Category Archives: Wednesday Write-In Entries

Warmup Wednesday – ‘Unjessed’

The Falconer, Central Park, New York City. CC2.0 photo by Matt Karp.  Image sourced: flashfriday.wordpress.com

The Falconer, Central Park, New York City. CC2.0 photo by Matt Karp.
Image sourced: flashfriday.wordpress.com

Unjessed

There was a time I relished your captivity. Rules. Regulations. Proscriptions. Thou shalt not. It was safe. I was a bird in the hand, watching the world, unwilling or unable to fly.

One blue day, I leapt and was carried, and the sky took me, and it was good. Better than had been promised. Things were different from up here. I called to you, but you couldn’t see. You wouldn’t.

You wait for my obedient return, my bowed head, my supplication. I hear your voice calling, I feel the old pull, but my head bends only to the wind, now.

***

One of Flash! Friday’s new initiatives is Warmup Wednesday, where participants are asked to write a story of exactly 100 words (no leeway!) based solely around an image prompt. The stories are not judged, and so it’s purely for the fun of creating something new. It’s been so long now since a prompt actually kicked anything off inside my brain that when I saw this image, and it chimed exactly with how I was feeling, I knew I had to write. I did, and I’m so glad.

Because, guess what? It really made me feel better.

A story is, of course, about whatever a reader wants it to be, and I hope that anyone who reads this particular piece will take their own meaning from it. But, personally, it has come from a very deep place of anguish and uncertainty, born out of comments recently made in the media by an Irish Catholic bishop, which shook me to my foundations and made me sick to be a person of faith. It is harder and harder with every passing day, it seems, to be a person of faith in modern Ireland, and to feel the beliefs which have always sustained you slipping away, one by one. I’m not sure what this story ‘says’, but all I know is I’m glad I was able to get the impulse to create it out of my head.

And now, on with your Wednesday. Have a good one. Do some writing, maybe.

Wednesday Writing – ‘Credit Due’

Image: ngccoin.com

Image: ngccoin.com

Credit Due

It was the hottest day so far that summer, and Mama needed sugar.

‘Go on down to the store,’ she told me, squinting out the window. ‘Ask old man Bailey to let you have it on credit. You hear?’

‘Yes, ma’am,’ I said.

‘That’s my baby,’ she said, turning to face me, blinking the dusty path outside from her eyes. ‘Mama’ll make some lemonade, when you get home. Don’t hurry, now. I think I’ll go take me a nap.’

‘Yes, ma’am,’ I said, already running for the door.

‘Walk!’ yelled Mama as I thumped my way out into the day, the sun like the warm hand of God on my skin. ‘Ladies walk, Ella-Marie!’

Ain’t a lady yet, I thought as I skipped away from the house, my toes like bruised earthworms against the yellowish soil. My knees winked out at me from underneath my hem. I put my face to the sky and dipped my nose right into it, my mind already swirling as I thought about the Coca-Cola girl hanging over the register down at Bailey’s General Store, and how her white dress shone like an angel, and her skin looked like it tasted of ice-cream…

‘Well, hey there, Ella-Marie,’ came a voice, and my eyes popped open. I screwed them up against the sunshine, feeling like my air had turned to dirt. ‘How you doin’ today?’

‘Hey, Mister Hadley,’ I said, my pulse rusty in the back of my throat.

‘Your Mama at home?’ Mister Hadley smiled at me, his skin all nasty, looking like sour milk with flyblown strawberry preserve smeared on top. He clutched his hat in his pink-scrubbed hands, his knuckles like rotten teeth and his suit just patched enough to still be respectable. I chewed the inside of my mouth.

‘Yessir,’ I muttered.

‘Well, ain’t that fine,’ he said. His smile, like a dog dead in a gutter, didn’t move a muscle as he reached those pale fingers into his pocket. He took them out and there was a nickel entwined in them like a trapped bird, and he stretched them out to me like I had the key to its freedom.

