Heaven Help the Children…

Hi all. I am posting to my WP blog today because many of you that follow me have difficulty commenting or connecting with me over on Blogger. I am so grateful to all who have hung in there with me for over ten years since I started blogging on my tropicalaffair site.

Today’s post is presented as part of https://lindaghill.com/2022/10/21/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-oct-22-2022/ for Linda Hill and her #SoCS prompt. Today’s prompt is ‘bowl’.
Any of you who follow Dan Antion over at https://nofacilities.com/2022/10/22/reading-and-writing-socs/#comment-286663 may have read his post today where he was kind enough to mention the book I have been working on for the past 10+ yrs. Working, raising kids and living life makes book writing a real challenge. I did most of the work during our ‘first retirement’ attempt in 2012 in the beach jungle town of Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. There was true inspiration there. Fast forward to retirement number 2 almost two years ago now to Panama and I am finally nearing completion. Dan has been a true friend in helping me with this story, from reading book chapters to now being a Beta reader. I can never thank him enough for his valuable honest input and encouragement.
So, today I want to share an excerpt from one of the chapters without giving away too much of the story. Anyone who has raised small children will appreciate the tension in this excerpt. If you like what you read please leave me a comment. I love hearing from you.

PS. If you can find the ‘bowl’ in the piece let me know in the comments. 🙂

ForeverNever/Dawn of the Dream

copyright 2022 Cheryl Pennington

……..

