When I was a little girl, sand meant days at the beach building castles with a bucket and spade. Once the work was done we’d sit back and admire our hard work, eat shrimp paste sandwiches with crusted nails as the sea undermined the foundations, as the walls softened and melted into the brine.
No castles here.
The sand is too dry – it sucks the moisture from my skin, grinds at my teeth and the corners of my eyes. It’s harder too, filled with the rubble of ancient cities, fragments of musty tombs returned to the light, the secret corners of a lustrous palace laid bare.
The castles melt away and city’s fall. Only the wind remains.
Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week we visit Old Dongola, Sudan.
Years ago I was lucky enough to visit Egypt, to the north of Sudan. Venturing into the Sahara Desert, I can vouch that the sand is pretty much as I describe here – definitely not fit for making castles.
Snow falls over the Cornish village of Torre, blowing along the narrow alleyways, drifting against the door of the Free Traders Inn. The village lock-up shimmers with icicles, the sign above Grubb’s pawnbrokers’ sways but doesn’t creak – George Grubb gives nothing away for free.
Wind howls across nearby Merrin Moor. There are tales of a beast sniffing through the gorse so best to keep inside by the fire.
Up on the clifftop, Torre Point lighthouse winks over a churning grey sea, keeping its secrets close. The village is awash with stories of that lighthouse, of strange men coming and going, of boats out in a storm …
The battle was over. Mab didn’t know which side was the victor, which the loser and she cared even less. Static fizzed through her wrists, conducted along the nerve endings to settle beneath her thumbnails – the familiar signal evil was approaching.
‘Sorry I’m late,’ said Moll, dusting ash from her sleeve. ‘I was watching the firestorm. Beautiful, the way it cleanses a city.’ She looked round her, at the fallen masonry, the ivy snaking over graffitied walls. ‘Nice. Oh, by the way, Cass won’t be joining us.’
Mab sighed. The two witches just didn’t have the same ring.
Despite loving the photo, I wasn’t going to take part in this challenge after reading Jane Dougherty’s TLT – Jane had done such a good job, there could be no better interpretation.
Then for some reason, the Macbeth witches sprung to mind. I thought the derelict cloister would be an appropriate meeting place for their modern counterparts – slightly more sheltered than a ‘blasted heath’.
There’s an interesting analysis of the witches here.
The photographs are dry and faded, curled like autumn leaves. They burn even better than I expected.
They are the last thing that connects us. I sold our belongings when I sold the house, forty years of a shared life distributed among house clearance auctions and charity shops, ready to be re-purposed or sent to landfill. There’s something fitting about that last, your jumpers chewed and clawed, used to line rats nests.
I watch the flames die, wait for a sense of freedom to descend but none does.
I can’t burn the memories.
Written for Friday Fictioneers, the writing prompt run by the wonderful Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s. See here to join in the fun.
The hill cut the sky in half, a black shrug between the dappled water and slabs of slate grey cloud. Six pylons prickled the horizon, three groups of three, arm in arm.
Even here, the weight wouldn’t lift. The sky pressed down, hills pushed at his back, pylons watchful.
He tied another fishing fly, plucked the silken fluff from the shaft of a quail feather, twisted the cord, trapping more feathers. Once the fly was done, he added it to the others lined up on the pontoon.
They stirred in the wind, a twitch like the flex of dying muscles. He scuffed the bundles of feather and cord into the water.
“It’s time.” The aide was at his side, signalling towards the car. “They need your signature to go ahead.”
“Yes.” He watched the feathers float away.
Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its jumping off point. This week we visit Newfoundland and Labrador. See here to join in.