Dragged Dormancy

Polanczyk Poland

Photo © Piotr Kupczyk via Google Maps Photosphere

I search for game, for evidence of life outside our walls. Tracks of familiar paws and hooves are few, mostly old. We are not the only ones eating poorly, it seems.

Winter lingers. Snow falls, pauses long enough for us to hope, falls again. My father read the sky to be sure of the month. Flowers should be blooming by now, streams long since melted.

My boot-tracks invade the pristine white river bank. The water mocks me. Too cold to risk boating, too warm to ice over. I imagine Esqar’s family, hibernating in their wooden cave the same way we’re blanketed up in ours. The path I’ve taken so easily, so often, is now too treacherous to risk. I worry for his grandmother, his youngest siblings. Some are lost even in short winters.

But mostly I think of Esqar—his shy eyes, his warm hands—and I pray for spring.

Word count: 150. Written for this week’s What Pegman Saw challenge. Thanks to Josh and Karen for hosting this great writing prompt! This week Pegman takes us to Polanczyk Poland, which is quite scenic (and where visitors have posted many shots of lodging rooms, interestingly enough). Click on the link above to see the images other writers found, and read the micro-stories those images inspired. And feel free to join in, everyone’s welcome!

Speaking of extended hibernation, I hope that all of you are doing well in your various stages of social distancing lock-down, and are staying safe and healthy. I am working at home, subject to just as many deadlines and meetings as before, only now through Zoom. The best part is that I’m curled up with my cat pretty much all day, every day. Nyx is very much in favor of this new reality, and I’m sure she’ll be devastated whenever I have to start going back into the office to work.


34 thoughts on “Dragged Dormancy

    • My friends seem very divided on the issue. Some are just going crazy being at home and can’t wait to get out, even to go to work. I almost feel guilty at how much I enjoy being able to work at home alone for so long. Sure, it’s a little inconvenient not to be able to see my coworkers in person, but there are so many advantages too, and so much time saved!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I am also starting to suspect that other people had much more active social lives than I did, prior to the lock down (although mostly kid activities or socializing with the parents of their kids’ friends, it sounds like). 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • But you were active in the social scene… at least, the cultural scene. Don’t know how things will be at the end of this, but for myself, my curiosity is sharpened and will keep me going.
        Bad time to launch a book though, people losing their jobs, no money to splurge on books. But it’ll keep. I’ll relaunch later.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll be interested to know what the numbers show overall in terms of book sales. As you say, folks who are suddenly out of work have less money to spend on books, but there are plenty of other folks with the same income and tons of extra time on their hands, and at least some of them will be reading more books. Given the educational/professional divide in terms of who reads books, I suspect that frequent readers are more likely to be able to do their jobs at home than others, on average at least. But I could be wrong!

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s what I hear from a lot of published authors, though: that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and to keep on plugging away even if the first few weeks or even months don’t have tons of sales.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s one of the good points about Amazon. Once the book is there, listed, for sale, that’s it, it doesn’t have to be republished.
        Meanwhile, Learning to Fly is a breath off ready for beta readers, which means I’m about to plunge into the next draft of Alsalda:
        The blurb:
        A tale of treachery, loyalty and of seismic cultural change as seen through the eyes of four main characters.
        Detah: Thirteen winters-seen. Daughter of the Mistress of First Granary at Isle Ardy. Been nowhere, knows everything (because, as she says, she eavesdrops on her father, the granary trader Master Bukarn).
        Demekn: Brother of Detah. Recently returned from Dal Uest where he served as an assistant lore-man. He now trains as an eblan (to the disappointment of Bukarn’s Ulvregan family at Luktosn’s Hold).
        Eblan Erspn: Brother to Mistress Siradath of Sapapsan’s Granary at His Indwelling. As Eblan Head Man, it is for him to uphold the Alisime traditions.
        Captain Horsemaster Megovis: Second-in-command to Horsemaster Krisnavn, Commander of the Saramequai Division of the King’s Regiment. He doesn’t trust the eblann—for reasons he prefers to forget.
        The underlying plot to this is driven by the continued emnity of the Uissid Urinod for Kerrid, first seen in Lake of Dreams.

        Liked by 1 person

      • How exciting to have a new project! And that’s the advice I always hear when you’ve got a book out for review, or out for sale — no sense obsessing about it, just get on with the next idea.


  1. Today’s entry felt more like an emotional piece to me. Less story, but more feelings. I liked that. Maybe it’s that thematic connection to our sheltering in place, our longing for spring, being sprung from our homes? In this setting you have the winter holding the folks in place and we have COVID-19… Again, maybe I’m reading too much into it. But I guess my out is, as a reader I bring my view to the story and it worked for me. 😉

    On your comments above about “I almost feel guilty at how much I enjoy being able to work at home alone for so long.” I have the same. I’m retired, so no work place. But I find that I’m not missing going out, even to little daily events that much. My personal worry is, am I too relaxed? Why don’t I want to run out and enjoy the world more? Maybe it’s because I feel I bring the world to me via my books, streaming services, the internet? Or maybe I’m just really an expert introvert. Wow, found something that I’m really good at, and it’s being alone… Lol.

    To be fair, I do have some friends and we do go out and I miss those times. But I’m definitely not going crazy at home.

    As I joked with others, I think this qualifies me for a mission to Mars. Stuck in a small ship for 8 months? Wouldn’t bother me a bit from this test run I’m part of.

    Glad you’re well and that Nyx is enjoying your company.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Louis — you read into it *exactly* what I was trying to convey, and I’m so glad it worked! And yes, more an emotional piece than one where anything happens, per se; I had some vague ideas about something happening after this part, but then I was already to 200 words, so I stopped while I was behind. 😉

      I’m glad to hear that you’re weathering the lockdown well. Nothing wrong with being good at being alone: I consider it an important skill! I’m not sure whether I’d be good on the mission to Mars — being alone is one thing, but the claustrophobia might get to me. I’m really so lucky in my current situation, with a super comfortable apartment that I love, a great office set-up, a great neighborhood I can walk in (once I get used to my current vision situation) and can walk to the store and post office if need be, and a wonderful cat to keep me company. If only I could read books, this would be heaven! That said, I am *not* retired, and it does take some effort to switch gears and stay productive with work stuff while finding that right balance with staying sane and doing home/personal stuff too. One day at a time!


    • Thanks, Josh. I’m glad to hear that line jumped out at you, it was one of my favorites too. Living so long in the midwest, I know how leaving the house just to go to the store is such a PAIN in the winter — so many extra steps, so many problems – and in the summer you just slip on your sandals and you’re out the door. And how much more so it would be in these low tech times, when what passes for roads would be literally impassible. But I also wanted to hint that she spent a lot of time visiting this young man, and how awful it must be not to even know if his family is alive.

      Liked by 1 person

    • This is just wonderful. The sparse, succinct descriptions work so well, for the tone of a sparse, bare world. That search for signs of thaw, the thoughts turning to people far away. It’s all so beautifully crafted, the images strong, gorgeous. Just love it, Joy.
      Like you, we’re getting on alright. We have hobbies and are very lucky to have our garden. My other half was saying the other day, that there’s a prediction that as it’s working so smoothly for so many companies now, this enforced working from home, and now they have the structures in place, that this may become normal for some people, that some companies will switch to home work, keep their over heads lower. It will at least reduce some car emissions if thousands of people stay home more. Nyx would like that, at least ☺️

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for the kind words, Lynn — it’s so nice to hear that it came across that well! I’m curious as well about how this experience will alter the norms of working remotely. In theory it sounds like a great idea in terms of reducing transportation energy waste. But in practice I worry about all the people on the lower and even middle rungs who don’t have good set-ups to work at home, who could be forced into providing their own ‘overhead’ and given fewer resources at the company — the same people who had already lost their offices and were forced into working in “flexible cubicles” like worker ants, with no privacy or respect. For me, it would be fine: if I could transition more of our meetings to be remote meetings, I could work at home whenever I wanted, and still go into my nice office the rest of the time. But then, I’m not saving any transportation energy because I walk to work!


      • Good point, Joy. Difficult for those people though you can bet this would seem very attractive to many companies – having people pay their own electricity etc when they work will sound marvelous to lots of businesses. Could be many will do as you say, give people the option rather than making it compulsory. Good that you’ll be fine either way

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m mostly worried about folks who won’t be given a choice: it’s win-win for the company (and admittedly, cuts down on transportation GHGs), but not always so great for the workers. We’re already seeing how hard it is for a lot of couples, especially parents, to all be working at home. Maybe they have one office set up in the guest room — but how are both spouses supposed to get their full time jobs done with only one office? One of them ends up in the kitchen with a laptop, and the kids interrupting their Zoom meetings every five minutes. And in heterosexual couples, guess which spouse that is… (sigh) I can just imagine the conversation in this future world where lower status employees have to work at home: “But you’re already at home all day, honey; it just doesn’t make sense to pay for child care. They’ll just play in the next room, it won’t be that big of a deal.” I studied the intersection of gender, work, and family too long to not see that coming. 😦


      • Really good points, Joy. I know my main job isn’t home based, but when I write at the kitchen table (that’s where I do most of my writing – I don’t have a study or anything) even if I’m in the middle of something, family think it’s okay to come and chat, or if I’m off and writing it’s ‘could you just run this errand for me’. And as for couples both working from home, a lot of freelancers rent desks in shared work spaces but of course that’s extra outgoings, unless a company is prepared to contribute. No easy answers


      • I hear that from a lot of my writer friends: that it’s hard to convince their family members to leave them quiet time to write, because they’re “not really working.” How frustrating!


