The Shelter of the Shepherd – #writephoto

They had heard the planes before they had seen them. The hum distant at first, then getting louder and louder, a thunderous roar approaching. At first, the villagers did not understand. The village was made up of farmers, market traders and weavers. Those that took the village produce to the big town markets knew of the war, but they were not soldiers, they had no reason to be involved in the war, so, they presumed, no reason for the war to come to them. They were wrong.

A few of the men recognised the planes as they came into sight. Their dark shadows and flight formation now looked so similar to the photographs printed in the paper. Panic filled the men and they began to shout orders to those around them. Others did the same and soon the village woman had grabbed the children and headed for the church but as they approached the priest came running through the doors. He had assessed the simple structure and knew that it would not do to protect his people.

As hysteria began to surface amongst the group, a man stepped forward. A strangled hush came across the group with the thundering plane engines providing most of the noise. Few of the villagers recognised the man, he was a shepherd who usually followed his herd amongst the mountains, it was rare he stepped foot into town. Today the villagers were lucky.

He said only one word, “There”. Pointing his hand towards the mountainside. Then he quickly began to walk.

 

Shelter-Mountain-Cave-Image by Sue Vincent

Shelter Image by Sue Vincent

 

The villagers followed his gaze and although few could see what he was talking about all immediately followed his quick step. They made it to the trees and some of the agitations dispersed as the group huddled and walked, step after step. They were not in the treeline long when they heard the first bomb drop on their town. The ground below them shook and immediately cries escaped them. The priest shushed them gently, as they gathered themselves, they noticed the shepherd kept walking. They scrambled to keep up with him and soon once again the huddle was moving this time, each member of the village was on full alert.

Several more bombs made their way to the ground until the noise was no longer as shocking to the villagers. A few times the shepherd stop and held up his hand to stop the travelling group. As the priest moved towards the man he saw the reason for stopping. Flying low above the trees the planes seemed to be searching. Only once the shepherd moved again did the villagers follow suit. It was pitch black by the time the villagers made the mountain. They all crammed to get inside the cave first, whilst the priest instructed some of the stronger men to begin to gather wood to make fires.

“No”, said the shepherd whilst the priest was mid-way through the instruction. The priest tried to question but the man only shook his head and continued past him into the cave. Reluctantly the priest followed.

After several hours the majority of the group fell into a restless slumber, the planes had left but the shepherd sitting near the entrance and had given no hint that the villagers should leave. The priest was unaware that he too had fallen into an exhausted sleep until he found himself shaken awake by the shepherd. He waved his hand towards the entrance beckoning the priest to follow him. Understanding dawning on him, the priest made his way to the cave opening. The shepherd pointed down into the town and sure enough in the pitch darkness, lights could be seen moving amongst the town.

“Soldiers?” the priest questioned, and the shepherd nodded in response. To back up his point random gunshots filled the night air and the priest squirmed knowing that it was probably a sick or elderly villager whom in their haste they had left behind.

The shepherd pointed along the treeline surrounding the village and the priest once again followed his instruction. Lights were entering the treeline and the priest gasped.

“Are we safe here?” the shepherd shrugged non-committedly in response.

“Well, what should we do?” the priest gasped exasperated.

“Pray”, the shepherd finally provided the priest before he walked back into the cave and returned to his place, from his shirt he pulled a beaded necklace, a cross dangling from it. The beads clicked together as the man continued to move the item around his idle hands.

The priest looked out into the darkness, following the lights moving in the deep night. Reluctantly he turned to the cave once again. This time he dropped to his knees, closed his eyes and prayed, not only for those in the cave but for the poor souls who had already been lost to a war they did not understand and had never wished to be part of.

The priest found himself being shaken awake once more, this time by one of the men from the village. Light flowed into the opening of the cave and as he came around he noticed more and more faces looking at him. He turned around looking for the shepherd but could not see him.

“He left at daybreak,” the man from the village provided. Stiffly the priest got to his feet and emerging from the cave he looked out towards the village. He gasped when he saw the charred remains of what had been his beloved church. Then he shunned himself as his eyes continued finding where homes had once stood only burnt out skeletons of the structures remained. He crossed himself when he remembered the sounds of the gunshots that had penetrated the night. He nodded to the men that surrounded him and slowly they made their descent back into the woodland.

As they entered the village, cries of despair broke out amongst the villagers as they looked around at the carnage of what had been their homes. The priest continued to walk up to where the church once stood. The remains of the stone baptismal font seemed to rise from the wreckage and the priest stepped around the rubble towards it. He reached his hands into the bowl and pulled out a beaded necklace with a cross from it. To the villagers, he may have seemed mad as he dropped to his knee, pulled his hands together in a gesture of prayer and thanked the lord.


Written in response to Sue Vincent’s prompt – #writephoto. You can join in this weeks image or have a gander through the many interesting posts inspired by this wonderful photo by clicking here.

Just a quick note, although this feels like a religious post, I am not overly certain why this post took on a religious storyline. I am from a mixed religious background with both my parents and grandparents coming from different religions, also my family spans both Scotland and Ireland so I tend to shy away from any religious involvement having seen so much arrogance, hatred and unnecessary arguments that seem to stem from religious beliefs. However, I cannot deny the comfort religion provides people or the fact that unexplainable miracles happen all the time.

The stem of this story for me, I think, was inspired not only by Sue’s wonderful photo but a recent visit to Malta, (which indeed is a very religious island). Despite being a tiny island of only 246 square kilometres (95 sq mi), Malta was of huge importance during the war due to its strategic position. On 10 June 1940, Mussolini declared war on the United Kingdom and France. Upon declaring war, Mussolini called for an offensive throughout the Mediterranean and within hours, the first bombs had dropped on Malta. It is so sad to think that within hours this island of vineyards, farming, caves and catacombs was transformed instantly from a place of peace to an island of turmoil.

