Microfiction #writephoto: The rath

For Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt.


As far as the eye could see stretched an ocean of acid yellow. The whole countryside was a blanket of colour that glowed with a sinister luminosity on stormy days. She’d heard they’d used the stuff to soak up some of the muck from Chernobyl. It looked like the kind of plant would like radioactive food. She remembered years and years ago, when she was a child, and there had been woods and cows here, a bit of potato and a bit of cabbage. Rapeseed was more profitable though.

She walked the straight farm track that cut through the yellow, towards the only bit of green in sight. She smiled as the field came to an abrupt end at the foot of a low hill. Not a hill, a rath. She said the word to herself as she climbed the fence, rather stiffly, that had been put there to keep the cattle off the slopes and now kept the yellow sea in its place. Thorn bushes grew in great clumps, and hazel and oak crowned the summit. She found a place that caught the sun when it came out, and sat, listening to the leaves and watching the clouds.

They’d never dare plant on the rath, she thought. Nobody. Not even the new style farmers with their fancy crops and their shiny machinery. The air was old here, and the earth. Who knew what lay among the tree roots? The air was old and it whispered. She listened and nodded.

“I’ll bide a little while longer,” she said aloud. “But by sunset, I’ll be gone.”

The leaves rustled, the blackbirds sang, and she drank in the ancient air. Just a little while longer.



Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

45 thoughts on “Microfiction #writephoto: The rath”

  1. How strange – both managed to see something Russian and nuclear fallout from a sunny picture of some rapeseed crops! I like the way she turns the norm on its head by preferring the rath rather than the yellow fields.

    1. I didn’t even know about that particular quality of rapeseed until I looked it up to find out what it was used for apart from cooking oil and animal feed. What would we do without Wikipedia?

    1. I’m wondering if she hasn’t been around for rather longer than is natural. Having said that, in the sixties and seventies farmers still fenced off the places where the fairies hung out and nobody of my acquaintance would ever chop down a hawthorn bush.

  2. I like the mystery of this one. It reads like the opening to a novel. I didn’t know rapeseed cleaned up radioactivity though I did read someone else’s story for this prompt that worked with that idea too. (sorry I can’t remember what blog it was on.)

  3. We walked to the hill… definitely a rath. An odd place altogether, though nothing you could put your finger on…
    I love to see the landscape dressed in spring yellow, but I do miss the older fields and the profusion of wildflowers we used to see.

    1. They are strange places. Did you hear that they have built a motorway that skirts the Hill of Tara despite huge opposition? It turns out that so few people use it it isn’t a viable commercial proposition. People are saying it’s the fairies…

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