Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Write, Edit, Publish. REUNIONS!

I love joining in the WEP. It's a fun and creative hop. I couldn't do it last month, so I was delighted when I could spin a short yarn this month. The theme is Reunions. I hope you enjoy my contribution, and I hope you'll visit the others who have shared their stories today. The link to find others is at the bottom.




Liza’s Quilt

The walls of our cabin danced with shadows from the wood fire, but no matter how much I stoked and encouraged the flames to warm the room, the air remained chilled. When I touched Gran’s gnarled hand, the iciness of it made me weep. She emitted a cold that no fire would warm again, so I lay with her, wrapped in Liza's quilt and listened to the fading sounds of her words. 

“Sweet Mara, you are. . .” Even close to my ear, her raspy voice was barely audible. She took short, shallow sips of air, and for a moment I thought she wouldn't say more, but then she did. “You are the only one now who will hear the Voices. Listen to them. I followed their instructions and pieced the quilt as they wanted it done.” She paused again, and I stilled my breath, listening for hers. Her hand grasped mine. Tightly. “But I have no time left to understand the mystery of this quilt, or how they intended it would help us find your sister.”

“I’ll do what you ask, Gran,” I whispered, and I burrowed closer to her as I had since childhood. The autumn leaves of her heartbeat fluttered against my chest. I willed my heart to beat stronger for the both of us, but my will was not enough to return her strength. My magick rose up in me the way I commanded it to, but it wasn’t enough either. During the night, the Voices dropped to murmurs in the darkness. By first light, Gran had been called from our world, and the Voices had fallen silent. I lay there feeling the weight of being the last of our family in the meadow, wondering how I could live without Gran and if I could learn the mystery of Liza’s quilt.

In the days that followed, the emptiness of what was once home to five, gnawed at me, and the yearning to find Liza and bring her back increased with each sunset. She was taken from the meadow when she was ten and I only eleven, five years ago. Astride their horned beasts, the Shriekers had pounded down the warren of twisted mountain trails, their dark hair whipping in the wind. In a thunder of hooves, they trampled our gardens and their piercing cries shattered our world. We’d hidden, but one rider found Liza. He scooped her up and rode off. Once again they’d taken their spoils. Two years before, they’d mortally wounded my mother. My father gave them chase, but never returned. Killed or perhaps lost in the maze leading to their lair. 

The Shriekers always descended on the first full moon at the cold season’s end. Every year we hid. Every year we ached for our losses. Now the cold season was at an end again, and that night the moon would rise full-faced. At dawn the Shriekers would come. This time I was alone.

After the sun settled behind the mountain, I opened the quilt and smoothed it across the bed. Gran called her stitchery a crazy quilt. Her embroidery meandered throughout the pieced fabrics and along the edges like a meadow path, looping and inviting my fingers to follow her fine hand work. Liza loved sunflower yellow, and Gran’s nimble figures used to sew garments in those golden hues for my sister. Many of the patch-worked pieces were those remnants of Liza’s childhood dresses long ago washed into threads. These bits trailed throughout the quilt, a bright reminder of her laughter and sweet nature. Liza was born fair and full of joy. I’d come to the world with raven hair and heavy with our family legacy, magick. My magick had saved me that day from the Shriekers, but it hadn’t been enough to save Liza. I so missed my sister, and I needed her. I needed the Voices to return, but I was beginning to think they were Gran’s magick, and not mine. They might never return. 

“Speak to me,” I commanded. But the cabin remained silent. With the quilt covering my shoulders, I walked outside to watch the moon glow spread over the meadow.  

As I stood looking up, a tingling like butterfly wings started across my back. I ignored it at first, but it was insistent, so I pulled off the quilt and held it before me to find what the cause of that sensation could be. There was nothing, and yet, the palms of my hands now felt that same tingling. I spread the quilt gently on the earth, and I’d no sooner released it from my grasp than the yellow remnants from Liza’s childhood clothing grew bright. When I looked into the distance, a trail of sunflower gold spread from the quilt, away from the cabin and toward the mountain pass. It continued as far as I could see. 

I gazed into the distance, the Voices singing inside my heart. “Follow the golden way.”

They’d guided Gran’s nimble fingers to create the way to my sister, and now that I had that path to follow I didn’t hesitate. Even with the full moon, the night held danger, but I felt my magick grow steadily stronger with each step I took, and my fear fell behind, a detached shadow.

At the most tangled crossroads, the first sun rays spiked into the sky. Sensing movement ahead, I stopped, straining to hear. My breath stilled. From beyond the curve I heard the sound of hurried footfalls, and before I crested the rise, Liza came running toward me, her smile more glorious than when she was a child, her arms open and quick to embrace me. 

