Microfiction Challenge: The Innocent

https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/2016/12/16/microfiction-challenge-27-rescue/#respond

There was a time when innocence walked the world. With all of the magnetism usually given to heroes, she walked among us drawing the animals and children to her. What was most unusual was the lack of pretense she had  of her own value. Adults in the village thought her simple and childlike. They preferred to ignore her and her gifts. But the children understood that if they stood quietly enough, they would see a miracle. So they stood at her side and waited. Soon a fawn, or mother cat with kits, or a fox would come and sit by her side. When she smiled at the children and bid them welcome, the animals would rise and greet them as if they were equals. Sometimes they would allow themselves to be petted by children.

Rumors of her ability to see the simple but exquisite left the village and found the ears of a merchant. He came to the village and brought her gifts of magnificent beauty. He begged her to marry him, but she refused. Angered by her decision, the merchant went to the town’s mayor and demanded that the woman be given to him. The mayor, ignoring all that the children had gossiped about her, agreed that it was well past time for her to be married, as a single woman was a danger to the balance of harmony in the village. Sending a group of elders to the woman they demanded that she comply with the mayor’s orders. Again she refused. The merchant left, angry and full of lies. These lies spread through the country. Lies that told of her possessing the souls of children and animals. Lies that called her a witch or sorceress, lies that gave her power over the divine, and lies that gave her the power of ensorcelling an entire village spread like wildfire.

Eventually the king heard of the woman, and believing a village in his domain was at risk of demonic possession, sent a squadron of trained soldier to arrest her and bring her back to be tried for her crimes.

They found her in her home, the fawn and mother cat by her side, and bound her arms and legs. They slew the animals. The children screamed and cried, they protested the cruel treatment of their friend, but no one paid heed to them. Those that cried the loudest were also bound hand and foot and were taken to the king to show how the innocent had stolen their souls. The parents of the children now cried out in terror, fearing for the lives of their children. They were ignored as hysterical. If the soldiers had any qualms at all it was because of the innocent’s stillness. For she made no cry or complaint, only turned to the children and told them she loved them.

On the trip to her trial, she waited calmly, sure that no one could find a complaint against her. She was wrong. Arriving at the capitol city, she found that a pyre had been erected in advance, her guilt assumed. The trial began immediately. No time was given for her to freshen or eat. No kindness was extended to her or the children. The chief witness against her was the merchant who spoke of how she had refused his marriage proposal. He spoke of how she had so ensorcelled the town that even the mayor’s orders were not obeyed. He said he only wanted to give her the protection a married woman needed, for no woman was complete without a husband.

The children were called to testify, but were to terrified to do more that speak of her friendships with the creatures of the wild. They spoke only of her kindness and sharing. Enraged, the merchant called out. How dare they speak of something they were too young to understand. Surely the judge must see that they were under a demonic curse, that they were possessed. The judge was a wise old man, kin to king, and of a noble house greatly revered.

“Let the woman be led into the forest with myself to guard her. Let us see what she does to free herself.”

The judge led the woman and a squadron of soldiers to a clearing in the nearby woods where it was rumored that one of the great tigers lived. She was tied to a pole and a cut was given to her arm. Bleeding, she sobbed that she had done nothing wrong. But she was mistaken, she had done one thing she didn’t even know she had done. The blood pouring from her arm was pure of evil and malice, and it drew the tigress from her den where her young ones were growing.

Tigress smelled the blood and was drawn to it like a moth to candle. She entered the clearing, ready to kill this scent, for it was like a forbidden wine and she must have it. Finding the sobbing woman, she paused.

“Why do you sob and bleed the tears and blood of the innocent?”

The woman didn’t reply, but she also didn’t fear the great cat. The cat, coming close, tasted the blood flowing from the woman’s arm. The woman stopped sobbing, and did something unexpected.

“You must go, Tigress, for there is a squadron of soldiers hiding in the bush watching and they will kill you. Flee for the life of your children. Roar at me and run. I am doomed as it is. A man has made false charges against me and I can not prove my innocence for I did refuse him.”

