If Tied

gatepost CrispinaKemp

 

“If tied,” she said, “come by.”

“If not…?” he asked.

Her shake of head stilled any of the questions he had swirling inside his. It cooled his urge to argue. He knew it wouldn’t help. He knew it would only make what was already unlikely, impossible.

In the days that followed he found every reason to visit the gatepost. He wasn’t meant to come too close, but the nearby field offered cloves that his mare suddenly required, and there were numerous trips to town that merited taking exactly the dirt road that hugged parts of the property.

He drooped with every thread-less passing.

He couldn’t sleep.

He felt angry, worried, sick.

Till one day, as he rode by on an errand for a parcel, he saw it. A pink thread. Tied.

Her parents relenting.

They’d let him court her. Even though his father, in his drunkenness, had killed their son.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Eventually

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

He spent the day lying in the field. Waiting.

Eventually someone would miss him, or wonder about how come he is so late.

Eventually they will think of sending someone to check.

For the moment, all he could do was gaze up at the skies, his leg in an angle that no leg should be in, and his breath curtailed to the smallest gasps as to limit the stabbing pain that traveled through him – like a snake’s bite and a red-hot poker combined – if his lungs filled up enough to move the lower part of his torso. He’d never been more acutely aware of how all joints connect.

A marvel, really.

And a pain.

He almost laughed at his own joke only to remember the infinite well of torture that he’s been finding over the hours he’d been this way. There was no bottom. Only crests of agony he could know and not know of, ride and fall off of, let be and let go.

In the first hour after it happened he’d been angry at himself for the stupidity of attempting to leverage boulders that should not be attempted solo. The stick, not sturdy as he’d hoped, snapped in half, sending him to the ground in an way he could not reconstruct for the blinding nausea of torment that had ensued. He didn’t know what part of his leg it was that broke, or not exactly. Raising his head even just a little led to the world spinning and a blackness closing in, and not only from the clouds that seemed to gather.

He wasn’t angry anymore. There was nothing left in him to spare on blame.

The grayness above grew heavy. It would not be long before the rain.

He’d be miserable in the muddy wet.

It would also bring people faster. They would not expect him to misread the weather. They’ll question. They’ll come.

A drop tickled his nose and he suppressed a sneeze, almost crying with desperation to avoid more pain.

A call sounded, and for a fraction of a second his heart soared. But in the next, awareness filled in: it was not a human’s.

He opened his eyes to a quartet of geese flying overhead. Wings flapping asynchronously against a rising wind.

“Fly safe,” he mouthed, eyes overflowing with misery in spite of himself. They could move. He was jealous. He was helplessly alone.

More drops fell. Tears or rain, it did not matter.

He held on to the imprint of the silhouettes against the spitting heavens.

Soon, his family will realize he hadn’t come home. Soon they’ll wonder about it enough to worry where he was. They’ll send someone.

For the moment, all he could do was breathe, and hold in all the sobs, and let the pain wash over him like rainfall.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

Swamp Dweller

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Photo: Patrick Smith on Unsplash

 

He claims crises are never his doing.

He says none of what’s broken

Can be.

Not the harm.

Not the scams.

Not the spread of corruption,

Or growing alarm.

It is all others’

Fault.

Everyone else

Is bad.

If there’s pain

It’s the doing of fools

Who complain

And fake hardships besides.

Obdurate,

He mocks all

Who point out

Lies he told.

To him every word

From his mouth

Is pure gold.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Obdurate in 72 words

 

 

 

He’ll Do

 

The new hay-bringer was a handsome one. Calm posture. Wild mane. Warm eyes.

The others hung back as Bella stepped forward to inspect. Molly, heavy with foal, nickered a soft warning, and Bella swished her tail in understanding. Yes, she, too, was expecting, but she was not afraid.

She advanced to within a hoof-kick-space. He stayed put, unperturbed.

He carried no fear smell. No twitchy legs. No mouth yells.

Bella lowered her head some, and he held out his hand for a sniff. Sweat. Musk. Iron. Grass. Faint carrot smell.

She shook her mane, and he laughed and reached into an opening in his leg coverings to reveal an orange section of the vegetable. Offered it on an open palm.

Bella nosed it, lipped, chewed. Good.

