Sunday, 29 April 2012

Picture Prompt

Writing for The Lightning and The Lightning Bug:

What do I see in this?

Home was a human's difficult climb away. A peak away. Swallowtail flutter along from flower to flower, sucking away it's last bit of life. As she rose, each flower crumpled into dust on the rocky floor, and was then softly blown away into the whispering breeze. The flower's ashes landed themselves on a grassy carpet near the edge of the cliff and, instantly, buds could be seen sprouting from the ground. The flowers were called Phoenix-hollyhock. They had five big, round petals, overlapping each other and a dark red centre, indicating fire for life. Each flower had a stem to itself, but they all liked to grow in a thick clump on a cold, grassy floor. Swallowtail loved to watch this transformation and usually sat herself on a pointed rock to watch as the flowers regrew. But today she was in a hurry, as dusk was coming.

It was known to all creatures on this mountain in Kendra that peak was not a good time to be out. As a result, the mayor of her homeland had created curfew hours, excused only on very special business. After-dusk was when the wolves came to play. They rampaged, they tumbled, they stamped - they were ruthless killers, especially towards creatures as small and light as little swallow. She has only been aloud out on her own a few times so far, and she didn't want to ruin any future chances. At 4 days old, butterflies were given certain responsibilities to practice, such as this gathering of food, without any help from others.

The curfew was coming dangerously close as swallow dived into the large crevasse at the very centre of the tall mountain. She flew swiftly past the security flats at the tip, past the posh houses, and the stores and down to her own small apartment which she had only recently been given. As she came in, she shook her wings, removed them and carefully hung them up before crawling over to her favourite corner in the room, where a shaft of the ever-decreasing lights fell onto her wings. Her flat consisted of two small rooms; one with her wardrobe of wings, the other with her emergency stashes of food.

Each butterfly in homeland was issued five pairs of wings to switch around from day today so that the creatures above never recognised any butterflies. The last thing they'd want is for a butterfly to befriend a creature and to lead them to the tip of the crevasse! That had happened once, and chaos had ensued. Without knowing it, the humans summoned by the creatures had taken the mayor as he flew out for food and many of those in security. The creatures had gained such a large amount of meat that day and had forever been stronger for it. The whole population of butterflies had had to migrate. This time, they'd found what they considered the perfect spot - a place at the very top of the tallest mountain for miles, where humans and creatures would struggle to reach. This is where Swallowtail had been born.

The mayors were always chosen by their looks. They knew how to look in front of the birds. Brown was usually chosen, as birds tended to prefer bright colours, but the most recent mayor had gone for dark greens to blend in with the grass. The less privileged butterflies, such as Swallow, had little choice over which wings  they chose. They got what they were given. Swallowtail had mostly yellow and black colours, with bits of blue and red here and there.

As the sun went down, a strange thing occurred in that very room. Within half an hour of sleeping, yellow flowers had sprouted up on the doorstep, and made a trail towards the wardrobe in the other room. Swallow slept away with sweet thoughts on her mind.

Half an hour passed, and, as she awoke, feeling fully refreshed, she peered about her, thinking she was still in a dream. In only an hour, she has somehow been left in a thick forest of tall, yellow flowers. Suddenly she was very alert. Where was she? Why was she here? What had happened?
The confusion made her feel very dizzy. Things like this just didn't happen to her! She crawled around the thick, green stems, wishing she had her wings on. She strained to see through the wilderness of flowers, and suddenly caught sight of colourful wings on a stone wall. She crawled towards them, her small legs already getting tired. What she spied was her own wardrobe! She reached up, the legs nearly buckling under her weight and grabbed a pair, any pair, of wings. As she fixed them on, a long and strenuous business, she tried to work out how her flat had turned into a yellow and green forest with no grass.

And then it hit her. She had taken the stupid risk yesterday of touching those flowers she so loved. They had tasted so lovely and she had just drank on and on, without a thought that their ashes might stick to her! No wonder she never saw anyone else drinking from them! Well, I guess we all have to learn at some point! she thought to herself.

At last, her wings were fixed on. Time to seek out the mayor. Up through homeland she flew and landed outside the mayor's archway, out of breath. She slowly fluttered into the mayor's flat where he sat designing some new wings. He started as he heard her footsteps and, instantly, new what had happened. The mayor had a strange habit of understanding people's thoughts from the most minor or expressions or body language.

He instantly flew up to security and gathered the strongest and biggest of the community. Swallow stayed by his archway, peering at the work being done below. Ten butterflies were hard at work pulling the flowers from the ground and throwing them down into the darkness below. A deep cleanse was then in need. Every bit of dust that had ever gathered in her flat was swept out with the use of some wings made at the creation centre (far away from here, each butterfly was given a job to create wings or hangers).

Swallow's old wings were then thrown away and replaced with new ones with a slightly darker yellow. When she was allowed back into her flat, she found it shiny and spotless. It didn't quite feel like her home anymore. Today she had learned a lesson. She didn't yet have enough responsibility to go out alone.

This is a hollyhock

This is a swallowtail butterfly
 I hope you liked my strange little story. It just came to me as I saw a butterfly flying into a crevasse in the picture above.
M. x


  1. Incredible post!

    I totally went in another direction with this prompt and am glad I did. That Butterfly popped-out at me but there is no way I could have written a post as well as you did!

    Great job!

  2. Wow! You saw so much more in the inkblot than I did! What a fun flight of fancy you created.

    1. I find that if I just let my mind wander while writing, instead of planning, I have much more fun and can be more creative. It's a bit risky having no plan though!

  3. Hi M. x,

    You should definitely read Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake. How to describe this masterpiece of fantasy? Dreamlike, fantastic - one of the most astoundingly sustained flights of imgination in modern English fiction. Somehow, I beleive you will be greatly affected by it.

    1. it sounds really interesting! I'll get hold of it! thanks! :) x

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