#writephoto — Lord of the Manor

A longer, more solemn walk Michael had never taken. The narrow hallway, with its clay walls and ceilings and its worn stone floor, was illuminated only by the skylight at the end, just in front of the archway that opened up to the manor’s great room.

Michael could make out a large hearth on the wall opposite the archway as he walked tentatively toward the opening. But despite it being the dead of winter, no fire was blazing. He couldn’t really see much of his destination beyond that.

Minutes before, one of the servants had knocked on Michael’s door and announced to him that he’d been summoned to the great room by the manor’s baron. Michael had no idea what might have been behind the summons, but from what he’d heard, nothing good ever came from being called to appear before the baron.

Michael hesitated as he reached the archway. Then he heard the frail voice of a very old man beckoning him to enter the chamber. Michael saw the lord of the manor sitting in a large, ornate chair. Sitting next to him was perhaps the most strikingly beautiful young maiden Michael had ever seen.

“Michael, how long have you been staying at the Manor Von Struden?” the baron asked.

“I believe it’s been about six months, sire,” Michael deferentially responded. “Have I overstayed my welcome?”

“Not at all, son,” the old baron said. “In fact, I’ve become quite fond of you.”

This confused Michael, as he’d barely spoken with the baron during his time at the manor. “Thank you, sire,” Michael said. “May I ask why you summoned me here?”

“Michael,” the baron said, “I am an old man and my time on this earth is nearing an end. As you know, my beloved wife, the baroness, died in childbirth and I never remarried. I was an only child, so I have no brothers or sisters, no rightful heirs to leave my manor and my estate to.”

The baron continued. “Michael, you come from fine stock and I would like you and the duchess Vivian, sitting on my right, to produce an heir.”

Stunned, Michael looked at the baron, and then at the duchess, who blushed and smiled demurely at Michael.

“And since I don’t know how much longer I shall live,” the baron said, “I want you to start tonight. The duchess will accompany you to your chamber where the two of you shall commence the act of producing an heir. You shall remain together in your chamber until such time as it has been confirmed that the duchess is with child. Is this understood, Michael?”

“Oh, you bet your sweet ass, sire,” Michael exclaimed. Then he jumped from his chair, walked over to the duchess, and said, “Let’s go, Viv. We got us some work to do!”

Written for this week’s Thursday Photo Prompt from Sue Vincent.


#writephoto — The Lighthouse

Decades of Nor’easters had taken their toll on the tall, exposed wooden structure at the very end of the craggy outcropping. The old fisherman had heard the tragic tales of lives lost when, before the lighthouse was constructed, fishing boats crashed into those rocks during storms.

He remembered coming here as a kid to watch the lighthouse being built, fascinated by what seemed to his young eyes to be a Herculean effort to pour the concrete that would serve as its base and moor the tower to the rocky, uneven protuberance.

It took the better part of a year for the workers to complete the tower and to get the lighthouse operational. When it was finally finished, it was a thing of beauty, a work of art.

His father and grandfather, both fishermen, along with about a dozen other folks from the small town in Maine, came out to witness the bright light being turned on for the first time. The cheers and applause from the small crowd gathered there was spontaneous. Countless lives of fishermen would be saved by the powerful beam shining from the top of the tower.

These days, though, sophisticated electronics on board the large commercial fishing vessels that fished in the waters off the coast eliminated the need for the lighthouse, and the cost of repairs and maintenance could no longer be justified.

It made him sad to see that all that remained of the old lighthouse was the concrete foundation upon which it was built.

Written for today’s Thursday Photo Prompt from Sue Vincent.

#writephoto — Sailors’ Delight

Jason and his son stepped outside to look at the breathtakingly beautiful sunset. “Red sky at night, sailors’ delight. Red sky at morning, sailors take warning,” Jason said.

“Are you a sailor, Daddy?” Richie asked.

“No, son. It’s just an old saying,” Jason responded.

“But is it true, Daddy?” Richie asked. “Is a red sky at night good, but one in the morning is bad?”

“It’s based upon how the prevailing winds usually blow from west to east,” Jason explained. “And since we’re looking toward the west, where the sun is setting, it’s a good sign for tomorrow’s weather.”

Richie asked the inevitable question of an eight-year-old. “Why, Daddy?”

Jason sighed. “Well,” he said, “the saying assumes that when you see the rising sun illuminating clouds in the morning, more clouds will be coming in from the west, which portends cloudy weather to follow.”

Richie looked confused, so Jason continued, “But in order to see red clouds in the evening, sunlight from the setting sun must have a clear path from the west. Therefore, the prevailing winds coming in from the west will be bringing clear skies.”

“But why, Daddy?”

“It’s just an old wives’ tale,” Jason said.

“Is Mommy an old wife,” Richie asked.

Jason looked at his watch. “Oh my, look at the time. I think I heard your mother calling us for dinner.”

Written for this week’s Thursday Photo Prompt challenge from Sue Vincent.

#writephoto — The Flood

“It will never be the same,” lamented Jerry. “Even once the flood waters recede this time, this probably won’t be the last time.”

“Yeah, I know,” Gary concurred. “This is the third time since 2010 that this valley has flooded, but this time it’s by far the worst.”

Jerry looked across the water that covered the completely submerged roadway that ran under the bridge separating the north and south sides of the park. “It’s still too deep for us to wade in there and try to clear the debris out of the storm drain,” Jerry said. “The water has to be seven or eight feet deep.”

“We might have to get some scuba divers from the naval base to go down there and see what they can do,” Gary said. “Otherwise, there’s no telling how long it will be before we can open this road again.”

Jerry lit up a cigarette and took a deep drag. He offered one to Gary, but Gary didn’t smoke. “I think Mother Nature is sending us a message,” Jerry said after a moment of silence.

“I agree,” Gary said, “but it seems like no one is hearing her. No one is paying attention.”

Jerry’s phone buzzed. “I just got a text from dispatch,” he said. “They need us over at the dam. They say the water is still rising and they’re afraid the dam is going to fail under the strain.”

“It’s a good thing this whole climate change thing is a hoax,” Gary sarcastically said.

The two men rowed their boat toward the dam, having no idea what they could possibly do to stop the dam from flooding the entire valley.

Written for this week’s Thursday Photo Prompt from Sue Vincent.

#writephoto — Optical Illusion

376359A8-FC0D-4AD6-9B5C-20D3A58301CB“Oh Jeez,” Sam cried out as he jumped back from the wall, fell against a chair, and almost lost his balance.

“What happened?” his wife, Charlotte, asked.

“Do you see the size of that spider on the wall?” Sam asked. “It’s huge! And you know I’m petrified of spiders.”

“Do you have your contacts on?”

Sam looked at his wife. “Yes, I have my contacts on.”

“Then you need to have an eye exam,” Charlotte said. “Or maybe it’s your head you need to have examined.” She walked over to her husband, grabbed his hand, and led him toward the wall. With her free hand, she reached out to touch the “spider.”

“What the hell are you doing?” Sam screamed.

“I’m going to catch your spider,” she said.

Sam stopped and looked at the wall. He slowly and cautiously moved closer. “Oh, it’s not a spider,” he said. “It’s just a shadow cast by that spur hanging on the wall.” Relieved, he sheepishly smiled and said, “That’s quite an optical illusion, isn’t it?”

Charlotte looked at her husband and, with a deadpan expression on her face, said, “More likely confusion and delusion.”

Written for this week’s Thursday Photo Prompt from Sue Vincent.