Choosing Dandelions

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Photo: Hasan Almasi on Unsplash

 

I wake and turn my back on the clock and seek the comfort of the dream that is still floating like a bubble, already fragile, above my head. It pops and disappears and there is nothing but a vague sense of something lost. I wanted to go back into it … and yet the choice, when it was made in some subterranean neurological net within my mind, was that sleep was to escape.

The day to unfold.

Still, and throughout the mundane tasks of morning, small search-parties like tentative roots into hard-packed sand, send shoots into my consciousness to try and capture whiffs of the dream. A hope that perhaps a fleeting dandelion seed of recollection will find purchase and regrow a stalk.

A place of in-between. Perhaps a corner of my mind is still in slumber. Perhaps if I find it, I will come across the dream, robust in puffy bubble-hood, still tethered to my insides, waiting to be seen.

Sometimes writing helps.

I have too much to do.

I will ignore.

Will choose to sit and breathe and let my mind and fingers wander where they may, the sands of time, the depths of grief, the dawns of days, the fluttering delights, the warmth of recognition, the sorrows of injustice. Currents of discovery of what’s already there. A sea of tethered bubbles like a field of hot-air balloons, straining at the anchors to let loose.

I wrote of a blimp just the day before.

Was that the origin or the reaction to the imagery of bobbing thoughts and fullness so tangible it turns air into rising power? Was the blimp the source or the reflection of the fragility of any skin if pulled too tight, of the leaking deflation if seams are untended, the world upended as it spirals out of flight?

I write. I breathe.

I look pointedly away from the pink sticky notes and the open documents holding forms awaiting filling for a speaking engagement and another for an upcoming presentation and a list of emails needing a response.

I make a choice.

To chase a dandelion.

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS Challenge: Choices

 

 

Wait For The Light

Photo prompt: Dale Rogerson

 

“Can we go to the playground, Mama?”

The woman stroked the small forehead to compose herself and smiled into the over-bright eyes. “It is the middle of the night, Cara.”

“Can I see?”

The woman tucked the blankets under the child and lifted her. The bundle in her arms felt devastatingly like the infant Cara had been a handful of winters ago, and heartbreakingly almost as light again. She turned so her daughter faced the window.

“It’s dark,” the girl sighed. “I’m tired, Mama. Maybe I wait for the light?”

“Yes, Cara,” the mother whispered. “We wait for the light.”

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

 

A Visit From Paul

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Milford, Delaware (Photo: Ray Hennessy on Unsplash)

 

“He comes to visit,” a man’s voice jarred her out of her reverie.

She’s been watching a waterfowl in the sparkling water. It’s been staring back, she felt.

“The bird?” she turned. The speaker was a frail-looking man who still managed a bearing that stated “military.”

“If it is that.”

She glanced at the crane. The oldster sounded neither confused nor joking.

“Tell me,” she rose to make room on the bench.

The man extended a hand to shake. “Smith. US Navy.”

“Marcia,” she returned.

They used to build ships in Milford, he told her. Built the four-masted Albert F. Paul, too. Launched it from the Abbot shipyard in 1917.

“174 footer, she was,” Smith sighed. “I would’ve been onboard, you see, if I hadn’t been injured. Would’ve gone down with my mates when the Germans torpedoed her in 1942.”

“The fallen seamen,” he lifted his chin toward the bird, “they visit me.”

 

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Delaware

 

Darn Yarn

https://crimsonprose.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/alpaca-1.jpg?w=1024&h=682

 

She never did like thready business.

Yet there she was, darning holes, patching elbows, sewing up dangling hems and chasing runs on stockings.

How did it ever come to that?

She squinted and held the needle to the light.

The story of her life, it was. That squeezing through the eye of the needle. Barely, barely making do. Struggling to fit another stitch before the end of her rope.

It was all wrong.

She tied the knot.

It slipped.

She tied another, hoping it would hold. Hoping that the hidden stitches she put in will keep things covered long enough to soothe the chill that ever lurked, awaiting exposed places.

Existing really should not be so threadbare.