  2. What a delightful love story! Because you tell us important details of your MC’s life, literally matters of life and death, when you then tell us that most of the time he/she is thinking about Esqar it has real impact.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Penny, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! In the longer version that was even more clear (so I’m glad it still came across) that this young woman is venturing outdoors to hunt for food for her family, who is close to starving after the extended winter, and they’re depending on her for everything. And yet she can’t stop worrying about the man she loves, and wishing she could make that treacherous journey to see if he’s okay.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, all that came across clearly and vividly.
        I love your cat’s name! Is she Siamese, by any chance? I have three cats, semi-long hairs. Oh, the vacuum cleaning to keep the house free of hair!
        It was good to hear you’re surviving well; I hope you continue to stay well. Every day brings us closer to medication to treat this disease and reduce the horrible mortality rate.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m so glad that all came across! Nyx is plain old American short hair. She’s almost all black (a little tuft of white at the neck), which is why I named her after the Greek goddess of the night. I’ve had long-haired cats before, and oh my goodness yes, the vacuuming is intense! Here’s hoping for a reasonably hopeful ending to our international pandemic story, and in the meantime, stay safe and healthy.


    • In many ways, yes! Although after a long sick leave, I’m just getting back to quasi-normal life at home. I imagine I’ll start feeling bored eventually and miss seeing people. Hope you’re staying well!


  3. Dear Joy,

    How do I love this story. Let me count the ways. 😉 I felt the lingering chill of winter and the longing in her heart. Beautifully told.
    As for lock down…I’m enjoying the extended write and painting time. There are things I miss terribly, like eating out or swimming, particularly the latter. I’ve taken to taking very long walks when the days are nice…sometimes when they’re not.
    Love your cat’s name. I’ve named a character in my current WIP Nyx. Best wishes to you and yours.




    • Thank you so much for your kind comment, Rochelle, I very much appreciate it! I was guessing that many folks can relate these days to having a longing in their hearts for people they can’t see.

      I’m glad you’re able to get in more writing and painting– these are great hobbies for being locked down with!

      I’ve named my last several cats after deities — it just seems appropriate somehow. 😉 I was looking at the shelter for a black cat, since they have a harder time being adopted, and had a male name in mind (Erebus) but the cat I fell in love with was female, so Nyx it was.


  4. This is such a lovely piece, Joy, with wonderfully evocative descriptions. I could vividly imagine the pristine-white river bank and the paw and hoof prints. I chose to read this because of the appealing image, it was written near the start of lock down, and on my birthday! Now it’s the September equinox and we seem to be in the same position re. Covi-19, while politicians can’t make their minds up about what we should and should not be doing. People still have mixed feelings about working from home, but I’m glad it isn’t getting you too down. Keep safe and well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Millie, I’m glad you enjoyed it! It feels like forever since I’ve written, so it’s nice to be reminded that I can do it and that people like it. I’m still enjoying the “from home” part of working — and my cat Nyx is as well — but lately I’ve had far too much of the “work” part to deal with. Insane amounts of work that leave almost no time for leisure — and then, only an hour at day’s end, when my brain is absolutely fried after 10-15 hours of work. At least I’m slowly catching up on the Star Trek series I’ve missed over the past couple decades. It’s lightened up (relatively speaking) for the moment but I expect it to get worse again soon. Quick, I have to respond to all my blog comments before the submarine dives back underwater again!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I guessed you were swamped with work again, Joy. You have such a demanding job but I’m glad you’re finding time to relax a little by watching Star Trek. So many hours a day constantly working isn’t good for anyone. As for Nyx, all the cats we’ve had in the past love it when someone is home all day. Trying to work with a cat on my lap was never easy, but comforting when just watching TV. Yes, blog comments mount up and you must remember that you ARE a good writer – which isn’t a skill that can be forgotten or lost. At least you haven’t been absent from Blogland for 3 years, as I was. It’s so hard to get back and I’ve lost so many blogging friends. Thank you for being ‘a constant’.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for your supportive words, Millie! I’ve been working too hard lately — this is not a healthy work-life balance by a long shot, and I keep hoping things will calm down soon. We’ll see. I feel bad taking such a break from my blog, and hope that I haven’t lost contact with too many of my blogging friends and will be able to get back in touch in that dream future when I have time again.

        Luckily for both of us, Nyx is a small cat, so she fits very nicely on my lap while I’m at the computer. It’s not the most ergonomic sitting/typing position for me, but I haven’t been having back problems despite working such long hours, so that’s a good sign.


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