Family Legacy – Thursday photo prompt

Title: Family Legacy
Source: Thursday photo prompt: Monochrome #writephoto

the image shows an ornately half-timbered house, bowed by the weight of centuries.

“You sure you want to do this?” Teddy asked.

“Teddy, we’re here. We signed the papers. It’s ours.”  Shelly ruffled his hair before giving his cheek a quick peck.

“They gave us these,” she said in a sing-song voice as she clanged a clump of skeleton keys and grinned.

“I’m just saying. It’s not too late. We can still sell it.”

“Don’t be silly. I can’t believe we found my family home. Besides, you bought the DNA test. If this doesn’t work,” Shelly paused and shrugged her shoulders, “then it’s your fault.” Shelly opened the car door and skipped to the front entrance.

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Teddy muttered as he followed.

None of this felt right. He should never have purchased the kit. He didn’t understand her sudden passion for genealogy. It started when her dad died, and her family became her primary focus. They had driven across the country visiting her long-lost cousins and withered aunts and uncles. Most had been gracious and welcoming. Others were less than thrilled to meet her.

It didn’t matter to Shelly. To her, they were her new best friends. When she exhausted her mother’s Christmas card list, she dug deeper, spending hours researching her ancestry on family finder websites.

He bought the test to show his support. She said it would help her trace her lineage. What she found was an old Tudor-style mansion built by some great, great somebody who lived generations ago. The best part was it was empty and for sale. She fell in love with the thought of living in her ‘ancestral home’. It didn’t matter to her one bit that the house had been vacant for years, the roof needed replacing and there were major structural issues.

Shelly reappeared outside and called for him to hurry. He didn’t want to go in. He wanted to run in the opposite direction. Instead, he grabbed two bags, painted a smile on his face and forged ahead.

Inside the house was dark, and it smelled old. He suspected mold, but Shelly laughed and flung the creaky door wide.

“We just need to air it out,” she said waving at a window. “Why don’t you open it? We’ll get a nice cross breeze.”

Teddy rolled the suitcases to one side and set to work. It was stuck. He played and pushed and wiggled and the casement squeaked in protest. A man’s image stared back at him as he thrust his palm hard against the top of the frame. Startled, he heard a sickening crack. The old pane gave way under the pressure and his hand slipped past the glass. Searing pain radiated through his body. He screamed and his face contorted in agony.

“Damn, damn, damn.”

Teddy tried to remain still and pried his eyes open to assess the damage. Red rivulets streaked the broken piece embedded in his wrist and he used his fingers to dislodge the shard from the frame. He slowly extracted himself, holding the section steady, so he didn’t cause more suffering. In the background, Shelly was screaming.

He turned to study her as horror spread across her face. She stopped and dug her phone from her pocket. Behind her stood the man he had seen before the accident. She dialed 911, put it on speaker and stepped to his left side.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“Teddy you don’t look good. How about if you sit?” Shelly grabbed his elbow and led him to a chair next to the wall. The line connected, and she gave the operator the details.

Teddy continued watching the stranger.

“You shouldn’t have come.”

“We just bought the place,” Teddy tried to explain.

“Yes, hon we did. They’re sending help,” Shelly interrupted.

“I know who you are. You’re not welcome here. Your kind doesn’t belong,” he said moving closer.

Terror washed through him, as he realized he was talking to a ghost. The man resembled the house, a monochrome of gray, whose best days had past.

“You must go or suffer more dire consequences for violating the family truce.”

“What? What truce?” Teddy detected the slightest slur in his speech and wondered why the room was pitching.

“The agreement struck years ago, to keep the peace by keeping our families apart. I don’t want to kill you, but unless you leave, I will have no other choice.”

Teddy glanced at the glass protruding from his wrist then back at the man.

“You did this?”

“Consider it a warning.”

Sirens wailed in the distance and Shelly was still on the phone with someone. The room was growing dark. Odd for midday.

“They’re coming,” Teddy said.

Shelly’s face loomed in front of him, “I’m gonna let them in. Will you be ok for a minute?”

