EASIEST PATH, FRAUGHT WITH HIDDEN DANGER!
Happy Sunday! Here is my take on talented Author Suzanne Burkes’ weekly Fiction In a Flash Challenge. Authors are invited to write a short story about the photo shown. Please click on the above link to go to her blog site. Thank you so much, Suzanne for hosting this regular challenge!
“Grandma, are you sure you want to go up there? They’re in bad shape, and your hip.”
“Oh, pish posh,” Rosemary waved dismissively. “Should have done this years ago and those were built when quality counted.”
“That was seventy-seven years ago. This place has been abandoned for—”
“Twenty years, other than some vandalism, the bones are solid.”
“Maybe, but yours aren’t. Please, just let me have a look. The third floorboard from the back wall of the closet, right?”
Rosemary patted Emily’s hand. “I need to do this myself, with a bit of help from you.”
Emily wiped a tear and hugged her grandmother. “I understand. You were eight and you’ve waited this long. It was your only hope. All these years . . . ” Her grief soaked the purple shawl.
“Shh . . . I’ve made my peace. This must be done before I see him again. I pray God will allow it in Heaven. Father has the other half, that’s why they never found it on him.”
Rosemary’s eyes stung but she must show restraint, be the brave girl that her father had said she was just before he left for the Great War. “Let’s continue, shall we?”
“Yes, I’m sorry.” Emily broke her embrace and took the tissue from Rosemary.
“But you must let me check each tread before you step on it and let me guide you. Those are my rules, I’m sorry. I love you too much to lose you.”
Rosemary nodded. “Agreed.”
They moved ahead, arm in arm, with Emily sweeping away the debris with her foot to clear a path. At the base of the stairs, she tested the railing and was satisfied.
“You see, built to last. The stairs will be the same, though the third step might creak. I learned to avoid that one when I’d sneak downstairs after bedtime to grab an extra cookie.” She pointed to the room they’d just left. “My parents would be sitting in their chairs, Mother with her nose in a book, while Father would be asleep. I never got caught, but sometimes I think Mother knew.” Rosemary smiled.
The stairs proved to be every bit as resilient as promised, but every tread protested the disturbance.
The hideous orange and white floral-patterned linoleum flooring installed by the last tenants had chunks missing and revealed the hardwood underneath. Decay wasn’t always bad.
Emily gingerly walked her grandmother across the tripping hazard to the first room on the left. Time had left only a thick layer of dust, cobwebs, and a musty smell in the barren room.
“Hmmm . . . used to be a lot bigger,” Rosemary said. She blamed her watering eyes on the dust and mold. “I loved this room, but after Father was gone, well, we had to move.”
She sighed deeply and shuffled towards the tiny closet. Emily’s hand went to grab her arm, but she brushed it off. “I’m good for now, but I’ll need you to help me kneel.”
The old woman reached the closet and Emily helped her to her knees.
Rosemary struggled to remove the floorboard and Emily offered to help.
“No! I must do this!” Her face softened and her tears splattered into the floor dust. “I’m sorry, dear, I didn’t mean to snap. This arthritis is making it hard. Did they nail it down?”
After what seemed an eternity, the board yielded, and was hoisted with a collectively held breath. Would it still be there?
Emily handed over the flashlight. The small beam illuminated only cobwebs and dirt. Rosemary dug frantically to clear them, and the light reflected off a silver object lying in between the floor joists.
Rosemary picked up the necklace with shaky hands. Emily gasped, for there it was, the legendary object that she’d heard about since early childhood.
A heart, with one half missing, the other half perhaps lay on a faraway battlefield.
Rosemary clutched the jewelry to her heart, and then wept loudly. Emily rushed to her side and tried to console her grandmother through her own tears.
It took several moments to recover, and Rosemary showed her the inscription in the heart. Because of the shape and the missing piece, it read, ALW TOGE . . . Always Together.
“Oh Grandma, is that true? Do you really believe that?”
“Yes, Emily, all of my life I knew he was there, and soon I will get to see him again and this heart will be whole.”
