frozen

_kuri
Image Credit: _kuri

The city slept, and we huddled together to share our warmth.  We didn’t have a choice, really.  It was either work together or die during the freezing days and nights of winter.  We may call the streets our home, but that doesn’t mean we don’t value our lives.

The city slept, and the cold ate into our bones.  We felt as stiff and brittle as the buildings across the river looked.  Eventually day would come and those offices would warm with the lights and movement of the movers and shakers of the world.  We would stay hidden, out of sight, forgotten, but we would be shaking too.  We never stopped shaking from October to May.

The city slept, and the river creaked and moaned.  We understood how it felt.  We intimately knew its complaints for they were ours as well.  All year long it was open to receive the whims of the weather.  As the chill wrapped itself around us, it blanketed the surface of the river.  That too, could mean our death, because we needed the water to survive.  Dehydration was every bit as deadly as hypothermia for us.

The city slept and we crept onto the ice with our borrowed shovels.  We needed to break through and pull as much water as we could before the ice weakened under our feet.  The longer we took, the more likely the hole would refreeze.  The more times we had to reopen the hole, the more likely the ice would crack and send us into a watery grave.

None who had been claimed had ever been rescued in time.

We drew straws each morning to determine who would brave the ice.

They risked death to provide us all with life.

When they fell they were celebrated as heroes as best we could.

A small memorial was built.

Words were spoken in their memory.

A round of cheers sent them on them.

And still the city slept.

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This was my response to this week’s Once More With Feeling picture prompt.  The first thing I thought of when I saw the picture was a backpacking trip I was on years ago where we had to break through ice at a lake we camped at to pump water for our dinner and to refill our canteens…  This story flowed from that.

What do you see when you look at the picture?  What do you feel?

Write it, link it, post it!

step forward

 photo cavern_zps952a3632.jpg
Credit: National Geographic

He paused at the cusp of the portal and gazed into the depths of his new home.  Logic dictated that he was making the right decision but his emotional ties to the land were impossible to ignore.  He would miss the warmth of the sun caressing his skin, the feel of a cool breeze tousling his hair, and the crunch of fresh snow under his boots.  Most of all, though, he would miss the views from the mountain passes and valley floors.  Those sights had sustained him through the darkest of his adventures.

He had lived through more than his fair share of adventures.  His new life wouldn’t change that.  Nothing would change that.  His destiny was to wander forever, journey through the worlds, and experience all they had to offer.  And the time had come to finally slip into the dark realms of the hidden waterways.  Then he would see what waited for him there.

Mountains and valleys of a different sort, beasts to discover, currents for roads and trails, points previously unknown and never imagined…

Stepping into the pool that would transport him below he noticed that the water accepted him without complaint.  No tendrils of movement, no wake, no ebb and flow as the water parted to make room for him.  It knew who he was and was ready to receive him and allow him access to the secrets kept in the bowels of its recesses.  He took another step and his body adapted to the cold.  He took another step and his mind forgot the sun and wind and the snow as the water rose to his chest.

Pausing again, he clawed desperately at the memories of his beloved mountains, hoping to ensnare them and carry them with him always.  But, he had already lost the sun pouring over the high canyon walls to provide warmth on the cold mornings.  He had already lost the whispering trees set to their gossip by an afternoon breeze running down the valley.  He had already lost the crisp tingling of joy and hope and life that came with the first snow each year.  The memories were all tied together so that those which meant the most meant nothing without the small details most considered inconsequential.

There was nothing left to stay his forward progress and so he took the final step through the portal and vanished.

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So… yeah.  I’m not really sure what to say about this one.  It didn’t end where I thought it was going to.  Once I started writing the words took me to a completely different place than I had planned on.  I decided to leave it as is, though, so you could take the same journey I took.

But, I’d also love to read what journey you would take on your own with this picture.  Write it, link it to this week’s Once More With Feeling Post, and the post it so we can all take your journey with you too.

 

ticking clock

 photo beach_zps69ccc6ac.jpg
Image Credit: Garry

The constant roar and crash of the surf, the breakers rolling in and the  ocean’s depths sucking them back out, faded to their lowest volume.  It was low tide and wide swaths of pristine sand were left exposed to the setting sun, making the beach seem larger and more elegant than normal.  But there was only one there to notice the beauty as the water moved out and night settled in and he wasn’t interested in the aesthetics at all.

