Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 25

Welcome back! I have been so excited to introduce you to the creative magic giving rise to today’s prompt, there are hardly words. (Thankfully there are some words, or it’d be pretty clear I’m in the wrong business, eh??) This summer the Atlanta Botanical Garden has crafted a stunning exhibit called “Imaginary Worlds.” Talk about some literal world-buildling! It’s like mythology meets poetry meets a totally rocking irrigation system. And since most of us do not live in or near Atlanta, today I am bringing the imaginary worlds to you. 

Special thanks to the Atlanta Botanical Garden for their permission to use today’s photo (photo credit to C. Joey Ivansco). Y’all are awesome.

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Today’s judge, Jess West, probably considers herself less a world-builder and more a world-devourer. In the name of true environmentalism, however, she builds them before devouring them in order to preserve balance in the universe. If you wish your story to catch her suspicious eye, be sure to check out her judge’s page for tips. 

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Awards Ceremony: Results will post Sunday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Wednesdays.  I (Rebekah) post my own unbalanced writings sometimes on Tuesdays or Thursdays “just for fun.”   

Now let’s get to it!

Word limit150 word story (10-word leeway) based on the photo prompt.

HowPost your story here in the comments. Include your word count (140 – 160 words, exclusive of title) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new, don’t forget to check the contest guidelines.

Deadline11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday is on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post Sunday

Prize: The Flash! Friday e-dragon e-badge for your blog/wall, your own winner’s page here at FF, a 60-second interview next Wednesday, and your name flame-written on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity. 

***Today’s Dragon’s Bidding (required element to incorporate somewhere in your story; does not need to be the exact word(s) unless instructed to do so, e.g. “include the words “botanical miracle'”):

Freedom

***Today’s Prompt:

 

Earth goddess. Imaginary Worlds exhibit, Atlanta Botanical Garden. Photo by C. Joey Ivansco. Used by permission.

Earth goddess. Imaginary Worlds exhibit, Atlanta Botanical Garden. Photo by C. Joey Ivansco. Used by permission.

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114 thoughts on “Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 25

  1. Around the bend

    My roots splinter and break with a final crack. This is it. Without them I am doomed to wither away from an insatiable thirst. It is supposed to be the worst way for our kind to go, the most agonizing. They say it makes you crazy.

    At first I remain still, because that is all I have ever known. As the thirst sets in, the madness takes over. It occurs to me that without roots, I can go where I please. I stretch my limbs, they creak in protest. I take a tentative step, then another. My view changes for the first time in a century. Around the corner I find a stream, overflowing with nourishment. I stoop down and listen to the babble of the water. I could put down new roots here, but then I would be incarcerated once more. The stream rounds a bend, I cannot see what is around it. I am going to find out.

    160 words
    @todayschapter

  2. Edie

    ‘Will this torture never end? They all are so mean to me; now we have to go to the ABG – hours on end with my horrible classmates!’

    On the bus, I sit behind the driver in agony. My classmates are mocking me – as usual. “Edie wears a bu-un, one day she’ll be a nu-un. Edie wears a cardigan, never finds a ma-an!”

    We arrive at the ABG and are led inside. There is a lot to see. The Imaginary Worlds exhibit is fascinating, I walk around a corner and – stop in my tracks, trying to take it all in: The Earth Goddess, the water, a soothing hum!

    I walk closer, bend over, see my reflection in the water, and am suddenly at peace. I finally found myself. No more self-doubts! I unbutton my cardigan, let it drop, take the pins out of my hair, and dance.

    149 words
    @okiewashere

  3. Let My Children Love Me

    (147 words)

    Dwarfed and awed by his surroundings; never before a religious man, reverence seemed to embody him here.
    He stood still in this moment, and this moment and this one. Body and mind in union drinking in a completeness he had been seeking but never found.

    ‘I am dying,’ came a voice that seemed to ride on the wings of the swallows.
    His concentration deepened: the lush green his focus. Only that.
    ‘Can you hear me?’ the sound seemed to fill the air now.
    All other sensation dissolved.
    And still he stood, his head bowed.
    A servant, yet, never had he experienced such freedom- at once, diminished and exalted.

    Gradually, he felt the sound travel to the centre of him, his chest a chamber of vibration.
    ‘I am dying. Can you hear me?’ said the green.
    ‘Yes,’ he said.
    ‘Then, tell the others. They need to know.’

  4. Holding On

    I walk into the garden, tears running down my cheeks. We fought again today – he and I. The wetness on my cheek reminds me of our first date. I had sobbed with joy when he first kissed me. I loved him so much. Where had all that love gone? All I feel now is an empty hollow ache that demands what once was mine.
    I am scared of being without him and tired of being with him.
    I turn the corner and come face-to-face with ‘The Earth Goddess’ exhibit. I watch her serene face with its closed eyes, and hear the ripple of water flowing from her outstretched palm. What would happen if she clenched her fist and refused to let go – it would flow away anyway. And all that would remain is the soft memory of silken caresses, the whisper of a gurgling laugh… and cool moistness in the light summer breeze.

    155 Words
    @MitraArchita

  5. For Love
    By: Allison K. Garcia
    151 words

    “She’s nothing but a mortal,” his father would say time after time.

    It was true but every time he was reminded, the words shocked through him like a lightening bolt. It wasn’t her fault that she was born with a set number of years over her head. Rising and falling in the sky, her lifetime like one day in his unending life. The best day.

    Though a mortal, she could love. Unable to wield nature, she wielded his heart. Blind to the future, she lived every day, unafraid. Only he trembled in her sight, in anticipation for one touch. For one hour in her arms was worth a thousand lifetimes.

    Mother knew. She had the gift of sight. Before he could whisper at the possibly of relinquishing his immortality, her sun set. By my request, the mortals built her a statue. To commemorate our day but above all else, for love.

  6. Botanical Freedom
    The planet was green and blue, and it was the only place there.
    The hatch popped and let in the smell. Dirt, moss…undefinable florals. He had expected animals and insects but the popping of the cooling lifeboat was the only sounds outside of wind and bubbling water, which he had desperately needed. The trickle led to a brook which he followed to the clearing and led…to a wonder.
    It was not as uninhabited as it seemed. The gardens were an uplifting discovery that seemed to recharge the dead batteries of his soul. Terraces, waterfalls, a larger than life figure in leafy green spoke life and freedom to him. He laughed and charged over to the nearest pond, not caring to even do the standard “palatability” check drilled in by the corp. He cupped his hands and filled them with life. He drank deeply and waded into the pond.
    He never saw the leafy green hand closing on him.