“How––” I gasped.

She didn’t let me finish. “I felt your magick, and the golden light guided me through the Shriekers’ labyrinth. At last I could escape and find you. We clung to each other, my sister and I together again. 

And then a thunder of hooves shook the earth.

A quilt as a map has always fascinated me.
Thanks Yolanda and Denise for giving me a chance to explore that idea.

VISIT WEP

64 comments:

  1. A touching story. It reminded me of a poem by Edna St. Vincent Milay, The Battle of the Harp-weaver. I am glad her Gran quilted the quilt.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Patricia

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    1. I wonder if I was influenced by that poem? I do remember it, but hadn't thought of it until I read your comment. Thanks, Pat.

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  2. Ooh I liked the ending! It looked like it was going to be so happy, and then the hooves...great story!

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    1. Yes. I wonder what will happen next. I'll have to that some thought.

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  3. Hi, Cheryl-Lee!

    I loved your story, dear friend! Surely that same magick emerged from your soul and passed through your fingertips because this tale of sisters reunited was beautifully written and brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for posting it for us, Cheryl!

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    1. Hi, Shady. Thank you so much for the kind words and for coming by.

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  4. The cabin may not have told but the quilt surely lead the way. Great turn at the end. What could they be in for now. Or could be good hooves.

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    1. Good, if the story is indeed short. Bad, if it becomes longer. That's my guess.

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  5. Fantastic story! Lots of emotion and tension packed in.

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  6. Such a sweet story! Love the ambiguous ending! We're so glad you could participate! Thank you!
    I think I say it every challenge but the stories that come from each prompt are just amazing!

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    1. I haven't read a single one that is similar to another. We are a diverse group of writers!

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  7. Love your take on the prompt. More please my greedy self demands.
    'The autumn leaves of her heartbeat fluttered against my chest' is a lovely phrase which will have me thinking all day...

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    1. Sweet. Thank you for connecting with that idea. I often wonder if what I put down makes any connection at all. But I suppose that's a writer self-doubt thing. Appreciate your comment a lot!

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  8. Fantastic story, but what happened next? Did those hoofbeats bring the Shriekers? How did the sisters escape? I want to know.
    I love your imagery in this story. "The autumn leaves of her heartbeat fluttered against my chest." - what a beautiful metaphor.

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    1. Hi Olga. I'll have to give your questions some thought. I do not have a clue. Thank you for your kind words.

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  9. What a wonderful tale...I hope you will share MORE!!! ;)

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    1. Welcome to The Write Game, Donna. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment today. Hope you'll come back.

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  10. Very moving! I enjoyed this story.

    It's to my understanding (I didn't get to see it, but I heard), that a woman in my local nano group has a story similar to this in a magazine.
    https://stampington.com/Bella-Grace-Issue-13

    The group was celebrating it last night.

    So random and unexpected that I would hear about two stories with quilts in one day. Granted, I live in and around PA Dutch country, so I've seen a LOT of quilts over the years. But not to many in non-Amish/Mennonite fiction. That's really great to come across two all of a sudden.

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    1. There are just so many stories to be told, and this is another example of that. Thank you for telling me. I'll take a look at the other story. Serendipity.

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    2. I don't know if that's a "me" thing or an "everyone" thing to be instantly sucked in to any story that reminds me of something I've written. I love seeing what take another author had, comparing, seeing if we think alike, maybe if we share other interests. I don't think it's just a "me" thing, but I can honestly never be sure.

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  11. What a wonderful, rich story, Lee! Of course, you left us hanging!!! I have to believe that the magick that reunited the sisters will protect them. What kind of cruel fate would harm them after bringing them together? There is too much wonderful magick in this story for such an ending!

    My grandmother MacBeath used to stitch the same kind of crazy quilt in your illustration. She taught me how to featherstitch the edges of the pieces. But I was an impatient tomboy who wanted to run outside! Your story brought back many memories. Thanks!

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    1. I hear you. My grandmother was a beautiful quilter and a seamstress, I tried, but just couldn't do it. I always hope that she knew I had to express myself in different way. Thank you so much for this comment.

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  12. Wow! Awesome story! I love the details, the imaginative storytelling, the beauty of the relationships within this story. You are a master of the craft, C. Lee!

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    1. Not quite, but I do appreciate the compliment. I have a mountain to climb before I write the way want to. Thanks for stopping in to read and comment, Tyrean. You're always the best.