Teddy’s gaze focused on the ghost again. He was silent but nodded.

“Yeah. Just hurry.” Shelly patted his knee and disappeared.

“Don’t hurt her. I love her.”

“I would never harm her, she’s family.”

The paramedics rushed to his side. They started an IV and administer drugs for the pain. The man hovered as they worked and moved him to a stretcher.

“This will require several stitches, but it looks like you might have missed anything major,” one medic told him.

“Next time you wouldn’t be as lucky. I promise,” the man said as they wheeled him to the ambulance.

“Don’t worry. I won’t be back,” Teddy called to him.

Teddy and Shelly split not long after the accident. She kept the house and Teddy kept his word.

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Pulled From the Brink – Thursday photo prompt

Title: Pulled From the Brink
Source:  Thursday photo prompt: Rift #writephoto
Word count: 678 words

the image shows a clearing in an autumnal wood, where what appears to be a large crack runs the rock floor.

“Is this where it happened?” I asked.

Greggory nodded, as he scanned the clearing. I sensed his nervousness, and his desire to be anywhere except standing on this fractured rock and holding a lance with a flag tied its handle. I couldn’t blame him, poor thing. Greggory may not have been bright, but he had certain desirable qualities and I understood why Lindor kept him around.

“Greggory?” I caught his attention, compelling him to look at me before I continued. “Where was your master standing?”

Hunching his shoulders, Greggory shivered and jabbed his finger towards the opposite end of the fissure.  I moved to where an area looked as if someone had scrubbed it clean and stepped into the middle of the spot.

“Here?”

“Please, have a care. Don’t stand there,” Greggory said as tears welled.

“We’re almost done, Greggory. One more thing and you can leave,” I smiled as I tried to calm him and myself. “Are you ready?”

He took a deep breath and looked into my eyes.

“Then you promise? I can go?”

“I give you my word.”

Greggory gulped, blinked several times then stood tall and said, “Ready.”

“Can you plant the lance where Ju-long stood when your master disappeared?” I asked and watched as terror threatened to consume him again. “Greggory, I need to know, if we have any chance of locating him.”

“But I don’t want to.”

“You trust me. Right? And I promised I wouldn’t let anything harm you. And nothing will. I ask because it’s important.”

He stood silent and unmoving. I wondered if coming here was a mistake if we had lost Lindor. I tried to stay calm, willing Greggory to cooperate. When I had almost lost hope, he turned and walked to the clearing’s edge. When he stopped, he glanced, adjusted his position then planted his flag in the ground. I waved, and he ran.

Birds chirped in the trees and a gentle gust tugged at Greggory’s colorful banner. The sense of serenity masked the vibrations emanating from the spot where I stood. It was my turn to be apprehensive as I prepared for the or task ahead.

I pulled the ancient words from the depths of my memory. As I spoke the breeze intensified, dark clouds gathered, and lightning flashed across the sky. I reached forward gathering Ju-long’s residual magic as Greggory’s spear trembled then bent towards my hand. The rock rattled, the rift oozed smoke, and I thought the entire world might crack in two. Still, I chanted and hoped.

Lindor’s voice whispered in my ears and I strained to decipher his words.

With each repetition of the incantation, Lindor’s chant grew stronger, louder. He spoke with me, our voices united. I felt his magic growing, fusing with mine. The strength he wielded was intoxicating, and I grasped it, clinging to it with one wish. I wanted his power. An explosion ripped through my head, a concussion slammed into my chest, throwing me into the air and my perception of reality ended.

When I awoke, Lindor’s face filled my vision. He smiled.

“There you are my greedy little savior,” he chuckled as he tussled my hair. “No time to lie about. Get up, get up,” he commanded and clapped his hands.

“What?” I asked, as Lindor stood and rubbed his palms on his sooty robe. I looked around the clearing where everything appeared the same as when Greggory and I first arrived. Everything except the rock where the great fissure had vanished.

“Come now, we can’t say here. It’s not safe you know,” Lindor picked up his staff and walked towards the trees. “And what have you done with Greggory?” he called.

I smiled and followed.

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

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