Cave of the Prodigal

CaveHand2

From a collection of 100-word stories & wonders

A cave painting bears the essence of a human life across thirty millennia. Public domain photo from Pech Merle cave in France suggested by Dean R. Snow, via Wikimedia.

Their shadows danced and darted across cold undulating stone in the advancing halogen glow. Remi fell behind the others. Colleagues speculating while she trembled in secret. Those cave-painted hands, outstretched like Dante’s damned, were anything but groping blindly. Her eyes searched, found the print that mattered. Her hand fit still. Unchanged by eons. Deep memories welled: Sputtering light. Biting smoke. Reek of clanship. And men, their deep-throated chants and hunter hearts throbbing as one. Of them all, the cave had taken to itself her soul’s marrow, kept it safe. It did still. She’d quit asking why long ago.

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The Old One

Bristlecone love copy

From a collection of 100-word stories & wonders

An ancient bristlecone pine under a starry sky awakens a dying man’s longing for immortality. Photo by Gregg Boydston, via U.S. Forest Service.

Dusk on the mountain. Frightened and dying, Schulman sat hunched beside the gnarled tree, gazing out. Las Vegas shimmered in the distance. He wished the bristlecone pine could speak. He’d ask what it was like to be immortal… Chest pain, sudden, stabbing. Slowly easing. Heart, lungs starved on this diet of cold, thin air. Uncaring, Vegas twinkled with merry mayfly intensity. Vanity! Surely the old one would lament its longevity, the endless procession of barren seasons; even stars must lose their luster after five millennia. Schulman’s harsh laugh caught midway. Another wave of pain. He desperately clutched the indifferent trunk.

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The Peddler

Mt Sabinyo by floschen2

From a collection of 100-word stories & wonders

A cloud-capped peak in East Africa seems a likely retreat for a reclusive soul. Photo by flöschen, via flickr.

My house clung precariously to the mountainside, surrounded by cedar-scented clouds. One day a stranger appeared, humping a swollen peddler’s sack up the narrow path leading to my door. I greeted the sinewy old man with a bow. “What brings you to my mountain?” “The finest raiment,” he said, standing like a heron. “Guaranteed to last a lifetime.” “I didn’t order new raiment.” “Yet I braved tooth and thorn.” I sighed. His eyes flashed. “Who are you to refuse the Weaver?” “Why?” I asked. He shrugged. “It is His way.” … I was born beside the road somewhere in Macedonia.

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Four in the Morning

800px-Nighthawks_by_Edward_Hopper_1942

From a collection of 100-word stories & wonders

A “likely” story, conjured out of my imagination by the 1942 painting “Nighthawks” by Edward Hopper, via Wikimedia Commons. Also, check out The Museum of Four in the Morning.

At 3:42 a.m. on a sleepless night, listening for a message in the static hiss of my Philco, I recalled Vivian once saying, “Darling, you can call me at four in the morning; I’ll always be there for you.” A goddamn sucker punch to the guts, that memory. I just knew if I didn’t pick up the phone right then and there, she’d be out of my life. So I did. “Viv, it’s me. I wake you?” “Your timing’s off, I’m going out.” “Where to?” … “Penn Station.” “Don’t go.” “Why?” “Meet me at Phillies. Fifteen minutes. … Viv? Hello?” … “Okay.”

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Into the Unknown

Here Be Dragons

From a collection of 100-word stories & wonders

Inspired by this image of a sea serpent attacking a ship on Olaus Magnus’s Carta Marina of 1539 via Live Science.   

Into the unknown I plunge. From my study, late at night, trance-migrated. Night after night, for years now. Familiar maps of the human psyche, my early guides on these visionary wanderings, do little good in regions of the imagination where is written “Here there be dragons.” I am called Carl Gustav Jung. Opener of the way. Cartographer of the soul. But what am I? Madman? Mystic? Explorer, I deem, of heaven and hell. On a voyage of discovery to the far side of the world, where the gods and devils I have met along the way are all me.

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