The Diagnosis…

It was an eye-opening moment. You know the kind that leaves you speechless and staring like a deer caught in headlights. That kind of moment.

I still am in shock. I mean, I’m the one who is supposed to outlast, outlive. I’m the one who is supposed to die alone in this world. That was part of the deal I made. That is not the reality.

With eyes wide open, I face the days ahead, knowing they will be shorter than expected…

wc: 82

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here. This week’s photo has been graciously donated by: Roger Bultot.

Sewn to the bone…

I’m not sure if I shared this project before, so excuse me if I did. This is a reproduction of a Victorian Era sweet bag. A project found in Piecework magazine… about the best magazine subscription I’ve ever purchased. I love the articles that speak of the history, and of course the projects to go with. I was especially entranced by this sweet bag. The article describing it’s original use was very interesting, too. So, I decided to give it a shot. It’s rare, very very rare that I go to the extravagance of purchasing taffeta…and white taffeta at that! But I did. There was not any silk threads to be found, so I used regular cotton DMC threads. Still, it’s coming out very nicely. I’ve now finished the one side and am sewing on the other side.

As you can see, it’s not a huge bag… the bottom edge is only 9 inches before sewing. The top edge is 7 inches. It’s mostly long&short stitch with some couching with metallic threads around the center motif. I’ve purchased a piece of pink satin for the lining, and matching ribbon for the ties. I cannot wait to see the finished bag! 🙂

In other sewing news. I decided to go with the Ojibwe Smoke dance style dress this time around. As you can see it’s a pretty basic drop-waist indicative of the 1920’s. I like the style a lot. I was in a quandry about the material, but finally decided that I rather love the small roses in this calico. I love roses, and I like the earthy tones in this pattern, the subtle antique pinks mixed with dark green/brown stems. It goes really well with the maroon and brown satin ribbon that I used around the hem. Sorry for angle of photo, relying on Hubby and he’s not so good with the phone. Now, onto the skirt…

The dress really calls for a simple rectangle of cloth tied around the waist and coming down halfway to the ankles. As you can see, I have rather short legs that make this an “odd” combo. So, before I cut into the lovely suede-like, or the maroon-ish fabric that I bought, I wanted to give it a try with muslin.

Please excuse the junk in the background. Sooo, I think the muslin looks about right. It’s not a wrap perse, though. I tried it wrap style with the suede-like fabric and couldn’t get it to stay in place long enough to walk downstairs for a photog. grrr…. I know, I know, the original fabric should be wool, and wool would hug the body the way it’s supposed to. Only one problem with that – I’m allergic to wool. So, for me it must be cotton or a synthetic (like the suede fabric). So, suede didn’t quite hang the way that I wanted it to, nor did it withstand walking tied in the traditional manner. What’s a girl to do at that point. No Elders around to call on, I’m on my own to figure this out. UGH! So, I’m resorting to a wrap around skirt pattern with a cynch tie/elastic waistband. You won’t be able to see that part, so I hope it will swing for my needs. The bottom will hang properly with a straight edge on the flap part, It will have nice lines. It is what it is the best that I can manage it. Last night, I cut the skirt from the maroon-ish fabric, and pin fitted it. It does actually look even better than the muslin mock up. Oh, my hand is at natural waist level in the photog. I have a long torso so it makes the dress waist seem more dropped than it is. Anyway, I may still do the little caplet, gauntlets and leggins in the suede since it took all the maroon cloth just to do the skirt. Sigh….I’ve yet to make the final decision on decoration for those parts. I’ve narrowed the selection down to three… still praying about it, though.

If you’re curious, the sweet bag pattern can be found in this issue of Piecework magazine…. And no, I’m NOT going to attempt the argyle socks…. way beyond my skill set they are.

Cenotaph

The colonist’s entered the church in silence. The reality of the day overwhelming them. One by one, they filed past the wooden crates that bore the bodies of Emri and Zithri. Beside them sat their only son, Miklak. In time, he would become as loved as his parents, but that wouldn’t be for years to come. For now, he was a child bereft of family.

