On May 29, in my Facebook group MM Rainbow Rebels, Susan Wilson challenged us to write some spontaneous fic or poetry from a few images. In one case, the “image” was a provocative sentence.
The result was almost four thousand words of off-the-cuff writing. To highlight the texture and variety, I’m presenting some “flashies” here, along with the images. Stay tuned for Susan’s part in this “blog hop”! It should be fun to see how each of us presents the writing.
Let’s go! Here’s the first image, “rimed branch”:
The last leaves fall. Jack Frost awakens, mischief glittering in the depths of his eyes. Play time.
The first crystals form as the air takes chill. Winter, a fresh canvas. Where to begin?
Susan Wylie Wilson
Shards of ice dance down her spine
As dragon-twig takes wing
Seeking out a far-flung line
Where dragon-breath will sing
Of long lost comrades giving place
To bitter chill and broken wind
All in that self-same sacred space
Where two-leg kind came once and sinned
Where flame and glory fade away
And barren heart, flickering, dies
Alone, alone in vast umbrae,
Cast by warfare in the skies
Hold forth, Lady Brave and Lady Free
Let not the blind-eye steal the joy
That heaven once gave to you, to me
Which bleak dead winter will destroy.
Ice shards, dying, skreigh and sing
While we…we offer up everything.
sleeves taut, glistening white.
Summer’s frocks wither
in cedar chests.
I hold, still,
J. Scott Coatsworth
The frost, delicate as fine lace, signaled the end of everything.
Jace touched it, and it melted on his finger, chill in the late afternoon sun.
He stared after the departing carriage, wondering what Will was thinking. If they would ever see one another again. If it had been just a summer fling.
The frost that melted on the branch reformed in his heart, and he shivered.
The next image is a favorite symbol of mine: an entryway. Su titled it simply “red door.”
“Is this God?”
“No, I’m the janitor. Shut the door, you’re letting all the heat out.”
“Oh. My bad.”
Daniel Elijah Sanderfer, “Through the Red Door”
Through the red door
Dare I open it
To see what’s inside
Life is a series of choices
Dare I listen to the inviting voices
My heart is as curious as my mind
Could it be a portal to another time
Could it be an empty place
A secret clubhouse
From outer space
Never will I know
Unless it is Bravery I show
My hand poised for an eternity it seems
I awake to find this vision
Has come to fruition
I am doomed it seems
The place I will never see
Is hidden in my dreams.
Susan Wylie Wilson, “Red Door”
Edgar stretched out his right hand to stop the closing scarlet door. If it closed with him on the outside, that was it. His life as an acolyte was over. Then what would he do? He had to reach that door!
He felt his biceps stretch to the point where he had no more to give and still no rough splinters to snag an unwary finger. He’d have to… but he hated to do it. It was, however, the only thing he could do. Clamping his jaw down hard over the yielding, nerve-filled surface of his tongue, he bit down hard—a distraction method that worked very well—and rolled his shoulder down and forward, just so, rotating it out of joint. Painful? Excruciating. But it gained him the extra inch-and-a-bit he needed. His questing fingertips brushed the door, then eased forward till he had a grip on the slowly shutting door. He braced and pulled against the closing mechanism, bringing his body and his feet closer to his goal as he reached the Sacred Door of Servitude. If he made it through this one, there would be other trials, he knew, but what those were he had no idea. Not even the most gossip-filled clique of the numerous acolytes, gathered from around the globe here to Evermore for their Rite of Entry, knew what they were. Interesting that in this, the City of Sin, there should be as many devoted to his own Goddess of Purity as there were enslaved to the Bitch Queen of Pleasure.
He had it! Pulling with all this might, Edgar opened the door enough to sllither around and into the darkness beyond. A voice, deep and resonant, called from some unseen location, “Come in, Edgar, and shut the door. Did you think we were air conditioning the whole city?”
Susan posted four different sentence prompts. Only one participant chose a sentence. C’est moi. The English teacher-devil long ago seized my soul. Besides, the word “grimoire” begs to take center stage.
Erin O’Quinn, “Abra Cadabra”
Manny looked at the elaborate words on the cover: ~Biblickal Magickal~ and blinked a couple of times. Opening a page at random, he read:
Hax pax max Deus adimax
He searched his high-school Latin brain for a meaning. “This peace/great God/is headed to the max.”
Um, no. Max is big. Deus is God. It’s a prayer.
“Great God, this peace is adamant.”
Not just no, but hell no.
He looked closer at the letters. The huge initial H was inset with gold dust. He’d stirred up a cloud of particles by opening the page, and they hit his already-swollen nasal passages, pollen with a vengeance.
He sneezed violently. Reaching out a tentative finger, he traced the illuminated letter and felt a jolt of…was it electricity? He was shocked by a sudden flare of sparks that leapt from his finger to his elbow, and then to his brain.
In that instant, the meaning crystallized in his head, just as his ear rang with the voice of his querulous grandmother.
“Mandrake? Mandrake? What are you doing in my room? If I’ve told you once I’ve told you a thousand times—”
HOCUS POCUS. She disappeared in a tiny golden cloud.
The last group of flashies for today is centered on this wonderful image of an old saddle.
