Sam had been reading the notes in the gratitude jar again. Not a good sign. Ellie prepared herself for an exhausting evening of listening to him continuously criticise people and bemoan his situation in life. By nature she was a positive person with a continuous smile on her face; but her smile was beginning to feel forced. She found herself snapping at her co-workers constantly. Her mother had expressed concern for her changing behaviours and, a year later, Ellie was beginning to accept the toxicity of her relationship with Sam. It was time to make a change.
The arid landscape was drawing closer every month. The community felt unsettled as fear eroded their complacency and impassiveness. Men and women of Hope had believed their land would remain the anomaly, but the reality was that the parasitic outsiders were slowly decimating their ecosystems. And the aliens’ greed was voracious! The humans who had survived the unexpected onslaught were compelled to band together and work as a team to take their world back. Future generations and the survival of Arcadia depended on it. People would have to stand up and fight for their birthright and what belonged to them!
As the train approached the tunnel, the driver pulled on the horn. The abrasive sound was a grim reminder to Becky that her life was about to change. Irrefutably. Her parents’ death meant a change of family, of home, of language, of country. Her eyes scanned the flashing countryside through the window. She would not give in to tears. She would not! She would face the upcoming challenges with gritty determination and make her parents proud. The unknown faces waiting for her at the train station may claim to care for her well-being, but her trust needed to be earned.
She had been a caring woman, putting the needs of the community before her own. Matriarch and unofficial Chief. That is what we called her. Like King Solomon, she advised us wisely and helped us towards a greater understanding of ourselves. The way she died was not just. Gasping for air as the ungrateful one lashed out at her brand of justice. Locked in a prison cell for the remainder of his life, he mourns her death. But not as we do. We send out lights into the ocean to lead her spirit to the place she deserves to be.
The clutter on the sideboard and the smell of stale smoke gave her no clue as to where they were. Trying the sliding door to the back garden, she found it now opened smoothly. She stepped outside and heard laughter coming from the unused outbuilding. Curious, she walked across the newly cut lawn. Her parents had not laughed for years; instead they constantly bickered and often showed their discontent with one another. In front of the warped door, she saw them with a young man. “Celine, come meet your brother. He has agreed to stay.” So much was now explained.
Looking out through the window, I felt a desire to go out into the sun and admire the life that teemed in our garden. Time, however, was of the essence. I had chopped, boiled, stirred, sieved and blended the ingredients to form the perfect paste. The aroma had seeped into every space in the room, causing a heady sensation on the edge of my brain. The batch was almost ready and my contact would collect the jars within three hours. Soon my sought after product would be found on the streets of the city. Everyone wished to extend their life.
We had made it! I gazed around, breathless at the beauty that surrounded me. The architecture was magnificent and unlike anything I had seen before. The crowd’s murmurings echoed off the high ceilings; the light pulsed brightly from the white marbled walls. I thought back to the grey concrete walls of the place I grew up; and the musty, stifling scent that had invaded my pores. Here the scent was fresh with open spaces that promised freedom. But soon it would no longer exist. We began the work we had signed up for: rendering these extravagant spaces into a memory.
What do you feel when entering an impressive building?
Molly needed a life-saving operation and, after forty years, it was the moment to cash in the insurance he had buried a life-time ago. The sun warmed his back as he heard the thud of the shovel against the crate hidden in the depths of his garden. Lifting the box, he carried it quickly into the modest house. Curtains drawn against the harsh sunlight, he lifted the contents with reverence. Sasha was still alive and would pay handsomely to have his family secrets returned. And himself? He would risk his life to ensure that Molly lived more than seven years.
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.