|Strange Weather - J. Garnett (firstplusprojects.net)|
The prompt, titled The City, asks the writer to write two short scenes in a cityscape of the author's choice - one at night, one in the daytime.
What came out is a fragment of an aftermath, when something catastrophic has occurred, and the citizens of the city are digging out to assess the damage.
This is called Mourning.
Word Count: 354
In the city, there fell a soft snow of petals, and each one helicoptered down into the sleeping street. There fell a scent, also, of ash and spiderwebs, of mothwings and death.
Those who survived the night clawed forth from the gutters to gaze out in wonder at the husk of their city. Breeze battered the lanterns on their strings, long tatters of them strewn from rooftops, across lorries, into windows, all shattered. The night that shook and ravaged had raged and passed. It cast up land, shaking blooms from the trees, raking stars from the sky, shifting plates of rock upways and sideways and down.
Gray people with lamplight eyes, taking hold of hands, drifted silently into crosswalks. Wordless, they stared at the fallen fragments. Fire had come. Flood had answered. Waste remained.
And life. Life clung in the sidewalk cracks, grassblades and dandelions, caked black, but alive. Pools collected in the low spaces, trapping fish and crabs in the cracks. They darted and flipped, a coruscation of scales and claws. In the high crumbling towers, redbirds dared to pierce the quiet with their songs.
So the people crept, wary at first, and then frantic, as the pebbles scrabbled, as the first murmurs rose up. People clambered to release those entombed.
Then noise bloomed out, cries of joy and shouts of despair. Then shifting stone. Hands clasped hands. Arms lifted and cradled. Heads tilted back, eyes to ashen sky, and tears fell.
More fires and more cairns, these set with more care than those of nature's random violence.
Daylight waned. Shadows deepened. A new landscape yawned into night. Those who remained gathered tight, hipbone to hipbone, shoulder to shoulder. Light subsided into smoke-skeined skies, and stars stared down, sharp and keen and unreachable.
Quiet descended, punctured by coughs and cries. The old ones waited, wary and watchful, but the bones of the earth lay still.
In the morning, there fell a soft rain, and each drop needled into the sleeping street. There fell a sorrow, also, of loss and exhaustion, of dust and death.
And those who survived the night strove forward, hoping, somehow, to rebuild.