Friday, January 18, 2013

if a photo is worth 1000 words : story 1

The island was cold come october, but she couldn't bring herself to wear a coat. You'll catch cold and be laid in bed for months, her mother fretted. Nonsense, she would insist. The island air does me good. I like tasting the sea when I breath. Her mother would simply shake her head and head to the kitchen to put in the roast, sit in the parlor to finish her knitting, or generally just disappear. The ways of her daughter not only worried her, but perplexed her. Their connection was frail, thin as blue milk and fragile as the last moment of a dream.

Her father was of the island and the stories he told were her history. He understood her, could not help not, as their roots went deep into the earth, rich dirt smelling like spring. It gets in your blood, he used to say. We breathe the salt, in and out, and pretty soon, we're as much a part of the island as the water surrounding it. She was very little when he was still around, but she carried the words with her and pulled them out to remember, daily. It was at the dock that she remembered him most. His favorite place in the world, yes. Her mother hated it and all it stood for, yet there was no money to leave.

Above her, the sky was pulled taught, gray like the stones making up the harborer's island. There was always the threat of rain, not the rain that mainlanders were used to, but the hard sheets nearly ice. Her mother made her promise to take shelter as soon as the sky broke and that was one promise she needed no trouble to keep. While catching cold wasn't ideal, the chill from the rain was dangerous. In nearly every case, the dampness that settled in the bones and burned in the lungs of those taken with it ended in death, despite the poor island doctor's best attempts. It was the dampness that took her father six years ago and daily, her mother worried it would be her next.

"Hello Posy!" A fisherman called, going over his boat for that night. She waved back. Soon, he finished tucking away the nets, closing the hatches, and making sure the boat was settled for the night, and joined her where she sat. He was one of the youngest of those who went out to brave the shale waters, and up until a few years ago, had been friends with Posy. As usually happens, the age difference between boys and girls in the later years of young adulthood stretched into eons, and their friendship crumbled under the strain. It wasn't proper to be running around with a young man, anyways, her mother continually reminded her.

"Hello Teo." She inched over on the slab of rock on which she sat and smiled shyly at him. He had the ruddy skin that came from being out under sky and on the sea daily and his skin was freckled like the speckled eggs her chicken gave. But he had kind eyes that melted when he was particularly happy and she secretly loved the ridge on his nose from he had broken it.

"A good catch?" Posy asked, looping her fingers together.

He shook his head. "I wish. At this rate, we'll be in for a hard winter."

"It's always a hard winter." The words slipped out involuntarily and she flushed, shook her head. "I'm sorry."

Teo nodded, "No. I understand. It would be." That was all he said and yet it was enough to make the ache for her father rise to her throat. It had been six years and she should have been over his passing by now, should have been able to let go. Her granddad found her crying a month ago and gave her a stern talking to. Island folk tasted death and knew that life was short. She should not be still grieving over someone who was gone.

The silence between them stretched into awkward breaths. Posy waited for him to speak, found a word on her tongue and watched it tumble out just as his did.

"What are you --"
"Did you--"

They laughed and the tension eased for a moment. Beside them, the sea lapped the rocks with increasing urgency and Posy shivered from the chill in the air. Wintertime was never dry, but eternally damp and cold. She dreaded the long winter months by the fireside, watching the dimness of the world outside melt into black on the snow.

"Did you need anything?" Teo finished his sentence. The words crumbled in Posy's open hands. She tasted the wish baited in the air and tried to catch her thoughts.

"I --" Posy started and looked away, embarrassed. "Thank you." She finally said, staring at her hands in her lap. "It's very -- generous -- of you to offer. But -- I can't -- we can't accept." She bit her lip. "You know my mother." Even saying that felt like a betrayal. You know my mother. It was worse than gossip, because anyone can try hard enough and pick out the dishonesty in false talk, but with saying that he knew, she was admitting the truth.

He ran a hand through his hair. Squinted. "Yeah." He stared at her, gave her a shy smile. "You take care of yourself, then, you hear?"

She nodded. Gratefulness spilled from her face. "I will. Thank you, Teo, I truly do appreciate it. It means -- a great deal." She finally managed and blushed under the transparency of her words. With her red hair and white dress, she looked every bit like the island girl she was. He had never seen her lovelier.

Impulsively, he grabbed her hand, gave it a squeeze, and she did not let go. He glanced at the sky. "Will you make it home before the rain?"

"I think so." Posy started.

"Do you have a place you can stay if it starts up?" He phrased his question carefully. Rules of conversation were strict, and it was easy to say something to offend, even without intention.

"Yes." She lied. If it began to rain, she would run. She stood, letting his hand fall from hers, and brushed her dress. "But I better be off then. It was good to see you, Teo." Even there, she was saying to much, but his hand holding hers had given her boldness. And her mother, nor anyone worth twopence in gossip, was there to see.

"I'll be seeing you, then." He waved as she set off.

It started raining before she was halfway home.


taking the old cliche literally. I'm going to attempt to write 52 short stories weekly this year, all from various images, all around 1000 words. this is partially because I dream of writing a novel, partially because I need a challenge to give myself a push, and partially because there are so many images that inspire me. so, number one done, fifty one to go.

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