Day three: picture prompt

Today’s writing prompt and my response.

Use the prompt however you like, one at a time, or pen a short story over as many as you like.

The picture had hung on the wall all my life. A scene from another era, another place – the fantasy of the vast expanse of water, the gracious white floating creatures with their small dark cousin in the background. The only familiar item there was the huge white moon. We had two of them in our bare, uncluttered skies.

When I was old enough to be curious, I asked Mother where the picture came from.

She leaned over the table, serving grains and vegetables into the family’s bowls. ‘From my mother, and her mother before her.’

‘What place is it?’

She smiled her mysterious smile, the one where I couldn’t be sure if what came next was truth or tale.

Swans on water at sunset, with a moon rising

‘What was once home.’ She sighed, sat at her place and waved to us all to start eating. ‘So Grandmother told me, although she had it from her grandmother, and we know how these stories can get about.’ She laughed. ‘Chinese whispers, although who or what chinese were has long been lost to history.’

‘Alexa will know,’ I said.

‘Alexa might have once. Much has been lost over aeons.’

I would test Alexa later. For now, my thoughts were on that beautiful image.

‘What is the water? How could there be so much water anywhere?’

Mother studied the image, which hung on the dining room wall. ‘A true wonder, if it was ever so.’

‘It must have been so, once upon a time.’ Father set his fork down to join the conversation. ‘That’s what they used to call a photograph, so an image of something real.’ He shrugged. ‘The colours may have been played with, but the water, the swans and the duck once existed and a person once took a photograph of them.’

Mother and I stared at him. My heart beat faster at the thought of all that beauty being seen in three dimensional real life.

‘Swans? Duck?’ Mother said. ‘You mean the creatures on the water? That’s what they’re called?’

‘Yes. And the water is likely a very large lake, although it could be the ocean.’

I squinted at him. ‘What’s a lake, what’s an ocean?’

Mother had her own questions. ‘How do you know this? Why have you never told me?’

Father picked up his fork, waved it in the air. ‘I asked Alexa. She’s been given an upgrade so you can show her images and she’ll tell you what she knows about them.’ He grinned. ‘The wonders of modern technology, hey?’

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4 thoughts on “Day three: picture prompt”

  1. Simon woke to the comforting sound of far off waves crashing on the shore. The house was not near the beach but one could still hear the rolling surf if the wind was blowing from the right direction.
    This morning, the waves were louder than ever – pounding the sand mercilessly before receding out to sea, only to be swept in again as the tide turned.
    Simon loved the sea, which is why he had bought the house. Beachside homes in the area were far too expensive for a man on a modest freelance journalist’s income – but he could afford a three-bedroom home within hearing distance of the surf.
    His wife Elaine felt the same way and they had so far spent three happy years bringing up their two small children and getting to know people in the neighbourhood.
    It was an idyllic life – regularly filing stories for several magazines and newspapers while still being able to spend lots of time with Elaine and the children in a relaxed almost village-like setting that he felt was ideal for raising children.
    After he emerged from the bathroom showered and shaved, Simon’s thoughts turned to the day’s events.
    First on the agenda after a breakfast of cereal and toast was driving the kids to the local primary school.
    Jack, the eldest, was in Grade 4 – while his younger sister Phoebe was busy working her way through Grade 2.
    They both loved their school and each morning couldn’t wait to jump in the car for the relatively short ride to their classrooms.
    The teachers were happy with their progress and they certainly were among the top half of students for academic results.
    Sport was another matter. Jack tried hard to keep up with his classmates at various sports but seemed to lack their ability to catch a ball or master any of the other skills required to be successful at cricket, tennis or football – the main activities on which the school concentrated.
    Phoebe appeared to have no such trouble, even though she was two years younger than Jack. Physical activity came easily to her and, when it came to lunchtime games, she was one of the most popular in the class.
    Simon practised relentlessly with Jack, hoping for some improvement. But, however hard he tried, Jack just couldn’t seem to master the motor skills needed to be successful.
    By the time they left the house for the journey to school, the wind had become much stronger and Simon had to be careful of falling tree branches and other flying missiles as he slowly picked his way along the road.
    “Looks like a big storm is coming,” he said to the kids who were busy having a tickling match in the back seat.
    “Sit still,” Simon commanded. “You’ll make me run off the road. It’s hard to concentrate with all this debris flying around.”
    Jack and Phoebe stopped their game.
    “Lookout, Dad,” Jack yelled out just as a giant branch came flying through the windscreen.
    With an awful screech of tyres and almighty tearing of metal, the car veered off the road and crumpled into a ditch.