  7. Choice

    “I won’t marry him,” said Ivey.
    “You willbecause it is commanded so. To shun this match is to ask for death,” her mother replied.
    “Accepting him would be another kind of death. He wants me for my beauty and would soon crush my magic once he learned of it.” She sensed her mother about to interrupt and continued quickly, “Because I won’t hide it, to lose my connection to the earth would be the cruelest death of all.”
    Planning continued for the wedding and Ivey felt the noose tighten around her life.
    One evening she decided that some kind of death, bodily or spiritual was inevitable and perhaps there was at least a freedom in choosing which.
    The next morning her mother awoke to find and an extra abundance of green in the space behind their home. It shifted and grew and within it she saw the face of her daughter. Happy, but no longer of this mortal world.

    159 words
    @CaseyCaseRose

  8. A plea from a Goddess
    Ian Martyn (@IBMartyn)
    155 words

    You catch me here in this tranquil glade and think all is well. But, I remember many years ago when I could wander at will, unrestricted, marvelling at the beauty of nature, drinking it in and giving life to the world. Now you defile and scar, in a relentless race to strip the land and replace it with your manmade stone and steel. Why must you do this? Why cannot you live in harmony with the endless wonder that surrounds you?

    Oh, feckless creatures. Have you forgotten how I nurtured you in your infancy, suckled you into maturity? Was I such a bad mother that you now treat me this way? My life slips through your fingers as this water does through mine. Soon I will be just a memory, a frozen image in digital store, to be pulled out, gazed at and put away for another time. Or will you remember before it’s too late?

  9. 150 words:

    World

    We stood back momentarily, in order to gain perspective on what we had built. And then we carried on.

    We carried on for years, it felt like forever, constantly trying to peek through the mire, forwards. If there was to be more forever, it wasn’t happening like this. But we carried on.

    Some broke off, they ran to the mountains and built fires, caught rats, found solstice in solitude. But we carried on, some aimless, continuous, arduous task. People would die. But we died together.

    Every so often, we would take a step back and look around at the lions, the elephants, they had freedom. We thought we were free, were we not? All this building up and down, left and right, we felt free.

    We got there in the end. Too late, too far to turn back and see in the distance, Mother Nature lying dead, buried under rubble.

    @emmabraydee

  10. Testament
    156 words
    @theshakes72

    He takes her hand and moves urgently through the city’s ruins.
    Life fled here long ago-not only from the ancient buildings but from the soil itself.
    She looks upon these broken places with no time to marvel. This fleeting freedom will come with a heavy price when the elders catch up. This place is forbidden, so why has she come?
    Love breeds a confidence even the most reckless don’t possess.
    He’s filled her head with his stories of an ember still burning bright at the heart of the chaos; of running waters and life in abundance.
    In her dreams a Goddess rises from the undergrowth and bids her drink from clear waters. Each night she takes that communion.
    This love then, is as much for Her as it is for the this foolish boy who grasps her so tightly.
    Their people had killed the gods with technology and arrogance. A new testament would be written today.

    • Whoops – ‘the’ in the second to last line shouldn’t be there. It should be where it says ‘their gods’ – that should read ‘the gods with technology and their arrogance.’
      It matters little – but I thought I’d point it out anyway!

  11. Cup of Tears

    Outside the city walls red battlefields baked in the sun. Elah poured her tears into the palace garden’s dry fountain. “For my brothers,” she said.
    Beside the fountain lay the broken statue of a woman – a reminder of a story almost forgotten. ‘There would only be freedom from the war when enough tears have been shed.’ Elah’s tears stained the grey stone. Women in mourning veils crowded behind her, cup in hand. They shuffled forward, each tipping their cup into the fountain. Tears blended, slowly filling the bowl.
    “For my father.”
    “For my husband.”
    “For my son.”
    But it was not enough.

    Elah stood by the fountain for seven days and cried under a burning sky until she had no strength left. For fathers, brothers, sons, her people, her enemy.
    “Is this enough?” she whispered.
    Her last tear filled the fountain and spilled over the edge. The sound of battle stopped as darkness took her.

    Words: 155
    @CarinMarais
    http://www.hersenskim.blogspot.com

  12. The Fountain of Life
    by @JMnumber6, 160 words

    The High Priest Cernunnos (Bob Smith, school principal) led the High Priestess Gaia Artemis (Tonisha King, real estate mogul) into the café area facing the Earth Goddess. The eleven members of the Order of the Earth Mother (local civic leaders looking for something more outré than the Rotarians) followed them. Each of them bowed to the green Goddess as they entered.

    Getting the “Earth Goddess Fountain of Life” built was easy. Half of the Order was on the town council and they manipulated the vote.

    As they executed their ritual, none of them missed a word or intonation. If you’re going to do something, they thought, you should do it right, even when invoking a Goddess you don’t believe in.

    When She awoke and thanked them for freeing Her from the poisoned planet, two of them died of heart failure. The rest died within a few years since the planet had stopped producing food, now that its Goddess was gone.

  13. The extra wide door swings open to an impossibly pleasant nurse, “You can get out of here. Go for a walk, you know.”
    The IV monitor squawks and I key in the code I memorized months ago into the panel. A faint but rapid tapping resonates off glass in the background. The placid sound reminds me of a lover throwing rocks at his girlfriend’s window.
    “I can’t stand for more than a few minutes, so I can’t go for a walk.” My lungs strain to extract the oxygen needed from what little blood I have left in my body.
    Through my only window, I watch rain cascading down on the manicured landscape. The tiny droplets tint everything a calm gray. Healthy people scatter and dodge into covered walk ways, as if the rain is something to fear. I take deeper, futile breathes.
    “I promise, if I ever get out of here that I’ll never use an umbrella.”

    @winterbayne
    157 words
    http://winterbayne.wordpress.com/blog/

    • Now following this blog thanks to this hauntingly beautiful piece of fiction. Sometimes, it takes not having a certain type of freedom to realise how much you value it. I can really picture someone stuck in a hospital looking out on a garden scene like the one shown above and thinking those thoughts. Great job, Winter!

  14. Fountain of Beauty
    (154 words)

    In a fit of jealous rage, she trapped me here–turned me into an earthen statue, living but dead. It was not my fault Zeus loved me, I did nothing to entice him–but Hera is a jealous woman.

    I do not create the water, but it flows from my hand. I can influence it, poison it, imbue the drinker with special qualities. Now…what would infuriate Hera?

    Each maiden who drinks from my pool will be given a double portion of my beauty. The nymphs who make their home in my waters will be second in beauty only to Aphrodite herself.

    Zeus will be filled with all-consuming lust for these, my daughters. Hera will have no choice but to release me from my prison. But in case she gets any ideas to partake of my nectar herself, my spell will work in reverse on any immortal who drinks.

    Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

    @CharityPaschal2

  15. Ashes to Ashes
    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke or margaretlocke.com)
    154 words

    What have they done to you, my darling daughter?

    They’ve poisoned your waters in the name of progress. Paved over your prairies as proof of their power. The skies burn now not with the brilliant blue of untainted life-giving air, but with the smoke and chemicals of countless fires, churning, consuming, destroying all that they have been given.

    Oh, my child, what they have done.

    They raised me here. An homage to Mother Nature, they said. An homage to myself? Who are they kidding? Never has there been a more appropriate tribute. I am trapped, restrained, buried by the same ones who seek to revere me, staring forever into the distorted flow of my own tormented offspring.

    The pain is evident across my brow, the weight of infinite sadness. My lips purse in shame. My eyes bow in sorrow. How I long to break us free from their ruination.

    I am sorry, my child.

  16. The Earth Itself

    Once I walked the earth and made it green, but to it I was bound. When the people named me—Marakata, Brigid, Isis, Demeter, Ceres, Lono, Sara Mama, Inari Okami, Jaribo, and more—they shackled me to their whims and wishes.

    “Make it rain,” said the Hindus.

    “Stop the rain,” ordered the Celts.

    “Give us sun,” demanded the Greeks and Romans.

    “The sun is too much,” begged the Egyptians.

    “Enrich our crops,” pled the Polynesians.

    “Why did you spoil our crops?” asked the Inca, the Ainu, the Slavs.

    When all those people had occupied every haven I had known, they pushed me away, forgot me or called me myth. Some of my brothers and sisters did not like being replaced by new gods or no god, and they retreated. Only I remained because I was not just of the earth but the earth itself; in the forgetting I was no longer enslaved.

    And my blessing pours forth.

    @unspywriter (Maggie Duncan)
    157 words

  17. The Cleansing

    Gaia rose from the ground taking the form of a female composed of plants. She scooped up a handful of the water that was trickling through the artificial pond. Her eyes closed in concentration as she examined it. Her features twisted angrily. “Enough! For too long you have poisoned my very self, the air, the land, and the water! Today it ends!” She roared in a voice that shook the world, releasing her suppressed rage. Enormous waves raced across the oceans, scouring clean the shores. Tornados spiraled into existence, tearing and gouging paths of destruction. Sleeping volcanos awoke, spouting fire and ash. Mountains trembled, launching massive avalanches down their slopes. Rolling earthquakes raked the land, lifting and dropping random pieces. The screams of terror and pleas for mercy were music to her ears. When it was finished she examined the ravaged planet with satisfaction. Freedom! The virus called Humanity had been erased from her presence. Time to start anew.

    156 Words
    karnemily@yahoo.com

  18. “Welcome to Veridian” the voice said. ” Enjoy the botanical miracles.”

    The crew descended, marvelling at the greenery in this place, more astonishing than the legends of the vanished gardens of the Homeworld.

    “Everything here is alive,” the sign read, in their own language. “please stay on the path”

    They heard the sound of water moving, laughter. Young Harris rushed ahead, brushing aside the dripping branches. The rest followed through the tangled growth along the pathway, surrounded by walls of green.

    “Harris, come back!” the Captain called, but Harris paid no attention. The sound of water was louder, now. They could no longer see the pathway. Harris had vanished.

    There was a whisper in the garden, as if the vines were alive, something following in the moving green. When they came to the clearing, there was a fountain, splashing. A statue of a woman made of moss and leaves.

    The sound of laughter, but no one to be seen.

    @voimaoy
    158 words

  19. The Sorcerer’s Daughter
    John Mark Miller – 150 words
    @JohnMark_Miller

    The royal guards shriveled back as they entered the throne room. The dark magic of this place was known to scorch all who lingered.

    Kass squared her shoulders, unafraid. “Hello, Father.”

    The torchlight set his simmering face ablaze. But even in his anger, he offered his daughter a cursory kiss. “You are not to marry this peasant, Kass. He is beneath you.”

    “He has stolen my heart, Father. It cannot be undone.”

    His obsidian eyes were sorrowful, but determined. After a long moment, he broke her stubborn gaze. “Never underestimate the power of a sorcerer’s kiss, my darling,” he whispered.

    Already her ivory skin was darkening, crumbling away into common sod. “Wise words, Father. Remember them…always.”

    They later found the gnarled tree fashioned in her likeness. Now her beauty shone eternal, eyes forever closed in quiet submission. And in her palm lay an obsidian pebble, frozen in a silent scream.

  20. Elixir of Life
    140 words
    @TinmanDoneBadly

    The Earth Goddess took a sip, then let the rest of the water trickle softly back into the fountain.

    She shook her head in bewilderment. It still tasted lovely.

    She had filled the lakes with it, and the rivers, as her gift to Humankind. It was the perfect drink – sugar-free, odour-free, calorie-free, and free. As free as Freedom, in fact.

    Yet Humankind had spurned it. They drank small beer, though in large glasses. They drank wine, essentially fruit that someone had stood on. They drank milk. Dear God, thought the Goddess, they drank milk.

    They drank camomile to help them sleep and coffee to keep them awake.

    They drank suggestively-named cocktails.

    They had now moved on to even stranger drinks, like cranberry-flavoured whiskey, and cabbage-flavoured vodka, and Budweiser.

    Meanwhile they used her precious gift to wash their socks with.

  21. Trees Don’t Bleed

    First day on the job and I had to deal with the protesters right to freely assemble. Their handmade signs implied that I was a murderer, a slayer of leaf and bark. Their colorful tongues echoed that sentiment but with a bit more rancor.

    I stroked the weathered skin and glanced up at its umbrella of green. If a tree could be defined as regal, then this behemoth would certainly qualify. It seemed to kiss the clouds and eclipse the sun with its majestic reach. The patriarch of a forest that would soon become a concrete wonderland.

    The foreman lumbered over and spit a rivulet of tobacco juice at the beloved sequoia.

    “Hey, greenhorn, you going to make love to it or cut the damn thing down? Trees don’t bleed, boy.”

    As the teeth of the chainsaw sought its prey, I surveyed the empathetic do-gooders. Activists today but they’ll be customers soon, when those giant scissors cut the silky ribbon.

    Chris Milam @Blukris
    160 words

  22. Chia Goddess
    (160 Words) Second Entry

    “Earth Goddess” my sign reads but the flowers here have given me another name.

    “Ch-ch-ch-ch-chia!” they call.

    “In a few days you will be nothing but a grass-covered hill,” laughs the Peony.

    “You look like an overgrown Chia pet,” chortles the Dahlia.

    As the seeds begin to grow, I fear they are right—their taunts weaken me, and even my Chia grass withers. I will be but a barren hilltop—not even fit to grow grass.

    Deep inside, something stirs. Their barbed words no longer bind.

    I set my mind to my task. I enrich my soil daily. I drink in the water, the sun, and the nutrients available. More plants inhabit my soil—only a little Chia grass remains.

    When the botanical garden opens, people hurry past the Roses, Irises and Dahlias. The Lilies are admired but a moment.

    At my exhibit, people linger; they gaze on me with wonderment. I am now worthy of the name Earth Goddess.

    @CharityPaschal2

  23. THE LADY OF THE WOODS

    I’d been watching her for hours before she finally spoke to me. “You can come out.”

    Glad that the waiting was over I stepped from the shadows of the tree line and walked over to the pool in the centre of the clearing.

    “Why are you watching me,” she sighed.

    “I wanted to see you for myself,” I replied.

    And?”

    “You are indeed beautiful.” And she was. The lady of the woods, a creature of nature; skin of grass, hair of ivy and eyes like lily pads.

    She dipped her hand into the water. “Why are you here?”

    “I want to help you.”

    Her emerald eyes widened. “You can lift my curse?”

    “More than that,” I said. “I’ll give you vengeance against those that trapped you here.”

    The ground trembled as she stood, the earth becoming her body. She was majestic.

    I grinned. “But I need you to do something for me first.”

    153 words
    @BrianSCreek
    bscreek@blogspot.com

  24. Finding Peace
    by AJ Walker

    Water bubbles and plops, drips and drops out of buddha’s slender fingers, sound and scene serene, massaging my mind as only water can. Its laconic eyes watch my grateful acceptance as I discover inner calm.

    This buddha’s realm never fails me, however hard my day has been, or fearful I am of what’s to come, I am taken to a beautiful place, when my demons are temporarily driven out, my soul walks light and free of my body away from my struggles. But it’s always short-lived serenity.

    Drip.

    A breeze caresses my face and the forest looks on as the warm peace blooms from within.

    Plop.

    Out of my body now I see the blood pulse and flow down my wrist, a red ink river tracing over my hand. Life dripping away splashing its livid bloom into the pond.

    Splash.

    The water accepts me, I feel buddha’s arms wrap around me. Finally I can rest. The demons gone forever.

    160 words
    @zevonesque

  25. The Mother Goddess
    159 words
    @jujitsuelf

    Humans must be, to the great power which created us, the most tempestuous of infants.

    How many times must the mother Goddess look at us and sorrowfully shake her head? How have we abused the fabulous freedoms granted us? We have land, we live well but we never appreciate it.

    We fight amongst ourselves when we should seek peace. We squabble and destroy for the enjoyment of it. The earth we live on and the air we breathe are gifts, yet we take them for granted.

    This bounty can’t last forever. Sooner or later the Great Mother will see her beloved children for the spoiled brats we are. Her wrath will be as beautiful as her benevolence.

    She blessed us with the ability to communicate. But all we do is snarl at each other.

    Will I preach peace and love to my brothers and sisters? No. Who would listen? Perhaps in the end, we will deserve our Mother’s anger.

  26. Green Goddess.
    The Goddess waited, patient. Twenty-nine had arrived from the far reaches of the dying world. They were now free in her hidden enclave. She had summoned them by insinuating herself in their dreams, whispering of their new lives as wind through trees.
    The Goddess felt a rippling along her foliage, sensing the thirtieth and last arrival. Volk stumbled through the trees into the clearing and lurched to an astonished halt.
    “Welcome,” she sang.
    “What…is this place?”
    “The last refuge that hasn’t been destroyed by your fellow man.”
    “Why am I here?”
    “To join the few others who tried in vain to stop the destruction.”
    Volk sensed movement in the trees but was transfixed by the Goddess as she drifted toward him. She was a thousand shades of green in a human form. Her face was familiar. As she embraced him Volk saw the other familiar faces blended in green.
    She stepped back. Vines and leaves sprouted from Volk’s skin.

    @rfmaraz38
    159 Words

  27. The Unforgiven
    (160 words)

    The bedroom door bursts open. Marianne and her husband are rattled awake. The form of their ten year old stands in the doorway.
    ‘Where is she?’ says her somnambulant voice.
    ‘I’m here, Sweetie,’ says Marianne but without rising to comfort the child. Instead, she is wary.
    ‘Shh, now. Go back,’ her father says at room’s length.
    ‘Where is she?’ The child’s eyes are open but unseeing. ‘I am lost,’ she says before turning and shambling through the hallway.

    ‘I can’t take much more,’ says Marianne.
    ‘Our Counselor says it’s just a phase. She’ll settle. We need to believe him.’
    ‘I know. I just didn’t expect this…this… infernal suffering.’

    ‘It’s only been six months. She will begin to grow on the other side. She will understand how many our selfless act set free. Now, we must pray again to The Goddess of Earth that She will extinguish our daughter’s pain and grant The Peace that is promised to The Sacrificed.’

  28. Awakening (157 Words)

    The deep rumbling sends pebbles skittering as the hard ground begins to shake and a small fissure opens in the rocky soil. It widens as the rumbling grows to a crescendo. The woman’s head and shoulders emerge from the newly formed crater, lush green against the grey stones and brown earth.
    When she pulls her arms free, she tosses seeds into the air, and shoots of green begin to spring up through the earth. Saplings rise and turn to trees. She laughs and water begins to pour from a dried stone fountain.

    “Live again,” she says. She runs her fingers through the water and lets it pour through her palm.
    A single tear trickles down her face. It lands in the water with a tiny splash, and she watches the widening concentric circles with satisfaction.

    A phoenix rises in a flash of light.

    She nods. “Fly, my child. You are free. The age of man is over.”

  29. Beyond the Pool

    When Warren was naught but a tadpole, he asked Father what lay beyond the pool in which he was hatched.

    “One day, I will show you, but the waterfall is too dangerous for one your size.”

    But one day never came, for just as Warren was growing legs and shedding his tail, the goddess took Father for her own. So Warren stayed in the pool, though he came to be much too large to live in such a small space, and he was always alone.

    The goddess did not want Warren to be alone, however. She had needed Father for another purpose in another pool, but so too did Warren have a purpose. Which is how it came to be that one night, during the summer solstice, she took living form. Reaching into the pool with hands of moss and ivy, she lifted him from the pool and set him, still asleep, on his way into the world.

