Red Morn — Thursday photo prompt

Title: Red Morn
Source:  Thursday photo prompt: Renewal #writephoto
Word count: 404 words

My alarm buzzed, and I swatted the snooze button missing it several times before my fingers found their target. I groaned, pulling the covers over my head. Five more minutes was all I needed. I heard Granddad whistling in the kitchen and I pulled the pillow around my head, hoping to silence him. How was anyone that happy in the morning I wondered?

I drifted, welcoming blissful sleep until my bedroom door burst open and ricocheted off the doorstop. The pine door vibrated from the blow. I didn’t have to peek to know who had ended my quest to delay the start of the day.

“Once more the ruby-colour’d portal open’d, Which to his speech did honey passage yield,” Granddad quoted as I listened to him move across the room to my window.

His voice dropped, to a whisper as he continued, “Like a red morn, that ever yet betoken’d.”

He yanked the first curtain panel open, “Wrack to the seaman,” his voice rose, and his words punctuated his moments. “Tempest to the field,” he flung the second curtain panel open and sunlight streamed into my room.

“Sorrow to shepherds,” he intoned in his most pitiful voice and he crossed the room to my bed.

“Woe unto the birds,” he giggled as he shook me, tugging my covers.

“Gusts and foul flaws to herdmen and to herds,” he ended as the blankets escaped my grasp and flew to the end of the bed leaving me and my puppy dog pajamas exposed. It was hard to tell which of us laughed more.

“Granddad you’re insane. What was that?”

“What?” Grandad’s eyes bulged, and his jaw dropped as he right hand clutched his heart. “Surely no grandchild of mine is ignorant of the words of the Great William Shakespeare?” The giant man stood at the foot of my bed, laughter creased his eyes, and he attempted to frown his disapproval.

“Oh,” I stammered and tried to remember something from the bard my granddad loved. “What light through yonder window breaks?” I managed but couldn’t remember the next line.

“By Jove. It is the east, and you, my fair Juliet, are the sun,” Granddad took a step back, and with a grand flourish bowed low over his extended leg.  He stood, smiled at me, then turned to leave the room.

“Pancakes, in five. Don’t miss your cue,” he called over his shoulder and I scrambled to comply.

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Silver Lining — Thursday photo prompt

Title: Silver Lining
Source:  Thursday photo prompt: Clouds #writephoto
Word count: 230 words

the image shows the sun behind the bare branches of winter trees in a blue sky darkened by clouds.

Jessie raced outside, stopping to shove her feet into her shoes before letting the door slam behind her. At the end of the driveway, she realized she her coat was inside. It didn’t matter. She wasn’t going back. She was never going back.

The icy wind knifed through her wool sweater, finding the spaces in the closely knit fabric. Jessie pulled the sweater closed around her neck and remembered what she left in her hasty exit.

Her coat was one, she thought and shivered. There were clothes in the bedroom closet, her favorite pair of jeans among them. She hated leaving them, and the toiletries in the bathroom.

Jessie stopped suddenly, grasping at her throat, her fingers probing until she touched the sterling silver chain.  She wound her fingers around the chain, tugging the pendant free. She clutched it in her fist and closed her eyes. Thank God she thought.

Jessie heaved a sigh of relief, tucked it under her shirt, and continued walking. There was more, she knew, but she didn’t want to think about that yet. Jessie wondered if she could block it forever.

She glanced around to determine how far she had come and which way she needed to go. She blinked as the sun struggled to escape its gray shroud. A thin ray touched her face and Jessie smiled. She knew exactly where she was going.

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Diamond Dust — Thursday photo prompt

Title: Diamond Dust
Source: Thursday photo prompt: Beneath #writephoto
Word count: 110 words

the image shows a gnarled, winter tree, and the sun glowing behind the hills, reflecting in the waters of a clear lake.

I dipped my toe into the icy cold water and felt the chill spread through my body. The weak warmth of the winter sun would soon slide below the horizon and allow me to advance my work.

Father Boreas raced ahead of me, preparing the way for my transformation. Reaching, slowly growing, my touch crept forward in geometric progressions. I inhaled gasping gusts of air, harvesting heat from every surface, and exchanged the gift with crystalline beauty.

The sky devoid of sun, the deep darkness of the void reflected blackness and despair. But hope ascended with Sister Selene’s silver chariot and she smiled at me through falling flakes of snow.