I wrote this in response to Sue Vincent’s write photo prompt. If you would like to join in the fun, please visit her wonderful blog and have a look around: Sue Vincent
Please suspend your disbelief and picture a convoy of leaf cutter ants crawling across the fourth step from the top, on your right. The ants in this story are all female because worker ants tend to be this gender. The males exist to breed only, surprised? Let’s have a peek into the lives of our six-legged cast, shall we?
“Company halt! Major Amelia, do you have any idea where we are? Why are we crawling into a valley? And a better question is, what are those really tall things sticking up from the ground? They almost reach the sky!”
“Well uh, you see Commander Ava, I, um, was not really, well, you can see, the wind keeps blowing the leaf I’m carrying into my eyes. It’s huge, you know, I am very efficient, as some of us are. The most fungus for the leaf, as they say, or something like that. Hey, you know who might know, because she can’t handle the big stuff? Captain Abigail, of course! Oh, and she’s right here! She’ll know the answer.”
“Very well, Major Amelia, and I’d appreciate a proper antennae salute, or I’ll have you busted down to trash duty? You hear me?”
“Ouch! Yes Commander! Loud and clear. Oh, by the way, did you notice that omeone-say lse-eay idn’t-day altute-say?”
“Enough of that and stop pointing your antennae at the Captain. But yes, you owe me a salute, too, Abigail. And by the way, Major, someone in your position ought to have mastered a simple salute without poking herself in the eye. If your daddy hadn’t taken off after mating with the Queen, I’d swear that he bought your rank for you.”
“But Commander Ava, I don’t even know who my daddy is. None of us do. There’s just too many daddies!”
“Silence! Major Amelia, I’m well aware of how it all works. Now, we have a big problem here and of course, the best way to solve it is first to find out who is to blame.
“Those giants of the Sky Colony that walk up and down these mountains in just eight steps, well, I’ve learned their language. I hear them talk, and that’s what they do.
“We all know that might makes right, and since they are mightier, that means they must be rightier. Isn’t that right?
“No, you imbeciles! What are you, a bunch of dung beetles? Everyone stay in formation! I’m not talking about a direction, just about being right about might. Ah, never mind!
“Captain Abigail, as the lowest rank among the three of us, you are automatically guilty. If you wish to save your precious exoskeleton, you can start by explaining how you created this mess.”
“Me? I mean, Commander Ava, I was third in line, following Major Amelia. I’ve walked in lockstep the entire trip.”
“Hope you like the smell of garbage, because you’ll never forage again.”
“I will take it from here, thank you, Major.”
“Oh, sorry, Commander. But can I just say one thing?”
“Sure, but that’s it.”
“Captain Abigail is lazy. She only carries forty-nine times her bodyweight. She spends most of her time gawking around and smelling the pharaoh moans.”
“And you’re so dumb you can’t even pronounce pheromones.”
“Don’t clack your mandibles at me, Captain. I outrank you, remember?”
“Girls! Can we have order here, please! Now Captain, you’re still guilty and will be punished, but when you mentioned that phero-thingy, I came up with a brilliant idea, yet again. You see, the Captain has allowed our route to be sabotaged by the drones of the Sky Colony.”
“No disrespect, Commander, but what are you talking about?”
“Oh, sweet Captain, you have much to learn . . . explains your lowly rank, I suppose. I have personally seen one myself. It was days ago, and it flew over me, on its way up these very mountains. It had black and yellow stripes and made a horrendous buzzing sound.”
“Do not interrupt me, Captain! Now, as I was saying, the beast flew up these mountains towards that big blue, Sky Portal that the Sky Colony comes from.”
“Um, again, no disrespect, but I don’t think that’s the sky. You see, it’s vertical and the actual sky is— ouch!”
“If the Commander says that it’s the sky, that’s what it is. Now stop rubbing your eye and do not speak until you’re told to.”
“Thank you, Major. I’m ordering everyone to do a smell check. That way we can be sure that no enemy is among us. Look for yellow and black stripes, as well as anyone who buzzes like the gossip mill back at the Hill.
