Trifecta: The Tide Turns

Stars shine down on stone.  Though the sun is gone, the air still crackles with summer, a scorching breeze ruffling the grasses.  A faint, sweet scent of blossom rides the wind, carried from the sea of tala bells that dance among the brambles, luminously blue in the moonlight.  It is as all of the plains, but for the stones and the man.

The stones are everywhere, large and small.   Some are taller than a man, and curiously squared, some no more than pebbles.  The grass and the brambles and the flowers engulf them.  The centuries passed since the city fell and was left to decay have long since blown away the mortar and the bones.

A single figure appears, picking his way among the stones.  From a certain angle, he shimmers curiously in the moonlight, the sort of trick that makes men rub their eyes and shake their heads.  A careful observer might notice that where he has passed, the grass remains unbent, unbroken, but there is no one, and so the oddity goes unremarked.

His gaze is inquisitive but oddly unmoved, his face clear and still as he walks through this graveyard.  He touches a stone here, another there. At length, he comes to the center of the ruin, and looks around him.  The devastation is complete, but there is life still, hidden among the rocks.   He turns and looks to the northeast, where the conquerors hide from the summer heat.  He looks to the east, where their god sleeps until dawn.  Finally, he looks to the north, where a new city has grown.  For a moment, his eyes, iris purple, seem to glow.

And then — and then he begins to laugh.  His laughter rings off the stones and whirls out into the night in a ribbon of light.  He bends and touches the center stone, a benison.  Still laughing, he gives a mocking salute toward the east before he vanishes, leaving nothing but a glow and a curious sense of hope.

Welcome to this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge! This week asked for 33 to 333 words on the third definition of DECAY (intransitive verb):

1: to decline from a sound or prosperous condition
2: to decrease usually gradually in size, quantity, activity, or force
3: to fall into ruin

I’d like to pretend that it’s 333 words exactly because I’m just that good, but really it’s because I cut words until it got there. This is something of a sequel to The Fall. Thanks for reading!

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  1. You are wonderfully descriptive! I could smell the aroma on the winds and feel the grass scratch my feet as I looked upon the remains of a fallen city. At first, I didn’t know what image was being forged in my mind; but it was built splendidly. And the appearance of the phantom, his laughter at what has come to be while new life is being forged among the ancient devastation as another city grows not far away, a lovely touch to add to the air of midnight reverie.

  2. barbara says:

    iris purple eyes . . . nods and smiles – nods and smiles.

  3. Tamyka says:

    I love that you are a ‘careful observer’—you ‘notice that where he has passed, the grass remains unbent, unbroken’, so, despite your assertion to the contrary, the oddity is remarked. This is written beautifully. Thank you for sharing.

  4. FKC says:

    Aspirational, to say the least.

  5. All the sights and sounds and smells — so sensuous!

  6. kathy says:

    You have to write the rest of this because, after two small tastes, I’m dying (no pun intended!) to read the rest!

  7. Annabelle says:

    Hee. Thanks!

    In point of fact, I have written a whole bunch of the rest of this, I just can’t bear to go back and revise it again right now. These two are preludes to The Draft.

  8. kgwaite says:

    This is really quite lovely. I love the laughter and the hope. I will be thinking about this one this evening as I make dinner. Thank you.

  9. Love this:
    “before he vanishes, leaving nothing but a glow and a curious sense of hope.”

    Great piece of flash! 🙂

  10. sandra tyler says:

    Really nicely done. Would love to have you link up with my new writing workshop hop. The link is on my blog if you visit.

  11. Gina says:

    “before he vanishes, leaving nothing but a glow and a curious sense of hope.” This is my favorite line and his roaring laughter at the end before he disappears. Always love to be left hoping!

  12. jannatwrites says:

    I love the descriptions here. I also liked the ending of hope, even among a decaying city. By the way, you worked in ‘decay’ so well that I didn’t even notice it 🙂

  13. Cathy says:

    Hemingway, is that you? Seriously, good job!

  14. Michael says:

    “He turns and looks to the northeast, where the conquerors hide from the summer heat. He looks to the east, where their god sleeps until dawn.” Something about that just grabbed me. I really want to know more about the story behind all this. Nicely done!

  15. I like how the ruin is complete, the decay has completely taken over, but life still manages to find a way somewhere deep in the core of it.
    Very descriptive.
    Thanks for joining us again, we look forward to reading more or your work.

  16. Jester Queen says:

    I felt so intimidated by him right up until the sense of hope. It was impossible to tell if he would be good or evil. (I want to write benificent but am too tired to look up the spelling, which means I also can’t use malevolent, because ‘good’ and ‘malevolent’ don’t contrast quiiite right.)

  17. sonya says:

    Good job! I’m liking it.

  18. Annabelle says:

    Thanks, everyone! It actually didn’t occur to me that he could be menacing — it’s always interesting to hear other people’s takes on a piece of writing.

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