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Drive — Thursday photo prompt: Onward #writephoto

Title: Drive
Source:  Thursday Photo Prompt: Onward #writephoto
Word count:  301 words

I adjusted the car’s rearview mirror for the hundredth time. There had been no cars for miles and I know where I have been. I shifted, peeling my leg from the red vinyl seat, my sweat pooling underneath me. I realized why granddad draped a towel on the seat whenever he wasn’t showing someone his baby with chest-thumping pride. The Goat, Grandfather of Muscle Cars, Grandad’s pride and prized possession. He bought the car, brand new, for $3,500, a lot of money in those days, all the money he had.

The Goat was a red convertible with a black ragtop and a big block V8 engine. In the blistering sun with no AC, I left the top on as I sped down the highway, watching the white lines streaming by, turning solid.

I stole the Goat from Grandad’s garage last night. Well, it wasn’t really stealing. The car would be mine someday he said, and I left a note. Grandad wouldn’t call the cops. I grew up listening to his stories. Stories of him evading the law, hiding out when he was my age.

By now they’ve told him what Hannah did, what I did. I pulled the chain around my neck working it free from my tee-shirt. The ring raked across my heart as I pulled, scratching my chest. When it popped loose, I pushed it onto my index finger to the first knuckle. A small diamond winked at me. I thought it would be enough. A promise. A place to start. I bought it using all my money.

I’m like Grandad. You don’t throw away the things you worked hard for, the things you love. I hold on to promises and the trinkets, thinking they are treasures. Like the weather, life changes. I kiss yesterday goodbye, and I drive.

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Lethe’s Atonement #writephoto

Title: Lethe’s Atonement
Source:  Thursday photo prompt: Hidden #writephoto
Word count:  349 words

stream-in-the-woods

Thursday photo prompt: Hidden #writephoto

Lethe was born the daughter of Strife into a family of sixteen sisters. Her sisters moaned and cried and chronicled the trials of mankind. Hardship, Lethe’s eldest sister made the people toil and bend their backs to eke out an existence. But even if they persevered, sister Starvation was always near.

Pains, the third in line, made them weary and afflicted. For those who could rise above mortal issues, sisters Battles and Wars packed a one, two punch and pushed many more to their graves. Lethe’s other sisters pushed the strong but punished mankind all the same. The sisters goaded and tortured, with Murders and Manslaughter causing senseless death.

The younger sisters seeped into men’s lives, riddling them with Quarrels, Lies, Stories, and Disputes. Anarchy then found fertile ground to pave the way for sister Ruin and leaving men with only Oaths to comfort them.

Mother Strife brought her daughters as a continual plague upon the human kind hoping to crush them, she cursed them and entreated her daughters to spare not even one. But Lethe was gentle and kind and she saw the destruction and scars her family left behind.

She tried to intervene, but her sisters were stronger by far, and her mother rebuked her for her meddling ways. Lethe wouldn’t add to the human sorrow, and she saw how they rose despite all the horrors. Lethe cried with frustration and once the tears started, she couldn’t get them to stop. The tears cascaded down her face, growing into a great river that raced underground reaching the tormented souls buried below.

One lonely shade drank from the waters and finding forgetfulness of all earthly struggles was granted admission to the Elysian Fields.  The gods saw what Lethe had created and smiled upon her. For Lethe’s sake, the gods agreed.  Those who had suffered from her family’s hands and proved themselves righteous, or heroic could drink from Lethe’s river of forgetfulness and enter the Isles of the Blessed. The gods allowed them to remain, to live happy and blessed, the pleasures denied, granted to them in the afterlife.

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Spring Thaw — Thursday photo prompt

Title: Spring Thaw
Source:  Thursday photo prompt: Calm #writephoto
Word count:  430 words

Tree-creek-water-spring-thaw

Tex curled the left side of his lip and made a clicking noise. He squeezed his right knee into Red’s side directing him to turn left.  The snow had melted, and the melt seeped into the ground causing the crick to overrun its banks. Everywhere Red stepped was a mire of mud and muck. In places, Red sank deep into the mud, water rose to his knees and threatened to submerge Tex’s stirrups. Red stepped high, moving deliberately without panic. Tex had felt hesitation in Red’s steps as they slogged forward and knew they’d best turn back. They gained nothing by going further.