Anyway, I am no war historian or any kind of historian for that matter and I am sure there are loads of accuracy plotholes within my tall tale (men with rifles following a few hours behind planes with bombs, probably not?) but I liked the story and I hope I may have shared just a little bit of my inspiration with you and even that you may have championed (even just for a second) the shepherd and his cave.

Worth the Wait – A selkie’s tale.

I walked along the edge of the bay, making my way through the cragged rocks to the house that held my secret, Roane’s House. It had been fourteen years since I first met Roane and I was now approaching my thirties. I had tried to forget him, tried to see other men, tried to live a normal life but my heart returned again and again to my secret boy of the sea. I had decided, I didn’t want normal, I wanted him.

“My soul feels reborn each time I see you; falling in love with you again and again - Steve Maraboli

I waited in our doorway, knowing he would appear any moment. My stomach was fluttering more viscously than the harsh North Sea air as I prepared my speech, my questions. What if he said no? What if he would rather not be with me? I pushed away the single tear that had ran down my cheek at the same time pushing away these negative thoughts. I had to hope, had to dream he would be mine.

As I watched the water lap along the bay, two strong arms wrapped themselves around me. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply, then whispered his name, Roane.

“You are more beautiful each time I see you my love.” He said spinning me around and planting a kiss heavily on my face. I couldn’t help the smile that spread itself on my face. “Shall we walk?” He asked his dark brown eyes watching my face intently.

“Of course.”

We spent three glorious days together; laughing, smiling and kissing. It felt like no time at all had passed between us, let alone the seven years since we had last met. All the last day my stomach churned with anxiety I knew it had to happen, I knew he had to leave, to go back to the sea, to his home. But I didn’t think I could take it, I couldn’t wait seven more summers to be by his side. I wasn’t sure I could keep on doing this.

We walked slowly along the sands towards the house. I hadn’t realised I had fallen silent, listening to my haunting thoughts until he interrupted me.

“Are you okay, my love?” he looked at me with those startling brown eyes framed with long eyelashes.

“Roane, do you have to go?” I bit my lip, my body started to tremble. I had thought of so many ways to ask him, to lure him, to entice him and now I had blurted it out. He sighed heavily.

“My soul belongs to the Sea, my love…” he leant in close to kiss me, but I pulled away stifling a sob. I didn’t know why but I started to walk quickly, my thoughts tumbling over one another, my heart breaking. As the outcrop to the house appeared I began to climb, but a hand gripped my arms and turned me around.

“Roane, please don’t, it’s too painful to watch you leave.” I sobbed, but he began to laugh, chiding me.

“You didn’t let me finish my love. My soul belongs to the sea, but my heart belongs to you. If you have me, I will stay.” Those sparkling eyes crinkled at the side into a wide grin. I gave out a small yelp of excitement and threw my arms around him.

“Of course, I’ll have you.” I laughed. “But we aren’t living here.”

 

Still Waters Photo by Sue Vincent

Photo Courtesy of Sue Vincent

 


Writers Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge LOGOOriginally written in response to Colleen and Ronovan’s fun WQWWC
this week’s theme is rebirth.

The perfect quote seemed to be:

“My soul feels reborn each time I see you; falling in love with you again and again.”

Steve Maraboli

I’m a sucker for a happy ending but if you want to know how it all started visit Roane’s House: https://new2writing.wordpress.com/2016/06/01/roanes-house-a-selkies-tale/

#Maydays Prompt – Fairytale Fun

fairies“There may be fairies, there may be elves, but God helps those who help themselves.”
― Stephen King, Misery

 

For today’s #maydays prompt, I might be taking Mr. King’s quote out of context a little. May your post feature a little magic, elves, fairies, whatever you like. Bonus points if you can make it a dark story that Mr. King would approve off. 🙂

Remember you can write a memory, short flash fiction, poetry or whatever may take your fancy and pingback here so that I can pop by and visit you. Don’t forget to TAG your prompt #maydays too.

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Thanks to those that lead us down an interesting path with yesterday’s #Maydays prompt:

Lost! – ladyleemanila

Maydays: Poem – Wrapped Refrain – “Choosing Your Path” #Maydays – Mandibelle16

OUT OF PLACE – ESCAPE INTO WORDS – **NEW**

#Maydays Prompt – Paths | Morpethroad

Walking Through the Woods – New2Writing

 

 

#Maydays Prompt – Odds are on – The Last Bread Basket

What a fantastic battle of wills (and trolleys). A great response to today’s #Maydays challenge. KL ❤

Morpethroad

maydays-logo

Today’s #maydays prompt how about a bit of competition.

I’m in the supermarket minding my own business

My son sits in the trolley counting jellybeans.

My archenemy Roger Bent comes up beside me

His young son Snotface I call him sits in front.

The kids know of our rivalry

It begins innocently

I nod towards Roger in recognition

I see Roger whisper to Snotface

Snotface says; “My dad is better than your dad.”

My son quick to defend his dad says: “No.”

A boy of few words my son.

There’s a special today on Breadbaskets

Roger tells Snotface to keep look out

At the end of the aisle I spy them

Suddenly it’s a sprint to the finish

Our trolleys clash several times

Our sons are thrown about

They scream in terror one moment delight the next

A solitary breadbasket awaits us

It’s neck and neck

I put out a…

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