His body felt the final drop in vibrations as the water reached the furthest point from him it would, and his ears registered the the diminished sound.  His internal clock started ticking, counting down the hours he had to find food and shelter before low tide turned back into high tide.

He did not give any thought or consideration to the orange horizon, the long stretches of white sand, the gradual rolling transition of colors across the heavens, or the majestic puffs of clouds adding their  perspective and focus to the occasion.  No, Mr. Crab had room in his mind for nothing but the basic survival instincts that had seen him outlast every friend and lover he had every known.

Poking his head out of his grand shell, he let his setae taste the gentle on-shore breeze and get a feel for his surroundings.  Then, when he was certain he was alone, he scurried towards the water all the while letting the clock in his mind run its course.  He knew he could move faster if he dropped the shell, but he would only leave his shelter behind if he had no other option, if his time was running out and he hadn’t eaten enough or wouldn’t make it back out of reach of the crushing waves.

The sun set and the world awaited the arrival of the moon.  In the interim, Mr. Crab feasted well and retreated beyond the reach of high tide to recover from his exertions and prepare to do it all again when the cycle of the tides repeated.

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I don’t know…  I feel like I’ve written so many things about sunsets and sunrises and beautiful landscapes recently that I wanted to do something a bit different.  So, I saw the shell and decided it should be a crab story.  And what you just read is a result of where that thought took me.  Slightly funny?  Less dark than a lot of my posts have been recently?

What did you think?

And, what do you see when you look at the picture?  Why don’t you play along with this week’s Once More With Feeling picture prompt!  Write it, link it, post it!

answer willingly

 photo meadow_zps5110d5fa.jpg

It was one of those perfect days, the kind that etch themselves permanently in your memory, constantly reminisced, often sought, and never duplicated.  The high clouds hinted at a storm, but that just lent a sense of urgency to eke out every last moment of enjoyment from the day that we could.  And when the storm finally came, we would welcome it as a relief from the hot days and as a soothing aide for our tired muscles.  In the meantime, the cool waters were inviting as the day passed into the afternoon, and we pushed our canoe into the stillness to see what adventures we could find in the remaining hours of light.

We explored the far edges, the dark corners, the hidden coves, of the lake.  We fished.  We chatted.  We tested our strength and drove the canoe up river as far as we could muster.  We drank in the beauty of our environs.  The water, trees, and rocks danced across our vision.  The world whispered its secrets to us and we listened raptly.  There was nothing but us and our yearning to answer the call of the wild.  We were powerless to resist.

As the light began to fade, the sun slipping beyond the western canyon wall, the whispering of the earth faded away, and we made our way back to our camp.  We were sad to have to leave the magic of the day behind, but we knew that the following day the call would come forth again, and we would answer it again.  We would answer willingly.

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Gearing up for summer.  I can’t wait to go camping and backpacking again.  If you’ve been hanging around the kingdom for awhile you know that I’m partial to those two activities, and how else could I respond to this Once More with Feeling picture prompt but to dream that I was already there, paddling around the lake, exploring the unknown, testing my limits and resolve, …?

And you?  What do you see when you look at the picture?  Write it, link it, post it!

horizon

pier

I want to run to the end, spread my arms, and fly.  I don’t think about the impossibility of that.  The call to do so is strong enough to keep all doubts at bay.  I know, when I leap, I will soar over the smooth surface of the water.

The closing words of the first Pirates movie come to me as my feet start to move, “Now, bring me that horizon.”  Yes.  Yes, that is what I want.  Freedom.  Adventure.  The kisses of sea and sun on my skin.  The air rushing passed my face.  I will reach the end.  I will jump.  I will fly.

The boards creak under my feet, which are moving faster with each step, and like springs the planks propel me forward.  Each step becomes a leap of its own.  The end of the pier draws close.  The beginning of my freedom is just beyond.  I’m almost there.  My arms raise at my sides, the wind tugging at them, preparing to hold me aloft.

In the last instant I coil my feet under me, pressing into the pier with all my weight, all my force, and then I unleash the straining muscles to jump as high and far as I can.  I clear the railing easily.  While I feel gravity pushing on me, it doesn’t concern me, my will keeps me airborne.  The breakers slapping at the pylons fades into the background behind the sound of the air as I speed away.

I am flying.

I am free.

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When I first saw the picture for the current Once More With Feeling, I immediately thought about running to the end to jump off.  Everything else followed that one thought.

And you?  What do you see or feel when you look at the picture?  Write it, link it, post it!