Storm #Writephoto

Storm – copyright Sue Vincent

The First of Chaos strode into the Borderland, summoning the rains with his raised palms. Would their thunderous return drown the land and all those toiling in its dust? He harbored little doubt of that outcome. Would they quench the thirst of a parched and dying land to foster new life? Of that end, he was curious. Chaos wasn’t devoid of hope, but it was always unpredictable.

He turned to the peaks, the land of goblins and raptors, of hooved climbers and burrowing rodents. Towers crumbled. Ridges eroded, swept down by torrential rains. Giant trees toppled like kindling, hillsides laid low by mud-clotted waves, pummeled by sand and stone.

The storm crushed all in its path. Caverns collapsed. Tunnels flattened and filled. Goblins died. Changelings died. Elves died. The noble and treacherous, the innocent and immoral, the young and old. By chance alone, others would survive. They fled down the mountainside on his mighty heels.

He strolled the perimeter of Ka Radiff, a once-thriving center of commerce, an open and welcoming city. Now, a crater, a receptacle of his brown deluge and a raft of bloated bodies. To the west, ash and dust shrouded the land in a ghoulish film the color of old bones. Soot joined with the billowing smoke of the forests where the inferno raged, consuming all in its path—human, plant, and animal, the common and plain, the rare and beautiful. Gone, gone, gone. A waste. He would wander in that direction eventually. But first, he’d satisfy his curiosity.

There was a war on.

***

A cheery snippet for Valentine’s Day from my WIP ( book 3: Lords of Chaos), slightly modified.

In response to Sue Vincent’s Thursday #writephoto prompt. Thanks, Sue!

And Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤

pixabay

 

Daybreak #Writephoto

Photo copyright Sue Vincent

The chirping alarm clock wakes us at an ungodly hour, and I quickly prepare a thermos of hot chocolate. Muffins packed. Sweaters donned. Flashlights? Check. Blankets? Check. Keys? I pat my pocket, running through my mental checklist. We load up and drive the winding lane to the knoll.

It’s my 60th birthday, and I want to watch the sunrise. My ten-year-old granddaughter indulges my desire.

We spread a blanket on the smooth ledge, cupfuls of cocoa in hand, another blanket warming our laps. The stars behind us glimmer like luminescence in the sky’s black sea. To the east, they fade as dawn breaks. Clouds stream in heaven’s wind, a sheer sail unfurling over the slumbering land.

A light catches the corner of my eye. An iphone! “Gah!  Turn that thing off.”

“I have to check one thing.”

My instruction is ignored. I emit a series of annoyed and exasperated groans, mutterings, and sighs.

“One minute,” she giggles, unswayed by my performance. “I’m looking something up.”

I wait.

She leans into my shoulder and shares. “Did you know that light is actually all colors, and each color has a different wavelength. Blue is the shortest and red the longest.

“Hm.”

“Different length lightwaves travel through space, and when they reach the atmosphere, they bounce off particles in the air. Like dust, water, and ice crystals, and tiny gas molecules. They scatter in lots of different directions.”

“Interesting.”

My subtle hints are failing to have an impact. She scrolls down. “When sunlight travels a short path through the atmosphere, tiny gas molecules scatter blue sunlight in all directions, making the sky blue. At sunrise and sunset, when light travels a long path, it’s mostly red and yellow.”

I sling an arm around her and sigh. “And I thought it was magic.”

She slides her phone into her pocket, and we “ooh” and “aah” as the sun bathes tiny gas molecules with gloriously long light waves.

“You know what else it said?” Apparently, my little scientist isn’t finished.

“What?”

“That the clouds are a canvas on which nature paints her colors.”

“I like that,” I say.

“I thought you would. You see? It’s magic after all.”

***

In response to Sue Vincent’s Thursday #Writephoto prompt.

This is a work of fiction.

Reaching #Writephoto

photo copyright Sue Vincent

Black limbs jutted from thick boles. Their skeletal twigs clawed at her clothes, snagged her hair, and scratched her arms. She’d lost her way in the twilit forest but didn’t dare turn back. Couldn’t surrender. Not after coming so far.

She pushed forward, stumbled over gnarled roots that writhed from the earth like snakes. Her imagination ran in wild spirals and panic stole her breath. Soon darkness would filter between the boughs and force her to stop, at the mercy of the autumn cold, the hunger coiling in her stomach. Wolves roamed the uncharted terrain.

