universal truth

Westminster Bridge
Image Credit: Kayode Okeyode – Click on the image to see a bigger, better version.

He saw it all: the buses, taxis and other traffic roaming far and wide across the bridge, the young couple seeking shelter and a quick embrace below their umbrella, the family out for evening stroll despite the downpour.  He watched and witnessed and let it go.  Life went on as always.  Time never stopped.

There had been times, sure, when it seemed like time must stop.  With the world in turmoil, sirens blaring and the streets deserted as people sought shelter wherever they could, he had thought on more than one occasion that the planes would come and time would stop.  The death they brought with them almost certainly would carry over to time.  It seemed inevitable, and, yet, it never had.

The seconds had continued to roll to minutes, and the minutes to hours, and then the hands would swing around to herald a new days, as they always had since he had first been given life.

Yes, Big Ben, saw everything go on around him.  He watched seasons turn.  He watched the world war and love.  And through it all he tracked the passing of time.

Perhaps that was the only true inevitability of the universe – another second will follow.

He was honored to be one of the prestigious markers of that universal truth.

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A bit of silliness, really, for this week’s Once More With Feeling.

What do you do feel when you look at the provided picture?  Write it, link it, publish it.

the fiction of it

gunnison day 3 028

The odd cross-hatched clouds marred the otherwise pristine sky, too thin to provide any sort of shelter from the relentless sun.  The light reflected off the snow, burning our exposed flesh despite the chill in the air, and the longer we were exposed the more likely it was that we would go blind.

In the distance we saw the unmistakeable sight of a cabin jutting out of the snow drifts.  Trudging through the deep layers we pushed on cautiously.  There was no telling what kind of reception we would receive.  The lack of smoke rising from the chimney meant the place was probably deserted for the long winter, but it was still early in the day and perhaps the fires just hadn’t been lit yet.

If nothing else, we knew would could force our way in and use the cabin as temporary shelter until we had regained enough strength to carry on.  It wasn’t ideal, and it wasn’t how we wanted to act, but the days of walking and the freezing nights had put a sharp edge on our thoughts.  Survival was all that mattered.  To hell with the rest.

As we drew closer, my vision started shrinking as exhaustion, dehydration and the effects of the sun took their toll on me.  I tried to rub away the pain and damage I had done to my eyes, but my gloved hand and numbed fingers were ineffectual.  I clinched my jaw and nodded to my companions to be on guard, and then I pushed forward the last hundred feet.  Shelter and rest would be ours one way or another.

And when we were done, we would torch it, so that those who followed us wouldn’t be able to use it as we had.

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My second post for this week’s Once More with Feeling picture prompt – which happens to be one of my photos.  This is a bit of flash fiction, but if you want to read the truth of this photo, you can find it here.

one last look

 photo novascotia_zps58240b2c.jpg
Photo Credit: David Saunders

The family had been vacationing at the lake house for years.  Visiting in the winter had it’s challenges, of course, but to get to enjoy the beauty of the lake undisturbed by the summer masses made them all worthwhile.  When they had to shovel out the driveway to park their car in the garage they knew that meant they would have the roads to themselves.  When they had to bring in their own food because the store was closed for the season they knew they would have quiet mornings undisturbed by screaming children racing to jump into the cool waters.  When they had to make the freezing runs from house to outhouse in the middle of the night they knew they wouldn’t have to worry about it already being occupied by a neighbor.

They would wake and enjoy a leisurely morning by a crackling fire, a cup of coffee wrapped in their hands, the steam rolling over the lip and swirling around carelessly in their buffets of air.  Then they would pile on the layers and venture out into the snow covered world to explore the boundaries of the lake, or dare a rowboat to try their luck at fishing, or just to sit on the deck and watch the red morning turn into a beautiful blue day.

The sunrises and sunsets blurred together until, all too soon, it was time to pack up and head home, back to the real world, to their jobs and responsibilities and obligations.  They always stopped just before the lake house disappeared from view, to take one last look at the serenity they were leaving behind.

It hurt.  The quaint house, the lake, the snow, the quiet, the calm, called to them.  Urged them to stay.  Their heads knew they needed to head home, but their hearts argued they were already there.  With a shake of their heads and a set of sad smiles they continued down the road, knowing they would be back next winter.

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Just a bit of fiction for this week’s Once More With Feeling.  I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a lake house in the winter, but it sure looks romantic from this picture.  It’s certainly tempting….

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

haunted

The gathered crowd huddled together, stealing warmth from their closeness, and hoping the reduced exposure to the elements would protect them from the harshly frigid conditions.  They shivered as one.  Their blankets and parkas rippled in the breeze despite their best efforts to keep them wrapped firmly in place.  They all hoped for a miracle.

They willed Phil from his hiding place.  They urged him on.  They needed to know what his prediction would be.  They needed it to be different from the curses the forecast had already hurled in their direction.  They needed winter to be done.

