In the moonlight

The children are brought to her for judgement. As ever, she takes them into her home for a month. As ever, they are a little in awe of her silver hair, her black cane.

By day, she feeds them, teaches them the names and scents of herbs, how to keep silent, to move in the shadows.

Now, these two sleep, huddled together in their dreams. They sleep with the moonlight slanting across their faces. She sits beside them all night, until the first rays of the sun fall across the bedroom floor. There’s no sign of change.

She sighs. They’re obedient, sweet-natured, bright – but no good to the pack. They are merely children, untouched by moonlight. The pack won’t keep them. They’ll be sent to the city, to walk hand in hand on stony pavements and forget the forest.

Merril is hosting at dVerse tonight. It’s prosery night – 144 words of flash fiction, incorporating a quotation chosen by our host. Tonight the quotation is:

In their dreams

they sleep with the moon.”–From Mary Oliver, “Death at Wind River”

Fate – prosery for dVerse

They work in a cottage on the mountainside. Granny spins, Mamma weaves, Daughter trims the threads. The tapestry they make is full of stories – golden adventures, scarlet passions, grey tragedies.

Sometimes Daughter, distracted by a bird at the window, misses a chance to trim. Granny shakes her head. Or Daughter pleads for more of the story, for a thread to be left untrimmed. Usually, Mamma says “No”.

When it is over, said and done, it was a time, and there was never enough of it.

But sometimes, Granny thinks of a woman crying over a child’s body, a man clinging to his brother’s hand…

“Leave it” she might say, if her tea has been just right, or birdsong has touched her.

Down in the city, a child’s fever breaks. A man opens his eyes. A woman steps back onto the pavement.

Merril is hosting at dVerse,and it’s Prosery time – 144 words of prose, incorporationg a quotation from a poem. Merril has given us:

“when it is over said and done

it was a time

                  and there was never enough of it.”

 –Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, “A Time”

 

I’m the last priestess

I’m the last priestess of a dying goddess.

Now I hear her moan like an autumn wind high in the lonesome treetops, but she She used to speak to aloud, clear and resonant. Believers came here. We held power, a bright stone in our hands.

We ate well – offerings rolled in – gold and silver from the rich, baskets of fruit, or a white cheese from the poor. It makes me hungry to think of it.

Then a new god came, angry and greedy. His priests called us witches. The people stopped coming here.

One by one, we left or died. I’m the last. I should go, too, but then who would I be? And who would remember the great goddess?

No. I stay. I’ll bless you for a goose egg, an apple. I’ll listen for her voice. I will remember.

It’s prosery night at dVerse.Lillian is hosting, and gives us a quotation from Carl Sandberg’s Jazz Fantasia. dVerse is a poetry site, but once a month we dip our toes into the world of prose – 144 words of flash fiction, containing a quotation from a poem. Today’s line is: moan like an autumn wind high in the lonesome treetops

 

How they kill the city.

They silence him, but his shadow shouts on – a nightmare scream that fills the room, echoes down the corridors. They shut the door, but the scream spills under it. They brick up the doorway, plaster over it, so that you’d never know the room was there, but the scream remains.

They leave the house. Ivy grows over the walls, blocks the windows, but the scream continues. They bulldoze the damn house, but still the scream is there. People move away. The street empties. No-one can live there.

The neighbourhood thins out. Empty houses can’t be filled. The scream just spreads, filling the whole city. It won’t be drowned by sirens, car horns, piped music. People leave their homes, their jobs – relocate.  The scream is alone, echoing down silent streets of boarded-up shops, empty apartment buildings. Dandelions split the tarmac.

Bjorn is hosting prosery night at dVerse. It’s our only prose prompt – 144 words, including a line from a poem. Tonight’s line comes from Maya Angelou’s Caged Bird: “his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream”. 

The empty platform – prosery for dVerse

He’d never spoken to her, but this time, in his uniform, would be his last chance, and he intended to use it. He patted his pocket. The poem he’d written her was there.

The train pulled into her station, and he stood at the window, looking to see where she got on. Nothing. No one left and no one came on the bare platform.

She had to run the last quarter of a mile after her bike got that stupid puncture. She was going to speak to him today. All the young men were being called up – who knew when he’d be gone?

She reached the platform as the train pulled out. She clocked his uniform and gasped, ran faster, reaching for him. Too late.

Just something white – a piece of paper – fluttering from the open window – a butterfly set free.

I’m hosting Prosery for dVerse tonight – 144 words of prose, incorporating a line that I get to choose for you! I’ve chosen a line from “Adlestrop” by Edward Thomas – No one left and no one came On the bare platform”. His death at Arras in 1917 has obviously influenced my thinking tonight.

The suddenness of love.

