The sun gently warmed the garden furniture as I readied the garden for our influx of guests. I enjoy this time of year: the beginning of spring always brings with it hope and a sense of joy. Today my joy was overflowing – I would see all my siblings and their entourage. Already I could hear the women’s murmurings, the men’s political debates, and the children’s noise at play. Food will be abundant and chatter will flow. Memories will be revisited and hopes whispered. Laughter will thread through the day. And, for a moment, we will pause and remember our matriarch.
Do you have positive memories of family gatherings? I do, and it is one of the things I miss living so far away from my siblings.
The tripod stood abandoned on the side of the road; the darkness surrounding it fleeing as the car headlights swept over the gritty road. The panic inside of the car was palpable. It had been hours since Vicky had last been seen. She wasn’t answering her cell phone, and her car had been found abandoned at the last crossroads.
“Don’t touch her camera! It may tell the police something.”
A mother’s keening cry touches the very soul of a person. Her helplessness and despair haunts memories over the years. A mother should never outlive her child.
Maybe I am reading and watching too many murder stories, but this photo this week for Friday Fictioneers steered my mind towards the dark echoed in the photo.
She arrived before the snowfall. Entering the cinnamon-scented hallway, it felt good to be home. Her brothers’ cries as they poleaxed her brought a huge grin to her face; mom’s bear hug and dad’s slight nod a sense of peace. She breathed in the sense of belonging, secure in the knowledge that she would heal here. Her manipulative ex had keep her away from her anchors, from those who loved her unconditionally. Now she would begin once again. Step by step. Day by day. The journey would be difficult but, with her family’s support, she would survive.
The excitement of the small group on the ferry was palpable. Finally they had arrived! Not only would they experience island life, but would also explore their family’s roots. The hotel manager did not share their excitement. He knew why their grandparents had left – and the islanders did not welcome the family’s return. Their arrival would open old wounds and stir up the embers of hatred. Standing on the dock, he had a choice to make: treat them as any other group of tourists; or begin to pay them back for the crimes committed against his family.
The Homestead was eerily silent. It looked like the workers had gone for a coffee break, and yet not a sound could be heard. The mugs in the kitchen were still warm. “I do not like this Caleb,” I whispered. In response, Caleb growled low in his throat. Breathing quickly, I moved quietly through the living room. I saw no-one. Heard no-one. I had the sudden urge to leave. Quickly! Grabbing the the keys off the mantle, I ran for the truck. I had a bad feeling about this and needed to warn the townspeople. The Reaper had returned.
As I drove past the aging building, memories swirled in my head. My childhood memories of maman were bittersweet. Poverty is a hard master and one that overwhelmed my mother. She should have been born in a genteel environment, and loved unconditionally by her man. Instead she toiled night and day within crumbling walls for a drunkard who barely made ends meet. Even I, who did love her unconditionally, left her to die in squalor when I took flight. My regret is that I came back too late. Too late to give her comfort and the joy that she deserved. Too late to give her life.
Needles clicked and hooks moved rhythmically for months. Sons and daughters shopped at local yarn retail stores to provide fodder for the seemingly endless use of aluminium tools. The women’s industry occurred during daytime television and informal chats. Needles and hooks, however, were set aside on Thursday night – bingo was sacrosanct and no-one wanted to miss out on winning a prize. By the time the cold breezes whistled through the trees, the handmade offerings lined the windowsill. A group had been nominated to take the hats and toques to a nearby homeless shelter. A perfect gift for the festive season.
This festive season I am grateful for the warm clothing and home that I have unlike many of those who are homeless.
The cold icicles on the trees outside matched the ice that encased her heart and prevented her from feeling any more pain. The heartbreak had been too much. First the man to whom she had given the best years, had left for a younger woman. So prosaic! But what had broken her even more was the wound left by her child, the one for whom she had sacrificed so much. His acrimonious departure had severed all ties. Instead of shrivelling up, she was determined to forge on free of emotion and protected by an icy sheath.
The builders uncovered the shoes during the renovation. Hidden in the recesses of the basement behind a false wall, they did not know what to make of them. Worn and cobwebbed, the footwear looked to be a few decades old. Set aside, they were forgotten as the area was gutted for the new owners of the homestead. As the last wall was ripped down to make place for the new insulation, the owner of the footgear was found. The bones and leather-like skin covering was also dusty and cobwebbed. Renovations ceased. The ire of the clients knew no bounds.
The glowing light in the sky was spreading. It looked beautiful. Awe-inspiring. Heart-stopping. Yet as the light grew overhead, my fear slowly instilled itself. “What is it?” Maddy whispered. I could not tell her, but I could try to protect her. Gently I moved her away from the gathering crowds, instinctively moving towards the outskirts of the city. I did not trust the light, nor the hypnotic sound emitting from it. Days later, after Maddy had left me, I knew my intuition had been right. Now I longed for beauty and the chance to walk openly under a blue sky.
What events do you think were caused by the light?
(This post was inspired by Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle. The challenge asks for bloggers to write a story in 100 words or less in response to the photo prompt. This week’s photo was taken by Dale Robertson.)