#writephoto: Wandering

For Sue Vincent’s weekly photo prompt. Moving onto another WIP.

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The cold hit him as soon as he broke through the saplings at the edge of the copse. If he hadn’t been running so hard, he would have noticed it earlier. If he hadn’t been so afraid of being caught, he’d have noticed the change in the light too. He hurtled into the open; what should have been a field on an autumn afternoon, now seemed full of shadows. He stopped, his breath heaving, the only sound the blood pounding in his ears and the crackle of frozen grass beneath his feet.

He listened, despite the strangeness, the fear of his pursuers stronger than the evidence of his senses. Nothing. Not even a dog barking. Not even the faint rumble of traffic on the main road that passed through the small town as the bottom of the valley. He flung himself around, wild-eyed now, his feet cracking the ice that had formed along a sinuous path that led…he had no idea. He stumbled forward, aimlessly, teeth chattering with the cold, heading for the shadows he imagined to be the hedge at the field’s edge.

His breath made clouds in front of his face, misting his vision, his feet slipped over the same misty hoarfrost, until the shadowy line at the edge of sight towered over his head. By the faint light of the stars he saw he was standing beneath the eaves of a forest. It was cold as feck, and he had no idea where he was.

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#writephoto: The last look in the mirror

My WIP is at the waiting to see if it passes muster stage, but this photo is so much a part of the story that I can’t help but write a bit that fits it. Thanks Sue 🙂 It’s even entitled ‘The Mirror’.

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Evienne stands by the pool in the river bend for the last time. She is old now, too old to have the strength to stir the memories, too old to remember the names of all the faces. There is only one she remembers with love anyway, and his face has fled from this pool. It lies now in a distant pool, over the sea, and even though the barrier of mist magic around the island is failing, as the magic of its seers dies, it is still too strong for a woman who is now only a woman, to pierce with only women’s magic.

She would have left his place, her lake island and the meanders of the river Wye, while she was still strong, and followed Richard’s shade to his resting place, but she had not the heart to deprive the red-haired woman of that privilege. She, after all, had almost twenty years of Richard, bore him three daughters. The red-haired woman’s was the lot of all mortal women, loss and grieving. Evienne had left her Richard’s shade, and when she died, avenged her death, and let her shade go in peace to find Richard and their son.

She is old now, and her turn will soon come. Her daughters are scattered like autumn leaves but at least two of the last birthing, Richard’s daughters, have known happiness as few mortal women ever do. The youngest is waiting for her, in the depths or the heights, perhaps both.

It is time for her to leave, to wade back across the lake to the island and pull the mists about it for the last time. She turns from her contemplation of the still pool that mirrors only the sky, and finds that she still has tears to shed.

 

Microfiction: Destiny

Sorry to take a cynical view of this photo, but that’s life, for some.

photo by Melanie Dretvic via Unsplash

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‘When I’m too big for my pony, Daddy’s going to sell her and buy me a real horse, an old, used one like you, that I can practice on until I get good, then he’ll buy me a better one.’

‘And when you get a better one, little girl, what will happen to me?’

The little girl shrugged and said, ‘You’ll go to the knackers, I suppose, where all old horses go.’

Simple pleasures

I wasn’t going to take up this dverse challenge because I really couldn’t imagine any situation where anyone would say: you will love again the stranger who was yourself. I’m not even 100% sure I understand what it means.

Anyway, I did it, a 144 word flash fiction from the Eric Morecambe school of literature—all of Derek Walcott’s words are there, just not necessarily in the same order.

 

I never wanted to see you again. Love given and tossed away will have that effect. I used to think I knew you inside out, but you became a stranger, to me as well as to yourself. I never knew who was pulling the strings—you or some deity having fun with us.

It’s been weeks. I’ve stopped counting the days. Your face still shines out of every man’s I meet, his features morphing into yours. Even though I’ve changed jobs, changed address, I still dread bumping into you. But a message from Brenda in my inbox made me smile.

She said you’d been into work with a big bouquet.  When she told you I’d left, your face crumpled, your whole body sagged—like cancelling a kid’s Christmas. You turned in silence, head bowed, abandoning the flowers at reception.

I hope they were expensive.

 

 

 

#writephoto: Sleep

For Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt.

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Who knew who built the dolmen or why? Even in his time, it had been older than any race of men, a place haunted by the old ones. In his time, they had left offerings there on the eve of the longest night, to entice the sun to return and lit a fire in the sun’s image out of reverence. The sun always did return, and the year always turned. Though the days grew colder and bitter, they were longer and full of the promise of spring.

In his time, he made sure the traditions were respected. He was chief and sorcerer, smith and poet, hunter and healer. He knew the power of the natural world, and one half of his being was in the supernatural world. He had asked to be placed in this window on the world when he died, with the comfort of stone overhead to shield him from the rain, and the lush green grass draped all around like a cloak of the finest wool. From his window, he could look across the valley to the hill where his foster mother Tailtu lay beneath her cairn, and watch the games held in her honour each year, the leaping flames of the fire at nightfall.

For thousands of years he had watched the flames, each time wondering if it would be the last. Surely men’s memories would fail and the times would change. He had seen the flames dies after the last invasion, only to be revived when the invader was finally driven out. He had seen the stillness that fell when the games were outlawed, and he had seen the excitement of their revival when the wheel turned again.

In his bed of dark earth, beneath the stone warmed by the sun and the stories whispered by the fairy folk, Lugh lies and watches. From beneath her cairn, Tailtu still watches over him, and the ages old love of mother and son flows between the hill and the dolmen, filling the valley with green peace.

#Three Line Tales: Another world

For Sonya’s weekly photo prompt.

photo by Dave Herring via Unsplash

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Sometimes, you step outside your own neighbourhood, and the world changes from Mad Max to Narnia, a place of silent comfort, where no old cars clutter the kerb, and no kids and dogs run screaming after balls across the unfenced lawns.

You walk across the rainbow path that leads through the expensive residences, and you wonder if the people who walk happily hand in hand along this path to church ever know pain.

You shrug, wrap your arms around your secrets and turn back to your own neighbourhood, where even the rainbow-coloured chalk dust on the soles of your shoes could earn you a punch in the face.

Three Line Tales: The mystic

For Sonya’s three line tales prompt.

photo by Rikki Austin via Unsplash

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Miranda had taken up her place in the centre of the henge on a campstool to keep her robes off the damp grass, facing the east and the rising sun, when dawn was still only a paling of the darkness along the horizon.

The air was in movement with the faint presence of ancient lives that still vibrated in the holy place, and she was certain that this sunrise would reveal the arcane mysteries of the stone circle.

She held her breath as the first cold rays shot across the hillside and probed the entrance stones to touch her dew-damp feet then her knees, only letting it out in a gasp of disappointment when thick cloud smothered the sun and a light rain began to fall.