Espionage

This prompt from the Daily Inkling has decided me to admit to one of the silliest ideas I have ever had.

This is a true story. It happened last summer, our first in this house, and I was being introduced to normal, everyday country things that seemed utterly strange to me. I was walking Finbar along our lane one evening after dark. The lane runs along the side of a valley with a ditch on either hand, and on the hill side of the lane, the land rises in a bank higher than my head height. As we passed where the neighbour’s driveway cuts through the bank, I noticed a small, very bright green light in the grass of the banking. I tried to get closer to see what it was, but it was on the other side of the ditch, which was full of water, frogs and tall grass.

The first thought that popped into my head was that scene in A Beautiful Mind when Nash imagines he is being shown around a secret Pentagon lab where Soviet codes are being deciphered. The place is full of computer screens, a greenish light and a faint humming. I’m almost ashamed to admit the loopy idea that I had, to go up to the neighbour’s and warn them that there was secret espionage activity going on in an underground bunker at the end of their driveway. I think if I hadn’t had Finbar straining at the leash to go home, I would have done.

Instead, with the conviction that I had made an exciting and frightening discovery, I let Finbar race me home, told husband about the underground bunker and how the Roberts were exposed to an unknown peril. To his credit, husband put on his shoes and came up the lane with me to see if he could get close enough to the peep hole to see inside the bunker. When we got to the place, there was no light.

He didn’t say, I told you so, or you’re nuts, he just said I must have been mistaken. I was thankful we didn’t have to knock on the Robert’s door to explain about the Soviet or CIA or whatever threat, but the doubt remained. I had seen light escaping from a hole in the bank, nobody was going to tell me otherwise. It took the clear light of day and a bit of research on the internet to discover that the green light escaping from a tiny hole in the bunker wall was in fact a glow worm.

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Photo ©Quit007

Light in the darkness

For the Daily Inkling prompt.

art ©Mauricio García Vega

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The day is dark or is it night (?), cloudy, moonless, sunless and no birds sing. Grass clings like ropes or sucking mud and running is walking, though it is coming closer, and the darkness is thickening.

Silence roars, and a black light blinds like the darkness of space, swallowing.

Ahead is a gate, a door, a way out or in, and there is a light behind or above or inside. The pounding is the blood in my head and the feet behind, closing.

Feet pull sluggishly from the tangle, and the door is there, close, and not locked. I reach out, fall through, trembling, push the door closed. But there is no lock. The latch rattles like a mountain of darkness. There is nothing to do but wake.

I feel the (day)light on my back, turn with relief, released from the quagmire of nightmare and look upon its burning, merciless face.

Tricks of the light

For the Daily Inkling prompt ‘latent image‘.

 

Hat on the sofa

or cat well-loved now gone?

Shadows beneath the chair

stretch like a waking dog,

silent in his ghost sleep.

Trees bend and sway,

and people dart between the trunks,

faces peer from bus windows

stopped at the lights

then gone—was it?

Should ever you go,

how would I bear this world

when every footstep on the path, clearing of the throat,

quick laughter, shout of greeting,

every hollow, bend in the road,

face in the crowd, trick of the light,

every cloud, leafy bough, every moonshadow,

every constellation balancing on the roof of the sky

is yours?

Angèle

The Daily Inkling prompt Slice of Life reminded me of a travelling girl I haven’t seen in ages.

 

The tent’s gone

it’s tourist season time

and those who walk beneath the bridge

cannot abide tents and dogs

and God knows what all else inside

so the police move them on.

She had six grown dogs and a batch of nine pups,

a cat with kittens and a pair of ferrets.

The boyfriend came and went but mostly went.

She had dogs and no front teeth

but enough rings you could hang curtains from her lips.

The pups, black, grey-spotted and lusty

were all spoken for. They always are, street punk dogs.

The mother was a standard street punk brown dog

with short bandy legs

but she spun a yarn the father was a wolf dog.

With grey spots.

She lent me a baby buggy once, for my dog,

to push him to the vet’s

after her pack had half-ripped the lights out of him, playing.

Offered to push him herself,

but I worried someone would steal the pups or the kittens or let the ferrets loose.

So I pushed a greyhound with blood pouring from a tear in his flank

in a baby buggy halfway across town,

and when I brought the buggy back, she’d gone.

#flash fiction: The face in the photo

A piece of flash fiction for the Daily Inkling prompt Broken Memories.

 

I kept that picture after I destroyed all the rest as a reminder that there was a time when we were truly happy. You are looking at the camera and there is a light in your eyes that I remember from when we first met, that died long before the end. You are sitting at a café table, the sun is shining, the place is crowded with happy, smiling faces. It was the time we went to Provence, not the Côte, a village close to Arles. There was a fête of some kind, I forget now what exactly. Looking at your face, the sun on your bare arms, the open neck of your shirt, I can smell pine and pastis, hear cicadas and the clink of glasses.

