felt even more apt with how the holidays bring up for so many the very realities and stories of a home (or lack thereof).

“Apples in Applath” is a work of fiction, yet very real children do fall victim to policies and realities not of their choice or making. Also real is that what makes a home or family is not always immediately obvious; and that hope and wariness, need and conscience, often compete inside one’s soul as one seeks a safe space to call home.

I’m very excited for “Apples in Applath” – my fourth book and third novel. I hope you’ll check it out and share it with others who may find an interest. I hope that it may find a home in yours.

Even more so, my wish for you — and for all who are or once were children — is that you’ll always have a safe nest to call home.

 

For The Daily Post

Can You Hear?

Can you hear the hearts that beat

across the mountains, deserts, oceans

hoping for safe harbor,

an anchor

home?

Can you see small fingers gripping

other little hands

bereft of parents,

lost,

alone?

Can you hear the soft breaths

of babies

sleeping

in tired arms

weighted by

desperation,

violence, hate, war?

Can you hear the calls

in dreams

in prayer

for safe passage

for a welcome

to belong?

Can you —

how can you not —

hear,

the urgency

of hope

that hardship snuffed

and yet

still

yearns to grow?

 

refugees-express-co-uk

Photo by express.co.uk

 

 

For the Daily Post

 

The Scent of Home

syrianrefugee-unicef-photo

Child Refugee – Photo by UNICEF

The scent of home that she no longer has.

The spices, baking, the aromas

Of togetherness

And family

And love.

The scent of grandma,

Gone,

Killed by bombs.

The scent of ugliness

And war.

The scent of mornings

Blurred by smoke.

The scent of sea, now tainted

With the stink of gasoline

And sick

And worry.

The scent of tent

And mud

Hunger

Cold.

The scent of hope

Faint but held

In Baba’s handkerchief —

He said he’ll find them

One day

In Wherever Land.

The scent of fear

In mother’s arms

Trying to filter comfort through her own terror

Devastation. Loss.

The scent of home that she no longer has

Wafting away

In search

Of someone

Who will help

Her

Make a new one.

A Forever Family

The little boy was beaming yesterday.

“You know what?” he said, having barely parked himself on the little chair in my office.

“What?” I pretended.

“I’m SO happy.”

“You are!” I exclaimed, smiling. Even a boulder would see that the little guy was delighted. Delighted and relieved, actually.

“Now my parents can be my REAL parents!” he gushed. He sobered then–this boy does not take family for granted. Abandoned at birth with visible deformities, trundled through foster care homes and more losses, and finally finding an adoptive home with parents who were dedicated to him and where he was cherished. “If something happens to Daddy …” he paused, “then Papa will still be my father.”

He reached for my hand, excited and a little scared at what he just stated, momentarily overwhelmed by the proximity of both loss and hope. It took a lot of love to get this boy trusting that his home was a ‘forever home’ and that he was really wanted; and sometimes worry still snuck in, triggered by the destabilizing challenges of very real uncertainty.

Such as when he needed surgery and only one of his adoptive parents was allowed to escort him to the operating room, because only ‘legal guardians’ could, and the law did not allow both his parents to adopt him, only one. Daddy was recognized as his parent. Papa was not. It scared him that people could say that Papa was somehow not his real father, that other people could — again — decide about his life.

Or when his legal parent was away on business and the new school guard gave the boy’s papa trouble picking him up because there was no official note on file indicating that he was among the ‘approved caregivers.’ It took a tense while to locate the classroom teacher to confirm that this man that the boy called “Papa” was indeed one of his parents and had collected the boy from school before. For several days later this little boy refused to go to school. He insisted on waiting for Daddy to return. He was scared that school people won’t let Papa take him home.

Now in my office, this little boy fiddled with my bracelet, as children often do when they are feeling a little tender but need to be the ones establishing how much connection to allow. “Sometimes at nighttime I have bad dreams … about having to go back to foster care.” He looked up at me, dark eyes like deer in headlights, hair framing his little face in a frizzy halo.

I squeezed his hand gently. He looked at his papa, who was sitting quietly with us, his own eyes bright, and allowing his son–son in all ways but legally until now that the Supreme Court declared the constitutional right for equality in marriage and family–the space for these complicated feelings.

The boy reached out for his father and received a hug. “It is  going to be more safer now, right?” the boy asked, face buried in his father’s shirt.

“Sure is,” the father planted a kiss on his son’s head, who at not yet six years old was already a veteran of too many worries. “Your home is with me and Daddy. We are a family, you and Daddy and I.”

“And Priscilla!” the boy added in reassured indignation. “You forgot Priscilla!”

His father chuckled. There was no forgetting Priscilla the ever-into-something dog. “Of course, Priscilla is part of our family, too!”

The boy snuggled into his father’s hug another moment. Sighed contentedly. Peeked at me and smiled. “The judges said that my Papa can also be my father now. Like my Daddy. Forever and ever and ever and ever.”

family