Three Line Tales: Dancing

For Sonya’s Three line Tales writing prompt.
photo by Zac Ong via Unsplash

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They dance in the waterworld, they told her, all day, and at night there is diamond light to transfigure the dance, even yours.

She looked at her skeletal limbs, black as dead wood, and the marks of the tomb so close, and she knew she had nothing to lose, it had already gone

They nodded from all the blank staring windows as she stepped into the spray, and in the morning there was one more foaming fountain beneath the dark-faced block.

Three Line Tales: Roses

For Sonya’s Three Line Tales photo prompt.

photo by Girl with red hat via Unsplash

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It was spring, the birds were singing madly, the alley was hung with roses, and her feet flew as she ran to meet him, standing open-armed in the doorway at the end.

The future had been strewn with rose petals, a long sun-lit alley of fragrance and happiness, where they would walk side by side, hand in hand.

The alley is empty now; her feet drag through drifts of dead leaves, and at the end, the door is closed and locked, the dream fading.

Three Line Tales: Anonymous

For Sonya’s prompt.

photo by Sunyu via Unsplash

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I can’t write your story, but it’s written in your eyes, the days of tracking, the fear, the fatigue and in the end, the men with spades.

They dig until they reach the heart and drag it out, still beating.

I have seen them, the cubs still blind, tossed in the waste from the cowshed, and whenever in the cool spring night, I hear a vixen call, I think of them, and all the others.

Sleep-hiding

For the dverse prompt, a prose piece of 140 words including the line from Mary Oliver’s Death at Wind River:

In their dreams,
they sleep with the moon.

All night they rustle, the night folk, creeping stealthily through dry leaves, keeping out of the pools of moonlight, stalking though the thickets, nibbling around the edges of the meadow, racing beneath garden bushes. They have their tracks and their highways, more and more of them, as the daylight grows too noisy, too dangerous, too populous. They take to the night paths while men and dogs sleep, twitching legs and trigger fingers in their dreams.
They sleep with the moon, the night folk, though some once ran beneath the sun, curled beneath brambles and in the dense thickets of elm and hawthorn. They sleep while the day grows bright, the dogs sniff and whine, and fear creeps beneath the leaves, driving them out of sleep and secrecy, driving them, on and on, into stark winter and its treacherous naked light.

Prose in Visual Verse

The images proposed by Visual Verse are usually the kind that make me tiptoe around the edges before I have a clue what if anything, the image inspires. This one though, by Helen Marten, seemed to shout at me. I knew his story as soon as I looked into his goggly middle-aged eyes and his outsize jam-jar.

VV-September-Helen-Marten

You can read my interpretation of this painting here.

And you can read the story so far here.

#Writephoto: Last journey

For Sue Vincent’s writing challenge.

Screenshot 2020-08-21 at 15.23.00

Odin’s moon rocked drunkenly over the pines; Asgard slept drunkenly or stumbled tipsily off to bed. Freyja turned her back on Odin’s hall and his moon and watched the stars. Soon she would leave, taking only her cats and she would search all the paths beneath the sky for Odr. If he was not to be found, wandering the tracks that led among lakes and mountains, along seashores and wide grassy river plains, she would search among the stars.

The end was coming. She felt it in the air, angry and greasy, belligerent as a hall-full of gods, and it would be bloody. She would not wait for it to arrive, but would sweep Odr into her chariot and go to meet it if necessary. If she had Odr by her side, she would not mind the end.

A cat nudged her hand with his head, and she scratched his ears. “Soon, we will leave this sad place and go hunting together.”

Fressi made a rasping noise in his throat, and Freyja smiled. “Bats perhaps and not mice, I promise, but certainly not owls.”

A second cat stalked over the faintly starlit grass, sleek, red and ring-tailed. They were the only friends she had in the whole of Asgard now that Idunn had gone, following the eyes that shone in the night sky, now green, now blue. Freyja hoped she would find what she looked for. A sharp noise broke the night silence and Fressi hissed. More fighting. Not that they ever hurt one another. Posturing, that was all they were good for.

Fress spoke then, quickly, urgently and Freyja listened. There was no sound apart from the bickering outside Odin’s hall, but the pale ghosts of barn owls circled overhead before taking the path to Bifröst. Fressi howled and Freyja made her decision.

“It will be tonight then,” she said. “The chariot is ready. It has been for months now.”

The two cats bounded off to take up their places between the shafts, and Freyja raised her eyes defiantly to the rocking moon. “You can keep your rotting world, Odin, your magic apples and eternal youth that you have no notion how to use. Your fate is on his way, bringing with him the bloodletting that will unleash the end. Enjoy your junketing while it lasts.”

Somewhere, among the stars that hung low on the northern horizon, the green eyes of Idunn’s Jötunn winked.

#Three line tales: Retribution

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photo by Nimesh Basu via Unsplash

For Sonya’s Three line tales photo prompt

She hadn’t wanted to; he had seen the look of terror on her face and known that fear of the bike had been merely an extension of her fear of him.

“Lean with the bike, not against it,” he had roared when he felt her struggling, but she hadn’t wanted to lean anywhere, just for it to stop, and it had, but not the way either of them would have chosen.

When he saw the black figure rise up among the meadow flowers of the field, he had not been surprised; he had always known what death would look like when it came for him.

Short story published

Starting off the week with a pat on the back for me. I have a short story published in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, a magazine that pays its contributors real money for their work! The editors are also very relaxed about what constitutes heroic, as my story is an interpretation of a not very heroic episode from Norse myth.

I have to thank editor James Rowe for his encouragement, and Adrian Simmons for his perseverance with dodgy email connections.

You can read my story Apples of the Gods and the other contributions here.

#Three line tales: Lavender fields forever

For Sonya’s Three Line Tales photo prompt.

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The lavender fields stretch silent and scentless, their parallel banks of gaudy colour disappearing from sight over the hills.

We still marvel at the glorious (unnatural) colour, but the unmistakable scent is a faded memory, the sound of bees relegated to audio histories,

and we never talk about what the lavender harvest feeds.

#writephoto: In the lap of the gods

Next WIP started and Sue Vincent has found a photo for her prompt to nudge it along.

Screenshot 2020-07-09 at 17.59.38

She follows with her eyes the sinuous line that hugs the contours of the hill until it disappears out of sight, to fall to the valley beyond. There is a plain, rich and green and on the horizon the march of low hills, blue in the uncertain distance. At her back is the sea; she smells the salt in the wind, feels its buffeting. If she were to turn, she might still be able to see the sail of a small boat, know who sails it, even though he is too far away for her to distinguish any feature. If she were to turn, she might see, if it were not for the tears.

He has gone, looking for the one who will take her place, and all she can do is send him a kindly wind and hope he reaches his goal safely. She wonders if she made a mistake and this place will never be her home. Would she have been happier had she stayed a servant to a brute but in a world she knew and understood? She looks down across the valley the herds of fat cattle, the sheep on the hills. She feels the peace that comes from plenty, from a land wide enough for all, fruitful and prosperous. There is song here and poetry and the children grow straight and tall. She was not wrong to come here. She was just wrong in choosing Caibhán.

She sighs and carries on the path. Beyond the bend she will be able to see the houses, the strangely comforting round houses that echo the sun and moon, the ripples made by raindrops in a pool. She will watch the children running, round and round in their noisy games, the dogs following, and the life of the settlement revolving round and round the seasons, birth, death and the successions of joys and sorrows. She will line her own round nest with comforts against unhappiness and hope in what the turning seasons will bring. One day, perhaps she will become a gull and fly round and round with no more cares than the choice of a fish.