Clarity #writephoto

Thursday photo prompt

clarity

 

Once we walked along this shore, through these dunes, you and I, hand in hand, when the world was young.

Now, our children stand tall and strong, and they and their mates look just like us, as we were.

So you see, dear love, despite all the mistakes, sometime the doubts, we saw through our future with much clarity, as the waves told us we would, once, there, along this shore, long ago.

Castle #writephoto

Thursday photo prompt

castle

 

This is your place, your home, far away, inaccessible. The lake is deep, a secret within many secrets. History has passed this castle by, and you, live on. In those dark waters, perhaps, lies a clue. But I will never know.

I cannot see you, except in one of those winter dreams. Silent, how can I be sure you notice me? You watch out, across those clouds, beyond our world, beyond eternity. Only now, only now I have lost you, do I understand who you are.

You, my love, in the castle.

Open #writephoto

Thursday photo prompt

thresholds

 

She had received the invitation just two days before. She knew the place, it had a rather dark reputation. But then, one had to chose: the appeal of the dark side, or the fear of the unknown. This was an old house, surrounded by ancient trees. She was not surprised the entrance door was open. There was no sound, no sign of any presence.

The letter had just said the owner would welcome the opportunity to show her the property, as a prospective buyer. So she was. How he – but was it a “he”? – knew that, was a puzzle.

In front of her was a long corridor. Rays of light, it was early summer, pierced through the darkness. Old wood, old walls. The air was cool, a faint smell of decaying roses and beeswax…

When she heard the voice, she knew: it wasn’t a he, “she” was the owner. The witch of her childhood, the shadow of her dreams. The voice was sweet, sweet as poison, coercing her to enter, to walk the long corridor, to meet “her”.

She knew where she was waiting, she’d seen the scene many times in her dreams. The house was open, but there was no return. She had to meet her fate, the fire, the ecstasy, her slavery. As a little girl she had known: there was no escape.

Forgotten #writephoto

Thursday photo prompt

forgotten

 

No, we haven’t forgotten: through this gate we walked, you and I, when the wall was new, the grass so green, and the sky so clear. We believed, the future was a wide alley, bordered with roses, your hand in mine, our eyes to the horizon.

Then came the clouds, and the blizzard, metal locusts. I held the shield high, and you were safe. That haven would not be taken. But outside, down in the valley, beyond the wall, the hordes of demons attacked, days after days. We could no longer breath, they scorched the earth, killed everything. The companions and I retreated, and stood by the gate.

There we died, one by one, till the sea of Evil receded. The last one who stood tall, alive, you know. He’s your Lord now, a Saint, in shining armour.

I, haunt these woods, remembering the day, when we crossed the gate.

Choices #writephoto

Thursday photo prompt

small-3

 

“This is only an exercise”, he kept repeating to himself. But he knew that the exhaustion was catching up with him. He still had everything: the map, the compass, enough water, and the grains of black pepper. Black pepper… They’d told him that it would keep him going for miles… So he’d walked all night, and the day before, and the day before that. According to the map he’d already gone for nearly seventy miles, through woods, cañons and swamps. And the bag, the awful bag, some forty kilos of spare clothes and gear…

He also knew he would soon have to kill. Anything. To eat. For in front was the valley, and then he would have to go up, to climb. Now was morning, it would take him some twelve hours or more to reach the hills. He would have to rest, just long enough. Perhaps this was when he would get ambushed. No paintball then, no Sir. Just knives.

He thought back, his school friends, the barracks, at the time he thought it would be a good idea, to become a tough guy: he had choices, but, really, he wasn’t made for this.

Transition #writephoto

Thursday photo prompt

transition

 

I know, you’re hesitating. For good reasons. It looks familiar, the small neat garden, the lavender, the path that leads to the ancient door… Yet, there is something different, or has something changed? You look at the old stones, at the bench, yes the bench, where you used to sit, next to him, waiting for nightfall. Someone still looks after the garden, and it’s not him.

If he were still there, he would be in front of you, welcoming you, welcoming you back. Or would he? After all, much time has passed, much has happened. You haven’t counted the years, of course not. You just know something has changed.

But, perhaps, it’s you? If he were there, at the gate, would you still see him? Would you acknowledge him? Now, look: you’re staying in the shadow, why? You know this place, you were once happy here, weren’t you?

