Reaching #WritePhoto

The five adventurers had been walking towards their quest for weeks now. They had across woodland, swamps and moorland, through sun, rain, snow and darkness, fighting goblin night raids, giant raven attacks and other monsters.

Stepping through a clump of wild brush that had been sneakily trying to ensnare them, the group saw they were at the base of sweeping hills as far as the eye could see. Weak sunlight fell through the cloud cover, causing beams of light to touch the hills.

In the dim light and under a dead tree, they gathered and talked quietly.

The elf ranger was certain this was the right way. The two men- one an aged wizard and the other a hardened solider- agreed with him for the elf had yet to lead them wrong. The dwarf cleric and the halfling thief weren’t so sure.

Nobody really knew what was beyond The Reaching Hills, those that went there didn’t often come back and when they did their minds were lost. It was said that evil ghosts and outcast Gods walked the hills, snatching souls and murdering. The hills were always cast in gloom and no normal light could break though the darkness that lay in patches providing perfect cover for enemies.

‘We must go on and see,’ the wizard spoke, ‘I can give us the magical light we need to see by and stop anything sneaking upon us.’

‘We don’t need to go through The Reaching Hills!’ the halfling cried, ‘we can go around them. To the west they only go as far as the Red River. We can cross the Long bridge there and go around!’

The elf shook his head, white hair spilling around his shoulders, ‘it would take too long.’

‘We could die!’

‘We could have died back there!’ the dwarf shouted, ‘we barely got out of that poisonous man-eating plant patch!’

‘We go forward then,’ the solider said and he started walking up the first of the hills.

The rest of the party followed, wondering if the tales of The Reaching Hills were true and what they would encounter there.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/09/12/thursday-photo-prompt-reaching-writephoto/ with thanks).

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Mirror #WritePhoto

At the bottom of my great-grandfather’s land is a small shallow pond. In the summer, my younger brother, Dusty, and I would go to stay with him, great-grandma and Grant, one of our many cousins. We would spend all day playing outside. Unless it was raining then we would play in the barns.

Those were our golden days. We became wild children of the woods with no cares or worries. We would play all kinds of games, forge for food and create worlds of our own. Sometimes, the sound of the farm would bring us back to reality; the mooing of cows, the bleating sheep, a tractor engine.

We would stay out for however long we pleased then return to the large farm house for a hot meal, bath and bed. The fire in the kitchen would always be lit, no matter how hot it was outside.

The pond had held a fascination for both of us. It was where the Lady Of The Lake rose up from and give us Excalibur to help us on quests. In other stories; the water had magical powers, drinking it could bring you back from the dead or kill you or give you protection. Whatever we needed it to be in that particular moment.

The pond was also home to the ‘Bogoh monster’.  He’d wait in the depths of the mud then crept out, grip you and try to drown you. He took on many different forms but was mostly like a kacken creature with a hundred eyes and two thousand tentacles!

We saved each other countless times from the Bogoh. It was one of my brother’s favorite stories.

I don’t know how many years, perhaps around thirty?- it’s been since I last stood at the edge of the pond. It seems a lot smaller then I remember but then so does everything else.

Looking down into the rippling water, it’s like seeing into a mirror reflecting my past. My younger self playing with Dusty, who has stayed eleven every since that day.

I can hardly remember it. There was a storm, we had gone to the nearest barn but Dusty had forgotten something and went back to get it. I thought he’d taken shelter somewhere else but next morning, Grant found him floating face down in the pond.

The Bogoh had gotten him.

Tears drop from my eyes, I brush then harshly away. I didn’t really want to come here but I had to say goodbye. All this has been sold, tomorrow work will start to make it gone and soon there’ll be houses built on my childhood world.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/08/22/thursday-photo-prompt-mirror-writephoto/ with thanks).

Clarity #WritePhoto

Tears blurred my vision. I wiped them away hard and told myself to stop crying. It was too hard to, so I shut my eyes and dragged in some deep breathes.

A strong breeze blew, sweeping the salty smell of the sea and also some spray towards me. The marram grass whipped up and began bruising my ankles and legs, almost as if it as trying to stop me.

I hugged the urn hard and carried on walking. My feet sank into dry sand and kicked up as I walked. Before I reached the lapping waves, I slipped my shoes off. Barefooted, I walked into the sea and felt the cold water rising past my knees.

