The Road to Pendora

This is my first* Friday Fiction Prompt post for Rattling Bones. Still in flash fiction mode, I wrote without much pre-thinking, one sentence suggesting the next.  The result is more than eight times longer than my sparest flash fiction. We had 500 to 1000 words to play with. So, settle in for a long read. You might want to get your beverage of choice. (I set the scene for more “adult” content than I usually write. However, this remains, at most, a PG for suggestiveness.)

Road to Pendora

“I didn’t expect it. My god, I’m punning at a time like this. Rogan never said this was possible.”

Lindsay was in a sort of stream of conscious mode, though she wished she was unconscious, or at least unaware. The home kit suggested it, the clinic visit confirmed it. She was pregnant. Her first child. Her half human child.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Lindsay swung on the old rusty swing at the bottom of the abandoned garden. The house that owned it, leaned to one side. Boards covered many of the window-eyes. Perhaps it didn’t want to watch the decay. Bushes grew like trees against it, shading in the front porch like a forest. The front steps were all broken. Company not encouraged.

Lindsay needed a space to think, to write stories inside her head, to be alone. There was too much noise and jumble in the world. She could hear her heartbeat in the quiet garden. Her ears didn’t cause her mind to cringe. The squeak of the swing’s old bones was bothersome, so Lindsay oiled them so it could move freely. She contemplated restoring the swing further. But that required an energy she presently didn’t have.

She was often in pain, it’s tightening fingers and the resulting medication were life-vampires. Too many pills and she wove and staggered, too few and she stayed in bed, tucked into the fetal position. There was a drug and pain “hangover,” phase where she was partly connected to the present day, and partly enmeshed in the past and future. Her mind-stories took strange turns then. Her journal, a constant companion, contained notes about this trance-like effect, and how her imagination spun out from there. Then, she needed the garden most.

As Lindsay counted the number of swings she made, she heard rustling in the raggledy hedge that demarcated the house’s “jungle.” Animals moved about and birds sang back there. So, she paid little attention to the noise.

“Excuse me. Is this the path to Pendora?”

Lindsay thought, “What an odd thing for my mind to say.”

A little louder, “Excuse me. Is this the path to Pendora?”

Lindsay turned around expecting to see . . .  except a man stood behind her. He was tall, his dark hair greying at the temples. One eye was hazel, the other deep brown. He had frown lines (or where they laugh lines?) like tiny rivulets running down his face. His skin had the texture of outdoors; hours in the weather both fair and foul.

“Are you deaf, woman, is this the path to Pendora?”

“I really don’t know,” Lindsay sputtered, as she remembered her self defense course moves. “Nobody ever asked.”

“Sorry I was so loud and harsh. I have travelled far and wish to soon reach my destination.” He stepped towards her, his hand out in friendship.

“Maybe it’s through the house,” Lindsay thought out loud. She had never peeked through the backdoor hanging  ajar. “If your path comes through the garden, it’s logical.”

“My name is Rogan. My services are requested, no, required in Pendora. In my haste, I took the wrong road out of Gremal,” as if this would make everything clear.

The more she stared into his odd coloured eyes, the more something was bubbling up inside her. “Stop that,” she said. “Talking?” Rogan asked, rather perturbed.

“No, sorry. I just realized how attracted I am to you.” Had she really said that out loud? “I feel like seducing you.”

“I’m possessed!” This time Lindsay whispered in case these words flew out of her mouth. The usual Lindsay, the every-day Lindsay was shy. She never had this kind of conversation with herself and a stranger.

Rogan smiled. Lindsay thought seductively. “I have this effect on some women.” He moved slowly through the liquid honey space between them, and sat beside her on the swing. He smelt of wood smoke, green apples, and fresh hay.

She skiddled closer, her leg touching his leg. “How soon do you have to be in Pendora?,” she asked, slipping her arm around his shoulders. “Later that I expected,” he murmured as he gently pulled her face towards his.

Lindsay shook her head. She was lying on the soft mossy lawn, as the moon was rising. She felt spent and exhilarated. “Had she really spent the day . . . .” Her thoughts trailed off. A bouquet of wildflowers was next to her. Her clothes had the faint smell of wood smoke. The back door of the house stood open, like an invitation to enter.

Three months later, she sat on the swing, her mind flurrying around the news. Shy, quiet Lindsay was going to have a fairy spirit’s baby. The back door remained open, a dark space against the house’s peeling paint. Smiling to herself, she stood up. “I hope that is the road to Pendora,” she said to no-one in particular. {word count: 815}

* The story I conjured up about a 16 year old girl, and a 60 year old man (last week’s fiction prompt) is finished, but the edges are very raw. Some day I will edit and post it .

@ phylor 2015

flows like honey

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Light flowed like honey from the open door

music danced a wild jig down the stairs

wind whispered leaves accompanied the fiddler

laughter echoed across the moor to fingal’s peak

gathered to sing the olden songs of farewell

she must look for paths through the forest

journey far to another space unknown to her

there will be strange things never believed

see for the first time the sun rise in the east

follow a  strange starscape, a pale white moon

meadows with flowers bending in the wind

smells, sensations, emotions into her soul

she must learn to understand this place

to embrace it, to care for it, to love it

for this is the only home she will ever have

Written for fairy tales, part of mindlovemisery’s menagerie. 

© phylor

#HAWMC 21: reflection

As the folks as WEGO said, we should think of the survivors of the bomb at last year’s Boston Marathon and salute their bravery, perseverance, spirit, and strength.

We are asked to reflect today on our journeys so far and our hopes for the future. I will digress a bit because I’ve been thinking of the journeys of other women in my family.

My great-grandmother was born in 1871 and died in 1963; my grandmother was born in  1901 and died in 2000; my mother was born in 1928 and died in 2010. And, I’ve been around for 50+ years.

I think about how much the world has changed in my lifetime (so far) and am astonished. I remember exposure to early word processors and VCRs, and mocking that someday almost every home would have one. I remember the first time a colleague showed me the World Wide Web in the early 1990s. And, I remember when I first truly entered the cyberverse, became part of online communities and blogs and bloggers.

But then I think of my great-grandmother whose life went from horse-drawn carriages to men orbiting the earth in spaceships. Two children were still born, another went to fight in France in 1914, and never returned – his body couldn’t be found. Her husband and one son died when the wooden schooner with masts and sails he captained was struck in half by a metal, coal-burning steamer at the mouth of a foggy harbor.

Or my grandmother who walked to a one room school house, studied in a house without electricity and running water, and sewed her clothes on a trundle (foot-powered) sewing machine.

For both, there was the war to end all wars, another world war, the cold war and the arms race, and countless wars, coups, revolutions, genocides, reprisals, pogroms and other inhuman actions.

My mother died one day after her birthday in 2010. In her life time, the world spun as well. Suburbia, washing machines and dryers, electric kettles and toasters, microwaves, and cable television.

And me? No microwave, smartphone, or tablet. No X-box, blue-ray, 3-D television. No car with an inboard computer screen, no GPS (other than my navigating by maps), no e-reader, no video screens to pass the time as I travel.

Medicine too has changed immensely. Home remedies; hospitals as a place of death; child mortality rates gave way over time to modern medicine with elaborate means of testing for disease; medication to help with a range of conditions; survival rates; even cures for some. But, we still use opiates to ease pain; alternative medicine might use methods familiar to my great-grandmother; and some chronic illnesses remain mis-or not understood; treatment or medication not yet refined; diagnoses off and answers not available.

When banks first began to issue debit cards and install ATMs, a friend refused to get one. “The government already knows too much about us,” she said. And now, any number of people can know a lot about you without you even knowing they know.

For the future? A magic pill that stops pain. Equal opportunities. Health care without health insurance providers. A roof over everyone’s head, food on the table, money in the bank, and smiles on their faces. I hope I’m not asking for too much.

Journeys: cot #204

A map of The Earthsea realm drawn by Ursula K....
A map of The Earthsea realm drawn by Ursula K. Le Guin. Original map published in Tales from Earthsea. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m packed for the journey
Sandwiches, hobbit tales
Viking eddas, bottles of water
Camping gear, the Iliad

Travel companions arrive
Frederick, Karl and Frans
More to join along the way
Virginia, Agatha, Margret

Ballads, walking sticks
Star map to guide us
Soon we will reach
Camelot, Earthsea, Narnia

Oh, come with me
Let go of earthly limitations
We can trek to wherever
Our imagination travels

English: Map of Narnian world as described in ...
English: Map of Narnian world as described in The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)