Ash stared at the landscape, sapphire eyes glittered with wonder. The rising sun greeted the rocks with a caressing golden glow; the horizon was tinted candyfloss pink over the moss-green hills. In the azure sky, wisps of cloud were hung like cobwebs, as fleeting and fragile as one’s breath on an icy morning. In every direction the beauty was boundless. This was a place where man had yet to impose his borders and barriers on Mother Nature. And the air was crisp and clean and refreshing. Ash inhaled deeply.
Barefoot, she danced across the boulders, leaping with gazelle-like grace. She ran and cartwheeled across the plush grass, laughing to herself. She threw herself to the ground, enjoying the sensation of the dewy blades brushing her skin, breathing in the fresh scent of the soil. Then she unfurled her silver-white wings, and took off into those dazzling sunrise heavens, weaving and waltzing through the puffs of cloud, wind rippling her downy feathers. She was in her element here. As she gazed out over the landscape once more, she knew in her heart that this was where she belonged.
“What are you staring at?”
A voice snapped Ash from her reverie, bringing her back to earth with a bump. In a blink, the cerulean sky became peeling beige wallpaper; the clouds, just billows of stinking smoke from her dad’s cigarette. Once again she was 13-year-old Aisling, in her living room, disappointingly wingless. She shook her head softly, blinked again and looked at her father. He was scowling at her, as though she were a filthy cockroach crawling on his threadbare carpet.
“I asked you, what were you fucking staring at?”
“Always fucking daydreaming, that’s your problem. No man’s gonna look twice at you. Away with the fairies. Not much between the ears. To think you came from my fucking genes.”
Ash had often pondered the same thing.
“Get out of my fucking sight, Aisling. Go help your mother in the kitchen like a good girl.”
He blew a cloud of smoke into her face. Ash coughed pointedly and left the room, to where her mother was sweeping the kitchen floor.
“Need any help, Mum?”
Her mother, Trudy, smiled at her weakly, black hair in a messy bun, dark shadows draped beneath her eyes.
“No thanks, sweetheart.”
“You’re tired, Mum, go and lie down. I’ll take over,” Ash insisted.
Trudy leant the broom against the counter and came to hug her daughter. She kissed her forehead and stroked her cheek.
“You’re meant for better places than this, I promise,” she whispered in Ash’s ear.
“I know,” said Ash, the image of the rocks and hills and clouds flitting into her mind’s eye.
Trudy smiled, ruffled her hair, and said, “You’ll get there, my angel.”
And suddenly Ash remembered a song, sung by her mother’s soft, lilting voice, many years ago. A lullaby that had carried her off to sleep many times as a child. A lullaby about rocks and hills and clouds and flying and freedom. Tears pricked the corners of Ash’s eyes.
“No, Mum. We’ll get there.”
Emma H, age 26, 19/08/2017
Short story response to Sue Vincent’s #writephoto – Wisp photo prompt. To participate or read the other entries, please use the link below!:
I had the idea for this week’s story almost straight away; I’m not sure if it comes across exactly as I intended, particularly the ending. Still, many thanks to Sue for her delightful photo aide 🙂