Guarded #writephoto

Photo by Sue Vincent

“Nowhere.”

Tom glanced over his shoulder at Cheryl.  She just watched her feet as they trod the almost empty landscape.

He wasn’t the type to pry, and thought he did pretty well to only bring it up then, but it did bug him.

Where had she gone?

After dinner she had said that she needed a short walk to help digest.  Fine.  Alone.  Not a problem, he’d go back to the room.

She showed up over two hours later.

Not a word was said. 

In fact, very little was said at all since then.  She was quiet, guarded, all through breakfast, only speaking in mono-syllables if spoken to. 

They were there through an odd series of coincidences.

Tom thought back as they hiked across the open moorland.

*

“I Googled the name.”

Tom glanced over at Cheryl.  Name?

She handed him her tablet.

There was a photo of a small village seeming in the middle of nowhere.

“Arrwold?”  He read the word out loud.

Cheryl nodded.  “Yes, it means something like ‘scarred-lands’. This is the place.” 

He remembered.  A few months earlier he had asked where she wanted to go for their next exploration.  She had instantly said “Arrwold” but, when asked, she had no idea what it meant.

He had totally forgotten about it, thinking that their next adventure should be, perhaps, Sweden. Or maybe the Andes.  Yeah, Patagonia seemed nice.

“There are hiking trails into the moors.  It looks gorgeous.  Maybe we should go…”

Was she serious?

But two days later his brother, Andy, sent him a family history.  Andy had been working on the genealogy for years, something that Tom could care less about.

Could care less about, that is, until he saw that his dad’s side of the family came from a village named “Arrwold.”  One Thomas Bradley had emigrated to Boston in 1832, leaving the village behind.

That did it, they knew where they were going.

*

“Let’s stop here for a while,” Tom said.

He pointed towards a large boulder that guarded the trail as it hit the peak of a very low ridge.

Cheryl nodded, and climbed up the back side of the outcropping.

Tom followed and sat on the edge, letting his feet dangle as he studied the valley and distant walls of some hill or tor in the distance.

“Do you know why your ancestors left Arrwold for America?” Cheryl asked as they chewed on trail-mix.

“No.  Why did anyone leave two hundred years ago?  I’m sure they all had their own story…”

She was staring off in silence, her face guarded.  He’d known her for years, yet this was different.  What was up?

After a minute, she nodded slowly.

“Why indeed.  He had his reasons, this Thomas of yours.  Nobody knew he’d done anything, but he did.  Dead men tell no tales.  Or dead women…”

“What?”

“Do you believe in past lives?”

“What, reincarnation?”

She nodded.  “Yes, though that word has some of the wrong connotations.  It’s just….”

She looked away.

He went back to studying the distant hill, but his mind was full of questions.  What in the world was she talking about?

The sun went behind a cloud and their little perch was in the cold wind.  Time to move on.

“Are you ready?” he asked.  He scooted to the edge of the rock that was farthest from the path to climb down.

“Everyone thought it was an accident, you know?”

She hadn’t stirred yet, the contents of her day pack not yet stowed away.

“Nobody would think that Thomas would ever do such an awful thing.  Ha!”

“OK, what’s up?” he asked. He sat cross-legged, his back to the far edge the stone.

Her face changed, became almost menacing.

“I think I’ve always known who I am and suspected who you were.”

“Who I was?  You know who I am.  Hello?  Remember me?  Tom Bradley, they guy you met when we were both in grad school?”

“Yes, Thomas Bradley, but we met long, long before grad school.  Only I had an accident.”

“Accident?”

She pushed him hard in the chest.  Before he knew what had happened, he was falling backwards and headfirst off of the rock.

The light came back, but the pain stayed.  Tom couldn’t move.  Cheryl was standing above him.

“Yeah, an accident, as in, ‘ooops, looks like you had an accident.  Wait here and I’ll get help,’ type of accident.  Of course she was gone before the help came, before she could tell anyone.  But, perhaps, she can still get revenge.”

For a moment a scene flashed through his mind, all jumbled and fragmented.  Desire.  Soft flesh.  A scream.  Arranging the clothes on the dying woman so nobody would guess.

Cheryl smiled for a second.  “Off to get help now.  Bye.”

And then she was gone.

He lay looking up at the large stone that hid him from anyone on the path.

What did happen all of those years ago?

If the wind knew, it guarded its secret, only whispering, “You’ll find out.”

***

This was written for Sue Vincent’s writephoto challenge. The photo at the top is hers, and she also provided the key word, Guarded. I wrote this out, stream of conscious style, but for some odd reason, I wrote the same story this week that I wrote last week! Oh well….

**

(After I wrote this, I almost went back and changed the woman from the 19th century to be named Mary, so at the end, the wind could cry Mary ;) )

30 thoughts on “Guarded #writephoto

  1. Pingback: Photo prompt round-up: Guarded #writephoto | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  2. Pingback: Guarded ~ Trent P. McDonald #writephoto | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  3. Natasha

    Brilliant! This is so relatable, Trent, as I do believe in reincarnations and past lives.
    But since I am a sucker for happy endings, I wish it had ended on a better note.

    But who knows how so called destiny plays out.

    I’m wondering Trent, have you written a book yet? You would do wonders.

    Have a good weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks, Natasha. On Wednesday I was talking to a friend about her son. When he was 3 or 4 he would talk about his “other mother” and the life he had 50 years before! So I was thinking about it and may write another story were it is a kid. And this one will have a happy ending :)
      Yes, I have self-published 3 novels, 2 books of short stories and a book of two longer novellas. I have a new book I plan on publishing on February 9.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Natasha

        Goose bumps the bit about your friend’s so !
        We live in some a fascinating universe.

        Wow! That’s quite a collection of your books you have!

        Congratulations on the new one. And all the best. Do share the details.

        Have a great new week!

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
    1. trentpmcd Post author

      I am not sure where that theme is coming from… On the other hand, just before I wrote this I was thinking about a story idea where a person remembers a past life, and perhaps the solution to a murder mystery, so I know where that part came from…

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
        1. trentpmcd Post author

          lol, maybe, but I think the idea of someone (being pushed off of a remote cliff or rock and being left to die has played out in these last two posts… I hope, at least! The other story idea, yes, I am continuing to develop that one.

          Like

          Reply

Express Yourself

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s