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.

Friday Fictioneers: Uplift

PHOTO PROMPT © Ronda Del Boccio

As Fi left the living room, Callie removed one earbud. She rested a pink DayGlo marker pen on the textbook that was open on her lap. ‘You didn’t read a word the whole time she was in here.’

‘What?’ I returned to staring at The God Of Small Things, ignoring her slight smile.

‘Uplift,’ she said.

‘You going to give me a physics lecture now?’

‘Uplift is how my mum describes the feeling of meeting my Dad.’ She put her earbud back in place and picked up the marker. ‘And it’s not physics, you pillock – it’s chemistry.’

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the prompt photo and write a story of no more than one hundred words. See here to join in.

I admit, I struggled over this one. So I followed the lead of our gracious host and attacked the subject tangentially.

The God of Small Things is a novel by Arundhati Roy that I haven’t read in years but remember it being amazing. It won the Booker Prize in 1997.

What Pegman Saw: Walking in shadows

Image: Google Streetview

‘The lady stayed in the shadows, mostly.’

‘Particular shadows? Particular places?’

‘I saw her in the park . On days when men came round and I had to leave the flat. The lady would be under the trees, waiting for me.’

‘When else?’

‘At school before I was excluded. In the flat too.’

‘Was that when your mum was taking drugs?’

‘Yeah. We had a cupboard in the hall. When Mum came back from her dealer, the lady would be in the cupboard.’

‘How do you know she was there? Did you see her?’

‘I heard her. She had a way of breathing.’

‘Can you describe it? This way of breathing?’

‘No.’

‘Do you still see her?’

‘Only when I’m off my meds.’

‘Like last week?’

‘Yeah.’

‘Did you really forget to take your medication, like you told the police?’

‘No.’

‘Then why -‘

‘Because I missed her.’

***

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

Friday Fictioneers: Trophies

PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Wayne Fields

I’ll admit, I was jealous of my brother. While my life was unremarkable, his was extraordinary.

Beautiful girlfriends. A house in Kensington. Holidays to Tonga, Maui, Cambodia.

He lived in the house ten years, but as I walk the rooms, my footsteps echoing, the place feels like a feature in a style magazine. No photographs of family on the mantelpiece. No scrappy school paintings pinned to the fridge or toys on the floor. Not even a dog basket cluttering the hall.

I cuff my cheeks dry. The man had so many trophies and won nothing.

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the prompt picture and let your imagination fly. See here to join in.

Friday Fictioneers: Fallen

PHOTO PROMPT © C.E.Ayr

The fall felt sudden when it came, the troops marching along the avenues, the army encampment in the shadow of the tower, everywhere red, white and black.

Others went before us, but trouble had seemed so distant, another man’s worry. And in the meantime there had been meals to cook, clothes to launder, work and school, the thousand small things that make a life.

Now liberty sleeps, the days have taken on a darker hue and that other life has faded to a distant point on the horizon that remains just a point, no matter the miles travelled.

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the prompt pic and have a go. See here to join in.

Apologies for the slow response to comments. I’ve dived into writing another novel and am finding hard to clamber out!

A taste of freedom

Image: Pixabay

The way down from the cliffs was a struggle, the boulders less even than they looked from a distance. The bladder wrack was still wet, slippery under her heels and she had to use one hand to hold her skirts up – she could just imagine how much trouble she’d be in if her only black dress was marked with slime and seawater.

‘Wait for me,’ she called.

Charlie was already a way ahead, striding from rock to rock. His trousers wore twin stripes down the hips, brown and green where he’d carelessly wiped his hands. His patent boots were muddy to the ankle.

Every part of her life felt shackled – working at the big house, the housekeeper with her sharp black eyes, the mistress running pudgy fingers over every mantel and sill. Free time was rare and even then she was not permitted to walk along the Front or go to the music hall or the fair, only to Church or on ‘improving walks’.

How she envied him those boots, those trousers.

She closed her eyes, breathed in the salt tang. Her corset pinched at the waist, on her lower ribs, cut under her arms. Even her breathing wasn’t free.

This was the closest she came, though.

If they sneaked down the beach, out of sight of the Grange, in the shelter of the boulders, there was privacy of a sort. The wind whipped sand in her face, tugged hair from its pins so it caught in her mouth, flicked against her cheeks – she loved it all.

Gulls soared overhead, hovering, wheeling, calling her to join them, mocking when she couldn’t.

‘Come on!’

Charlie had made it to the mouth of the cove. He sat on the sand, peeling off his boots and socks, turning up his trouser legs. He wriggled his toes in the sand like a little boy.

The closest thing to freedom.

***

The image is of Seafield House in Westward Ho!, UK. My current obsession.

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.

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #73: What Sunny found.

CCC #73

The note led Sunny to a clearing in the woods, to a shipping container half concealed by ivy and brambles. If it wasn’t for the stencilled letters and numbers, it could be something from a fairy tale, home to a sleeping princess.

Once she’d cleared the growth from the door, sweat darkened her top and her arms were lacy with scratches, threads of blood.

She stared at the block of metal, wondering why. Why someone had sent her a note telling her to come. Why she’d obeyed it.

The sun was dropping lower, midges rising from the grass. Time.

She pulled the lever. The bars squeaked, turned slowly, rust catching on rust.

‘Come on,’ she muttered.

With one last tug the mechanism released. An animal smell – ancient and rank – hit her along with a wave of heat. She swallowed, tried to ignore the call to vomit.

‘Oh, no,’ she sighed.

***

Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #73. See here to join in.

Now, why did Sunny follow those instructions – something unresolved from her past, her present? What did she find in the shipping container?

Do drop me a line telling me what you think.

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.

Jane Dougherty’s Pictures and Poetry Challenge 3: A hope of home

800px-Joseph_Mallord_William_Turner_-_Norham_Castle,_Sunrise_-_WGA23182

The dry river bed shimmered, glassy with sun haze. A few cattle – bony as xylophones – followed tribesmen, nudging at rocks, chewing tufts of crisp grass.

The distant outcrops were scorched barren, a thicket of acacias turned khaki by weeks of drought.

He tugged his scarf over his nose to fend off a sand squall. So different from home. And yet….

Through squinted eyes, the dry riverbed became the River Affric, the cattle shaggy Highland cows, bellowing across the Glen. The outcrops were the mountains of Kintail or Mam Sodhail, the only Munro he was ever likely to climb.

In the sting of sand he felt pricks of snow, on the wind he smelt the heather, the tang of loch water.

He’d never imagined he would yearn to feel cold again, to chip at ice with the heel of his boot.

Sighing, he walked on. Towards the acacias and a hope of home.

***

Written for Jane Dougherty’s Pictures and Poetry Challenge 3. Really enjoyed this one. The Turner just reminded me of the dazzle you see in a extreme heat, a mirage of a longed for landscape.

NB

All the places mentioned – the River Affric, Mam Sodhail, the Mountains of Kintail – are in Scotland.

A Munro is a Scottish mountain over 3,000 feet.

The Highland Cow - More Than Just a Hairy Face | Rabbie's Travelfeels

And this beautiful beastie is a Highland cow otherwise known as an Aberdeen Angus.