    158 words
    @drmagoo

  30. Wish Fulfilment

    The green goddess grants wishes to those she chooses, they say. Blessing believers visit the legendary garden shrine daily in their droves to test the theory. They cross her leafy palm with its freefall water flow with coin, hoping her lids will lift and she will smile on them as they kneel in supplication before her torso. Gaia, too, hopes her namesake will look kindly upon her as she whispers her wanting into the tresses cocked to one side. Seconds pass, with the queue long behind her. The frond fingers close upon the offering, empty on the opening; no fall to freedom here. The coin’s capture brings an intake of breath as the shrubbery shifts then settles, shape now clear to the eye. The leaves lie longer on the grass, with starker contrast at the crown.

    The green goddess grants wishes to those she chooses, yet chooses freely from those who approach her alike. Earth has called on her own.

    (160 words)

    @FallIntoFiction

  31. Freedom (156 words)

    Gaia rose up from the earth, the soil flowing up and channelling itself into her face, her chest and her limbs. One hand, dwarfing the nearby bandstand, reached down to pluck up the small uncapped plastic bottle she found up-ended in the flower bed, raising it up before the two beds of blue salvia fashioning themselves into her eyes. “A botanical miracle,” she raged. “In a bottle of shampoo? I think not!” Her arm arched out and the bottle disappeared, narrowly missing a crow as it flew out of sight.

    Angered beyond hope of being calmed, her ire grew, the lawns rippling as she drew more and more of the earth into her. The asphalt of the car-park buckled and cracked, the candy-yellow slabs of the walkers’ paths raining down as Mother Earth stood tall once more. Now towering above the town, she roared out loud. “Enough,” she thundered. “I demand my freedom!”

  32. “Freedom”

    Michael Seese
    158 words
    @MSeeseTweets

    Freedom.

    Fresh air. Green spaces. Flowing water.

    Freedom.

    A park teeming with life. Courting teenagers experiencing their first kiss. Twenty-somethings engaged in a spirited Frisbee football match. Young parents pushing babies in strollers, while their toddlers attempt to perfect the art of walking. Elderly couples sitting on a bench, still holding hands.

    Freedom.

    To experience the wonders and joys of the world. To live each day to its fullest. To simply be.

    Freedom.

    For me, a place where I could seek peace. Try to fight the noise. The static. The angry voices in my head.

    Freedom.

    Something I stole from too many people. Innocent people.

    Freedom.

    A liberty that—because of the violent nature of my crime—the state said I should never again experience. Ever.

    Freedom.

    Something I had never known in the nineteen desperate years of my life. But when the cocktail of pentothal, bromide, and potassium chloride began flowing into my vein, I found.

    At last.

    Freedom.

  33. How Does Your Garden Grow?
    160 words

    Once upon a time, there lived a little girl named Mary…or so the story goes.

    She was neither fair of face nor full of grace but these were trivial matters because her body was simply a container, designed to hold the love that sang beneath her skin…a love that she poured into her plants and they loved her in return.

    But this is no fairy-tale and there was no happy ending waiting for her in a castle that kissed the skies.

    One day the men that lived in the town decided that they would take her land for their own and when she fought back, they cut her down. They ravaged her body but they were fools, all they had done was shatter her shackles. With her death came freedom and she repaid their deeds in blood.

    Legend has it that her former vessel still lays there in her garden but be warned… it is not love that she bleeds.

  34. Chaos Theory
    160 Words
    Taryn Noelle Kloeden
    @tnkloeden

    “It just started….growing.” Adam glanced back towards the verdant behemoth. “First the hair, then the head… the botanist said it’s just plants, that the human mind sees faces everywhere. But this isn’t just my mind playing tricks, right?”

    “Techincally, everything we “see” is our mind playing tricks.” Dr. Keller smiled as the landscaper’s brow furrowed. “But, this is very real.”

    Adam stuffed his fists in the pockets of his cargo shorts. “Doc, I swear I can hear it…whispering. It moves too, when nobody’s looking.”

    “For now.”

    “What’re you gonna do?”

    Keller approached the enigma. “Talk to it.” Adam’s mouth gaped but the professor wasn’t deterred “Why are you here?”

    A blank green stare. Keller repeated the question.

    All at once, moss and lichen shifted. Sawdust puffed from her lips as a voice, or something rather like one, shook the garden.

    “In the beginning there was chaos. When I am free, to chaos all shall return.”

  35. The Ancient Seed
    (155 words)

    On Saturday morning’s I ate my bowl of Lucky Charms and watched cartoons. Then a simple song would call to my id. Invading lyrics would send me screaming down the hall in a sugar buzzed dysfunctional sock sliding frenzy.

    The song called its children. Cats, dogs, frogs, turtles, rams and rabbits paid homage. Garfield, Scooby, and Shaggy could not resist. One day, I swore an oath, I would respond.

    I had too.

    When I came of age and was considered a woman, I answered the song, “Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia.” Coating my hair and scalp with mud, the song rose from my deepest soul, “Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia, watch me grow.”

    The shaman called them ancient seed stock; only for the one who hears the song.

    The roots tickled. I felt an ancient eternal pleasure as the seeds and I became one. Oneness with creation came freely. I sang, “Ga-Ga-Ga-Gaia, watch me grow.”

    No one can separate the Earth from Herself.

  36. Protected

    “Ouch!” The water flees my startled hands.

    “Don’t drink that,” Gergi instructs, entirely unapologetic.

    “I’m thirsty.” I rub the stinging spot as the water continues its tantalizing trickle from a palm of sculpted greenery. “Besides, plants filter water.”

    Gergi plucks a leaf from the lady’s hair of vines and tosses it into the fountain. Seconds later, it shrivels, blackened.

    My disheartened legs give out, and I fall to a grass that doubtless hides its own mélange of murderous mysteries.

    Gergi ignores my well-deserved dramatics and pulls out her dagger.

    “Food?” I ask, still hopeful. Still stupid.

    “Get up,” Gergi murmurs, barely moving her lips. “Circle the statue.”

    I react instantly, stepping out of sight of newly opened eyes.

    Gergi smiles at me for the first time. “We’ve found it.”

    She launches at the face, blade slashing away the ivy curtain, until the gaze of spears propels her into the duplicitous oasis, slaughtering my savior for baring my freshly worthless freedom.

    (160 words; @AriaGlazki)

  37. M+J 4EVA

    Marty screamed.

    The world turned beneath him, threw him through the air, to land in the green-skimmed sludge of the Reflecting Pool. He thrashed for the sides, but found only gnarled boughs, flexing like tortured steel to lift him, cradle him, bring him choking to the light.

    The knife was still in his hand, but as ineffectual as a breeze against the ancient wood, or the timeless intelligence which possessed it as it rose from the soft, warm loam.

    Looking down at the boychild in her hand, little more than a passing cloud to her, she knew that she had no need of anger; In the time it took her mighty heart to beat, he would age and die and be dust.

