A Long Way Down

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“This place will never do,” Aaron shook his head.

“It’ll have to,” Ella tucked the edges of frustration back into the crevices that practice had made almost foolproof. Almost. One could not get complacent.

She’d seen what happened when one did, and the cost was never worth the temptation of release.

“We’ll make it work,” she added before Aaron could add argument to what they both knew will have to be managed anyway.

The steep plot of thicket-covered land was all they had. A measly inheritance, perhaps, but better than the debtor’s jail … and the ways one had to pay debts with one’s body. Piecemeal. By the hour. By the man. They could neither of them survive it again.

“It is a long way down,” Aaron acquiesced. “The stairs are rotted.”

“A longer way up for those who do not know the path,” Ella smiled. “We’ll do fine.”

 

For Crispina‘s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

The Addition

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(Photo: Simona Roubkova on Unsplash)

 

“What are you going to do with this thing?”

Leah shrugged, and watched as Marty circled the addition to their household, arms behind his back in what she thought of as his ‘Wannabee Inspector General.’

“It is useless,” he muttered.

“It is cute,” she said, and chuckled at the horror on his face. “In its own way, at least.”

For to be fair, the poor creature would win no beauty contests. Patchy hair, droopy eyelid, bloated abdomen. But there was a trusting glint in the blue eye, and a gentleness that sought her heart and hooked it.

“You’d do it mercy to put it down.”

“I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility that existence has its own reason for being,” Leah challenged. “If we can be of help, why not even try?”

She reached down to pet the pup. “Her name’s Pat.”

 

 

Prosery prompt: “I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility that existence has its own reason for being.” — Wisława Szymborska, “Possibilities”

For the dVerse prosery challenge

 

Winter’s Tread

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(Photo: Stéphane Juban on Unsplash)

 

When the cold gripped hard

And pulled life from the sinews

Of the earth,

And when the wind screamed wild

Among the emptied branches

Overhead,

She’d seek the warm embrace

Of the inglenook’s fireplace

And write a book

Of summer’s heat

Inside her

Head.

 

 

For the dVerse quadrille poetry challenge: Inglenook

 

The Long Wait

Waiting CrispinaKemp

 

“You coming?” Betty scanned the space to make sure nothing was forgotten, slung her pack over her shoulder, and headed for the door.

“Nope.”

“Are you serious?!” she swung around to stare at Ron.

“Yep.”

Her arms began to bend and she was just about to press her palms to her hips, when she exhaled, shook her head, and stuck her hands in her jacket pockets instead.

That’s what he wanted. Another argument. Another delay.

Not this time.

“Suit yourself,” she said.

His incredulous intake of breath was almost worth a glance. She resisted the urge.

“You’re a coward!” his words chased her in a continuation of the arguments they’d had. “I’m not a quitter. I’m gonna stay and see this slump through, and when you come crawling back, I will not let you in.”

She drove away.

The town had since dissolved but apparently Ron still waits.

Sort of.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Left Hanging

sole-shoe CrispinaKemp

 

She didn’t need to be quite so blunt.

Not that she ever did mince words. Or hold back actions.

It was what he loved about her. It was also what became exhausting. Fending off arguments. Splitting hairs.

He wasn’t averse to a good conversation, but was it really necessary to have confrontations about the best-by-date of parsley or whether T-shirts needed to be folded a certain way or whether such-and-such celebrity looked better before their latest procedure or if they ought to order red or yellow apples?

“You’re apathetic to the world!” she’d accused. “If you don’t care about small things, how would you care about the bigger issues?”

His sigh only infuriated her.

Perhaps it’s better that she left. But did she really have to hang her purple shoe, the one he’d gotten her, outside his window?

She used to be his princess. Now he was a stepsister.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Skyward

(Photo: Na’ama Yehuda)

 

They rose in steady hum of

Motors aiming to break

Clouds

And dispersed the waves upon the

Sand as life skittered

Aground.

They pointed nose into the

Sky with souls holding on well

And fast

As engines revved anew

And headed home

At last.

 

For the dVerse quadrille challenge: sky

 

No Country Bumpkin

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Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash

 

She was not a country bumpkin

Though she aspired to

Be one.

So she dressed the part

And practiced

How to walk and talk

In twang,

And she hoped to look

Uncultured

To the folk stopping

In store,

So they’d believe

She was

Hardcore.

 

 

For the dVerse quadrille challenge: bum

 

 

Brief Impact

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Photo: Esperanza Algaba Davila on Unsplash

 

They didn’t think they’d leave such an impression. After all, they were only passing through, a transient band of transients in a town built on foundations set in stone.

And yet, as they left, colored wagons clattering on paved roads not made for wooden wheels or tender hooves, they were followed by a line of children.

Like a piped piper for the unloved. Seeking a better home.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Impact in 67 words

 

 

 

Their Bag End

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Photo: Tyler Lastovich on Unsplash

 

They never did make it back from their destination. Not for lack of trying. Not for lack of plans. Not even for lack of courage or stamina or all the things that make a journey circular. There and back again. Like Bilbo Baggins looking for an adventure and finding more than he had bargained for (or perhaps precisely what he needed); they, too, found more along the way than they had intended.

The path slowed everything. Time turned to stone.

And when it was over, said and done, it was a time and there was never enough of it.

They took too long.

So much that life passed by before it could lead them back to where they had come from.

Perhaps where they ended was precisely where they needed to go.

Only that unlike Bilbo, they did not return to their Bag End.

 

 

(Prompt: from “A Time” by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke)

For the dVerse Prosery Challenge: A Time

 

 

Special Delivery

the-gate JeanLHays

Photo prompt: Jean L. Hays

 

The car honked twice then twice again before the tires crunched on gravel and the vehicle left in a puff of midday dust.

She smiled.

She could always count on Henry.

There was a time when he could ring her bell. When she could offer him a glass of lemonade.

Not now, so close to her transplant date.

She waited a moment before venturing to the gate, and smiled again when she saw he’d taken the card she’d left. She knew he’d made a special trip.

He brought the birthday cake from her daughter, still cold, wrapped in fancy tape.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers