Shade in a mist

Diana has a prompt for this novel-writing month, to write a short piece of prose or a poem from the POV of something from a different world. It so happens, I’m doing that more or less, and anything that helps the WIP along is welcome.

The image is one I found in my gallery. It’s from a reblog of one of Kerfe Roig’s posts.

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He sees through the mists now, the shade that was a child once before becoming a giant, a colossus, a warrior. He sees what the men don’t see, with their living eyes full of mist and their ears full of the fluttering of wings. Shades. Owls perhaps. They see in the dark, through what isn’t there. The shade thinks like the child he is, but he is wiser than the men because he has seen death.

The men look up, and the shade realises he has been fluttering among the leafless branches, letting papery sounds like words fall from his non-existence lips. One of the men is full of fear. His eyes roll. The shade sees the whites, smells the sweaty smell of terror. The other is not fearful. His face shows sadness. He understands what the mists do, how they change people and twist things until nobody sees the truth behind the illusion. This man left his pride behind, the shade thinks and watches curiously.

All around him shades gather, fluttering, papery, not like the silence of owls. The big fearful man casts about again and suddenly he sees, the trees full of shades, children with outstretched hands, arms turning into wings, papery, owl-like growing silent as they grow stronger. The proud sad man clasps the other’s hand, the big man bows his head and the shade knows that he is weeping. Like the parents wept when their children were chosen. Shades now, ravelling up the mist, taking its strength, growing strong, winged, like owls.

“Go,” the proud, sad man says, “fly. This place is dying. Take your memories with you and forgive us.”

The shade blinks. The man is right, the mist is shrinking and the wings are growing, beating. He feels light, a little sad, but a tremor of excitement runs through him, through all the shades, gathered, whispering in their papery voices, and he beats his wings, leaps, soars, scattering the mists. The men look up in wonderment. The shades fill the sky that fills with light, and somewhere inside, a child laughs.

#writephoto: Home

Well, I’m progressing with the WIP. The end is in sight. As usual, Sue’s photo slips nicely into the text. It’s more than a prompt, it’s a nudge in the right direction, a kick up the arse.

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Jon left it behind, the safe place that was no longer secret but was still a good place, and made his way through the forest that diminished with each step until it was no more than a copse. The wind had stripped the trees of their leaves and the branches were spindly, young and new-looking. It was cold. A film of frost blurred the outline of grass blades, and dead leaves crunched crisply beneath his tread. Birds whistled low, without much enthusiasm, but his heart pounded with a painful mixture of excitement, regret and a deep sadness.

At the top of the shallow valley, he looked over his shoulder at the grassy knoll that rose gently against the sky. He would always be able to find it, but would it always be the same, a gateway to somewhere else, somewhere impossible? He couldn’t bear the thought of losing so much. As he gazed longingly at the mound that might be only a hill like any other, the first golden light of the rising sun outlined it in fire. The fire spread to the low clouds, running scarlet and purple across the sky, and he hoped with all his heart that this dawn was not burning up the past.

He turned, hurrying then running, through the last of the scrubby trees, across the field empty of horses, and with a rush of emotion, through the gate at the bottom of the cottage garden. There was a light in the kitchen. He was home.

#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.

What Cilla did next

A short story inspired by August’s Visual Verse photo prompt.

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When Cilla saw the ad, she recognised the cottage she and Jason had invented. It was exactly what they had talked about owning one day, when his divorce came through. They would lie in bed, in her bed, and talk, dream, pretend. The asking price was far more than she thought they’d be able to afford, but on a whim, she phoned up about it. The estate agent told her it was probably sold, the couple who were interested wanted just one last look before they agreed on the price, but if she liked, he would squeeze her in that afternoon before they arrived. You never know, he’d said, hedging his bets.

It was perfect, old red brick with roses round the door, stone flagged floors, mature cottage garden. The visit was rushed; she was shuffled out of the kitchen door as the couple arrived ahead of time, striding in a proprietorial sort of way up to the front door, happy, smiling, enchanted. He picked a rose and handed it to his wife. She smiled and kissed him on the cheek. They didn’t see her, but Cilla saw them, and the fabricated yarn of divorce unravelled into a shoddy tissue of lies.

That was two weeks before the holiday—he had told his wife it was a business trip—a week in the Greek islands. She kept the image of his wife in her head though it made her sob in hopeless fury. She saw his gallant gesture repeating over and over, their smiling faces. It wasn’t going to be enough to confront him with his lies. She wanted to make him feel as much pain as she did.

 

Jason took her hand and showed her the island, as if he owned it. Praised the scenery, the locals, the wine. There was magic in the islands, he said. He said a lot of other things too. She talked about the house they would buy after the divorce, described the brick cottage in detail, the roses round the door, the stone flags in the kitchen and smiled to herself as he shuffled and his gaze drifted uneasily. He had wanted to eat out that first evening. She insisted on cooking at the rented apartment. Just a simple meal, she’d said, stuff from the market and a bottle of wine.

He didn’t guess, she was sure of that. He lacked the imagination, but he was worried. She smiled a lot, more than usual. She was aware of it, the euphoria going to her head more than the wine. She wanted to laugh. Afterwards, she insisted they go down to the sea. It was evening, almost dark. He probably thought it was the uneven path making him stumble, low branches making him bend almost to the ground. By the time he was running on all fours, he had no idea who he was anymore. She picked up a stick and whopped him on the back end, laughing as he squealed and trotted off in terror into the wine dark sea.

#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: Assignment

For Sonya’s Three Line Tales photo prompt.

photo by Les Anderson via Unsplash

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Spring morning, not too hot yet for the shade thrown by the awnings along the street to be more welcoming than the warm sunshine—I wait for her to leave her rendez-vous.

She dresses up nice for him, I think, and wonder if she’ll hail a taxi or walk the short distance to the apartment on boulevard Haussmann where her husband, my client, will be tapping his desktop with impatient fingers.

She walks; I follow, visualising the dark mouth of the side street behind the glamour of the boulevard that will swallow her up, where a bullet will burrow its way behind her ear.

#Three Line Tales: Second thoughts

For Sonya’s Three Line Tales writing prompt.

photo by Philippe Mignot via Unsplash

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Dawn on the quay; he’d seen it so many times before as he trudged, head bent to the cobbles, on his way to work, but this morning he seemed to see it for the first time.

They were already there, waiting up ahead for him, but he slowed his steps, watching the play of the first rays of light on the rippling water, making the damp stone glitter.

They were leaving, it was decided, so there was no going back, but suddenly he felt a catch in his throat, his vision blurred, and he wondered, if the others had been late, would he not have turned around and walked back home through the early morning splendour?