I give up with wiping the tears away and looked around to make sure I was alone. It was passed 5:30 AM and no one was here on the little beach. This place had been my dog, Teddy’s favourite walk. He had loved jumping into the sea and swimming out to catch a ball. He had enjoyed digging holes and been fascinated by crabs and jellyfish on the beach.

There was a feeling a rightness to set him to rest here.

It didn’t have to be done quickly, but I knew I’d changed my mind otherwise. I unscrewed the lid and tipped the urn slowly. Grey ash rushed out and vanished into the waves. I dropped the lid and the urn then dropped down, the sea came up to my shoulders.

Tears and grief swamped me. I couldn’t move, only stay sitting in the sea with the waves splashing against me.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/07/18/thursday-photo-prompt-clarity-writephoto/ with thanks).

Castle #WritePhoto

The lake waves lapped at the shore of the island, making the stones on the pebble beach wet. Against a stone grey sky, the dark castle rose up, the towers almost disappearing into the clouds.

The children had been looking for a boat or another way to get across the lake to the castle but they hadn’t found anything. Dipping their bare feet into the cold water, they thought about swimming across.

The oldest three would have no problems, even though it would take them almost an hour to make it. The middle two would have struggled but with help they could have done it. The youngest one though – only seven years old, could not have done it and since none of them wanted to stay behind, swimming was ruled out.

As the boys skipped stones, the girls looked at the castle on the island and wondered what could be in there. A sleeping princess? A handsome knight? Perhaps, treasure guarded by a dragon?

‘There’s nothing in there,’ the oldest boy announced, ‘I went in there last summer and it’s empty.’

The imagination bubble popped, the girls stopped daydream and debated what to do next. The youngest was hungry and wanted to go home, her brother didn’t want to as the boys were building a den in the woods. The girls not interested in this, decided to pick wild fruit and nuts.

By the time they all meet on the lake shore again a faint drizzle had started. They looked over at the castle but could barely see it in the dim light and low clouds which had come down like fog. It seemed the castle had become ghost like with just a faint outline left behind.

‘We should go,’ the oldest girl spoke.

‘Fine, take my sister with you. We are going to swim across and spend the night in the castle,’ the oldest boy replied.

‘That’s not a good idea.’

The oldest boy shrugged, ‘I’ve done it before.’

‘And what if….’ the oldest girl trailed off.

‘You are all chickens!’ one of the other boys shouted.

A brief argument started then the girls stormed off and left three boys to swim across the lake.

 

Days later, police entered the castle looking for the missing boys. Inside, just as the oldest boy had claimed, the castle was empty. The police searched the lake and the woods but the boys were never seen again.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/07/11/thursday-photo-prompt-castle-writephoto/ with thanks).

Choices #WritePhoto

a solitary figure on a beach against a wide ocean.

On the shore he wandered, lost in his own thoughts. With his head down, he watched the surf lapping at his boots. The sea would be cold, he knew but still he took his boots and socks off. There was just something irresistible about walking barefoot on the beach.

Socks in his pocket, boots in hand, he carried on walking. The sand was cool and the sea cold, but he liked the feeling in between his toes. He let his thoughts go off again, like the seagulls that took flight when he got too close.

The beach was empty at this time in the morning which was how he always liked it. He could be alone without people staring and trying to ask him questions about what happened to his body. Children called him a monster and parents would quickly drag them away.

I was fighting for this country, he wanted to say, a bomb fell on a house, I tried to save the innocent family trapped inside but the fire was too bad.

Unfortunately, he knew it wouldn’t matter. His words couldn’t change the effects of his actions across his skin. However, out here away from it all, nothing cared. The sand and sea couldn’t judge him, he could just be himself, alone with his thoughts and scars.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/06/06/thursday-photo-prompt-choices-writephoto/ with thanks).

 

 

 

Small #WritePhoto

an old, carved stone whose recesses are stuffed with red and black ladybirds.

It was a too hot summer afternoon, so I had taken toddler Ava into a shady patch of the lower garden. We sat on the grass, in the dappled shadow of an oak tree which rose up over the reminds of the old family chapel.

Whilst Ava played with some of her toys, I looked at the fallen stone walls and large pieces of stone decor. It was hard to imagine what the chapel had once looked like but I had seen some photos and though it had been small it had been a splendid place.

On the other side of the chapel, out of sight down a sloping hill and nested around three willow trees, was the family cemetery. Every Bartlett was buried there and when her time came, Ava would be too.

