Rhapsody in Blue: A Write at the Merge Prompt

Sylvia stopped half way down the stairs and let the music from the piano flow through her, gently kissing the shores of her soul. Her step softened as she descended to the bottom of the stairs and glided across the floor to the living room where the piano tuner tested the results of his art. Standing in the entranceway she watched Jameson’s hands dance across the keys breathing life back into the Heintzman she had bought barely a month ago at an estate auction.

She had met Jameson at the party of a friend around the time she had bought the piano. Unable to explain how she had known or how it had happened, by the end of the evening she had thrown her practical conservatism and finely tuned logic to the wind and had fallen in love with him.

She watched his shoulder length blonde hair sway to and fro to the rhythm and tempo of the music. Spiriting herself across the floor, she wrapped her arms around him and kissed him. “Oh my god! That was beautiful! What’s it called?”

“Rhapsody in Blue,” he said, separating her arms and turning to face her. “This piano was a steal. I hope you know that? And, now that it’s tuned…well…” He placed his arms around her waist and pulled her closer.

Disengaging his hands, she walked a short distance away before turning to face him. “What I’m about to ask I’ve never asked anyone before. And, quite honestly, I’m at a loss of how to go about asking it?”  She took in a deep breath. “But, here it goes anyway. Would you move in with me?”

To stop her from saying anything further he held up his hand. “Shush! Of course I would.”

“Would?”

“You need to know something.”

“We love each other. What else is there to know? Mind you,” she said chuckling, “I’d like to know your secret to staying thin.”

He pursed his lips. “That’s what we need to talk about.” He led her back to the piano bench and sat her down. He sighed deeply before beginning. “I have a rare condition called short bowel syndrome or SBS. Quite honestly I’m as normal as I am because of the Orphan Drug Act passed 30 years ago”

“Jameson…”

“Let me finish. Every night I attach an IV to my arm for 8 hours to get my daily nutrients since I can’t absorb the ones I need with solid food.”

“But, I’ve seen you eat.”

“Basically, I eat only for the pleasure of it.” He sat down beside her and, resting his arms across his thighs, looked up at her.

She took his hand in hers. “Whatever lies ahead, we’ll face together.” Tears bubbled up in his eyes. “Why don’t you play another tune? Something more lively.”

Turning to the piano with a large smile, he began to sing and play his rendition of the song Nagasaki while watching Sylvia’s gyrations in rhythm with the music.

It Weighed Upon My Heart My Love – A Write at the Merge Prompt

Hafodunos HallChristopher and Adam were deliriously giddy in October 2004 as they splashed accelerant onto the floors and walls of the main block of Hafodunos Hall—a residence in disrepair since 1993. The glint in their eyes was nothing short of evil as their lighted matches hit the floor.

Flames licking hungrily at their heels, they didn’t stop running until they knew they were safe. Cheating death for profit had become a ritual as they flopped down on the slope for a smoke to admire their handiwork.

With relish they awaited the police and local firemen and shivered in the chill of the Welsh air.

When they finally slithered over the brow of the hill, a silver-plated lighter with Christopher’s initials was left behind.

                                                                         _____

“Here my sweet, you must keep up your strength,” Henry pleaded, offering the spoonful of broth.

“I just can’t…please Henry,” Margaret muttered through tightly flattened lips. Gently, she pushed aside his offering. “Don’t look at me that way. I haven’t given up…honestly…I haven’t. It’s just that…today’s…not a good day.” She reassuringly squeezed his hand. “Maybe… later.”

Born in 1812, Margaret had been on a trajectory to fame as a poet until she had been diagnosed with breast cancer twelve years earlier at the age of 28. She and Henry had lived in Hafodunos Hall since their marriage.

Henry waved for the servant to take away the tray. “I heard what you just said…but…might you be up to going to the conservatory? It would only be for a short stay.”

“There’s mischief in your eyes.”

“You know me too well, my sweet,” he laughingly replied.  “Well?…Are you?”

Nodding, she shut her eyes and breathed deeply as Henry pulled back the covers and scooped up her frail, feather-weight body in his arms.

Nuzzling into his neck, she nibbled on his earlobe. “You still know how to sweep a lady off her feet, Henry Sandbach.”

