Red Dress Club – A New Road

You can see the prompt from Write on Edge and submit your own by clicking the image below.

I’d also like to mention – I mean no disrespect by using the word Gypsy.  But not using it would kind of take away any level of authenticity from my MC.  After all… what farm boy ‘way back when’ would have known that ‘they prefer Romani’?
  Sam stumbled down the rutted road, shaking in the cold night wind off the plains.

Icy fingers clutched tight at the thin cloth of his coat.  Teeth chattering, he looked longingly back down the road, his entire world out of sight.

The girls would be snug in bed, he knew, their dolls tucked under their arms.  Who’d take care of them now?

He scrubbed at the tears coursing down his cheek and steeled himself.

No going back.  Pa’d always done right by the girls, at least.  They’d be fine.

Sam blew on his hands and broke into a clumsy jog, pain stabbing him with each jarring step.

The moon was nearly set when he saw the fire.  Exhausted and aching, he didn’t try to hide.  They could be murderers as long as they let him die by the fire.

He passed a tree strung up with charms, and even in the thin moonlight, the wagon was brightly coloured and intricately patterned.  Gypsies.

Thieves and murderers, the lot of them, his memory growled in his father’s voice, fetch my gun, boy, don’t dawdle.

Sam shook his head.  Pa’s opinion of good and bad wasn’t very trustworthy.

A branch snapped under his foot and the murmur of conversation around the fire died. One man called out cheerfully,”Ye’re late, lad – what took ye?”

The others around the fire laughed as though the man had made a joke.  Sam sidled forward and smiled cautiously.

“I-you-um…” he stared, wide-eyed, at the motley group and swallowed. “Wha’?”

“She told us to keep dinner.”  a hulking man leaned forward, a wicked scar cutting his face in two, gold teeth gleaming with fire.

A boy about his own age grinned less ominously and added, “Yeah, Shuv’ni shoulda said t’make ye breakfast!”  He nudged the girl beside him, who snorted sourly.

“What do you expect, me reading in a moving wagon?”

Sam blinked at that – Readin’s fer the rich, Pa said.  But what did reading have to do with predicting his arrival?  Magic, his imagination hissed.  He shuddered.

“Come closer, boy, warm ye’self,” an ancient woman with bright birdlike eyes commanded from her rocking chair.

Sam  stepped forward, blushing at the Gypsies’ gasps of dismay.  A woman made a low pained noise, like a kicked dog.  He had a good idea of what he looked like.  Pa never bothered avoiding the face.

The old woman pursed her lips disapprovingly, “Shuv’ni didn’t warn o’ that neither.”

The girl darted forward, grabbing him by the face.  She prodded him everywhere it hurt, making him yelp.

“I need to read the bones,” she muttered, turning away.  Before she disappeared into the wagon she added, “By the by, your ribs’r cracked.  Gran’ll do for ye”

Gran rolled her eyes and said, “Come sit by me, boy.”

“Why… why are you all being so nice?”

The gold-toothed man laughed, tugging a woman out of the shadows.  “We do right by family, don’t we, luv?”

Sam gaped as a ghost from his memories stepped into the firelight.  Wordlessly, the woman hugged him tight.

“Ma?”

This is a pastel and ink drawing by my sister, Doodle. You can see more of her work by clicking the image (it’ll take you to her DeviantArt page). She also blogs over at DrawninandQuartered. I do love having an in-house artist for my stories!

Hearth and Home


This week’s word from Trifecta is

HOME (noun)

1 a : one’s place of residence : domicile b : house

2: the social unit formed by a family living together

3 a : a familiar or usual setting : congenial environment; also :the focus of one’s domestic attention <home is where the heart is>b : habitat

Head over to Trifecta to submit your own response or to read other peoples’ takes on the word.

This is a continuation from last week, which should hopefully at least half-answer the question that arose from the ending of the piece titled Ice Breaker.  If you’re interested in reading the whole story (so far), check it out under the Fiction tab above, the story’s title is Firefly.

The picture was taken by Miras46, whose photobucket page you can find HERE.  I really love the colours in this photograph.  It’s such a serene and lovely scene.

nature Pictures, Images and Photos

Isbritare, I name you.  The Elemental grinned, and the flames rose up.

Rachel thrashed awake with a gasp, the smell of smoke strong in her nose.  Just a dream.  She hugged herself tight, reassured at the smooth, unburned skin under her palms.

She padded barefoot to the kitchen.  It was the only part of this house that felt like home, the smell of burnt wood and baked bread lingering even when the fire was banked down to embers for the night.

The cold slate floor made her shiver.  Partly to reassure herself that the burns of her vision were impossible, she slipped a hand in amongst the embers within the banked fire, letting some of its heat slip into her.

She jumped in surprise when a hand was laid gently on her shoulder.  Her Aunt Miriam smiled down at her.

“Once, I would have considered just that enough to prove that someone had a strong touch of fire within.”

Rachel shrugged uncomfortably, stepping away from the fire.

“Tea?”

“Um… sure.”

She tucked herself into a kitchen chair as her aunt bustled quietly about the kitchen.  In a surprisingly short time, she was pulling the kettle from the stove.  Their eyes meet over the tea-pot, and Miriam blushed.

She flicked her fingers dismissively and said, “I’ve got a bit of a knack for boiling water… not much use, apart from making tea, but it serves me well enough.”