Miklak misshapen limbs painfully cramped from being so still. He wanted to do anything but sit here in silence.

‘Will this day never end?’ He thought.

Wc: 91

Cenotaph: /ˈsenəˌtaf/ : a monument to someone buried elsewhere, especially one commemorating people who died in a war.

Author’s Note: I wonder what kind of cenotaph would be appropriate to Emri and Zithri, the first humans to repopulate the Earth after it’s nuclear wars had decimated the landscape? And, what kind of person will this little boy become? I’ve already written the story of Miklak in other stories, so I know that he will be just as great as his parents were and he will “colonize” a new world within their world.

On a personal note, It has been a difficult week with Covid taking the lives of three very dear friends who lived local. A grandmother, her wee granddaughter, and the daughter of a dear one. They won’t have any grand memorials, but I feel blessed for having had their companionship for many years.

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here. This week’s photo has been graciously donated by: Dale Rogerson.

Let There Be Light!

Author’s Note: this picture was so inspiring this week that I had to double-dip it. That said, both stories fit well with one another, so enjoy…. Backstory: Another tale in the ongoing saga of Emir & Zithri as they venture into recolonizing Terra Firma…

Part One…

Emri stood in the promenade, staring up at the lights. He’d always taken them for granted. Now, he looked at them in a different light. In a few minutes, they would be extinguished and the era of shipboard life would be ended. He’d come back to the ship for the last day’s festivities. After the lights were dimmed, they would be removed and transported down with the last load of what could be recycled. It was the ending of an era, and the beginning of a new one.

With a shaking hand, he reached out…

Click.

The world went dark.

Part Two…

Zithri twisted her hands; after all this time, they would have electric. It would only be what the generator could provide… but, there would be light. She’d missed the gentle glow in the evenings as they’d danced on the promenade or watched movies at the cinema complex. She felt a clogging in her throat and a burning in her eyes as Emri lifted the end of the cords and held them out to her.

‘Do you want to do the honors?’ He smiled.

‘Let’s do it together.’ She put her hands on his.

Light suddenly filled the room.

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here. This week’s photo has been graciously donated by: Liz Young.

CLICK to Ride

Where Honor Lies – #5

Photo prompt: http://www.celiacmama.com/gluten-free-pot-roast/

Where Honor Lies – #5

By Bear Starfire McQuinn

C. 2021, McQuinn.

WC: 778

Several hours later, Jonquil stepped through the kitchen door, inhaling deeply. Pot Roast. Then, he sighed. As happy as he was to have his favorite meal, he regretted the news he least expected to be sharing.

Elizabeth heard the back door open and smiled. Jonquil was home, finally. She’d worried because he was so late. It was a rare occurrence that he was late without calling ahead. Before she could rush to him, he held up a hand to tell her to stay back. She took in his stained and torn uniform with a frown.

‘Jon?’ She swallowed.

‘I’ll change in the laundry room.’ He told her.

‘How?’

‘Have you seen the news?’ He ventured to ask.

‘Bits and pieces.’ She shrugged. ‘ You know how it is with Charles.’

‘I was in the Capital today.’ He spoke as if that would answer all her questions before disappearing into the laundry area off of the kitchen.

Elizabeth stared after him in shocked surprise. She had caught glimpses of the riots and heard a report that the dictator had been assassinated. But why would Jonquil be on that side of the wall? The base where he worked was at least several hundred miles on the free side of the European wall. Now, she was confused.

Soon, Jonquil returned, freshly showered and dressed in sweats.

‘What happened?’ She asked, dishing up a large plate of pot roast and all the fixings to go with it.

‘All hell broke loose.’ He muttered, smiling at the plate she set before him. ‘I’m starved. Thanks for keeping it hot.’

‘You’re late. You didn’t call. I was worried.’ She rattled at him.

‘Sorry about that. By the time I got to where I could call you, I was already on the way home.’

‘I’ll forgive you… for a kiss.’ She leaned into his embrace.

‘I’ve been called up for deployment, Liza.’ He came out with what he needed to say. ‘Word came down as I returned to base. I report next week.’

