Friday Fictioneers : Ariadne leaves the maze

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot


 

Ariadne wove along the tangled path, through nodding rosebay willowherb and scabious, nettles snatching at her skirts.

Her mind wandered ahead to the hive, the warm, sweet buzz of the comb then back to him, his warmth. He was often sweet but always tinged sour with beer or sweat, hard words, hard hands.

The sound reached her first, a thousand singular insect voices weaving to form a low hum. The brown cloud enveloped her as she drew close, furry bodies bouncing against her hands, her cheeks, welcoming her.

‘He’s dead,’ she whispered.

She turned and followed the path back home.

 


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. Join in, read and share here.

At first glance there may seem no connection between my story and the prompt photograph, but the shapes in the net reminded me of a honeycomb, which led my mind to bees and the tradition of telling them when someone in the family dies. To read more about this tradition take a look here.

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Friday Fictioneers : Christmas 1914

PHOTO PROMPT © Björn Rudberg


 

Winter of 1914, we made a parcel for Albert – a block of Ma’s sherry-soaked Christmas cake, two packs of Woodbines, a bar of Fry’s chocolate and a hat she’d knitted herself.

‘He’ll need summat warm over there.’ She carressed the stitches, brown and thick as our Albert’s flop of hair.

I hadn’t told her what I’d heard whispered down the pub – the ankle deep water, the bodies lain still and stiff in No Man’s Land till bombs turned them to Flanders mud … the rats.

She slipped a card in too, signed ‘your loving Mother’.

‘That’ll warm him.’ I tried to smile.

 


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the pic and write a tale. Visit Rochelle’s site to share and to read the other stories.

Notes

Woodbines – at the time, a popular brand of cigarettes mad by the Wills tobacco company here in Bristol. Cigarettes helped with morale in the trenches and were also used as currency.

I was going to use the brand name Five Boys chocolate but didn’t quite have the word count. Five Boys was made by Fry and Son – another Bristol company – and was famous for the image on the front of the wrapper, see below.

 

Image result for five boys chocolate

 

Friday Fictioneers : The fate of the flower seller

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook


 

Ninny, they called her.

Sold flowers under the gas lamp, corner of Great Earl Street and Queen Street, Seven Dials. Old enough to be your Nana, though not yet old enough to be mine. Hair dyed black as a coal hole, always a pheasant feather or a silk rose tucked in her crumbling straw hat. Face like a patch of dried chamois leather. Shared a room with some other biddies – a boot lace seller, a sheet music peddlar and one who peddled herself, if you know what I mean.

Nah, don’t know where she went. People just vanish, lad.

 


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the pic and write a tale and visit the site here to read the other stories.

Notes

Seven Dials is part of the St Giles area of London, not far from Covent Garden. It long had a reputation for being disreputable and was part of the St Giles ‘rookery’ or slum. To read more about the area’s history, see here.

What Pegman Saw : An incorruptible crown

The morning is bitter, hard as only January can be.

Even here in London, far from the fens, the forests, the mist-heavy marshes of my varied Kingdom, ice forms on every sill, beards the wherries as they pull and pause on the troubled waters of the Thames. The lamps burn brighter when the morning is frost-hard.

I must make ready, but the day is bone cold … What if I shiver on that cursed step that waits for me? What if the people believe I quake from terror at my own fall?

For in truth, I am unafraid. I give up a tarnished crown for one incorruptible.

And yet, there is the cold … I shall wear two shirts. They will preserve my body until … Until there is nothing of this body left to save.

I hear another wherry – it is time.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Streetview as its starting point. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

Historical notes.

For those unaware of the fact, England has not had an uninterrupted monarchy.

During the 17th century there was a rebellion, a war largely caused by religion (the threat of Catholicism returning to what was by then a Protestant nation) but also by a poverty stricken king (Charles I) who wanted free access to the nation’s wealth without the inconvenience of asking for it. So he abolished government and raided the coffers.

