Lead, Kindly Light.

dark-night

The winter evening drew on, enveloping all, in a shroud of mist and darkness. The clay stove where wood fires burned with the occasional crackle and pop, was where they all huddled together, the dying embers burning orange, reflecting on their faces as they tried to get closer to the heat, tempted to touch the ash laden coal, still molten hot at the core.

Tearing at unleavened bread, dipping it into bowls of hot piping stew, the warmth of the food seeped into their bellies and there rose a silence more blessed than joyous laughter.

The orphan waited patiently for his share. Every other benevolent family in the village took turns through the week to feed him.

Wolfing down his bread, he wiped his bowl clean, sponging up every drop of stew. Muttering thanks, he walked away into the cold winter night.

While the village slumbered on under layers of quilts that barely warded off the cold, he sat hunched over his books.

The lone street lamp, his only companion, blazed on, in the darkness of the night.

[178 words]

Thank you, Maria, for the beautiful photograph!

Bless you Priceless Joy at Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers for hosting such a wonderful challenge!

 

 

Advertisements

Fleedom

Flee – The Daily Prompt20161212_221259.jpgI have dug my own grave and prepare to lie in it.

With these hands. These grimy hands with dirt embedded in the nails. The soil made soft and pliant with my sweat and maybe some tears as well.

The walls are lined with the memories of my own making. Sometimes I cringe when I face them, but I deserve to face my mistakes. Why should I be spared when I am low in the ground, six feet under? This life I lead, spells no escape. Why should death afford me this luxury?

No, I cannot run away. There is nothing I can run away from, nobody I can run to…

But I don’t need anybody, do I? A strong woman like me…

I bare my teeth in derision. You seem to forget, there is no running away from myself, now, is there? The abyss I’ve sunk to. The scraps of affection I’ve waited for. The smiles that I’ve bought. The comfort I had sought all come rushing in when the filters are dismantled, and my guard is down. And then I loathe myself all over again. Forgive myself? Oh, no. I don’t deserve it.

Who would give me a second chance? And if I were given one, would I even take it? I despise the world. I despise all it represents. I despise how it changes people. I have seen enough.

I sit out in the open bazaar of this world, with my veil outspread on the pavement, trying to catch a stray coin that comes my way, trying to look as if I were not there. I look at the others there and see the same vacant look in their eyes. You never get used to begging, do you? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been generous too, when I could. Now, as if that would shield me from the barbs that random passersby shoot at me. Speak all you can, there’s space on the pavement for you soon.

Cursed, I am the face of humanity, the underbelly nobody notices. Once in a while we crawl out of our little hovels and sun ourselves sharing your light and you wince, looking away. Hold on. It’s just a matter of time.

My tattered veil is still outstretched on the pavement and is now decorated with the footprints of people who have walked my way. Coins? Some are still there. Some are gathered up furtively by the enterprising ones in the passing crowd, who look at my unseeing eyes and decide I’m not really there. And maybe I’m not really there. Maybe I fled a long time ago. Maybe my body and soul are no longer united for my soul has fled its mortal prison and escaped to God knows where.

My body awaits. Every single day it carves a little dent into the living earth and the earth obliges by becoming forgiving.

The minute I was born, I knew it was one step closer to death. Every dying day brings me nearer to my living death.

No, I’m not saying this because something happened. Something always happens and it almost always amounts to nothing.

Who belongs to whom here? What is mine? What is yours? Who are we? I have no answers to these questions.

Is death the real escape? Or do we close our eyes in death to wake up to another hell? I have no answers yet, but well, all I can do is watch and wait.

People like me, sometimes we watch. Sometimes we don’t. But we’re always waiting. For a handful of rice. For a fistful of coins. For day to follow day. For night to follow day. For darkness to follow darkness.

And Death follows us faithfully. Life is a betrayer, treacherous and false. Death is real and eternal.

Love, hope, family, and self are beautiful illusions. They light up your darkness with the occasional glimmer. Like blinking fireflies, this light is elusive and does not last.

Death is the only hope you can count on. It never fails to visit. Flee if you can, and while you can. But regardless, Death always catches up.

I am prepared. I have dug my grave and now I lie in it.

