In Quotes

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Photo: Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash

 

“Oh, wow!”

“I know.”

“Did they really decide you were threatening violence against others?”

“Aha.”

“You!??”

Sigh.

“But you weren’t!”

‘I know.”

“And you’re the last person I can think of who’d do anything like that.”

“Thank you. Indeed I wouldn’t. I was speaking out against the threat of violence … and yet …”

“Whoa.”

“Yeah.”

“So now what?”

“I don’t know. As soon as I saw they suspended me, I’ve appealed. I pointed out I was protesting false-choice and threats of violence against the helpless. That I was absolutely not promoting violence. I pointed out that I’d placed any graphic words in quotes exactly because I wanted to make sure it was clear that this was an example of what someone like a Mafioso, in their false-choices, might say. I told them that this was an analogy. That that’s why I put it in quotes. I was certain they’ll reinstate my account. Instead, they wrote back to say that they’d reviewed my appeal and ‘found’ me to have been threatening violence and therefore they won’t restore my account.”

“I can’t believe this is the conclusion they’ve reached!”

“Me neither. It hurts my heart.”

“But you were doing the opposite of threatening people!”

“I know. I abhor violence. Against anyone. By anyone. In fact, this was why I was pointing out the wrong of using violence as a threat.”

“Can’t they see that for themselves? Also, all they need to do is read some of the stuff you write and do and stand for. I mean, this is ludicrous!”

Sigh.

“You of all people …”

Sigh.

“Sheesh! What’s wrong with them?”

“Actually, I’m not angry they wanted to take a look. If anything even appears to be threatening, it should be examined. I’m okay with that. What does upset me is that even after supposedly reviewing this, they say I was threatening violence, when I was absolutely not. I’m dismayed that in spite of me pointing out that this was a quote (and yes, it was in quotes!) of what a mafioso might say to gain compliance, they don’t see this for the analogy it was. I’m upset they don’t believe me I was protesting, via use of the mafia analogy, the untenable situation others are currently facing. I was protesting violence, not promoting it!”

“I don’t know what to say.”

“I know.”

“So now what?”

“I’ve re-appealed. I hope they’ll reconsider.”

“Now you wait?”

“I guess so.”

“And in the meanwhile?”

“I write here. I continue speaking against violence and injustice. I continue to trust people will do the right thing. I breathe. I don’t know what more …”

“Can I help?”

“You already are.”

“I am?”

“Yes. It helps that you’re listening. It helps to have you validate that you know I would not threaten to do harm to anyone. It helps that you’re here. It helps that you’re kind. It helps that you’re you.”

“Oh.”

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS challenge: Oh

 

 

Hold Your Ground

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Photo: Anthony Garand on Unsplash

 

When the truth flees the sphere

Of those who power corrupts

And the lies become leaders’ way

To disrupt,

It behooves us to hold strong

To not let those confound

As we keep our eyes on

A true moral ground:

To be firm

To be kind

To keep light

In our mind,

And to not get swept up

In the feverish flow

Of those who prefer we

Give up and

Let go

Of core truths

And the law,

And forget how

Foreshadowed

In wisdom galore

Founders sought separation

Of powers before

And checks out to balance

Against tyrannical war,

Predicting the day

When ambition to rule

Would rise in someone

Who’d attempt to befool

And try to prop

Lies for a flop

And our constitution

For corruption

To swap.

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS challenge: Ground

 

 

Metastasis

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Photo: Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

 

It lingered, hidden.

It’s potential ever present

Yet hoped

To in deep sleep

Remain.

Till it found purchase

Someplace where the

Balance

Could not be

Maintained.

 

“It’s metastatic now,”

They said

And shook their head

And watched her deep breath

Rise

Along with the determination

From last time,

Returned.

 

It will be

What it will,

But even if equilibrium

Was difficult to

Attain,

She was going to meet

Life

Head on

Again.

 

 

 

Dedicated to those who are facing this challenge now: You got this. We got you.

For Linda Hill’s SoCS challenge: “-tast”

 

 

A Net of Ents

Grimm AmitaAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 

“I am not going in there!”

Maxim sighed. “We must. It’s the only way.”

Stringer shook his head. “That place is haunted. Ghosts and goblins and who knows. I bet all the creepy things from the Underworld hide here, too.”

“The Underworld isn’t real.”

Stringer gave his friend a searching look. Maxim’s voice sounded a bit less certain than Stringer would have liked it to.

“Why does it have to be us, anyway?” Stringer pouted. Every cell in his body told him to flee, to leave, to get as much distance as he can between himself and this brooding, mossy, drippy, dark, tangled, creepy forest.

“Because.” Maxim lifted his chin, exposing a scrawny neck that had only gotten more birdlike in recent weeks. “Look, I’m scared, too, but even Mathilde said it was the only way.”

“She’s just an old crone,” Stringer scratched at a scab before glancing around guiltily and lowering his voice (one never knew if she might be listening and he did not fancy ending up in a cauldron), “and a witch.”

“Exactly.”

Stringer sniffed. He hated it when Maxim got the last word and even more when Maxim was right.

Mathilde was gnarly and bent and more than a little odoriferous (whether it was lack of bathing or the miasma of whatever it is she must be concocting in that iron pot that was forever perched over the fire, he didn’t know and didn’t dare ask). She was the oldest person he’d ever seen. Indeed if anyone would know about the procedure for removing spells, it would be her … and she had been clear that the one they sought to have lifted was beyond her skill.

“Only Ents,” she’d croaked and hacked up something Stringer was certain was more than just phlegm. “Ten of them. If there are even that many left. Only they can undo an enchantment net. And only if they agree, which they don’t always. Best keep your wits about ya when ya enter Old Growth. Tear a leaf and ya’d well end up lacking a finger.”

She’d stirred the pot, giving the quaking boys a full view of her three fingered hand. “That is,” she’d added, “if ya exit there at all.”

The whole way to the ancient forest, Stringer and Maxim avoided discussing the meaning or implications of Mathilde’s words. Giving it voice was too scary and they were too excited. The hunger had taken someone in every house, and winter was poised to enter empty pantries. All they could think of was what would follow if the hex broke: bowls of broth and bread and beans and oats.

Their stomachs spoke louder than their worries.

Now the edge of the forest stopped them cold.

“Did you see her hand?” Stringer tried.

Maxim nodded.

“Do you think …?”

Maxim’s tunic rose as he shrugged. “Maybe it was frostbite.”

“Yeah.” Better that. Frostbite was awful and utterly non-magical.

“Though …” Maxim’s voice shook, and still he bent resolutely to tuck the edges of his tunic into his leggings and retie his belt so it did not flap. “Best make certain we don’t accidentally trip or tear a leaf or snap off anything.”

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS writing prompt: Ten, Ent, Net

 

 

 

It’s a Wrap

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Photo: Monica Silvestre on Pexels.com

 

“It’s a wrap,” she said, and rose, and massaged the small of her back, which after all those hours of sitting felt as if sharp clamps had been tightened through it. Her back was never quite the same since the car accident. Or was it since the Shingles? Or the bad fall? Or the earlier things that were best left unremembered?

It wasn’t only her spine that bowed under the spasm. Her muscles were responding to a lot more than just the time spent in the chair.

He looked up, annoyed and uncomprehending. “Wrap, how?”

“In all the ways that matter,” she responded. It felt like ions since a soft hand on her back would melt the stress away and deepen her breath and make sleep nestle in so close she could smell it.

Decades? Years? Months? Too long.

“Living up to your rap of being cryptic, I see,” he muttered.

It was meant as a jab, but instead made a small peal of laughter form like a pearl inside her belly.

“I guess I am,” she noted, one hand still kneading the tightness in her lumbar area, the other held close against the urge to pat his head and make it better.

She’s moving on. He’ll have to find someone else to do all that for him now.

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt: Wrap/Rap

 

 

 

Blue Belle

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Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

She hangs out next to the couch, wrapped around the floor lamp like a hand in a hand. She’s been there a long time. She lived on other floor lamps before this one, till their time had come and she welcomed a new one. She makes friends with them all, says goodbye to those who lost their spark. Perhaps she thinks of them, sometimes.

She hangs out next to the couch, wrapped around the floor lamp like a protective palm over a young hand. She watches little fingers wrestling beads onto threads, listens as small mouths make words out of thoughts, witnesses big hearts in tiny chests writing grand ideas into evolving minds – theirs and mine.

She hangs out next to the blue couch. She hears the unasked questions that stay behind worried parents’ lips. The questions children ask, sometimes for the first time. She understands. She does not prod. She just knows. They look for her, especially after a long break, reassured to find her there, still wrapped around the floor lamp like a comfy hug.

She’s been there long enough to find the right time to catch their eye.

With a quiet smile.

Blue Belle on her perch by the couch. Patience in her heart, twinkle in her eye.

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt: Blue (first blue object you see)

 

 

The Whey Weigher’s Way

A girl churning butter, three-quarter length, facing front, looking away to left, wearing a low-necked dress, apron, and small frilled cap over short curls; after Mercier.  Mezzotint

Photo: The British Museum #2010,7081.1712

 

Tis the Whey Weigher’s way

To weigh

The whey

As she goes

About her day

Sifting curds

Through woven trays.

 

You can stay

If you may

To watch the way

She weighs her whey

In pots and jugs

Of rounded

Clay.

 

And though so many

Will downplay

The lowly whey

As throw away,

She knows it is

Quite fair to say

That whey is worthy

Of more sway

And should more than

Earn it’s pay.

 

 

(I had WAY too much fun with this today! 🙂 )

For the SoCS writing prompt: way/weigh/whey

 

 

Couch Karma

NYC afternoon NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

It will be the couch for me today, after a bit more lifting, hopping, sliding, climbing, carrying, skipping, and bending, than my sort-of-hanging-in-there spine is happy with.