Daniel Elijah Sanderfer, “Ryder’s Saddle”
Time had long since forgotten the old barn that adorned the estate once the pride of the Blue Ridge. Its stately features and old-world charm resembled an aging beauty queen. Dex only went there on the weekend to visit the home he shared with Ryder, his life long lover. They had met many years prior when he worked as a bartender at Lusty’s Saloon, a secret gay hideaway tucked in the back woods of Shenandoah, Virginia. The man’s jeans were tighter than his body and his eyes could cut a young boy’s heart like a Colt bullet. Dex’s mind had flashbacks of the man laying on top of him, his grunts and growls echoing in his ear from their first dance. The man’s sweat falling from his brow and sliding over his shoulders like standing under the spray from a majestic waterfall. His essence filling his body to the brim with ecstasy. Oh, how he longed for those days when they were young. Dex tripped over the saddle in the front of the barn. He grimaced, “You bastard.” He smiled to himself. It was his last check of the property before the auction tomorrow. Everything they had owned together was being sold to the highest bidder. A tear slid down his face as he sat down next to the dusty old saddle. He thumbed the price tag the auction company had placed on it. He saw Ryder in his mind like a spirit coming to him. Feeling the pressure on his lips, he turned his neck to receive the gift. But he was gone. Just as in life, he was alone. Dex ripped off the tag and pulled the barn door shut one last time. The last rays of sunlight peeked from behind the mountain ridge and he heard the drumming hoofbeats echo across the meadow. He opened his eyes to see him, tipping his cowboy hat and fading away.
Jackie North, “Old Saddle”
The saddle was old, and had sat unused in the dusty stable for a few years, but it was well-made, anybody could see that. Zach hadn’t thought about buying Layton anything for his birthday, but there was this saddle. Currently, Layton used an old shabby saddle when he rode his buckskin mare Tam, one which had been bought second hand when Tom had stolen the saddle Layton had been using. Tom, who had once been the source of all their ills, was now long gone, and Layton surely deserved something better than what he was using. “Hey, Mrs. Pasquali, are you around?” Zach called into the darkened interior of the stable, toward the back, where the stairs went up to the little apartment where Mrs. Pasquali lived with her boy Carlos. They ran the stable and the Italian restaurant in the center of town, and while they weren’t well off, they were comfortable and besides which, Layton loved their spaghetti. “Yes, Zach?” asked Mrs. Pasquali. “How much for the saddle?” asked Zach. “That old thing?” said Mrs. Pasquali as she wrinkled her nose at it. “It’s past its prime; we were going to use some of it for shoe leather.” “But look at it,” said Zach. “Look at the stitching, it’s really quite fine. Somebody made this, looks like it was done by hand.” The moment he said it, Zach wish he hadn’t because now Mrs. Pasquali knew the worth of the saddle and might want to charge him extra for it. “What do you need a saddle for anyhow, Zach?” asked Mrs. Pasquali. “You can always rent one of our horses, and they come with saddles.” “It’s for Layton’s birthday,” said Zach. “He spends more money on Tam’s shoes than he does on his own, and I thought he’d like a new saddle for her.” “I see,” said Mrs. Pasquali. “What do you say ten dollars, and I’ll get Carlos to polish it up for you. When is Layton’s birthday?” “Sunday,” said Zach. “I don’t have ten dollars now, but I can get it for you.” “That’s fine,” said Mrs. Pasquali. “You’re a good friend to him, strange as he is. So silent, so—so queer.” In a moment Mrs. Pasquali was going to realize she was talking smack about the person Zach loved most in the world. When she said the word queer, as it was 1892, she meant odd, but she didin’t know Layton like Zach did, hadn’t been helped out of a bad situation by Layton. Layton had never taken a bullet for Mrs. Pasquali, but he had for Zach, and that was more than anybody else had done. But since Mrs. Pasquali was nice, and made really good spaghetti, Zach nodded. “I’ll have that money to you by Saturday, okay?” “Yes,” said Mrs. Pasquali. “I guess it’ll be better to see that old saddle go to use, and Tam is a fine looking horse, so it will look well on her.” “Thank you, ma’am,” said Zach as politely as he could. But it wasn’t her fault. She didn’t know Layton like Zach did.
(Note: The characters are drawn from my current WIP Wild As The West Texas Wind.)
Maz Maddox, “Old Saddle”
The damn heat was like a thick blanket of fire on his skin. Everything the sun touched had been dried out, wispy and scratchy above cracking dirt. Slung over the cracking paint of the fence post was the old saddle, time and ware coloring the leather a shade of telling amber. Along the seams were remnants of a time were it had been shiny and new, a deep crimson color of hide and craftsmanship.
He knew this day would come, but it still made his stomach tangle and his skin itch. The chirping buzz of distant cicadas sang in the scorching heat, and hooves scraped on dirt. Nerves danced around his gut like those singing bugs had found their way inside.
“You nervous?” he asked, leaning on the post near the saddle. The gravel in his voice matched the crunching under the hooves and made the nervous man’s heart skip a beat.
“I just don’t wanna fall,” he admitted with a whisper, daring to meet his gaze. Eyes the same shade as the rust-colored seams met his and gave him a wink.
“I won’t let you fall. Just don’t make the straps too tight.” He gave the worn saddle an affectionate pat.
“You won’t kick me off?”
“Don’t give me a reason to.” The Centaur smirked and motioned his head towards his broad, black and white spotted horse half. “Gotta learn how to ride sometime, human.”
The final subject seized more than half the writers’ frenzied attention. You’ll find it on Susan’s blog: