A Memory

Wendryn did not take this week off from the writing challenge, but I just finished teaching a summer class, and had the time to play again, so here I am. I was challenged by Catherine, who gave me the prompt “Silence is golden.” This evoked a memory, which is described below. I, in turn, challenged Amanda. I normally write at Rhapsody in Numbers.

A Memory

*click* *whirr*

The automatic light timer clicks into place, and the 80s-tastic cassette deck kicks into gear. The plaintive strains of Swan Lake fill the small room. They probably make alarm clocks with built-in tape players, but why spend the money when a cheap piece of hardware can get the job done nearly as well?

I roll over to check the time. The bright red LEDs of the clock radio, almost blinding in the otherwise pitch black morning, read 4:59. The timer was only off by a minute this morning. Not bad.

Three movements into Tchaikovsky’s ballet, I finally decide to brave the cold and get moving. My naked feet slap on the frozen concrete floor as I feel my way across the room to turn off the music and find my slippers and robe.

Blearily, I shuffle up the old stairs. They creak and groan as I ascend into the kitchen. The heaters pop and click, working overtime to keep the house overly warm. I pad through the kitchen and living room, then up another half flight of stairs to the bathroom.

I flip the light switch, then close and lock the door as quietly as possible, so as not to wake anyone else. I turn on the hot water, then pop the valve to direct it to the showerhead, rather than the facet for the bath. The water, initially cold, pounds down into the tub. I disrobe as the stream warms up, then stick a hand in to check the temperature.

After striking the right balance, I step in and pull the curtain closed with a whoosh. I enjoy the hot water for a moment, then begin my morning ablutions—first the soap, then the shampoo, then the toothbrush. The brush rattles and tickles, but does its job.

The water shuts off with a thunk, and I step out of the shower and towel myself dry. I put my robe back on, and head back down to my room in the basement. Turning on the light, I check the time again. 5:27. I’ve got about 15 minutes before I have to head out. Probably not enough time for coffee. Ah, well. The hot water was at least as stimulating.

I get dressed for the cold, pack my bag for class, and lace up my heavy boots. I thud back up the stairs, then into the still, dark morning, and—


Profound and utter silence.

It snowed overnight, and is still snowing now. It comes down in large flakes, drifting through the cuprous light of the streetlights. The streets are empty, and covered with a blanket of fresh snow. The scent of frost is in the air.


Earlier today, Wendryn and I finished the process of moving this website from Yahoo! hosting to hosting at one.com. As far as I can tell, everything is up and running correctly, however there may still be a few bugs for the next day or two while we sort out any unexpected problems, and while the rest of the internet catches up. If this post appears on the website, all is well.

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Once again, Wendryn is taking the week off from the Indie Ink challenge, so I am filling in. This week, I was challenged by Seeking Elevation (the prompt is at the bottom), and challenged My Plaid Pants. I normally write at Rhapsody in Numbers.


They say that dead men tell no tales, but that’s not entirely true. As we live our lives, our actions are reflected in our flesh and bone, and in the environment around us. Even in death, we have stories to tell.

Ahote stepped out of his adobe home into the early morning light, shielding his eyes from the already intense sun. The sky was clear, and the air still. Another hot day was in store. Ahote sighed, and began his descent to the fields in the valley below.

For instance, radiometric dating techniques tell us that this man lived and died in northern Arizona about 400 years ago, give or take a couple of decades on either side.

Ahote slowly limped down the narrow path, leaning heavily on his tall digging stick, concentrating to ignore the old injury. It was stupid, really—his mother had warned him not to play near the edge of the building, but he had been young and careless.

He couldn’t remember what caused him to trip, but the fall from the second story roof was vivid and clear in his mind, even after all these years. He had been lucky to survive, though the large olla had not been so fortunate. At the time, he had wondered which was worse: the pain in his leg, or the loss of the precious water that the olla had contained.

This ugly bit of bone over here indicates that he broke his leg as a child—when he was maybe 8 or 9 years old. The bone was set poorly, and healed badly. He probably walked with a painful limp for the rest of his life.

“Ahote! Um-pi-tuh! How nice of you to join us!”

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay home and do the women’s work?”

Tiponi and Yoki fell to the ground, laughing at their cleverness. They seemed to like nothing better than to mock Ahote. He may have been older, but he was small and weak—a prime target for their scorn.

“Shut up,” Ahote muttered, “We have work to do.”

He was quite short, even by the standards of his contemporaries. From the growth rings in his teeth, we can infer that this young man was malnourished as an adolescent. This affected his growth at a crucial time, and explains his small stature.

