Rebuked Again #sixsentencestory

six sentence story copyLast week for Six Sentence Stories  readers were left with an unresolved situation, with two brothers’ safety in question. This week the prompt is “noise” and we pick up right where we left off back in the primitive dimly lit deer camp. The link for Six Sentence Stories opens Wednesday and is brought to you by Denise of GirlieOntheEdge

 

Besides the wheezy breath of the fire in the potbellied stove, the only noise was the clicking of the safety, on-off, on-off, over and over, the brothers keeping track as they eased out of their sleeping bags, put feet on the floor, faced Aaron sitting up on his bunk, tinged by the orange glow that crept from the stove.

“How about we play a game, how about you tell me which one of you gets a bullet in the head, ‘cause I’ve decided only one person’s going to die tonight, but you have to choose— which one of you lives, which one of you dies.”

Harry spoke first, told Aaron to just stop, put the rifle down, they could talk this out, but when Aaron persisted Harry said just as calmly that he would take the bullet as long as his brother lived, but then Bill argued, “No, Aaron, if that’s the only way, then shoot me, but let my brother go, promise me that you’ll let my brother go.”

“Here’s another way, what if I’m in the mix now, huh, still only one of us get’s shot, now who do you choose to die —easy— me, right?” and again the click of the safety, on, and click, off, as the dim wavering light from the stove licked at the muzzle now tucked under Aaron’s chin, glimmered at a ghost white hand feeling it’s way down the forestock, searching for the trigger.

“No,” Bill spoke softly, “If it’s that way, Aaron, I still choose me; go ahead, shoot me instead, then let my brother take you home.”

Aaron turned his head in surprise, the muzzle now pointing away in the pause of disbelief, the rifle falling heavily to the floor when Harry tackled him then held him tight; sobbed and stuttered apologies as Bill got a lantern lit with a shaking match.

 

Submerged

USS Vermont A not so funny thing happened on my way to this post.

This post was going to be a sharing of news I got last November that my books were to be in the library of the USS Vermont, a Virginia-class attack submarine due to be commissioned April 18 in Groton, Connecticut. I wanted to share that because, no matter what you think of submarines, that’s kind of cool to think of this unique placing of these books and the special people who might just, for lack of other entertainments, read them. That was my thinking a few months ago anyway; cool, what a neat opportunity. Since then I have fumbled with false starts of this post. What should the point of it be really?

I can only hope that the books donated by Vermont authors brings some pleasure and connection to the sailors sequestered leagues beneath the sea for months at a time; I wondered at the life of a submariner, surreal to me. I became increasingly humbled by the fact of the service and commitment of this boat’s crew, got derailed by thinking about the unusual and dangerous situation they would willingly enter. I couldn’t imagine what that experience must be like; I knew I would never want to find out for myself.

I spoke with a former principal who had served in the navy on a submarine before he became an educator. Decades later he says still not a day goes by that he doesn’t think about that time; that there is no feeling like the final closing of the hatch, knowing you’d be submerged for months on end. It was that comment about the closing of the hatch that struck me most from my conversation with this former naval officer. It seemed eerie, and, again, hard for me to imagine. That conversation was a few weeks ago.

The not so funny thing that happened on my way to this post is that I can now better imagine that closing of the hatch. We all can. As the executive orders from the governor were issued, as I said goodbye to friends and colleagues and we retreated to our respective homes, I could more easily imagine the grim metallic finality of a closed hatch, of leaving the light and air of the known world.

As we shelter at home we do have light and air and internet. But even so, we are going to places and depths we had never imagined ourselves. Just as when I was fumbling earlier to write about the USS Vermont, I again recall Robert Macfarlane’s Underlands in which he speaks of how darkness might be a medium of vision, and that descent may be a movement towards revelation rather than deprivation. We can only hope that in these dark times we dig deep and emerge not overwhelmed by what we’ve lost, but as better humans for what we’ve learned and gained for knowing darkness and loss from our own isolated “underland”. Into the underland, Macfarlane says, we have long placed that which we fear and wish to lose, and that which we love and wish to save. We are facing fears and uncertainties, including fears of human traits that we abhor. But we also can exhibit and can expect to encounter the human traits of kindness and generosity that humanity is capable of. We can aspire and inspire, even from our time in the dark.