Not that I regret any of the evasive maneuvers to ‘prevent’ a giggling toddler from stepping on my shadow … Not that I regret going down the slide (well, a little … going down wasn’t the issue, getting back up was … I swear they put these toddler-level things lower and lower to the ground … ;)). Not that I regret counting ducks and spotting turtles, tracking helicopters in the sky, crouching to fix sandals and greet puppies, or examining mini-melted-puddles on park-paths of what might’ve been a dropped ice-cream (the alternative is gnarlier…). I don’t even regret riding hippos “to Israel and also to the Zoo” (yep, New York’s got a whole bloat of tolerant Hippos in the Safari Playground — and no offense to the hippopotami for the term — I don’t make English, I just use is …).

T’was all of it a lot of fun, it was. Delightful as every time spent with this knee-high to a grasshopper of a peanut is. Love that gal to the moon and Mars and back (whether we get there on or off the back of a hippo calf). But this does not mean there’s no piper to pay.

So, I’m paying the piper today. (Hopefully only today …)

And it’ll be slow transitions on and off the couch and bed and chair. And some Ibuprofen, and Biofreeze and Arnica salve, and the duck-wobble molasses-like moving that is the package deal in a body a bit too willowy and quite a bit too finicky than its inhabitant likes to accept, but perhaps should.

Or won’t.

Because.

Life’s too short and couches got to earn their keep somehow.

 

 

For Linda Hills SoCS prompt: Couch

 

Prepositionally Prepared

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Photo: Tucker Good on Unsplash

 

Before first light was when she meant to leave, and working through the night she made sure to have everything she needed with her. When that was done, she double checked that all other items were stuffed into bags or packed inside boxes or sorted into their respective containers. It mattered to her that things maintain their places: on shelves, by couches, under cabinets, in canisters, outside on the terrace, underneath the eaves up at the attic, even stacked along the small shelves that she’d tucked between the twin beds of the guest room or strung across the top of the door-frame inside her closet. She believed it important for one to have whatever they needed near at hand while at the same time not letting life be scattered all over toward disorder.

It wouldn’t do to seek something and not find it untill after it was too late to be of any use. Or worse, redundant instead of necessary.

She was leaving and had no plan for or intention of return. But when they found the place, she wanted whomever it was to know that she had made arrangements on their behalf and had been on top of things to ensure their life, too, could be sufficiently organized.

 

 

(Just went to town and had some prepositional fun with that, I had … )

For Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt: Preposition

Collateral Damage

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Photo: Sharon McCutcheon via Unsplash

 

“They’re collateral damage,” he said, and gestured toward the flash of news images across the screen. “It’s not anything personal against them.”

He shrugged as if his words explained all of what happened. Of what continues to take place.

“They never should’ve put themselves in this situation,” he added, perhaps because he’d perceived my incredulous stare as an invitation to explain further, or perhaps because someplace, somehow, he felt ashamed. That is, if he was capable of shame, which as the evening dragged on I found myself increasingly doubtful of.

I glanced at Brenda, whose dinner plate seems to have become her world. Her absconding only made me angrier, but the boulder in my throat allowed no sound. I shook my head.

“Well, they could’ve stayed where they were,” he retrieved a comb out of his pocket and proceeded to slick back his salt-and-pepper hair, and the outrageously incongruous act against the reality of utter misery, somehow released my breath.

“They are children!” I choked on the word, but the rest tumbled out behind it as if afraid to become lodged again. “They could not make the decision to stay. They had no choice where to be born. Or who they were born to, or whether or not to put themselves in any situations.”

He continued to groom himself with the comb and I fought the urge to grab his arms and toss away the thing, one of the many things, the children were denied.

“Their parents should’ve taken better care of them,” he added blandly.

I took in a deep breath. “Even if that was true, which it is not in the vast majority of the cases, how does that make it acceptable for others to deliberately traumatize these children further?”

He raised an eyebrow in disdain to signal that my upset was the overreaction. “If their parents stayed in their own countries,” he stated sedately, “instead of coming here, the children wouldn’t get locked up. It’s simple, really. If a person doesn’t want their kids to suffer, they should not do certain things.”

“So now we’re talking like the mafia? Threatening people with harm to their kids?”

“Calm down,” he drawled. “Now that people know their kids wouldn’t have it easy here, perhaps they’d think before they decide to make their kids into collateral damage. If they did as they were told and stayed wherever it was they belonged, none of this would have to happen.”

I inhaled and glared at his wife, the colleague whose silence at the face of cruelty made her increasingly less of a friend. Her eyes scanned the wall someplace not quite behind my head.

“So you approve of terrorizing children,” I stated, my fingers groping for my purse. Her birthday dinner or not. I was done. “This is exactly what mafia does.”

He actually cackled. “They’re the mafioso. It’s their fault if their kids are cold and wet and getting hurt. What did they expect, crumpets and tea?”

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS writing challenge: co-