The Waters of Babylon

The Friday Fictioneers prompt has come around again, thanks to the diligent efforts of our host, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and a photo prompt donation from Roger Bulolt. (Please note the photo is copyright.)

It happens that I’m prepared for today’s prompt — though palm trees would have been a nice touch. 🙂  I was inspired back in spring to write a verse from Psalm 137 and stashed it away for the right opportunity. I thought of it when I looked at this morning’s prompt, so here goes:

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Butolt

“By the rivers of Babylon where we sat down, yea,
we wept,
when we remembered Zion.”

“Sing!” soldiers commanded,
sick of our sobbing. “Sing
some cheerful song from your land.
Stop this wretched wail.”

Sing?
We who’ve seen our toddlers trampled,
our elders left to starve; our maidens
in the hands of these brutes.

Jerusalem, the beautiful city, ravaged;
the temple of our God in flames.
Sing? Not a chance!

“Vengeance is mine,” Yahweh declares.
He will repay in full measure,
oh Babylon!

Hush — the prophet speaks!
‘The fire shall purify but never consume;
the waters shall cleanse but not overwhelm
Jacob, my beloved.’ *

Yahweh has not forgotten us.
He will preserve his people
in the waters of Babylon.”

(*Isaiah 43:1-2)

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The Last One Out

Apparently some study once showed that nicotine is ten times as addictive as heroin. It’s harder to quit smoking than it is to quit “crack.” Friday Fictioneers must be somewhere in the middle — it’s pretty hard to quit, too.

Every Wednesday, in the wee hours, the Blue Frog express chugs out of the station over at Word-shy Wisoff-Fields’ blog. This Inlinkz engine carries the precious prompt photo to some terrific, but ever-so-terse, writers. One by one they hitch their links to the express and off it goes around the globe collecting tales. To see all the links, go to Rochelle’s blog and click the blue frog under the prompt photo — which, by the way, belongs to Douglas MacIlroy and you may not use it without his permission.

I thought I had nothing to share this time around, and no time, either. But a few days ago I was reading about Compassion International worker Dan Woolley, who had the misfortune to spend three days trapped in his hotel lobby after Haiti was hit by a big earthquake. (The title of his book is UNSHAKEN.) Then yesterday thoughts started coming together, this story emerged, and I felt I should post it. Initially a longer and more detailed account but I managed to pare it down.

(Note: “Wings of a Dove” was a country-gospel song written by Bob Ferguson in 1958.)

Photo prompt Douglas M MacIlroy

The Last One Out

Ashton regained consciousness, remembered the hotel floor shaking, walls cracking. His head throbbed; dust gagged him. He shifted some, found one leg was pinned. He tried calling, only managed a squeak.

The ground trembled again. Aftershocks. Plaster crumbled; he prayed the ceiling a metre above him wouldn’t fall. His throat was a chalkpit.

Hours later he heard rustling. Rats? No. Somebody’s bird!

“M’aidez,” the myna squawked.

He grabbed it. Keep singing, sailor.

“M’aidez! M’aidez!” it screamed.

Two hours later help reached him. “We thought no one here survived. Haitian workers heard you calling.”

“On wings of a dove,” Ashton whispered.

The Missing Girl

I wrote this story a couple of weeks ago with another prompt in mind but decided to adapt it a bit and post it in response to this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt. (Thanks again, Joshua for the prompt image.) This is one of those “leaves you hanging” stories.

I trust my Fellow Fiction writers and our long-suffering moderator, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, will bear with a second response. Mille mercis to Rochelle for taking much time and effort in her kind replies to all our stories. Check out her blog, Addicted to Purple, for more info about the group.

I’m going to be “away” for awhile. Last night I went through my DropBox trying to line up the chapters of my next book — and feeling overwhelmed. I need to established some kind of proper filing system for all my writings; with my memory, saving by title alone gives chaos! So I’m going to spend some time sorting out files, merging blogs, and working on my next book.

THE MISSING GIRL

Genre: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
………………………………………………………………………………………

RCMP Detective Wahl studied the photo. “How old?”

“Twelve. Hanging out with friends; headed home alone. She never made it.”

“No suspicious friends, family blowup, school bullying, boyfriend breakup?”

“No evidence of. House-to-house check in the area turned up no clues. Third day already, so we’re asking for your involvement. We’re thinking abduction now.”

Wahl frowned. “A twelve year old would fight back. In broad daylight someone should have seen or heard something.”

“What’s this?” Sgt Merriott turned to his flashing monitor. “Some teens messing around the old Millworths factory found a girl’s body.”

“No winners now. Let’s go.”

Adam’s Fall

Another Friday Fictioneers prompt in my In-box this morning, so here’s my story in response. I’m so glad our leader Rochelle Wisoff-Fields puts in so much time and effort to moderate these weekly challenges. If you’d like to enter an item in this week’s FF story collection, check out her blog for more details. Thanks to J Hardy Carroll for the prompt image. I’ll admit, photos like this give my muse a real workout!

