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

 

 

Climb Up

climb up OfirAsif BW

Photo: Ofir Asif

 

Climb up

From the abyss

Toward the sun

Upon

The meadows.

Climb up

From way beneath

To where clouds are

The only

Shadows.

 

 

 

For Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Chutes and ladders

 

Vibrant Welcome

PNG welcome1b OfirAsif

Photo: Ofir Asif

 

Welcome, guests, into

Our midst.

Join right in, you’ll

Get the gist.

We’ll dance you

Through our jungle greens,

‘Twixt crops in fields,

Across ravines.

We’ll sing and chant

And strike the ground,

With feet and poles

And hearts and sound.

Welcome, guests, into

Our midst.

Where mists among

The mountains

Roam,

And culture bursts

In vibrant

Song.

 

 

Dedicated to the amazing villages in Papua New Guinea, who came out in their young and old and in betweens, to dance heartwarming welcomes to my nephew and his friends who stayed as guests in their midst.

For Nancy Merrill’s Photo A Week Challenge: Colorful

 

 

Shadows

shadows AtaraKatz

Photo: Atara Katz

 

Their shadows walked ahead

Tasting paths

Testing light

Traveling a step

Before

Their feet

Pressed footprints

And memories

Into sand.

 

 

For the Lens-Artist Challenge: Shadows

 

 

Which Way Next?

trailphilipcoons

Photo: Philip Coons

 

Which way next?

He requested,

Will it be up

Or down?

Are we headed

To Nature

Or perhaps

Sutherland?

Will we go

With the horses

On the bridle path left,

Or take the loop

With the birders

And turn right

At the cleft?

 

 

For the Which Way Challenge

 

No Chicken, No Egg.

bridal_veil_falls_sign_in_provo_canyon

Photo: An Errant Knight @ Wikimedia Commons

 

“The sign says not to hike beyond this point.”

“Signs can’t talk,” Jerry guffawed, “and anyway, that’s just legal butt-covering.”

Robert looked at the icy terrain. It looked awfully slippery. It was getting late and they still needed to hike back. He didn’t think they should continue. He also hated being Nagging Grandma. He shrugged.

Bennett elbowed him and pushed to the lead. “Well, I’m no sissy. All the fun’s up there. Road less traveled and all that.”

Robert’s neck warmed at the insult. Bennett always had to make things a competition, including who was Jerry’s ‘real’ friend and who the fifth-wheeler.

“You coming or you chicken?” Bennett sniggered.

“Last one up’s a rotten egg!” Jerry grinned.

The two barreled ahead.

Robert trudged below them, full of dread.

Later he would wonder how to tell their parents that chicken and rotten egg were the last words they ever said.

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Bridal Veil Falls, Utah

 

Sufficient Space

dormitories AmitaiAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 

Side by side

Close together

They won’t really

Worry whether

There is sufficient

Personal space,

Just scoot a bit

And make a place

So this bed

Can rest another

Weary head.

 

 

For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: places people live

 

Your Backyard

Summer camp AmitaiAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 

When your home

Packs away

On your feet

In your bags,

The entire

Wide world

Is your glorious

Backyard.

 

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: backyard

 

She Could Not Believe Her Eyes

she could not believe her eyes AmitaiAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 

She could not believe her eyes

As the path forked into surprise

And the end of trail became

Just step one into the game

Long the day stretched on ahead

Hours left for them to tread.

 

For Six Word Saturday