Why had she fled with so little preparation? Had she made a mistake? Could she have endured her troubles a little longer? Even as a child, when her mother died, she’d dreamed of flight. Her father had fallen prey to a widow’s deft manipulations. He’d fawned over his new bride, unable to acknowledge her cruelty, terrified of the truth, of his grief.

Until he too rested in the graveyard.

She tripped over a root and pitched to the ground, bloodying her palms and gouging a knee. Lips pressed between her teeth, she brushed pine needles from stinging hands and slowed her pace. Animals rustled in the underbrush, and an owl hooted overhead. She cringed and stepped gingerly between the trees, outstretched fingers snapping the dead twigs threatening to blind her.

Despite her resolve, her current situation elicited a muttered curse. A year ago, she’d made a poor choice, but the only one her naive desperation had conjured. She’d fled her father’s home, a decision well and good, but she’d charged straight into a debacle with seven other men. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

She’d escaped a life of cruelty for one scarcely better, one where safety had depended on servitude. She’d slaved for them: cooked, cleaned, laundered. They’d expected cheerful smiles, merry entertainment, and endless doting from a paper-thin woman without a heart or soul or choice. They hadn’t allowed her beyond the garden, scared her with threats of wild beasts and dangerous hunters, of being murdered. And all the while, their own faults had gone ignored. They were lazy slobs, grumpy and witless. Even the happiest among them didn’t lift a finger.

The sun was losing its battle with the moon. Spindly shadows lengthened as night crept through the canopy. When her endurance dropped through the soles of her shoes and trudging onward seemed pointless, she crested a hill and gasped. The forest parted. Beyond the last filigree of barren branches, the day’s final rays graced a serene valley. Twilight reached over the distant hills in a ribbon of golden hope. Snow White smiled, free to chart a new path. She squared her shoulders and set out for a future of her choosing.

**

Oh, it’s so fun to be participating again in Sue Vincent’s Thursday #Writephoto challenge. Happy Writing!

Tranquil Cove #Writephoto

photo by Sue Vincent

The beach parking lot was jammed with cars. Outside their blue rental, Samantha stretched her stiff limbs while Jeff rummaged in the back seat for snacks and towels. A tow truck clanked its chains and ground its gears in the midst of hauling away one of several abandoned vehicles, the windshields dusted with a week’s worth of windblown sand.

According to the glossy pamphlet, the rocky headlands and clustered islands sheltered turquoise waves, and the soft sand welcomed blankets and picnics. All inviting. But after days of battling crowds of tourists, the feature that most appealed to Sam was the promised solitude. Unfortunately, Tranquil Cove didn’t look like it would live up to its reputation.

She sighed and read the sign pounded into the sand at the lot’s edge. Someone had hand-scrawled a sloppy “g” on the otherwise formal warning.   “Beware of the grocks. No swimming.” She glanced at her new husband. “What are grocks?”

Jeff smirked and started up the dunes through the quivering beachgrass. “Come on.”

She climbed after him, willing to make the best of it, her toes sinking into the path’s velvet sand. The sound of a gigantic belch reached her ears, and she groaned at the prospect of a mob of drunken rugby players. But when they crested the dunes, an empty beach lay before them. “I can’t believe no one is here.”

“Someone was. Look at all the blankets and towels.”

“And footprints. Where is everyone?”

“Probably exploring the grocks.” He chuckled and headed across the sand to a sweet spot out of the breeze.

Sam helped him spread out their towels. They chowed on granola bars and shared a beer. The beach remained delightfully theirs, and as the sun peeked through the midday clouds, she napped in the rising heat.

Jeff nudged her awake. “Let’s go for a swim. I need to cool off.”

“The sign said ‘no swimming?’”

“Because of dangerous grocks.” He pulled her to her feet. “The sea’s calm, and I can see the bottom. Not a grock in sight.”

She gave in without argument. The water was refreshing, and other than a few rounded rocks, the bottom descended in a gentle slant. She wiped water from her eyes and drifted toward him, pulling herself along the shallow bottom with her hands. He sat on one of the submerged rocks near the shore, staring down at the water.

“What are you looking at?” she asked.

He leaned over for a kiss and then resumed his study. “There are bubbles coming from under this rock. What would cause that?”

She sat next to him. Sure enough, tiny air bubbles leaked up around their hard seat. “I have no idea. Some kind of mollusk?”

~

Eric and Penny unloaded their car in the packed parking lot as a tow truck hauled away a sand-strewn blue rental car. A huge belch split the air and Penny laughed. “You didn’t tell me your brother was here.”