The thin wrap of life, knit together moment by moment in complicated patterns of dropped stitches and messy mistakes.

Will it come together at the end?

She did not know, but she hoped.

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge #63

 

 

New Born

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

He was born on a blustery night to a woman who huddled on the exposed slopes with naught but the protection of three wide backs to block the worst of the wind. The men crouched, arms linked and heads down, their eyes averted from what was taboo to watch, as they hummed the low sounds of incantations meant to shield the woman and babe from the demons and their own ears from the muffled cries.

There was no midwife.

The other woman had died not a full moon prior. It was a bad omen.

There was no spirit-guide. Their leader, too, had died.

Bad omens, all.

There was only the woman, panting desperately in the dark. And the three of them: One of whom in whose hearth she’d grown, one whose hearth she shared, one who’d preceded her in her mother’s womb. And a girl-child of barely eight winters. Pale and shivering and wide-eyed, she knelt before the woman, one hand on the swollen belly, another cradling the opening for the magic and terror that no man was allowed to look upon. But she would. She was too young. But there was no one else who could.

As the night stretched and the panting shortened, he was born.

By morning, they moved on.

A fresh mound under a rock marked the space where the smell of blood still lingered. The men had dug the hole, even though it was women’s work. A concession to their circumstance. They could not wait till the girl, or woman, gathered sufficient strength for the task. It was paramount that one put distance between oneself and the afterbirth, lest the demons seek to lug the babe back into the dark. The mother, too, sometimes.

They left all that behind.

He lived his first days in almost the same darkness he’d been made in. Cocooned inside his mother’s wraps, lips close enough to her breast to suckle, rocked by the same thunder and gurgle of her heartbeat and innards.

Sometimes, much later in years, he’d remember the indistinguishable. How inside and out did not differ by much other than air and hunger and the momentary cold that blanketed him when he was whipped out to be held above the ground to release his waste.

He might’ve stayed cocooned for longer had they not found the cave.

The old man saw it first. A black tooth in the mountain-side. Large enough to fit.

They waited two days to approach it. Demons have been known to skulk in the back of dark hollows, waiting to pounce. They were too few to risk it. Let alone with a helpless morsel who couldn’t even cling.

When nothing bigger than a ferret emerged from the entry, and when hares were spotted munching languidly nearby, they knew that whatever demons might have lived there once, had since long gone.

They brought an ember to the cave. And stones for a hearth. And moss and boughs for bedding.

The girl carried water from the spring. The woman made the tea and cooked the grain from her ceremonial parcel. They ate. They drank. They slept.

By morning the men came for the baby.

They held his naked, squalling form, indignant in the cold exposure, and passed him from man to man at the entry.

His life-force squealed vitality. His lungs breathed their collective previous misfortunes to the wind. His face, first reddened then purple with rage, summoned the sun to rise and fall. Someplace a wolf returned the howl.

It was a good omen.

They called him New Born. The reincarnation of Born, the spirit-guide they’d lost along with what safety they’d had where they came from. This New Born was a cameo. He was their future. Their hope in this new home.

 

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

For Eternity

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Photo: Freddy Castro on Unsplash

 

He visited her grave every year on the day they’d met. Every year on the day he’d proposed. Every year on the day they’d gotten married. Every year on the day she’d passed on and left him bereft of the best part of himself.

Sometimes if he was alone in the cemetery, he’d stretch on the ground near her headstone and mouth the words she’d left him in her note. She’d given him the sealed envelope shortly after she was diagnosed. Made him promise not to open it. Until. He knew them all by heart.

The Rock cries out to us today,” she wrote. “You may stand upon me, But do not hide your face. You are and always have been my core. My spirit will no longer be bound to this body, but our souls will continue traveling together. For eternity and beyond.”

 

 

(Note: Italics = prompt quote by Maya Angelou)

For the dVerse Prosery challenge

 

 

Custom Made

 

“We have every kind you want. Every length. We can tailor one for you. Custom-made.”

The prospectors nodded and ambled across the display, hands clasped behind their backs. It wouldn’t do to knock anything off a peg. You never knew what could unzip itself from one of those. Bounty, sure. But just as possible was war. Or flood. Or plague.

The proprietor smiled. Not quite reassuringly. The merchandise was safeguarded against accidental activation, but there was no need to divulge that trade secret. It was best to keep a customer unsettled, a bit in need.

“Do you have any for, say, the ocean?” A woman in a too-tight herringbone suit and utterly-too-high heels, dared to voice the first request.

“We do,” Zip-location’s manager nodded sagely. “We can zip to a hurricane, or a shark-attack. Long one here would take you to the Mid-Atlantic. Last time used for the Titanic.”

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge #62

 

 

What Could Not Be Untold

 

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Golden Gate Highlands National Park, South Africa (Photo: redcharlie on Unsplash)

 

“Is that where we’re going?” the boy pointed at the road snaking below. He squinted, hoping to see a car. They’ve walked long. He was tired.

“There,” his father’s finger angled higher, at the cliff. Beyond.

The boy scrunched his lips but kept quiet. Time with his ntate oa was precious. Also, at eight, he did not want to be seen as a baby who should’ve been left home with the women.

The father nodded approval. His son was growing to be obedient and mindful. It was good.

“What’s there?” the boy adjusted the Basotho blanket over his shoulder. He hadn’t been  happy to be told to bring it earlier, but was now that the sun hid.

“Rocks. Earth. Bones. Your ancestors’ homes.”

Khotso nodded. His father was a man of few words, and Khotso knew he was being trusted to understand the power of what could not be untold.

 

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Free State, South Africa

 

 

Frozen

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Photo: Amitai Asif

 

 

Inside the core of frozen

Lore

There beats a tender

Heart.

Beneath the glaciers of

Dearth

Unfurl forgotten

Paths.

Amidst the howling winds of

Cold

Whispers bid to

Start,

And feed the seed ‘neath Tundra’s

Soul

Awaiting summer’s

Part.

 

 

Note: just the other day, I watched parts of the movie “Frozen” (the first one) with a young child, in preparation for that child’s going to the movies with friends to see “Frozen 2.” Now I have an ear-worm and am yet to “let it go” … 😉

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS and JusJoJan challenges: Movie title

 

 

Allegiance

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

They called her Allegiance.

Contract and insurance, she was. Revered and guarded, both.

So well revered and so well guarded, in fact, that with time she became almost forgotten and had turned more a symbol than a soul. She sometimes wondered if she was in that way not too dissimilar to many of her kind through time, even if they had been so for far shorter spans.

Women often were made ornamental. Used as symbolic pawns, utilized as cementers of allegiances, then blamed for those that broke.

It helped her feel less lonely, knowing that even in her immortal isolation she was still in some way a member of a community of others who’d been perched into positions, as she was, without much of a choice. Possessions and producers, keepers of the continuity of power, serfdom and thrones.

They called her Allegiance.

And she sat in her fortified tower, aware of the two rows of guards: One row looking out against any who may get it in their minds to sabotage, the other row looking in against any indication that she may get it in hers to leave.

They needn’t have worried. At least not about her.

There was enough of misery without adding heads to spikes in any kind of rebellion, where those most likely to be harmed were those least likely to have been given part in the decision.

She accepted her place. A figurehead to keep the heads of others firmly on their shoulders and their children’s hearts safer from the sorrows of orphanage and war.

So she stayed.

As centuries passed, those who’d placed her there took less care with guarding her and the promises she’d represented. The tower crumbled. The guards played cards and drank and slept and grew lazy, and she took comfort in knowing that at least this meant they weren’t in battle. Even if she shivered, windowless, her walls crumbling all around.

Perhaps, she thought, as winds whistled and the stories of her had become lore printed onto metal plaques for tourists to ignore, it was all as it should be.

Perhaps one day there will not be a need.

Perhaps one day allegiances will be built-in, rather than built-up and set with guarded fences that time and lassitude and apathy were certain to erode.

Till then, Allegiance waited.

For the moment, the ruins of her tower stood.

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto