#Three Line Tales: Gothic

Microfiction for Sonya’s weekly photo prompt.

photo by Watari via Unsplash

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Inspired by the stories of Walter Scott, he built the house, mimicking the Gothic he never really appreciated or understood, believing vaulted ceilings and cloisters created a ‘sophisticated’ atmosphere.

When his cruelty to the womenfolk of his household shaped Gothic horrors that haunted the nights of the mock-up castle, his line dried up, faded, and he died screaming in a straitjacket.

Now junkies haunt the lonely rooms and fake cloister, weaving their own horrors, painting the walls with their own madness.

Never Never

Exactly 150 words. For Crispina Kemp’s creative challenge, inspired by this photo.

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She had always thought it was a magical place, the slow stream that babbled if you listened hard enough, and the wood that had somehow escaped the developers, where blackbirds sang and jays and woodpeckers chattered. The stream disappeared into a culvert, carrying its leaf-boats into the dark, and she had walked the length of the wood countless times but never discovered where it came out.

The town grew, estates sprawled, but the wood remained untouched. Pastureland formed one boundary, a lane another, and a low wall bounded the rest. Something drew her back to the wood that end of summer day, drew her along the stream that entered the domain from the farmland, to the culvert where birds sang and the leaf-boats disappeared.

Without hesitation, she stepped into the stream and followed it into the dark to find out where it came out. It didn’t, and nor did she.

They wouldn’t believe us

The ‘prosery’ prompt over at dverse is to write a story of exactly 144 words including this line from a poem by Jo Harjo:

“These memories were left here with the trees”

I haven’t used exactly the same words, just the sense from them. We lived for almost ten years among the French battlefields of the Great War and the atmosphere of the entire area is a very special and very melancholy one.

 

She had always found it a sad place, the landscape, the people—too rural, enclosed like the big fortified farms, no outlet for any feelings. There were mature trees growing around the foxholes now, and shell craters were filled with bracken. The mutilated and the broken lay almost hidden, but she imagined she heard their cries as they were blown from their roots. Men were turned to bloody soup in these woods that became cellulose soup, then oceans of bloody mud.

The fields were tilled again and flowers blew at their edges, but beneath the trees memories lingered. If she dug her hands into the deep earth she could pull them out. They whispered in the delicate woodland flowers, but it was the trees that held her in their spell, the horror of their stories, the unquiet memories that were buried in their roots.

 

#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.

#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.