“Ha ha ha.” Eric rolled his eyes. “This place isn’t supposed to be crowded.”

Penny glanced up from reading a sign. “Hey, what’s a grock?”

***

Update:

I’m still on hiatus, but figured I’d post something. And what better than a little story based on Sue Vincent’s Thursday #Writephoto prompt?

I’ll be visiting the blogosphere more often and should be back into a routine by mid-August. I miss you! But I’ve been reading between all the busyness, and that’s been wonderfully relaxing.

My parents are doing a little better after 8 months of health issues. Unfortunately, in a couple of weeks, I have to move them a second time. Their new housing will be more suited to their needs, and we’re all eager to get this last change in place.

Happy Blogging!

Wicker #Writephoto

copyright Sue Vincent

My mother despised the wicker witches on the neighbor’s farm. She made the sign of the cross when we scurried by on the straight and narrow path to church. Evil things. Satan’s work.

She wrenched me by my wrist, muttering prayers, refusing to raise her gaze from the dirt, grip so tight she left fingered bruises. Crushed violets on my skin. She heard the Devil in the wind on holy days.

I bent beneath God’s almighty eyes. He spied from my closet, prowled under my bed. Tallied transgressions like a spider weaving a child-size web. A tattletale, he caressed the pale shell of my mother’s ear, whispered lists of my depravities, filthy dreams. Collected my impious cravings like bright pennies from a well.

His flaming brand, his righteous redeemer, she blamed the stick witches, wielded the switch, and lay bloody creases of repentance across my spine. Grace earned with pain, not tears.

A wicked girl, I slipped my bed when the Devil beckoned. Irredeemable. An unholy thing. I ghosted across the porch beneath a gilded moon and fled to the neighbor’s field. The witches of sticks clutched hands and danced. Heads tossed back. Skirts swirling. I, the child in the center of their circle. For those moments. Safe from the shining sword of God.

**

An experiment with broken sentences. Did you like it or was it annoying? Would love your thoughts.

A completely fictional response to Sue Vincent’s #Writephoto prompt

Monochrome #Writephoto

copyright – Sue Vincent

Monochrome

My mother’s home
bows to the leaden clouds
through withering years
her gravity weights us
frail fingers of need
suspended from my shoulders

She clutches my arm
like a worn-out child
I bear without bending
but why do I feel
my feet have grown tap roots
and I cannot extract them

They are declining together
that house and she
sagging and creaking
water-marked and fractured
fragile veins of rusted pipes
crumbling the foundation of bones

Beauty requires altered eyes
the blurred half-distance of memory
a chorus of overlapping echoes
in party dresses and baby’s breath
when the decay of age was nothing
a coat of paint couldn’t hide

She has lost the sharp-edged borders
scarlet tulips and peach-rimmed roses
glories of the morning in royal blue
black-eyed Susans and apricot orchids
mums in the amber blaze of twilight
winter’s bittersweet

I will remember
her spring blossoms
ceding to blood red chrysanthemums
and garlands of evergreen
until the day I too fade
into monochrome

**

I just got home from another visit to my parents. They’re doing fine but declining, especially my mother. This poem is bleaker than the real situation. It’s just the muse and image tugging me along. Thanks to Sue Vincent for another Thursday #Writephoto prompt. (I missed the deadline, but happily post this anyway.)

Beyond the Light #Writephoto

copyright Sue Vincent

On my last day, the impenetrable rain finally clears, and my hostess suggests a walk. I’d rather stare out the window and wallow in my disappointment. But her enthusiasm won’t be thwarted, and I can’t very well blame her for the weather.

We venture through her back gate. A gray mist stalls between the trees’ black silhouettes, robbing me of a mere glimpse of blue sky. Spring has dawdled, and leafless twigs knit a dark filigree above the crooked boles. Only the mottled grass seems to have noticed the changing season, but it squishes beneath my feet and soaks my shoes.

I shove my hands in my pockets against the chill. “Is spring always this… dreary?”

My hostess chuckles. “It depends on your perspective.” She steps aside and beckons me to stand in her place.

I smile at her attempt at humor and comply. The morning sun casts rainbows in my eyes.

Gift my gloomy heart
Solace from expectations
Where darkness shelters
A new perspective beckons
In dawn’s awakening light

 

A haibun/tanka combo.

Thanks to Sue Vincent for the inspiring #Writephoto prompt.