That was the last time we went away together, the last time I remember sunshine. You and I were all that mattered in the world. We needed no one else. I keep the photo to remind me that you were different once. Whatever happened, perhaps just the spark dying, as simple as that, you were not necessarily to blame. I hated you at first because you were the one who left, but looking back on it, it was probably as much my fault as yours. I had my memories of the good times, and when you married, I was over it enough to wish you all the best.

She wasn’t the kind I would have expected you to choose, too expressive, extrovert, too southern. There was a photo of the wedding in the local paper. It had been a lavish affair. Not your thing, I’d have thought, but the bride insisted, I guess. Even in the photo she isn’t still, tossing back her head with laughter, the image slightly blurred. I cut it out, kept it with the other. I take it out now and compare your face in the two pictures though it hurts to see that your smile can be so wide for someone else.

I look at the two images of you, one with a background of the slightly blurred faces of unknowns in a Provençal village, the other grainy newsprint. I compare again, look closer, and a woman looks at me from a table on the café terrace, and suddenly the face is not so blurry that I don’t recognise the laughing woman on your arm in the wedding photo.

Endings

A miserable little number for the Daily Inkling prompt: Endgame.

 

Does anyone enjoy an ending

the final phrase

the final scene

the turning up of the lights

chasing the final image

or turning them off

and the darkness becoming all that there is

was

and will be

for ever and ever amen?

And who treasures

the flower wilting in the vase

the blossom falling from the tree

the last desultory words before your train left?

Night fell then

blinds were drawn all over the world

and the laughing yellow lights snuffed out.

The end of every day

is the sitting in the dark

for the call that never comes

the last reel replaying over and over

and I wish to be the cat

that walks out into the night

and never comes back.

Clouds

I wrote this serpent’s tail poem last night because a prompt (Daily Inkling) was niggling me. This morning I read Kerfe’s poem prompted by her Saturday consultation with the Oracle, and I can see more threads in the weave than one.

 

There used to be sky above my head,

red at sunset, or broad with bright

flights of swallows, darting to fill the blue.

Stew I see now, soup where clouds float,

bloated grey scum. How did it go

so far, the light, the blue colour hid,

slid into night, or sucked into the dark places

spaces behind the moon? No dragons with fiery breath,

death in their gaze sail lazily,

crazily by, nor sheep, sleep-bearing and soft.

Aloft, all is washed away,

day, sun, hope of rain;

pain falls pitter-patter, a steel pulse throbbing—

bobbing on the distant ocean, your ship

slips into silence. You left to find yourself, you said

spread your nets—still lost, you cry,

I wish you

knew where.

Sunny

A piece of flash fiction for the Daily Inkling prompt—beaming.

 

Why does she smile at me so broadly, the woman on the tram? She doesn’t know me. Is it to disarm; is she short sighted and fears offending, stepping on toes, not recognising a friend?

She showers her sunny beams on anyone who catches her eye. I half expect her to get out a tambourine and start a sing-song for Jesus. She smiles as though her good humour will make the rest of us feel better. It doesn’t.

I guess she smiles because it makes her feel good to distribute her largesse with such generosity. I can hear her arteries applauding. But the old man hunched next to her might have just lost his wife, the man behind, coughing into his hand have an incurable cancer. Her undiscriminating bounty is offensive to those who have nothing to smile about.

I glare at her and turn away, look out of the window. In the grimy glass, I see her face reflected, a brief relaxation of the facial muscles when she thinks no one can see, and for a fleeting moment, as her fingers fiddle aimlessly with the strap of her bag, her eyes fill up with desolation.

Treading bones

The Daily Inkling prompt is side effects, a supernatural meaning for a sharp pain.

 

Walking the meadow

dry clay

cracked from side to side

making islands of yellow flowers and pink,

and from the cracks

the scuffle of tiny rodent

claws and paws

curling in comfort one against the other.

Beneath the trees

where branches cover green and pale

in leaf

not quite enough

to hide new nests

and flitting coloured birds

the sound of springsong.

Why this jabbing pain

the ribs the soles of feet the head?

Each footstep treads

a death

the end of some brief spell

among the flowers

of the insect-creeping earth.

Creaking backs

spines ache when mowers strip

the cover

seeded heavy with food.

They fade

the coloured songsters

the vole and rabbit

quick brown fox.

Fewer nests eggs young fledglings

thinner

meagre fare.

Dearth fades

not the swift fall of the axe.

Pain pinches the heart

of those who see the failed nests

and regret there are so few swallows

this year.