#writephoto: The Seeing

For Sue Vincent’s photo prompt, a scene from a finished WIP that is now back on the drawing board. Since Sue painted Sabh’s portrait I had to write a bit of that particular story.

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Sabh took the silver bowl outside into the starlight and into it poured water from the well. The summer sky was shot with stars that blinked on and off behind the drifting clouds. She listened. No sound came from within the house; the baby slept and her mother too. The serving women watched, murmuring among themselves perhaps but low as a lullaby.

There was no moon, little enough light, but what there was fell upon the water in the bowl. Sabh held it still and waited, watching the water swirl, full of silver clouds, fuller and fuller until the surface was smooth and bright as a mirror. She whispered words, more for her own comfort than because she believed they had any value, and dipped a yew rod lightly, reverently, into the water.

She held her breath as the ripples cleared and an image rose from the bowl’s depths, a woman’s face, skin moon-pale and framed in hair red as autumn leaves. The face smiled and her hair floated free, filling the bowl, bright, fiery, and it was no longer hair, but flames. In the silence of the birth night, Sabh heard the clash of swords, the cries of men dying and the terrified whinnying of horses.

The woman’s face frowned in sorrow and tears budded in her eyes. The flames crackled, faded and died. Silence fell again and the woman’s eyes were two stars shining in the silver surface of a mirror. The meaning was clear, and Sabh would not tell it to her sister-wife. She would not dash Mór’s happiness on this day of her daughter’s birth.

The water became plain well water with two stars reflected in its innocent surface. She would tell the seeing as a lucky one. The baby would be a great queen, and she would find a great king for husband. Sabh would tell only happiness. She poured the water onto the ground and returned to the house where a new born baby crowned in red fuzz slept peacefully on her mother’s breast.


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.

40 thoughts on “#writephoto: The Seeing”

    1. I think it’s a painting of Sue’s. Pretty good. I always wanted to learn Yiddish. It seems to have such an inventive way with fun words. But does anyone learn it except orally?

      1. My older daughter was in a Yiddish choir in Boston (but she’s moved ), and she’s been teaching herself Yiddish. Yes, there were stories, plays, and Yiddish newspapers back in the pre-WWII era, and more recently there have been books, including children’s picture books, that have been translated into Yiddish.

      2. That’s interesting. I always thought or assumed that Yiddish was like creole, taken from a variety of other languages with no hard and fast rules. I think it’s frowned upon in Israel, sort of like a slave language from times they’d rather forget about.

      3. Yes, I believe when Israel was formed, they did frown on it. I’m not sure about now. In the U.S. there seems to be a resurgence, but I don’t know about elsewhere. Sholem Aleichem wrote in Yiddish–Fiddler on the Roof comes from his stories.

      4. I’m glad there’s interest in it as a language. I wonder if Yiddish is more the language of the Jews as a people than Hebrew is, which I associate more with the religious aspect.

      1. I’ve never understood trends. There was a time when it was circuses or mermaids or pirates. There were probably a lot of boy wizards with specs too. But I have yet to see the trend for Game of Thrones type sagas. Why not? It’s exactly the sprawling multi-pov type of story I write that I keep being told is too sprawling too epic and has too many POV.

  1. Fantastic, Jane! I adore the skills reading a image, and making such great stories about. Hope you had nice festive days, the owls got some rodents, and the hunter were silent. 😉 Best wishes, Michael

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