Elizabeth pulled back out of his reach. ‘No. They can’t do that. They don’t need a lawyer in combat. Just like I don’t see why you had to go over the wall today. You had no business in that place… and today of all days. Do you know what happened there today?’

‘Yes.’

‘People stormed the palace, Jon. They killed every official they could find. They – they even assassinated the dictator, Jon. Why the hell were you there?’

‘Sorry, Liza, that’s classified.’ He dug into the pot roast in front of him.

‘They can’t deploy you, Jon. You’re not a combat soldier.’ She swayed back to the deployment issue; knowing that once he said something was classified, she’d never get a clear answer. ‘You’re a lawyer, Jon. What are you going to do? Are you going to lob books at them, or fire words in their direction?’ Elizabeth bit back tears. Her worst fears were bubbling up to the surface and trailing down her cheeks.

‘I’m still a soldier, Liza, just like any other soldier. I’m trained for combat. I’m prepared for war. It’s what I do, Liza. You knew that before we married that there might come a time like this.’ He reminded her.

‘I – I never believed they’d send a lawyer into battle, Jon. It’s wrong. You’re a paper-pusher.’ She sniffled into the napkin he offered her.

‘I’m a soldier first, Liza. Look, it’s been a very long and tiring day. I don’t want to argue with you about this. I have my orders.’ He sighed. ‘I’ve trained for war my entire life, Liza. I’ve always prayed I’d never have to fight, but it has come. It’s just something you have to accept.’

‘I can’t. I won’t.’ She allowed him to wrap an arm around her waist.

‘I love you, Liza. No matter what happens, don’t forget that. He pulled her to him and kissed her deeply.

Coming up for air, she muttered against his lips. ‘Is there any way to get out of it?’

‘No. It’s my duty to serve God, the Corps, and family.’ He kissed her again.

This time, Elizabeth pulled back. ‘Family’s always last, isn’t it, Jonquil.’ She picked up his plate and took it to the sink. ‘I want to go back to America; Jon, and the sooner the better. After what I saw today… And now, you being called up… I want to go home. – sniff – If…if the worst…’

She didn’t have to finish before he responded. ‘I’ll make the arrangements in the morning.’

Elizabeth blinked back tears as she pulled the plug in the sink and watched the water circle down the drain.

-chapter end-

First Fruits

Another adventure of Emri and Zithri upon the recolonization of Earth….

Tears coursed Emri’s cheeks as the first load of crops exit the field. It was something he had dreamed of seeing for all of his life. It represented the fact that they could survive here, versus the ship that still orbited above.

‘It’s beautiful, isn’t it?’ Aaron asked.

‘Yes, it is.’ Emri smiled. ‘God has truly blessed us and we will give our portion back to him.’

‘The women have created a feast to celebrate the harvest.’

‘Tonight’s fire will be bright.’ Emri nodded to where they would stack the bales, add the first harvests of vegetables and fruits.

wc: 99

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here. This week’s photo has been graciously donated by: Sandra Crook.

Tributary

This is how the poem is intended to appear. Here’s how WP screws it up…

Tributary

Never forgotten

The day America’s tears

fell in torrents

into rivers of raw fear

and flooded the tributaries

of unfathomable grief

until they converged

into an ocean of anger

with undercurrents circling

around hidden reefs

of rage and retribution

time weathered

water worn

yet… never forgotten.

BearStarfire McQuinn

c. 2021, McQuinn

09022021-0844

wc: 47

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here. This week’s photo has been graciously donated by: Penny Gadd.

Author’s Note: The poem reflects where my heart is this week. Already, the 9-11 tributes are rolling in. I’ve unplugged the television, and limited my online presence and will do so probably for the rest of the month. As much as I don’t want to be reminded, I will NEVER forget… nor should anyone. Our nation has suffered a tremendous loss, but we are a strong people who can navigate our little boats amid the torrents if we choose to do so. Find what brings you joy this week, and cling to it.

Shalom, Bear

Where Honor Lies #4

photo prompt: pixabay.com

Where Honor Lies – #4

By Bear Starfire McQuinn

C. 2021, McQuinn.

WC: 740

Chapter One, Cnt’d.