Flee

Archaeopteryx

This is not my life. This is not me. This is the thought that pounds at my mind, never allowing me to be content with my lot in life.
This is not my life. This is not me. This is the refrain that courses through my blood, ringing in my ears, never allowing me to rest.

This is not my life. This is not me. For I am the missing link. I never knew that at first, but destiny led me to believe that only I am the connect between all that I am and all that I can be.

This is not my life. This is not me. Slithering among my fellows, revelling in the sun, I waited, this buzz in my head preventing me from basking in peace. 

No, this was not the life for me.

I wasn’t cold blooded, you know.

I wasn’t cold at all.

In me, there beat a heart, there pulsed a thought- This is not my life. This is not me. This is not my life. This is not me. This is not my life. This is not me. This is not my life. This is not me. This is not my life. This is not me.

This is not my life. This is not me.

This is not my life. 

This is not me.

I waited. I watched. Change embraced me, slowly at first and then with indecent haste. They stared at me with distaste. How dare I?

I realized once you accept the inevitable, things fall into place.

My scales soon shed, of their own accord.

My beating heart made the connect, completing the leap it had begun a million years ago. I felt different. But it felt so right. Oh, so right!

But the others. They watched aghast as I changed from within. Soon the difference was apparent. There was a certain degree of alarm and a whole lot of conjecture.

At first I actually care to make them understand. It wasn’t their fault, you see. It was all me.

I said to anybody who would listen-

This is not my life. This is not me.

They blinked in all their incomprehension.

My beating heart sang this refrain. Over and over again. This is not my life. This is not me.
My heart changed as well. I now had four chambers. My love for life pumped through every chamber- I didn’t know when my body turned warm. So much joy! So much peace! I was doing what I wanted to do! I was being me! Oh the possibilities that awaited me!

They looked at me balefully and coldly.

How dare I even presume?

Hiding in the cracks during the day, they slithered onto the warm rocks at nightfall, cold and unfeeling except for the one common thing they had for me. Malevolent hatred.

Grouped together ominously for comfort, they twined and intertwined and it became less obvious where one ended and the other began. They looked my way a vengeful collective of dark, brooding menace.

All I knew was solitude.

Solitude was bliss. Ignorance more so.

Vital life coursed through my veins. I flexed my shoulders and hopped about in glee! A kind one shushed me and motioned at me with a blink but I paid no heed. I tested my arms, wiggled my digits and spread the membranes that defined me. I flapped. Blood surged through me.

I took flight.

A serpent reared its head and hissed- You freak! You moron! What do you think you are doing?

I looked down from my primordial perch and shrugged.

I didn’t have an answer to that. I didn’t have an answer to anything, really. You see, sometimes there are no answers. You just are. Things are. And that is all there really is.

All through my flight, my heart simply told me -This is not my life. This is not me.

I repeated these words to the now coiling serpent who slumbered on the still warm rock.

This is not my life. This is not me.

They fell on deaf ears.

I spread my wings. I left my perch behind. Far behind.

I now could view my primitive life from a different angle. Oh, the pettiness of it all. The struggle for existence. The futility of it all. I flew. Every flight I undertook changed me ever so slightly. I became this fascinating creature, at least I thought I was and began something I knew was unstoppable. I didn’t understand it myself, but all I knew I had to try. Well, you see it was my job to try. If I hadn’t tried, you wouldn’t have had these beautiful creatures who dot the skies, who wake you up with their song, need I really say more?

Who am I?

Do you need names, labels, categories?

You see I don’t really fit in.

I never belonged. I am different. And the whole world knows me. Because I dared. To be unique.

For I am Archaeopteryx.

I am the missing link.

I dared to dream. I dared to try. Alone. Never let them hold me back.

Where am I now?

Frankly, I don’t know. 

And really, I don’t care.

I lived my life. I mean, I really did. 

I was real.

Now, I am a fossil.

I am reduced to a theory.

I exist in your dust laden tomes. 

And maybe even in your vestigial imagination.

I am the bridge that forged itself between the cold and the warm

Between the unfeeling and the aspirers.

I am the pioneer of flight.

It all began when I said to myself-This is not my life. This is not me.

So much joy! So much peace! Oh the possibilities that awaited me!

Missing