‘Well, go on,’ he said, laughing. ‘Take it. Get yourself somethin’ nice.’

I reached for the coin, my own dark fingers hot and suddenly sweaty and covered in filth and his cool now, like iron, like ice. My own dirty and shameful and his strong and steady.

I snatched my hand back.

His smile sang a wrong note then, and his face fell apart. He frowned, and threw the nickel in the dirt.

‘Git, then,’ he said. ‘Go on! I got business to discuss with your Mama, so don’t you go disturbin’ us, now. Y’hear me?’

I had long left him behind before I remembered: Mama’s sleepin’. She said she was sleepin’! And my ears started burning with embarrassment not my own, imagining Mama disheveled, surprised, ashamed.

But I did not go back.

Old man Bailey looked at me over his spectacles as he wrote the value of the sugar in his book. The store was empty but for us two, and the air tasted like sweat.

‘You tell your Mama to come in and settle up, Ella-Marie, just as soon as she can. I ain’t got endless reserves of credit. Times are hard for everyone, not jus’ you colored folk.’

‘Yessir,’ I said, my arms already aching.

‘Get on home, now, child,’ he said. ‘And be sure to give your Mama my regards.’

‘Yessir,’ I said, the sack of sugar like a kicking piglet.

I scuffed my feet as I walked, trailing my toes in the dust and shifting the sugar from arm to arm. My fingers slipped around it, like a tongue struggling with an unfamiliar word, and my shoulders wailed like I was being nailed to the cross. Sweat trickled down my back.

I came upon Mister Hadley’s nickel eventually. It glinted in the sunlight like the eye of a buried monster, waiting. I slid the sack of sugar to the ground and propped it against my shaking, sticky leg as I bent to pick the coin up out of the dirt. I turned it over and over, buffalo-face-buffalo-face, wondering what Mama’d say when she saw it.

And eventually I hoisted up the sugar again, and I kept walking.

‘Mama?’ I called, as the screen-door thunked shut. My brown feet slapped on the browner boards as I crossed the neat parlor, Daddy’s rifle still in one corner even though the man himself was just a memory, just a word. ‘Mama?’ The door to her room was thrown wide, and I remembered – again – that she was sleeping, and a rush of sour shame washed all through me. I tiptoed to the kitchen and shouldered the sack up onto the table, and took a breath. My throat felt raw.

And the door to the back was standing open.

I crept to it. Outside, the laundry flapped in the breeze like a preacher mid-sermon, hands raising to heaven in hope and fear, before sinking, disappointed and despairing, to earth once more. The scrubland between our house and the Wesleys’, half a mile away, yawned into the distance. Mama wasn’t anywhere.

I turned, my ears throbbing, and crossed the room until Mama’s bedroom door was staring at me, dark as a crow’s eye. Everything was still. I dropped the nickel and it rolled, sounding like the top being torn off the world, until it fell between two boards and was silent.

Mama was lying on her bed like an unfurled flower, her eyes still full of the dusty path outside. Her mouth was open, nothing coming out of it but slow redness, ink from a broken bottle. Her dress gaped, like it was kissing me goodbye.

And all around her, dollar bills were scattered one after another after another, like confetti at the feet of a bride.

 

Wednesday Writing – ‘Angel, Interceptor’

Image sourced: https://unsplash.com Photographer: Ryan Lum

Image sourced: https://unsplash.com
Photographer: Ryan Lum

Angel, Interceptor

I’ve always found it easy to stay hidden. It’s being seen that’s the hard thing. I envy them, with their carelessness and their loud voices, their total comfort in this world. It was made for them, after all.

I envy that.

I watch from the shadow of St – I think – Ambrose, he of the scourge and the silent reading. Oh, yes; I remember him. In life, he was an uptight, sanctimonious creep, yet here he is, immortalised in stone and precious metal while I still stand, technically enfleshed, looking more or less the same as I did the day I appeared to him in his bedchamber. I let him think he banished me unto the Pit, but in reality I was simply bored. I found bigger fish, that day, someone with a soul so large she could have enveloped ten so-called saints inside it with room left over, despite its single stain.

