No Line

 

“There’s no line!” Margo pulled Adina’s hand with one of hers and pointed with the other. “Let’s hurry!”

Adina followed Margo’s finger, shielding her eyes from the sun. It’s been a long day already and they’d only gotten in a little over an hour ago. The drive. The stops. The lines for the tickets. The lines for the entrance. The lines for the bathroom. The lines to the lines …

Her eyes met the target.

What was that!?

A contraption rose ahead, metal-barred and plastic-sheathed, crisscrossed with steps and zigzagged horrors.

“Come on!” Margo danced on the balls of her feet, ecstatic.

Adina felt the hotdog that she didn’t even eat yet threaten a revisit.

No way she was going up that thing. Nope. Ain’t gonna happen.

“Must be a reason no one’s there,” she tried.

“Yeah! Because it is ‘by reservation.’ Aren’t you glad I called ahead and made one?”

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Man In The Straw

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

“And the man in the straw danced and danced …”

“Till the morning came and changed his chance?”

Thomas stroked his granddaughter’s head. She never tired of the story. Her favorite, and she knew it by heart. As he knew her many expressions, the myriad of small sounds she made as she dreamed each night.

She was his favorite. His only, but still his favorite. No one could convince him otherwise.

“Grandpa?” the child burrowed deeper into her blankets.

“Yes, Pumpkin?”

“Do you think the man in the straw ever wanted to be something else?”

He felt his eyes widen as he glanced down at her. Her eyes were open, too. Gone were any traces of the soft daze of moments before sleep.

“What do you think, Pumpkin?” he returned the question, uncertain whether what he’d read into it was indeed in the child’s mind, and unwilling to insert his own assumptions into what may well be a different query altogether.

There were many things to wish were different. In the folktale. In life, too. He often wondered if she so loved the old story exactly because it spoke of vulnerabilities and challenge, of facing fears and finding fault and making do and fighting on. All things she’d know more than enough of.

The child nibbled momentarily on her lower lip. “I think maybe he sometimes wanted to be the man in the spiral. Or Fire. Or the mask. Or the stag.”

“Hmm …” he nodded, hoping she’d say more, wondering if she would. There was a depth to the child. Currents he did not always understand or believe he ought to. An Old Soul, his beloved Mara had said of the newborn even in the few days she had with the child before the angels called.

“But,” the little girl sighed, curling up so her back rested against her grandfather’s thigh as he sat on the edge of her cot. “I think he knew he was the Man In The Straw …”

The pause lingered. The child yawned.

“… and that he was meant to dance and dance …” she whispered, her breath deepening, her eyes closed. “… till morning came and changed his chance…”

 

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

For Keeps Sake

StoryTime OsnatHaplerinBarlev

Photo: Osnat Halperin-Barlev

 

Hold your toes

And attention

On the story she tells.

Lean in more

To inspect

Every image as well.

For no matter

The weather

Or the chatter

Outside,

There’s not much like

The keepsake

Of a big sister’s

Pride,

And the magic of

Words

In your sweet heart,

Amplified.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Keepsake in 49 words

 

 

Get Connected

Walk with me OsnatHalperinBarlev

Photo: Osnat Halperin-Barlev

 

Walk with me

Into nature

Where the fresh air

Flows through.

 

Walk with me

As we shelter

Under skies

Me, and you.

 

Walk with me

Hand in hand

Muddy boots

Flowers, too.

 

Let us breathe

And connect

With everything

That is true.

 

 

For the Tuesday photo challenge: Connect

 

 

 

A Hole In The Sky

dusk SueVincent

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

“There’s a hole in the sky,” the child’s voice rose then hushed in part-fear, part-wonder.

“Indeed there is,” his father nodded.

The boy flicked his eyes away from the luminescent heavens just long enough to discern that his father wasn’t joking. He’d half-hoped his father would be, and his chest flooded with something like alarm when it did not seem that he was. What does it mean to have a rent in the ceiling of the universe? Would something fall through it? Would the world cave in like a shattered egg?

“Will it repair?” His voice was small.

The man put down the kindling he’d been arranging in preparation the evening’s fire. He straightened to a stand and leaned a heavy hand on the narrow shoulders of his son. Bird-like, the boy was. Fluttery and slight.

His youngest had always been a bit prone to the dramatic. The first to pick up on a change in atmosphere, the first to be reduced to tears, the first to wail at even the smallest prickling. Also the first to smile a welcome, the first to notice a green leaf peeking out of the frozen ground, the first to note the song of birds or a task well done.

He worried about such a skinless child, walking a life that did not always refrain from brushing far too crassly against tenderness. There were plenty of those who had repeatedly pressed him to be firmer with the youngster. To “toughen up the boy into a man” or “teach him how to grow a thicker skin.”

“How would I change the stripes upon a tiger?” he’d find himself replying. “Can I will a doe to become a lion?”

He could not bring himself to pain the boy as means to scar him into roughness. The child was made to be whomever he was made to be, and all a father could do was try to shepherd him toward maturity. Such as when taking the boy on this father-son hunting journey.

He squeezed his son’s shoulder and the boy raised a frightened face to meet his eyes.

“The sky will repair, Son,” he said, “though it may not go back to what it was before. For nothing can. It will move on — from day to night to cold to warmth to wind to storm. It will tear holes in clouds for sun to stream through. It will shred them to no shade. It will sew the threads together to again cover the sun. It is all as it is and all as it should become.”

The boy nodded. He swallowed down the tears that threatened, and tried to still the tremulous vibration of the world inside his mind.

“Now, as the sky does what it can,” the man handed his son a water-skin. “Let us do what we must. If you will fetch water, I will light the fire in tonight’s hearth.”