The grass was growing, his cattle were hungry, and the feed was running low. Still, he couldn’t turn cattle into this field. Cows might be fine, but many had calved, and a calf wouldn’t survive in this water-sodden land. If they survived the birthing, the calves would succumb to the persistent wet and cold. Cows weren’t God’s brightest creatures so Tex would spend his time keeping them safe.

Red’s hooves sucked and plopped as he moved through the field to higher ground. Tex rubbed his hand across his face, adjusted his hat, then patted Red’s neck.

“What are we gonna do ole boy?” Tex asked. Red tossed his head and snorted. It made Tex laugh.

“You’re always practical Red. Home it is.”

Tex considered his options. There weren’t many. The hay would last another day, two at most. He could supplement corn, but the cows would eat it quickly, and leave him without seed to plant. If he gave the cattle corn, it would mean purchasing more corn to plant his fields. He had less money than hay.

The cattle had grazed their current pasture into submission and the land needed time to regenerate. The last option was purchasing hay and hoping the snow melt dried up soon. Money, again. Tex figured numbers, thought about his money shortage and worried, as Red took them home.

The sun hung low when they approached the barn and Tex figured he had run short of ideas. A meal, a good night’s sleep, and the morning might look less bleak.

Tex woke before dawn to begin his morning chores. As he worked, a plan took shape. He saddled Red. They needed to check the herd, count calves and then head into town. It wasn’t a plan he liked, hell he hated the idea, but it might see him through spring.

Hat in hand, he approached old man McGregor and asked him if he wanted to purchase a hundred head of cattle.

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Spirit Journey — Thursday photo prompt

Title: Spirit Journey
Source:  Thursday photo prompt: Stark #writephoto
Word count: 210 words

The sudden wind tugged my braid, forcing me to look across the mesa. Where had I been that I did not notice the darkening sky, the gathering clouds or the falling rain in the distance?

My thoughts swirled in my heart like a Chiindii trapped in a box canyon. I lifted and examined each tiny pebble, hoping to discover an answer engraved in the stone. There were no secrets hidden there.

The rain approached, and I wrestled with my demons, determined to banish bad thoughts and bad words from my mind. The wise ones said I must respect the rain, or the sacred forces would punish me. Perhaps my punishment had already begun. The sacred forces drove me from my clan and married my love to another. They left me with nothing.

I faced the coming storm, arms spread wide to meet the assault. A scream erupted from my spirit, shattering the silence. Lightning flashed and thundered rolled across the land, knocking me deep into the abyss. Mother Earth folded her arms around me while a gentle rain washed away the pain. When I opened my eyes, my heart pounded with the beat of a thousand drums and I knew I was no longer doomed to walk this world alone.

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Disavowed — Thursday photo prompt

Title: Disavowed
Source:  Thursday photo prompt: Way-stone #writephoto
Word count: 250 words

No one told me the truth. Not until it was too late. It took years to find. I spent my free time tracking leads, digging through documents and asking strangers intimate and private details.

Today I was deep in the woods following the Plat of Survey from the County Assessor’s Office. The town was named for the family who first settled the land, her name. The town grew, but times changed, and the children left for larger towns and cities seeking more opportunities, more jobs, more life. If you took a chance, you could leave small-town life and small-town values.

The children never returned. Parents died leaving a ghost town echoing with their unfulfilled dreams. A gas station and a diner remained in the boarded-up town, a convenience for travelers as they headed elsewhere.

The woods were peaceful, the birds sang, and squirrels scampered in the trees as I walked the old overgrown path. No one visited. A forgotten fence lay rotting on the ground while forest plants grew, threatening to obliterate the site. Moss-covered stones melted into nature. I tore the moss from marker faces, wiped the grim hiding what I sought.

My search didn’t take long. Her name was carved beneath the words “Devoted Daughter” followed by birth and death dates. They were all that remained to bear testimony of her life. My hand caressed a name hardened, etched upon my mind, my final connection. I knelt at her grave, and whispered, “Hi Mom. Do you remember me?”

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Chasing the Sunset — Thursday photo prompt

Title: Chasing the Sunset
Source:  Thursday photo prompt: Glimmer #writephoto
Word count: 60 words

Leveling off at forty thousand feet, I engaged the autopilot and leaned back in the captain’s chair.

The flight attendant handed me a steaming cup of coffee, I inhaled, took a sip and settled in for my favorite part of the trip.

Far below, the city lights twinkled in the growing dusk as we chased the sunset over the horizon.

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer