The Others’ Side

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

“Why is it this way, Mama?”

The woman let the small hoe drop from her hand. She straightened, hands over the small of her back, achy from the bending. The plot was spare, and the harshness of many a hard winter had stripped most of the topsoil off, leaving more pebbles than dirt. Still, it was better than nothing, and she was thankful.

The child had been sorting stones into piles. Larger ones. Medium ones. Smaller. There were repairs to make to walls and fences, and very little in the way of clay. Sizing stones helped make the puzzle of fitting the best bit in the best place, easier. It was a tedious chore that the girl somehow managed to make into a game. She had that magic in her, Margot did, the spark of joy that Annabelle spent every night praying would not ever have cause to slough off or be snuffed out.

“Mama?”

Annabelle nodded and turned her head toward the object of the child’s query. She’d had no option but to sit the child facing the chasm. One did not turn one’s back to the mist. Disrespectful. Ill fated. Even for children, who normally carried more protection by nature of their youth. Still, it was best to take precaution, and what the child learned early, she was less likely to forget later on and take a wrong step.

There was reason this plot was made available. Not many farmed so near the rift. Some claimed the uneasy air made foodstuffs grow small and weary.

Some did not have the luxury of growing theirs elsewhere.

“The light does not quite shine there the same way,” she said.

“What did they do?” the child’s voice was filled with pity, not fear, and Annabelle did not know whether in this particularity the compassion was something to celebrate or warn against.

“Some say they’d tied their soul to dark,” Annabelle sighed. The split and its reality was not something often spoken of. Yet unless some miracle happened and their circumstances changed, the child was destined to spend many days in close proximity to the Others’ side. It was better she heard truth from her mother, than distortions from those who felt more comfortable with lies.

She felt the child’s small hand slip into her calloused palm.

“They are not different than us, Margot. Not really. There was time before the split, before the earth heaved and the crack formed and separated this land into its pieces, where we all lived mixed together, if we even knew we were more than one kind. Now those who had happened to be on the parts that became the other side of this canyon, have the mountains dump the clouds onto them and the rapids raise a constant mist. It diminishes their sun.”

The child shuddered. Annabelle squeezed her hand to reassure her.

“There are those who chose to make their fear into a hatred, Margot. And that led to needing to make those one hated, be worthy of such ill-regard.”

“So they are good?”

“Most are. And some very likely aren’t.”

“And the big rocks?” Margot turned her head to inspect the piles she had just made. The stones balanced atop each other in formations mirroring the massive ones on the misty horizon.

“Put there, no doubt. No one quite knows why or how. Some say the ghosts of evil did it. The goblins that spit poison from the earth and crack the ground. I? I think it was people who’d arranged them. As you had the smaller ones.”

Annabelle had never shared with anyone the image that she’d seen nine months before the child was born. The figures scurrying on the impossible embankment, tucking what appeared to be smaller stones in the places where rocks nestled atop one another. The reverent silence of the people had her wonder whether they perhaps saw the rocks as headstones, memorials to those who had been lost to the maw that had swallowed so many when it had first sliced open the ground. A maw many did not believe anyone crossed.

She used her free hand to lift the girl’s chin so their eyes met. “Why did you put them this way, child?”

The gray eyes widened for a moment. In thought, not worry. “I wanted to respect the other stones, Mama. Their balance. How they don’t fall into the underside.”

Annabelle’s eyes filled. Her breath caught.

She smiled.

She never did find out who had forced her that night. She was blamed aplenty as it was, and so she never did tell anyone that she’d believed it had been someone who might’ve seen her watch them. Someone from the Others’ side.

 

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

The Spectrum

Photo prompt: © Jeff Arnold

 

She always saw the half-full of the cup. He always saw the empty.

She saw the rain’s potential. The green to manifest. The flowers. He saw mud and wet and ruinous showers.

She saw the sun and warmth. He saw the cancer.

She pointed out the good. He, the plausible con-men in every alley.

She laughed. He frowned.

She hugged babies and puppies, while he kept both at warning distance.

“We’re like the rainbow,” she explained, when others wondered how she kept sane in the face of constant pessimism. “Our perspectives of mist and light blend a full spectrum’s beauty.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

 

Their Own Continuity

yunming-wang-jp-ytrLzadE-unsplash

Photo: Yunming Wang on Unsplash

 

 

He said the world’s come to an end.

“Not quite,” she noted,

“For it keeps revolving.”

Her hand stayed warm

On his chest.

“Uninterrupted sun and set,

The dawn and birth,

Are their own continuity.”