I on the other hand, just a nanny, would be buried in the village church graveyard where all the other past servants of Bartlett Manor where.

‘Look! What’s it!’ Ava cried.

I turned, frowning and  saw the three year old pointing to one of the decorative stones. Picking her up, we went for a closer look.

Crowding into the nooks of what might have been a corner stone of the outside ceiling with a now moss covered leave like pattern on it, with hundreds of small ladybirds.

Ava squealed and tried to stick her fingers into the crawling mass. I grabbed her hand and pulled it back.

‘They are only baby ladybirds,’ I explained.

‘Lay-d-burs,’ Ava tried to pronounce.

I laughed at her and clapped her hands together as I sang;

‘Ladybird, ladybird,
Fly away home,
Your house is on fire
And your children all gone;
All except one
And that’s little Ann,
And she has crept under
The warming pan.’

We laughed together then carried on watching the ladybirds.

‘What lay-d-burs doing?’ Ava asked.

‘Napping. Like you should be doing,’ I replied.
Ava pulled a face and began to make a fuss. I quickly settled her down on the picnic blanket and started to read some fairy tales to her.
The heat and tiredness got to her and she was soon asleep.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/06/06/thursday-photo-prompt-choices-writephoto/ with thanks).

Ladybird nursery rhyme quote from; https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46960/ladybird-ladybird

Yearning #WritePhoto

a channel of water flowing out to sea, with the sun reflecting on the water.

I had come to the coast for my nerves. That’s what they did in the old days. They would get away from the coal smoke chocked cities, filled with diseases and death to the clean, brightness of the sea. For some that worked and they felt refreshed enough afterwards to return to their lives.

It had been three days and I wasn’t feeling any better. There was far too much more to worry about now then there was back then. We laugh when we read the classic novels were marriage was the biggest issue the characters faced because now marriage is meaningless.

Money and power and still talk though but I no longer have an interested in them. I’m yearning from something else, something deeper. I don’t know what it is though, expect that in quietness, I get close.

I watch the sunset across the beach. There is a river which is running straight out to the sea. The sunlight shines on the water, the light reflecting off the waves. It’s still, almost like a photograph.

Is this what I’ve been looking for? A single moment of silent?

It’s gone before I can capture it.

At least, I know now what I’m looking for and next time I shall reach Nirvana.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/05/30/thursday-photo-prompt-yearning-writephoto/ with thanks).

 

Transition #WritePhoto

transition

It wasn’t the priest hole in the wall or under the floor the Catholic priest had been expecting. Looking out of the small arched doorway, he could see a neat flagstone path leading to a small hut covered with ivy.

‘The well house,’ one of the maids explained.

‘Oh,’ was all he could reply.

The maid led the way with a quick step and the priest still clutching his bible followed her.

They left the family and other servants in the chapel behind, hurriedly tidying things away. Then everyone scattered as on the other side of the house, the guards and pursuivant entered through the main door and began their search for Catholics.

The maid open the hut’s door and rushed inside. The priest followed, closing the door behind him. He looked around in the gloom and saw the moss clinging to the walls and before him the huge construction of the well. Above ran thick wooden beams and there was a system of pulleys and weights to the left side.

The maid was turning the handle which was causing a long pole to also turn and a thick rope began to twist around the pole as the bucket was drawn up.

‘Where am I to hide? The guards will search in here!’ the priest cried for he could see no where safe.

‘In the well,’ the maid gasped.

‘In there….’ the priest trailed and looked over the edge of the solid wall of the well.

He couldn’t see anything but darkness.

‘They won’t look for you down here,’ the maid added.

The priest looked towards the door, ‘is there no where else in the house?’

‘Not that I know. I was told to bring you here. The bucket is coming up now,’ the maid pointed out.

The priest stood back as the rope came to an end and the bucket full of water appeared.

With some effort, the maid pulled the bucket over and unattached it. Water sloshed on the floor and splashed up her skirts. From the corner, she brought out an empty bucket and attached to to the rope. Then turning to the small window sill, she did something the priest could not see.

‘Here’s a candle,’ the maid said, lighting a thin white candle and handing it to the priest, ‘there’s a ledge down there for you to stand on. When the bucket gets there shout stop and I shall try to do so. Blow the candle out when you can. We shall come and get you when the guards have gone.’

Nodding the priest, helped put the bucket into the well then climbed in. Juggling Bible and candle in one hand, he held the rope with his other then watched the maid lowering him in.