As oxygen filled his lungs, the sparkles began to fade from his vision and his thoughts cleared. He took several moments to consider the new advantages to his current predicament. All he needed now was to be able to use his weapon if necessary. It could mean the difference between living, or dying at the hands of the mob that seemed to be right on top of him.

By his mental estimate, he still had a good thirty minutes before the extrication team arrived. Until then, he had to wait. He wasn’t comfortable with the time. He was a man of quick, decisive action, after all. Inhaling deeply, Jonquil felt a sharpness in his side. Shifting ever so carefully, he moved just enough to remove the discomfort while at the same time freeing the business end of his smoker. Finally, camouflaged as much as he could be, there was nothing left to do but wait. Wait, and pray.

Hours later, Jonquil still waited beneath the refuse, anxious to get out of the hell he could hear happening around him. Any moment, he feared both detection or acquiring a stray bullet. For a moment, he started to consider how he was going to extricate himself from the area. He considered the possibility that the team was unable to get to him. The fear was sobering, and oddly exhilarating, too. Now, he needed a new plan.

‘Commander Montgomery?’ He heard a voice hiss above him. ‘Commander, are you here?’

Jonquil stirred slightly at the sound of his name.

‘Extract One, Sir.’ The trained eye found his despite his cover. ‘Ready to blow, Sir?’

Jonquil didn’t have to hear the words twice as he exploded out of the debris. ‘Definitely, Major. Let’s get out of here.’

‘Problem that, Sir.’ The Major confessed. ‘We had to fight our way in, looks the same heading out, Sir. We’re about two mile out. Close as we could get.’

‘Lead the way, Major. My wife’s making her famous pot roast for dinner, and I can already taste it.’ Jonquil smiled despite his disheveled appearance.

‘Stick to my six, Sir. I’ll get you home before the meat gets too dry to eat.’ The Major chuckled as he bumped elbows with the Commander.

As they neared the end of the alley, Jonquil saw the uncontrolled mayhem of the citizens finally taking back their freedom from tyranny. Jonquil gulped at the sight. Internally, he took it all in. Was this chaotic scene the result of his singular act? Or, was his act merely one of many flashpoints that set this conflagration into motion? He’d never stayed around long enough to see the consequences of his skill. It was sobering, he thought, as a heaviness settled into his bones.

‘Keep your head up and your wits about you, Sir. It looks like we may have to join the melee.’ Major Edwards grinned as he signaled his team to move forward. ‘Go. GO! GO!’

Jonquil followed and was nearly crushed by the force of the rabid crowd. His breath caught in his chest as he fought the need to cry out. Hands tried to grab hold of his smoker. He fought against them, knowing that if he lost his weapon, he would be lost as well.

‘Ye- ahh!’ He bellowed as he began to use his smoker as a bludgeoning tool. Again and again, his smoker slammed into heads, and bodies fell. Whether they were unconscious or dead, he didn’t care.

To his immediate right, Major Edwards deflected a steel pipe that barely missed crushing Jonquil’s skull. A know of fear gripped Jonquil’s heart as an image of his son playing war flashed through his mind. So innocent, so naiver. Jonquil knew, in that moment, that he had to get home, now matter what it took. Adrenaline surged through his veins, tingling in his limbs and burning through his brain. Survival instinct kicked into full gear as he unleashed his pent up hostility. He used his failing marriage to fuel his fight against any who opposed his progress. Together, Jonquil and Major Edwards drove forward against the crush of the crowd. At times, they defended each other. At others, they aggressively drove the angry mob aside.

‘This way, Sir.’ Major Edward’s confident voice urged him onward. ‘Almost home, now, Sir. Can you smell the pot roast, yet?’

‘Yes, I can.’ Jonquil chortled, following the Major’s gesture upwards.

‘Helio on the roof, Sir.’

Where Honor Lies – #3

photo prompt: SeeClickFix.com

Where Honor Lies – #3

By BearStarfire McQuinn

C. 2021, Mcquinn.

wc: 663

Note: We left Jonquil needing to hold his position for an hour until the extrication team arrived…

‘This is insane.’ Jonquil muttered. ‘Things are moving too fast. I’ll need to change the plan.’

