I ran across this literary challenge on kyteroo
's site and took up the gauntlet on a whim - forgive this poor pretense - I have never tried anything like this before........
The challenge was to write a story that included:
a street light
a wine bottle
a broken shoe lace
Length: 730 words
As she sat on the curb the cold from the concrete seeped up through her bones. It had been a futile hope, but the only kind she knew anymore. The light from the gas street lantern had seemed so warm as it sprang to life from the lamplighter's torch. But penetrating cold was her constant companion. Even the warm blanket of wine failed to block it tonight.
Rising from the sidewalk she wobbled back to the comparative shelter of her home. She had lived hidden in the ally between these two Boston brownstone Townhouses for close to two months now. The one was full of life, the other cold and empty, it's occupants having left last week “for the season and warmer climes." She often dreamed of going some place warm, a place of light and peace. She never dreamed of happiness, such luxury was part of a far too distant past.
It comforted her at night, as she huddled against the wind and damp, to put her ear against one of the drainpipes from the occupied house and listen to the muffled voices carried down the pipe. She closed her eyes and could almost remember.
Christmas was a time of joy and delight. Pappa had always made sure that they took time from their own merrymaking to take packages of fruitcake and warm mulled apple cider to the poorer families at their church. There were always a few left over to give to the carolers who braved the brisk winter air to bring their cheer and music to the doorway of their warm home.
The excited activity of her own children throwing themselves into the spirit and joy of the family tradition nearly made her heart burst. The picture of Pappa and Charles sharing a good pipe and toddy while recounting Christmases past, as the children sat enwrapped in the flickering glow of the candles of the tree, always created a sanctuary of peace and warm comfort that defined the season and their home.
The tree ever the centerpiece of their holiday, glistened with all manner of ornaments, each a gift from or to each other, in memory of some special event of the last year. They were so blessed and the tree's accumulated abundant ornamentation reflected their gratitude.
Startled she sat upright with a jerk and pressed herself deeper into the shadows. It had only been one of the cats that shared her home as it chased after a mouse in the garbage for its dinner. She almost envied the cat, for she could not remember her last meal, yet she smiled as she could not help rooting for the mouse. “We all live the best we can,” she thought. Then a glint in the snow caught her eye, a forgotten bit of wine in that bottle perhaps?? The amnesia of the bitter grape was always welcome.
But the bottle was empty. The drifting sounds from the drainpipe drew her back, and as she sat back against the wall she could see the deceptive warmth of the street lamp flickering in the gusts.
Absentmindedly she raised the wine bottle and looked at the lamp through it's amber hues - vague memories of hearth and tree candles flickering across her eyes. As her eyes drifted shut her hand reached into her coat, close to her heart she grasped her memories and softly fell into the deep rest.
As the city's civil servants went about their morning duties, some removing the drifted snow to clear the sidewalks, some snuffing out the lamps and others clearing the alleys of their refuse, she was discovered. Before she was removed to the morgue the owner of the house was questioned but could offer no information that would assist with identification. He had not even known she lived there.
The only bit she had that held any clue was found tied around her neck with a broken shoelace from her battered shoes. A spoon, bright and shiny, it's polish a striking incongruity to her dirty and bedraggled condition. It was clutched in her fist, the only real “possession” they found among her pauperly effects. It only added to, rather than aided in the resolution of, the mystery.
It was a spoon, obviously from a costly collection. It was ornate, silver, with the bowl engraved. The inscription read: “To beloved our Mother, with all our love. Merry Christmas - 1917.” Current Mood: Adventerous