The wet walls of the well rose up above him and the priest watched for any ledges sticking out. The candle flame fluttered and wax droplets burnt his hand. The priest held tightly on, feeling his stomach aching. Then meters down the well, he saw the ledge.

‘Stop! Stop! Stop!’ he screamed upwards.

The bucket jerked and he heard the echoing strains of the maid trying to hold on. The priest scrambled out and found to his shock that the ledge was just enough for him to stand upon. Almost tripping on his robes, he nearly tumbled backwards and the candle fell from his hand.

Hugging the wall, he pressed his face into the cold, wet stone and took a few deep breaths. He shut his eyes and started praying hard as the bucket went down passed him. Further below, he heard it hit the water and then the bucket began to raise up.

The priest stood in the pitch darkness for so long he lost track of the time and his repeated prayers. At one point, he thought he heard voices above and the maid had returned for him but no bucket came down.

God delivery me for this, he thought, bring me peace.

What felt like a long, long time later, the priest heard movement and the creaking of wood. Gently, moving his face from off the wall, the priest looked up but could not see anything for awhile. Then a light, like the Spirit of God, shone down and the priest saw the bucket and a candle inside.

He grabbed the bucket, pulling on the rope to signal he had it. Taking the candle out, the priest climbed inside and tugged on the rope again. The bucket swung then he as lifted up and up till at last he could see the lips of the well.

He reached the top and all put fell out of the bucket as two male servants tried to help him.

The priest rested against wall, sipping wine that someone had pressed into his hand and shaking his head whilst repeatedly saying, ‘never again, never again.’

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/05/23/thursday-photo-prompt-transition-writephoto/ with thanks).

Wicker #WritePhoto

I stopped the car too desperate to find a proper place and ducked into a field. I checked there was no one around then fumbled with my clothes. Squatting down, I happened to look across and the breathe caught in my throat.

Three figures were standing in the middle of the field watching me. I felt heat creeping across my skin, my knuckles turned white clutching hard on my bunched pants. There was nothing I could do and nowhere to hard.

Finishing, I redressed and thought about going over to apologise and explain I had a water works infection and couldn’t help it.

I half turned away before swallowing my embarrassment and striding across the field. I could feel my heart racing, my pulse beating loudly in my ears and my face must have been beetroot red with heat.

As I got closer, puzzlement crossed my mind, these figures didn’t look right. They were too still but perhaps they were in shock about seeing my accidentally exposure?

Closer still and the realisation hit me. I laughed loudly and went right up to them.

‘Wicker statues! Not real people at all!’ I cried out.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/05/16/thursday-photo-prompt-wicker-writephoto/ with thanks).

Roots #WritePhoto

They say family roots run deep but how does that apply to an orphan? Especially one in his fifties who’s only just found out that his parents weren’t actually his.

Sitting down in the root maze, under my favorite trio of trees in the park, my thoughts were clouded by betrayal and lies. My ‘parents’ had never told me and now they had both passed, the lawyer had been the one to break the news.

Sitting in the leather chair, a huge desk between us, I had read the looks on the lawyer’s face and decided he was going to tell me some super bad news. Like; ‘your parents had nothing to leave you. Or your parents left everything to a cat charity.’ But no, it was; ‘James you are adopted. Margret and William were not your biological parents.’

I didn’t know what to say or then did he have the right family? Was this the last joke of my father? Funny man he was, always up for a laugh and a prank. But no, it was all true. Here was accounts from a police officer and social services and newspaper cuttings too; Baby Boy Found Abandoned In Park; Police Appeal For Parents To Come Forward. 

The lawyer said no one knows who my parents were but Margret and William created a paper trail if I wanted to try and find out. The lawyer give me a box file then my not parents’ house, money and everything else. I left numb and not sure what else to do I came to the park and the trio trees.

Reading through the some of the papers, it interested me to note that I was actually found close to here, in a yellow blanket. Perhaps, that’s why I had always been drawn to here or maybe it was just one of those things. Whatever it was, wasn’t important right now.

I felt myself slipping away, everything I had known no longer felt true. Who actually was I? I felt like an actor playing the role of James McBride who had forgotten his true self.

I shoved everything back into the box file and looked up. The sunlight was dancing through the leaves of the trees, like disco lights. I shut my eyes.

I was still me.

My parentage didn’t change anything.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/05/09/thursday-photo-prompt-rooted-writephoto/ with thanks).