A place of safety – Microfiction challenge #11

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ALI142426 Interior with a figure (oil on canvas) by Cecioni, Adriano (1838-66) oil on canvas Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome, Italy Alinari Italian, out of copyright

“Ssh, Annetta, shh! he will find us if you don’t stop making that noise!”

I could hear my sister coughing under the bedclothes, her whooping cough consuming her in the tiny pocket of hot air under the blankets. I wanted to feel sorry for her, almost more than anything – almost. After all, I knew only too well how the paroxysms felt. My chest was still weak, I was still exhausted after my own sickness.

But still…

I held my own breath as the stairs creaked like the ageing tall ships that shuddered into the harbour down below, exhausted and depleted from their travails on the high seas.

If only he had been on Defiance, which despite its name had been swallowed by waves as tall as mountains. But no. He was a charmed man. He had returned, like a bad penny, pickled in brandy and stinking of the harlots he had visited in every nasty, fetid port along the way.

“Olivia! Olivia damn you! Where’s my food? Why is the table not laid? I’ll skin your hides, you and that miserable runt of a changeling. I swear she ain’t mine…”

The same old, same old refrain. I crouched behind the bed, hating my sister for alerting him to our presence with her chest-rattling cough and the whoop as she tried to suck in more air. For God’s sake, Annetta!

I reached up, felt the profile of her forehead, her nose, her mouth gaping like a hungry bird’s underneath the covers. I pressed down, trying to smother her noise, to just shut her up for a moment, just one, blessed moment. Perhaps he would get tired once he reached the second floor, perhaps he wouldn’t bother with the servants’ quarters if we were quiet as church mice…?

His footfall stopped, I heard a thud as the final door on the landing below was slammed open, I could picture him straining to pick up on the slightest noise from us, his most definitely unloved daughters.

I held my breath. Thankfully, Annetta had managed to stifle her noise too. I heard Father trudge unsteadily down the stairs. He would fall into a drunken slumber soon enough. I exhaled slowly as I heard him kick the kitchen door shut behind him, far below. We were safe for now. I released my clamp of a hand from Annetta’s mouth and shook her gently.

“It’s safe, sweetheart, you can come out now,” I whispered, peeling back the blankets, ready to hug my little sister, to reassure her once more.

I knew, as soon as I saw her. She would never need comfort from me again.

Father had killed her, with my own, death-grip hand.

Sweet dreams, little one. Sweet dreams.


Here’s my latest entry into Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge, where this week, she asks us to write in response to the picture above. Wow, it evoked something dark in me (not so surprising to anyone who has read my blog for a while…). I found this painting truly unsettling, as you can tell.

Please do head on over to Jane’s blog to see how others have responded. No two entries will be the same, I’m sure.

Thank you Jane, for the inspiration!

Blogspot comments – my nemesis!

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I am interrupting this programme for a public service announcement of sorts for my online blogging friends.

For the past couple of weeks, my ability to comment on blog posts where the host is Blogspot has been cruelly thwarted. This happens every now and again, but damn, it’s frustrating! I expect that this also happens for Blogspot bloggers who are trying to comment on WordPress. I’ve got to the point where my heart sinks a little when I open a blog to read a poem/piece of prose and see the blogspot url.

Here’s what happens. I write a comment, click on publish and the usual verification process doesn’t work. Instead, I am caught in a Groundhog Day kind of process where I click on ‘publish’ , the page refreshes and… I have to click on ‘publish’ again. Needless to say, most of the time, my comment can’t be published.

So, if you wonder where my comments are my Blogspot friends, they are probably floating around in the ether somewhere, never to be seen again.

I don’t know where the problem lies but I do hope the tech-geeks sort it out soon…

Old and New – A Dash of Sunny

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modern tradition

– an oxymoron some would say,

but i beg to differ.

the beauty of the design of today –

clean lines, smooth curves, simplicity,

matched with the serenity of age-old customs

handed down from parent to child

from mother/father to daughter/son –

or sometimes with a slipped stitch in time

that was caught, just in time

to re-forge the link that almost

wrenched the chain asunder.

modern tradition

that’s how I do it.


 

It’s time for my (mostly) weekly entry into A Dash of Sunny’s Prompt Nights, where this week we are asked to choose a photograph and write a poem or piece of prose inspired by it.

The photo is mine, of my Chanukiyyah that I love because of what it represents (my Jewish heritage), but also because it is beautiful in and of itself. It is made of iron and is so, so heavy, so very pleasingly substantial. I am sure it will outlast me!

All the branches are filled with lit candles, so that signifies the last night of Chanukkah, the eight day ‘festival of light’ which you can read about here, if you would like to know more!

Please do head on over to A Dash of Sunny to read how others have responded – and why not take part yourself?