The Gatehouse

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“…and this, ladies and gentlemen, is where the family most oft exited the manor if they wished a stroll down the North side of their estate…”

Well-trained and well-rounded tourist faces followed their guide’s directing hand, staring out the open side door. A few, “Oohs” and phone-clicks captured the view but most eyes slid back, puppy-eyed, to the mustachioed leader. Meredith glanced up from examining the iron stove but the subservient herd completely blocked the opening. She’d look once they trundled on.

“Over here,” the guide continued, “In this alcove, one finds a few items the family may have used for such an excursion.”

*Click* *click* captured the made-in-China umbrellas and slickers hanging on IKEA hooks. Meredith rolled her eyes.

“Shall we continue on to the servants’ quarters?” Murmurs of assent answered him. The tour guide turned smartly and ducked up a narrow set of stairs. “Mind the head,” came back to them.

“And the waist,” Meredith mumbled, eyeing the first few tourists and wondering how they’d get through the space. She stopped, her garden view finally unobstructed. Some force, some memory, some power held her; staring out the opening.

I’ve been here before, she thought. She knew.

But how ridiculous. This was her first visit to England. It was her first visit overseas at all, only made possible by an impulsive coworker’s double-booking. Only Karen would be wealthy and ignorant enough to pay for two vacations in the same week. A similar impulse to now had compelled Meredith to take Karen up on her discounted offer…

Meredith stepped nearer the exit, still not quite in control of her mind or self. Was it the worn, polished stone path; the neat, trim, British grass; or the charming stone brickwork of the cottagelike gate house before her? What reminded her, drew her, pulled at her?

Her eyes flitted to the arched, weather-beaten wood door. Her feet sandaled down the path toward it. From so near the building, she could see and appreciate its age but also the original care and detail put into its workmanship. She could not imagine building the walls and windows, peaks and arch, all with a barrow-full of tools and only the hands God gave you.

Simon. Simon had built the gatehouse. He’d made the door. How she knew that, Meredith could only guess. The further she walked away from the tour group and the closer she drew to outside, the more antique memories trickled into her mind.

Father had asked Simon to build it on the East side but Mother had wished it here, atop a slight knoll before the moors began. Meredith’s pace quickened. The afternoon sunlight danced into her eyes just as she pressed her hands against the garden door and pushed.

“Meredith?” she raised a gloved hand to shade against the bright light to her left. There, beneath a tree, leaned a surprised young man in riding gear.

“Edmund,” she breathed. Recalling herself, she corrected with, “Good afternoon, Mr. Manfield.”

He stood away from the tree and strode toward her in haste. Removing his cap and taking her hand in his, he said, “But, your father said you never again desired my company.” His eyes searched her face beneath her hat brim, imploring.

Meredith could scarcely think above her rising excitement and beating heart. Father, father… She met Edmund’s gaze, blushed, looked away.

“What is it, Mere -Miss Howard?”

“Father,” she began. “‘Twas all Father’s doing. He forbade me to speak with you, but-” Here, she drew enough courage to meet his gaze once more. “I know that, if I heed his warnings, I shall be miserable the remainder of my days.”

A smile brushed against Edmund’s lips and lit his eyes more warmly still. It came again, staying this time. She’d always loved his smile.

He kneeled, right there amoungst the heather and the wet grasses. “Meredith Howard, I could never live, knowing I were the cause of a lifetime of misery.” Smiling wider, he said, “I will go and speak with your father -this very moment- with you by my side.”

Rising, he grasped her hand more firmly. She felt his strength and love through both their gloves as, together, they walked back to the arched wood door. Edmund pulled it open and she glanced at it as they passed. Simon had just stained it, and it looked nearly new.

Remembered for Sue Vincent‘s Thursday photo prompt: transition.

 

© 2019 Chelsea Owens

Half-Priced Valentine’s Love

I’m a bit late in posting this, but I wanted to write my final love poem of the (last) week to my favorite holiday in February, Half-Price Chocolate Day (February 15).

I also write this in response to Carrot Ranch‘s weekly writing prompt.*

Excuse me, ma’am, I know it’s bright,
My coming here at break of light;
Yet, may I guess you’re here to mark
Down hearts and cards within this cart?
‘Yes,’ you say? You’ve made my day!
-But, wait! What of the wall this way?
The bags and boxes here, you know,
Are why I woke up, braved the snow.
They’re why, my diet I’ll ignore;
Why, really, I came to this store;
And why, no joke, my world still turns
For what my beating heart still yearns:
My meaning, purpose, lifetime vice
Is V Day choc’late, sold half price.

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*Carrot Ranch’s official rules:
February 14, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about valentines. It can be Valentine’s Day, the exchange, love for another, romance, or friendship. Have a heart and go where the prompt leads!

