Footprints #writephoto

Footprints

footprints

 

We love the long walks, along the shore, the closeness of the sea, the flying birds, the wet land and the immense skies. I watch your steps, the wind blowing your hair, I see you as one with the earth, the waves, the clouds.

I know we will be tired at the end of the day, and yet, we stop and watch: the reeds spelling their ancient story, the cries of seagulls, the bright colours of sand poppies.

For we know: once, long ago, we came from the sea, and our footprints in the wet sand just remind us of that long love story.

On the threshold #fivewords

Weekly Writing Challenge #136

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As he stood on the threshold, he sensed how brighter the light was, on the other side. There lied all the secrets, the rich treasures of the past. He took one more step.

There was a faint taste of wood smoke in the dry, vibrating air. In his mind one question lingered: would he find his home?

Photo: ancient village in Northern Arizona, © 2015 Honoré Dupuis

In the Land of Ago

A reading of 11.22.63 by Stephen King

3-front-quater-top-up-sunliner

 

How often do we think: “If only I could change this”, or, in whatever form, “if only I could have a second chance, go back, and do something different”? Going back, erasing, and changing the past is an old dream, the subject of countless tales and fiction works. Of course there is a second law of thermodynamics, to keep things simple, that says “no-can-do” – but still…

But imagine one could go back, reverse entropy, and travel back in time, would it be possible to change anything? Or, is the past resistant to change, obturate enough to stop, or at least oppose, a time-traveller interfering with what was, and, maybe, should be? And, even if the time traveller could change the past, what would be the cost? Perhaps more ominously: what would be the consequences?

Changing history is a special case. History, they say, is written by “the victors”, whoever they may be. It can also be rewritten, and this without, perhaps because of (not), going back to the past. There is the “official” version, and the “conspiracies”. A long-lasting, and still sinister, such story is that of the assassination of President Kennedy.

Jake Epping, not a crying man, is an English teacher at a high school in a small town in Maine. The year is 2011, and this is the end of term. Jake is, unique among his school colleagues, the customer of Al Templeton, the proud owner of the fat burgers diner. More than just a customer. He’s soon someone with whom Al is about to share a deadly secret. At the back of Al’s diner trailer is an anomaly: a fissure in time. Al has a mission, one he cannot complete, for he is dying of lung cancer. He wants Jake to take over, as he has identified Jake as someone who could, who will, bite at the bait. So Al teaches Jake, explains how this could work, and Jake listens. There is a first trial, then another. On the other side of the fissure it is Spring 1958, and America is young. Jake likes what he sees. He enjoys the fresh taste of root beer, the sweet air. Jake also has a personal objective: to prevent a domestic tragedy and help his friend Harry Dunning. The first leg of the story is there: the killing of Frank Dunning. Jake, armed with Al’s mission and notes, as well as dollars of the time, embarks on the journey.

Saving the Dunning family will take two attempts to get it “right”, or so Jake thinks. Then his personal odyssey will start , on the road to Dallas. For Al’s, now Jake’s, aim is to prevent the assassination of President John Kennedy, on November 22, 1963, nothing less. Jake has five years to adapt, plan, live, and, finally, execute Al’s mission.

Jake follows a route of nostalgia: an all-American Ford Sunliner, overnight stoppages in motels, drive-in cinemas, finally a small town, and an equally small school, in Texas. Later, much later, there will be Dallas and the horror. For a while it is (almost) paradise, his class, football, friends, a girl he falls in love with, America’s early 60’s: (almost) perfection.

Jake decides to stay, he won’t go back to 2011. But, in the end, he does. For fulfilling the mission has unpredictable consequences. When, on the threshold of his desperate return, Jake faces a dystopian 2011, he finally understand what Al had missed: that interfering with the strings of time has a price, and this is proportional to the change.

The novel concludes on a note of hope, an ending for which Stephen King credits his son, Joe Hill, at the end of the book.