“I am not afraid,” answered the tigress. She continued to lick the bleeding arm until the bleeding was staunched. Then she bite through the ropes that held the woman, freeing her. At once the judge jumped into the clearing.

“Take her now and kill her for she has captured the soul of the tiger.” And on that command, soldiers burst into the clearing fearing not the tiger but that innocent who had no protector to stand before her. Intent on killing her, they did not see the whirl of the tigress and she turned and used her claws to strike down the first soldier. They ignored the death of a second soldier, thinking that the woman controlled the tiger. As the third soldier fell, a spear point stabbed the woman in the abdomen and she crumpled to the ground. Enraged, the tigress stuck right and left until at last only the judge stood before her. He cowered, crying out, “Leave me be, I am a righteous man. It was a fair sentence.”

The tigress was disgusted. How had all of the adults missed the sign of a goddess on earth in human form. She turned to the woman who was dying. The last thing she expected was about to happen.

Opening her eyes for a final moment, the woman blessed her and her offspring. “Thank you for your protection. I will be with you in the afterlife to protect you and all of your species for your kindness. I ask only one thing. Please escort the children who were stolen from their homes to a place of safety. Make them part of your litter and care for them as  you care for your cubs. Children deserve wonder in their lives and should not be deprived of it. My mistake was to let others know that kindness was a virtue. Forgive me, Tigress.”

She died, as all true heroines must. But the tigress having heard her words, called  upon her people to join her in taking the children from the soldiers as they were being returned home. Striking with great violence, the children were liberated and given tiger back rides to the forest where they met their new brothers and sisters. No one saw them again, but it is said that if you wander into the woods and sit still and listen, you can hear the shouts of joy as the young of both species played together with great respect for each other and with kindness to all they met.

Innocent died but others came that taught over and over that kindness was a virtue. The tigress still waits for us to learn that lesson.

Twitter

Twitter gives me hope for the world. Oh, there are the ranters and screamers, the yellers and haters, the inconvenienced and the shoppers, but it is a world of words. There are people who tweet for help when a pet falls ill, a parent dies, when expenses overwhelm and houses are up for foreclosure. There are comedians who make light of the world, mocking the situations that show an intolerance toward others. There are dreadful Christmas Carol titles that make me giggle. There are doctors, writers, book publishers, researchers, tourism promoters, contest holders, ball players, cats, dogs, kittens, politicians, and just plan old people trying to stay current on the news of the day.

It’s kind of like a circus, you get the best seats in the house and watch the performance of dancing ponies, acrobats, word wigglers, salesmen. You can order refreshments from the web advertised in short verse. The world series was twittered in all of its loves and hopes. And some of us sighed when the game was over. It’s okay, though. It’s all meant in the best of spirits.

People tend to speak about what matters most to them. What matters to me is keeping in touch with the outside. My front door stands between me and the broad wide world. I don’t tend to go outside much, I’ve been working on my book. But I’m doing the rewrite now and hope to meet an agent soon that might broaden my horizons. I also have a new car to cruise to the doctor and the store, which will give me some new insights into the world.

I’ll continue to follow the internet because I can find others with similar beliefs. That keeps me from feeling like a shut in. So go ahead and tweet, I’ll be here listening. And thanks for coming to visit my page when you can.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

Ann WJ White

Did someone really say this?

A week or so ago, I read a WordPress site that made me incredibly sad. Indeed, it left me speechless. Syria is not going well for the so-called rebels, and it is even harder on the civilians who are caught between the government, their personal hopes, and those who are brave enough to speak out against the government of Syria. The writer had moved with her family to the United States after World War II. She was despairing of the lack of moral fortitude that allowed the Syrian people to leave their homeland and to seek a safer place to live. She wanted to know how people who supposedly wanted change to come to Syria could leave that battle and run to Europe, Canada, and the United States. Her grandparents had stayed in France to fight in the resistance against the Nazis. Were these people really expecting the world to accept refuges who wouldn’t fight for what they believed?

She went on for a long time, speaking of her moral superiority over these victims. My take was that after World War II the conditions weren’t good in France. Supplies were in short supply, and to provide a better living situation for their descendants, her grandparents moved to the U.S.

