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

 

 

Tea Time

julien-de-salaberry-1R1sAo112Ho-unsplash

Inle Lake, Myanmar (Photo: Julien de Salaberry on Unsplash)

 

Arkar waited. The sky, his namesake, spread gray and calm above him.

Sometimes it took Dachen a little longer to make it. No matter.

Long breaths passed. A dog barked in the distance. Children laughed, and Arkar thought of the first time he’d met Dachen. They were but boys themselves then. Dachen had just come to live with his grandparents, who lived downstream from Arkan’s childhood home. The old folk enfolded the young orphan. “Our great joy, he is, true to his name.”

Dachen was as gregarious as Arkar was shy. They balanced each other. Then and since.

A pat sounded and Arkar lifted his pole in welcome. Dachen neared and expertly swiveled his boat to face Arkar’s.

“Twelve fish today,” Dachen’s face shone. He accepted a cup from Arkar. “Two big ones here for your wife.”

Arkar smiled his thanks. For the fish. For his friend. “Tea time?”

 

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Myanmar

 

 

Slivers Of Dreams

marina-shatskih-sIzj2poobss-unsplash

Photo: Marina Shatskih on Unsplash

 

All those dreams that he had

As a child

Snug

Under covers

At night,

His tattered teddy

In arms.

His dreams

Parsed out

Into slivers

When

Under stars

At war,

His battered rifle

The only thing

He could

Hug.

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt: Dream

 

 

Land Of Water

joshua-gobin-1TnaUrrcm88-unsplash

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 Biggest Yield

joao-silas-eh_vUyioHhc-unsplash

Photo: João Silas on Unsplash

 

They never expected it to turn out as it had.

Sure, they hoped their hard work would bear fruit. Of course they put all they had into it. They needed sustenance, which — without gold or title or power or support or skill — meant they had to find a way to raise it.

Through thick and thin and cold and rain and mud and sun.

Some of it with bare hands. Some literally blindly, given their bad eyes.

They did what they felt they had to do. They just never expected to manage quite so well.

Not when all they’d ever been told was how unworthy and incompetent and incapable they were. A burden on others. Unproductive mouths to feed.

They’d soonest have believed they’d amount to nothing than that they’d amount to so much. Or have such plenty.

Enough to get through the winter and the early spring. Enough for next year’s planting. Enough even to give.

They had the biggest yield anyone had seen in years.

They never expected it to turn out as it had.

To have so much to eat, to be able to be those who feed.

It had to be the fairies, dusting magic onto their field.

 

 

 

For the Word of the Day Challenge: Yield

 

Nuts About Her

herrmann-stamm-GoT2l9W86O0-unsplash

Photo: Herrmann Stamm on Unsplash

 

He does not like the new way the kitchen’s been done.

He does not like the curtains she’d chosen.

He cares naught for the way she turned the couch around

Or how she leaves the garage door open.

He will never get used to the stuff on her nails.

He detests hosting all of those book clubs.

He’s did not want his Foosball exiled downstairs

Or pink bottles to take over the bathtub.

Some days he thinks it had been better before

She showed up to give life a stir,

But she does make him laugh and he cannot ignore

The fact that he’s just nuts about her.

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt: Nuts

 

 

Apple Picking

apple picking SmadarHalperinEpshtein

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

He saw the gnarled trunk and the orbs

Round

And red

And green,

Undulating in the breeze that

Caressed his cheeks and flipped the end

Of his shirt up

Cool

On his tummy

When he ran.

He heard the crunch of grass-blades

Succulent

Under the smooth soles of

His shoes,

Each step sinking slightly into the

Soft

Saturated

Ground.

The thump of apple

Fallen

Filled his ears,

Alongside his own breath

Fast,

Excited

In his chest,

And the sound of his family

Drumming apples

Into their

Rustling plastic bags

And creaky wooden crates

And pinging metal pail.

He smelled the crushed grass,

The too-sweet scent of slightly

Rotting apples

On damp ground,

And a whiff of the caramel

That promised

One on a stick

For later on.

He stretched

To reach

Around the fruit,

The sky in his eyes and

The taste of last year’s

Treat

Faint and candied

On his

Tongue.

 

 

 

For the dVerse challenge: senses

 

Life’s Cliff

cliff smadarHalperinEpshtein

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

Until you manage to get

Past the jagged edges

Of life’s cliff,

You’ll dream of rivers

Soothing through

The valleys

Of What If.

Till then you’ll hold on

To old anchors

That keep you

Safe from doom,

And luxuriate only

In dreams of

Rappelling out

Of your fear’s womb.

 

 

For the Word of the Day Challenge: Jagged

 

 

In Twilight

twilight A.Asif

Photo: A. Asif

 

In twilight we live.

In twilight we love.

In edges of morning

And evening

We strive

To become

What we hoped

We could master

As we have

Let the sun

Roll itself into

Night and

Rise the moon

To the dreams

We sleep of.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Twilight in 44 words

 

 

 

Their Dream

 

In his dreams he sees a mansion, flanked by rows of old-growth trees, fenced by sturdy brickwork, gated by imposing wrought iron spiked by gold.

In his dreams, he sees a driveway that spells out the expectation of his wealth. He envisions sprawling gardens, floors of endless rooms, and lavish halls, and a multi-car abode.

In his dreams he sees the pools, the tennis courts, the deck, the dock, the boat.

In her dreams she sees a cottage on the edge of forest, amidst the rolling meadows heading into dunes and shore.

In her dreams she sees the cozy rooms, the closeness of the furnishing, the softness of the rugs upon the cool slates of the floor.

And when he shares his dreams and scoffs at hers and tells her that she dreams “far too small,” she knows that their shared one won’t go where they’d thought it would, before.

 

 

For the Crimsons Creative Challenge