Taking The Boat

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Light touched the rippling surface of the lake. Small boats, bobbed on the water their ropes creaking. Birds called up the sunrise and other animals stirred awake in the stillness of dawn.

She was running. Running from her home and following the path downwards. Her dress floated out behind her, caught in the air rush from her movements. A bed sheet, turned bundle bumped at her side and weighted her down with supplies.

Her feet were bare, easier and silent to aid her running. The dew grass wet her feet and the last of the warmth from her bed left her.

She reached the boats, placed the bundled into the closest one, then gathering all the skirts up into both her hands, she quickly stepped into the boat and had to catch herself before she almost fell into the lake.

Crawling to the front, she untied the boat, sat down and began rowing. The light of the dawn lay across the water as if it was guiding her. She wasn’t a strong rower, but the rush from her escape and the knowledge she would soon be with her lover spurred her on.

 

From the castle window, her matron sat at the window. The old woman couldn’t see her young charge running then rowing the boat away, but she could see the yellow light touching the lake and the tree tops which sang just as her heart did that she had done the right thing in aiding the girl’s escape.

Keif #FridayFictioneers #AtoZChallenge

Keif – the spirit of joy

A rainbow lit up the dark sky as I watched from my dad’s new boat. He had always wanted to live on a boat and travel around. No attachments, an easy life. It suited him and he was doing much better.

I smiled and spoke the colours of the rainbow. When I was younger, mum and I had always said them together. Now, all rainbows reminded me of her. She had passed away four years ago but it still felt like yesterday to me.

‘What you calling your boat, dad?’

‘The Spirit of Joy,’ he replied and chuckled, ‘seemed fitting.’

‘Of course! Mum’s name,’ I laughed, ‘she’d have liked that.’

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2020/04/08/10-april-2020/ and http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com with thanks.)

 

Juramentrum #AtoZChallenge (Part 2)

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Juramentrum – oath

Siegfried breathed deeply and smelt the nature drifting his way. It was mid spring and everything was waking up after the long dark winter. He could smell something sweet, maybe flowers hidden from sight in the grass that covered the rocks. There was a damp earthy smell from soil that had found its way into the cracks of the rocks.

The river smelt of nothing but has he dipped his fingers into the water, Siegfried felt the coldness and smoothness of the flow. Removing his hand, he took a few sips of water from the waterskin.

He didn’t have to worry about steering the boat, it was making its own course as if being pulled along by unseen hands. The boat was also small enough to pass by and over any threatening rocks. It was a good boat. His brother, Hrothgar, had done an excellent job.

One of the old dogs yawed and Siegfried twisted to look at them. They were settling down again. Grey heads resting on the edge of the boat and their bodies curled together for warm. They looked peaceful and not worried.

Siegfried grabbed one of the furs and threw it over them. He could trust his dogs sense of things and if they weren’t worried about any danger then nor should he. It was growing colder though.

Grabbing a fur for himself, Siegfried drew it around his shoulder and noticed how dark it was getting. The height of the gorge was blocking out the warm sun and casting everything into darkness the further you entered in. Soon, he wouldn’t be able to see.

Searching in the boat’s hull, Siegfried found a lamp and lit it. Carefully and slowly, he crawled to the front of the boat and placed the lamp into its place. Going back to his seat, he found another lamp, lit it and placed it beside himself. Clutching the oar in one hand and his sword in the other, Siegfried was swallowed by darkness.

An icy wind swept down and Siegfried smelt snow in the air. It was normal of winter to hold on has long as he could and he found hiding places where the sun couldn’t find him. Siegfried hoped the river was frozen and that it didn’t start snowing. Just in case though, he threw another fur over the dogs and pulled a large one onto his head.

Siegfried might be a mighty Viking but he was old now and felt the cold stiffen his bones more and more.

Perhaps, I should have waited till the summer? he thought.

Shaking his head, Siegfried got the oar back out and began paddling again. He’d rather meet the ice sooner rather than later. A few small flakes of snow landed in his beard and boat. The darkness pressed deeper down, everything had been blocked out above him as if the gorge had a roof.

Not stopping, he rowed faster, not liking the darkness and the gathering cold.

‘This can’t go on for much longer,’ Siegfried muttered, ‘how you doing back there dogs?’

There was a muffled moan and Siegfried glanced over his shoulder but he couldn’t see the back of the boat. The light from the lamps was hardly anything but he was grateful to not be in total darkness.

He turned his face up, looking for glints of blue sky. His oar hit something hard, probably just a rock, he felt the vibrations going through his arm. Nothing to worry about. He padded faster, not liking this at all and feeling uneasy in his gut. Telling himself there had to be an end to this soon spurred him on.