    “Where does a child hide from a terrible storm like this,” thought Jack, as he crawled from the wreck and looked back at the remains of the car.
    His father was still in the front seat, unconscious, blood pouring from a head wound probably caused by the destructive branch.
    Phoebe was trapped in her car seat and, when he called out to her, did not respond.
    “Help!” screamed Jack, as he rushed up to the road to flag down the first passing car.
    The raging wind had become considerably stronger and not many people appeared to be out and about.
    “Please, somebody, help!” he screamed again.
    “What are you doing out here in this terrible storm?” a reassuring voice came from the gloom.
    Jack could just make out the figure of a man bent double against the wind moving towards him.
    “Please mister, my dad and my sister are trapped in that car,” he said. “I think they might be dead.”
    Both the man and Jack moved to the car. Tall and strong, he managed to prise the driver’s door open and pull Jack’s father free.
    The head wound looked nasty and Simon’s complexion was pale as they lay him on the ground.
    “He needs a doctor,” the man said. “And urgently,” as he reached for his mobile phone.
    Once the emergency call had been made, the man returned to the car and, climbing precariously into the back seat, managed to extricate Phoebe who was still unconscious.
    “She doesn’t look too good, either,” he muttered.
    Just then the sound of sirens could be heard, approaching rapidly.
    Jack watched, trembling and in shock, as his father and sister were treated for their wounds before being loaded into the ambulance.
    Another paramedic threw a blanket around Jack as he sat shivering on the ground, mumbling incoherently.
    “Don’t worry,” he said reassuringly. “Your father and sister will be fine. We are taking you all to the hospital and your mother will meet us there. It’ll all be ok.”
    Jack was not so sure but was too traumatised to say anything.


    When Jack arrived at the hospital, his mother was waiting, impatiently striding up and down outside the emergency entrance.
    On seeing her son, she crushed him in an endearing embrace – all the while offering soothing words of comfort.
    Jack could barely breathe.
    “Mum, mum! I can’t breathe!” he cried.
    Elaine softened her grip and knelt down to look at him.
    “Are you hurt? What happened?” The questions tumbled almost incoherently from her lips.
    “I’m fine Mum but Dad and Phoebe have been hurt badly, I think.”
    Elaine turned to see the paramedics carefully unloading two stretchers from the ambulance. She rushed to her husband’s side and recoiled at the bloodstained bandage covering his head. Her daughter was lying very still on her stretcher and Elaine feared the worst.
    “How are they?” she inquired anxiously.
    “We won’t know until the doctor examines them more thoroughly,” the paramedic replied sympathetically.
    The trollies disappeared through the hospital’s emergency doors with Elaine and Jack following close behind.
    A team of emergency physicians and nurses began to work on them as mother and son were ushered gently to the waiting room.
    “We’ll come and talk to you soon as we know something,” a kindly nurse informed them.
    Waiting for news was hard, but they filled in the time by Jack explaining to his mother what had happened and how a flying branch, driven by the storm, had crashed through the windscreen.
    On hearing this, Elaine was more than fearful. Tree branches crushing cars or piercing windscreens never ended well for the occupants – and panic welled inside her.
    “I have to keep calm – for Jack’s sake,” she thought, looking at her nine-year-old son.
    An hour passed before the same kindly nurse emerged from the swinging doors.
    “We are going to have to keep you husband and daughter at least overnight,” she said. “Mr Poynton has suffered a nasty head wound that will require watching for the next 24 hours and Phoebe has heavy concussion with some brain swelling so we have had to place her in an induced coma while it subsides.”
    Elaine thought she would pass out but somehow managed to retain her feet. Jack was white and looked like he might vomit at any moment.
    Recognising the signs, the nurse sat them down and brought them both cups of water.
    “When you are able, I think you should go home and get some rest,” she said. “This has been a terrible shock and hopefully we will have better news tomorrow.”
    Once they had recovered, Elaine began the journey home – but at the last minute detoured to the road that led to the beach.
    By now the storm had abated – and a strange orange sunset had settled over the land. A ghostly white moon peeped through the clouds and, as they sat together on the sand, Elaine and Jack observed two white swans and a duck floating on what had become a placid ocean.

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