The Two Stones

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

She shivered in the early winter chill and pulled the woolen cloak around her. The wind whipped her hair – always unruly – into her eyes. Her fingers stung. The day was above freezing, but the cold damp still had a way of swimming through her clothing to steal away her body heat. Her face felt stiff and she rubbed her hand over her cheeks and chin to warm them.

She picked up her pace only to slow down again once she neared the stream. The slope was treacherous and she did not fancy the possibility of a dunking in the bone-chilling water. How different this was, she mused, from the summer days of her childhood, when along with friends she had raced down the slope with the absolute intention of being the first to splash in.

The stream had seemed bigger then. Wilder and yet in some ways tamer.

She did not know at the time the other stories it could hold. The risk it would foreshadow.

She was still an innocent then.

As if in answer to her mood, the wind picked up and buffeted the edges of her cloak around her legs, threatening to unclothe her. She pressed her lips together in determination and shook her head. Not here. Not now. Not ever.

Not again.

The stream was lower than expected for the time of year, but she knew the looks could be deceiving. It wasn’t just depths that could kill you. Or the flow.

She picked her way carefully to the bank. She stood a few yards downstream from the ancient laundering stones that jutted at the widening where the narrow brook burbled into a seemingly placid pool before splashing down in tiny waterfalls at the other end. The women still used the flat rocks when she was a young girl. They’d crouch on the stone to slap the fabric as the stream carried away the suds and dirt and the occasional bloody stain.

Moss now covered the stones and she knew it wasn’t just the change of season that had led to the greening. Women had laundered in all seasons. They’d break through thin ice to brave the numbing cold if they had to.

But no one had used the rocks for a long time now.

Perhaps not once since.

It had been a late summer day, the warm air filled with scents of aging flowers and over-ripe fruit and a whiff of sweat. There was the ‘thwack, thwack’ of scythes from the fields and the hum of bees and the calls of children and the wailing of a baby, cranky for the breast. The laundering stones were draped with wet fabric, the water foaming slightly with the soaps.

Then came the scream.

The rush.

The hush.

The wide-eyed horror.

Two small children, tangled in a vine, floated to bump against the rocks at the end of the pool, the current threatening to carry them over and downstream. Like broken puppets on a string.

They’d been playing and must have banged heads under water, or on a sharp rock, or on some other, less understood, thing. Their thrashing would have been noticed, but they must have been lost to the loud playfulness of others, or to the slap of clothing and the scrape of washers against stone. Or to how quickly they dropped.

She shuddered as the image superimposed itself on the empty coldness.

Everything changed after that. She only came here one other time since. And not with company.

The family of the man who had been a child at the time still wielded power in the town. She wouldn’t have been believed if she had told, that the dreamy boy who liked to twirl in the sun and who no one dared tease, had drawn a slingshot in mid-dance and used his spin to hurl small sharp stones into the children’s temples. The “thwack, thwack” was not only from scythes. She wouldn’t have been believed if she’d blamed him for the death of her pet rabbit, even though she’d seen him kill the trusting ball of fluff. Or for holding her down and poking her where no one should. She kept quiet and let the secret nibble holes in her insides.

It wouldn’t have brought the children back.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, bending to touch the water with her fingertips.

The bodies had long been buried, but their souls could not be. Not without the truth.

She rose and wrapped the cloak tightly around her. The clouds gathered and she saw a crack of lighting in the distance. A low rumble chased it, chastening or soothing, she could not tell.

She forced the air into her lungs and turned away.

She will be leaving again. The secret will remain.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

 

You’ll See

Photo prompt: © Mikhael Sublett

 

“You’ll see,” he lifted the mallet to strike again.

She cringed as plaster and glass and bits of home clattered to the ground. Every resonating thud another shattering, another ruin, another wound that would not heal.

She bit her lips and knew she’ll never be the same.

For not stopping him. For not standing up to him. For not listening to all who’d warned her that he was a loose cannon who’d bring only sorrow. For insisting she loved him.

She saw now.

And stood silent as his mallet dented will. Her life in shards, devoid even of tears.

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Note: Dedicated to all who live with violence and do not know a way out into help. Know that there is always hope, that you deserve a chance to heal, and that you need not carry shame.

 

Will The Baby Cry?

Photo prompt: © Roger Bultot

 

“Be there in a moment, Aaron,” Miriam herded her family toward the synagogue across the street.

“Mom!” Ben protested. She drags him outta’ bed, then stays outside herself?

“It’s urgent,” Miriam apologized, eyes already on her phone.