I’m still fumbling with this post. So much has changed since I put it on my to-do list. I can only assume that the USS Vermont will launch, though surely not as planned. Perhaps the crew has been, or will be, quarantined prior to setting out and closing the hatch. I will wonder and worry about those people, just as I now wonder and worry about all of us and our neighbors the world over. My naval officer turned educator friend said what made his time below bearable was the crew; the fact that they had work to do and that they all relied on one another helped them to focus and endure. We are a crew, all together as we shelter in place.

The hatch has been shut. We await its opening, and can only imagine what will be brought up from the depths and what will be left below.

Taking Charge CRLC Challenge

square-template9-1.pngThe Carrot Ranch March 26, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story in which a character takes charge. Who is this character, and what situation calls for their action? It can be playful or serious, fantastical, or realistic. Go where the prompt leads!

I also encourage you to backtrack over to Carrot Ranch to read Charli’s posts that prompt her prompts. You’ll be glad you did.

Taking Charge

She cracked the front door, her face a bruised sunrise. “I walk into doors,” she offered. “I’m learning though, either shut them tight or open them wide.”

“I would like to speak with the man of the house.”

Over her shoulder, thin pale legs scampered up the stairs. She blocked the rest of the view into the home.

“He’s not here.”

“When shall I call again?”

The woman paused, straightened. “He had to go away.”

“When will he return?”

“He couldn’t say. Now, do you want to talk to the man of the house or to who’s in charge?”

Rebuked #sixsentencestory

six sentence story copyThe word from Denise for Six Sentence Stories this week is “safety” and though we all have grave concerns about the safety of our loved ones and ourselves, I am taking a break from all that. But don’t expect sunshine and rainbows. Go to GirlieOntheEdge for inspiration and the link up button to share your own six sentences and to read others’. Extra points if you pick up on the recent prompt words included in this Six.

 

The door shut against the snowstorm, Bill and Harry first removed the clips from their deer rifles, opened the actions before leaning them in the corner, their routine, a common sense courtesy, as their dad would say.

“Aaron,” Bill asked as he went about getting the fire going, “You gonna put your things away, maybe lend a hand?”

But Aaron didn’t say anything, just laid back on one of the bunks in the small one-room deer camp, still with his boots on, his rifle lying beside him, and the brothers just shrugged, didn’t question him further as they spread their coats and wool pants out to dry.

As he scooped canned beans into the cast iron pan Bill shot his brother a glance that chastised him for his pity invite to their awkward neighbor, but Harry was like their dad, always feeling bad for Aaron and his hard luck mother, always reaching out though most often they were rebuked.

Warmed by the fire and filled up on bread and beans, the brothers yawned and stretched in their long johns, sleepily teased Aaron about taking a gun to bed though he’d never chambered his cartridge, crawled into their sleeping bags, and were soon snoring.

Bill and Harry awakened at the same time, hearing the click of the safety even over the buffeting of the snow squall.

Now I Can See d’Verse Poetics

“Barn’s burnt down, now I can see the moon.”                                                                       Mizuta Masahide

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I’ve always loved that Zen zinger. Mish serves it as inspiration for Tuesday Poetics at d’Verse Pub for Poets.  I went from sight to sound in the form of five “American Sentences”, 17 syllable sentences in one line.

 

We could never say what the falling tree in the forest sounded like.

It was we who did not marvel as whispering grass reclaimed asphalt.

From our point of view couldn’t see that the World would go on without us.

The World is not indifferent, but must represent the greater good.

Who will hear the warbling testaments that this spring is far from silent?

Time Seized d’Verse quadrille#100

Time Seized

“She’ll grow into it, give her time”

The hand-me-downs she wore like billowing faith and

the bike she pedaled standing, could never sit and coast but

magically she grew into her own

Self; assured, knowing

Someday within reach until

time seized

life unfulfilled

dreams 

 

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This turned a little darker than I think Linda Lee was hoping for with her prompt of “Magic” for d’Verse Pub for Poets’ Monday Quadrille. I go where the prompt leads. I am glad to be writing and to be among writers. Cheers to the Pub. 

Saddle Up Saloon; Bar None

The Saddle Up Saloon is open and serving one and all. Come say howdy ta Kid & Pal.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Saloon

“Shorty, I git goin’ where the prompt leads, but I ain’t ‘zactly comfterble bein’ led blindfolded by anyone, even you. Where ya takin’ us?”

“Pal, it’s sech a great surprise! Wait till ya see it!”

“Well, Shorty, how kin we see it if’n ya got us wearin’ our bandanas over our eyes?”

