Keeper of the Bloom

F1481FBF-F860-468E-9F2C-46A6F7F62B33How many years had it been since she, as a young child, had been plucked from what was a serene and unassuming life down in the valley? It seemed like it was forever ago that she had been chosen as the keeper of the bloom at the top of the tower.

“Even in your youth, child, you have demonstrated the right amount of courage to take on this challenge,” the elders told her when she was a little girl decades ago. “You must be diligent in your duties to care for and water our sacred flowering plant,” they told her. “It was placed there by God for us to demonstrate our love and devotion to Him. Should the bloom fade and the plant die, so, too, will the people of this valley, for we will have betrayed His love and will no longer receive His protection. Do your bidding, child, and all will be well. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” the little girl responded demurely.

“At the end of each day, upon your return from the tower, you will report to a designated member of the Council of Elders to let him know that you’ve completed your daily task,” the elders instructed.

An old lady now, it took her all day to reach the top of the tower, water the plant, and return to the valley far below. But there was no Council of Elders to report to anymore. No elders at all, in fact. Despite keeping the plant at the top of the tower alive, she must somehow have failed. Despite dutifully carrying out her charge over the decades, God had forsaken the people of the valley, and only she, now a gnarled, hunched over old lady, yet survived.

And on this day, as she completed her task and made her way down the steep, winding tower steps, the old lady stepped on the valley floor, looked around at the empty, barren landscape and uttered her last words. “Fuck this shit. I’m done.”

Written for Hélène Vaillant’s What Do You See? photo prompt. Also for these daily prompts: Your Daily Word Prompt (serene), Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (chosen), Word of the Day Challenge (keeper), Ragtag Daily Prompt (courage), and The Daily Spur (report).

#writephoto — The Tower

img_2733Clyde stood at the bottom of the winding steps that led to the tower that was once a monastery before the monks had been driven from the land. He wondered how many others like him, loyal to the crown, had been forced to march up these same steps, hands bound tightly behind their backs, and walk into the tower. He knew that shortly he’d be taking his last breath after being suspended, hanging in agony, his arms tied to the uppermost wooden rafters high above the tower’s cold stone floor, until death finally overcame his incredible pain and his suffering ceased.

He had fought the hard fight for freedom and independence. The country he once loved had fallen into chaos after the invading hordes of barbarians from the north assassinated his beloved king. The once beautiful, tranquil countryside, with its rolling hills and fields of green, had been turned into killing fields, the blood and bodies of the dead, both defenders and invaders, were strewn across the landscape. It broke Clyde’s heart as he tried to remember what life was like before the invasion.

But nothing was as it once was, and Clyde’s capture by the barbarians was, for them, something to be celebrated, for he was a great warrior and the barbarians were sure to make a spectacle of his death.

Yet to Clyde’s surprise, there was no spectacle, no great celebration. Upon entering the tower, he was led to a table and, with his hands still bound, he was told to take a seat. There were only a few men inside the tower with him. After a moment, the leader of the invading army sat down on the other side of the table, directly across from Clyde.

“Clyde,” said the man sitting across the table, “I am Therrin, the leader of the….”

“I know who you are,” Clyde interrupted. “Where are all of your subjects? What of the music and the celebration for having captured me?”

“Ah,” said Therrin. “You wish to be a martyr, a symbol for your people to rally around.” Therrin paused. “You must think me a fool. I will not let that happen. Only a few know of your capture and none but this small group assembled within this tower shall witness your demise.”

“So be it,” Clyde said. “Be done with me as you will. I am not afraid to die.”

And that is when they heard the irresistible song of the siren, calling out to the two of them from a distance.

“Clyde! Timmy! Come on home, boys, supper is ready.”

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