Crimson’s Creative Challenge #83: Goodbye Dolly

CCC#83

Dolly pushed her nose against my shoulder. Warm smells of manure and hay and horse enveloped me.

‘Go on, now,’ I said, gently pushing her back.

She sensed something was different, a wrongness that made her nod and kick the stable door.

‘All right, I know.’ I pressed my face against hers, felt the brush of her whiskery lips, soft as kid gloves.

I turned then, hefted my pack and crossed the yard, cobbles and runoff slipping under my boots.

Mother stood at the farmhouse door, arms folded, a barrier never to be crossed. I nodded and she slipped back inside without a word.

Tom paced at the crossing, tipping his cap back when he saw me. ‘For King and Country, then,’ he said.

Poppies shivered on the bank along the lane, a scarlet ribbon leading us on to adventure.

‘For King and Country,’ I said.

***

Written for Crispina Kemp’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge. Use the photograph to take you to different worlds. See here to join in.

And to accompany the story, an apt song from the time.

What Pegman Saw: A cosmic levelling

Image: Google Street View

The call came just after eleven pm. She let it go to voicemail.

‘… I wasn’t able to get to a phone before now. You know how it is…’

The table was still set for two, the candles burned to black grease. At least the wine hadn’t gone to waste. She teetered out onto the veranda, glass in one hand, cigarette smouldering in the other.

She’d never liked sharing, not since she was a little girl. Back then it had been dolls and slices of black cake she’d kept to herself. Perhaps this was payback for her childish greed, a cosmic levelling.

Sipping her wine, she watched the flames enveloped the house they’d both loved, the house he’d want for his next family.

Never was good at sharing.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week we visit the Dominican Republic. See here to join in.

NB

Black cake is a Caribbean recipe I’ve never tried but that sounds rather amazing.

What Pegman Saw: Six Days

What we’d thought would be three days walking turned to five then six.

The smaller children suffered worst, those too young to understand the cold, the heat and pain it brings. The small ones added to the sound of those days – the crunch of ice underfoot, the soughing wind, children’s sobs collapsing into whimpers.

The land was a series of low hills and promontories, leading to great expanses of shale, glacial cliffs.

Those that fell – infants, the elderly, the sick – were left unburied, wrapped only in the clothes they wore. The earth too hard to dig. No spare blankets to act as winding sheets.

I think of them sometimes, pared by the ice, weathered to the colour of rock, another low hill eroded by the wind.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View. This week we visit Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. See here to join in.

What Pegman Saw: Death of a swimmer

Image: Google Street View

Charles swam every morning, whether the sea was ruffled by breeze or chopped to spiky breakers, baby-bath warm or prickling with ice.

A veteran, some said, though there seemed little evidence for that aside from his upright bearing and buffed shoes.

He rarely spoke, would only nod at the post mistress and the baker, Gerard, though neither knew what they had done to deserve the honour.

During the years he lived in Roscanvel, Charles held no more than ten conversations and afterwards, no-one could agree on whether he lisped or if his false teeth clicked when he spoke.

When Simone found his body on the shingle one late-frost morning in May, she was disturbed enough to shake as she described the scene. But not enough to cry without imagining her own mother’s death.

All the residents were at a loss at to why anyone would murder Charles.

All, except one.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week, we visit Roscanvel in Brittany. See here to join in.

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #75: Down Brigstowe Bay

Brigstowe Bay was a grinning moon banked by rocky spurs.

At the centre of the smile was a bank of grubby sand, the Grand Pier with its sagging wooden roller coaster and sun bleached stalls selling candy floss and hot dogs.

On the northern spur, looking towards Torquay, were the wide streets and Romanesque villas of Upper Cliffside, looking down on the promenade in more ways than one.

On the southern side, set apart from the wannabe millionaires of Cliffside and the hucksters and charming liars of the promenade, was an area locals called ‘Brig’.

The pubs and cottages lining Brig harbour resembled squat toadstools, warty with jerry-built extensions, sheds and stillhouses. What fishing boats remained ran the coast, ‘fishing’ for washed up whisky and smuggled brandy.

