Crossing – #writephoto

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They approached the old bridge silently, hand in hand. They had taken this trip together, knowing it would probably be the last time either would be able to travel this far. It was one of their favorite places. They both had a lot on their minds. He was experiencing the first wave of dementia, caused by another illness. It only cropped up occasionally. It was apparent in his map-reading and directional skills. He was depressed, morose. He knew he would never pass this way again.

An illness was not plaguing her. She was concerned about him. She was also concerned about her age, her level of fatigue. She couldn’t do what she used to do. She was terribly fatigued from this trip and had become increasingly introspective. She wondered where you crossed from middle age to being old. Everyone liked to quip that age was only a state of mind. If they could feel how she felt right now, they would know better.

She also liked to think, most days, that the crossing was in your head and she felt young almost every day. Maybe 30. Some days even younger. That was in her head. When she looked in the mirror, she wondered who was looking back at her. Surely that couldn’t be her. Someone must be standing behind her. Some days, her body failed her and she knew she couldn’t be the 30 years of age she felt in her head. She must be that chronological age number that she hated so badly. When she felt like that, she felt guilty. Many didn’t ever have the opportunity to live as long as she had.

She wondered if, in today’s world of modern medicine, the crossing occurred at 50? Maybe 60? 70? Older? Perhaps it was specific to the person. The same mysterious feeling that always arose grabbed her. She was determined that her crossing had not yet occurred. She was still middle-aged, not old. She was going to fight the forces in her body that told her otherwise. She was going to keep her mind sharp and healthy.

She had to do this. For herself and her husband next to her. He could no longer do it for himself. As women have done for eons, she had to do it for both of them. She would stay young. Her crossing would not occur until the last second of her life.

 

Thank you to Sue Vincent for this incredible prompt.

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Wave – #writephoto

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The Native Americans called it Gitchee Gumee. The lake that seems as big as an ocean. Lake Superior that straddles the Michigan-Canadian border. With its rocky beaches and big waves. She walked along the beach and climbed over the rocks where she had to. It had been twelve years since she’d been here. Since she’d been home. It was a summer day, but the water was cold and the wind was brisk. She loved it.

She could be at home in Kentucky. At the island in Florida. Nowhere was she more at home than at the big lake. Do we have cellular memory? That’s the only explanation she had for it. This is where her roots were. She’d never spent much time here. Her father left here before she was born and her family seldom returned. Every time she came back, she knew this was where she was supposed to be. When she saw the relatives she had left here, it felt right. They seemed like she felt. She felt at home with them even though she didn’t know them well.

Her bond with her father, who was from this vast, sparsely populated, beautiful region, had been strong. Every time she came here as a child and later, as an adult, that bond extended to her relatives and the population here, as well as to the big lake. She had tried to write when she was on the island at the ocean. She tried repeatedly. It never worked. There was something wrong there. Something missing. There was no inspiration.

Here, there was an utter solitude and she was always better alone. She could hear the muse singing in her ears, touching her skin. She could see it with her fading vision, flying over the big lake, touching the pictured rocks, raising up the big wave, giving her the inspiration she craved. She felt she could write forever.

The Native Americans thought Gitchee Gumee was magical. They had been right about so much.

Wings – #writephoto

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As she got older, she realized she would not get to fulfill all of her dreams. She sat at her desk, looking out the window at the glorious summer day. The birds were flying in and out of the feeding station. The deer were at the salt block. Her dog was at her feet. All was right with the habitat she’d built around her. There wasn’t enough time left to accomplish all she wanted to do.

She could feel it. It was a gut-wrenching feeling. That sixth sense you have if you’re in touch with your body and mind. She wasn’t old, yet she knew.

She felt a sense of urgency and wanted to work on everything at once. Most of her projects she had laid out in detail. Some she still had to work on. But a curious phenomenon was happening. Her mind was growing wings. She could be working and suddenly she wasn’t there anymore. In her mind she was visiting people and places from the past. She’d lost so many people that she loved.

Her mind would take trips to visit good times she’d had with her family, her friends. Times that made her smile. Times that would never be again. Then, she would find herself back in the present, sometimes smiling, other times crying. The losses had been almost too much to bear.

Her wings would close until the next trip and she would go back to work. Her gut told her she would join them soon, the people in her past. Perhaps that was just grief and loss at work  Her side trips also provided her with inspiration. The wings of the mind are a powerful force.

 

Thanks to Sue Vincent for #writephoto!

Beginnings – #writephoto

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She awoke to see the beautiful sky. She hardly noticed it. She padded into her kitchen to get a cup of coffee. She didn’t have much time. She wanted to visit the crypt as soon as possible. She had work to do. She had taken care of her second victim last night.

She didn’t like men who hurt women. Or women who hurt women. She had decided, long ago, that she was going to rid the world of them. Her method was so simple it was silly. She got close to them. She was charismatic with a sparkling personality. Then, one night at a private dinner, she spiked their food with a particularly dangerous concoction that stopped their hearts. She managed to load them in her car and drove them to her crypt.