Seven-year-old Jacob glanced at his dad. “Will the baby cry?”

“You screamed like a stuck pig at your Bris,” Ben offered.

Jacob froze. “I’ll stay with Mom.”

“Ben!” their dad scolded.

Staccato bangs echoed. Loud screams.

“The baby?!” Jacob clung to his father’s hand.

“Down! All of you!” Aaron shoved Jacob behind a car and raced to the synagogue. “Shots fired! Call 911!”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

Musket Madness

3dgun

 

Plastic muskets laid bare

To the earth and the air

As rogue arms on a dare

Sought excuse to declare

Every day a warfare

Blood and death everywhere

By a print left to share

As weak minds to beware

Turn stale rage to nightmare

While those who ought be aware

Turn blind eye to despair

By their greed fast ensnared.

 

 

Merriam-Webster’s word for July 31, 2018:

Musket

This post continues the blogging challenge in which Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day, serves as inspiration a-la the “Daily Prompt.”

Want to join me? Feel free to link to this post on your blog, and/or post a link to your blogpost in the comment section below so others can enjoy it, too. Poetry, photography, short stories, anecdotes: Go for it!

For more visibility, tag your post with #WordOfDayNY, so your post can be searchable.

“Follow” me if you want to receive future prompts, or just pop in when you’re looking for inspiration. Here’s to the fun of writing and our ever-evolving blogging community!

Awaken

Never again6 OfirAsif

Photo: Ofir Asif

 

Awaken to what never should have

Taken place,

Yet had.

The millions

Whose lives were snuffed by calculated horror

Tattooed hate,

Enslavement, and

Smoky clouds.

Remember it,

Because such evil

Should not be allowed,

And yet there are the voices

Still denying.

There are those

Who would repeat,

Who relish violence and

Lament “not finishing the job.”

Awaken,

To what never should have

Taken place.

Yet had.

 

 

 

For The Photo Challenge

Willy-Nilly Trouble

rollercoaster

V2, Ohio

 

When the world appears to lose an axis

And takes a haphazardly dive toward a

Wannabe regime,

It is high time to hold steady

And unequivocally confirm,

That racist hate and violence

Reflect the morally infirm

While equality and compassion

Are what’s truly supreme.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

Organize

 

 

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An Incoming Storm

 

 

Organize

To call hate by its name.

Mobilize

To tamp it with the fact:

That we all are equal

All human

All the same.

 

Organize

To nip the flames of violence

By speaking up

For truth.

Assemble

Not in fire

But in numbers

Old and youth.

 

Organize

To let terror have no place

It has no valid

Salute.

Marshal

Not guns or clubs

But tolerance

It is the only nationality

The one acceptable

Route.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

Do Not Settle

yardstick

 

Do not settle for substandard conduct.

For unacceptable ways of talking to and of another

Even if – especially if – they are among those you disagree with

Or maybe prefer to not understand.

 

Do not settle for substandard leadership.

For unbecoming ways of working with some who oppose your views

And yet are part of you

Part of your country

Part of what holds a mirror to your blind spots

And what makes you into

Who you are and can become.

 

Don’t settle for the substandard fantasy

That misleads you to believe yourself somehow better

Than another

Because of your religion, gender, party, origin, or baseball cap.

You are not.

Better.

We are all of us defined by our actions, not our acronyms.

We can be raised or felled by the choices that we make:

To go low

Or rise above

To sink into the mire

Or to raise the discourse

From the gutter

Back to civilized.

 

Do not settle for substandard

Language

For slurs and rudeness not fit for the ears of anyone

Let alone our children.

Settle not for the reactivity of hate and violence

Of disdain for the vulnerable

And disregard to others whom you declare guilty by an affiliation

Different than yours.

 

Do not settle

For substandard influence

When you know better.

 

Raise the standard.

So those who keep lowering the bar

Not think it has become the norm

To celebrate the rude or bow to the crass

When either are so

Very far

Below par.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

Soul of Soil

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Photo: Osnat Halperin-Barlev

 

Do not soil the soul of soil

With harm

And hatred.

Do not foul the loam of life

By sowing death.

Walk gently on the earth

That holds the lot of us.

All water that flows on

And under

Has flown everywhere

Before

Belongs to no one

More.

Do not soil the soul of soil

With war.

It is unholy.

Antithetical

To growth.

It stains all harvest

Red

With tears

And broken hearts.

Enriches only

Pain

And sorrow’s scars.

True stewardship

Demands

We find

Uphold

Maintain

A common ground.

 

 

For The Daily Post