There, was that a hint of blue above? Did the path ahead look lighter? Siegfried concentrated on that patch of blue and slowly came out into the light once more. Sighing, he stopped rowing and blew the lamps out. He took a few deep breaths and let the furs slip off him.

Blue sky angled it’s way into the gorge, filling the gap above the rocks. Sun cast light on green things and grey surfaces. Warm slowly tricked down to the river and soon the way widened. The river burbled along as if happy to be out of the darkness just as Siegfried was.

Pulling the oar in, he let the boat drift again. The river lapped against the wood and the shore in a calming way and carried the boat along its course. Siegfried settled back, watching more and more of the sky open above him. He could tell the gorge was coming into an end.

Shutting his eyes, he rested, feeling the cold leaving him and warmth filling him up. He dozed then when the boat slowed and began bobbing against something, Siegfried opened his eyes and saw he had arrived at the gates of Valhalla.

 

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

Juramentrum #AtoZChallenge (Part 1)

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Juramentrum – oath

Siegfried stopped paddling the wooden long, narrow boat and looked up at the rising landscape around him. It was quiet. Too quiet he thought. He could hear the far cry of birds, the wind playing through trees and long grass, the flow and lapping of the river but that was all.

He pulled the oar half in and watched water dripping off the neatly shaped paddle. There was nothing smoothing about the steady sound, just reminded that he was alone out here.

I hate this, he thought and lowered the oar again.

There was nothing for it but to get through the gorge and hope nothing attacked him.

‘I’m tried of fighting and that’s saying something coming from an old Viking!’ Siegfried spoke then chuckled.

He paddled swiftly, with years of experience, his eyes watching his surrounds and not his oar or the front of the boat. He could trusted the craftsmanship of the vessel his brother had built it and there was no finer ship building then Hrothgar.

Siegfried wished his brother was here with him now, instead his traveling companions were two old hunting dogs who never left his side. Still though, this journey was Siegfried’s alone to take.

The gorge rose up on either side, blocking out some of the afternoon sun. Solid multi-coloured rock with bits of green plant life sticking out seemed to stretch endlessly to meet the blue sky. Rocks jutted out of the river, covered with moss and worn smooth. Boats still had to be careful though as there was no telling if some of those rock edges could still break through wood or not.

Entering the gorge would mean no going back. It was a long way to the other side. Most people tried to avoid going through, preferring the other, longer route the river divided into further back up. This way was favored by bigger boats because in some places the gorge forced the river to narrow far too much.

Siegfried stopped rowing and let the boat drift as he went inside the gorge. He knew being quiet as much as possible would help if anyone or thing was listening above. He picked up his shield which he had rested in the bottom of the boat and lifted it over his head.

Only arrows or rocks or other things could be rained down on him from the gorge’s high cliffs because nothing would be stupid enough to jump down and try to get him. No, if a wild animal or monster wanted him they would track him to a more suitable place.

I’m being over cautious, Siegfried thought, this too dangerous journey is getting to me.

He lowered the shield and studied the view above. Nothing was moving up the clouds and he could hear the river singing along. He looked at the two dogs, both now awake and looking around as if they sensed there could be danger.

Siegfried looked down into the hull of the boat once more and gripped his long sharp edged sword. The weapon comforted him even though it was no use currently. In the boat was also some daggers, a bow and arrows which he hardly used anyway, some food, water and other useful items. He had packed well for this journey, not sure what he might need.

Siegfried shook his head then ran his hand through his long plaited grey beard. He felt uneasy and wished things were different. But he had made an oath to his brothers, wife and children that he would do this. He would go first….

To Be Continued…

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

Waiting

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I couldn’t sleep, so I lit a lantern and went to the beach. The sea was calming itself down after the storm, the dwindling swell was lower on the cliffs. The sound was powerful still, reminding me of the dangerous of being here.

I walked along the edge, picking my way but my feet knew all the right places to step. I had been walking this path since birth. In the pool of light, I could see seaweed and shells on the edges of rock pools.

The lighthouse, way out in the bay was flashing it’s beam and when that light came by it helped aid me. I hoped it was aiding other people too.

Stopping, I held my lantern high and looked out as far as I could. Somewhere out on that surging sea were my husband and oldest surviving son.

Their fishing boat had been gone for over two months and I couldn’t bear the worry anymore. What could I do though? It was woman’s curse to bear this waiting, this unknowing and the grieve of loss.

The sea brushed against my bare feet. I returned home and held my other children tightly whilst I wept.

 

Ice Skating

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All autumn my little sister had been begging me to take her ice skating. Winter arrived early and stayed late this far north but still we had to wait for the lake to freeze over deeply enough to be safe.