    But then she saw the ugly heart-shaped wound he had carved in her flesh, the letters within, and she knew that one more heartbeat was one too many.

    She made a fist.

    And squeezed.

    And squeezed.

    And squeezed.

    160 Words
    @Karl_A_Russell

  38. The Gardeners
    152 words
    Evan Montegarde

    “So like I’m weed whacking near her and I swear the grass and weeds are crying, shouting, screaming.”

    Purcell smiled as he watched Chambers put his hot Stihl whacker on the ground next to him as he spoke, turning to look Purcell in the eyes.

    “I mean, I don’t want to hurt anyone man, anything, especially not her kids”, here Chambers pointed his sweaty shoulder toward the Earth Goddess who was looking especially pissed Purcell thought.

    Purcell laughed at his friend, “she ain’t mad at you, but you were growing ganja in her hair, we all know that. I understand free and easy, believe me, love that freedom and the Lion. But man, you whacked her hair into dreads bro!”

    Chambers looked offended, “well, she does look prettier now.”

    “Yeah bro, but be honest you skinned her to get the weed not groom her.”

    Chambers nodded, “OK, maybe that’s her problem today.”

  39. “The Despair of Mother Earth” by Laura Emmons (159 words)

    Mother Earth grew a corporeal presence for herself right out of the soil. She needed to observe this fracking operation personally. Dipping a moss-covered hand into the stream, she mused sadly at the water seeping through her fingers. Poisons floated in her palm, the result of radioactive minerals reaching the surface that should have never been brought out of the ground.

    She shook her head in despair, “Why did the Creator give humankind Free Will? They have used their gift for nothing but destruction.”

    She’d have to take matters into her own hands, so to speak, she thought shaking the rest of the polluted rivulets from her fingers. An earthquake followed by another wildfire should give them pause. Perhaps a few corporate oil executives would be caught in the inferno, and their minerals would be returned to her, as it should be.

    Afterward, the nyads, dryads and gnomes could do their work, restoring the area to its natural state.

  40. Clinging to the Shallows, Yearning for the Deep
    by Alissa Leonard
    (judges entry, just for fun)

    The large hand dipped into the pool. I darted away. That was close!

    I huddled by the waterfall; maybe she wouldn’t see me among the bubbles.

    Her hand dipped in again, dangerously close, the tip of her grass-covered finger brushed over my scales like algae.

    I swam to the bottom of the pool, staying as still as possible. That was my big mistake; I couldn’t see her surrounding me.

    She lifted me out of my pool; precious water fell over the edge. No! I’ll suffocate! I tried to jump over with it, but she had me trapped.

    “Let me go! I’ll die!”

    “Death brings forth new life. Trust me.”

    I flopped on her now damp hand, gasping for breath. “Please! I want to be free!” I begged, yearning for the safety and comfort of my pool.

    “And so you shall be.” Her breath blew over me like hot coals. I hopped once, opened my wings, and soared on her wind.

    @lissajean7
    160 words

  41. NEO

    K37-5477 approached K42-7772, both stars’ paths followed closely by astrophysicists Bill and Judy in separate parts of the world. The “K” stars as well as both scientists would soon collide in a once-in-a-lifetime fusion event.

    Bill’s and Judy’s names were accidentally scheduled for the same radio-telescope, and the “K” stars were slated for a direct hit. The scientists clashed in a flurry of files, discs, computers and heated language while fighting for private radio time to document the “K” incident.

    As Bill and Judy released their anger, they cooperated on the impending “K” project. In a spectacular array, the super nova emitted spectral green clouds of radioactive gases with clusters of blazing white zones. Eventually the expanding gases morphed into an arms upraised, human-like form rising from a bubbling stream.

    The science community named the neo nebula after the new Bill and Judy partnership: Free-Dome.

    WC = 145 title excluded

  42. A Conversation With A Goddess

    “Goddess, will I ever find love?”
    “Is that your greatest concern?”
    “Well, I suppose so, yes.”
    “Child, if you’re searching outside of yourself for it, no. You will not find love.”
    “Never?”
    “Not until you figure out where to look.”
    “Where do I look, then?”
    “Love is found within first.”
    “You sound like a Hallmark greeting card.”
    “Intelligent things can be found on Hallmark greeting cards.”
    “Goddess, will I ever find wisdom?”
    “Wisdom is found within, child.”
    “Wisdom and love?”
    “Yes, child.”
    “Goddess will I ever find peace?”
    “Peace is found…”
    “…within.”
    “Of course.”
    “And freedom too, I suppose?”
    “Freedom is a side effect of peace, child. Until one finds peace one will never find freedom.”
    “Goddess may I sit here in this garden with you awhile?”
    “Stay as long as you like, child. Stay until you find peace. Love. Wisdom. Freedom.”

      • This is interesting because the reader cannot really tell if this is internal or external dialog. Is the person really speaking to a Goddess or is she finding her own answers? This question is than answered through the story as it progresses. All answers are found within the self, making this a nice representation of self talk with the protagonist’s “internal goddess”. Very self empowering. I typically don’t care for cliches, however in this piece, cliche is the best representation and the most effective representation of the type of person who seeks answers externally. Cliche is often an easy cushion to fall back on, while all the “true” answers given, actually require work. This juxtaposition sets up a wonderful tension. Very well done.

  43. The Magic Carpet (160)
    @brett_milam

    This wasn’t the kinda thing Gibson normally did. Normally, he stayed insulated inside while his “friends” allowed alcohol to inundate their veins and ratchet their adrenal medulla.

    The John Hopkins University School of Medicine wasn’t going to come to him.

    But Clarice did. And for Gibson, she proved to be the unhinging he didn’t know he craved.

    She was the flower-in-the-hair whimsical type that seemed to float above the lush green carpeting of the forest that day.

    Or maybe that was the mushroom they’d munched on earlier.

    “Natural treats from Mother Earth, who are we to deny?” she had said. Like he could have.

    Within an hour, the shrooms hit his consciousness. Within two hours, Clarice was laughing at him for having a conversation about schizophrenia and genetics with a squirrel.

    After four hours, Gibson was climbing the largest oak tree in the forest, affectionately known as “Big Motherfucker.”

    Then he soared to the forest floor, thinking he’d sprouted wings.

  44. Aqua Omnium Florum
    [157 words]

    Leiania fled the woods, into the meadow. Never again would she join the revelry of the Festival of the Dryades. Never again feign merriment amidst their celebration of springtime freedom.

    Water trickled from a nearby rock face, pooling in a natural font: the legendary Fountain of Freedom. Cupping her hands, she lifted the cool water to her lips.