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  13. Hi Lee! I so loved this!! At first it was reminding me of the Greek Myth, Persephone and Demeter. Does have shades of it. So many stories have their roots in mythology, even Harry Potter. Love it. I adored the imagery and the motif of the quilt. Ever since I saw 'The American Quilt' I've been alert to stories in quilts. A beautiful way of sharing secrets. So much...the grandma dying, the sister missing, the trek following the golden way, then kerfump...'a thunder of hooves.' Okay. MORE! MORE! MORE! Perhaps Dark Places could lead to more resolution.

    I loved your 'autumn' image, but 2 have already said it...the next one I loved was '... my fear fell behind, a detached shadow.' Don't worry, Lee, we do notice beautiful writing. I adore description which I'm told is old school, but I disagree...there's always a place for it. It elevates our writing.

    Thanks for feeling well enough to participate this month, Lee. Fabulous to have you bearing such a wonderful story. SO many amazing entries this month. Egad for choosing winners.

    Denise :-)

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    1. I've read all of the entries and you do have a tough job. However, you're up to it. Thank you so much for your comment on this piece. I'm glad I was able to contribute to this month's WEP. Great fun.

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  14. This is beyond beautiful -just magical. Loved it. Hope those are good people riding the hooves. Super take on the prompt.

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    1. I'd hate to look up and see those nasty Shriekers bearing down on the girls. Thanks, Niljanjana.

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  15. That was great. I want more of the story and world. Beautiful Job. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Hi Juneta,

      Great to have you here today. Thanks so much for your words.

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  16. You're such a fabulous writer!! Love this so much.

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    1. Thanks so much. That's high praise from you.

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  17. "The autumn leaves of her heartbeat fluttered against my chest." Great line and like the idea of a map on a magic quilt.

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    1. Thank you, Deborah. I'm pleased that you stopped in and enjoyed your visit.

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  18. 'tis very lyrical in some parts indeed

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    1. Did I pluck your heartstrings, DEZ? :-)

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  19. Oh, this was amazing!!! Love the lyrical descriptions. :) Will you write more of this story?


    Alexa
    thessalexa.blogspot.com
    verbosityreviews.com

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    1. Hi, Alexa. I'm not sure about more on this one, but I have some notes I might follow through on. Glad you enjoyed the story.

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  20. I loved this fantasy tale, and hubs' grandmother made crazy quilts, so called she said, because they follow no pattern. We have one of hers she made for my husband. An excellent take on the challenge prompt!

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    1. Some of those quilts are so beautiful, and they always did seem like stories had been stitched into them.

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  21. Oh gosh, I was all set for the happy ending, and then those dang hooves!! Loved this, and I never thought of a quilt as a map but what a clever idea. Great story, Lee.

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    1. I almost made the ending happy, then I thought, "That's too tidy!" Thanks for giving my contribution a read. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  22. What a super piece of writing. Thanks so much for sharing.

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    1. Hi, Nicola. So pleased you came to the Write Game to say hi. Thank you so much for the compliment.

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  23. Your story grabbed me. I don't think I've read anything like it before. Good job.
    Nancy

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    1. Hi Nancy. Thanks so much for the comment.

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  24. Hi Lee - what a fascinating idea for a story - loved that weaving of a path found in the quilt ... and Liza being found - before the hooves thundered in - I hope the magick kept them free ... lovely Reunion ... cheers Hilary

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the tale. I'm not sure what happens after the sound of the hooves.

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  25. That was awesome. I love quilting, though I haven't done it in years. We used to cut strips and patches of out old clothes, shawls and coats and even stuffed animals. Things of cloth that meant something.

    A lost art now.

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    1. I have several quilts that my grandmother and great-grandmother made. They, too, used pieces that have memories attached. One is almost all of material my grandmother used to make my mom's childhood dresses. I'm a horrid quilter. Tried it once and paid homage to those with that talent.

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  26. Interesting. Makes me want to know more about these Shriekers.

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  27. Lovely piece of writing; and what happens next?!

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    1. Hi, Mike. Wish I knew. Have to explore that question. :-)

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  28. What a magical tale! I found it very intriguing! Nice work. :D

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    1. Welcome, Lisa. Thanks for the visit here. Appreciate your comment very much.

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  29. Congratulations. I loved your piece and am so glad that the judges did too.

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    1. What happened? Guess I'll have to check.

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  30. Hi Lee - guess you'll be thinking considerably more about the 'what next' - the tale deserves to be told ... so many stitches to be added. Congratulations on being a runner-up ... your next book? Cheers Hilary

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