Week 48 of Odd Prompts

The tilting of the planet has plunged some into the frigid depths of winter already, while sliding others nearer the oven of summertime. The weather of the cold and grey lends itself well to remaining indoors and amusing oneself – and others! – with imagination. We like to imagine a world where it is always summer, never slush and ice and snotcicles. But this would also be a world without perfect falling snowflakes and rosy cheeks and the crisp silent clarity of the morn after heavy snowfall when the world takes breath and rests.

MatchSparkFire
Cedar SandersonAll that remained was ashnother Mike
Fiona Grey“Burn it. Burn it all. I want no memories.”Becky Jones
AC YoungDry, cloudy evenings were preferred to a cloudless sky.Padre
Becky Jones“It’s all sparkly!” she cried.Leigh Kimmel
Padre“Why is the bell ringing now?”AC Young
Leigh Kimmel“Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQUlA8Hcv4sFiona Grey
nother MikePut another nickel in…Cedar Sanderson

Put a match to the fireplace, and let the sparks fly up the chimney. We can be warm by the heat of it, with cocoa in our hands, and dreams in our heads. Take a spare, there’s plenty, and see what you can dream up!

SpareHis favorite toys were Ronsonol and cap-guns
SpareThe wine rested near a discarded pair of practical shoes and a picnic basket.
SpareThe worst is always yet to come…and with it, hope.
SpareA raccoon cap and a light bow hung on the bedframe…
SpareThe light at the end of the tunnel wasn’t what they expected…

Don’t forget to come back and share what you’ve created in the comments! and send us your prompt for next week. Tis the season!

Captured! (art by Cedar, rendered with MidJourney)
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13 comments

  1. For the first prompt of Advent, Padre gave to me: “Why is the bell ringing now?”

    Why is it ringing now? So why was it ringing? Then I considered “For whom does the bell toll?” And that led me to the 11th November, 1920 – the burial of the Unknown Warrior.

    I hope this mere essay in the craft has done the subject justice. The setting is a small town/village on that day.

    We hear the Church bell ringing clear,
    Its sound calling us to gather here.
    In silence we stand and remember
    A warrior of the Great War.

    Unknown he represents all
    Who died with no known memorial;
    All our fathers and brothers and sons
    Who perished across the Channel.

    In life an ordinary man,
    Yet in death extraordinary;
    A hero of heroes, for he comes
    Bearing thousands’ heroism.

    He served on the ships at Jutland,
    He served in the Western Front’s trenches,
    He fought on the first day of the Somme,
    He marched through the gates of Ypres.

    He flew above the battlefield
    Dogfighting with enemy triplanes,
    He fought in the deserts of the east,
    He landed at Gallipoli.

    He fought in every battle,
    He took part in every advance,
    He died in all the places men died –
    The Unknown Warrior is he.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Cedar and I traded prompts this week. She suggested…

    All that remained was ash

    [I have to admit, when I started thinking about this, my thoughts turned to the cremation which I attended this fall. So, perhaps a little creative non-fiction, taking you on a trip to a Japanese cremation? …]

    The funeral home was small, but it was just the close family, so there were not too many people there. The casket, a long square box, held the body, with a small hinged cover open over the face. The service went smoothly, with everyone telling the body, and those gathered there, about their memories of the deceased. Then they took the top of the casket off, and the family added the flowers from the collected bouquets to the casket, covering the body in flowers. The top went back on, and the hinged cover closed. Then the casket was moved outside, to the hearse. The family sorted itself out into cars, and we drove to the crematorium.

    Here, we parked, and gathered around to follow the casket into the building. The casket was placed on a sliding table, in front of the door into the burning chamber. We said a final prayer, and the casket slid into the burning chamber. The door was closed and the locks engaged. Then the burning began.

    We went back to our cars, and drove to a nearby restaurant, where we sat down and ate.

    About two hours or so later, we left the restaurant and drove back to the crematorium. We were just on time, and we all gathered around the door as it opened again, and the sliding table slid back out. On the large tray, all that remained was ash and bones. The body, the flowers, and the casket, all reduced to grey ashes, with the bones sticking up out of the ashes.

    The crematorium attendant handed the widow a small metal cylinder and long silver chopsticks. Then he picked up pincers and a small tray, and pointed at the bones in the ashes. “Here is a vertebrae from his neck.” He picked up the bone, put it on his tray, and offered it to the widow. She picked up the bone and dropped it in the metal cylinder. Then he carefully identified other bones, picking them up and holding them on his tray for each of us to pick up with our silver chopsticks and add to the collection in the cylinder.

    Soon, each of us had picked up a bone and dropped it in the cylinder. The attendant carefully screwed the top into the cylinder, then helped the widow put it in a small cloth bag to take home with her. We all bowed, to him and to the bones and ashes left on the burning tray.

    Then we turned, and went back to our cars. And drove away.

