#writephoto: No going back

This is a sketch from my next WIP. For Sue Vincent’s #writephoto challenge.

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They scrambled to the top of the hill, and stopped, chests heaving, trying to get their breath back. The tree cover was sparse, rowan and birch and spindly oak trees, and overhead the sky lay, dark and heavy. Jon felt the weight of the dark sky and the pressure of the dark earth, the forest that was black and grey but never green, and the wind that sang in a colourless voice through the bracken.

He gazed out over the treetops to where the place lay where they would be safe. Safe from what, he wasn’t sure, but they had four legs, sometimes two, faces with narrow eyes, but sometimes the grimacing muzzles of dogs that had never been.

Halli recovered from the climb first and was was about to plunge down the hill and back into the forest when something made Jon grab her arm. “Wait,” he whispered. The silence thickened; he couldn’t breath.

Halli looked about in alarm then gasped, “The sky. It’s broken.”

Overhead the grey was as compact as ever, darkening to slate at the far horizon, slate the treetops that moved sluggishly in the wind, but away over the forest, the cloud and mist was torn and through the rent, a golden cascade of sunlight fell in pillars of brilliance.

“What is it?” Halli murmured, her eyes open wide as pools. “What’s happening? Is it the end of the world?”

“It’s the sun,” Jon said, and for the first time since he had burst out of the dark tree tunnel, he smiled.

#writephoto: Last journey

For Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt.

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They said just follow the road, it goes straight there. Take no notice of the mist, don’t follow the shadows, don’t listen to the voices. They didn’t say how long it would take, nor what would happen if I left the path, but I had little choice. I walked.

How long I have been walking, I can’t say, the trees all look the same, their shadows never move, as if the unseen sun is fixed in the sky. Time never changes there, they said. The light is always twilight between dark and dawn, between dusk and dark.

I keep walking. Perhaps this is all there is, an eternity of walking, following the road bordered by trees into the misty distance. I should be tired, but my feet keep up a steady rhythm, one two one two one two and the mist still obscures the end of the road.

I walk and pay no heed to the voices that drift through the leaves. There is no anger in the voices, no aggression, just curiosity. I imagine they are the voices of birds, and once that would have been a fancy. Now, it is a possibility.

Just keep walking, they said. Who were they? I try to look back, but my feet won’t slow, my head turn. I forget a little more with each step. Keep walking.

Where? Who? The voices ask, but I cannot answer. Can I not? The mist is thinning. I see blue ahead. The sea perhaps or the sky, and the sun shines gold. Who? Wings brush my face. I hear their fluttering.

I am a woman who has left her name behind, on her way to the other side of life, or is it death?

The bird laughs. The mist has cleared. Between the trees deer flit and jays rattle.

You can speak, the bird voice says. That means you have arrived.

Above my head green boughs bend, and beyond, white clouds drift. From the blue ahead springs a cool breeze and I hear the sound of water. The voices mingle with song, fluting and whistling, and among the bird voices, I hear others. I run, and my feet have wings.

Welcome home.

 

 

 

Placid as the night ocean

I haven’t had much time for poetry these last few days. There’s so much to do here and I’ve been immersed in a re-write. The hard work is done, just needs the fine-tuning and we’ll see if it works.

I couldn’t not visit the Oracle though. The second poem fits Sue Vincent’s photo prompt, which often corresponds to some scene in the WIP.

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Why ask where home lies?

Look out on the night ocean,

listen to its wings beating,

see how green morning wakes,

slow and soft as peace falling, stars wheeling,

in the vast silence of the universe,

and we are there.

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The lake is still, smooth as a mirror.

She watches a ship,

with billowing white sails,

through singing mists—

moon mother, water woman—

until the sky runs red as berry juice.

 

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#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?

#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.

#Three Line Tales: The hot dog portal

For Sonya’s Three Line Tales writing prompt.

photo by Artem Bali via Unsplash

 

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Bob and Bill wandered down the beach heading for what they hoped was a restaurant, though in these foreign parts, it could just as easily turn out to be a nightclub or a brothel.

The special deal it advertised was tempting; they’d be able to eat here every day of their week-long stay for the price of three hot dogs, and from the pictures at least, the food looked good.

The smiling hostess led them into an office where they signed up and then pointed them through another door with a ‘restaurant’ sign above it, at the other side of which was not a room full of tables and chairs but a steely corridor full of a mechanical humming and what looked horribly like mechanical people striding towards them.

There is no cliff

For the Secret Keeper’s five word writing prompt.

ROCK | JOINT | INNER | SIGHT | SAIL

 

There is no cliff

but I feel the wind roar from the sea

and the cry of the gulls.

There is no ship

but I watch the sail

until it is lost to sight.

There is no storm

but from beneath the waves

I hear the grinding teeth of rocks.

I stand at the hinge of today and tomorrow

the past irretrievable

and all my hopes sailing with you

beyond the horizon

tucked inside an inner pocket

where you will possibly never look.