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.

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#tuesdayuseitinasentence: Nailed

Spilt red nail polish

Image : Pixabay

 

Her nails are bitten down to the quick. They snag on her clothes when she dresses in the morning – if she dresses in the morning – scratch her cheek as she sits at the kitchen table, gazing out at her soaked patchy lawn.

Once her nails were immaculate, glossy – ten scarlet blades. Men loved them, some ridiculous fantasy about a woman with claws. A barely tamed creature.

Then one night …

There had been drinks, a man she hardly knew, a scene in a bar taken outside on the street, stumbling into an alleyway of binbags and cardboard boxes.

Shouting, screaming. Then hands were pinning her arms. An animal terror making her freeze, a desperation to escape his trap, that leering, beery breath on her face. She’d fought but he was strong, grip tight – tightening – and she was falling and he on top of her, his weight knocking her breath away, pinning her to the wet tarmac, the base of her spine grinding. And she was clawing, clawing at his wrists, wriggling, sinking further, then …

She was on her feet. Her hands were slick, greasy – stained black in the darkness. He was silent.  Slumped cloth and steaming flesh. She’d ran.

Days later, though she’d washed and washed, the rust was still trapped under the nails, scarlet on the surface, browned like henna on the underside.

So now, the blades are gone, the rust too. But still she smells the metal of that night. And no matter how much she gnaws at herself, the scent clings …

 


Written for Stephanie at Word Adventures’ #tuesdayuseitinasentence. Today the word is NAILED. See here to read the other tales and to join in.

Also, for The Daily Post’s Daily PromptSCENT. See here to join in and to read the other posts.

The Daily Prompt : Him, the king and the snow

Image result for alfred jewel

 

A snowflake flutters onto his lashes, melts, is blinked away before another lands. What began as a flurry is falling heavier now, snow settling in the pits and dips in mud grown solid under days of frost and bitter wind.

He doesn’t notice. Doesn’t see the bare trees, black lacework against the solid grey sky, or the vixen crossing the barren field, her belly sunk with hunger, her brush thin, the dull russet hair. He doesn’t see her stop, raise her nose to sniff the air – to sniff him – and hurry on her way, too cautious, too experienced to stay where the meaty, lactic tang of humans hangs.

The world passes unseen.

All he knows are his breathing and the exquisite crystal teardrop that’s nestled in his palm, the golden wires that twine and coil along the edge, that twist into the snout, the flaring nostrils of a fierce beast, that whirl into two great, fathomless eyes, protecting the king, his emerald gown, the coal black stare.

His hands grow hard with the cold, as if the stone has sunk into him, made him stone too. The snow falls harder, blotting out the sky, the vixen’s tracks, the spindle trees – leaving him, the king and the snow.

 


Written for The Daily Prompt – today the word is EXQUISITE.

There was one object I though of after reading the prompt word – The Alfred Jewel. Twelve hundred years old, it’s one of the finest examples of Anglo Saxon goldsmithing in this country.

Commissioned by King Alfred himself, as the inscription “aelfred mec heht gewyrcan” (Alfred ordered me made) attests, it’s always seemed like a perfect, magical object to me and I tried to imagine how the man who found it in the late seventeenth century might have felt as it lay in his hand.

See here to learn more about the jewel.

The Daily Prompt: Never let the sun set

Bed and bedding

Image: Pixabay

 

‘Never let the sun set on an argument.’

That’s what you said, yet you never could take your own advice. We hadn’t spoken for an hour, well, no more than a ‘pass the salt please’ and a ‘tea?’, though no eye contact was made, no little smile shared.

You went up to bed without a word, leaving me to watch some late night science documentary I’d seen before and hadn’t really been interested in the first time round. I listened to your footfalls on the stairs, the creak of boards a you crossed the landing, the cistern filling after the flush.

Eventually you were quiet and I churned the argument over in my head, beginning at irritated indignation, slowly feeling the stupidity of it, that two people who love each other so much could let such a ridiculous thing spoil an evening.

I crept to bed at midnight, slipped in beside you, wanting to hold you but preferring to sleep in isolation than risk you shrugging me off.

It was only in the morning, as sleep clogged my lashes, as I swallowed the bitter taste on my tongue that I realised you were cold.

That you were still in the same position as you were when I went to bed.

That you slipped away in the middle of an argument. No kind word. No last kiss.

 


Writen for The Daily Prompt’s ARGUMENT thread. See here to join in and to read the other posts.

The Daily Prompt: The day I realise

Steam iron

Image: Pixabay

It’s my birthday when I realise. Standing at the sink, wrist deep in washing up water, hands pink from the heat.

He doesn’t love me anymore.

It’s not just a thought, it’s the knowledge of it, a feeling in my chest as if I’ve my lungs are sinking to my stomach, my heart deflating, turning wrinkled and soggy like a week old balloon.

‘You putting the kettle on?’ he calls from the front room, TV blasting the theme tune to one of the American murder mysteries he likes, the sort of show where the worst of life’s trauma’s is solved in an hour.

I click the switch on the kettle, rinse out two mugs, dry my hands on the tea towel.

‘Just making it now,’ I say.

I crouch by the washing machine, tugging shirts free from the knot of linen. I put the iron on and wait for the kettle to boil.

 


Written for The Daily Prompt. Today the would is REALISE. See here to join in and to read the other posts.

 

Graceful as an elephant: The Daily Prompt: Graceful

Elephant's head

Image: Pixabay

‘Graceful as an elephant,’ Dad muttered as I tripped for the third time.

I sat on the pavement, examining the fresh graze on my knee, blood like red pearls on scuffed skin. I’d grazed the toes of my new shoes too, roughened leather showing pale against the chestnut brown polish. I could have cried, but refused to let myself.

Dad had gone up ahead, past the grocer’s cart with its hillock of crinkling Granny Smith’s, past the chemist with its giant bottles of jewell coloured liquids, copperplate brass plaques declaring Elix. Cardammomi co, Elix. Carnis et Ferri.

He turned back to see where I was, spun smoothly on his heel, his jacket flaring, his arms raised slightly, as if ready to dance. He kept on walking, one step, two, down the curb onto  Old Farm Road. He was frowning, eyes searching the air above my head.

A horn sounded. A thud. The pages of a newspaper flapping to the ground like weary pigeons.

Dad taught me a lesson I shall never forget – it’s better to be aware than graceful.

 


Written for The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt – GRACEFUL. Visit here to join in and to read the other posts.

All fur coat and no knickers : The Daily Prompt : Facade

Glamorous female model smoking

Image: Pixabay

 

Your facade reminds me of a country house – grand but stony. I wonder if there are other similarities.

Does your beautiful exterior hide decrepitude, hidden portions of yourself you’d rather others did not peek at? No doubting you are presentable when you’ve had fair warning of visitors, but if we look a little deeper, are there places – hidden behind a red silk rope – unavailable to the public? With an air of dusty neglect and just a whiff of rodent?

If I pulled aside the curtain of your respectablilty, would I find rotting waste, a thousand dirty, hidden little secrets swept out of sight of prying eyes?

Just tell me – are you all fur coat and no knickers?

 


Written for The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt – FACADE. Write a post to accompany the word and why not pop along here to read the other posts.