No Time

flash flood OfirAsif

Photo: Ofir Asif

 

She ran into the camp,

Braids streaming behind like ribbons

In wind,

Determined to be

Unbound

For a time.

The women raised their heads,

Weary from tending to

Crops and overtired babies.

This time of year was plentiful in many things but

Not in time.

“What is it, child,” her elder asked,

The rhythm of rocking the cradles of milk

And infant

Adding a lilt to her aged voice,

Raspy from smoky fires and chaff

Of time.

“Help,” the young one breathed,

And stalled,

Needy of air and flooded by sudden doubt.

“Speak up, child,” her mother snapped,

Tight with worry for a girl-child

Chased home,

And the shadows

of another time.

The camp stilled.

A baby woke in cry.

“Come help,” the lass repeated, indignant,

No longer shy.

“The creek rises and a cow is screaming

Across the arroyo.

We have no time!”

 

 

 

For the dVerse prosery challenge

 

Over Barricaded

pawel-czerwinski-0lCqhJxu6D8-unsplash

Photo: Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

 

There was a wall in there.

A barricade against the world.

He’d built it, bit by bit, from hurts and slights and bigger woes.

And hid.

Within.

Where he thought he’d be safe, and from where he could watch from a distance, reassured by barriers and gates and locks and elaborate booby-traps that made sure no one got too close.

There was a wall in there.

And a moat.

Alligators, too. For insurance.

Only that they had become hungry with the years, as less people even attempted to get near him, and therefore there was less bait.

So that he was, in many ways, imprisoned.

He’d been young when he’d built the wall, and he didn’t plan ahead. So needy of a solid barricade he’d been, that he never made a way to unlock the gate.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Barricade in 136 words

 

 

None To Be Had

crater view OfirAsif

Photo: Ofir Asif

 

There was no shade to be had.

No shelter from onslaughts

Of glaring heat,

Too bright.

There was no shade to be had.

Exposed as they were

To everything

In sight.

There was no shade to be had,

Other than what they

Conveyed in

A shrug.

No shade other than the small frowns

That communicated how

Very much in need

They were of a

Sheltering

Hug.

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS writing prompt: Shade

 

 

Halfway Home

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

She never grew tired of it.

Even if fatigue had become part and parcel of her every day. Of her very breath.

It did not matter. Her fatigue didn’t, that is. At least, it did not matter as much as it would have otherwise. As much as she knew it could. As much as it had in the other place, where there was naught but white walls and white squeaky soles on squeaky clean tiles and antiseptic air and officious hands and flickering images on a screen where well-dressed persons babbled about things that did not feel relevant to her in the least.

They’d urged her not to leave.

She left.

No regrets.

Not when the trade-off was brisk air and the smell of just-trampled grass and the scent of rain and the open vistas of the world rolling down into the horizon where the sun met the mountains and the sky kissed the ground.

No regrets.

Not with the play of night and day around her, not with light that flickering on her covers and the sun licking her fingers as she lay in bed. Not with a world that breathed and changed and lived and died and reemerged. With yips of puppies racing down the lawn. The hiss of wind. The chirps of birds.

Sure, others were concerned, or so they said.

She did not share their dread.

Death did not scare her. Nor did the warnings that she’d be too far from hospital to get assistance in time if another crisis came. For a crisis was bound to come, and when it did, she knew she’d be content to face it with her face to the hills and her eyes on the valleys and the snow-capped mountains where her soul would soon roam.

For she was halfway home.

More than half, perhaps, now that most of the sand in her hourglass had been shed.

It did not matter.

She was halfway home, content with whatever lay ahead.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto Challenge

 

Not Long Enough

dusk1 OsnatHalperinBarlev

Photo: Osnat Halperin-Barlev

 

“It will be long enough, for a life,”

He said.

She blinked back tears

And said nothing

Because she knew that no matter

How long he would be

Around

Would not be longevity

Enough

For her.

Instead, she patted his hand and

Plumped his pillows

And fussed with the covers

Over his beloved

Form,

Once robust,

Now a shadow of itself.

The shadow smiled.

He understood.

He always had.

At his last inhale, she smiled back.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Longevity in 76 words

Note: Dedicated to all tender goodbyes. Especially the final kind.

 

 

Side-Effects

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Photo: Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

 

They said it was the best thing for it.

They hinted that to forgo discussing it will

Mean all manner of awfulness

happening

(And would, perhaps, be partially my fault

For not taking steps to fix

By listening).

 

They showed how it would better

Everything:

My house, my shape, my friends

My job.

May even lead to what I never had

Or always wanted

But an illness was sure

To rob.

 

The ad said it was the best thing for it.

A discovery deserving of a

King.