Rachel said nothing, loading her tea with sugar and milk to make it more bearable.  Miriam only squeezed a bit of lemon in hers, holding the steaming cup up to inhale deeply.  It seemed to calm her.

“Rachel… I don’t know exactly what happened at the fire last night – I mean, you were brilliant, of course, but it seemed something went not quite as you expected.” She took a deep breath, and went on.  “What I mean to say is, if you need someone to talk to, I’m always here for you.”

Alarmed by the Park

I’m beginning to suspect that my park – my beloved close-to-walk-to park, with its brand-new dog-off-leash area – is not the greatest place to go… at most hours of the day, and all hours of the night.  These are things that were there in the summer, when the sun wasn’t setting until 10 pm, and it was bright out well before I emerged to walk the dog in the morning.  But somehow, more ominous when it’s black-out between 5pm and 7am.

It might be the gang-related graffiti that has cropped up recently.  A question I would love to ask the guys from gang X … is my park some kind of boundary line?  I know that on one side of the creek is Toronto, and the other side is Mississauga… is that your gang-line too?  Also… did you notice that the theoretical gang Y hasn’t been defiling my park with un-artistic and unimaginative graffiti?  Dear Gang Y – you could totally ‘show Gang X who’s boss’ by going out and scrubbing all their spray-paint away.  That’d learn ‘em.

It might be the parkers.  They’re even out in the morning!  Why are you in the parking lot of the dog park at 6 in the morning if you don’t have a dog?  I barely come to the dog park at 6 in the morning, and I have a dog.  Why do you just sit there in your car for a bit and then drive away?  And, to that other guy, why did you keep getting out and wandering through the parking lot?  My car’s locked, by the way.  If you feel the urge to park, at least go to one of the three other parking lots… they’re less in-use.  I’ve been told two possibilities for these lurkers.

One, that there are drugs involved.  I have trouble believing that anyone’s out at 6am hunting for a dealer in an empty park.  They’re all sleeping off the previous all-night-bender, aren’t they?  But maybe that’s what they want me to believe.  However, I do acknowledge that drugs are a good explanation for the late evening parking-lot lurkers.

I like PDA as much as this guy likes green eggs and ham. So, would you not, could you not PDA? Especially not in my park.

The other is rather offensive, and pretty much everyone that suggests this option uses crude and homophobic language.  However, my non-homophobic dad confirmed that this is one of the reputations my park has.  In the least crude way possible… apparently this park in particular is a place where gay guys go to pick upIf there’s hanky panky going on in the park, I doubt it’s limited to boys who like boys.  But at 6 am?  Doubtful.  Also, go to a bar or a coffee shop, or gym or class of some sort to meet people.  You deserve to meet someone who isn’t lurking in a dark parking lot… and then go somewhere more private than a big dark wooded area to be intimate.  And by more private, I mean less sketchy.  There are gangs and drugs there, you know.  Also, I don’t like PDA ever – not in a park or in the dark or in a car or in a bar, I do not like PDA at all.

It might be the late-night-walkers – and I don’t mean the people with dogs.  I realize it’s silly, but if you’re out in the park early in the pitch-black morning, or late in the pitch-black evening, and you don’t have a dog… or fall clearly into the ‘I exercise no matter what the weather/season/hour’ categoryI assume you’re sketchy or at least a bit deranged.  Also, why did you slow down?  Change direction? Walk directly into the dark woods not-on-a-path?  I heard a terrible story from a fellow dog owner recently – a friend of his was out walking one evening with her two malamutes, and she got attacked in the woods.  She’s fine… her dogs killed the guy, though.  Just a warning to any sketchy people who might read my blog – don’t mess with people walking their dogs.  I don’t know how Gwynn would react to an attacker (and am doing my best to ensure that I never find out – safety first!), but he is my biggest fan, and he bit a 2” oak dowel in half with ease.

It might be the campsites.  There isn’t camping in the park.  If I find your tent/shanty/lean-to, I will call the police.  I do understand that it’s likely that you are a homeless person, and I feel for you.  But you’re making my park scary.  Go to this link (free library internet!), the city will help you, but first you need to seek that help out.  Lurking in the woods makes me think you’re more interested in taking than asking for.

It might be the coyotes.  I’ve actually seen some this fall – the first time I’ve ever seen coyotes in the area.  And, while they are chickens when outnumbered, I’ve heard a good number of stories about them luring unsuspecting dogs into the woods where the rest of their gang is waiting.

Gwynn (and Sadie, when she joins us) has a light on his collar.  I have my headlamp(note – animal eyes glow bright in both red and white lights… the purpose of the headlamp is to let me see if there are animals other than my dog(s) in the area that might pose a danger… and to find poops in the dark.) and cell phone and a truncheon-like big metal flashlight (whose sole purpose is, yes, to bludgeon a theoretical attacker.), and a whistle.  And I make as many of my evening walks as possible with a buddy or two, using guilt, bribery and outright begging to get someone to go with me into the woods.  I would rather avoid going to parks in the dark, but the reduced daylight doesn’t reduce the length of time Gwynn needs to be walked (preferably with a bit of off-leash running around), much as I sometimes wish it would.

What do you do to keep you and your dog safe on your walks?  Do you go dogless into dark parks?  If you’re one of the people who randomly parks in the park… why?