She wept as I took her but I was young, then. I didn’t care. I had a job and I was doing it, and that was that.

I see them now, life bursting from every pore, the frantic spinning of atoms and molecules and the proliferation of cells and the humming hiss of blood, and I know that a thought would be enough. A simple thought, and their flow would suddenly freeze, or a cell divide slightly wrongly, or an electrical impulse go awry.

I am cold, dark matter; my heart beats, but only when it remembers to. My blood hasn’t stirred in centuries.

And so I watch. They laugh and take pictures, posing with their mouths open and their eyes wide, their laughter like shards of glass in my ears. I am here to take them, to destroy what I can and claim the rest, to lay waste, to burn what does not please Him… but still I watch.

They are moving off, arms around shoulders, warm kisses on warmer cheeks, fingers entwined, towards the old city. A straggler hesitates, capturing one last shot of the statue of St Mark, and I feel a pull in my muscles, an urge to take to the air and shred this bridge and all upon it with the force of my magnificence – but it’s surprisingly easy to swallow it back. The human gets to his feet again, stuffing his camera into its bag, before taking off after his friends, laughing as he runs.

He judges them too harshly. Flawed, yes, but irredeemable?

A pigeon lands on the head of the metal and gilt Ambrose and regards me coolly for a moment or two. Briefly, I consider reducing it to atoms, but I sigh, and it continues on its journey. As one winged thing to another, we pay our mutual respects.

I squint up at Ambrose’s impassive face and formulate a thought before turning away. A gust of heat wafts at my back, and I permit myself a moment of pride. As I walk, I picture the sun rising over this young, ancient city, and the confusion of the authorities as they try to figure out what could possibly have caused a huge metal statue to melt, and I almost smile. But I came to smite, and smite I have; let someone else worry about the technicalities.

I fold my wings tight and run my fingers through my hair. There must be somewhere in this city I can find a bar with a nice, shady corner and a server who asks no questions, I tell myself, as I vanish into the flow.

 

Wednesday Writing – ‘The Darkness, Waiting’

Photo Credit: ecstaticist via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: ecstaticist via Compfight cc

The Darkness, Waiting

It was the feeling of his breath on my cheek that woke me.

‘Sarah!’ came the whisper. Tiny. Terrified. ‘Sarah!

‘Ger? What…’

‘It’s Da! He’s home.’

I blinked. There was a blindfold on my brain. ‘But it’s the middle of the night,’ I murmured, sleepily. ‘What’s going on? Where’s Mam?’

‘In the kitchen, I think,’ he said. Terror hung around every word like mist. A sudden burst of raucous laughter from downstairs made him jump like he’d been struck, and his head snapped towards my bedroom door as if he was expecting a monster to walk through it. Great. Da’s brought Jimmy home. Ger’s skinny arms wrapped around his body, and I could hear the hissing of his hurried breathing.

‘Shush,’ I said, wriggling over in the bed. ‘Come on.’ I felt a graveyard draught down my neck as I struggled into the cold sheets, and did my best not to grimace. Only for you, little brother, I thought, as he scurried into the warm hollow I’d left behind.

‘Will they argue?’ he whispered once he was settled. I tucked the covers around him and wrapped his icy feet up in mine. I drew him close, trying not to feel how thin he was, and how threadbare his pyjamas had become. Until last year, I’d owned them. One of our cousins had known them new.

‘I don’t know, little man. Maybe. D’you think Da had drink on him?’

‘Why else would he be coming home this late?’

‘Yeah,’ I sighed. ‘You’re right.’

‘It’s going to start again, isn’t it,’ he said, his voice trembling.

