Writing Group: November 2016 Prompt

This month’s writing group was our one year anniversary and it was absolutely as lovely and wonderful as always. We celebrated our unending support and encouragement for each other with wine and fries and it was delightful. Yay us!

This week’s prompt was from a poem that I absolutely fell in love with (An Almost Made Up Poem – by Charles Bukowski) and there’s the coolest line in it: “She’s mad, but she’s magic; there’s no lie in her fire.” (S/n was considering it as my next tattoo but I slept on it.) One of my ladies worked it into her current book that’s a WIP and the other just polished off her play. They were both great! Mine’s just a shortie I dashed off in not that much time, but it was fun to write 🙂 enjoy! here’s to another year!!

Sawyer had been saying the words since before she had any idea what they meant. It was a call and response she’d learned when she’d played at her mother’s feet in their small, cramped kitchen.

“She’s mad but she’s magic,” her mother would say, sometimes cutting into her own ramblings about the sage and rosemary she’d grown in her little windowsill box to add to the broth of their “soup” so it would taste like something other than hot water.

“There’s no lie in her fire,” Sawyer would respond, fearing the slap if she didn’t. The punishment for not answering was swift and severe.

It was also the last thought that ever passed between them. By the time Sawyer had her 16th birthday, her mother had faded into barely more than the idea of fragile bones and loose skin and haunted eyes. Sawyer would sit next to her on the cot in the space created by her curled up legs and collapsed shoulders, toweling at her feverish forehead. The wait for the end was counted in rattled breaths and the specks of blood that soaked into sweat-stained sheets.

On that night, her mother’s last, 2 a.m. crept into 3 a.m. crept into 4 a.m. and still Sawyer couldn’t let her eyes drift shut. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d slept instead of watching the rise and fall of her mother’s chest. In the quiet of the pre-dawn light, she could admit to herself that hope would spark anytime the movement stilled.

It was in one of those moments, when Sawyer prayed the rise and fall would not start again, that her mother gasped, pulled back from the edge by her own stubborn need to reassure herself Sawyer wouldn’t forget.

She gripped Sawyer’s wrist, the strength in her fingers surprising as she dug into the pulse point there. Her eyes were wide in the darkness, shimmering with desperation as she tried to make her lips form the words. Somehow Sawyer knew what she needed.

“She’s mad but she’s magic,” Sawyer said even though the words were not the ones that were hers. They weren’t the ones that came as easily to her mouth as breathing. They were her mother’s. Moisture gathered at the corners of Sawyer’s eyes and threatened to slip down pale cheeks at the relief she saw on her mother’s face. This was it. “There’s no lie in her fire.”

With one last nod, her mother sank back into her thin, worn pillow and then sank bank into the welcoming abyss. Sawyer had thanked God for the first and last time in her life as soon as her mother’s heart stopped beating.

Now as she stood huddled at the edges of the shadows in the alley created by the one dim streetlamp she was grateful for her mother’s insistence. It was ten years later and still the words were there, just waiting to be used. They were her comfort. Her memories.

Her Shibboleth.

She waited until the twelfth toll of the striking clock faded into nothing before she stepped into the doorway of the old man’s home. She knocked three times in rapid succession on the chipping green door marked with the number 27.

The wind picked up while she waited, cutting through her thin leather jacket. There wasn’t much she could do about it, though, as she lost her scarf last week when she’d had to duck out of the pub unexpectedly when a group of Watchmen slipped in for a pint. So she just hunched her shoulders up to protect her exposed neck and ears and counted the seconds. When she hit 60, she knocked again, four times, with pauses between each.

This time she waited 30 seconds before knocking twice. The door swung open before her knuckles even left the wood.

She found herself peering down at the tiny, withered man whose name was on everyone’s lips but whose face no one saw. Except for her.

He blinked at Sawyer through thick glasses, but his eyes were sharp despite his appearance.

For a moment they just stared at each other, and she wondered if this was the time he would turn her away. A cat somewhere nearby yowled, though, breaking the standoff and there was a slight smile at the corners of his lips when he’d noticed she’d jumped at the sound.  

“She’s mad but she’s magic,” he finally hummed, his voice all but singing the words.

She ducked her head, her heart racing. “There’s no lie in her fire.”

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