“Yer short on patience Kid. Okay, whoa. Stop. Lift yer blindfolds, both a ya.”

“Wow! A waterin’ hole! Yeehaw!”

“The Saddle Up Saloon? How long’s this been here?”

“It’s brand new!”

“This saloon is on the ranch?”

“Just over the line.”

“Over the line? Thought it were a free range ranch, unbounded.”

“It is indeed, Pal, but I figgered it might be best if this establishment be set back some, in case you an’ Kid go over the line. Give us all some elbow room.”

“Ya think Kid an’ me’s gonna be here all the time, bendin’ our…

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One Question #SixSentenceStories

“Damn it all, what do you mean you can’t come in, I’m telling you, set those supplies down and get in here and stay awhile, what in the hell has gotten into you?”

Sighing, he did as ordered, stepping gingerly, as if that made any difference, sat on the far end of the tired sofa; from that distance sat with his great-uncle who faced the sea-salted window of his old cottage as he always had, before and after losing his sight, listened while the blind old man continued, “Look at it, the chop has begun, she’s restless; we’re in for a right good blow, we are.”

The younger man didn’t argue, for there was a restless expectation in the air, but what it was could not be divined from the placid water, sparkling with sunshine.

“Been through many a blow, Boy, many a blow, and I can tell you, this is going to be a big one, a mighty big one.”

He watched the robin scouting the crocus filled lawn, muffled a cough, then asked if he wanted him to put the shutters up but the old man just turned his rheumy eyes to him and whispered hoarsely, “No, Boy, no, I just want you to answer me one question, if you can. What kind of a storm is this?”

 

six sentence story

 

The link is open at GirlieOnTheEdge‘s blog for sharing stories told in six sentences. The prompt word is “QUESTION“. 

Feed Your Head CRLC Challenge

Leaning against the chimney, he put in his earbuds, listened to Jefferson Airplane while polishing his pocket watch. Unless the girl tripping around below suddenly became quite tall she would never think to look for him here. And anyway, she was much more interested in the March Hare, mad as he was. But it mightn’t be till May that the March Hare be less raving mad.
Yes, it was much the most interesting. The chessmen, all white too, were maddest of all, falling about in no direction.
Smiling, the rabbit flung his pocket watch into the endless blue sky.

 

square-template2.pngIt’s time again for the post and prompt from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch. Many of us in the states are in our first week of distancing or quarantine, but in many ways it has been a social week. We read, we write, we correspond through all the means at our disposal. Don’t isolate socially, only physically. If you’re looking for something interactive to do, try the Carrot Ranch March 19, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a rabbit on the roof. Or many rabbits. Why are they there? Explain the unexpected, go into any genre. Go where the prompt leads!

d’Verse Open Link Night #262

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candles, matches

lantern oil

batteries

No, that’s for power outages.

The weather is fine.

 

groceries! food to last (For how long? The weather is fine)

wipes

soap

disinfectant

toilet paper

(Why are the shelves empty? The weather is fine)

 

To do:

 batten hatches

buckets of water for flushing

top up gas tank

No, that’s for hurricanes, for when

the lines might be down for days.

But the taps work, the pump runs, the electric remains.

Transportation systems go.

The weather is fine.

 

Bucket list

No, get to that another time.

 Stay in place, isolate.

Reach out.

Share what you can.

Enjoy the weather.

The weather is fine.

 

That’s what I wrote and didn’t post for Bjorn’s “Meeting the Bar” Listen to Lists Challenge last Thursday. That was a week ago, a day before I went into the grocery store and saw how much things had changed; two days before I got notice that we had Monday to prepare for a three-week school closure; before I came to suspect that it will be more than three weeks. Last Thursday, the twilight-zone feeling that was just beginning to cloak this community was countered by humor and hardy spirits, though with admissions to never having seen the like. Many have certainly weathered discomforts and isolation for a few days and so prepared as they would for any good blow, a snowstorm, a hurricane. Some prepared minimally, others rapaciously.

This Thursday we wish each other well and walk a line stretched taut between alarm and optimism. We continue to remark upon the weather, on how spring’s come early, though some say snow yet to come.

Dawn’s a noisy time

Songbirds belfry budded branch

Insouciant crows caw

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So, a retake on a list poem and a sort of haibun for Open Link Night at d’Verse Pub for Poets, graciously hosted by Grace. So glad the pub is still open. Thank you to all who pour and to all who partake. May all be well.