Aleppo this week has showed more reasons for leaving Syria. Innocents shot dead by the Army as they summarily moved into the west side of the city. Male, female, old, young, it didn’t seem to matter to the government forces. They were summarily executed. In a conflict of this nature, the world failed these people. The UN did not muster a protecting force. The Russians targeted schools, mosques, and medical facility. The Syrian government was more concerned with their propaganda showing Aleppo as a place for tourists to visit, than in working with and achieving a resolution to the problems that brought the revolt in the first place.

Donald Trump has said he could look into the eyes of a child from Syria and tell her or him that they had no right to come to us as immigrants. He’s notorious for making statements of intolerance towards others. I’ve also read accounts of people who claim religion, Christianity, and yet don’t understand that most basic cornerstone of the call for charity, generosity, and humanity. The old “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” apparently strikes no sympathy in their hearts. We have a tall lady in the New York harbor that stands bearing witness to the fact that all of us came from somewhere. Even the first nations know that their ancestors came from somewhere other than our continent.

We have so much as a nation and so many opportunities, is it possible that we can’t share a little of our prosperity and safety with others? Immigrants become some of our best citizens if we let them live and participate in our government.  They take the worst jobs and make the best of them, providing their children with educations which enable them to become better citizens.

Make no mistake, I hold that same opinion about those refugees who come from the Americas too. I feel that we have a heart that needs tending, and if we shut the doors based on race, we have worked against our own standard as the greatest nation currently in the world. We who have much, have a responsibility to act as though others matter. It’s Christmas, and we should keep that in mind as we change our government.

Goal: A Limerick Challenge

A Barcelona Child, while soccer was playing,
Did kick the ball to his old mother graying,
It bounced so hard,
It left the yard,
In the atmosphere weightless it is staying.

Funny, somedays you just need a good limerick or a bad one. I’m looking for the positive in my own world. I got to watch some young children playing soccer in the Old City of Barcelona, that fortress that is a bastion of museums and the baroque. No one seemed to mind that they were using the old wall for sport and I enjoyed watching them be happy kids.

The challenge: https://mindandlifemattersblog.com/2016/12/10/limerick-challenge-week-50-goals/

I Remember When

Daily Picture Prompt 2

He was a turtle on the ocean run
When we first met. A slow moving walking
Armory filled with stories about
The good old days, until you wander
Into the waves and he glides away
Leaving his shadow on the sand as
Your gift to remember.

The picture of the turtle in this writing challenge is taken nose first. I included the link above so that you could visit it.

Martyr: A Dailypost Writing Prompt

Better had you called her Mother,
For mother she was before you stole
Her every waking moment with your needs.
She never minded the change that goes with:

I need water, cookies, a story.
I need soothing, aspirin, a cold pack.
I have a broken dolly, truck, fix it, 
Someone hurt me, pushed me, my knee...

My broken heart, my bank balance.
My lost friend, my best friend gone,
I'm alone. You were never alone, not you.
She hovered over you even when you refused to see.

Still she held you and gave you worth, forgiveness.
Counsel given you, and some of hers from a lengthy speech
You remember. You lust for more, but lack the patience
Of saints from world's dust covered and ash filled.

Mother finds a way, always she finds a way.
My friends have, my sister has, my brother took.
Return it, all of it to her, give her the life
That she thought she would have, but you changed.

She gave her all away, every drop: tears, smiles, cries.
Still she sets the table, waiting for a call, a note.
Cooks for your empty spot, carefully decorated table,
Leaves a napkin to blot your lips or brow, a post card.

Folded on the table, she keeps her dreams for you,
The funds she gathered in pennies, for ice cream, notebooks...
She gave you her dreamscapes to bear with you,
Lush beautiful realms of the mind. Freedom.

In place of your sorrow, a breeze for gladness.
She healed you, scolded you, taught you,
Worked to learn the math both new and old,
So you could explain the new world to her. 

