Wednesday 22 June 2022

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 255

This week's picture prompt creator has been difficult to trace. It's tagged everywhere by being by Zoraya Tonel, but I haven't been able to find any artist with that name, despite trawling many sites. It seems they had a Google Plus account and that is now, of course, gone. This is all over the place being sold as wallpaper and prints, yet the original image it's been created from was very different (Tineye Reverse Image Search threw that up, along with this image), but although it's been around since 2013, all the links are now dead - websites shutdown etc. So no success, which is a real shame. I hate it when artists aren't credited properly. 

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.

Looking at a small, low sitting stone cottage on a hilltop, with sun beams cutting through the clouds and highlighting it. Seen from a tunnel opening, across a lake and showing a hanging wooden bridge to reach it.

Coming Home

As he came through the tunnel, he paused and looked up at the cottage, nestled into the hillside. Home at last. He couldn’t quite believe he was here. He had wondered if he would ever make it back, but here he was, full of hope, full of love, full of anticipation.

As he stepped across the stones on the lake to the wooden bridge, a crack in the early morning clouds opened and cast the dwelling in a divine light. It highlighted what he felt returning to the sanctuary he once called home, before he was brutally taken and forced to serve in a war he didn’t know anything about. Ten long years he’d been gone, surviving all attempts on his life, and shameful about having to take lives of others to do so.

He strolled over the hanging bridge, enjoying the sway of it as it brought back childhood memories. He wondered how his family were, how much they had grown, and what they might look like now: his brothers, his mother, his father, his sister. They would be overjoyed to see him, to embrace him again, and so would he.

As he climbed up the hill on the other side of the bridge, he urged his legs to hurry, his impatience growing. He looked for signs that they were awake, but he couldn’t be sure if that was smoke coming from the chimney or whether it was mist from the low hanging clouds. There was no light in any of the windows.

When he reached the path up to the front door, he slowed his pace, wanting to savour this moment of joy. He came to the door and turned the iron ring handle gently, considering not waking anyone and just sitting in the lounge until they stirred.

When he stepped inside, the front door opening into a small porch and then the kitchen, everything was still. More than that, it was covered in a thick layer of dust; the kitchen table, the oven hob, the counter tops. He moved further in, passing into the long, low ceilinged living room where he found all the furniture covered in white sheets, which had thick layers of dust on them, too.

He searched the house. Not a sole was in it; he was alone. Where was everyone? And how long had they been gone?

He stood in the kitchen, unsure what to do. He could only clean up the place and make a home here for himself until he could find out what had happened. He opened the doors and windows and began cleaning out the dust. He brought in wood from the woodshed that was still heavily stocked, and got the oven lit and hot enough to boil some water and make some tea. Not quite the homecoming he imagined but at least he was here.

In the living room he pulled all the sheets off the furnishing and set a fire in the hearth, bringing the room to life, and taking a moment to sit and drink his tea, and listen to the fire crackle. Later that day he foraged for food, and ate alone.

This went on for several days until he decided to try and find out what had happened to his family. The town was a good days walk over the mountain, so he packed up his bag and set out early the following morning.

He climbed up the hill behind the cottage and up into the mountain, finding the track through the peaks. He climbed down the other side and walked into the forest, finding the brook that ran down the side and would take him to town.

The brook wound back and forth, and then came to a point where it ran into a tunnel. He didn’t remember the tunnel, but trusted the water and followed it through using a small side path that ran alongside it. He could see light at the end, which he focused on until he came out into it.

He blinked. The water ran out into a lake, there were stepping stones and a wooden hanging bridge, and there on the hillside was the cottage. How had this happened? Had he circled round on himself? He climbed up to the cottage and found it all closed up as it had been when he arrived several days ago. What was happening?

He set off again, this time in another direction, and after several hours of walking along rocky mountain hillsides and more forests, he found himself in another tunnel that came out at the lake with the view of the cottage.

This time he went in and stayed there. Cleaning it all out again, and sitting once more in front of a roaring fire in the living room with a cup of tea. He didn’t know what was happening, but at least he was safe here. At least he was home. 

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