‘Now, now. Don’t go borrowing worry,’ I said, imitating our mother’s voice. I couldn’t see him, but I could hear the tiny huff of breath as he nodded and smiled.

‘Yes, Ma,’ he teased.

A sudden thump from downstairs made us both jump. I could feel Ger trembling beside me, and I stroked his dark hair.

‘That was the sitting room door,’ he said. ‘Hitting the wall.’

‘All right! All right, missus!’ came a voice, bellowing up the stairs. Jimmy. We could hear Ma too, telling him to get out of her house and back to his own wife and family.

‘Now! Now!’ Da. ‘There’s no need to be going anywhere!’ His voice was loud and full of that particular laughter he only got after ten or twelve hours’ drinking. There were some muffled thumps, and then a huge, heavy body slammed against the banisters, shaking the whole house.

‘Right! I’m gone!’ called Jimmy, as if he’d paid a casual visit. ‘Good luck!’

‘Get out!’ That was Ma. The front door slammed. Then, the terrible silence began. Me and Ger, and the darkness in my room, all held our breaths. We knew what came next. The waiting was almost the worst part.

Just as I’d begun to wonder if it was going to start at all, the first slap sounded.

**

This is a story I’ve had for a long time, and I’ve often dithered over whether to make it public here. For some reason, it means a lot to me and it pulls at my heart like nothing else I’ve written. Clearly, something in it touches a memory, or a deep fear, or maybe even a nightmare I first had as a child. Whatever it is, for me this story is like a wound.

But I was lucky, as a child. My parents had their disagreements, like all parents do, but I was raised with so much love that it has shaped my whole life. I was never afraid, or beaten, or hurt; I always knew I had a home, and parents who loved me.

Some children don’t.

The ISPCC, which (in Ireland) runs the national, currently 24/7 Childline service, is at risk of having to close their night-time listening services to children due to a lack of funding. Night-time is the time when children need Childline the most. Night-time is the time when children can feel terrified not only of the dark, but of what’s in it, waiting. Childline is not a service just for ‘disadvantaged’ children, or ‘underprivileged’ ones – it is for all children. Some parents think their children will never need to contact a service like Childline, but I believe you simply never know what’s going on in your child’s life, and what they may need help with, and what they feel they can’t bring to their parents, no matter how much they love them. I don’t want to turn this story into a plea for help for a charity in a country that many of you don’t even live in, but I will say this:

Check out this website for some insight into what Childline does, and why it’s trying to raise money. If you feel able, there are links here to allow you to donate.

And if there’s a similar service in your own country, please try to donate to it, if you can. Even the smallest bit could make a huge difference.

We need to invest in our children. Leaving them alone when they need us most is a thought I can’t bear. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday Writing – ‘Spotlight’

Image: unsplash.com

Image: unsplash.com

Spotlight

Driving home, she allowed her mind to wander. Her hands flashed through the motions, adjusting the steering wheel, flicking on the indicator, correcting the volume on the radio. Click was an image of her changing from third gear to fourth. Click, and she was applying the brake, gently, to avoid a swerving cyclist. Click, a stylish black and white shot in which she squinted against the sun, creases framing her dark-ringed eyes. As her car wheels ate the miles, the desire she thought she’d quelled began to pulse through her again like a tree root, pushing out all else. The deliciousness of it buzzed through her veins like an electrical charge, the suggestion of it making her knuckles whiten on the wheel.

Coffee. She needed to think.

She pulled over and let the car sit, pink-pink-pinking gently as its engine cooled, while she rummaged in the glove compartment for change. She shoved aside a random purse, an identity card spilling out of its unzipped opening, showing her a face she’d already forgotten. Several sets of keys to houses and cars she didn’t own rattled beneath her questing fingers. Finally, she found the stash of dusty, fluff-covered coins kept for emergencies, and she tossed them into her palm.