Mother, better had you called her Mother, 
Before she was labeled Martyr, as willingly
You took away her smiles of you, to leave her
Eyes in tears and heart in two.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/martyr/

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Falling into Dreams

GUARD | STRANGE | RIVER | LAND | MIND  The challenge is to use these five words in an original work of writing. I love these types of Challenges. It gives me words that I might not put together myself, to be used to create a picture in the mind. This poem is from a dreamer watching where dreams come from.

Weekly Writing Challenge #66

It was strange,

to see night fall from our dreams

bringing a river of light to bear,

drowning the moon without

insights into the mind

of the dreamer.

An unusual land, Dreams,

lacking the guards of civility while

blooming weeds the colors of

invention,

watching as they

fall into night’s place.

It was strange to see night fall

into our realities only to be resented

for being unique.

Vanish! Daily post Challenge

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/vanish/

Vanish from here, unworthy thoughts,
Unburnished deeds, sad misconceptions.
Vanish from here manipulative words,
Harsh judges, unspoken times.
Bring instead the laughter of children
Raised on streets that cater to their steps,
That cherish and rejoice in potential.
Bring back the souls wrongfully taken,
Before they were ripened by age and wisdom.
Vanish from here, bitter pursing lips
That refuse to speak what needs saying.
Vanish here, and in your place, leave 
Society growing in flourishing in common cause.

Birthday! Geburtstag!

Yesterday was my fifty-ninth birthday. It was also my happiest birthday, besides being born (thanks MOM).

My children decided that the best way to celebrate my birthday was to spend it with me. What mother could resist that? They have such busy adult lives that normally we have a brief conversation over the phone, a sandwich brought by so I don’t have to cook, or a pat on my head. Their lives are so busy that in past years they haven’t had time to affirm that I was getting grayer, or whiter, or that time was ticking past at a tremendous pace. But this year we had the hospital scare which mobilized both of my dears to become more involved in my life again. It was a lovely outcome to a scary time.

My day yesterday started with a breakfast wakeup call. My daughter and her husband had arrived with pancakes, eggs, hash browns, biscuits and bacon. They set the table and giving a cheer to bring us down the stairs, presented me with this feast. It took another call up the stairs to bring my husband down. My daughter used the “Dad, he’s poking me again” line which has become a family joke. My son came in and announced that his sister has surprised even him with the early morning roll call. He encouraged us all to eat and then to dress warmly because the day had just begun.

“Just begun?” Could it be that the day was just beginning? Normally weekends are days spent cleaning house, grocery shopping, and organizing for the next week. Taking time away from those things was unusual. Did they mean a game day? We have days when we invade each other’s territory to spend the day with unusual games that call out to us to play them. My son in law Chris was the one to encourage days like that, but this time, it was not what was intended.

I was ushered into the car, and we sped off after my daughter and Chris, at a respectable 35 miles an hour, strictly following the speed limit. There is a vendor of trees, each Christmas season, at the end of our neighborhood behind the Wawa convenience store and overlooking Neabsco Creek. Every year we wander to the vendor a day or two before Christmas and pick a tree that we hope will last into January. This year we were suddenly ahead of schedule. My son had given us a new TV for Christmas this year at Thanksgiving. Now the two kids had delivered a tree, an eight foot all Frazier Fir, and let me pick it out. We were twenty days ahead of schedule. Maybe, as Merlin thought in White’s A Once and Future King, we were moving backwards in time. No, we were moving forwards. The tree was placed in Chris’s truck as Derek opened his wallet exposing the tree fund to light and U.S. currency and homeward we went.

At this moment, door number two opened. Yes, we got the contents of door number one and two at the same time. Derek began pulling out the lights, not just for the tree, but for the entire house. Since he moved home, there has been a sense of normalization that he’s brought. Halloweens must be celebrated with decorations, and so too with Christmases. But as he set out to do the lights, Chris and my husband Eric set the tree into water, and Genevieve ushered me inside.