Her crypt was the basement of an old building in town that was easy to access. No one was ever around the old building. It had fallen into disrepair as had so many of the buildings in the small town. The floor of the basement was soft dirt. She dug their graves there.

This second victim was her best friend’s boyfriend who was mean to her. Her first victim, two years ago, had been her own ex-husband. They had never solved his disappearance. She smiled at that thought. She already knew who the third victim would be. It would take some time.

She kept all of her tools hidden in that basement. After she got there, she dug a shallow grave for the man. It wasn’t hard. She kicked his body into it thinking that she hoped he would rot in hell. It was what he deserved. She covered up her crime as well as possible and left. You could hardly tell anything had ever been disturbed. She was meticulous.

On to the third man, she thought, as she left the crypt. It would be a while before she would be back, but she knew this was only the beginning of her career. They say there are no female serial killers. That’s because women are so much better at it.

Conflagration – #writephoto

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They had been looking forward to their camping trip to the national park. The two of them hadn’t taken a vacation together in a long time. This time together was long-awaited. They both enjoyed the forest, the outdoors, the wildlife, the hiking, all the things they would get to do in the wilderness area of the park. They set up their camp with excitement that afternoon while planning their activities for the evening and the next day.

He went fishing in the river that ran nearby and actually caught fish for their dinner. They were both thrilled. They had brought vegetables from home to complete their meal. They were grilling their food over the campfire when they first noticed the smoke. At first they thought it was just smoke from the campfires of other people. Then they saw a herd of deer and even a black bear and her cubs run past them. He became concerned. There was a low cacophony rumbling in the forest.

Quite suddenly, there were people running by them, screaming at them to leave, to run, that a conflagration was heading toward them. They picked up a few necessities and got in their car.

When they got out on the road, they quickly saw they couldn’t escape by driving. The  cars were backed up for miles. They could see the glow of blaze behind them and could tell it was getting closer. It was time to abandon the car.

They felt like they had run, along with everyone else in the same tourist town, for miles. She fell to her knees over a lump in the terrain. When he stooped to pull her up, they both heard a grunt and they thought she had fallen over a person. They started frantically searching the ground and found the body….of a large pot-bellied pig. He was digging himself as deep into the ground as he could. They knew they couldn’t help him and jumped up and ran on. The fire was practically licking at their heels.

When it was all over, they had reached safety, but not everyone had and not every animal in the beautiful park had escaped. Later, they found that the pig was a family pet that knew to burrow into the ground. He’d been rescued and was recovering at the nearest veterinary hospital. It would take longer, much longer, for the national park to recover from the fire that the young boys let get out of control. Some families would never recover from the loss of their loved ones at all.

Dedicated to the victims of the fire in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2016

Turrets – #writephoto

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How did he ever convince her to visit this God forsaken castle in Turkey, of all places, Rebecca wondered to herself as she and Patrick stumbled down the crumbling, stone steps in the portion of the medieval castle that was still standing.

This trip to Europe had been filled with difficulties. Patrick was determined to make this one last stop in Turkey and she saw no reason, cultural or otherwise, for it. The ruins weren’t particularly noteworthy. The tour group was small. The surrounding area contained little of historical significance. It was also completely off their tour route. She didn’t understand why they were there and Patrick seemed unable and unwilling to explain. He’d hardly even spoken to her as they toured the ruins.

He was walking far ahead of her down the steps when she felt herself stumble. There was nothing to grab onto. She started to tumble down the stairs and landed at the bottom. The remaining two people behind her rushed to her, but she assured them she was fine. They wandered off.

She wasn’t fine. She’d turned her ankle and as she tried to get up, she found she couldn’t put her weight on it. By then, the two other tour group members were gone and she was alone. She called out for Patrick, but after waiting a few minutes, it was clear he didn’t know yet that she’d been left behind.

Rebecca suddenly heard a woman laugh, an evil-sounding laugh. She looked up and on the stair rail stood a creature. A female-looking creature with piercing blue eyes and a long black robe. Rebecca started scooting across the floor away from it.

The creature spoke and said, “My name is Ramona and I am the Dark Fairy.” Then it just tapped its toe on the stair rail.

”I’d make you my pet, but it would be more fun to make that man you’re with my pet.”

Rebecca finally found her voice and said, “What are you talking about?”

”Don’t you know anything? Dark fairies make humans their pets and the humans do our biding.”

Rebecca felt herself jerked up, her ankle painless, and the Dark Fairy fluttered beside her.

”Now get up. We’re going after that gentleman friend of yours. He’s been trying to do you harm.”

#Avenue – #writephoto

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Against her own will, she takes a different route than usual for her morning walk. It is bright and sunny outside. One of the first sunny days after a brutal winter. It seems that the weather has jumped from the dead of winter right into summer. It even seems hot. She vows to cut her morning walk a little short.

Then she sees a tree-lined avenue to her right. Its beauty astounds her. Her feet take her toward the avenue and she spots park benches all along the way. She craves the shade-lined portion of the avenue. She sits on one of the benches. Recently, she hasn’t enjoyed the sun. She feels the sun reveals too much about her. The tired face, the slumped posture, the aging. Those are private things. She doesn’t want anyone to look too closely. They might figure her out.

Beyond the shade is the wondrous sunny part of the avenue. It’s lined with cherry-blossoms. The scent wafts toward her and is sweet. People are meandering along the sunny avenue admiring the cherry trees. She doesn’t feel she has a right to the cherry blossoms, to the sunny portion of the avenue. That is for the young, the people with life ahead of them. Those who still have hopes and dreams. Not someone like her. Someone whose hopes and dreams have been stolen away.

She sits and enjoys the shade for a while. She pulls herself up and starts for home. That’s where she belongs. Behind the draperies. Where the sun doesn’t shine.

Thanks to Sue Vincent

#Fallen – #writephoto

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As she sat and looked out her window, at 50 years of age, she thought of that 19-year old girl she used to be. She didn’t have many regrets about the things she had done. Perhaps this was one of them. She imagined a conversation between herself now and then and how the years had given her wisdom.

”You were only nineteen. You’d had one relationship in your life. How did you get involved with a married man?”

”Don’t judge me, old woman. I had fallen into such a deep depression after the way my previous relationship ended that I just needed some attention. He wasn’t that much older than me. I thought he was serious about our relationship.”

”A married man is never serious, young lady. That mistake on your part affected you for the rest of your life. Can’t you see that?”

”Yes, I see that. It made it easy to step over that line, but what am I supposed to do about it now, old woman? You don’t understand.”

”Nothing. There is nothing you can do but vow to do better. You can also try to learn to live with the regret. It’s difficult.”

The older woman thought about her mental conversation and smiled. There were things in her life that she certainly regretted but not many. Young people didn’t realize that older people were still young on the inside. Mostly, what she regretted were the things she had not yet done. If her body would hold out for her, she intended to remedy that.

Thank you, Sue Vincent, #writephoto

Ascent #writephoto

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The trip to Scotland had been wonderful. My roots were there, in the Highlands, and I’d always wanted to visit. Now, it was time to go home. We were driving along the curvy roads toward the south of Scotland when we saw the old castle. Old, but in good repair. It had not been on any of the tour schedules we had seen. We pulled into the driveway.

No one was around, but the castle door was open. There was a sign out front that said, “MacDonald Tower. Enter at your Own Risk.” We looked at each other. That gave us pause, but one of the clans from which I was descended was Clan MacDonald so I was intrigued. Without speaking, we entered the open door.

It was dim inside. The ascent up the stairs was steep, but there was no other place to go. We began to climb. As we got to the top of the stairs, we heard a growl and a gruff voice said, “Who goes there?”

We replied, “Visitors to your home.” No answer.

When we left, much later, we were in shock. Our car was gone and two mules stood in its place. We began to walk. We didn’t walk far until we realized that it wasn’t 2018 anymore. We now knew what “enter at your own risk” meant. Entering that castle and speaking with the Laird had transported us back to the Middle Ages. How would we get home again?

*Thanks to Sue Vincent

Dark #writephoto

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The stress that permeated his family was unbearable. There were no jobs. No way to make a living. He was thinking of leaving the small town in the Appalachian Mountains to find work elsewhere. He would try to come home on the weekends. So many in generations before him had done the same. Others had moved their families to cities, to other towns, where they could find work. Their families weren’t usually happy. The people of Appalachia were clannish. They loved their mountain life existence, their extended families, their neighbors. They didn’t want to go to a strange place. He was thinking of going it alone, sending money home, coming home when he could.

He walked before dawn at the foot of the mountains. Thinking. Pondering. It was so beautiful here. The sun was about to rise and he stopped to watch. He had seen this sunrise many times and each time it was more beautiful as it rose over the mountains. No wonder the family didn’t want to leave. People from the outside didn’t understand. They thought them lazy. That they were people who wanted to be on the government dole. That wasn’t it at all. Their culture was different from that on the outside. They knew they wouldn’t fit in out there. Their families and their lifestyle was important to them.

The coal mining jobs had gone away due to the movement toward clean energy. Farming had gone away because tobacco was no longer a cash crop and the corn and other crops had been usurped by the big corporate farms. Because they were geographically isolated, industry did not want to locate there. What were they supposed to do? Abandon the life that they had known for generations?

He had been a specialized machinist in the mines. He could get a job on the outside and had even interviewed with other companies. As the sun rose over the mountains, he knew he had to leave to support his family. He had to send his children to college. There was no place for his wife to work and both their parents depended on him. As the sun rose higher in the sky, he made his decision and started walking home to tell his family. He would not lose them or his connection to this beautiful place. He would drive home on weekends. He would give them the gift of keeping their lives intact.