#writephoto: The world afterwards

For Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt.

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We have longed for this for so long. The weeks turned to months, and now that the restrictions are finally lifted and the army has left the streets in a cloud of dust, we pour out into the familiar silence, and we have forgotten how to show our emotion. No one sings or shouts, or embraces strangers with joy. Sparrows flutter and garden songbirds flash with coloured wings. Grass has begun to grow between the paving stones; the river laps and washes banks lush with marsh flowers.

It hasn’t taken long to discover there is nothing left in the food shops, no petrol in the pumps. The shops that were forced to close are empty, no stock, no staff, no orders. I walk, like many people, following the river to the ocean. It isn’t far, though for months it might as well have been in another galaxy. Soon the rioting will begin, the destruction, because too many have no idea of how to build, but for the moment, in this brief interlude of adjustment to the world of afterwards, there is quiet.

I walk to the beach, the long straight beach that stretches parallel with the waves and the ranks of clouds that layer the sky with hues of red. The waves roll with a sigh and a hiss, licking away at the land, sucking it back into the cradle of the ocean. I wonder if the water will eventually reclaim all the land.

Dolphins and seals, porpoises break and dive. Birds call. We watch the sunset because there seems nothing else or better to do. Tomorrow it will start, the end, and the dolphins will laugh. The birds won’t care either. They will sing as they have always done whether we listen or not.

#writephoto: Unquiet bones

Just finished my WIP and as usual, Sue’s photo for the #writephoto prompt fits the theme perfectly.

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Cecilia stopped out of breath at the crossroads. The place held no terror for her, but she was close to her time and the child would hear them calling as clearly as she did. She looked across the valley, the town huddled along the beck, out of sight, but the column of smoke from the mill chimney rose straight and black, a finger pointing at the indifferent sky.

The place held no terror for her, but it was full of a restless sadness. The quarry that was not a quarry gaped. She felt the pattering of footsteps beneath the earth, heard the scrape of clawed fingers on stone. He had never listened, never wanted to know. Perhaps he would not have cared anyway. His kind rarely did.

She sighed and turned back. Soon it would come. There is a time for everything, seasons, births, reckonings. She looked at the spire and the turrets that poked in their absurd monstrosity above the tree line. He had thought to build a mansion for himself and his heirs. He had built it on bones of the unquiet dead. She winced as the child stirred, and the wind blew cold. The saddest part was that when the flames came, he would not understand why.

Three Line Tales: Blue

For Sonya’s Three Line Tales, on hearing the news from Italy.

photo by NASA via Unsplash

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I had a dream last night that I was floating high above the world, so high I could see oceans and continents, so bright, so blue.

I wanted to spread my wings and soar, but my hands were bound, and something was in front of my face as the blue world slipped away out of my line of vision.

The blue, when my eyes blinked open, was the sterile light of a hospital ward, and I stared through a mask, a tangle of tubes and the blur of tears.

#writephoto: Stone

For Sue Vincent’s photo prompt.

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Once the ring of stones had been unbroken. The stones had been one, created to act as one, perform the same function for the same people. But times changed, the people scattered, their beliefs fragmented. For centuries the stones held firm, bound by thousands of years of tradition until one broke away, taking retribution with her.

The lapping of flames and the screams of the dying, the crying of children, the pouring of blood into the grass tore her from her roots. She would no longer be bound to the deep earth but would appear and disappear, never resting, never looked for and never remaining. She appeared after tragedies, wars, preventable catastrophes, and she brought fire, flood, storm and vengeance.

She brought fire to the big house on the hill, and for a while, she could be seen through the charred timbers and broken walls, standing gaunt and black on the ridge overlooking the town. When she left, the prints of her stony, fiery steps remained, and no crops, no plants, no bramble weeds ever disturbed the sacred ground of her passing.

#writephoto: Running

For Sue Vincent’s weekly challenge.

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The virus spread and multiplied, gobbling corpuscles and sucking them dry. The dead went unburied and the vultures began to reappear. We fled the black tide, leaving population centres behind, preferring the prospect of starvation surrounded by the beauty of returning nature to the vain hope of salvation, a vaccine, or simply a cache of food if we stayed in the city.

We had found our way north, taking back roads, travelling as stealthily as we could, and our food had almost run out. It was high summer. Perhaps we would learn what we had forgotten, how to fend for ourselves, or perhaps we would find a deserted dwelling and brave the possibly lurking virus spores to look for supplies.

We drove off the road, hid the car in the bushes and watched the sunset. Never had the silence been so profound. The black cloud that had enveloped the earth and smothered the sky for the last two weeks, hung low and menacing as ever, but a crack had appeared above the line of hills, and last stream of light lit up the lake below like liquid gold.

It was a sign, we thought. The virus is faltering, perhaps dying back with no new hosts to feed upon. You stood, your face aglow, mouth open to shout out your new-found hope, when suddenly your face paled. You grabbed my arm and pulled me down out of sight. But not before the eyes that had opened in the cloud had seen us, and the crack of light on the horizon curled up in a broad grin.

Saying it with roses

 

A 130 word piece of flash fiction for the dverse prompt, including the line from Jane Hirshfield’s poem, I want to be surprised:

I don’t know why I was surprised every time love started or ended.

 

He brought roses. I put them in a vase straight away while he opened a bottle of wine. It was our anniversary, a whole year of being together. I’d prepared something special for supper. Shame because I won’t ever be able to bring myself to make it again. He had always enjoyed my cooking, said I was better than the restaurant. Cheaper too.

He waited until the meal was over before he told me. Well, that was predictable, I suppose. Apparently ‘we’ were over. The sparkle had gone; it was time to move on. I looked from the roses to his face—concerned, but probably only that I would get unreasonably upset. I don’t know why I was surprised. Every time, love started or ended the same way, with flowers.