On Wednesdays, assorted people have been taking monthly turns at putting up a selection of words which is called “Words for Wednesday”.
We have taken over this meme from Delores, who had been having computer problems.
This month the meme continues here, with words supplied Olga Gadim.
Essentially the aim is to encourage us to write.
Each week we are given a choice of prompts: which can be words, phrases, music or images. What we do with those prompts is up to us: a short story, prose, a song, a poem, or treating them with ignore...
Some of us put our creation in comments on the post, and others post on their own blog. We would really like it if as many people as possible joined in with this fun meme.
If you are posting on your own blog - let us know so that we can come along and read your masterpiece.
I’m hopeless at poetry so I always do a story.
It’s a fun challenge…why not join in?
This week's words are:
and/or this phrase: "our precious hours are trickling away"
My story this week continues on from the previous seven chapters:
it's a long one, you might like to get a cuppa before you start.
Old Pearl and Mary both breathed deep sighs of relief when they eventually reached a deserted camp site in the shadow of some high-piled rocks, similar to what is now known as The Devil's Marbles. There was nothing but a dilapidated humpy and a cold fire site, but Pearl knew there was a sizeable lake on the other side of those rocks.
They were finally far enough away from civilisation, and could untie the children from their backs and let them walk. There was very little chance their tracks would be discovered this far away.
Billy wasn't with them, he'd gone back to Tom Feathers caravan to discuss further plans. He wanted to be part of the retribution carried out on Rick Stanton. He and Pearl had made plans to meet up here at this old camp site whenever he was ready to join them.
After resting a while, Pearl began setting the fire rocks in place and asked Tess and Jackie to bring some big mallee roots to the fire. Mary was already gathering tinder dry grass and small twigs to get a fire going. A large pit was dug in the middle of the circle and then lined with smooth rocks; this would be the fire pit for cooking and heating water.
"Tess," Pearl called to the girl. "Get big knotty roots if you can, they burn slower, make more heat for longer, but be sure and poke ‘em with a long stick first and make sure Jackie does the same. Any snakes or spiders will run away before you drag the roots back here."
Once the fire was started in the pit, Mary helped bring back some larger mallee roots. They planned to stay here until Billy found them and keeping a fire going was easier than restarting one that had gone out. A less dense root was placed onto the flames, then a flat rock, left there for that express purpose, was placed over the pit to keep the heat in.
Pearl charged Mary with watching the fire and took Tess and Jackie around the rocks to the lake. "Bring that billy-can Jackie," she said and gave a larger one to Tess to carry. "Whose camp is this Granny Pearl?" asked Tess. "Oh, this one don't b'long anyone particular, it's a travelling camp, that's why the fire rocks are still there, but don't look like no one's been stop here long time."
Pearl's grammar occasionally reverted more to her old style of speaking as they got further away from Rivertown. She made a mental note to be more careful, Mary might prefer the children to be more grammatically corrrect. There'd be a discussion later about that.
They filled the billy cans and Pearl carried the larger one, while Tess took the smaller one and Jackie was asked to look out for goannas. If they caught one or two to roast for dinner, they'd have a feast indeed, with the last of Jenny's ginger cake for dessert.
Back at the camp, Mary mixed up some flour and water with a bit of baking powder and placed the doughy mixture into a baking tin that Pearl always carried in her swag. She checked the fire and saw the mallee root almost completely burned to ashes. Using a broad broken branch, she scraped the burning bits to the sides of the pit and lowered the baking tin into it, then covered the tin with an old billycan lid that had been in Billy's swag. The flat rock cover was replaced and Mary sat back to wait while the damper cooked.
She thought about the distance travelled, a week of walking so far, and how far they still had to go before meeting up with the rest of the tribe. She thought about staying with the tribe and whether they'd fit in. Tess and Jackie would adjust, kids did and they had cousins there; unknown cousins, but still kids of similar ages, but Mary herself had been raised in a white society and knew little about camp life. True, she had stayed with Pearl down by the riverbank whenever she and Billy came to Rivertown, but that wasn't quite the same thing.
The happy chatter of Tess and Jackie coming back with Pearl came to her ears and she quickly gathered more wood to make a tripod for hanging the billycan over an open fire. Cups of tea would be most welcome after all the work of setting up camp and scraping debris out of the humpy. The walls of it would need a bit of repair, but that could wait until tomorrow.
"Mum, Mum!" Jackie came running towards her excitedly, holding a small goanna Pearl had caught and killed. "Look what we got Mum! We gonna cook him for dinner! Be just like chicken!" He was grinning more widely than he ever had before and Mary was glad to see it. They'd done the right thing by leaving Rick.
Pearl and Tess followed behind him, being careful not to spill any of the water. They were laughing and chattering too and Mary began to feel a little happiness herself. The smaller billycan was set over the open fire and when the water was boiling a handful of tealeaves was thrown in and the billycan set aside for the tea to brew. Pearl helped Mary pull the hot baking tin out of the fire pit and the damper was also set aside to cool before they ate. Tess pulled out the tin of jam and unwrapped the cloth around it. It would be spread on chunks of the damper, a tasty feast indeed.
Pearl and Mary discussed the cooking of the goanna and whether or not there might be any wild yams to be found as one small goanna wouldn't be much of a meal for four people.
The damper and jam eaten, Pearl told Tess and Jackie to go and play on the banks of the lake, it was shallow enough unless they went almost to the middle, so they’d be safe and if they got wet, well at least the sticky jam would be washed off.
Mary had been poking around in the humpy and now Pearl joined her, showing how some of the broken fronds and bark could be drawn together and the resulting larger gap in the wall would be just like a window. A quick smoothing of the floor, two small pillow shaped mounds of dirt and the biggest swag blanket was unrolled over it as a bed for the children.
While they worked, Pearl told Mary more about the camp. “I wonder if old Aunt Gabby is still there? Last I heard she was gettin’ real old, the oldest woman left there I think. A real bossy-boots when she was younger, she’s older than me, a bit, I disremember exact, but I think I’m seventy-seven; anyway, Gabby had a sister, Sylvia, and everyday there was fighting between those two.
Everything a competition, each one want to be the first, the best for everything. So one day they was fightin’ about who was gonna be the first one to climb to the top of the hill where the bees were keepin’ the honey hive, pushin’ an’ shovin’ on the way up and Gabby pushed Sylvia too hard and she fell all the way back down and cracked her head. Didn’t die, but Gabby was diff’rent from then. Real quiet like.”
“So what happened?” asked Mary. “Are they both still alive?”
“Don’t know,” said Pearl. For a while we could all see the bone where the crack was through the hair, but it healed over after a while, but Sylvia never done much of anything ever again. Just sit and wait to be fed. Gabby stick close an' make sure she alright."
“That’s very sad,” said Mary. “Should we say something to Tess and Jackie? Warn them?”
“Nah,” said Pearl. “Better we wait and see who is around still. Let the kids learn for themselves, better that way.”