Crimson’s Creative Challenge #52: The world turned on its head

CCC#52

The ground was autumn-crisp with leaves despite the heat. The oaks along the rivers’ edge black fingers, bare as winter.

‘Not right,’ muttered Clem, knocking the underbrush with his boot.

A fir cone tumbled through the dead leaves and came to rest against a fleshy crescent of Maid’s Bane fungus. Bluebell spikes shivered.

‘World’s turned on its head,’ said Clem.

The sheepdog, Tab, looked up at his master, uncertain.

Gramma Cora – all gums, mottled scalp and whiskers – had told tales when Clem was small. When winter takes summer’s hand, when spring lifts her skirts and dances autumn’s jig … He frowned how did that old rhyme end?

Tab came suddenly to heel, his flank quivering against Clem’s leg.

‘What is it, lad?’

A feather of snow fell on the back of his neck. Soon the ground was white, the air a haze.

‘The Final Winter shall fall,’ he whispered.

***

Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge. It’s a pleasure to join in this week to help Crispina celebrate a year of CCC. Do visit here to join in – it’s huge fun.

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #47. Red/blue/fire/ice

#CCC47

Flames shine through the stained glass – red, blue – the colours falling on my cowering children, faces lit with fire and ice.

Our attackers have stopped beating at the door. The night is hushed, aside for the whimpering of the children. Jack’s eyes are wide, cheek crusted with blood. His sister wriggles in his arms, reaching for me. The men would have killed them – will still kill them.

The stink of burning grows sharp, smoke billowing soft under the door. A pyre for me. Those men – mule eyed, calf faced – how solid have they grown imagining flames licking my neck, devouring my hair? They will share grim smiles – the ones who brought the proud witch down.

I close my eyes against the blinding smoke. Red and blue vibrate inside me, pulling together, hard as ice, unforgiving as flame.

They forged a weapon tonight. That weapon is me.

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Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #47 – thanks Crispina! See here to join in.

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #14: Four and twenty blackbirds

Marsh Road

CCC#14

‘Blackbirds!’ called Aunty Evie, hopping excitedly from foot to foot.

‘They not blackbirds, dumbo,’ said Cass. ‘They’re crows.’ He limped on towards the telegraph poles, lame foot dragging on the cracked road. ‘Twice the size of sodding blackbirds.’

‘Leave her be,’ I mumbled. ‘Every black bird is a blackbird to her.’

She was singing a nursery rhyme now, reedy, rushy voice a mix of adult and child.

‘Simple,’ muttered Cass. ‘Brain like a bag of candy floss.’

Up ahead, Evie struggled through long dried grass, hand outstretched to a boundary fence. Beyond, the field was already dull, waiting to sleep.

Cass pointed with his cane. ‘Stop her, will you.’

I saw what she was reaching for – a row of wings pinned to the wire, flapping a black rainbow in the wind.

Somewhere we’d taken a wrong turn.

***

Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge#14. See here to join in.

Crimson’s Creative Challenge: Fourth one along

cracked church window

CCC8

‘Which one?’ I said.

The jailer’s cap was pulled down, his oily beard gingered with dropped snuff. He signalled with pinched fingers. ‘Fourth one along.’

The stench was unbearable, the path slurried with leaves, the emptying of slop buckets. I lifted my skirts to keep the hem free of filth. I stopped, called my love’s name.

A hand appeared between the bars, the wrist too slender to be his, the nails once trim now long, torn, black. A moan drifted on the wind, a sound that was almost my name.

I’d imagined him slender, grubby, downcast but still with shining eyes, still himself. The creature that clawed and thrashed at the stone was not him, not the him I wanted to remember. My basket fell to the ground, bread tumbling, bottle thudding to the muck.

I turned. I ran.

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Written for Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge. Pop along here to join in.

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #4 : The old school house

CCC4

It’s quiet now, that clock, that bell that chimed the hours of our young lives away, that ticked the minutes off and struck the hours dead.

Ivy blinkers the windows, clogs the door that swallowed us each morning, that spewed us out just as the best of the day was done.

Here we learned of times tables and the alphabet, of continents and rivers, of brash kings and silent queens. Here too we learned of friendship, of power, of kind words and harsh words, the meaning of betrayal.

The world moves on and the pupils are grown, gone to practice what they learned within school’s rough walls.

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What a great pleasure it is to join in Crimson Prose’s Creative Challenge #4. A wonderfully inspiring photograph. See here to learn how to join in.