A boy from Brig could beat a Cliffside lad hands down in a fight.

Though maybe not a fair one.

***

Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #75. See Crispina’s inspiring pic and join in.

Friday Fictioneers: A little piece of heaven

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

The door squeaked open. Kurt stepped out onto the tenement roof and propped the door open with an old metal chair he’d saved from a skip. He felt in the brick planter – no plants, just bricks – and fished out his tobacco wallet.

The cigarette paper slipped easily through his practiced fingers, flakes of tobacco tamed into a tube. The lighter flared, clicked shut.

The lead roof was still hot, petrol fumes dissipating a little as day gave way to night.

Laney’s voice reached him up the stairwell. ‘Kurt! Dinner.’

Downstairs the baby was giggling, hiccuping, giggling.

Not a bad life.

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the picture and write along. See here to join in the fun.

What Pegman Saw: A way of seeing

Image: Google Earth

Hanna woke early, pushed her feet in to her sheep skin slippers, soft against her bunions.

On the stairs she always came down backwards now, since the fall.

At the kitchen counter, she rested her forefinger on the edge of the loaf, using the digit as a measure. She’d hook a finger over the rim of her coffee cup too, stop pouring when the heat reached her nail. Damn cataract operation couldn’t come soon enough.

After breakfast she walked to the lake, her stick sinking into the mud, grit rolling under her boots. At the mud flats she stopped, looked over the water, breathed in the day.

She missed the details, but she knew the sun twinkled like fairy lights on the water, that the birds sang out, defending territory and new broods.

Spring was on its way and it was going to be a good one.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View for inspiration. This week we are in Polanczyk, Poland. See here to join in.

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #74: Patches

CCC#74

There were four towers at the harbour, frameworks of scabby tubular steel, ladders and trusses, each six storeys high.

Matt would sit on a particular bench, by water tamed by the sea walls. The bench had a good view of all the towers but was furthest away from the litter bin. Because of the wasps and the germs.

He liked the way the towers’ uprights and diagonals acted as frames to scraps of billowing rain clouds and wispy cirrus and even bright clear blue on occasion. They cut the sky into fragments, brought it fleeting order.

When the sounds grew too much – music turned thumping, people shouting, the cars beeping, engines rumbling through the soles of his trainers – he’d go to the bench, watch the towers cut the sky into patches.

And feel calm.

***

Written for Crimson’t Creative Challenge #74. See the pic and write a tale. See here to join in.

Friday Fictioneers: Rainbow

PHOTO PROMPT © Jeff Arnold

They called the new baby Rainbow.

To anyone who asked – and plenty of those who didn’t – Kate would say it was because they wanted their daughter to be bright and colourful, to be a symbol of hope, connected to both the Earth and the Heavens.

Mike would stand behind his wife, smile and nod.

What he couldn’t add was that after Kate’s drink driving conviction, her brief imprisonment and lengthy counselling, after her affair and his decision to take her back, the baby was a symbol of calm after the storm.

The sole remaining, ephemeral connection between her parents.

***

Written For Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the inspirational photograph and pen a story. See here to join in.

What Pegman Saw: Dust and Ashes

Image: Google Earth

There were the remnants of a fire, set in a dip overlooking the canyon. Pike scuffed the blackened ironwood with his boot, kicking up dust and ashes.

‘She was here.’

Root stood silhouetted against the ripening sunset, one foot up on a rock, thumbs hooked in his trouser pockets. He raised an eyebrow.

‘Smart enough to make a fire out of nothing,’ said Pike. ‘Stupid enough not to think we’d find it.’

Root nodded, chewed a fragment of nail from his index finger, spat it into the drop below. ‘Which way?’

Pike pointed down the canyon. ‘She wouldn’t last long out here and she knows it. She’ll head for people, hope she can get a lift someplace.’

Root nodded, heading back towards the Jeep.

Pike smiled to himself. The least he could do was give her a head start.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week we visit Happy Jack, Arizona. See here to join in and have fun.