Summit – #Writephoto

#writephoto image: Sue Vincent

The cane wobbled. Its tip slipped, wedged between two stones, and stuck. Morten grumbled and shuffled up a step. His grandson was born with the brains of a turnip if he thought an old man could climb the steep path in a day. “A sacred site, pretty view, and perfect breeze,” the boy had explained. Morten would need to grow wings to reach the fort’s grassy summit before nightfall.

He thrust out his cane, planted it, and heaved himself up another step. The voices behind him grew louder, the crowd gaining on him. Resigned to his predicament, he twisted aside and backed up to the low wall flanking the path. His balance akilter, he landed his bony rump on the flat rock, lucky he didn’t tip backward and tumble down the hill. His cane clattered on the stone pavers.

The younger folk—his seventy-year-old daughter and her husband, his gaggle of grandchildren and stampede of great-grandies—hiked up the path. His daughter stooped to pick up the cane. “What is dad’s cane doing here?”

Her husband patted her shoulder. “Someone must have dropped it. We’ll bring it up.”

“Ahem!” Morten protested, but the troop resumed their march, paying him no mind and stranding him where he sat. He leaned forward, rocked, and pushed to his feet. With a grunt of effort, he straightened up, though “straight” was purely a matter of perspective.

He shambled farther up the path, knees creaking and fingers inching along the top of the wall. The breeze felt good, and the view was spectacular even though he hadn’t reached the top. After a short distance, the path smoothed and seemed less steep, and he abandoned the security of the wall. He took a few confident steps, and satisfied, added a bit of spring to his gait. He swung his arms and inhaled a deep breath. His pace increased, a renewed vigor thrumming through his heart.

He considered dancing a merry little a jig but dismissed the thought as overzealous. Instead, he picked a handful of summer flowers from the bank and waltzed like a groom on his wedding day. His wife appeared at the path’s peak and laughed, the clouds framing her like downy wings. He winked at her, smiling like a fool in love, surefooted, his life in bloom. The urge to run tickled at his toes, and he leapt into a strong lope, the muscles in his limbs stretching, his arms pumping, his vision clear and soul awake.

His wife opened her arms and received him. At the summit, his grandson smiled as a gust of wind gathered up the ashes from the lifted urn.

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The image is from Sue Vincent’s Thursday #Writephoto prompt. Join in the fun.

Fallen Angel

click on the image to enlarge for a view of the being in the shadows

This is a result of an early morning dream as I let my mind wander in search of a new book idea.

Feathers rustle softly in the corner of my room. The sound is subtle, intentional. He’s broken through more than the walls of my home; he’s defied the barriers dividing our kinds. He perches like a wraith in the safety of his shadows, waiting for me to wake, to stir at his presence. I don’t twitch.

On ebony nights, when woolen clouds swath the mountains and blank out the moon, the world turns invisible and senses heighten. My room smells of snow and wood fire, and his breath whispers. I’m his echo, and if I could see, my slow inhales and exhales would blow the ashes of old choices into the still air and shroud my bed in a coverlet of regrets.

My eyes search the shadows for an outline, a face, a reprieve. A phantom light glimmers on the black rachis and vanes of his wings. This fallen angel has traveled between worlds for me, only to find I’ve lost my wings along the way and can’t go home.