Respond by February 19, 2019. Use the comment section [on the site] to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Photo Credit:
Pixabay

Costco, My Love

In celebration of an upcoming commercial holiday and to help inspire others to enter The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest, I will write a love poem every day this week.

Never able to be serious, this poem is dedicated to the megalith that is Costco:

Whenever I run out of bread,
Or cheese, or eggs, or e’en a bed;
Or when it’s time I must acquire
A brand new set (or two) of tires;
Or, hanging there, a frozen goat;
A lamb, a fridge, some pants, a coat;
There’s only one place I may go
Where membership card I must show
And cheese and choc’late samples flow
And impulse buys include cargo:
My own, enormous love, Costco.

Image may contain: one or more people

If You’re So Inclined

In celebration of an upcoming commercial holiday and to help inspire others to enter The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest, I will write a love poem every day this week.

I also write today’s tale in response to Carrot Ranch‘s weekly writing prompt.*

A simple man, though good and kind
Went walking down the sidewalk line
And saw a simple womankind.
He thought, She looks, to me, quite fine.
Meanwhilst, she glanced in mirrored shrine;
Of café window, ‘neath a sign
And told herself she was quite pline;
Till, seeing, side and just behind
Our simple man, in quite the bind.
Then, from his cellphone, played a chime:
‘Twas evening of Day Valentine.
She smiled, asked, “Have you the time?”
He smiled, too; said, “Not yet nine.
“Would you,” he paused, “Want to be mine
“For supper, now it’s time to dine?”

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*Carrot Ranch’s official rules:
February 7, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a sign. It can be a posted sign, a universal sign, a wonder. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by February 12, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form on the website.  Rules & Guidelines.

Photo Credit:
Jez Timms

A Romantic Tanka to My Clothestyle

In celebration of an upcoming commercial holiday and to help inspire others to enter The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest, I will write a love poem every day this week.

As morning became afternoon became evening and I hadn’t a topic to soliloquize, I finally settled on dedicating the following Tanka to black clothing:

Winter’s unkind touch

Paints my flabby skin folds on

Turning smiles down.

When, uplifted, my heart joys

Once clothed in slimming blackness.

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Photo Credit:

Mohammad Metri

Ode to My (Missing) Non-Vital Organ

In celebration of an upcoming commercial holiday and to help inspire others to enter The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest, I will write a love poem every day this week.

This evening, I address a piece of my inner being I lost one fateful, painful day: my appendix.

While those, intact, may shout and strain
And boast of their unscarrèd frame,
I cradle thee, my abdomen –
Less able to fight pathogens.

‘What, what?!’ say friends, in some concern,
‘Methought t’appendix was to spurn.
Surely, ‘mongst the var’yous ‘itis
The worst is appendicitis.’

True; surgeons call you, ‘trivial;’
The textbooks say, ‘vestigial.’
Yet, something tells me, in my gut
You’ve purpose; we just know not what.

And so, my years-departed friend,
Though you so nearly caused my end,
I’ll mourn my loss; I’ll cry, betimes
Whilst I eat more of active enzymes.

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Photo Credit:
rawpixel

A Sonnet to My Backup Safety Monitor

In celebration of an upcoming commercial holiday and to help inspire others to enter The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest, I will write a love poem every day this week.

Today’s romantic sonnet is dedicated to one of my favorite new-age gadgets, the backup safety monitor (and camera) on my minivan.

Toyota changed my driving life fore’er
Espec’ally when I’m trav’ling in reverse.
For, as I move to R with shifting gear,
A sonnet comes to m’absent mind, rehearsed:
Oh, beeping song I hear, upon my dash,
Oh, sudden sight I see, within your cam’:
A person’s there, appearing in a flash
As if he could not see a minivan.
What wouldst I do, how would walking man fare
Without you, backup safety monitor?
Would we be singing poems of love and care
Or hail an ambulance and coroner?
In short; without thee, I would feel confined
To living life, always looking behind.

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The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Welcome, one and all, to the infamous Terrible Poetry Contest!

I am giggling with excitement this morning because of this week’s prompt. I really am. Yes, silent giggling is a thing.

So, without further ado, here are the rules:

  1. Topic: LOVE POEM. A sonnet, preferably, but go where your heart tells you.
  2. The length ought to stay below 200 words. After all, you wouldn’t want your potential lover to fall asleep mid-verse.
  3. Roses may be red, violets may be blue; but I don’t care if you rhyme or not, because violets are clearly purple.
    In other words, rhyming is not mandatory.
  4. As always, make it terrible! I want your intended to cry as s/he reads what you’ve ardently penned -and for neither of you to know if they are tears of joy or pain.
  5. Love is in the air… but this blog is intended for general audiences, so keep it PG-rated.

You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (February 15, 2019) to submit a poem.

Post your poem or a link to it in the comments. Since this contest ends the day after V-Day, I’d like everyone to read (and cringe) in preparation for the blessed event.

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Just to get your creative juices flowing, here’s a little ‘love poem’ I penned to my weekly beau, The Garbage Truck:

The morning is frosty; the air so chill.
But, ’tisn’t winter that makes my heart still.

As I lay warming in blankets’ embrace,
One thing will get me to leave this soft place.

Hark! Hear the fragrant beau’s noisy approach:
He squeaks as he rolls his big, stinky coach!

I rush down the stairs; I dress for outside.
I must get there soon! I lengthen my stride.

Quickly now! Line up the cans by the road!
They ought to be decent, for their bethrothed.

He’s nearly here -at the end of the street.
I’ve made my offer and now must retreat.

Back inside for me, still in my p.j.’s
Till we meet, my love, in seven more days.

And, for those still struggling, I will also share a very romantic sentiment from Weird Al:

Photo credit:
Jesse Goll

“Romance is not being all starry eyed but an understanding that neither of us is perfect, and a willingness to put up with those imperfections.

“So here we are forty seven years later, still romantically involved, still forgiving each others faults and still trying the best we can to ensure our relationship endures.”

-Len, “Love and Marriage,” Len’s Daily Diary

Wilhelmina Winters, Sixty-Eight

Wil’s tenacious grip on the slide bar slipped, as did her treadless boots on the platform. With all the grace of a surprised, screeching sloth, she tripped, fell, and slid the length of the metal slide. She landed quite solidly on the frosted wood chips and closed her eyes against the cold night sky. Perhaps, if she squeezed her lids tightly enough, Eric and the world would go away. A portal into another world might open beneath her, or a wizard would appear and –

From a distance, she thought she heard running feet. “God; are you okay?” Eric said from quite close, his concern a tad more evident in his tone than his amusement.

Wil cracked one eye open, then the other. He stood over her. What she could see of his features seemed to resolve into an anxious curiosity. His mouth appeared to twitch at the corners, but she couldn’t be sure in the dim lighting of the apartment complex.

That lighting was never luminous, and tended to turn off at important times. Her mother had said the owners were conserving energy; her father said they wanted to conserve money.

As if on cue, the lamp overhead blinked off. Wil, Eric, and the playground were plunged into darkness. Wil attempted an evasive rolling maneuver to rise, and succeeded in smacking her head against the bottom of the slide. The slide reverberated in the chill, empty air like a gong.

Shit, Wil! What -” Eric began, but broke off at the sound of Wil laughing.

She laughed and laughed. Then she cried. She laughed and cried and didn’t know why. Sitting up, she stopped at the shadowy sight of Eric standing nearby. Did he need something? She attempted to stand, and made it upright with minimal wavering. Bits of dirt and pieces of wood clung to her scarf and backside; she brushed at herself accordingly.

Eric was still there when she finished, within the reach of her arm. She’d never realized how tall he was. “What do you want?” she demanded.

He stepped back. “I, er…” His face moved in the dark, seeking an answer from his feet, the playground, and the sky. Finally settling on his gloved hands, he mumbled, “Nothing, I guess.” She watched his shoulders lift as he sighed. He shuffled his feet.

“Wellllll….” Wil couldn’t think of anything to say. She didn’t even know Eric; she just rode in his car because his mom had a vehicle everyone could fit in. None of them liked Mrs. Crandall, either; but, Wil realized, that didn’t necessarily mean Eric was anything like her.

The light a few yards down the sidewalk turned on. Her eyes flicked to it, distracted, then back to Eric. She was able to make out more of Eric’s face. He was staring down at her, and he no longer looked amused. In fact, his expression reminded Wil of someone’s she’d seen recently. She felt a light, fluttering feeling somewhere near her stomach.

“Um,” Eric raised a gloved hand and coughed a bit into it. “So -are you okay, Wil?”

She couldn’t seem to pull her eyes away from his gaze. She nodded.

“Good.” He did the cough again. “Erm. Great.”

“Miiiinaaa!” came an echoing call from down the walkways. The voice sounded like her father’s, not to mention his use of her second-most detested name.

Wil blinked, the spell broken. “I need to go.”

Eric took a turn nodding. Then he smiled a small, shy, simple smile. He looked nice in a smile, even in the semi-dark. Wil smiled in return, then pivoted and ran to her father’s voice and to their building.

Her scarf fluttered behind her, waving goodbye in the night.

 

Continued from Sixty-Seven.
Keep reading to Sixty-Nine.