Mountains silhouetted in the sunlight, erupting from the earth in majestic pyramid peaks. They pierced the blue summer sky and parted the clouds, and feral beasts lived in the shadows at their feet. Hooting and screaming, filthy and tangled, these small, gangling beasts ran and loped around the bases of the mountains. Tiny feet kicking up clouds of dust and sending rocks clattering; hands with sandy backs, grime shoved beneath nails; faces freckled and brown by the sun, wide with smiles that exposed Chiclet teeth, bracketed by lines of joy caked with dirt that aged them like miniature geriatric chimpanzees. Laughing and running and kicking and shoving until the sky turned from clear blue to a haze of orange and purple, and the dark forced them to leave the empty subdivision still in construction—their mountain range of gravel and sand.
The silhouette was little more than a shadowy blemish behind the protective shroud of linen. Stained as the sheet was with previous inhabitants of the room, it should have been difficult to see those little things that made her unique, but things that should be are not always so. The rogue curl that grazed the slope of her brow. The stern, sharp edge of her nose. Those elegant hands, tucked together. All bathed in moonlight as the rope creaked and the silhouette gently turned behind the curtain, as feral voices called for more blood.
The timbers were stained black, weathered by years of peat fires filling the house with smoke. hey were the constant, the bones of the house. As children were born and lost, as minds were moulded and shaped, still they remained, unchanging. Hair greyed and skin sagged. Holes were dug and generations lost. Suns rose and set, and still the timbers watched over the family, a constant, silent guardian.
It had been many years since he last looked at the blanket.
Long and kite-shaped, with lace trim and one quilted side – it had been the blanket for his son. He was going to wrap that fragile, new body in the soft wool, cocooning, protective, and warm. He would watch those tiny grasping fingers curl around the corded lace and pull at loose threads; he would watch it get stained with mud and tears, blood and food – with the messes of childhood. He would treasure it long after his son was grown; he would perhaps even swaddle in it a grandson one day.
So many plans. So many ifs.
It had been twenty years. That blanket had never touched his son, and never would.
With a heavy heart, he folded it up and put it away.
I see WordPress has a new way of publishing posts.
I don’t like it one bit, and I, for one, am glad they keep this old version available for us. Hopefully it’s permanent.
In any case, here’s just a basic update on everything going on in casa de Marshman and Albert, I guess, since I live with James now:
I’m now assistant manager at the bookstore where I work. This literally only means I went from knowing what I was doing every single day (magazine and magazine-related work) to doing whatever Lexi (the boss) doesn’t feel like doing at any given time. I am a glorified minion. That being said, having worked there for four and a half years, I’m pretty excited about any kind of say in how the store runs.
I’m living with James that’s not news
We’re going to get a cat that is news
Abomination, the sequel to my magnum opus, Changeling, is nearly finished and currently clocking in just under 250 000 words.
I read Written In My Own Heart’s Blood, the eighth Outlander book by Diana Gabaldon, and wept and laughed and can’t wait another five years for the next book.
Also, the tv show makes me fangirl super hard.
I binge-played Dragon Age: Origins and married Alistair that… may or may not be news
Also, Halloween is coming and I’ve got a very exciting costume planned that plays off my Doctor Who addiction. Stay tuned.
And in the meantime, between my infrequent relevant posts, continue to enjoy the flash fiction I’m posting on a sometimes weekly basis. By the way, those come from random prompts at the writing group I go to. I go to a writing group now. Writing groups are cool.
It was the summer of my twenty-second year, and I was apprenticing as an electrician. A good job for a small town; even though my boss was a drunk, people still went to him because there was no one else.
It was the lamppost outside Macy Thompson’s house. It had been flickering for several weeks and when it finally died, she called me and Bob to come fix it. He was drunk; he was always drunk. But I knew enough to figure out the problem alone.
A hot day in summer, at high noon. After only ten minutes, I was sweltering. Macy saw and offered me lemonade. I would have been a fool not to accept.
It was light. Refreshing.
When I was finished, I thanked Macy for her hospitality and I went back outside.
The sky was dark. Curious, but only a cloud passing over the sun, I thought. I went back to my work, and saw what might have been the problem: an exposed wire dangling from the lamp. I got my ladder and set it up, and just as I was staring up at the wire, about to climb, the first feather fell.
Forty years have passed, and still we don’t know why the pheasants destroyed our town. For years, Bob’s screams haunted my dreams. But now I have made my peace. I was able to warn Macy Thompson and save our lives that day, because of the exposed wire.
It could have been longer. He lost track of time around the fourth pair.
Well, he was finding a pair a day, generally speaking, and he had how many now?
With a weary groan, he lowered himself to a mossy boulder by the stream and pulled his bag off his shoulder. Folded neatly atop his foraged food and camping gear were his finds – his curious treasures. One, two, five… eight… eleven. Eleven pairs altogether. So he had been on the move for eleven days, more or less.
He folded them back into his bag and hoisted it onto his shoulder with a grunt, then cupped his filthy hands and filled them with water from the stream he had been following all day. Refreshed, he reoriented himself and set off through the brambles and branches.
Sunset came, washing the valley in a burnished glow. He paused, panting softly, to admire it. One good thing about his strange quest, he supposed, was how he was subject to the intricate beauties of the wild.
He turned back to the deer paths he had been following – and froze when the glorious sunlight filtered through a jagged hole. His heart swelled and he raced over and snatched them off the branch from which they dangled. Another – and a new direction in which to search.
With a renewed sense of accomplishment, he set off into the woods, clutching the twelfth pair of ripped and ragged pants.