Writing Prompt Exercise: ‘He sighed, and looked towards the sky…’

Hello! I’ve started a new job since returning from my travels and have been settling into a new apartment. Hence, there has been another long gap in posts. However, I recently started discussing writing exercises with a friend again and so here is a new post, hopefully to kick of a new era in which I post more regularly on here once more, as I did back when I started the blog – for real, this time.

This was supposed to be 500 words but to conclude it satisfactorily, I went quite a bit over. There was no time limit.

He sighed, and looked towards the sky. There was still no hint of any cloud, and the endless blinding blue stretched almost mockingly to meet the scorching earth at a slightly shimmering horizon. His head swam, both from the heat, and from ever growing fear.

He had heard stories of such summers in his youth, ones that drew on for days and days as the earth cracked with desperation and men fell, some from exhaustion and others at their own hand, devoid of all hope. They left behind wives and children, of course, and he had never understood how they could do that – but as he turned away from that cruel sky to slowly walk back inside, he thought he felt something inside him shrink slightly, like the last flicker of a cooking fire diminishing to an ember. He wasn’t sure how long it would glow for, if the rains did not come soon.

They had been lucky for the five years since his father’s death, when he had taken over the farm. The rains came on time, and bit by bit he had managed to improve the small thatched cottage he shared with his wife and three children, as well as pay back what was owed. Meals were simple but never scarce, and all of his father’s warnings had faded into the background in the light of such luck, until last year, when the floods came, unexpected, early, destroying crops and forcing families to cut back to the point of near starvation, his included. The nearly paid-off debt stagnated and grew. They had survived, however, and he had believed that God would not be so cruel as to treat them so harshly the following year.

Certainly, there had been no floods, for which he had obviously been grateful, and had thanked the heavens with great fervour, but as he slowly sat down on the long bench spanning one of the earthen walls of his home, he found himself wondering if there had been any point. Then he immediately chastised himself for thinking that way, because what if that made things worse?

He quickly moved his thoughts back to today. There was nothing he could do for the present apart from hope. He rubbed his eyes, and was wondering where his children had got to – he could just about afford for them to attend the village school and they were probably on their way home – when his wife’s voice cut across his thoughts.

“Darling, come here! Come quickly,” she cried, from the next room. There were only three rooms – the main one he was sat in, the bedroom, and the kitchen from where she was calling. His eyes flew open and he jumped up, half panicking, half curious. Was it the children? He couldn’t work out if the urgency in her voice was driven by fear or excitement, and rushed through the door, saying, “What? What is it?”

She did not turn from the window, but beckoned him closer. He joined her, and reluctantly followed her gaze to the sky, dreading to face it again…then he did a double take. He couldn’t believe it. He had been outside only moments before! But then, even as his eyes doubted the dazzling streak of lightening darting from one dark storm cloud to the next, his ears convinced him, and he swept his wife up in a tight embrace as a deafening roar of thunder surrounded them.

This was a tough piece to write, and I realised I’d probably bitten off a bit more than I could chew two paragraphs in. However, after a bit of online research into the plight farmers in places like India can face, so that I could understand the subject matter a bit better, and deciding not to give up, I completed the piece.

Thoughts would be much appreciated, as ever 🙂

Thanks for stopping by!

Ro x

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