The Look

Atilla the tractor 1

 

“It is looking at me.”

“What is?” I was dozing off in the delicious sun on the first dry weekend we’d had in a while. The lush grass under me felt springy.

I thought the word was so apt. Springy. The double meaning of the season and the bouncy vivaciousness of it all.

“It is looking at me.”

I inhaled slowly with more resignation than irritation. I might’ve known this would not go as I had envisioned. While I was content to lie still and let the sounds of the birds and the hiss of the breeze and the faraway whir of a tractor in someone’s field fill and nourish me, Marlee had been tugging on grass-blades and clucking her tongue and shifting positions every three seconds.

She’s always been flighty. A flit-bit full of frown and furrow, forever on the edge of tumbling from one thing to another.

I loved it about her. She was the counter-weight to my molasses and the engine to my stasis. Her hypervigilance also made my idea of a relaxing afternoon where we do nothing, an utterly foreign thing.

Perhaps an even frightening one.

I opened my eyes. “What’s looking at you?”

“That.”

I raised myself on an elbow and scanned the field. There was no one there.

Marlee sat, violin-string-tight, eyes glued ahead.

I followed her line of sight. Nothing. Not even a bunny. Just a tractor that most likely belongs to the farmer whose land we might be trespassing on. I squinted against the glare – the cab was empty – there was no one there.

Marlee did not move.

Resigned now, I sat up and stared harder. A caterpillar undulated up a flower’s stem by my knee. A bird dove at the tractor, perched momentarily on a mirror, and flew away.

“The bird?” I chanced.

Marlee shook her head but her eyes remained trained on the vehicle. “The tractor,” she said. “That thing has eyes. I swear it blinked at me.”

 

 

 

For Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Home Idyll

Belize InbarAsif

Photo: Inbar Asif

 

She leaned against the painted wall and exhaled a sigh of relief.

She was finally home. Hardship over. She was free. All was going to be as she needed it to be.

The freshly laundered whites fluttered in the sea breeze and the rush of waves sang in her ears. A dun puppy yipped at a bird. The baby slept at her feet.

“Have you eaten?” Grandmama called, a loving voice on the wind.

“I’m coming,” she smiled and bent to lift the bassinet.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Idyll in 84 words

 

Emperor’s New Clothes

the-emperors-new-clothes-3-coloring-page

Nata Silina at Supercoloring.com

 

“I expect loyalty,” he stated.

A silence followed.

Shock or perhaps because

There was

No honorable way to respond.

 

“I need loyalty,” he repeated

With the implication clear:

You bend the knee

Or you are gone,

Swear fealty to the man

Or you’re a traitor

And an enemy to be scorned.

“You will always get honesty from me,”

Came the measured return.

“That’s what I want,” twisted the retort,

“An honest loyalty.”

 

As if there was such thing

As honest loyalty

To one who deemed acceptable

Only what offers

Praise and supplication,

And allows no room

For truth,

Let alone for the calling out of

The Emperor’s bare bottom

Of the barrel

Governing

Or his disregard for honor

As he dons repeated sets of

Non-existent,

Yet much lauded by him,

‘New Clothes.’

 

 

Note: As it happens, the book I’m reading and which was right by my elbow as I read the prompt … is “The Mueller Report” (w/ commentary by the Washington Post; page 296 of the book, page 35 of volume II in the report).  … And the rest, well, is history. And what will be …? We shall yet see.

For Linda Gill’s SoCS: open book, point, write

 

Homespun

astronomy background constellation cosmic

Photo: Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

“Can’t say I’ve known all along,” he said.

She snuggled deep into his lap, safe under the quilt, warmed by his heartbeat, listening to the song of the stars as they marched across the canopy of the world.

A different sky. This was.

The other half of life, perhaps. Better, even, now that she found home.

She, too, hadn’t known. Rotation, yes, but only as rounds of emptied hope.

Though her soul perhaps did know. It must have seen the edge of the world spin, and held on, to keep her whole.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Spin in 92 words

 

 

First Day Out

transition

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

It’s been a long time since she was able to hold her head up.

She knew every crack in the ceiling. Every shade of light on the walls. Every spider web.

They kept the latter undisturbed.

“Let them be,” she’d asked when the housekeeper had come in one day, armed with an upended broom. The matronly women had frowned only to have understanding effuse her face with something between pity and compassion.

“You keep ’em company, then,” the housekeeper had said.

She’d cried a little after the woman had left the room, tears accumulating small pools in her ears. In them was the relief for the small thing she could still control to protect, and the hollowing despair for how much of it she’d lost, that she begs company of arachnids.

Months passed since.

The webs accumulated. Elaborated.

The seasons changed.

She watched the spiders, and found her own cobweb to hang on to and get stronger.

She learned how to control a torso that would no longer answer to her command. She found ways to manage the awful dizziness of gravity. She made peace with her chair and its straps as her adopted exoskeleton.

And she was strong enough, finally. To hold her head up.

A gentle sun licked the edge of the gate. The mostly overcast sky offered her pallid indoor skin a needed measure of protection. A glint danced on the fence’s wall and she practically felt it.

As tender and tenacious as a spider web strand.

“I’m ready,” she smiled. “For my first day out.”