“So, I haven’t lost my touch, then?”

“Not in the least, my darling.”

He placed her on the wood carved tapestry chaise in the conservatory and tucked the blanket around her. “Are you warm enough?”  She looked up at him with a quizzical expression. “Be patient, you’ll soon learn.”

Her brother, Edward, and their cousin, Charlotte, entered and took up their positions: he at the piano and she standing beside him.

The melodic union of word and song flowed with ease across the room and washed through Margaret. They were her words. From her poem “Lamentation.”

Intent on putting most of her poetry to song, “Lamentation” was the only one she heard before she passed away later that night.

_____

The conservatory and service wing survived the fire. During a routine search of the property by police, Christopher’s lighter was found, eventually leading to their arrest.

Seven years later—like the Phoenix rising from the ashes—the abandoned beauty of Hafodunos Hall was restored to a residence again and Margaret’s poetry was finally put to song by Linda Lamb and Mark Baker.

Forgive Me – A Write at the Merge Prompt

FarmhouseThe Lysander made a washboard landing in the field beside an old farmhouse.

“Thank you for this, George,” Jill yelled over the drone of the plane’s engine as he brought it to a stop. She stretched over and gave him a peck on the cheek.

“That’s payment enough. Let’s hope…”

She had known George since…well…she couldn’t recollect when she didn’t know him.

“Me too,” she interjected, sighing. “Nasty storm brewing…Are you sure you shouldn’t wait this out?”

“Git girl!  I’ll be back in Portland before it breaks.”

Disembarking with her suitcase, she shut the door and, rounding the plane on the propeller side, headed to the fence-line to watch the plane disappear into the low hanging, foreboding clouds.

The moment she laid eyes on her brother, Allan, standing at the door, she knew and she began to sob uncontrollably as sheets of rain played out its empathetic gesture.

“I tried you know…I really did…” she said between waves of sobbing.

“I know sis…I know.” Placing his arm around her shoulders, he guided her into the kitchen and sat her down at the table. “Here, let me take your suitcase. You just sit here.”

The ghosts of her mom and dad danced in the kitchen to the intermittent beat of rain smashing against the windows and Jill smiled at the thought.

Allan sat down beside her and handed her a wad of Kleenex and watched as she wiped away her tears and blew her nose. “Jill, it was a massive heart attack. He was dead before he hit the ground.”

“Damn it, Allan! I’m a cardiologist! I should have seen the signs the last time I was here.” Jill bent over and kissed the top of her brother’s head and gave it a little hug. “I’ll be okay, Allan…Really…I will. I just need time to myself.” She stood up and started down the hallway to her bedroom.

“Wait! There’s an envelope from dad. It’s in your room. And, no, I don’t know what’s in it.”

Alone, she sat on her bed for a long time before finally opening the envelope and reading the letter.

Dear Jill,

Forgive me.

Clutching the letter in her hand, Jill ran down the hall, through the kitchen and outside into the rain to the side of the house where she flung open the cellar door and rushed down the stairs to the basement. Allan found the light-switch and turned it on while she pulled the trunk to the middle of the room and opened it. Inside were neatly stacked letters tied off with string with a different year marked on each. Arranging them on the floor in sequence, she set about reading them while Allan looked on.

Rain droplets splashing into the rain-barrel outside counted out the three hours that passed.

Tears streaming down her face, she put down the last letter. “George is my father.”

The radio crackled in the house: “News Bulletin: A pilot is dead after his plane crashed outside of Portland…”

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Fallingwater – A Write at the Merge Prompt

Word Prompt: Wonder

Fallingwater

Fallingwater

It all begins with a thought, a question and an ability to act.

“Damn! DAMN!” Edgar rolled over and pulled the pillow tightly over his head to block out the sounds of passing vehicles.

Their ‘country home,’ as they called it, was only large enough for Edgar Junior’s crib and the two of them, provided they didn’t want to sit down.

“Are you alright, dear?” whispered his wife, Liliane.

“Oh…I didn’t mean to…”

“You didn’t. I’ve been awake for awhile.”

