Saturday, February 1, 2020

Under the Ashes

The two men arrived the same morning the world froze.

She let them into her cabin, but ignored the way their cold bones leaned towards her fire. “Why are you here?” She already knew—the leader of their madness had turned tail, leaving them to feed on old lies and new mountains of snow—but she wanted to make sure that they knew it too.

The younger man tried to hold her gaze and failed. “We’ve no place to go,” he said. “And we’re hungry. I don’t know these lands. And the storm’s… Please, ma’am, you don’t have to help me. But my grandfather, he’s… he’s unwell.”

She watched the old man. They had been neighbors since before the cancer took her grandmother. She had never learned his first name. But the blue chilling his stare was burned into her memory’s eye on the night he paid two kids to set fire to her grandmother’s garden. She could still taste the smoke, hear the screams ripping out of her throat, feel heat biting into the skin of her hands. Anger still twisted in her gut, but she wasn’t a heartless beast. “I don’t have much—”

“What did I tell you?” the old man said to his grandson. “This kind of people—”

She continued talking as if his spew hadn’t envenomed the air. “But I have enough to get us through winter. If we are careful.” 

“Just tell me what to do,” the young man said to her. “I’m strong. I know how to listen.”

Lips pursed, the old man walked to stand by her fire. 

She let him. But when she saw him eying her grandmother’s iron rocking chair—the only thing that had survived the burning of the garden—she said, “No. You sit on the floor. Or you can walk outside to find a spot that suits you. There is plenty of room under the snow, under the ashes.”

 
photo by Craig Tidball - on Unsplash



47 comments:

  1. Oooooooh, I feel like punching something ... or someone. lol

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    1. I would be fibbing if I said that I didn't completely understand your punching needs.

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  2. I hope they get through the winter by eating the old man.

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    1. I think I just saw Doctor Lecter reach for "some fava beans and a nice Chianti."

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  3. That old man will never change, better that he sleeps outside unless he supplies her with firewood every day; meanwhile the boy can stay with her!

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  4. Masterly conveying of back story as well as present narrative ... and now I urgently want all the ensuing chapters!

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    1. Thank you, Rosemary. You might get your wish soon.

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  5. old lies and new mountains of snow! Love that..and nice close too!

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  6. Most responsible will be gone to warmer climate. The little ones who waved the signs can't afford to go but maybe next season.
    ..

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    1. I wonder what would happen when the world run out of space in warmer or better climate.

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  7. Oh I was hooked Great storytelling. "There is plenty of room under the snow, under the ashes.” That's clear language He will understand that one

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  8. I love the way you dived straight into the story, Magaly, and give us the background sparsely and effectively with ‘cold bones leaned towards her fire’ and ‘leaving them to feed on old lies and new mountains of snow’, and the hint of past wrongs, especially in the sensually palpable: ‘She could still taste the smoke, hear the screams ripping out of her throat, feel heat biting into the skin of her hands.’ I’m so glad she stood firm and protected her grandmother’s only surviving possession.

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    1. If we don't hold on to what matters to us and to those we love, we'd probably end up losing everything.

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  9. Such a great atmosphere and sense of tension - great flash!

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  10. This had me growling first thing in the morning. Instant hackles. Great story.

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  11. This fits so well a quote i came across recently
    "some people open our hearts
    some people open our purses
    some people open our eyes"
    Happy Sunday

    much love...

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  12. Oh! What can happen when we let someone in. Stay guarded but with the door ajar. Neat flash story.

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  13. She sounds like a force to reckon with!💝 I love that she stood firm on her decision of protecting her grandmother’s iron rocking chair and how she handled the situation. Happiest of Sundays to you, gorgeous!😘🍹

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  14. After setting fire to her grandmother’s garden, I say she has a big heart. I wouldn't let the old man near my hut, let alone in. I do feel for his grandson, though. A well executed story with great tension.

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    1. I don't think that I would've allowed him in either.

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  15. I say let the old man sit in the burned garden, but there may be hope for the grandson! Intriguing write captures us with "the day the world froze".

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  16. This piece really articulates a mood I've been feeling down to my core for months. It is both uncompromisingly kind and bluntly honest. It's not often that I see both sides well and healthily expressed in one piece. I thank you for writing it. I imagine it will be on my mind a lot in the coming months ahead.

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    1. I hope it does really good thing, while it dances in your mind.

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  17. I like the characters you present to us - different aspects of humanity. It's good that neither the woman nor the grandson are like the old man. There is hope.

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  18. Maybe more of the story is "under the ashes?" I'm wanting more to this to answer "what next." Also, the picture is fitting of the bleakness of the story. Well done and I'm eager for more, Magaly.

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  19. Wow...powerful words and story.
    blessings
    ~*~

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  20. Love this scene. Chilled me too and I'm glad for the one line she drew.

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  21. Oooohh...I want to hit, bite something. I know the old man. He has walked through my life. Your ending is perfect. Love this powerful piece!

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  22. Ah, but she has heart, and possibly forgiveness. That's what really counts.

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