If only my eyes hadn’t left the screen

To pluck an errant string,

Which had my ears

Abandoned

To the chatter —

Which had previously lay hidden

Under sprawling beaches

And smiling people

And every beautiful

Thing —

And I heard

The actual words

That listed

All the side-effects

(from death, to heart-attack, to vomiting)

That this supposed

Miracle drug

Was likely to also

Bring.

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt: Flyer/Ad

 

 

One Thousand Steps

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

The snow fell softly in the early hours, blanketing a brittle frost with a bridal veil.

She undid the entrance flap and shivered in the chill. Her thin underclothing was not sufficient for the cold. She retreated back into the shelter to don her clothes, lace her cloak, and pull on her boots.

Still when she emerged from the tent, her breath caught in the frigid air. She welcomed it. She needed her wits about her, today more than most.

Her feet crunched over the frozen ground as she hurried to relieve herself by a nearby tree. The warmth leaving her body felt palpable. In it there was relief and wariness, both.

She did not fold the tent but she did not know if she’d return to it. What she did not carry along might not be seen again … and she would not be carrying much. She was warned to bring naught but herself.

“You’d have no need for anything,” were the instructions.

The words could be ominous or comforting. She wasn’t sure which it was and she didn’t think she was meant to be certain about it. Or about anything.

There was some food left in her pack, but her stomach did not feel ready for any digesting. She drank some water instead. It tasted flat and smelled of the container it’s been in, but it would have to do. She didn’t know where water sources might be found and even if she saw some on the path she didn’t think she’d be able to avail herself of any.

She shuddered again. Of fear. Of cold. Of worry. Of expectation. Of trepidation. Of all of the above.

It will be what it will. She had little choice now. She’d given her word, and what follows was not for her to decide on anymore.

She turned her back to the tent and began counting paces. The location for her tent had been marked. The one thousand steps were to be taken away from it, with the rising sun at her back.

She mouthed the numbers, ignoring the breeze as it tunneled under her cloak, the errant twigs that grabbed hold of her hood and deposited wet fluffs of snow on her hair, down the nape of her neck, on her back. No one had said what will happen if she lost count. She did not intend to find out.

The steps became a meditation of intent and tunnel vision. The world receded into the yard immediately ahead. Then the next. Then the next.

Nine hundred ninety nine, she breathed.

“Turn around.”

She jumped. The sound came from the space her body had just vacated.

She turned only to be blinded by the sun’s glare, rising through the narrow branches of a sapling. The light speared her.

When she finally adjusted, she was elsewhere. The forest was no more. The world as she’d known it, gone.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

Warehoused

Photo: © J Hardy Carroll

 

The cells were small. Sturdy enough to keep them separated. Aerated enough to keep them alive. Near enough to let them marinate in each other’s misery.

What the jailers did not foresee, however, was how they were just close enough to offer comfort. Fingers laced through fencing let them hold hands. Almost.

Oh, they moved to corners when anyone came. Pretended to hate each other. Endured each other’s fake bullying that so amused their captors.

But in the silent moments they sat close, back-pressed-through-chain-to-back. Their ‘caretakers’ warehoused them like animals, but the children’s defiance held: they remembered they were siblings.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

Land Of Water

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Photo: Guyana, by Joshua Gobin on Unsplash

 

“Have we always been here?”

“‘Always’ is a long-winded word,” Papa’s melodic voice told me a story was coming. “Some people lived here before our ancestors. Some had come after we’d already been here. The land and the water were here before any humans had come. The word ‘always’ does not mean one thing.”

“Moses said we’re not from here. That we were brought here as slaves.”

“Are you a slave?”

“No, Papa.”

“Are you here?”

“Yes, Papa.”

“You and I are Guyana born. Have you worked this land, swam in the Essequibo, witnessed Kiaeteur Falls, walked the savanna, ate manioc?”

“I have.”

“So you have your answer, Son. We’re all children of land and water. All born of wombs filled with water, all depend on water, and will one day become rain and go over the falls. Your ancestors got here. You’re here. Where else would you be from?”

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Guyana, South America

 

 

The Essentials

 

Finally.

She shrugged her pack off and lowered herself so her back rested against a tree, blessing — for the umpteenth time — the waterproofs she’d splurged on several years ago.  The purchase had meant giving up puddings for two months, but she’d never regretted the trade-off.

Food was essential, but so was heeding nature’s call for spending time in the outdoors. It was required nourishment for her soul.

In any weather, no matter damp or cold.

Soon she’d make the tent, gather wood, and light a fire to cook her oats on. But first she just sat, filling her lungs with air and her mind with calm contentment.

Raised in the city, she didn’t know how hungry she was for the outdoors until friends invited them to join a camping trip. She was ten.

Her parents hated every minute of it. For her, it had been like finally finding home.

 

 

 

For Crimson’s Creative Challenge #52