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

ADAM’S FALL

I wanted to punish Adam that morning. Kid brothers don’t need to tag along when you’re with your best friend!

At the old factory Mick and I easily went over the fence. “Wait up, guys,” Adam yelled.

I nudged Mick. “Tough. He needs to learn.”

We poked around some old machinery, then headed back. Saw Adam’s shoe hooked in the chain; him sprawled on the concrete.

The trident of remorse-fear-panic jabbed me as I ran, screaming his name. I tugged at his arm.

“Careful, Jordan,” Mick warned. “”If he’s got broken bones…”

Adam lived, thank God! And I learned.

It’s Payback Time

The Friday Fictioneers prompt has come again, so here’s my offering. Many thanks for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for faithfully carrying on as leader, mentor, moderator of our group. If you’d like to participate in this weekly storytelling marathon, check out her blog for more details. This week our thanks also goes to Sarah Potter for the prompt photo.

My story was inspired by some testimonies I’ve read from children who made it to the big times in their particular fields and wanted to return the love and support they’d received from their parents.

PHOTO © Sarah Potter

Payback Time

Dad came whenever he could. On his feet all day, came home exhausted, yet after supper he’d get me to the game and cheer from the stands. We barely managed on his salary — but my equipment was a priority.

One day I promised, “When I make the League, Dad, you’re outta that factory.”

He smiled. “I’m looking forward to that day.”

I gave the game all I had. For him. For his faith in me. When I signed my first contract I said, “Toss them work shoes, Dad. It’s payback time.”

He and mom are holidaying in Phoenix right now.

A Closet of Memories

Another Friday Fictioneers prompt has come. This group is graciously hosted by the longsuffering Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, who blogs at Addicted to Purple. Check her blog for information about how to become part of this group and respond to the prompts. Our photo prompt has been donated by Kelvin Knight. Bear in mind that this is his photo and must not be used for any other purpose without his permission.

I looked at the prompt this morning and thought, “This is great!” No murder and mayhem in this photo; it should generate some really homey, upbeat stories. So what delicious aspect can I write about in connection with home-made bread?

Sad to say, the story that popped into my mind a moment later is one I didn’t want to write. I hate going to places like this but I feel this is the one I should tell. Genre for this one is contemporary fiction, based on a true account of a young woman’s loathing for white bread and how she discovered the reason behind her disgust.

I’ve had a few similar experiences where I felt an intense fear or negative reaction to something for years until I finally asked God, “Why?” And got a clear answer. I believe many children experience things that leave them with a closet full of dark memories. It’s so awesome, then, when you finally open that door, the skeleton inside gives one last rattle and disintegrates. The place is swept clean, the dust swirls away and you’re so glad to be rid of the mess that you feel like dancing.

So here’s my tale:

PHOTO © Kelvin M. Knight

Memories Locked Away

Pam stares at the slice Tim decorated. A wave of nausea chokes her. That heart! He doesn’t realize…

It’s just bread. Get a grip! But she barely makes it to the toilet. Chucking her breakfast, she wails, “Why, God?”

Memories click into focus. Mom never home. No food. Older brother, bread in hand, luring her…she was so hungry! Ugly stains on the bedroom ceiling…waves of shame and disgust. The bread her reward.

Then a gentle voice says, “These memories you’ve locked away, I’ll take them now.”

Waves of freedom overwhelm her. Her spirit dances like a sailboat in light breeze.

Breaking the Land

It’s time for another Friday Fictioneers post and today’s prompt inspired me with a poem of sorts. Many thanks to our patient and inspiring host, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, for shepherding our FF group through green pastures teeming with tales, and to Danny Bowman for the challenging prompt. I see the various muses have been productive even given this barren landscape to write about.

Speaking of productive, I’m delighted to tell you all that my book is published and now live on Amazon! (Fireworks and cartwheels 🙂 )  Silver Morning Song is a collection of poems, short stories and fables. I plan to publish it on Kobo as well; I’ll likely spend today doing that, plus setting up an Author Account on Amazon and generally telling the world. And as all authors will say, I’d really appreciate reviews. 🙂

On to today’s prompt:

Right now we seem to be in a world of unprecedented water and storms; eighty years ago it was unprecedented drought. I’ll dedicate this verse to all the poor inexperienced homesteaders who came to these Great Plains and were advised to deep-plough their fields every fall. Took the ‘Dirty Thirties’ to prove agricultural advisers of the day so wrong. Farmers today practice “no till” farming.

PHOTO © Danny Bowman

BREAKING THE LAND

We said we’d break this land
with hope and bare essentials.
Our ploughs cut deep
furrows across its face —
then we couldn’t catch it.

The wind owns this land,
had we only known!
Tore the dirt from our fields,
dumped it five miles east,
then threw it back at us
in the next west wind.
Our seed grain went with it;
clear to oblivion.

The land froze us in winter,
baked us in summer,
dried us like tumbleweeds in fall
and the wind blew us away.
Through long ragged years
tried to break this land,
‘til the land broke us.