    The Anthousai woodsprites knew nothing of freedom, Leiania thought. She wanted the freedom of the Mortals: to grow up, fall in love, have children.

    Immediately she felt peaceful as a lotus-eater. Her outstretched hands turned a beautiful shade of green. She smiled at her sunny yellow reflection in the pool of water. Leiania planted her feet, wishing to root herself to this amazing place. Leiania felt just dandy.

    Her hair stood on end and grew white. A sudden gust of wind blew the fuzz off of her head, borne by the wind to seed her offspring across the meadow.

  45. Unusual Neutrino

    She folds in her arms and bends down her head. The air burns her cheeks. Thirty seconds to impact.

    She parts the sea, boiling the water. Whales and sharks wash up together on the beaches.

    The ocean floor cracks apart. She pushes aside the coral reefs, then the Earth’s crust and the mantle, clawing toward the core.

    Molten rock blinds her. She cannot breathe. Solid granite cools around her body, pressing in on her lungs.

    She swims upward but her arms grow heavy and useless. The surface seems so distant.

    With the last of her strength she breaks free through the soft clay, tearing at soil with long fingers. She stops. She can see the sky. Her body remains encased in the dirt. Her journey has ended, for now.

    She reaches for a drink of water. Microbes cling to her hair, some billions of years old, some from distant planets, some from deep below. All alive.

    156 words w/o title
    @betsystreeter

      • Brilliant use of senses that writers often overlook. When you use senses in this way, the reader almost becomes the protagonist; feeling, seeing, hearing, smelling, or tasting what he/she does. Way to bring us into your character!

  46. Modest Earth Goddess
    @SVBookman – 159 Words

    Herbert looked at the floral representation of the Earth goddess. She was beautiful, full, and, well, boring. The Eastern seaboard floral exhibit cabinet was coming tomorrow specifically to see this presentation and Herbert thought it needed something. His dirt-caked fingers lifted his hat and scratched his balding head. He smiled. He knew just what to do. They all said the Earth goddess was goddess of the Harvest, full-figured and sensual. He would show them that side of her.

    Herbert took his shovel and decided that he would need to be careful to keep the roundness of both breasts if he was going to dig out the front of the display. Down about three feet should do it. He raised the tool in the air and his face hit the dirt. Something had flipped him in the back of the head! He looked at the female plant figure. He thought she had been smiling before. He decided to go home early.

  47. She Walks in Beauty
    (160)

    The gardener knelt beside the fountain, lazily skimming the water with her fingertips. Leaf green eyes contemplated the blank canvas of earth she’d chosen to work with today. With the freedom to create whatever she wanted, her mind teemed with possibilities, freezing her with momentary indecision.

    She closed her eyes, drew a breath, and stilled her thoughts. A heartbeat passed and an idea coalesced. With a gentle smile, she breathed out in one long, steady exhalation. Golden grains of pollen danced before her, landing in a soft blanket over the barren land. Green shoots sprouted as the fertile soil eagerly accepted the goddess’ gift. Trees shot up at astounding rates and flowers bloomed in a riot of color, mimicking those that adorned her own hair.

    Tilting her head, she flicked water off her fingers, the drops transforming into bees in midair to help the new garden continue to flourish once she moved on.

    In a flurry of leaves, she vanished.

  48. SHE TURNS

    Over eons she turned in her sleep, folding life and death away inside of her. Stored energy to burn for a thousand years. They pushed too deep in their greed.

    Craving freedom from this pestilence, she put the love of green in a few. Sent nightmares: burning forests, smothered birds, gasping fish, tumors, floods.

    One shaped her skin in their own image, so they could see self in it, their eternal obsession. She made herself small, occupied the effigy, considered the tiny flow of water. All they saw: “That’s pretty.”

    Too many lured by the glamour of apocalypse.

    She let the solar current tear away the magnetic field and ozone protecting her, and them. So many tiny screams! Their last aurora flowed down onto them like a green waterfall. They burned away, ashes dancing, the atmosphere gone.

    She turns again in her sleep and smiles.

  49. Omaggio
    (150 words)

    A man walks into the empty park carrying his guitar. His walk is measured with head downcast. Sitting at a bench, he places an old pork pie hat on the ground.

    He tunes the inexpensive guitar. Its neck smoothed by years of fingering and the face worn by finger nails bouncing on the wood.

    Not strumming or picking, he begins to play. Fingers dance over the strings. Melodies escape the bending strings to find freedom. It’s contagious.

    Keeping time, the creek sings rhythm; the wind blows harmony. The birds join in chorus. Seizing the moment, creation begins to dance with joy.

    The musician finishes; fingers flying a presto. Then silence, joy is expressed in exhaustion. The player shakes the pork pie and finds it empty.

    “You cats ain’t no tippas but sho’ have a good time.” The musician laughs. The blind man leaves in measured steps with head downcast, smiling.

  50. Counter Mosaicullture
    (143 words)
    @mishmhem

    She sat, next to the reflecting pool, her expression one of serenity as the water flowed through her hand and back into the pool. They had given him the basic layout and the plants the design required, but they had given him room to experiment with the greenery to come up with the most striking image possible.

    Unlike the topiaries that surrounded her, she was a mosaic work of art. He had used more than twenty-seven different plants to ‘paint’ her.

    He had just finished carefully trimming the greens and grooming the plants that made up her hair, when he noticed the additional ‘greenery’ someone had slipped in.

    He bowed his head and sobbed, knowing the police would have to confiscate her shoulder and most of her bangs.

    At least he’d be able to salvage most of her— until dandelion season hit.

  51. The Other World

    “I’m insane,” thinks Kitpu. He walks gardens. Parents follow.
    Sunlight and wind gently assault leaves. He hears La Prima Volta on loudspeakers. Everything moving, finds its place within notes.
    Mother “ah’s” over garden delights; gigantic clover frogs with glass eyes.
    Mother’s touch shoots lightening through him.
    He bellows.
    She jumps back.
    Kitpu crouches, sways -looks skyward.
    Enormous butterflies’ wings made of violets threaten to crush him. Moons sit atop branchless trees. Forget-me-not unicorns’ hooves thunder.
    Thunder stops when father arrives.
    Arms squeeze around. Earplugs enter -hands go over eyes.
    Father’s voice, “Remember stories of giants? There’s one here. She has water for you.”
    Music is made when he moves hands through water!
    He pulls free.
    The giant’s green hair, cascades to the ground. Arms reaching from the earth. In her hand -the power of the river.
    She drops this power into fountains. He runs; thrusts hands through gathered rains.
    Mother asks father, “When should we tell him he has Autism?”