11.22.63 is a great novel, to read, reread, and cherish. It is also a book to meditate on, seriously, listening carefully to the voice of its author.

Photo: Ford Sunliner 1958, via eclassicautos.com

 

Valley #writephoto

Valley

mist-at-sunrise

 

Soon all will be shrouded in darkness, or is her sense of light and shadow, of day and night now irremediably confused? After so long in space this would not be surprising, and what did they say on the training range? “When you’re landed, don’t expect to adjust without pain!” Slowly, the navigator removes the oxygen mask, then her helmet. Her long red hair is still held back, before she can relax she will have to wait and feel how she bears gravity on this planet. Her suit’s instruments said that the atmosphere was breathable. Perhaps the radioactivity level is on the high side for a planet with so few people around…

At least that is what her briefing said. She looks at the star sinking into the luminous clouds, on the horizon. “Earth sunsets can be stunning,” said the brief, “their atmosphere is saturated with thin particles of dust. It is not known if this is the result of volcanic eruptions, or of a human-made disaster, which may also explain the sparsely inhabited continents…”

The triangle #fivewords

Weekly Writing Prompt #132

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Francis wanted to capture the dream: for the third night, he had read the name of a place he had known, and, now, wanted to build into the story. There were three, at equal distance from each other, the monk had said. The last day, his stare fixed on some old manuscript he had dug out from the loot of a raid, years back, he’d looked for clues. In the morning, like today, he could not recall the names. Long ago, he had travelled, feverish, and briefly lived there, at the vortices of the triangle, carried away by the rage to discover the truth.

Where he was now, near the small park, in the city he loved, was one of those places, he was certain of it. He tried to lift his arm, and discovered he was almost unable to move: he would have to go back to his therapist. He had to work, look again at the archives.

In the park, he had met the shadow of an old monk, one night. That was before the first dream. The monk had spoken in an old, forgotten, language, and Francis had only understood a few words. Where were the other two places?

Picture source: Monastery Garments

Arch #writephoto

Arch

arch

 

For centuries the great abbaye had stood, in its majesty and glory, in the peaceful landscape. It was then a centre of faith and science, where wise men worked, and kept the flame of civilisation burning. They were frugal, up in the frosty mornings before dawn, ploughing the fields and teaching the children; their chants filled the vales and forests, rising to the sky.

Then the heretics had come, plundering, burning, torturing the faithful. A dark veil had fallen on the earth, the Dark Lord’s reign had begun.

But today, in the faint light of dawn, I can hear the monks’s voices, the soft footsteps of their sandals. I sense their presence, their curiosity, even, about this strange creature, this human being who survived the fall. Their anthem is but a light breeze through the icy air.

The arch stands, witness to a millennium of folly. And there, on the cold stones, I kneel, praying to the true God, in submission and piety, the last, shivering survivor of the war, that ended the evil empire.

Dedicated to the builders of the great abbayes of Yorkshire, and their defenders.

Dark #writephoto

Dark

dark-hills

 

Perhaps it was how it had to be:

The landscape reflected his soul, deep in sorrow,

For mourning was now the only feeling left…

Yet, through the clouds,

A sun ray could be seen,

Reflected in the calm water of the lake.

He thought how deep that water was,

Time would tell if he would find again

The warmth of a happy summer.

Without reasons…

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He must’ve known those people, sometime, some year, in the distant past. But whose past? The voices sounded far away, in a language he thought he should remember, the faces in semi darkness, when he knew that – somewhere – it was already daylight (but he could not be completely sure).

At last he looked out, from the vanishing dream. There was sunlight. He was alone, the voices had gone, the faces vanished. Everything was there, as it had been the day before. He had just slept longer than was his due.

Earlier, he realised, he’d been out, in the street, in the fog. There was a group of people, talking. It was in the past. Whose past?

Photography: Brassaï (1899-1984), Avenue de l’Observatoire dans le brouillard, c. 1934, courtesy Christie’s Modern Visions

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