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The Line

May 11, 2012

The Line

When the path leveled off and her footing was certain, Ruth glimpsed the darkening clouds. A coal black sky revealed an opening in the heavens. Might her life be spared?

Just then a searing pain shot through her side.  She froze hearing the voice, its too-familiar coldness.

“Off the line.”

She obeyed and the soldier pulled back the bayonet.

The truck pulled up. She clambered up into the back beside three other women, rescued, at least today, by their beauty.

The line of marchers disappeared, creasing her heart, while a battered and swollen sky hung nervous and defeated above her.

The photo prompt below is from Madison Woods:

Come up with a story, 100 words, more or less, based on the picture below.

40 Comments leave one →
  1. May 11, 2012 2:12 am

    The only thing I’m left wondering was did she get bayonetted or just prodded? A very good story that used the descriptions of the sky to color the mood and convey a sense of peril and gloom. Well done.



    • May 13, 2012 4:11 am

      More like prodded–but the intent was to show the soldier’s cruelty so I left it fuzzy. I appreciate your thoughtful comments.

  2. Michael Fishman permalink
    May 11, 2012 3:03 am

    Like Doug above, I was little confused as to whether or not she was stabbed or not. I’m also curious as to where those chosen for their beauty are being taken and why the marchers are being taken away.

    Mine is here:

    • May 13, 2012 3:39 am

      It was more pricked than stabbed–something I’ll note for the revision. Thanks for your comments. I’m pleased this aroused your curiosity. That’s one of the things I set out to do. Thanks again.

  3. May 11, 2012 3:27 am

    Tragic reality. I see this as a very meaningful story of a different Ruth. The many Ruths spared for the short time they were useful, while their families were slaughtered. Doing whatever it took to survive – and they probably didn’t survive to the end of the war. Very well written reminder. The world continued, the moon still shone above the tragedy taking place on our planet.
    Yours as ever,

  4. May 11, 2012 3:57 am

    Ominously evocative. I’m not sure where or when, but it seems like a beautifully subjective, and very effective, view of an ethnic cleansing/tribal warfare scene.

    • May 13, 2012 4:17 am

      I haven’t left many clues but future prompts may fill in some of the blanks. Thank you for your nice comments.

  5. TheOthers1 permalink
    May 11, 2012 5:20 am

    I wonder if her beauty really is saving her. Only today. All I can picture is her being used and killed when that usefulness fades. They ugliness of war.

    My attempt:

    • May 13, 2012 4:25 am

      I appreciate your perceptiveness. “…when that usefulness fades” — I can see how this thought may consume her. Thanks for your comments.

  6. May 11, 2012 5:21 am

    Beautifully written, bringing home all the horror of conflict. Very well written, especially the reference to the battered, swollen sky. Well done.

    Mine’s at:

  7. May 11, 2012 11:01 am

    This is the way of war. Beauty always saves the women, but really just damns them. Beautifully written.

    • May 13, 2012 4:40 am

      Your insights are made more remarkable by the manner in which you express them. Much appreciated. Thank you.

  8. May 11, 2012 1:39 pm

    Good depiction of an innocent caught in some kind of horrible warfare. Ripe for development. My story is here:

    • May 13, 2012 4:43 am

      I appreciate your belief about the potential for development. I’m hoping along those lines. Thank you for the encouragement.

  9. May 11, 2012 1:51 pm

    As short and harsh as the era I’m imagining, though you left it open enough it could be today, or the tomorrow we’re all fearing.


    • May 13, 2012 3:41 am

      I didn’t leave too many clues but I guess history can and does repeat itself. Thank you for commenting.

  10. May 11, 2012 3:18 pm

    You’ve done an amazing job of using the darkening sky to set a mood. I love historical pieces. I wonder what happened next.

    • May 13, 2012 4:49 am

      Thank you for such a kind compliment. If things go well, I’d like to pursue this character’s life in future prompts.

  11. May 11, 2012 4:18 pm

    Good conflict.

  12. May 11, 2012 7:44 pm

    This sounds very WWII to me. Found myself invisioning lines of people heading off to the death camps. Very well woven, although a sad take on the nature of we humans.

    Here’s mine:

    • May 13, 2012 5:07 am

      I’m grateful you were able to read into that. Thank you for reinforcing my efforts and for the meaningful compliments.

  13. Lora permalink
    May 11, 2012 8:26 pm

    Powerful piece, What got to me was the line… “rescued by their beauty” …yes, but for how long? I have read stories of pretty woman seducing German soldiers to survive…some did, most didn’t. Here’s mine:

  14. May 12, 2012 4:38 am

    What a thoroughly chilling look at the prospect of surviving at all costs. Her sadness, her sense of resignation and perhaps even a smidgen of self-loathing all come to me from this. Powerful tale.

    • May 13, 2012 5:22 am

      I appreciate your careful reading, and I’m pleased you took away so much. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your comments.

  15. May 12, 2012 5:47 am

    Sooooo many wonderful comments that reflect my feelings about your story. I can only add “DITTO” to all of them. Very Well done–one of my favorites of this week.


  16. May 12, 2012 8:11 am

    Beautifully written to convey the despair underlying thier beauty that might give them some brief repsite. Even the firmaments have given up, battered and swollen. Powerful imagery I love this. I’m over here:

  17. May 12, 2012 11:07 am

    Is this part of a novel? fascinating work!

    • May 13, 2012 3:50 am

      Actually, it’s an idea I’m exploring. I’m letting the weekly prompts guide me to which episodes of this character’s life to write about. This is the third installment. If you’re interested, the related prompts are “Thoughts” and “Brooklyn, 1947” although the chronology jumps from one period to another and isn’t sequential but more like flashbacks. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  18. May 12, 2012 11:45 am

    “a battered and swollen sky hung nervous and defeated above her” — great line, especially “battered and swollen.” A nice description, particularly if its becoming cloudy and about to rain. Great job!

    Thanks for already commenting on mine. Here’s the link, just in case:

    • May 13, 2012 3:58 am

      I started with a generic description of the sky, but then I thought why not use the sky as a character, or to characterize. I think it works and will probably use it more often. I appreciate your compliment.Thank you.

  19. EmmaMc permalink
    May 12, 2012 12:22 pm

    This is wonderful. I feel like I have come in half way through a novel and want to keep turning the pages. So sad and wondering what it was that jabbed her in the side.

    Powerful, descriptive and heartfelt writing. Loved it.

    • May 13, 2012 4:05 am

      The soldier’s bayonet jabbed her to get her attention but I also wanted to imply his cruelty. I really appreciate your sincere compliment. It’s not a novel , yet, but God willing maybe some day. Thank you.

  20. May 12, 2012 3:36 pm

    very cool, leaves a powerful image

  21. May 13, 2012 6:47 am

    Heartbreaking, with powerful pathetic fallacy from the sky.
    I’m over here:

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