Edgar tossed the pillow into the corner of the screened-in porch before sitting at the edge of the cot facing her. “How long have we been coming up here, 10, 15 years?” Picking up his spectacles from atop the novel “Work of Art” by Sinclair Lewis on the floor beside his cot, he put them on.

Pushing her pillow under her, she propped herself up with her elbows. “It’ll be twelve, tomorrow.”

“Now how do you know that?” He struck a match and lit the kerosene lamp on the table between them.

“When we closed on this property our neighbor’s daughter had just turned two. She’s now fourteen.”

Edgar cupped his hand behind his ear. “Do you hear that?” Liliane looked at him with a puzzled look. “Except for the water falls, there’s no passing trucks or cars, just this fresh air and the serenity of the countryside.” He began to softly stroke the back of her head. “Remember when we opened this property up to our employees as a summer camp?” She nodded.  “This damn Depression changed that. Now, their daily living has become so hard they can’t come anymore. Few people can afford the $1 round trip fare by train from the “Smoky City.”

Throwing back the light sheet covering her, Liliane swung her legs over the side of her cot and sat up facing him. “Yes, we’ve done well, but we’ve worked hard for it.”

“And, we’ve been lucky.”

Taking his hands in hers she smiled and said: “Yes, that too, but it doesn’t hurt to have the most elegant and exciting store in Pittsburgh.”

“No, I guess not,” he replied, smirking.

“So what’s really on your mind?”

“It’s the increased noise level since they paved that road. We’ve either got to sell this property or build a proper home.”

“Sell Bear Run? No way!”

“I thought as much… Liliane?… I’ve already retained an architect.”

“You have?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Who?”

“Frank Lloyd Wright.”

By 1935, the design had been agreed on and construction of the main house had been completed by 1938. Frank Lloyd Wright incorporated their love of nature and the waterfalls by building part of their home on top of the waterfalls.

“The sound of the waterfalls is soothing,” Liliane said, placing her cup and saucer on the table beside her. “You’re not too disappointed, are you?”

“You mean missing the view of the falls? No, not really. It drowns out the sound of the passing vehicles.”

“No wonder you look so pleased with yourself.”

The Unlikely Hero – A Write at the Merge Prompt

The writing prompt this week from Write at the Merge is legs. The prompt included a photograph and a Justin Timberlake video.

For your reading enjoyment, I introduce:

The Unlikely Hero

Virginia sat at the edge of her bed and re-read the letter from the White House. Looking up, she watched the young lieutenant through the open bedroom door, her thumb gently gliding across President Truman’s signature several times. She noticed his impatience had become more noticeable as he awaited her reply in the living-room.

Sighing deeply, she thought: There can only be the one reply—any other would be foolhardy and dangerous. Looking at her legs, she remembered how her life had changed in 1933 while a clerk in the U.S. Embassy in Turkey. We’ve come a long way since then, haven’t we ‘Cuthbert?’ she mused, tapping her left leg with her hand before standing up. With a noticeable limp, she walked over to her desk and sat down and picked up the pen.

_____

Virginia’s high intelligence and language proficiency had not gone unnoticed at the Embassy in 1933. A career in Foreign Service—her lifelong goal—was within reach.

On March 20, everything changed.

Hunting wild boar with friends in the Kizilcahaman District of Ankara, Virginia stumbled and shot herself in the leg. Though they managed to stop the bleeding, the grueling two mile trek back to their vehicle had taken its toll.

A few days later in Ankara Numune Hospital, she learned the bad news: the surgeons had amputated her leg below the knee.

When she was finally fitted with a wooden prosthesis, she immediately called it ‘Cuthbert’ after Saint Cuthbert, whose feast day was March 20. After difficult weeks of therapy, she walked out of the hospital and into an uncertain future.

Since an amputee could not be employed in the Foreign Service, her convalescence bubbled over with despair and confusion.

For several years, she backpacked throughout the Mediterranean. When the Germans invaded France on May 23, 1940, she was in Paris. Itching to get involved, she drove an ambulance for the French Army before fleeing to England.

Learning that the British Special Operations Executive was having difficulty recruiting, she volunteered to become a spy. Sent back to Vichy France under the guise of an American reporter, she worked under several aliases to organize French Resistance to carry out sabotage and guerilla warfare while writing articles for the New York Post. She barely missed capture by the Gestapo when one of the resistance cells she worked with was compromised. She escaped over the treacherous, snow covered Pyrenees to Spain.