“That’s right! Get those antennae working. Major, get away from me! Ouch! You bit me! That’s it, Captain Abigail is now on permanent trash duty!”
“Me? But that was the Major’s fault.”
“You see me not listening? Yes, that’s what it’s like, but no one cares what you have to say. Alright, halt! It is clear that we have no enemies among us. Now we can resume the blame game. Captain, turn in your badge.”
“But we don’t have badges.”
“That’s it! You’re, hey, what just hit me?”
“Commander! It’s starting to rain! We need to seek shelter before we’re washed down these mountains!”
“Don’t tell me when it is raining, Captain. I’ll tell you, that’s how it works!”
“Um right . . . everyone, we need to get out of here! Move, now!”
“They won’t unless I command it. I say it might be rain, but if it is, then it is only a light rain. It will pass and we shall proceed in determining a new punishment for your insubordination.”
“Everyone, this is your captain speaking! Follow the chain of command but start with me. We’ll pretend the upper ranks do not exist. The rain is getting worse and we’ve no time to reach shelter, get to the base of this mountain and use your leaves to shield yourselves! Yes, that’s it, now hold on. Here comes the downpour!”
“Hey, Not-Captain-Abigail! You are way out of line . . . Major, take that leaf off your head and stand beside me at the edge of this cliff.”
“That’s a good girl, now listen to meee….!”
“They’re gone! I’m glad we listened to you, Captain.”
“All in the chain of command, Sergeant. Now hold steady!”
Wishing all of my friends down in the U.S.A , a happy Independence Day.
As the dawn sheds light on a new day, I find myself reflecting on yesterday’s celebration of Canada’s birthday.
Canada is many things, including a beautiful land of diversity, both in landscape and people. We’re far from perfect and face our own struggles, but overall, we are blessed.
However, Canada is but one country, and sparsely populated in relation to land mass. At just over 37 million, we’re a drop in the bucket.
What about this club thing in the title, Bierman? And what’s with the handshake photo? Don’t you know it’s dangerous nowadays? I’ll get to that, soon, I promise. First, I’m going to give you a quick bio about myself, so that you have a gist about who’s extending this invitation.
Here goes: I’m a white, middle class, Christian man, with a nuclear family. I have over twenty years’ experience as a Correctional Officer. I’m the son of immigrants who arrived as children, from Holland. I am proud of who I am, my heritage, my country, and my family.
I hope you are proud of who you are too. You have every right to be.
You see, this club is not exclusive, it’s open to everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political leanings, and occupation.
There are some rules, however:
- You must have a pulse.
- You agree to behave in a respectful manner to all. Do not mock or belittle anyone because you think their ideas, religion, beliefs, interests, what have you, are foolish.
- You agree to disagree, refrain from assigning unfair labels to someone, simply because their opinions do not coincide with your own.
- You agree to inform yourself and question what you see and hear on the news. That goes for social media, too. You are intelligent and have free will. Please do your research before you make assumptions. I’m sorry, I know real issues exist, but this particular item is gasoline on an inferno. Blue Lives Murder T Shirt on Amazon . So every police officer is a murderer? I don’t think so. I’m using this one because it hits a bit close to home. I don’t know what you do for a living but think about possible stereotypes for your profession. Are they true for all who work in that field?
- Honest questions are encouraged and even polite debate, but do not expect a conversion to your way of thinking. Oh, by the way, might be wise to leave the thesaurus at home. Sophisticated or uncommon words that are meant to demonstrate superior “intelligence” often do the opposite. More importantly, they do not foster amicable relations.
- We all have trauma and scars from the past. Yes, even the rich and famous. So many things shape us into what we are today. I think it’s important to remember that we are all one footstep away from being someone else.
So, what is this club? Well, I guess I’ll call it, The Club of Humanity. The invitation has no expiry date. All that is required is to follow these simple rules and check any bitterness, anger, and prejudice at the door. If you’d like, I can leave a bin of glasses at the entrance to wear, so that members can see others through a new lens.
Thank you for reading this. I hope to see you there!