It’s my photo this week. The picture shows part of the Rouge River near Toronto Zoo. It’s a beautiful place and feels a lot like freedom on day trips from the city. We take the kids often and let them paddle, climb and explore. It’s one of those places that is wonderful in every season. We went a lot this winter, when there was nothing else to do and nowhere else to go, but this particular story takes place back on the city streets, inspired by those bleak ‘eyes’ staring out of the image.
Toronto has had the longest lockdown in North America (one of the longest in the world; depending how you measure it); as we gradually lift restrictions, it’s clear that lives have been saved, but you only have to talk to a few people to learn the cost of the lockdown. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have done it, I’m just saying we need to acknowledge the losses and find ways to minimise their effects.
It’s our designated hour for walking.
I remember the first weeks, when we skipped in the Spring sunshine, enjoying the freedom and the fresh air on our faces. We’d take chalk and leave trails for friends to follow. After our hour, we’d retreat inside, draw rainbows and paste them to our windows.
The rainbows are faded now. The sun’s shining, but we trudge. I catch a glimpse of a face pressed against the glass. His eyes are empty; he is young enough not to have known the Beforetimes. I wonder if he’s young enough that he will see the After.
Thanks to CE Ayr, another picture for the Friday fictioneers to get our writing teeth into this week. I’m a bit of a fan of Canadian railways myself, but the story took me a little way from the train lines. I would love to hear what you make of it, and if you read the tags afterwards, whether they come as a surprise…
Stillness amid chaos
Mimi paused in the middle of the bridge as she did every day. Far beneath her, the train yard was deserted. Stillness amid chaos. Her Grandma said it was something to strive for, that to be still was to be at peace.
Mimi hated stillness. That’s why she danced – to swirl away the thoughts that gripped the silence. Here in the city, dancing and parties, people and sounds could fill every waking second, so she stopped on the bridge in search of her Grandma’s stillness, knowing that she could find it whenever she wanted, sprawled on the concrete below.
Well, this story really didn’t go where I thought it was going. Consequently, it really has nothing to do with the photography from Emmy L Gant that officially prompted it, unless you count a general colour scale, but that’s coincidental. Still, I offer it to you, for your thoughts and feedback. If there’s too much confusion I’ll try to post an explanation as and when time and children permit.
V saw the girl immediately: wearing black and slouched in a corner as if she could somehow disappear there. Classic emo. She’d see V’s scars and say “Me too,” then she’d flash a few of those deep-enough-to-look-good-but-not-really-hurt scratches on her forearms and pretend they were the same.
V headed for the opposite corner, dropped her bright yellow backpack and pulled out a jotter plastered with smiley stickers. She started sketching butterflies around the first page and hummed Justin Bieber loudly.
“New school, new beginning,” Dad had said. “And none of that misery nonsense goes with you.” Like emotions respected walls.
This week’s FF prompt is one of those examples where both the literal and the figurative interpretation seem a bit obvious and in danger of being clichéd. I’m sure some of our party will do each of them justice; I’ve tried to branch out a little bit although the muse didn’t get far today – she’s a bit under the cosh.
People hurried past, eyes averted. One girl nearly tripped over her, but noticed enough to catch her step and no more.
She enjoyed being invisible; everywhere else they stared and pointed. The razor blade pressed against her palm and she wondered if they’d notice when she did it. Would they step over the blood? Around it? Would someone stop and ‘rescue’ her?
Two feet stopped in front and she thought for a moment she’d been recognised. Then she looked up. The boy held a plastic leash; her eyes followed it to a ragged-looking dog, its leg cocked over her shoe.