Glancing around at the alley, he noted that it was blocked in on three sides. This, too, was not strategically good. the strategist who had chosen this particular location for extrication was ill-informed or.. or, this was deliberate sabotage. Neither thought sat well with him. Behind him, echoing through the parking structure, he could hear the angry mobs growing in intensity. Grumbling about misplacing his trust in the strategist, Jonquil reassessed his situation.

If only he’d double-checked the plans personally. He’d seen the warning signs that not everyone was akin to the plan. He’s seen them, but the gravity of his mission had clouded his mind in that moment. He knew that not everyone on the planning team was for the mission to unseat the dictator. Many were too frightened of the reprecusions should the mission integrity become breached. Dictator or not, some felt that it was a game of ‘better the devil you know’. Now, he chastised himself for not acknowledging his instinctual doubt in the young strategist’s plans.

As the sounds of the mob grew louder, Jonquil’s mind reassessed the plan. He cursed. He still had forty-five minutes to wait before the extrication team arrived. Three quarters of an hour, that’s what he needed to buy… but, how?

Instinct brought a slight twitch as Jonquil heard a shot fired so close it echoed in the alleyway. It was soon followed by an answering volley.

Cover… He needed cover. Here, amid the debris of hospital waste; his clean, crisp uniform would stand out like a homing beacon. If he could just – …

His eyes scanned the alley again, falling on the debris piled around the dumpster.

‘Bags… garbage… perfect.’ He almost smiled.

Keeping as low as he could, Jonquil made his way across the open roadway and over to the overflowing dumpster. Many of the bags piled around were marked bio-hazard and smelled of rotting flesh. Jonquil wrinkled his nose. Death always did have a distinctive smell to it.

Between the rotting flesh, and a myriad of chemical smells, he couldn’t help but to gag. As he toed one bag, the all too familiar smell of human decay accosted him full-force. It stung his nose and constricted his throat as he fought his stomach’s need to expunge itself. Gulping, he forced himself not to add to the miasma as he did what he needed to do for protection.

As quickly and as quietly as he was able, Jonquil wedged the barrel of his smoker under the edge of the refuse pile. Then, using it as a lever, he managed to work his way underneath the heavy bags of waste. The putrid odor causing reflexive gagging as he maneuvered into as comfortable of a position as was possible.

At the moment, Jonquil thought, the only upside to the situation was that the aerobic reaction of decaying waste was creating warmth. A warmth that was more than welcome to his half frozen limbs. In fact, before he could get settled, he was already beginning to sweat, and sweat heavily at that.

Between the weight of the debris and the plastic that blocked the flow of air, he was finding it exceedingly difficult to breathe causing his eyes to sparkle due to lack of oxygen. He knew he wouldn’t last the hour if he didn’t get a good draw of air. His body’s automatic gag reflex was creating danger to his safety as well. The way it wracked his body between gasps for air threatened to reveal his hideaway. He needed air… clean air. Cautiously, Jonquil stirred the debris over his head, just enough to create a hole large enough for air to pass through. It was barely enough, but it would have to suffice. The air still reeked, but he could now breathe without choking. He only hoped that he was still hidden enough to avoid detection.

Relic

Charles paused by Stephen’s bookcase, his eye catching on an old metal toy. ‘Where did you get this?’

‘The last Terran excavation.’ Stephen explained.

‘Has it been tested?’

‘Yes, radiation levels were deemed safe.’ Stephen rose to join him.

‘So, now they’re selling off pieces of Terra as tourist trinkets, too.’ Charles sighed.

‘That bothers you?’

Charles glared at him. ‘This is a child’s toy. A child…’ His voice broke. ‘… a child lost through adult stupidity, Stephen. A whole world lost to human stupidity.’

Stephen nodded silently, watching as Charles lift the toy with shaking hands.

wc: 97

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here. This week’s photo has been graciously donated by: Lisa Fox

Authors Note: Glad to be back up and running. Hope you have a great week. Stay safe, and don’t be afraid to mask up. 🙂