Drabble Lab 8: Solstice
Another Wednesday, another drabble lab! Thank you to last round’s participants! Here are some highlights and the winner:
Coelecanth’s is very timely, what with the western US gearing up for wildfire season in a big way.
Stop, just stop, deep breaths and go through it.
Food and water for a couple of days.
Radio and batteries.
Change of clothes. “Huh.” She packed my wedding tie, nice.
Wool blankets. We are so fucked if we have to hide under those. Don’t think about it.
Box of documents. Passports? Yes.
“Dammit!” The photos! Where are they?
In those frenzied fifteen minutes of packing the cancerous orange glow from the burning forest had spread to cover half the sky.
Fuck it, it can all burn.
“Honey! Get Em in the car, we’re out of time…”
Scurvygirl’s used pronouns to great effect. “It” depersonalizes the victim (presumably humanity). “We” instead of “I” depersonalizes the swarm as well.
The meat was running away from us. It would soon tire and we would devour exhausted, defeated meat. We would gobble it down to bones. And we knew it would not last. But there would be other planets, other feasts. In the midst of the feeding, we couldn’t stop to plan the next event. We weren’t planners; we were doers. We paused in a disgruntled ball of buzzing anger as the meat disappeared into a stone box. We could sense its false sense of security. We buzzed louder, flew inside the hidden gap, the meat surrounded by stone and us.
And the winner is this one by Seelix, timely because it is time for summer camp, and what great imagery:
Squirming tadpoles, darting to shadows. Tiny minnows, flashing their sides. Crayfish, shooting backwards, away. A tiny water snake, slipping from her sunning perch, taking refuge among the reeds.
The arrival of the summer campers always set off a rush of motion in the creek, of animals fleeing perceived predators. For that, I always felt a bit sad. But the motion of the animals was nothing compared to the motion of the kids’ brains, as the creek’s inhabitants found places in their neurons, the crayfish settling in among dendrites, the minnows darting through axons, the snake sunning herself between their ears.
Here’s the illustration, by Jill!
The theme for the next round is solstice. Happy writing!
Yay, Seelix’s was easily my favorite story for the frenzy round. And also I really liked the approach that Coelecanth took. Frenzy was a tough topic, I thought, but Solstice seems like it will be an even bigger challenge (for me, anyway). Definitely looking forward to reading everyone’s stories!
Pitching one in so that you guys won’t feel lonely:
“Sunset. 11pm,” were the only words on the card. But it was written in /her/ handwriting. Handwriting he knew better than his own after all these years of living by letters, waiting for them as they journeyed back from exotic, generally warmer, climes.
Usually, the notes were chatty. Full of pictures. Stories. At the very least, full sentences. This one was a code, an invitation perhaps, but how was he supposed to interpret it? Sunset? The solstice was in two days’ time; there wouldn’t be sunset for weeks.
It hit him. He packed his bag, started driving. South, towards sunset.
Hey, that’s mine! Beautiful painting, Jill!
We know the egg won’t stand on its end. At least not any more than usual.
We know that planetary alignments won’t tear apart the earth apart.
We know the earth isn’t any closer to the sun than usual.
We know that fertility isn’t granted through solstice sacrifice.
We know the darkness hasn’t been fought back, once again, through rituals, spells and piety.
We don’t dance around Stonehenge or to the sun. We aren’t feasting Epona or St John. But still, lying under the full moon, next to a friend, after the longest day of the year, there is magic.
The night before the solstice he retrieved the sleeping bag from the attic and took it into the back yard. It was warm enough, now, that he could sleep in the open air. He planned to spend every last moment of tomorrow’s daytime outside, in the sun. He took out the canteen he had found with the hiking equipment and filled it from the kitchen sink. He took a long drink from it, then topped it up again before replacing the cap. He imagined himself similarly, all topped up with sunlight before starting the long hike across another winter season.
Hesitating, she wrote him of a world he might remember, the fading flowers and embarrassment of green. Of perfect kickball weather, five degrees short of swim season. Of dogs bounding down the sidewalk and the steamy tempo in the bars. Of quiet rains that came at night, blurring the streetscapes in her windows. So cruel it seemed – rubbing his face in the sand of a distant desert, surrounded by strangers and unfamiliar taboos and his unhappy thoughts that scared her so. After six months, which world would be more real? Still, she knew, strange roads are opened on the solstice.
The sun had not traveled so far in its lifetime. Each moment, a little further out, but where was it going? It had heard whispers from its little blue shadow saying the journey was the thing. Sometimes the sun would fart in the general direction of the little blue pest, but sometimes it would misdirect those outbursts entirely. The sun shifted its thoughts to the planet’s surface. Somewhere, on the little blue pest, someone was marking a day off the calendar, thinking about nights getting longer, the sun seeming to push itself away, like punishment. The sun vented a sigh.
“Sis!” Her brother grabbed her hand and dragged her away from the design she had been making in the dirt. “Come see.” She had to run to keep up with his stride. He dragged her over to the well. His voice became deeper, as it did when he wanted to sound important. “Once a year, the sun shines all the way to the bottom.” He elbowed through the other children so she could squeeze in front of him. On tiptoe she cleared the well’s rim, and vertigo washed over her as she peered down into the heart of the earth.
I’ve chosen a winner!
Anything after this can still be featured in the post, but you won’t win an illustration.