 

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto Challenge

 

 

Once Upon A Swing

Photo Prompt © Ceayr

 

“It’s where he comes to make a wish,” Johanna whispered over her swing’s ropes as the girls passed each other on the swing-set, ringlets flying in the breeze.

Marie’s eyes widened and she forgot to pump her legs. The old man looked like many others she’d seen. Or was he? She’s never known anyone grown who made wishes. In real life. Into a fountain. Like in stories. It made her wonder what other things in tales were true. Perhaps goblins? Or princesses?

“His wife died, you see,” Johanna added, impressed by her cousin’s reaction. “He wishes for her to return.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

Not Here!

KeithKreates253

Photo: Keith Channing

 

They had everything.

The Papa Chair. The Mama blanket. The two Cub chairs. The inner tubes: one small, one large. Even tin cans emptied to serve as sand pails in the refilled beach’s rectangle.

What a perfect day!

The lake awaited, wet and cool. The silty mud. The pebbles, the weeds to wade across or pull.

They swam. They flipped. They raced. They flopped.

The hours passed. The contents of the picnic basket made their tummies nice and full.

They rested till the water once more called.

Then one cub disappeared.

“Nicko!” they yelled, frantic with the possibility of the awfulness that might unfold.

“One moment!” the junior responded from the direction of the small structure. “I’m not done.”

Relief was quickly replaced by wonder only to be followed by surprise and whiff of horror.

“Nicko??!!?” the Mama dashed across the small beach to stop what was already well set into motion. “That’s not an outhouse! It’s my changing room! Go in the bushes! Not here!”

 

 

 

For Keith’s Kreative Kue #253

 

 

 

Yards of Yard

backyard SmadarHalperinEpshtein

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

 

They looked outside the window into

Yards and yards of yard,

And knew this house will be one where

All play will thrive unmarred.

The world that spread

For miles ahead

A guard for

Childhood’s boulevard.

 

 

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Yard

 

 

The Way It Used To Be

storm SueVincent

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

There were hollows underneath the old ruins. They could be reached through the small shadowy glen that indented the hill where the remains of the stone structure stood.

Da had said that the underground spaces had likely been storerooms, but in Konnor’s mind they could just as easily have been dungeons. People had such things in castles and forts and towers. In old times.

Or perhaps still did. You never knew what could be lurking underneath someone’s residence.

He used to go to the ruins with Baldwin. It had been their favorite play space. They’d crawl through the opening in the rocks which led to a small roundish place with hand-hewed walls that still showed marks of chisels, complete with what must’ve been a doorway to other spaces but was blocked by a tumble of large stones.

They had made a plan to clear those, he and Baldwin, once when summer was long and they were bored and needing an adventure. They were soon disabused of the notion, however. Not only were the stones heavy and the tugging of them sweaty work, but the dust that fell on their heads from the ceiling made them realize that the whole thing could come down and leave them buried.

They weren’t ready to be buried. Not when ghosts and goblins waited to grab any who stepped into Death’s domain.

So they left the rockfall alone and found that their imaginations managed to terrify each other well enough without actually discovering what hid underneath and behind the areas into which they had no ingress.

Then Baldwin got sick, and when the fever subsided his legs did not work anymore and one of his arms was weak and he became morose and pale and could no longer come play in the ruins. When Konnor came to visit him, Baldwin reclined in his bed and frowned and said that dungeon stories were stupid and for babies.

Konnor stopped mentioning their games. He visited less and less until he only went when his mother made him. Baldwin was too angry and there was nothing Konnor could do right and he felt awkward and worried and sad.

His feet still took him to the ruins — they knew the way so well — but it wasn’t the same without Baldwin. The place felt spookier. Lonelier. Colder. Silent in a way that breathed him guilty. The stories that had been so exciting felt empty and Konnor began to think that perhaps the hollow, too, was for babies.

He turned his back on the ruins and tried to forget the way things used to be.

Then one day, as his feet walked him by, he heard mewling. At first he wondered if those were ghosts come to haunt him … but the insistent whines sounded too much like complaints brought forth by small, needy, hungry, living things.

He crawled in. His torch lit an area of newly fallen stones and a squirming mound of furry wobbly creatures.

It had been heedless to enter face first into a den. He would have been taught a painful lesson by the parent, had she not been crushed under one of the stones. It couldn’t have been long. Her motionless form was almost warm.

The pups mewled and one wriggled to nuzzle blindly against Konnor’s palm, seeking comfort. It was only when he picked them up into his shirt that he realized something.

“The stories we told may have been for babies,” he told Baldwin when he unveiled the brown head of a pup that had snuggled into the crook of his arm, “but the dungeons seemed to have produced some real younglings.”

“And this one,” he planted the helpless creature in Baldwin’s withered lap, “needs someone who understands. Da says her back must have been crushed. Her hind legs are paralyzed.”

Baldwin’s eyes grew round and as he reached to touch the pup, she licked his finger. “I’ll call her Dungeon,” he said gently and his voice held a hint of sparkle. “For the way it used to be.”

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto challenge

 

 

 

Last One In

Photo Prompt: C.E. Ayr

 

“They’ll kick us out!”

Darlene shook her head. “They won’t know.”

“Dad will kill us if we get caught.”

Darlene sighed. Shirley was such a wimp. Never took any risks. Never had any fun. “We won’t.”

Shirley peered out of the RV at the shimmering pool. Darlene never met a rule she didn’t want to break, and somehow both of them would end up punished. “It says ‘Guests Only.'”

“We’re guests.”

Without a permit. Shame rose like hot bile. They were always the ones without, the ones left out.

“C’mon then,” she blinked away tears. “Last one in cleans up!”

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers