The Mending
Praying For The Treadmill



Eleanor dreamed.

As snow piled two feet deep about Chimney Swift, a thing unheard of for more than fifty years, she shifted beneath the covers, eyelids rolling; allowing the shrunken, dark skinned woman to take her by the hand and lead her on. Bare feet marking nary a print upon the drifts they walked due east toward the darkest part of the night; right into the thick of that blizzard Eleanor grasped the dry hand hard, fingering the bulging veins and staring unblinking as the house came into view.

Already it stood abandoned, though Eleanor kept her gaze straight ahead; lest oh even now her vision should become blurred; milky white and witched beyond saving.

There was an empty lot next door, with short cement steps leading up to nothing but air, and a for sale sign swinging in the barren and sand swept yard. Grace’s child sat upon the steps. Her calico dress hung quiet around her ankles, damp bare feet sand dusted. She regarded Eleanor solemn eyed, full lips pursed; thick hair a shiny sheet down her back, puddling dark on the cracked concrete below.

“It’s been too long” she spoke to the old woman, her eyes watching Eleanor.

“Can’t be helped child” Ruby Mim answered quick. As though she knew what the girl’s words would be. She answered quick, smiled slight, and turned to look deep at Eleanor, playing each reaction she may have and where it might lead.

And Eleanor nearly laughed. Nearly turned her head to gaze full long into Ruby Mim’s black eyes, sureness welling within that the Witch of Crow Wood had always known such a time would come to pass. This was merely one of the many meetings long foretold and destined. She nearly laughed and easy tugged her hand away; resisting the urge to glance upon it; searching for fingerprint whorls burned clean through, smoke trickling.

“Storm’s gone” Eleanor’s voice sounded hollow. She blinked slow, watching Grace’s child stand up fluid; move across the yard upon bare feet just hovering above the sand.

“That storm can’t find us here” the girl replied. “You know that”. She touched Eleanor’s cheek with a soft hand. And Eleanor couldn’t keep her eyes from the red mark staining the girl’s fair skin; that red ring; the rope’s bite.

“It’s ever so quick” the girl whispered, her eyes such a light green they seemed nearly colorless. The smell of cloves enveloped Eleanor; pungent scent alive as the girl smiled close lipped, sealing in secrets too precious to breathe.

“It was a foolish waste” The old woman, was she still there then, spoke sharp; eyes glinting; angry.

“It was time” the girl replied, taking Ruby Mim’s gnarled hand, pressing it to her heart. “But it’s still there” her voice was earnest, almost pleading. “It’s still thundering, still beating. Even after so long.”

“The words will be fulfilled child” softening, relenting, the old woman’s fingers curled round the girl’s.  Her other hand reached out for Eleanor’s; and Eleanor gave it up. Without thought, without fear, she clasped Ruby Mim’s calloused hand upon one side, found the girl’s free hand, squeezing it tight upon the other. Creating a circle beneath the waxing moon as the Atlantic ran its smooth cleansing along the shore to their east, and the blizzard raged wild about Chimney Swift House behind.



Master Class 2014 Volume IV using this prompt:

There was an empty lot next door, with short cement steps leading up to nothing but air, and a for sale sign swinging in the barren and sand swept yard

in this fashion:

Since this is a week of 5ths, your challenge is to use this line as a 5th in your story. For newcomers, that means you can use it as the 5th sentence or any multiple of 5, as the first line of your 5th paragraph, etc. Anything goes as long as it is in a 5th position, any genre, any length.

Comments are very welcome!