“Saol, it’s time.”  His hot breath tickled her ear and the agitation in his voice nudged her awake.  Agean was kneeling beside her bed, his fingers squeezing the soft flesh of her forearm. “C’mon, now. Hurry so we don’t wake her.” 
Saol looked at her mother, still sleeping soundly and gasped softly.  Agean pressed his hand across her mouth just in time to stifle a squeal.  Her heart thumped madly when she looked into his eyes.  They begged her to be silent, to be brave… and to get moving!  He nodded over her shoulder towards the window. Saol turned and saw a faint glow filtering through the trees but the sky above them was black as soot.  She pulled his hand from her mouth and sighed softly.  Dreaming.  She’d only dreamed her Father was calling to her.  Saol shook her head to clear away the haunting apparitions and pushed back the covers.  She could see Agean was already dressed and ready to leave, and his things lay in a shadowy lump by the door.
“We have to hurry,” he mouthed. The boy leaned in so close that their noses bumped and they fought the urge to giggle, as children are wont to do. She nodded, swung her feet over the edge of the bed and leaned down for her leathers, but Agean had them in hand and began quietly slipping them onto her feet.  He laced one and she worked with the other.  He handed her the clothes from the end of the bed and stared at her expectantly but she scrunched up her nose, frowning.  Agean shrugged and held up his hands, confused. The boy had seen his Na naked many times and this was no time to be shy.  She stubbornly refused to remove her night shirt and motioned for him to turn around.  He rolled his eyes and obliged, tiptoeing to the door where he kept his face to the wall and waited. 
After she dressed, Saol looked around her safe haven, soaking up its warmth and comfort.  Something gleamed in the darkness and she tiptoed to the tiny table where her few treasures lay beside a cold oil lamp.  Among these was a tiny cloth doll on a leather cord, a gift from her father at the last celebration of her life. But what it rested in was the most treasured thing Saol now owned, although she never dared tell Mama Ella.  She didn’t want to hurt her feelings.  After a brief moment of indecision, she slipped the doll necklace over her head and tucked it inside her dress.  She slowly ran her fingers over the inside of the bowl, lovingly tracing every dip and rise of the clay.  Saol had no memory of her mother but she loved her just the same. Eagna died the night she was born and that made her mysteriously perfect in Saol’s heart.  Her father never spoke of this but her Mama Ella told her how close they all were when they worked together for the good of Domhan.  She took the bowl from the table and nestled it between the folds of her clothes in the bag.  Naofa cared so much for Eagna and Saol realized just how special her gift had been. With a last look around she was ready.
She wanted to kiss Ella on the cheek but didn’t dare go near her bed.  Instead she watched her sleep, wondering what her dreams might be.  She softly whispered, “I love you and I promise to bring him back.”  When the lump rose in her throat, the young girl turned and crept to the door where Agean waited.  Hand in hand they slipped out into the chilly dawn of adventure.  Saol shivered and put her arm around Agean’s shoulders protectively.  
“I’m ok, Saol,” he whispered adamantly, pulling away.  He wouldn’t admit he felt the chill for she might think him weak.  Yet her warmth was comforting and he doubted he would have had the courage to go alone.  He grabbed her hand and they slipped behind the hut to gather their pilfered goods, being careful not to rattle the wood in the bin or bump into the house. After they filled their bags and hung them across their backs, the children were ready to leave the village, laden like work horses.  The bow and quiver slung across Agean’s back was half the size of his body.  Only one challenge remained and they took a deep breath as they headed toward the path leading to freedom.  
“He’s sleeping,” Agean whispered into her ear.  His breath stirred the silken strands of hair around her face, tickling her cheek.  She dared not move for fear of waking Fiel, the hunter who was the flame keeper.  Each night a different Jinetes kept the flame alive, and so kept Juntos alive.  The fire that blazed in the center of the village had been burning long before the Joining, ever since the females of Espera were created.  Before the Jinetes became keepers the women of Espera tended the flame, sharing the sacred charge among themselves. The fire of life had been one of the Realm’s first gifts to them and they revered it.  Fiel’s senses were sharp,  making their exit more difficult.  
The children waited anxiously in the shadows until Agean got an idea.  He crouched on the ground, soundlessly searching until he spotted the perfect stone.  He picked it up and and waited.  The Jinetes taught him that patience always gave the warrior an advantage.  He counted to ten before raising his arm and flinging the stone as hard as he could.  It was a perfect toss, landing beside the fence where the horses were tied for the night.  He was relieved he hadn’t hit one in the head for he only wanted to wake them, giving Fiel a reason to leave his place too near the path.
The stone hit with a thud and one of the horses whinnied and reared, stirring the others.  Soon they were all excited, fearing a predator.  Fiel jumped but didn’t panic.  This happened all the time. Serpents and night stalkers were a horse’s worst enemy, causing panic in the group as they all tried to escape. He pulled out his knife and sprinted to the animals, never looking across the clearing to where the children hunkered in the dusty light of an imminent daybreak.  
The hunter checked every horse, patting them and searching the area for unwanted guests.  He was so preoccupied with his work that he didn’t see the children scurry past the fire pit.  Their silhouettes fell on the soft earth before the flame that pointed its orange finger at them accusingly. He might never have looked in their direction if Saol hadn’t stepped in a rut, twisting her foot.  She slapped her hand to her mouth to stifle the cry of pain and Agean yanked her from the path into the trees.  Once safely hidden, she rubbed her ankle and was relieved she could still move it.  Agean looked at her anxiously, but when she stood on her foot there was no pain.  Their eyes shone in the dark with questions they dared not ask aloud. 
‘Do you think he heard?’‘Is he coming?’‘Is this the end of our journey before it even began?’
The woods were silent but for the sound of their hearts drumming in their ears.  They waited until the biting bugs began making a morning meal of their skin before nodding, both ready to bolt. It was now or never and they were ready to run.  Saol took one step forward but Agean grabbed her arm, pulling her back. He’d seen a moving shadow on the path and his senses told him to stay put.  In the next moment they spotted Fiel walking toward the gate.  
The Keeper was annoyed that he had to go all this way for nothing.  Birds often screeched when they were flushed out by the night hunters.  Still, the cry sounded strange and it was his task to keep the village safe while the others slept.  As he walked past their hiding place he lifted his bow and nocked an arrow, practicing his aim.  Suddenly he turned to face the woods, pointing the arrow directly at the terrified runaways.  
Had he seen them?  Saol squeezed Agean’s hand and they held their breath, not moving a muscle.  His young heart sank at the thought of being discovered, of being denied his chance to help his mother and father… or worse yet,  being shot a second time!  Saol’s heart was heavy, imagining the moment she would stand before Mama Ella and have to explain her deception without having found her father.  
Fiel saw nothing in the dark woods but shadows and heard nothing more than the wind in the trees and the occasional call of the night owl. He lowered his bow and continued on to the gates where he made sure they were latched and nothing was out of order.  The horizon glowed pink and orange and the hunter knew it wouldn’t be long before the noisy women would be crowding his space to begin their work.  He ran all the way back to his bed and, with a last look at the quiet horses, pulled the blanket over his head.  The morning air was chilly, an unpleasant condition that was getting worse with every rising sun. 
Saol tugged Agean along, more determined than ever to get away from the village.  When they reached the gates of Juntos they felt terribly small beneath the towering posts.  They looked longingly to the other side where the mysterious world loomed before them, silently speaking its truth. 
You two will be on your own out here,’ it warned.  ‘Are you sure you don’t want to climb back in your beds and wait for the warm breakfast you could have with your friends and family when the sun smiles?”
Agean tightened the strap on his shoulder and grabbed Saol’s hand.  “Let’s go before anyone else wakes up.” 
The devoted girl had no choice but to follow the son of the Light Ones to the end and what lay between.  Her hand was warm in his as they squeezed between the gate’s wooden slats.  As if to applaud their decision, Grandfather Sun blinked over the horizon, splintering  golden light over the damp grass.  They looked at each other and smiled, all fear fading in the light of hope they shared. 

Thanks for reading!


Cheryl

No Rubber Duckies Here!

If you want to see some sweet unfolding of Nature at my house, follow this link for my post for Linda Hill’s SoCS.  No Rubber Duckies via Dreaming Existence

Broken Butterflies

I posted this on my other blog Dreaming Existence and wanted to share with you all here as well. We need to be introspective at this time in our Human history. We need to examine our own intent, accept the pain we try so hard to cast off and know that only together, through loving intent, our better future can be created.

Broken Butterflies

Every now and then I am inspired to share this song, written and sung by a talented lady from my home state. I have loved the melody, slow and melancholic, the words that wind and twist in ways only the individual listening can comprehend for themselves. It is a work of art and has meant something just a little bit different to me at various times in my life’s unfolding.
I was sifting through my endless photos this evening, determined to finally put together that pictorial book of poems that has been infecting my brain for some years now, encouraged by the kind words of my friends and followers. I filed through images of thoughtful monkeys, bright and brilliant birds, as well as so many bees, dipping their faces into stores of golden pollen. Then came the butterflies. As I chose a few treasured images, I came across this one in a series I took while at a lovely garden in Roswell, Georgia. I know a lot of people who would have just passed this one by, deleted the images, or cast it aside as defective. I am not one of those people. I often photograph the worn down, the damaged and dying within Nature’s fine tapestry of living things. I see the beauty in every stage of existence, so when I saw this image it struck me as poignantly appropriate for me-for so many-at this time.
I have felt pretty broken lately, the weight of the unknown pulling me to the ground when I long to soar with the freedom of the familiar taking me to the heights of joy. It has been heartbreaking to see the fabric of our lives slowly coming unraveled in spite of our best efforts to hold it together. It’s not about resistance to change. It’s not about adaptability or rigidity. It’s about feeling helpless in spite of putting forth my bravest face, rallying myself to count my blessings, focus on the positive and not get caught up in fear.

The simple truth is that we are faced with the total unknown at this most profound moment in modern history and the way our society is handling this challenge is the most troubling thing for me. So much anger, impatience, intolerance, insensitivity, arrogance, greed and denial has taken its toll on those who are

seeking a positive solution, taking comfort in what can still be counted on. For me, that is Nature. This is a most most frightening world where now, more than ever, people are afraid of other people. We don’t know who may be carrying a virus, who may hate us, or who is as fearful as we might be ourselves. If we are being responsible, we wear our masks in public or work places, but that leaves us almost faceless to others, unable to show expression and share smiles. The worst part for me is not being able to just give or receive a hug. I’m a hugger and value human touch. I can’t travel to other states to visit my family and old friends, fearing exposure due to those people who refuse to even try being safe.
I feel broken, often frozen emotionally by the need to not cry anymore, to not be ashamed of how my country is presenting itself to the rest of the world, and by the need to just breathe. Then I go outside, thankful that at least for now Nature is not the enemy. The air is no more toxic than usual, the water is no more contaminated, the animals are thriving and the sky hasn’t fallen. Like my tiny friend above, I feel the need for sweet rest on a soft blanket of love, waiting for healing.

More than anything else, the song speaks to the way we communicate, the words that spill from our mouths, often in careless ways, whether intentional or not. It speaks of the lies that break our spirits, our hearts and our faith in a better world.

In conclusion, I say we toss our fears into the bottomless pit of misery and stand together, heart to heart, as we help one another to heal. Our light must shine on even through the darkest of days. Our wings may be broken, but together we can reach the heights and color the skies with hope. The old tapestry may be unraveling but lets create a new work of art as we pick up the frayed ends and begin again…finally united
This post brought to you by .Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt Do visit her blog to read more great posts and meet some amazing writers.

Changes

I have a new post over at Dreaming Existence. I hope you can jump over and take a look. There are some lovely little creatures I want to introduce you to. 😉💕

This post brought to you as part of Linda Hill’s #SoCS prompt.

Stop over to her place to meet some other great writers and special people. Happy weekend. Be safe. Be happy and do not let fear drive your actions.

Love and Light,

Cheryl

Always a Potter Moment

I have found there is always a Harry Potter moment that will apply to things in life. I even found a way to apply it to today’s SoCS prompt from Linda Hill. The word is cave and can be used as a verb or a noun.

I decided on a name. A band. And a song from one of my favorite Harry Potter installments, The Deathly Hallows.Enjoy your weekend!

It seems appropriate in these dark times to look for the light now more than ever….