Hearing of her exploits, the newly formed American Office of Strategic Services (OSS), recruited her and in 1944, prosthesis secured in her knapsack, she was parachuted into France to coordinate sabotage operations with the D-day landings.

_____

Sealing her reply in the envelope, Virginia went out to the living-room and handed it to the lieutenant.

Later, opening the middle drawer of her desk, she pulled out a Gestapo reward poster: WANTED – DEAD OR ALIVE – THE LIMPING LADY.

To preserve her cover in the newly created CIA, she received the Distinguished Service Cross without publicity.

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Alistair McBubble – A Write at the Merge Prompt

There were two photos to reflect on at Write at the Merge. The creative prompt offers up…somethings…for your inspirational pleasure. The idea is to find where it intersects for you and write on. Sometimes it will be one, sometimes both.

For all you Scottish folk, I hope I have not embarrassed myself too much. I tried my best to get it right.

For your reading enjoyment, I present:

Tartan HatAlistair McBubble

Alistair McBubble was born to Florrie and Hugh on March 14, 2013 at precisely 9:47:15 A.M.  After delivery, Doctor McAlister completed a few preliminary tests and assured them that Alistair was indeed spherical in shape.

“Ur ye sure? Florrie asked. “Withit ‘at shape …weel…Ah dornt want tae…’at shape ensures he has th’ minimum surface energy an’ th’—“

“Lowest ratio ay surface area tae volume,” interjected Dr. McAlister. “A ken aw ay ‘at.”

Furrows formed at the bridge of Florrie’s nose. She peered at him with a look of consternation. “If ay min’ correctly, doctur, ye said ‘at affair.”

“Florrie!  Dornt pinch yer foreheid loch ‘at,” Doctor McAlister commanded. Softening her expression, she looked up at him. “Florrie, ah test fur th’ Marangoni effect, if ‘at makes ye feel better.”

“It woods,” she retorted.

“Ah will gie Hugh.”

Hugh and Florrie remained on pins and needles—figuratively speaking—waiting for the results. When the doctor returned and told them that the surface tension on Alistair was stable, they were overjoyed.

“Och, Hugh, we finally hae a perfect McBubble.”

“Och aye,” rejoined Hugh, puffing his chest out with pride, “we dae.”

“Dornt gie carried awa’ thaur Hugh,” warned the doctor.

Hugh’s face took on a dismayed appearance that alarmed Florrie.

“Whit in heaven’s nam is wrang, Hugh?” she pleaded.

Speechless, he pointed to the location beside Florrie.

“Ack!” Florrie screamed. “He’s taken flecht.”

Alistair’s choice would have been to remain with his parents but his destiny was ordained the moment that gust of wind swopped him up and ushered him off.

As Alistair wiped away his tears, a deep voice startled him.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

Glancing back, Alistair saw two bubbles coming up quickly behind him. “An’, wa nae?” he asked, perturbed by this interruption.

“Because… it doesn’t matter now…you’ve already done it. I was just going to say it would thin out your surface.”

“An’, wa shoods ’at matter?” Alistair replied snootily.

“He doesn’t know anything, Albert,” giggled the girl. “He even talks funny.”

“Fa ur  ye tois anyway?” Alistair asked, unable to hide his displeasure with her comments.

“I’m Albert and she’s my sister, Alicia. I can see you’re interested in what I’m doing.” He held up the miniature chalkboard.

Alistair nodded and moved closer.

“Not too close.” Pointing at his chalkboard he said:”It’s an equation.”

“Whit diz it dae?” Alistair asked with great interest.

“Oh!” Alicia interrupted. No longer giggling, she pointed at Alistair. “His color has changed. He was bluish-green when we arrived and he’s now more yellow.”

“We must get out of the sun.”

“What’s happenin’? Aam almost colorless.”

“The film that formed you is much thinner. That’s why…”

Looking at each other, their faces filled with anguish.

Albert pointed to the old castle below. “We must hide there until dark…maybe…”

POP! POP! POP!