Ha, I see… yes, I understand why you hesitate. You know why he’s not here. You know full well. And now, I am afraid. I am beginning to understand who you really are. Are you inviting me to sit, on the bench, waiting for nightfall? Are you moving me back, to where you were, to where he was… to where I am now?

 

 

Between absence and presence

A reading of Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami

Jean_Siméon_Chardin_-_Draughtsman_-_WGA04754

 

This is Mr Murakami’s latest work, published in Japan in 2017, and translated by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen (I guess: a tour de force). First of all, I must say that, in my view, this is Mr Murakami’s most accomplished work thus far, a fascinating, troubling and at time challenging novel. To be sure, long haul readers will find there a familiar atmosphere, but also the unknown. I will not spoil anything, but mention some ideas and metaphors.

There is a young artist, a portrait painter, and his beautiful, estranged wife. There is a, now dead, beloved little sister. There is  a lone timber house, high up in the mountains, which belongs to a famous old painter. There is an owl in the attic. Across the valley, there is a big, strange house, with a stranger owner.

The young artist teaches drawing at a local school. He lives on his own, in the timber house, with the owl in the attic, visits the attic, walks in the woods. Behind a little shrine he discovers a pit, the pit in the woods. There is the start of the quest, with a surprising painting, and a bell.

There is Vienna, at the time of the Anschluss, there is the war in China, but this is the past, with deep consequences for the present. The old painter is famous for his classical formal Japanese paintings, but this one painting…

The novel oscillates between dream and an even more unfathomable reality. There is a lovely, pubescent young girl, her beautiful aunt, and two portraits, or is it three?

Once started this, as with all of Mr Murakami’s work, the book becomes desperately addictive: one dreads the prospect of finishing the book.

Yet the quest has to be completed, through sacrifice and ordeal.

I must add a warning: if readers wish to cross the river, between absence and presence, they must pay the ferryman. So, have your penguin ready!

That’s about the size of it.

Image: der Zeichner (the young draughtsman) by Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin (Gemäldegalerie, Berlin)

Rooted #writephoto

Thursday photo prompt

x-ray-207

 

“We have been here before today, haven’t we?” The question was directed to me, yet I wondered who the “we” included. I guessed perhaps not me, or not just me. For I never was here, on my own or alone with her, but it might have been in a group, in the days “we” were travelling as a bunch of “tree-huggers”, as my son put it once.

Indeed I love trees, and cannot conceive life without them nearby. Trees are sensitive beings, they have their language, their signs, they love, suffer, and die, or rather they are killed. Like us.

I could not recall having been here with the lady, but it did not seem to bother her anyway. We talked about the strange way those trees seem to want to move higher, above the ground, to reach up, maybe for something we could not see. Their roots appear to be gliding, a little off the soil, still keeping contact, as if preparing to float. I had  a vision of this part of the forest, resting on clouds, slowly moving, pushed by the wind…

“That would be something to see!” My companion must have had similar thoughts. Tolkien had written about slow moving trees. I looked again at the intricate pattern of roots, then at the magnificent crown of the trees.

We looked at each other, there was still time to explore deeper into those woods. I knew we were close to where fairies, and maybe even ancient dwarves, lived.

 

Monochrome #writephoto

Thursday photo prompt

timbered-building

 

“This is where he lives, I am sure of that…” she said in a low voice as they observed the silent house from afar. The front grass was freshly cut, and although it was already dusk, no light was to be seen through the windows.

“There are lots of them there, in the deep cellars, but we won’t see any until it is much darker.” They looked at the sky and the dark clouds accumulating above the property.

“How old do you think this place is?” he asked finally. Their presence was the outcome of a long search. The origin of the house, the people who had built it, how it was finally acquired by the Count, the whole history was shrouded in mystery.

“It goes back at least to Tudor times,” she replied, “although there is disagreement about the exact dates. The Count’s ancestors had something to do with silver mines in South America, and we know that today he is rumoured to be the CEO of a secretive private equity firm…”

“Now is the time. Whoever commissioned us must have good reasons. They knew this sort of operation don’t come cheap.” They smiled.

Calmly, methodically, they pulled out the Uzis from their sheaves, loaded the guns and undid the security, then they started walking toward the building. Their instructions were simple: there had to be no survivors.