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto prompt

 

 

Rosie Rhymes

Ring-a-ring-a-roses KateGreenway MotherGooseNurseryRhymes 1881

Kate Greenway, Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes 1881

 

“Ring-a-ring-a-roses; A pocket full of posies; Hush-hush, Hush-hush; We’re all tumbled down!”

“She can play like this for hours,” Mary sighed.

Alice gazed at the child, who with arms spread wide to the sides, continued to spin about the garden’s green, dipping a curtsy at the final line before going back again to the first. Her pitch was perfect and her voice was sweet, but the bouncy ringlets and pinafore over a knee-high calico dress only highlighted the oddity.

It was adorable when Rosie was six years old. The girl was nearly thirteen.

“How’s Rosie’s schooling coming along?” Alice tried.

Mary’s smile faltered for a second before a placid screen unfurled over her face. “Just fine,” she breathed. “It’s coming along just fine, dear. Did you try the rose-petal marmalade? Mrs. Hannah outdid herself this year.”

It is like watching a wind-up toy, Alice thought. She never could get her sister to speak candidly about the child. None of them could. They all knew much was wrong, yet it was nigh impossible to discuss it. There’d been some concerns before the accident, of course, though Rosie had been very young then and much was explained away as the idiosyncrasies of an only child with an active imagination.

Then the accident happened and it was as if Mary had stopped the clock. On her own life as well as Rosie’s. The child seemed content enough, delayed and mostly mute outside of singing as she was. But how much did any of them know about the child’s true reality and potential, and how much was her mother’s doing, impeding her growth?

“Ring-a-ring-a-roses …”

Rosie’s singing rang in Alice’s ears and suddenly she could not stand it any longer.

“Mary,” she pressed, “I know this expert …”

Her sister raised a delicate hand. “We have all we need, Alice.”

Alice shook her head. “No, you don’t. I love you, and I know you love Rosie dearly, but she’ll be a woman soon … and she can’t stay six forever. Let me get the both of you some help. It’s not about trying to force her to do what she cannot, if she cannot … I mean, I know she’s a little …” her sister’s eyes stopped her. Brittle. Angry. Warning.

“… I … I can see she seems happy,” Alice inhaled and paused, hoping for a relenting crack in her sister’s eyes.

There was none.

“Indeed she is happy,” Mary clipped. “And we shall keep it this way, shall we?” She turned her head a tad, so that her eyes rested partially on the closed wing of the manor where the stone would forever be a bit dark, and partially on the child she’d frozen in time. The sweet girl who did not need to know more than what she’d known the day before she had tipped a candle onto paper and accidentally, fatally, set fire to her father’s study. “Now, about that marmalade!”

 

 

 

For the SoCS prompt: Rhymes with rosy

 

Pinned Hopes

Photo prompt © J Hardy Carroll

 

She planned every detail.

The dress. The cake. The decorations.

What games to play. Who to invite. The invitations.

She fretted over treats and props. The seating arrangement.

The day dawned bright. The weather fair.

The flowers gifted blooms. Butterflies came to visit.

The cake turned out close to perfect.

The dress fit well. Even her hair cooperated.

She breathed it in.

She smiled.

She waited.

The only thing she did not foresee

Was no one showing up,

And only her mama there

To wrap a scarf around her eyes

To hide the tears

As she pinned the donkey.

 

 

 

Note: Dedicated to all the children whose parties turn to pain. To those who are all too often left invisible due to social awkwardness, adversity, disabilities visible and invisible, social isolation, bullying, and the myriad ways indifference (let alone direct cruelty) can a child’s soul maim.

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

Reflections On Reflection

Peru Reflection AmitaiAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 

If you look into the pond, you’ll see

The sky reflected,

The white clouds,

The world drenched in the beauty

Of clear water

On firm ground.

But if you’ll turn your head

From pond-life

And look around

And up

Onto the land and sky,

You will see the real world

In its worry,

In its glory,

So much bigger,

Spinning by.

 

 

For the Friday Fun prompt: Reflections

 

 

Part Of History

Old Live Oak Cemetery, Selma, Alabama

Photo: C. M. Highsmith, Old Live Oak Cemetery, Selma, Alabama

 

“There is glory in the graves.”

“No there ain’t. There is only death in them graves. And bones, if they ain’t turned meal theyselves yet.”

“I’m only reading what it says, Gramma.”

“You is only saying what is lies, then, and it don’t make it no more true in the sayin.”

“I’m sorry, Gramma.”

“Hmm.”

Moss trailed from the old trees like cobwebs strung on homes for Halloween. There was eerie beauty in them. And sorrow.

“Why did you bring me here, Gramma?” she asked.

“Because it be part of history. Good and bad, you is supposed to know it.”

“It looks really old.” And peaceful, she didn’t add.

“I hear tell they’s started buryin’ here about 1830. Didn’t have no old live oaks then, or young’uns. Just dead peoples.”

“When did they plant the oaks, then?”

“Nearabout 1880. They trees is pretty, Chile, but they graves still got no glory.”

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Selma, Alabama

 

 

It’s Your Sign

josh-rangel-513683-unsplash

Photo: Josh Rangel via Upsplash

 

“It’s your sign,” she said.

“I don’t care,” he muttered.

“Yep, in your sign, too.”

He scowled and she laughed and he knew that anything he’d do or refuse to, would become her proof of the zodiac dictating his life, actions, tastes, worldview.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Zodiac in 43 words