Emergencies. Like ‘My car’s broken down; do you mind if I come in and just call a garage? I’ll pay for the use of your phone, ma’am.’ Or ‘Have you seen this little girl, here? Please, ma’am, I need your help! Just sit into the car, for a moment, and take a better look.’ Or ‘I’ve just been mugged. Everything’s been taken, my wallet, my keys – can you please spare just a few cents, ma’am, so I can call my husband?’

She looked at the wedding ring she always wore, and grinned down at it. Inside, it said Cedric, April 28th 1976, Eternally, but she’d forgotten where she’d found it.

Snapping shut the glove compartment, she unfastened her seatbelt and pulled on the door release. She stepped out onto the pavement, whistling softly through her teeth as she checked for anything in uniform, but everything looked quiet. Still, she reasoned, fingering through her coins, doesn’t hurt to stay on the right side of the law. Smiling, she strode to the parking meter and fed it enough money to last the half-hour she felt she needed to get settled over a cappuccino, maybe read a newspaper. Flirt with a waitress or two.

But on her way back to the car, she saw her. Across the road, against the brickwork, holding a panting dog on a straining leash, laughing as she pressed a cellphone to her ear, a dark-haired beauty stood. The spotlight descended upon her like the finger of Heaven, shining on her nut-brown head and freezing her beneath its glow like a fly caught on a pin, and watching all this, she knew. She knew, just looking. Her blood jumped, like someone had slapped her, and she knew.

This was the one.

Quickly, she yanked open the car door, flung the ticket on the dash, and grabbed up the crumpled map she always kept on the passenger seat. She licked her lips and stretched them out, baring her teeth, warming up to a smile, before backing out and slamming the door shut again.

Look left. Look right. Cross. The sleek dark girl was still on the phone. The dog saw her coming, and released a yapping growl.

God, Christian, all right! Jeez. Okay. I’ll come over.’ The dark girl was laughing, and for the first time in a long career, she waited, holding the creased map, still practising her smile, one that looked open but not stupid, trustworthy but not weird, friendly but not too friendly.

And she waited.

‘Hang on, Christian, okay? I’ve just got to…’ She trailed off, muffling the phone against her chest. ‘Hello? Do you need help with something?’ She’s talking to me.

‘Oh, gosh. Um. Please – finish your call! I don’t want to impose -‘

‘No, it’s fine. Honestly. Do you need directions?’ Her eyes were brown too, clear, guileless but wary. There was no smile on her face.

‘Sure, sure. Um. Hardacre? Is it around here someplace?’ She fumbled with the map, the wedding ring winking in the glow of the spotlight.

‘Please, don’t bother with the map. Please! Just listen, okay?’ She looked up, and the dark-haired girl was earnest, staring, one hand on the leash and the other on the phone. She started to give directions and the other woman pretended to take them in, even asking questions and clarifying details, before the conversation tapered off.

‘Okay. So, you’ve got it?’ The girl’s eyes were wide, wanting to help.

‘I sure do,’ she replied, wrapping up the map. ‘I sure do. Thank you, ma’am.’

‘Wow. Ma’am is for my mother. Please! You’re welcome.’ She nodded, just once, before picking up the phone again and turning, the dog’s straining making her leash-holding fingers turn yellow. She began to walk away.

‘Hi, Christian? Yeah, sure. No, no – just a woman lost, needing directions. Okay, so where were we? Oh, really…‘ The girl’s laughing voice left a trail, like scent, in the air, and she didn’t notice she was gripping the map hard until she heard it tearing in her hands. She took two strides to the nearest trash-can and threw it in.

Her calf muscles were tensed and her shoulders taut. Her fists clenched and her jaw set and she wanted to, so badly, but she’d blown it. She’d gone off too early, using the map trick. Now, how was she going to approach her again?

Before she knew it, she was halfway down the block, keeping well back. The spotlight moved with the dark-haired girl, and she shone within it like a newfound pearl.

She’s been chosen, you know, she heard, inside. Not by you. By someone higher than you. Through your hands, His will be done.

She kept walking, her throat sore from holding back a sob.

This will be the last one, the voice inside her whined. Just one more, and that’s all!

But that’s what you said the last time, she answered.

And the time before that, sang the voice. And the time before that, and the time before that.

 

Wednesday Writing – ‘The Discovery’

Photo by Drew Geraets Sourced at: www.unsplash.com

Photo by Drew Geraets
Sourced at: http://www.unsplash.com

The Discovery

‘Are you all right there?’ The Garda’s large hand catches me, tight as a clamp, just as I stumble on a loose rock.

‘Thanks,’ I say, steadying myself. I glance up at him, but he’s looking at my feet, frowning. ‘Should’ve worn better shoes!’ I wince at my own words. Now he’ll think you’re a mindless flake, I tell myself. Typical woman, only concerned about her bloody footwear.

‘Ah, sure it’s hard to know what to be wearing, up here,’ he mutters, blinking at the sky. ‘It’s different every day. Hiking boots mightn’t be enough some days, and others you could trot up here barefoot.’ He looks back at me. ‘You’re all right, now?’

‘Thanks,’ I nod, and he lets go of my arm. He wasn’t using force, but my flesh throbs anyway, like I’m bruised.

I take in a deep breath, trying to swallow.

‘We’ll ring your mother, now, as soon as there’s anything to report. All right?’ He’s keeping a respectful distance, hands in the pockets of his luminous jacket. ‘Mightn’t be signal for the mobiles up here on the bog, but we’ll do our best.’

‘Right,’ I tell him, hoping that it’s the police who’ll be talking to Mam, if and when there’s anything to say. They’ll hardly expect me to, will they?

‘Is she keeping well, anyway?’ He pauses. ‘Your mam, I mean,’ as if I wouldn’t have known who he meant.

‘Ah, well. You know. As good as can be expected.’ I’ve always hated that phrase. My mother’s doing fairly well, all things considered. Better than me, maybe. It should be her up here, walking this rough-cut path, other than she said she wouldn’t be able for it. She insisted I go, instead, and made the Gardaí change their normal procedures, just for her. They complied, because everyone says ‘yes’ to Mam.

‘It’d be great, now, if we could find a few answers for her,’ the Garda mutters. ‘Let her spend the rest of her days with a bit of peace.’

‘She’s hardly on her deathbed,’ I tell him, a bit more sharply than I mean to.

‘God, no,’ he says, quickly, turning to me with his eyes wide. ‘I only -‘

‘It’s my poor father needed the peace. He could never accept that Gillian was -‘ I still can’t bring myself to say dead. Murdered. I clear my throat and carry on. ‘He always thought she’d be found, you know. Without her memory, maybe. Kept in captivity, or something. It destroyed him. But Mam? It’s like she knew, from the beginning.’

‘Mothers have that sort of instinct, though, don’t they.’ He kicks a sharp-edged rock out of my path.

‘Shame her mothering instinct wasn’t as strong,’ I say, mostly to myself. The Garda lets on he hasn’t heard me, but I see a twitch around his mouth as he clenches his jaw.

‘Here we are, now,’ he says, his voice soft, as we crest the hill. The peaty, rocky path we’ve been walking on turns into churned-up muck, tyre tracks and footprints everywhere. He leads me off to one side where temporary flooring’s been laid down across the boggy surface. A hundred yards away, yellow, flapping security tape is tied in a rough triangle around a patch of ground. It flicks at my vision like a hook dangling in front of a fish, but I refuse to look.

So many people. All these cars. Lots of high-vis overcoats and muttered conversations, and nobody – no matter how much they want to, and how badly the air crackles with their need to – not one person looks over at me. I float through them like a ghost, the Garda at my side.

There’s a folding table at the end of the plywood walkway covered with large plastic boxes, white, with tight-fitting lids. He leads me towards them and my knees start to soften. His vice-hand is around my arm again.

‘If you’re not able,’ he says, ‘nobody is going to mind. All right, Gráinne? You just say, now, and we can go back down. We can just wait for the DNA tests to come back, and you can put all this behind you.’

I shake my head. It’s too late. I’m here.

‘No,’ I manage to say. ‘I have to find out. For Mam.’ She’ll be less than pleased, otherwise.

He nods. ‘Take your time, so. You give me the nod, when you’re ready. All right?’ I close my eyes. They’re swimming in a thick layer of hot tears, which overflow and run down my cheeks. They start to sting in the cold breeze.

‘Right,’ I say, half-whispering. ‘Now, before I talk myself out of it.’

The Garda gestures at a colleague and she unseals the nearest box. I blink and look into it, and sitting there in a neat plastic bag are a pair of tiny T-bar sandals, still mostly red. One of them even has the plastic flower attached. I remember the day they were bought for her, and how hard I cried.

‘Good Christ,’ I hear, vaguely, and the Garda catches me, lowering me gently to the ground. He shouts for help, and someone brings over a blanket and a flask. They get me sitting up and I stay there, staring at the forest across the way, watching the trees dance, until the cup of steaming tea in my hand turns cold.

‘Gráinne,’ I hear, and I turn to see the Garda crouched beside me, a mobile phone in his hand. ‘We’ve been trying to get your Mam for ages, now, but she’s not answering. Will you give it a go, instead? Maybe she’ll talk to you?’

My mother knew, all along, that this day would come, I want to tell him. She won’t be answering the phone to me, or anyone, ever again.

But I take the phone and dial her number anyway, and he holds my hand as gently as a child.

 

 

 

Wednesday Writing – ‘Eclipse’

Photo Credit: Prozac74 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Prozac74 via Compfight cc

Eclipse

Many things happened the year I turned ten. Mother died, Father chose another wife from among her sisters, my new brother was born, and the sun disappeared.

‘It is behind a cloud,’ clucked the old women. ‘A day, and it will reappear.’ But it did not.

‘It is lost beneath the earth,’ speculated the old men. ‘A day, and it will find its way.’ But they were wrong.

I do not know who first decided that my brother had stolen the sun, but once the idea had formed, and been spoken aloud, it ran around faster than a winter wind.

‘The sun is inside the child,’ the whisper started. ‘He has swallowed it, the worm!’

‘Cut him, then,’ said another mouth, another carbuncled tongue. ‘Cut him, and free it.’

My father told me they would come. When they did, they bore knives.

‘You must understand,’ they said. ‘It is him, or us.’

But my father refused them entry, and so they bled him. They took his wife and tormented her, but she said nothing. By then, I was several miles away, my brother strapped to my back. I was fast, and small, and quick. Silently, we watched the flames rise from our village.

Laying my brother down to rest that night, I stroked his soft face. He smiled, and golden light spilled from him, out into the darkness, from every pore of his body.

The next morning, the sun returned. None but we two saw it rise.

**

Apologies for the non-blog yesterday. Something went wrong with my computer and/or my Internet connection and/or the WordPress site; my techno-whiz husband fixed things, but not in time for me to post, I’m afraid. I’m sure not hearing from me caused widespread global upset, but it can’t be helped. Buck up, chaps, and let’s keep going!

The above wee storylet is one I’ve submitted to several places, without success. I wrote it a long time ago, and so technically I’m cheating, here, but I hope I’ll be forgiven for it. I’m not sure why Eclipse never found a home, but I’ve decided now it never will – not anywhere beyond this blog, at least. I like this tiny story, particularly the first line, and so I thought perhaps I’d share it and see what others think. Thoughts? Suggestions as to why it has collected rejections like a broom collects dirt? All suggestions gratefully received, but do remember to be kind above all else.

I’m a busy and somewhat under the weather woman today, so I’ll be off; there’s always another task to tackle. Have a happy Odin’s Day, and I’ll see you all tomorrow.