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The Pen is Mightier than the Sword
Tanuchan

A Picture Is Worth... A Thousand Words?

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It's said that a picture is worth a thousand words. The challenge proposed is to write a short piece/paragraph/excerpt - anything you wish, really - inspired by the picture below, as long as it's Prose and it's under a thousand words (okay - roughly).

 

If you, however, wish to turn your words into poetry, please post in the Banquet room with a link to this activity!

Or maybe you feel tempted to start a RP based on it? So the place is the Conservatory.

Is it longer than a thousand words? Then by all means- it deserves its own thread here at the Assembly!

 

In any form, your efforts are welcome!

 

Casaquistao-2012_small_zpsb8f1b6b0.jpg

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She looked through the window, and let her mind wander. Snowflakes swirled, blown this way and that by the capricious wind - not quite a breeze, but nothing close to strong. The world was almost all black and white, all colors hidden by the slowly growing blanket, or fading into the shadows. Her memory suddenly focused on a distant city, and a street that she had once known as well as her own home. That afternoon, it had been also covered in snow, and world was grayed out. A sillouette walked away from her, slightly hunched, carrying what had been her most precious belonging.

She shuddered, but the memory didn't want to fade away - not yet. The sillouette was still walking, becoming more and more hazy in the distance, and still she had had no heart to also leave. She had wanted to cry out, to stop the very Time, to bring what was - had been - her Self back. But at the same time, she knew she had to let go. She had to let the white blanket erase the memories, and the world.

She closed her eyes. Memory hadn't been erased, though the world as she knew it had. However, she didn't need to look through the window anymore to know what was there - the world as it had once been was gone; but the world that had replaced it was also too close to an end.

She willed the white blanket to shroud the memories. To take them somewhere - to the past, to the sillouette that turned and gazed at her from the depths of her mind.

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The sound of Christmas carols followed them out as they left the church, their feet crunching in the snow. The streets were empty, everyone either home in their beds at this midnight hour, or still celebrating the increasingly-ignored religious component of the holiday.

The woman leaned against the man, a distant expression on her face. Wrapping his arm around her shoulders, he noticed the slight frown that had begun to crease her features.

“What’s wrong, Love?”

“Nothing, I guess,” she sighed a little. “It’s… just not how it used to be.”

“You didn’t enjoy the service?” he asked, mildly surprised. She had been the one to suggest they go, after all, and it hadn’t seemed that different to him from the last time they’d attended mass.

“Oh, it was fine,” she shrugged. “Just different. They’ve changed the wording.”

“So it was different,” he nodded. That made sense: some of the rote responses hadn’t sounded as fluid or automatic as they usually did. She made a noise of agreement.

“I don’t know why they do that. Call me old fashioned, but there was nothing wrong with the old style. I don’t understand why they felt a need to change it up.”

“You know how some people can be, Love. Especially people in charge. If there’s no conflict, they need to make some so they have something to focus on. And what better way to do that than to change tradition.”

“I guess,” she sighed again. “Still, though. It makes me miss some things. The good old days.”

Stopping, he turned her slightly to look at him, concern on his face as he cupped her cheek. “Regrets, my love?”

“What?” She frowned, before realisation dawned. “Oh! No! Not at all!”

Smiling in relief, he pulled her into a tighter embrace and kissed her deeply. Moaning softly, she held him close, the moment lingering between them even as their kiss reluctantly parted.

“No regrets, Darling,” she murmured against his chest. “Just reminiscing.”

“Surely not all change is bad, now,” he stroked her hair, enjoying the feel of her against him. “You get to have White Christmases, now.”

“Yeah, I do,” she smiled up at him. “And I get to spend them with you.”

They kissed again, moving slightly off the path as another couple trudged by them. The holiday greetings they exchanged were distracted, but honest. The man followed them with his eyes, seeming to make up his mind as he saw the couple turn down a quieter side street.

“How about it?” he asked her softly. Turning to follow his gaze, she blinked and looked back at him, mouth twisting into the half-smile of one expecting to hear the word ‘Psych!’ any moment.

“Seriously?”

“Why not?” He grinned at her, his eyes already darkening in anticipation and excitement. “Surely it can’t hurt. For old time’s sake?”

She studied his face carefully for a moment, making sure the offer was being made honestly, and not purely to please her. It didn’t take long for her to find what she wanted in her husband’s expression, and her own eyes flashed with excitement.

“I love you.” The breathy way she exhaled the words spoke volumes to him of her state, and he chuckled warmly.

“I love you, too.” Breaking away, they began to walk quietly after the couple. Already, their posture was altering, knives slipping into their hands as they turned down the side street, picking up their old habits with the ease of one pulling on a favourite coat.

Just like old times...

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His lips were already chapped; he was trying to breathe only through his nose. But the cold made his eyes water and nose run, which made his snot freeze a bit on each breath. It had warmed enough to snow last week, but plunged deeply again that night. He had no hat or cap, and his long shaggy hair just wasn’t enough. The bag was heavy enough he had to hold it tightly. He switched hands frequently just to let blood flow back to the chilled fingers huddled in his gloves.

 

He was, of course, the only one on the street. Even the pimps couldn’t convince the whores to come out. There weren’t any cars with tinted windows prowling tonight anyway. No hot eyes with warm air gushing through a half-open window; he wondered if the marks realized the flock of whores huddling close to talk and tease were just trying to warm themselves on the furiously working heater.

 

Why he had held onto this job, he wasn’t certain any more. Family tradition meant little when he was the last. He used to think he made a difference, was appreciated, but the rising cost of insurance meant he was just breaking even lately. He shook his head heavily in disgust at the memory of the last woman who had sued him. She’d told the judge she liked him and he’d given good quality work – but she wanted the free money and that’s what insurance was for, right?

 

Well, that was stupid. Her and the head shaking – now his earlobes were sticking through his hair and he needed to set the bag on one of these stoops, arrange his hair over his ears again, and with his luck, they’d probably break off in his hands, too frozen to bleed.

 

He picked his bag back up with a sigh. What kind of an idiot still made house-calls to deliver a baby anyway?

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The lights did not come on that night. Nor the next. The riots three weeks later tore down any semblance of peace and order that Mother Nature's fury had kept whole.

 

Of course by then Bill and his whole family were long gone, choosing the long uncertain path to the wilderness, where the only enemy was Mother Nature herself and humanity did not intrude on the natural order. Snow drifts dozens of feet high and howling winds from the north that plucked at your clothes, chilling you to the bone were still better to face than the starving mobs of the great cities. Far from the last vestiges of civilization, far from the dying embers of the food riots, deep in the wilderness the last few survivors held on, desperately clinging to a world they remembered, a world that could no longer be.

 

They passed hundreds and then thousands of frozen remains on the road side and then next to barely used footpaths as they made their way to the northern mountains..and then slowly one by one they joined them until only Bill himself was left.

 

He plodded along, his footfalls becoming heavier and heavier, hope slowly trickling away.

 

And then he lay down, no longer moving, the cold enveloping him, like a mother's embrace. He remembered a time, a lifetime away...

 

And slowly he drifted away, his thoughts in a happy place a long time before his body joined them.

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The posts stood rooted as the world turned silent and white. Their lights gone out, still they stood, iron pillars holding up the ground, pushing back the night. Welcoming the white.

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