The feeling of hope, the feeling of desperation, was so prevalent that the occasion was eerily quiet compared to prior years.  The crowd stood on their toes.  They held their breaths.  They watched unblinking as the furry creature emerged from his burrow to definitively decide the fate of the seasons.

The quiet was shattered as one woman screamed and another fainted.  There were groans and shouted curses among the men.  Children began to cry.  A low murmur of disapproval rose to a cacophony of chaos.  Phil, wisely, turned and tried to return to the safety of his home, but it was too late.

A man named Phil, a cruel twist of fate, had already broken free of the mob, rushed forward, and was able to snag the hog by the scruff of its neck before it could descend out of reach.  There was no collective cheer of triumph.  No celebration.  No outpouring of relief.  There was just a constant murmur, a force of guiding pressure, that ushered the two Phils into a truck.

The mass watched as the vehicle sped away.  They all knew where it was headed.  They all knew the inevitable outcome.  While some had begun to sober from the effects of disappointment and despair, it had gone too far to stop it.  From the moment it saw its shadow, the ground hog never stood a chance.

They remained together in their solidarity, together in the righteous vengeance and horrible knowledge of the atrocity about to occur, until the explosion from the rock quarry reverberated back to them.  Then, eyes askance, ashamed, saddened, confused, they dispersed to their separate homes, to prepare for the six additional weeks of winter they would have to suffer through.  They would go to their beds that night fervently hoping that the day would repeat itself on the morrow, that they would be given another chance to do the right thing, that Phil would be given another chance to not cast a shadow.

But, February 3rd dawned under a fresh blanket of snow.  It covered the town.  It covered the quarry.  It covered the burrow that would forever more be vacant.  It could not cover the stains on their hearts.

While they used the cold as an excuse to avoid each other, everyone knew it was the truth in their eyes they couldn’t stand to see.  Eventually they would pack up their lives and secrets and move away from each other, trying to run from what they had started and finished that long ago February 2nd.  The ground hog would never cease to haunt their dreams, though.

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Word Count: 532

This bit of silliness is obviously a twist on the movie Groundhog’s Day, if you didn’t catch that while reading it, and was inspired by this week’s Papi Prompt!:
What: 500-1000 word maximum flash fiction story
Use the following: The Ground Hog never stood a chance…
When: Due before next Monday to be included in the results.
How: Ping back [to the Papi Prompt post linked above].

I know the answer, but how many of you are ready for winter to be over?

Here, in California, I’m still waiting for winter to start.  Want to trade places with me?

walking to school

The snow piled on top of the ice that had formed over night.  The white powder blanketed everything as the flurry raged on.  White out conditions.  No rational person would venture into such a blizzard.  But, children were held to higher standards as they were ushered out front doors to trudge to school.

His boots crunched through the layers built upon layers.  Every step was a struggle as the snow tried to suck him down into its depths.  He kept waiting to pull his foot up and find that his shoe had fallen victim to the grasping ground.  His arms at his side for balance, he wished desperately to plunge his frozen hands deep into his jacket pockets.  The chill of the morning had no problem biting deep through his gloves to feast on the meat and bones of his fingers.

Hills spread across his field of vision.  He was in a valley and every direction he looked was uphill.  His legs ached from the exertion.  His mind reeled from fatigue.  He had a thousand vivid flashes of the snow cascading down and burying him.  With every step forward, every step up, he morbidly welcomed such a fate a little more.  It would mean rest.  It would mean an end to the absurdity of his trek back and forth to school.

The snow held, though, and he traversed the hills successfully to arrive safely at the little brick school house.  He stomped his feet on the landing to break off the ice crystals that had gathered halfway up his legs, pulled the stocking cap from his head and brushed off the snow that had begun to gather there, and then pushed into the door with a happy sigh as he was buffeted by a warm gust of air.

…..

Charles woke with a start, momentarily confused by the darkness around him, and in a panic, he clutched the sheets tight across his chest.  His eyes adjusted, his mind joined the present, and he realized he was in his room and had been dreaming, an old man’s dream.  The pain of the cold remained, and he massaged the ache from his limbs and snorted at the absurdity of the whole mess.  Never in his 82 years had he been forced to walk through deep snow to school or on any other errand.  He’d always lived near the beach.

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Word Count: 395

It is silly.  It is Tuesday.  It must be another Inspiration Monday prompt response.  I never heard any stories like this from my parents or grandparents growing up.  But, the idea of them is so prevalent that it was the first thing I thought of for the prompt I chose:

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The Rules

There are none. Read the prompts, get inspired, write something. No word count minimum or maximum. You don’t have to include the exact prompt in your piece, and you can interpret the prompt(s) any way you like.

OR

No really; I need rules!

Okay; write 200-500 words on the prompt of your choice. You may either use the prompt as the title of your piece or work it into the body of your piece. You must complete it before 6 pm CST on the Monday following this post.

The Prompts:

DARK MIRROR
HARD CORE
THE OTHER ME
OLD MAN’S DREAM
THE END OF FOREVER

What about you?  Did your parents ever do the “you kids have it so good now” kind of stories?  What was the farthest fetched out of them?