After some prevarication, the English Civil Wars began and continued on and off for nine years. The rebels won, the king was eventually seized and executed at Westminster, London in January 1649. The country was a republic for eleven years until the restoration of the monarchy in the form of Charles’s son, Charles II in 1660.

On his long journey to the scaffold, Charles I was held at Carisbrooke Castle – from where he tried to escape at least twice. And come the January day of his execution he famously wore two shirts to stave off the cold so he wouldn’t be seen to shiver.

 

 

The Daily Post : The Legend of the Dark Lady

 


 

The fields were barren, the plough ridges hard with frost and the land plucked bare of hips and berries. Winter had been long, harder than memory. Now grain was so sparse in the barns and barrels even the rats starved – those that had not already been roasted over meagre fires.

Death took the sick and old first. Then the children followed on, tiny bodies lying stiff as spades in the churchyard. They piled them under the old yew, the earth too hard to welcome them home.

Then the Dark Lady came in her cloak of storms, her hair of swirling rain, the raven Hok still and watchful on her arm. The people begged for pity, but the Lady’s heart is black as her bird, black as her eyes of ink.

It was then the true suffering began.


 

Written for the Daily Post’s prompt – BLACK. See here to join in.

Hok is Cornish Celtic for falcon.

What Pegman Saw : They’ll come


 

Shona drifts past another blank-eyed goddess.

She checks her watch. An hour until the coach collects them from the museum. Only mid-morning and her stomach’s rumbling.

Another gallery. The walls Pompeian red. In the centre of the room, a horse statue, on its back a child. The room is deserted, the air thick, steamy. Her pulse beats loud in her ears, breath coming fast –

Muscle moving beneath her, a jolt as the ground leaps up, falls away, rises again. Her arms scream, fingers white on the reins. She steals a look behind – no one. Tempted to slow, to ease the pain and the gasping, retching, but they’ll come, they’ll come, they’ll never stop and there’s only the horse between her and them and as long as she rides she’s safe. As long –

‘Miss?’

A concerned face swims into view, but she’s already running. She’ll always be running.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, a writing prompt using Google Streetview. See here to read the other stories and share one of your own.

Strangely, considering a location chock-a-block with history, I found inspiration hard to come by today. Until I ventured into the the Archaelogical Museum and discovered this amazing statue. The Jockey of Artemision is so dynamic, so different from those stiff, cool-eyed goddesses – so modern in a way – I was captivated.

What Pegman Saw : A bitter offering

Today Pegman takes us the the lovely island of Mauritius


 

‘What about this one?’

Atia surveyed the stone in her brother’s hand. She shook her head. ‘It must have a flat edge and a sharp point opposite.’ She looked up to the mountain. ‘You see? Like that.’

Felix looked, but the peak was wreathed in smoke, a lazy coronet often there on still days. He thought of his friend Cato who’d caught a beetle the day before, big as his palm, black as a thunder cloud with branched horns on its head like a stag.

‘I want to see the beetle, Atia.’ The sun was making him hot and whiney.

‘We must leave a stone for Venus -‘

The ground shifted under him, throwing him down. His knees hurt like bee stings. ‘Atia?’

She grabbed his hand, dragged him to his feet. ‘Run! Run to tata!’

The air stung, tasted bitter, dust filled his eyes, his mouth.

‘Lares help us!’

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, a prompt based on Google Streetview.

Of course, having a history degree that touched on the Classics, once I saw the smoky mountain top all I could think of was Vesuvius and what might have happened, had a brother and sister been out making offerings to the Gods on that day in AD 79.

Notes

Lares were household gods, small and personal ones, possibly guardian ancestors.

Venus was patroness of Pompeii, hence the children leaving a token for her.

It seems Roman children called their fathers tata as often as they did papa.

One last thing …

It’s thought Pompeii was engulfed by pyroclastic flow, a volcanic eruption where rock behaves more like water. To see what the Pompeiians might have seen before the end, see here.

 

And for the dormant Goth inside me still …