    I thought to myself that seeing the body at the service, then placing it in the casket in the crematorium, and then coming back to see the ashes, might help people realize that the person was no longer there, to achieve that understanding that all that remains is ashes. Grey ashes, and the bones of memory. And perhaps tears, as we pick up a bone here and there to add to our collection.

    [hum… ]

    Liked by 1 person

    • Or here’s another take on that phrase…

      [what the heck, let’s try a little fantasy. Problems in the magic lab? Sure…]

      The prof looked around the students, each sitting at one of the lab benches. He rubbed his face and shook his head.

      “All right. This next invocation will check your basic magic element, by causing it to be invested in the material placed in your beaker. So, first of all, does everyone have some material in their beaker? Put your hand up if you do not have something in your beaker and the lab assistant will bring it right over.”

      Hank frowned at the glass beaker on his bench. There was a piece of cloth inside it. He shrugged, and waited.

      Nearby, Francis lifted his hand. There was a sudden pop, and the lab assistant, a small genie, appeared beside him. It reached past him and dropped something in the beaker on his bench, grinned widely, and then disappeared again in a puff of smoke. Francis dropped his hand.

      The prof nodded.

      “All right. Now, please join me in the invocation. Ready?”

      He lifted his hand, and pointed at the words written on the board. The students chanted the words in unison.

      As they reached the final word, the beakers began to glow. Francis beaker boiled over as water suddenly appeared in it.

      Hank blinked and leaned back as the cloth in his beaker burst into flame. It quickly disappeared. All that was left was ashes.

      The prof grinned, and pointed at them.

      “Well, evidently we have a strong water wizard over here.”

      Francis nodded.

      “And a fire wizard here.”

      Hank looked at the ashes, and then smiled at the prof and nodded.

      “So, for homework today, go through your textbook and look at the sections marked for each of your elements. Water, air, fire, and earth. You can read about the others if you want to, but I want you to start concentrating on those sections that match your elemental strength. You will find them surprisingly easy to do, and rather powerful. Do pay attention to the warnings! You should not be invoking your element by yourselves yet, and you will find yourself in serious trouble if you do!”

      Hank was tempted to try that little snapping finger trick that his father had taught him, but thinking about how the flame jumped on the cloth in the beaker, he decided to wait for the prof to lay it out for him. Maybe he would ask about it after class, though?

      [now, that’s interesting…]

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh! And another episode in the unfolding tale of our intrepid pair! Go read about the dangers of the port walk, and what’s an AI gonna do when their pet human wants noodles?

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  3. This week, AC Young offered up “Dry, cloudy evenings were preferred to a cloudless sky.”

    Drak looked up at the sky and smiled. It was a perfect night to go skulking the shrubbery. The moon was a thin crescent and would only give off the bare minimum of light. But beyond that, he could see the clouds descending on the city.
    The night looked to be overcast, the clouds covering what little moonlight there would be. But there was no promise of rain in the clouds either, which meant that there was little chance of wet ground, which minimized the chance of muddy footprints giving him away.
    Dry, cloudy evenings were preferred to a cloudless sky. Even without the waning moon, a cloudless sky gave enough starlight that he might be seen. So cloudy with no chance of rain was the best he could hope for.
    He smiled slightly to himself. “I’m headed out and about again tonight,” he told Vinal. “Be careful,” Vinal replied. “And don’t get caught. I don’t want to have to bail you out of the hands of the guard.”
    Drak nodded. Vinal was one of the few that knew what he was actually up to. Most of the rest of the guard crew thought he had a woman on the side, one that he didn’t want anyone to know about. They weren’t sure if it was embarrassment, concern for the woman’s reputation, or just his native caution, but the ribald humor and sly, knowing glances from his fellows over the last few weeks had him quietly smiling. He doubted that any of them suspected his true aim.
    Finnabar. He wasn’t sure if she was here. It was a great trading hub, and her fair hair had been striking even in childhood. But he had no idea what she would look like now, considering that she had resembled some distant, and distantly remembered, aunts more than his mother. His best hope was to head to the slave camps and ask around discretely.
    Drak quietly slung his bow and quiver of arrows over his shoulder, under his black cloak, then belted his short sword around his waist. He had no idea if he would need armaments, but it was better to have them and not need them than need them and not have them. Besides, as a freeman, it was his right to carry weapons to defend himself.
    As dusk fell, Drak stepped out into the twilight. He cordially greeted those walking about in the evening and headed towards the outskirts of the city. There was nothing remarkable about his course, nothing that would mark him as headed towards the slave quarters on the outskirts of the estates that surrounded the city. But headed there he was. As the dark night fell, he put his hood up over his head and slipped into the bushes near the first mansion, passing silently through the artfully designed woodlands around it towards the slave shanties in its shadow. His sister might be waiting.

    Liked by 2 people

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