  52. The Princess and the Sea
    Word Count: 141

    Lauren flipped through her favorite storybook for the 10th time while lying in bed. The pages were dog-eared on her favorite pictures. The “The Earth Princess” was her favorite, her long green hair made of leaves and winding vines, and the river flowing from her open palm that saved the enchanted forest from drought. A long crack ran through the book’s spine where the page was. Lauren’s mother flicked the lights twice while the girl looked at the page.

    “Time for bed.” And the light went out.

    But in the dark she imagined the Earth Princess opening her palm to let the water rush forth and carry her tiny bed out of the house and down the street, until she reached the sea. Once the tiny house was out of sight, she would anchor her raft-bed and swim with unbroken legs.

  53. The Love For Mother Nature Was Gone

    “Well, that’s not good.”

    “This is far beyond ‘not good’ sister.”

    The Water Goddess glanced over at Air momentarily. “How was I to know what would happen?”

    “Usually the one casting the enchantment knows what will come of it.”

    Water studied the fountain that was Mother Nature minutes earlier. She looked caught up in a moment with the nature around her, eyes closed, serene and happy. Water stared at her mother and tried to feel something: remorse, sadness, anything. Only reckless abandon filled her and a relief that calmed the oceans.

    “Where are you going?” Air turned to watch her sister walk away.

    “Wherever I want,” Water replied. “I can do whatever and see whomever I want now. Mother Nature no longer has control over me or you or any of us.”

    “But Father-”

    “Father is far too busy flirting with the Moon. He will do nothing. Float along sister, there is nothing for you here anymore.”

    155 Words
    @CaitlinStatus

  54. Always Watching
    160 words
    @chinchinunicorn

    There are some things about him that are different. There always is. His hair is not as yellow. His cheekbones are not as high. But that smile and those eyes…those are the same. Even after all these years, countless lives, appearing as young and old, he is still able to leave my insides fluttering. My mother called them nerves. I called them love.

    He stops. His beauty has me silently begging for my freedom. “She looks sad.”

    “She would be. Lost love and everything.” I know that voice. She is just as powerful now as she was then.

    “Is that what it says?” The female—if that is what you would call her—hums. “I want to rescue her, free her.”

    “Love her” is what I wish he would say.

    That laugh, the one I heard just before my green enslavement, haunts me. “In another life, I imagine you would.”

    In my day, we would call her a witch.

  55. [Flora’s Gift]

    Lana slid the crisp paper across the patio table. “Just sign them.”

    “You don’t want this.” Joe stared down at the obnoxious logo: Burger, Smythe, and Villay, attorneys-at-law.

    “Why not? You left me a long time ago. All you want is that garden of yours and that silly bush of a mistress.”

    Joe ground his teeth together, but he couldn’t stop his gaze from sliding to Flora. To her lush and lifelike profile, the varying shades of green he’d chosen so meticulously. Ferns, coleus, and creeping phlox formed her perfect contours. He’d made a particular point of making her face as serene and gentle as possible. When he looked back at Lana and her all-too-familiar scowl, he sighed and picked up the pen.

    A green blur swept across his field of vision. Lana was gone. Only a ripple of water, and a few bubbles disturbed the peace. Whistling a happy tune, he strolled inside to find the insurance policy.

    WC 159 @MystiParker

  56. Reckoning
    Ndoto melded with the sweet, shaded waters of the forest river and emerged. Grief roiled throughout her core, making it difficult to return to human form. Struggling, she settled for torso, jostling for calm. Dripping but stable, Ndoto absently sifted the river, here in their new home, The Realm.
    A towering elm behind her swayed, then uprooted, lumbering towards her. A leaf-clustered branch touched her shoulder, outlining her shifting profile with a familiar scent of flora and moss. Upendo.
    “Water,” Upendo transformed a man, creating an explosion of gold-amber leaves around them. “No regret. Freedom now.” He loosened a broken chain from his wrist.
    A cyclone appeared across the bank, furious and churning.
    “Wind, cease.” Upendo commanded. A woman, Furaha, materialized, arms folded.
    “What of the others?” she demanded. “In the fields?”
    “They perished with the mansion,” Ndoto answered. Her tears of rain filled the forest. “I couldn’t save all.”
    “They would have preferred freedom in death,” Upendo said.

  57. Ivy’s passion doesn’t rage through her, like you might think it would. It is a low simmer, a slow growth that begins deep within, establishing roots and planning for the future. Slowly, very slowly, it breaks the surface, erupting into the world first with a small peek, feeling out its surroundings, searching for that which might nourish it. Finding warmth and light, her ardor shoots out in multiple directions, reaching, always reaching. She bides her time, saving up her energy and strengthening her foundations until her desire erupts, no longer able to be contained, in a variegated display worthy of the deity she longs to impress. Love pours from her fingertips, flowing back to that dark core from which she draws nourishment, giving back to that which gave her life, prompted her growth into the beautiful show you now see before, bringing joy and happiness to the world around her.

    150 words
    @rebeccabarray

  58. With apologies to the bard
    (153 words)
    @mishmhem

    Topiary or not to parry
    That is the questions?
    Whether ‘tis nobler to suffer the stains and arrowroots
    Of outrageous plantings
    Or to form arms out of unusual foliage
    And by adding them, clog the water feature
    Will we live in a garden of possibilities
    Or realize that freedom comes with
    12-12-12 fertilizer.
    To weed, to trim…
    Perhaps to prune
    And in that pruning free ourselves
    From this perpetual greenery.
    For when we shed this mortal verge
    And all its mottled greenery
    Shall we call ourselves greens men
    Or shall we prune no more?
    Do we fear the coming of the tide
    That someone will inevitably place in the fountain
    Or shall we wait and watch the jello fiend
    Who lies in wait
    Behind the ghillie suit
    Of topiary rage.
    What shall become of us
    When the dandelions of spring come early
    And we are left free to trim the hedge?

  59. Reunion

    First it was that contest to win my hand. I was the strongest one in the family, and Father wanted to assure that I married someone worthy of that strength. When the princely stranger lifted that special Shiva’s bow, I fell for his blue skin and kind eyes. Our happiness was short lived. We were exiled by his stepmother. The life in the forest was harsh but filled with love until I was abducted by that Dark Southern Monster.
    After a long war, my prince freed me and I came home. But the town rejected me as a fallen woman. I walked through fire to prove my innocence. But my prince was their King, and I had to be exiled again, alone this time with the twin boys kicking in my belly.
    The boys are young men now, united with their father, my prince.
    The fountains of tears would just not do. I am reuniting with my Mother Earth.

    159 words
    @needanidplease
    Judge’s entry. – Hindu Epic Ramayana in 159 word for your reading pleasure Rebekah.
    Last minute entry to make the record. 🙂

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