I could never resist a handsome face. I’d see him, leaning over the side of a boat, and I’d be struck by a lightning bolt of desire. I’d hear a voice raised in song and my heart would burst open. Always a shock, always sudden. I don’t know why.

I was surprised every time love started. Or ended.

My blood is colder than theirs, of course, and my life much longer. Handsome boys grow pale and lose their beauty. Their fingers pucker in salt water. Their singing stops, and they yearn for sunlight, green grass, the feeling of air in their lungs.

Suddenly they bore me, and then, with one flick of my silver tail, I’m gone. Off in search of the next handsome boy who strays too close to the water. Off in search of something like love.

Merrill is hosting Prosery at dVersetonight. Our quotation is “I don’t know why I was surprised every time love started or ended” from I wanted to be surprised by Jane Hirshfield. 144 words of flash fiction – prose, not poetry. Whatever next?

Prosery: between heartbeats.

If I concentrate, I can slip between the molecules in the wall. I can absorb the energy of a bullet, make it my own. There are moments caught between heartbeats when I can stretch time. I’m not sure what that makes me – angel? demon? blessed or cursed?

I’ve always done this: slithered out of my own body, wriggled under the skin of lovers. I have survived car crashes, conflagrations; I’ve sought vengeance: spread my fingers in the rapist’s brain; I’ve sought mayhem – guided the arrow that started the battle.

I have watched everything I love grow old and worn. I’ve moved on and started over a thousand times. I’ve passed through ice and flames. I’m not even sure of my own name now, wouldn’t recognise myself in a mirror – except for my eyes. There are galaxies in there, burning in the darkness. I’m lonely.

Kim is hosting the prosery prompt tonight at dVerse. What’s prosery, I hear you cry? A piece of prose, 144 words, incorporating a line from a poem chosen by the host. Tonight the line is from Louis MacNeice – “there are moments caught between heartbeats”

 

Adeline begins an adventure.

Darkness fell, and Adeline was alone in the forest. She shivered. The full moon shone on the rock face in front of her, and she started to climb. Up high, she’d be away from predators, and in the morning she’d be able to get an idea of where she was. She rubbed at her eyes with a free hand, and decided to cheer herself by singing. She could only remember a rousing hymn that her aunt sang with gusto:

“…the Rock cries out to us today…”

“You may stand upon me, but do not hide your face”.

Adeline froze. The rock itself had spoken. Had she woken it, with her singing? Or was she dreaming?

There was movement. The rock spoke again.

“Don’t be afraid, child. Trolls don’t eat humans”.

Adeline considered. A troll was definitely preferable to her aunt.

Frank is hosting Prosery at dVerse tonight, and gives us a quote from Maya Angelou:

The Rock cries out to us today, You may stand upon me, But do not hide your face.

That is a tough one, you have to admit.

Damn cow

A cow is screaming across the arroyo. I’m sweating, but my mouth is dry – my lips taste of dust when I lick them. I feel like screaming, too. The cow won’t last the night. We lit a fire to keep away night creatures and it’s comforting. If the damn cow would stop screaming I might get some sleep.

Tomorrow, I’ll dig for water.

The moon is bright and there are more stars than I’ve ever seen before. A few nights ago we had the strength to sing, but now we’re too exhausted. We passed more abandoned cars today, found some melted sweets, licked the papers for the taste of sugar. We can’t keep going, but we can’t stop either.

The cow screams again. Somebody swears at it, and we all laugh. What else can we do?

Linda is hosting at dVerse tonight, and it’s prosery night – 144 word flash fiction, incorporating a quote. Tonight’s quote is from Jim Harrison – “a cow is screaming across the arroyo”. I had to look up arroyo – it’s a dried up creek bed.

Party animal – prosery for dVerse

He was so gorgeous. It was hard to believe – she’d met him on the train, mentioned the party – and now, look, here he was, putting up decorations. She couldn’t remember buying such life-like bats, or such realistic cobwebs, but the room looked amazing. Her fingers absently rubbed the sticky patch on her throat, where moments ago he had set his lips.

How beautiful he was, and how creative! He’d transformed her flat-pack flat into a dark, mysterious boudoir.

He turned and grinned at her.

“If it’s darkness we’re having, let it be extravagant” he murmured. “I can’t wait to meet your friends. Are they all as warm and beatiful as you?”.

He held out his hand and she drifted towards him, unable to help herself. She needed the feel of his mouth on her throat again.

Victoria is running the dVerse bar tonight, and introducing us to Jane Kenyon. It’s prosery night, and the weather here is awful – it’s cold and wet, with intermittent hail. The perfect night to sit around the fire and swap spooky stories. More stories over at dVerse – and the quotation we have to fit into our 144 word prose is “If it’s darkness we’re having, let it be extravagant”. Come and play.