Ablaze

“No.”

Her word was a minuscule spark in a vast ocean of shouting men. None but the old farmer and the seamstress, sitting to her right and to her left on the pew, noticed that a sound had crossed her lips. The ones occupying the dais seemed beyond all reach.

“If we cut him, he’ll lose too much blood to stay conscious,” the head of the council said. “He burned our barn, we will burn him until he reveals where the rest of his horde is hiding.”

She raised a hand. The farmer and the seamstress did the same. The council failed to see them.

“Burning is as bad as cutting.” The security chief was red in the face. “He might get an infection before we get what we need from him. Partial drowning will break—”

“No.”

The council began to quiet, until it was completely silent. Not because they had heard her voice, but because she had left the back of the room, walked past the landowners, past the merchants, past the families of the councilmen, and was now standing next to the metal folding chair that held the gagged prisoner. Four others had followed her to the front.

“This is council business, my dear woman.” The head of the council smiled. “I’m sure—”

Whatever he was sure of was consumed by a united, “No!” that got louder and louder as the people that made her small village continued to chant their outrage.

Her spark was now ablaze in the hearts of her neighbors.

The man on the folding chair would pay for the arson. But there would be no torture. Her people were better than that, even if a handful of old men had made them forget for a time.

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a wee note…
– Every now and again, the news oozes into my fiction and I don’t fight the intrusion.
– Linked to Sanaa’s Prompt Nights (Belief is the ignition switch that gets you off the launching pad), and to The Twiglet #8 (“folding chair”).

She is way more intense than the character in the tale. I just couldn’t resist Chandra Ablaze.
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Cold Bones

Of the old-timers I visited once a month, Dulcie Marie was one of my favorites. There was something life giving that spread over her face every time her wrinkles stretched and brightened, to remind the world that a girl would forever live in her soul. The thought of her smile curved my lips. I was grinning like a lunatic when my feet crunched across her winter-kissed yard. I took off one glove, and knocked on the doorframe.

“Jack Frost has been having a royal blast on the glass of your front door,” I said, when Dulcie Marie invited me in. “Is your boiler working properly?”

“The heater’s fine,” she said, “just keeping it low. Last month’s power bill nearly killed me.”

“Your old bones can’t take this cold, Dulcie Marie. And I bet your lungs aren’t happy either.”

“Nonsense,” she said, “my bones are old, but my will is stubborn.”

I grabbed a small notepad and a pen out of my coat packet.

“Stop your scribbling,” she told me. “I don’t need that woman visiting more than she has to.”

“If your electric bill is too high,” I said, walking towards Dulcie Marie’s kitchen to make some tea, “that woman might be able to find a way to lower it.”

“Not without asking what color skivvies I wore last month first.” She had followed me to the kitchen, and was glaring at me. “Why can’t you be my social worker anymore?”

I sighed. “You know I’m too sick to do the work. Besides, if you were my client, we wouldn’t be allowed to spend entire afternoons trying to figure out if the truth is truly out there.”

When my attempt at X-Files humor didn’t lighten the mood, I started the kettle and walked back to the living room. “Want to restart the last episode?” I shouted at Dulcie Marie, who had remained in the kitchen. “We only watched fifteen minutes of the…” My voice trailed off. I had noticed the remote control sitting on top of the radiator. I picked it up. It was cold, so very cold. “Dulcie?”

She walked into the living room, leaning heavily on her walking stick. “I need to save my pennies. Times will get hard when they do away with Social Security.”

Her eyes got shiny, and my heart broke a little.

“Change that face,” she said. “The heat’s on at night. That’s enough.”

“It’s not enough,” I said.

“If that reckless man gets his way, then it will have to be. I might as well be ready for it.”

The kettle hissed. I walked back to the kitchen, teeth clenched, anger spilling out of my eyes.

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the wee notes…
– I borrowed the phrase “My bones are old, but my will is stubborn” from Lorianna Feenstra. The story was inspired by an old, old, old… (wonderfully bullheaded) friend.
– Skivvies: Marine Corps lingo for underwear.
– Linked to The Twiglet #5 (“a cold radiator”).

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