I recently join the Bannerwing Write Club. It has become a great source of inspiration, commiseration, and celebration when it comes to my writing. We decided it would be fun and challenging to do a round robin story. I am starting it here today, and several other bloggers will be continuing it and finally ending it over the next couple of weeks. None of us have any idea where the next person will take it. Next week you can catch the continuation of When and Where on the blog of the one and only Angela Amman, who, I am sure, will put me to shame.
The crunch of the gravel under her feet was deafening. Even the pebbles were screaming at her to turn around. Yet her flashlight beam continued to play across the path in front of her, and she followed. Every few steps she would sweep the beam to the right and then the left, reading each name, stopping when the age of the carvings made them hard to decipher.
“Robin, don’t do this. It isn’t necessary,” Paul appeared at her left shoulder.
“Paul’s right. Please, you can turn around, get in the car, and go,” Phoebe added from her right.
Robin squared her shoulders as she checked another tombstone. “No. It’s time. I can’t put it off forever. Better sooner than later.”
“You’re not ready.”
“Says me who has a century more knowledge and experience than you.”
Robin glanced at Paul. “Is it really experience if it happens after you are dead?”
Paul scowled. “Semantics? Really? ”
Phoebe snorted and said, “That’s Robin. Arguing the minutiae of death when her life is in the balance.”
Robin’s jaw tightened, but she didn’t say anything. The twins may have seen more in their afterlife than she had in her physical life to date, but she knew her own power and limits. Fate was leading her and follow she must. She just wished it didn’t scare her so much. It was taking actual mental effort to keep her hand from shaking and bouncing her light all over the place.
The flashlight played over another grave marker, covered in water stains and lichen. She couldn’t make out the name, but her gut told her it wasn’t the right one. Reading the names was probably a useless gesture. The one she sought would make its presence known when she found it.
Paul said, “If you are going to insist, at least wait another week or two. We can be better prepared, study the manuscript more closely. Gather more information.”
Robin stopped and turned to look at Paul. “You have been waiting for this for a hundred and fourteen years. I would think you would be more anxious.”
“Those years have taught me patience and caution. I can wait another few weeks to insure that you are truly ready for this confrontation. If you aren’t then all those decades are for naught.”
They held each other’s eyes for a long moment. Quietly, Robin replied, “I understand the gravity and the consequences of my actions. But I also know that waiting any longer will drive me mad. I am filled to the brim. If I don’t release this power at the appointed target, I will burn out in a matter of days if not hours.” She paused and stepped closer to him. “Please, Paul.” Phoebe moved to face her brother as well, now making a united front with Robin.
Paul sighed. “Very well. When we find it, you must promise to listen to my instructions exactly. Everything must be precise. It will be the only way to direct the storm you are holding inside.”
Robin went back to crunching the gravel and sweeping the light beam back and forth, path to stone, stone to path. Read. Move on. They came to a cross path. Robin closed her eyes and let her arms drop to her side. Her left hand, the one holding the flashlight, rose and pointed down the left path. She turned and walked that way for another twenty yards. Abruptly, she stopped. The beam scanned the stones around her as she read.
Finally, it came to rest on a very old one. It was brownstone, squat and heavy, like a malicious toad guarding its treasure.
“There you are, you bastard,” Robin whispered.