She approved.

She tapped her hoof and felt the air shift behind her from tension to curiosity.

He’ll do.

Perhaps he even has apples.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

 

The Street

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Photo: Robert Almonte on Unsplash

 

 

The night is not as I’d expected it to be.

The sirens are silent. The windows dark. The very air seems still.

It had been a close call. Too close, almost.

I glance at Malachi. He returns a tremulous shrug.

“Will we be alright?” I ask. I didn’t mean to say it out loud, but the words could not stay in. The sound — although barely above a whisper — boomerangs in my chest.

“We might be,” he mouths.

At least I think he does. I cannot hear much above my heartbeat thundering in my ears. Everything inside me feels tight. I don’t remember being so unnerved. Not since. You know. The other time.

“Will they return?” Fear dries my mouth.

“Who knows.”

We reach the corner and separate. The night breaths as I hurry home and we go in different directions down the imperturbable street.

 

 

 

For the dVerse prosery challenge

Prosery prompt: “We go in different directions down the imperturbable street” (from the poem “An Aspect of Love, Alive in the Ice and Fire” by Gwendolyn Brooks)

 

 

Temptation

 

The sun beat on his nape and his shirt stuck to his body, too wet to do any good in absorbing the sweat that trickled maddeningly down the center of his back and soaked the waistband of his pants.

His arms ached. Granite did not easily yield.

The soft ripples of the water mocked him, parading a breeze he did not feel. The pillar blocked what small air movement could be had. To add insult to injury, the hot stone reflected the stifling heat back at him. The path was an oven.

A dragonfly skimming the river caught his eye and he paused, mallet in mid-air and chisel in position, muscles bunching under the folds of his damp sleeves.

What if? he pondered.

He shook the thought out of his mind. Let the mallet land.

Who knew what lurked under the surface of seemingly inviting water. Better hot than drowned.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

 

Out Of The Blue

Photo prompt: © David Stewart

 

The streets still shone with wet but the dome of sky stretched clear above. The wind had swept away the clouds.

She shivered even though the air was warm. Perhaps it was the damp that had her reaching for her shawl.

She hugged herself and wondered if she’d ever know whether he had left because he wanted to or because he had no other choice or because he did not know any better.

“Where are you?” she whispered.

She jumped when the fountain unexpectedly came to life and bathed the roundabout in blue.

It felt like a hello. From Hugh.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

Treasure In The Sand

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Galway, Ireland (photo: Fum Bally on Unsplash)

 

He leaned on his elbows and watched, periodically checking the clock and the tide-chart that hung next to it. Any moment now.

The briny air tickled a sneeze out of him, and he debated whether he had time to go fetch a handkerchief or if he could just use his shirt. Laundry day would not be for another full week. The handkerchief won. He rushed back to the window, flushing with a combination of exertion and embarrassment.

It was sobering to be faced with his own obsession.

The waves hissed and brushed against the beach. The ocean sighed. The breeze picked up. It would rain tonight. He believed his bones.

Then he saw her, walking on the exposed strip of rock-spattered sand. Her head was down, searching. She held a plastic bucket in her hand. It had seen better days.

They both had.

She was his treasure in the sand.

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Galway, Ireland

 

 

More To Overcome

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Photo: Jon Tyson on Unsplash

 

As soon as he arrived, she would be able to make her exit.

Take time for herself. Have a moment of calm.

She was oh-so-tired. She urged him on.

“On my way,” he said. “A few more minutes and I’ll come.”

She waited.

The minutes then the hours ticked their slow molasses of seconds. Time puddled, sticky, in her mind.

Around her the demands of life continued and her body obeyed. Her hands found zippers and did and undid buttons and washed dishes and stirred pots and hung wet linens and kneaded dough and bandaged a skinned knee and broke up fights and interrupted arguments. Her mouth managed to answer questions she did not remember being asked.

At some point her eyes no longer rose to check the clock. The sinking feeling curled up and took residence inside her gut.

She fed. She bathed. She put to bed.

She rocked. She soothed. Not knowing what she said.

As dark deepened and the night grew long, she knew.

He would not arrive.

There will be only more to overcome.

 

 

 

For RDP Sunday: Overcome