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Continuity in 35 words

 

 

The Big Scale

scale SmadarHalperinEpshtein

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

In the big scale

Of things

Where watershed moments

Froth and fall in

Flush forward,

Each of us but a dot

Drenched in mist

Hoping life

Flows without

A fast-forward.

 

 

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Scale

 

Flecked History

wadi a dawasir M.Bin HMQ

Photo: M.Bin HMQ; Wadi ad-Dawasir, Saudi Arabia

 

“He is an infidel,” Abdul grumbled about his employer. “Ad-Dawasir history shouldn’t be fouled by non-believers.”

“So were your ancient ancestors,” Umm Habib noted, her fingers flying as she shaped the dough with the practiced moves of innumerable meals prepared.

The adolescent startled. Such accusation would’ve necessitated a fist-fight if it hadn’t come from his grandmother.

“Many Taghlibi remained Christians well after The Prophet came,” the old woman’s face remained placid. She didn’t need to look up to sense the anger flashing in the boy’s hereditarily flecked eyes. But youngsters’ dark moods and opinions were like moving water. Truth remained.

She plucked freshly baked bread from the earthen oven with bare fingers, tips hardened by life’s constant flames. “That history is long passed, but it bears remembering some of our ancestors even fought against Muslim, and many stayed Christian …” she paused, considering. “Before finally embracing The Prophet’s teachings and Islam.”

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Wadi-ad-Dawasir, Saudi Arabia

 

 

Darn Yarn – Take #2

(You aren’t seeing double, this is a second helping for Crispina’s latest Crimson’s Creative Challenge – jotted in response to Shona, who wrote in the comments to my first attempt: “And there’s your next prompt — to have the alpaca speaking!…” And I thought to myself, Oh, how fun, let’s! So, here it is, Shona — this one is for you …)

 

She never did like the whole thready business. The fascination the two-legged had with locks of her hair.

Yet there they were, shearing it, bathing it, pulling it through nails, spinning it into thin ropes lacking any fluffiness, hanging it on sticks they cluck together to make some form of net to then cloak themselves with and strut about in, reverently wearing what had been atop her skin.

It’s quite uncanny. Then again, they do seem to worship everything about her: They house her. Feed her. Protect her. Cater to her (almost) every whim. They openly fawn over her offspring (not that she could blame them that particularity — the young ones do pull on one’s heart-strings).

Odd beings, are the two-legged, in how they wrap something else’s hair around their bodies, bizarrely mesmerized by fleece.

Then again, perhaps in their nakedness, all they can do is have her reign supreme.

 

 

 

 

Out Of Sorts

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

“I thought I’d see better,” she frowned.

“Your thoughts were wrong.”

The matter of fact tone caused her frown to deepen. It really was no way to speak to her, especially given the circumstances.

“Is there nothing you can do?” she rubbed her eyes, squinted, tried to adjust the angle of her head.

“Nothing needs doing,” came the response.

She wondered how it was possible for her to feel anger. Wouldn’t she be beyond all that by now? And yet … there it was. She wanted to strangle something, but there was no way she could manage it. Not that she really would, anyhow … Or, well, maybe …

Almost everything about this new situation was distressing. A bit more sympathy would be nice. And yet there this was, cold as the ghost of Christmas past.

Then again … perhaps it couldn’t be helped.

She wasn’t sure if that made her angrier or made her sad. Perhaps both.

“Is it always going to be this way?” she tried, feeling vulnerable and suddenly quite terrified. Always was such a very very long time!

“Always is a misnomer.”

She wondered if tossing something would make her feel better. She really expected this to be quite different. She certainly believed things would be a lot less cryptic.

She sniffed and was surprised at the sensation. She squinted, almost expecting tears, though of course there were none.

The display around the tree remained as she’d remembered it from the day before, only fuzzier, as if seen through a film, with the pixels all wrong. Not one thing had the borders that it ought to have. The wooden figurines seemed softer, though. That pleased her. And the way she could sense the space between the molecules, see the atoms floating.

How could she see that and yet be unable to manage basic focus?

There was a sort of chuckle in the reply, even though she did not voice the question. That’ll take some getting used to, too. The total lack of privacy.

She sighed and a memory of her first day in college floated to the surface. She didn’t think she’d ever get used to being there, either, at the time. Yet she had, somehow.

Heaven should be easy, after that.

She let her form relax. The angel and the candle merged into the table and with it rose the notion that she could now pass a hand through solids.

The room was blurry. So was her mind. It was not quite unpleasant. She was not quite anxious. Adjusting, more like.

Of course she would feel out of sorts.

After all, it hadn’t even been a full day since she died.

 

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s Write Photo challenge

 

 

 

BET必威 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: BET必威