‘Can we go out to check today, Alex?’ she asked me as we ate porridge before the roaring kitchen fire.

‘It won’t have frozen enough yet, Beka,’ I replied, ‘it only snowed a little last night.’

‘Still I want to see!’ Beka cried.

I rolled my eyes and finished my porridge.

‘Take her out Alex,’ mother said from the huge table, ‘today, we are getting the  sweet puddings ready for the Winter Feast day. You two will only get under our feet.’

Both grandmothers, cook and maid agreed.

‘I want to help father hunting,’ I spoke.

‘He left all ready. Now, be a good son and look after your little sister.’

Grumpily, I got ready and the maid helped Beka with her fluffy elk boats, long red coat, gloves, scarf and matching red hat. We meet by the kitchen door, all ready to go out in the freezing morning.

‘You won’t need your ice skates, Beka,’ I said.

Beka pulled a face and shifted the white leather ice skates on her left shoulder, ‘it’s just in case.’

I shook my head, decided not to argue with her and opened the door. An icy wind blasted in and the fire began to gutter. Quickly, we went out and saw a thick frost and light dusting of snow on the ground. The sky above was a steel blue colour and the sun was a weak yellow in the sky.

We walked to the end of the garden, through the gate and around the edge of the woods. Gun shots echoed and a few birds flew up from the trees.

‘It’s father,’ Beka spoke.

I nodded and we walked on to the lake. Ice cold, clear water lapped at a frozen mud shore. A few ducks were swimming in the distant and the little wooden rowing boat was rocking against it’s wooden walk way.

‘See,’ I pointed out.

Beka sighed and looked downcast, ‘it’s no where near frozen!’

‘In a few more weeks it might be. Let’s go out in the boat instead. It might be the last time we can.’

She nodded, we climbed into the boat and I rowed us around the lake.

In The Boat

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The sun was dipping low and reflecting on the lake’s still surface as if there was a second sun setting on another world under the water.

I didn’t look back as I walked on the planks towards the small blue painted wooden boat that lay in the tall rush reeds. I was calm in mind; empty headed my grandmother would describe it as.

Untying the boat, I pushed it out so the bottom wouldn’t get stuck then got in. I rowed out, noticing the thin mist parting around me and the ripples the oars created. It was all ready freezing out here and a thin frost was settling were it could. I could imagine the morning sun making the frost glitter like candlelight on crystal.

Stopping, I lay down in the boat’s belly and listened to the lapping of the small waves. I shut my eyes and let the cold come to me. Tomorrow, they would find me with frost on my eyelashes and lips. My yellow and gold lace trim ball gown frozen to my body and his last letter against my heart.

 

Boat Hole #CCC

They were all dead now.

I toss pebbles into the sea then at the boat. I make a game of trying to get stones through one of the many holes. The smaller the hole, the higher the points.

Boredom and tiredness kick in. I walk away towards the stream for a cooling drink and a wash. I cut down some coconuts, split them open and gnawed on the white insides.

I don’t want to be rescue. Being here’s the safest I’ve felt in a long time. If anybody did find me they wouldn’t understand.

I’m not myself anymore.

 

(Inspired by; https://crimsonprose.wordpress.com/2019/06/12/crimsons-creative-challenge-31/ with thanks).

Burning River #WhatPegmanSaw

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The waters of the Ganges lapped at the edge of Varanasi city’s western bank. Fires rose on the burnt ground, the flames reflected in the river like the rays of the setting sun. The smell of burnt flesh, cloth and wood chocked the air making the mixed spice fragrances of the markets seem lost in the past.

From the distant boat, I watch men bring my relative’s body down to wash in the river. I wasn’t allowed to go because it was believed women make the event more sorrowful but I had want to see this ancient tradition.  

 

(Inspired by; https://whatpegmansaw.com/2019/05/25/varanasi-india/ with thanks).

Querencia #AtoZChallenge #3LineTales

Querencia; a place from which ones strength is drawn, where on feels at home, the place where you are your most authentic self. 

The sea called to me. It flowed through my blood via generations of fishermen and sailors. The sounds of the waves, the salty air made me feel calm and reassured. I could draw strength from the sea, from the knowledge it was ever changing yet stayed familiar.

On stormy days, I would brave a walk on the sandstorm beach and watch the wind and rain whipping the high waves. I would shout into the storm, letting all my angry out.

On calm days, I would take my boat out  and just drift. Feeling at home and most like myself. I could be whoever I wanted to be out on the waves but most of the time I could just be me, without judgement, without a care.

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2019/04/11/three-line-tales-week-167/ with thanks).