Steady Ground


Photo credit: Storebukkebruse (Flickr)

The mill bustled.  Everyone wanted newly-ground flour on First Day.  Sorra saved the first batch for himself.  Today’s wind was strong, pushing the millstone hard.  Sorra felt that way inside: blown too fast one day, sluggish the next.

Finally, he stood on Bitta’s step.

She noticed his anxiety.  “Your father?”

“Recovering well, thanks.”   He thrust the basket forward.

“First-day cakes?  But those are for…”

“Family, yes.”  Storra’s stomach spun wildly.  “I thought we could, er, be that.”

Her crooked smile bloomed.  She bit a cake in half, feeding him the rest.  He chewed solemnly: a vow.

Sitting so close, half-listening to her parents, Sorra soaked up Bitta’s warmth.  She squeezed his hand.  The grinding of his heart calmed.

You may remember Sorra from a previous story — A Hard Grind.  I feel a lot better, now that he finally saw what his father had clearly known long before he did.

Word count: 118.  Written for this week’s Friday Fictioneers challenge.  My apologies for going a bit over the word count —  apparently I’m out of practice!  Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting, and for Sandra Crook for providing the original photo prompt, below.  Click here to read the other stories.

FF sandra crook3.jpg

Photo copy Sandra Crook

Happy New Year, everyone!  I took a short break from blogging over the holidays, so I could focus more on spending time with my family and friends without feeling overwhelmed.  I still ended up feeling overwhelmed, but much less so, I think.  I’m happy to be back online, and looking forward to catching up on reading my fellow bloggers again!



35 thoughts on “Steady Ground

    • I hope my stories aren’t usually that confusing, oh no! I was about to say that most of them don’t even have any backstory, but of course, no matter how short they are, I’ve always thought of some parts of the story or the character that can’t be fit into the word limit. So what you’re seeing is always the tip of the iceberg. I do try hard not to include anything where the reader has to understand something about the world (religion, politics, history) in order to get the gist of the story, and I’m sorry if I don’t always succeed. I’m glad this one worked (better) for you!


    • Thanks, glad you liked it Bjorn! About that first share — in the much-longer-even version, it was more clear that he wanted to save the “very first” of the newly-ground flour to use for this especially special First Day honey cake. (I just had to fix my comment, because originally it was “first flour” and “New Day” instead of “new flour” and “First Day.”: Ah, how arbitrary world-building can be.)

      I can’t decide whether the idea of them each eating half the cake is something that’s already a tradition — say, between spouses and between other family members on First Day — or if she just came up with it spontaneously, and it’s something the two of them will do as their special personal tradition every First Day from now on.


    • What a lovely comment, thank you! It’s always a challenge, trying to think up traditions that are believable and consistent with what we know about cultures and yet still seem fresh, not just copying existing cultures. At some level, everything has already been done; there’s nothing new under the sun. But it’s still fun to think about. Thanks for reading!


    • I liked that part a lot too, glad it caught your eye. I almost never write a story thinking that I’ll write more about the characters later, but often after the comments I get make me think more about what might happen to them next. So it’s nice sometimes to revisit older characters and see how they’re doing. Thanks for commenting!


    • Thanks Rochelle! Sometimes I feel like I have to stretch to get the metaphors to come out on “paper” the way they seem to make sense in my head. So I’m extra glad it worked this time. Happy new year to you too!


    • Thanks Ali! It must be a small cake — more like a cookie or pastry, I was thinking — for each one to eat half of it in one bite. I originally was thinking it would be bread, little honey-muffins, maybe. I spent a ridiculous amount of time thinking about what kind of food it would be before realizing that the important thing was that they’re sharing it.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Love this. Absolutely get the ‘first’ of something being imortant to the community – this was so often important in a symbolic way to previous societies. And that sharing a cake – that told us all we needed to know about where their relationship had gone. Beautifully written – very smooth and accomplished. You submitting many shorts at the moment, Joy? I could see you begin successful in comps and in SFF mags.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the lovely comment, Lynn! I’m especially grateful since I felt this one was a little choppier than I wanted; there was so much that I cut, and I wished I’d had more time to smooth over some of the details. I do really like the concept though, and that’s at least half the battle.

      I have not been submitting many shorts, sad to say. That’s on my new year To Do list, though. I’m rethinking my weekly schedule and reprioritizing various tasks and goals, with the idea of focusing more on trying to get published and (gasp) actually finishing my novel. It will mean less time blogging, though, so I’m dealing with that common issue of “finding the right balance.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, I’m with you on that. My son made a comment the other day about me spending more time on blogging than ‘proper’ writing and while I don’t see blogging as a lesser skill, it surely won’t make me a published author any time soon. It’s just so hard to give up my blogging addiction … We WILL both get these novels finished this year – we definitely will 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I like your positive thinking, Lynn. I will do my best Little Engine impression: I think I can, I think I can!

        I’m trying to rethink my schedule to better fit my priorities. Ugh, time management is not my forte. Currently I’m hoping that focusing on flash fiction and blogging during the weekdays will leave me free to work on short stories and my novel on the weekends. We’ll see how that goes.


  2. Holidays good times for blogging breaks, for sure. You pack a lot in to that first paragraph here, the mill imagery mixed with the character’s, that’s a deft move. And then bookending it with the grinding in Sorra’s heart is nice.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Once you really go there you’re locked in. It’s like living in a dream, where everything is a symbol. I know that borders on sounding odd but it’s an odd place to be if you believe in magick. And I don’t believe in coincidence as much as awareness. Bill

        Liked by 1 person

      • That sounds totally normal to me, not odd at all, which says something about me I suppose. Plus I’m contemplating writing a novel which takes place almost entirely within someone’s dream, so I could use more practice at surreal thinking.


  3. A lovely. heartwarming love story, Joy. I love the many traditions you weave into the world of each of your stories. It helps to make them seem more real. That’s a great skill to have. The offer and sharing of the first day cakes is a sweet way to propose marriage.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Millie! I love how these photo prompts inspire me to come up with traditions to help populate my world — it makes it seem more real to me, too. Once I thought of First Day cakes, they seemed so obvious!


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