We always spend Christmas eve cleaning the family room of a year’s worth of crafting and lack of energy on my part by cleaning and getting the area ready for a tree. It can be a daunting task. Once we lacked the funds for a tree, and my kids went out into the backyard and brought back a bough from a white pine, with the perfect curl to it that would have fit in Jack Skeleton’s setting or Charlie Brown’s Christmas. They wrapped the bottom of the tree with a blue Linus blanket, and set one ornament on the tree at the pointy end of the only branch the tree had. Our dear friend Ana arrived on Christmas Day and added one additional ornament to the tree, a Charlie Brown Christmas ornament celebrating the simplicity of the season which is often overwhelming for me. Another time, the cleaning was finished at midnight, and the tree remained undecorated, but well loved. Christmas always arrived expected, but never quite prepared for, just like babies.

So I was convinced that my duty was to let people help me. Chris, Eric, Genevieve and I sorted, moved furniture, ran up and down stairs (I only handed things that needed to be relocated) and we achieved a new landmark. We had a clean tidy organized Christmas room early. We also had a ficus in the corner that now bears handmade ornaments that look like the ones that Grandma Boonie had on her tree. (Just a sign perhaps, but this Thanksgiving Genevieve, my mother, Laura and I created the ornaments to help us celebrate her life. My mother had also created ornaments using the same techniques that had decorated my parent’s trees. We never lacked for a love of Christmas, even when there was no money to be found.) So we used the ornaments we had made at Thanksgiving to decorate the ficus.

Off went Genevieve, Chris and Eric they soon had the tree in the stand. Derek and Eric brought the tree in the house lifting it over all of the things that hop out into the way when you want to transport something, successfully missing all of the obstacles, and the tree was placed along the west wall of the family room. Then began a call for directions to straighten the tree, which was amazingly close this year to true from the beginning, and we ran a relay of water so that the tree wouldn’t dry out.

Then we fell over, and Derek arrived with the ingredients for fancy grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. He had four types of cheese, including the American cheese that I get teased for my infatuation with, two types of sausages to be sliced and added to the cheese and Campbell’s Tomato soup. He whipped up dinner for us all, taking orders like the short order line cook at a good deli. By this time we had listened to Hamilton, the original soundtrack, Christmas swing music by the Glen Miller Orchestra, and we were ready for something to go with a quick meal. So out came The Grinch, which has my father in law in it, just check the section of the first singalong where the Who wearing the glasses and the trimmed beard is shown, followed by Charlie Brown’s Christmas. That gave us enough to time recover our blood sugar levels and the lights arrived for the tree.

Genevieve has taken over that job. Her dad used to do it, but with his schedule giving him less time to do it in, he had to pass that tradition on. Derek has done it several times, but he was still finishing the outside of the house. We run a string or two of lights up the middle of the tree, generally using the largest bulbs we can find, and cabling several light strings together until we have fully lighted strings to use. Then we swirl small lights around the tree. Each year we put together the leftovers of the years before until we arrive at the tree lights we think of as perfection. The pineapple ornament, the symbol of hospitality, goes on the very top, and this year has two 9 inch ornamental angels in full gold and white dress, holding candles (fake candles, the ones using electricity) are directly underneath the pineapple. It almost looks like the beginning of an angelic chorus. As we added ornaments, the tree opened up beautifully. I decorate the inside of the tree as much as the outside. It’s always amazing to me how many ornaments a tree can hold.

We put in twelve hours of getting ready for Christmas on my birthday. It’s not many people who can say they have been given Christmas as a birthday present, but I can say that. I was exhausted but really happy by evening. When my daughter and Chris had left for home, and Derek had gone to get ready for bed, Eric and I sat and watched the tree. He remarked that we “have some great kids”, and I added “and they are remarkable adults.” He asked if I was happy and I am. I’m also really proud that they recognize that time with them is the most important gift I could have been given. Christmas as a present gave them a way to show how much they cared and let us share a lot of memories. And, it’s not even Christmas yet.

Daily Post Challenge: Relax

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/relax/

Relax, but be vigilant.
This is warmth in the sun,
Cool in the water,
Danger in the depths.
Your mother warned 
You about days like this.
Where the happiness in your 
Heart reaches out to others.
You can't resist this moment.
Relax, but be vigilant,
Life is happening.

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