The men worked the field throughout the morning, and the sun rose high into the sky. By midday, the heat was quite unbearable. Ahote and the other young men retreated to the shade of one of the few trees on the landscape, and sat down for lunch.

The group laughed and joked while Ahote sat alone and ate. He chewed the flakey blue bread and dried meat with relish. The meat would last until harvest, but the granaries of corn were nearly empty. He was looking forward to the harvest, which was almost certain to be a good one. And then he heard a strange noise…

“Quiet!” he hissed.

“Oh, come on, Ahote, learn to—”

“Shh! Listen!

A faint rumble could be heard in the distance. It was like thunder, but the sky was blue and clear. It was Tiponi that first identified the sound.

“There!” Tiponi nodded toward a cloud of dust on the horizon, “It is the enemy.”

“Quickly, we must get back to the women!” Alo, one of the older men, ordered.

The group instantly broke for the village, feet pounding on the dry, dusty ground as they ran. Ahote tried to keep up, but his lame leg pained him, and he could not keep up.

The long bones in his arms and legs have fused, so he was an adult when he died. However, his teeth are relatively unworn, and his bones lack the pitting of old age. He was probably pretty young when he died—maybe 24 or 25 years old.

The thundering of hooves grew louder as the enemy warriors grew nearer and nearer. Far behind the other men, Ahote quickly looked back at the approaching horses. The creatures were frightfully fast, allowing the enemy to come and go with near impunity.

His concentration momentarily interrupted, Ahote tripped and fell. By the time he rose, the advancing raiding party was on him. He tried to defend himself with his digging stick, but the effort was in vain. The first horse sent him spinning, and the next carried a merciless warrior and a well-struck blow to the back of Ahote’s head.

Again, Ahote fell to the ground, barely conscious of the horses as they sped toward the village. He whispered a quick prayer for his wife and children, and gave up the fight against the tendrils of darkness that had invaded his mind.

Finally, note the fractures to the cranium. The injury has not undergone any remodeling, so it seems likely that it was the cause of death.

The Prompt

Write something from the perspective of someone who has passed away.


Wendryn chose to take this week off from the Indie Ink challenge. She has jury duty, and work, and too much to do. Fortunately, my exams are graded, and my finals complete, so I volunteered to have a go at this writing thing. I was challenged by Disease (the challenge prompt is at the bottom), and challenged Rachel in the OC. I normally write at Rhapsody in Numbers, but these writing challenges are really my wife’s thing, so I convinced her to let me post this here. I hope no one minds. ;)


Image Credit:  http://dujs.dartmouth.edu/winter-2010/mayflies-and-evasive-maneuvers-effect-of-benthivorous-and-drift-feeding-fish-chemical-cues-on-the-in-stream-drift-response

And then I see her, clothed in gossamer, and held aloft on filaments of lace and fractal glass. She sparkles in the moonlight, uniquely visible even in the crush of dancers. I make my way to her, flitting down an improvised aisle, beating a path that dodges and weaves through the revelers.

I finally reach her, and the impossible occurs: she is even more beautiful than I had been led to believe. Her eyes sparkle, and her wings shimmer through the cool night air. I am, perhaps, the luckiest creature in all of existence.

My heart pounds as I screw up the courage to ask that life-changing question; to complete the ceremony. I feel the eyes of all of my brothers and sisters and cousins and friends and acquaintances upon me, and me alone. Yet despite the multitudes that surround me, I am utterly alone, lost, and terrified.

“Will you?” I ask.

“I do. And you?”

“Oh, I do!”

Single no longer, I take her hands, and we fly out over the lake, dancing and tumbling through the night air. There are dangers everywhere—a million and one false stars to guide us astray, sudden breezes to send us into the cold water, the waiting maws of monsters in the lake to crush and devour us—but we are unafraid. We have found each other, and are lost in our own world of nuptial bliss.

For hours, we are an entire world unto ourselves. Our task may be to lay the ground for the next generation, but my thoughts are only for her. We flutter through the waning light of the moon, joyous in each other’s grasp.

And yet…

The stars wheel overhead, and their mates give chase in the lake below. Time marches on, and we have neither the time nor the inclination for bread or wine. Each wingbeat requires more focus than the last, and the strain is magnified with each passing moment. Finally, we can go no further.

We are both tired beyond belief. A lifetime of love and labour have left us spent spent on the beach. It won’t be long until we finally rest, never to dance again. And yet, as the sun rises for the last time, I am content—how many of us are given an entire night to live…

…and laugh…

…and dance…

…and hurt…

…and fly!

With the one we love?

The Prompt

Imagine that you are the bridegroom who is waiting to get married. You see your beautiful bride walking down the aisle. Express what you felt at that precise moment through a poem or a prose.