The Maypole Dancers


Gnarled, bent fingers held the photo with a certain poignancy that was reflected in her wizened, grey eyes. Eyes that had seen it all: birth, baptism, weddings, anniversaries, a world war and… death. Eyes flooded with a lifetime's worth of memories, row upon row of events, each one stored in the mental archives.

Eyes that had twinkled with joy, as they all danced around the maypole; flashed in pain at the untimely, tragic event; teared in anguish as the tiny coffin was swallowed by the earth; and at the bitter end, stared vacant into the distance, struggling to make sense of it all.

She lifted the photo out of the old storage box. Its 350X350 dimensions were somewhat crumpled, torn at the top right-hand corner. A withered finger traced the ragged edge, moved across the sepia finish, thoughtful and hesitant. Her eyes glazed over at a vague recollection, which gathered in the corner of her mind. It was fragmented, possibly distorted by the passage of time and the unreliability of long term memory. She struggled to hold on to the pieces…

Certain details were indelible, crystal clear.

The air was balmy.

The sky pale blue.

The girls angelic in their white frocks.

Plaited ribbons around the pole were a kaleidoscopic pattern of colours-red, white, green, blue, orange, pink, yellow..

Ribbons twirled and swirled. Round and round. Girls' giggled.

Intertwine the ribbons… retrace your steps… unravel the ribbons.

Intertwine… retrace… unravel. Intertwine… retrace… unravel. On and on. Round and round. Laughing and shouting and screaming…

The old woman's lips moved, slow and soundless- intertwine… retrace… unravel the ribbons- lost in the mantra of that long-forgotten occasion.

Time shifted, hovered, neither here nor there, suspended between two worlds.

The kaleidoscopic ribbons, stark white dresses and sunny blue sky spun… round and round… zoomed out… shrunk into nothingness… was sucked into a vortex and disintegrated.

Her hand trembled.

She gazed at the picture.

It blurred, re-assembled and settled. Her eyes cleared, focused, registered the monochromatic finish. As one-dimensional as a long and drawn out existence spent agonising over the details of that day.

She sighed, returned the photo to its box, closed the lid and placed the container back in its designated spot under the antique chest of drawers.  

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     This is a fiction piece written in response to the photo prompt. My story is 397 words. Thank you to Shah Warton over at WordsInSync for this beautiful Maypole photo prompt for Challenge No. #1 – The Storyteller Linky Launch prompt.  Hop over and check out this awesome new   challenge.                                                                 The Storyteller Linky Button





  1. Jenny S. Morris on October 26, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    This was beautiful! I was drawn into the story, and I was both next to the old women, and the little girls.
    Great Job!

    • mish on October 28, 2011 at 10:27 am

      I’m so glad that you were drawn into both worlds – past and present! Thanks.

  2. Shah Wharton on October 27, 2011 at 7:23 am

    That was fabulous. The images, both historical and present day were so emotive. I was utterly captivated. I'm SO glad you linked up this wonderful response to the challenge. I see I will be learning quite a bit from hosting this linky, esp from the likes of you. New follower and you're in my blog roll. Hope to see more of your responses. 
    PS: if you have any ides about what you'd enjoy doing at Storyteller, let me know. All feedback is highly appreciated. Shah X

    • mish on October 28, 2011 at 10:32 am

      Since I’m a partially tech-challenged blogger, I’m wondering how much you will be able to learn from me with regards to the linky stuff! I’m still learning myself… by trial and error. 🙂 But I’m getting by…
      I’m glad that you enjoyed my piece. Thanks. And I will pop in again to see what other goodies you have… and to offer feedback as you go along. Take care.

  3. Dawn on October 27, 2011 at 8:41 am

    It's awesome! 🙂 Really beautiful!

    • mish on October 28, 2011 at 10:33 am

      Thanks for the positive response. I realy appreciate it. 🙂

  4. The Golden Eagle on October 27, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    That was beautifully written! I was drawn in from the first line.

    • mish on October 28, 2011 at 10:34 am

      So glad that you were drawn into the story. Thanks for popping in.

  5. Miranda Hardy on October 28, 2011 at 1:30 am

    Nicely done. Love the way you did this.

    • mish on October 28, 2011 at 10:37 am

      Thanks Miranda. I appreciate your comment.

  6. Sher A Hart (@SherAHart) on October 29, 2011 at 12:26 am

    I love this piece. Not just the emotion, but the way you take it from monochrome one-dimensional to 3-D full color and back again. Opening the window and then shutting it on the loss and heartache. Poignant. I thought I followed you long ago but somehow I missed. I am now. 

    • mish on October 29, 2011 at 11:36 am

      Thanks Sher. That was my intention, to swing the reader from one extreme to the opposite. Glad you enjoyed the dichotomy of the piece.

  7. Amy@souldipper on October 29, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    I love how you built the atmosphere of feeling that fits such a sweet, old photo.  I could see the old arthritic hands, moving slowly and painfully – wiping away rogue tears.

    • mish on October 29, 2011 at 6:08 pm

      You’ve explained it perfectly… with such sensitive perception. Thanks.

  8. AubrieAnne on November 10, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    I'm finally getting the chance to go around and read all the entries for the Storyteller prompts. This piece has very beautiful detail. You described the picture very well, while also adding a bit of the back story. I hope to see you in future challenges.

    • mish on November 10, 2011 at 10:49 pm

      Thank you for visiting and leaving a wonderful comment. I definitely look forward to participating in more Storyteller challenges.

  9. Arlee Bird on December 8, 2011 at 5:21 am

    You handled the prompt well.  
    I always thought the Maypole dance thing was pretty weird.  Maybe the word is more like quaint.  Definitely of another age.
    <a href="">Tossing It Out</a>

    • mish on December 8, 2011 at 1:56 pm

      I think the word “quaint” fits well! Definitely reminiscent of a bygone era… 🙂

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