Re-branding – Thursday photo prompt

Title: Re-branding
Source:  Thursday photo prompt: Sign #writephoto
Word count: 410 words

the image shows a clouded sky beneath a full moon. There is a wordless sign showing only a pointed hat, of the kind often worn by wizards

Circe came to an abrupt stop in the middle of the busy sidewalk.

“You can’t be serious?” she said. Glinda turned to look at her.

“What?” Glinda tilted her head and batted her eyelashes.

“Don’t play innocent with me, Glinda. That,” Circe said as she pointed at the shop’s sign depicting a pointed black witch’s hat.

Glinda’s hand rested on the shop’s door handle. She sighed and walked back to Circe.

“Dear, Circe. I’m not sure I understand your problem.” Glinda tilted her head again and smiled.

“When I agreed to go shopping with you, I was expecting ‘goddess’ shopping not ‘witch’ shopping. Especially not clichéd witch shopping.”

Glinda smiled and batted her eyelashes again.

“Come on Glinda, even you don’t wear a black pointed hat. You don’t expect me to, do you? Do you?” Circe’s eyes widened, her mouth gaping as Glinda continued to smile at her.

“No,” Circe exhaled the word, and she took a step backward. Glinda attempted to touch Circe’s arm. Circe recoiled, jerking her arm beyond Glinda’s reach.

“It is a requirement of the coven,” Glinda said.

“Geez, Glinda. Seriously? Next, you’ll be telling me I have to adopt a black cat and carry a wand.”

“Oh, no dear, your staff should do nicely.”

“And the cat?”

“With your propensity for transforming people into wild beasts, I’m sure we will find something acceptable.”

“I’m wondering why I agreed to this,” Circe shook her head.

“We both know why.”

“I am a goddess. People line up to worship me. They perform sacrifices in my honor. They fear my wrath.”

Glinda looked at the people passing them in the street. They hurried past them, giving them no notice.

“Yes, you are causing quite the stir. Perhaps you need to consider hiring bodyguards?”

Circe said nothing. Her shoulders slumped, and she could feel the hot sting of tears in her eyes.

“Darling, Circe, it’s not that bad. You’re just in need of a little re-branding. Nothing major. The coven is the first step. You’re lucky they agreed to accept your application.” Glinda moved to Circe’s side and slid her arm around her shoulder, giving her a gentle hug.

“If you work your magic, people will soon remember you. You’ll be great on social media and you’ll have millions of followers in no time.”

Circe brushed the tears away and attempted to smile.

“That’s better. Shall we see about that hat? You know, it doesn’t have to be black.”

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Like A Stone – Thursday photo prompt

Title: Like A Stone
Source:  Thursday photo prompt: Timeless #writephoto
Word count: 156 words

the image shows a single standing stone in a winter landscape

The silent men, in long brown robes, welcomed Chantal into the cold stone house. Slow shuffling feet wore hollow indentions into unyielding stone. The stones bore testament to their devotion.  They offered her wine and bread, promising her a life everlasting, saying they knew the way.

She learned to read, turned the pages of a book filled with death. To redeem her pagan soul, she offered prayers to gods and angels. With her eyes opened, she felt lost, suffered guilt, and the cold stone house filled her with hopelessness they ground into despair. Sinking low, prostrate with grief, Chantal discovered the last ember hidden in the desolate grotto of her heart.

The spark spoke to her, reminded her of another time. She followed the light to the forgotten time, trusting a voice which promised nothing. There amid the vast emptiness, another stone stood bearing testament.

Chantal stood, tall and unafraid. Confident, she knew her way.

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Never-Ending Patterns – Thursday photo prompt

Title: Never-Ending Patterns
Source:  Thursday photo prompt: Fragrant #writephoto
Inspiration: Patterns by Amy Lowell
Word count: 405 words

the image shows a formal English rose garden in bloom. Four paths, bordered with lavender, lead to the center of the garden, where a weeping standard rose cascades over a seat that is built around its trunk.

I walk the garden paths, remembering the lady who walked the paths one fateful day. Resplendent patterns, engraved upon my mind, recall the blowing daffodils and bright blue squills. I see her stiff brocaded gown, her powdered hair, her jeweled fan and I yearn to touch her sweet cheek, caress her trembling hand.

Her patterned dress, a fashion plate of pink and silver pain, floated along the gravel path buoyed by high-heeled ribboned shoes, sustained by whalebone and the stiff brocade. Daffodils and squills danced a merry allemande with the wind and she sinks to the seat beneath the lime tree. Fragrant lime where passion bloomed, now stands gnarled with age. And I weep as she once did.

Water-drops echo and splash along the garden paths, endlessly flowing in the marble fountain. Hidden in the hedges the marble basin reflects images of a woman’s softness bathing, waiting for her love. Sweet water evokes the ecstasy of the once dear hand and the desire for freedom from fine brocade. The stained pink and silver gown now lies crumpled in a long-forgotten heap upon the ground.

Vestiges of pink and silver flash between the hedges followed by ephemeral laughter while glimmers of sunlight sparkle on his sword-hilt and black buckled boot. Willingly captured in the shadows, waistcoat buttons press upon soft flesh, while hedgerow dappled sunlight bears testimony to the aching, unafraid adore of young lovers. Whispers of longing, remain crushed by stiff brocade and the Duke’s letter hidden there.

While the pages have grown soft with time, the words of regret, the news of Lord Hartwell’s death in action, cut with the same disregard. Thursdays, like the patterned paths and the faceless messenger, required no answers today.

Never my husband, no matter how many months and years have passed. Never to break the pattern. Denied the rank of Cornel, I will ever be his Lady. The lingering sunlight can hold no blessing for one long dead.

The patterns endure as I walk the paths in Winter and in Summer. Patterned garden paths, stiff brocade, squills and daffodils followed by roses, asters, and snow. Day follows day, and months give way to years. I walk immersed in memory and shield a too soft body with stays and buttons and lace.  The paths define the life denied by patterns called a war. My release lives in death, so much death. Will it alter nothing as the pattern marches on?

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

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