Courtney S. Barr

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Join me, the Princess, on my Royal Adventures in the Land of Writing!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


On the phone...
Miles away...
He sits in front of the bowl...
Amidst sounds of a strange city I wait with bated breath...
In the quiet of our home he pulls the paper out...


The city disappears as my fingers find the keys....

Screams echo off the stone walls as the smell of loss swamps the air. Another one is lost to the darkness. I feel the cold hard dirt solid beneath my feet; worn smooth by the diggers before me. My toes curl while I crouch beside the wall yet they merely scratch the surface.

I've been told that there is a place where the earth is loose between your toes. It is soft and comforting, a promise of life within its crumbling pieces. Here the floors only breed sorrow and death. Beneath my nails, caked with sweat, are bits of that death. I taste it when the nerves overcome me and I have nothing to grasp in my hands. It is impossible to stop the fingers from touching my lips, from my teeth nibbling on the nails and feeling the grit across my tongue.

Once I believed that the dirt was the only food I would ever eat again. No longer. Weeks had passed since the nerves had fed my hunger. Stories of hope now fed my belly.

At first I desperately tried to ignore them, to pretend that they were only in the imagination of the weak. Yet here I was crouched along the earthen wall for a glimpse of what was called sunlight.

Rumors had begun about a light so bright it could blind you and water that ran free, clear of silt and worms. The idea was preposterous but so tempting. It was a dream that I had banked for months after he came.

The man who held in his hand a small green leaf had finally convinced me. GREEN! The word was new and beautiful in my mind. We had never seen such a brilliance, never held such a tender object in our hand. I had stood there watching him talk, not hearing all the words only seeing the herb he clutched as though it were his child. He spoke of things I had never heard of.

The man had appeared in our crossway. Thrown on the ground by the Leaders, covered in mud. His wet appearance had been bizarre but it had been his hands that had made us listen.

No callouses wore down his palms. His nails were clean and his wrist free of the burns from the straps. The crevices in his knuckles were clean of the smoke that stains us so easily. He had not been down here before, he was from somewhere we had never thought to imagine.

We worked for the Leaders. Digging into the hard earth, breaking it away in huge chunks only to find small sections of a shining stone they snatched from our hands before we could even see what it was. The Leaders were brutal on those that could not produce enough of the shiny stones. A beating by their strap could cut deep into your back or worse break a bone that could not be seen.

So many people had been lost over the years. Today two more children had been turned over to the Leaders. Their bodies limp and their eyes wide, staring blindly into the darkness. The sorrow was palpable today.

I had watched the cold, damp earth claim my parents when I was five. Their bodies already brittle from the hard work when the sickness that stole their breath with its ruthless cough ripped them from me.

The man had changed everything. I had seen the herb, smelled its richness and now I stood facing the strap if discovered. My breath came out slow and steady as I waited for the Leaders to end their daily post. This would be easy.

The plan was simple. An object dangled from the hip of one of the Leaders. I had stolen it two hours ago when he fell asleep watching the early digs. The object now rested in my right hand. There was only one place in all the crossways that was not the familiar brown earth. It was an entry wall made out of a hard material with a hole that they placed the object into every night.

Right now the entry stood only a few feet from me across the hall. The Leaders would be here soon, especially when they discovered the missing object.

I straightened and glanced down at the cold oddly shaped thing in my hand. There is no promise that it would show me where the man had come from. I had nothing to guarantee that wherever it took me would be better or even different from here. Gripping it tightly I carefully crossed the room. The familiar padding of my feet gave me the confidence to make the final steps.

After inspecting the hole I glanced down the hallway. I was losing precious time, the sounds of our picks in the distance told me that digging would be halted for meal break. It was now or never.

Lifting the object I turned it to fit into the hole. It hung there not moving nor changing the entry. I remembered that the Leaders always moved it. Closing my dirt laden hand around it I began to twist it. After a second of resistance my hand moved in a circle. I jumped at the soft click and stepped back. The heavy entry moved away from me revealing its other side.

A silent stairwell curled upward in front of me. It was not dirt but a gray rough looking block system. Glancing back at the crossway I smiled. Turning I took a step forward. My foot hovered over the steps hesitantly before meeting a new type of surface. This one was not earth packed by the many steps of lost friends and family. It was cold, rough like a callous and most importantly it was something I had never seen before.

The man was right. Our dungeons were not all that was time to see about those herbs. I did not look back at the dark earth that had been my home for eleven years, I only looked up praying that with every movement I grew closer to what he had called freedom.


Okay here is the FINAL CLUE!!! Come back tomorrow to name everything before midnight!!!
Gnick was so excited for our final tour stop! He truly thought it the highlight of our trip.

#10 Name the landmark location. Yep it is said that the doors to this house are always open - even when the original family lived here. They loved to have guests! In fact in one year they had over 700 people stay here! Can you imagine?
Gnick loved everything: the view, the classic structures and his most favorite spot: The Garden!
He even said that if he wasn't such a roaming Gnome he might consider this place as a final destination! But alas, he chose to stay with us and we are so glad he did!
Have a Wonderful Wandering Wednesday!!!
(As always if you are not familiar with Wednesday's Written Word you are welcome to peruse my Original Works Page or click a dated entry on the right sidebar to read past entries)


  1. I'd like some of those herbs, please....

    How did that Gnome get in front of my house?

  2. Awesome, I know you have a had a great time.The clues and pictures are great. Since I know where you were, I can't enter, but I love the way you describe in such beautiful detail everything, it is like being there. Can't wait to see you and by the way, Nutter knows that you are coming home today!! He wanted to come to work with Dad this am. We are really going to miss him. See ya soon.

  3. Still no idea. Love the gnome dude. :D

  4. I hope the gnome had the apple pie there...

  5. Loved the gnome as well but I too have no idea where you are (I'm saying it's because I don't live in the States - yep, I'm going with that)

  6. Good MORNING TO YOU!! Hope you had a great trip!! Are you all relaxed and rested??

    I have a crazy day, so I wanted to put my entries in early (so I dont forget to do it)!!

    The quote i am going to have to guess is JOEY from friends... not sure but I dont think it is a prominent political figure of any time or place.

    You have been visiting Washington,DC

    the places you went to visit are I believe as follows and You hit my FAV first!! The Fish Market is delicious food!!

    1. Olde Town Alexandria VA
    2. The Torpedo Factory
    3. The Lincoln Memorial
    4. The Washington Monument
    5. The Spy Museum
    6. The National Archives
    7. The Smithsonian
    8. The Native American Museum
    9. The Museum of American History
    Bonus: The Star Spangled Banner By Sir Francis Scott Key
    10. Mt. Vernon

    Well I cant go back and forth to make sure i got them in the right order, so here is my entry. It looks like Gnick had a blast... I hope he enjoyed the roaming for a while.. Will he be coming to visit the kids?? C u soon!! Love ya


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