She, a micro story

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She did not know what hit her. One moment she was in the dumps, disappointed with life and who she had become; the next she was awakened to life’s possibilities, her dreams no longer a distant past but a possible future.

 

If she knew the road ahead, she might have been less thrilled… then again perhaps not. She had made a right turn without realising, chosen a fork on the road without being asked to… but then she had been asleep, dead to herself so how would she have known. Which made it all the more miraculous, incredible in its simplicity and bounty.

 

She would never understand how it had come to pass but it did. Simple words, always words that meant so much. Her longing grew each day as they were all she had on this path… just that and even so, more than she had thought herself deserving or needing. Before, rarely a thought for herself but of the needs of others; and at times resenting yet persisting with the duties that made her who she was, without which she had believed rendered her nothing. She knows now she is more, those words arrive daily of the mundane, the unique, the humorous, of everything – to comfort, to support, to hold – filling her days with meaning and purpose.

 

She has walked this path longer than she thought she could, inspired by the goodness she felt, the strength she desired, the vulnerability she respected, the peace she yearned – this uplifting journey she hopes to remain. And on the low ebb days, those fears of rejection and abandonment still arise. She had lost her faith a little, tempered her trust of others; she might even have told herself she would be better alone. But she is healing on this path; and though confident she can be all that she wants on her own, she knows it’s manifold better and greater here on this road.

 

She is reminded of her needs and desires, those she had met for others, those she will now embrace for herself. For she craves attention too; care and kind gestures a balm. Now she loves again, she trusts; she has faith again. She will truly be free, she will have it all… perhaps. No matter, the journey is enough, more than she hoped. And all because of the enticing words that beckoned in the beginning, and the many many words that have followed across space and time… words, his.

 

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2016 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

A woman reborn

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The final thing the old woman said was this.

“You are a creative soul. The time is ripe for you to grasp what is written in the stars. If you stay, it will kill you. And no matter what you do, you will always have enough.”

She could not believe the words. Her life has not been dull. She has done much and achieved a great many things. She has made a life as the patron of many charitable works, most of which supported art programs for the underprivileged, the disenfranchised. She had hosted many events which were the talk of the banking industry, in which her husband is a major player. She had raised three beautiful, well-behaved children who are also citizens of the world, knowledgeable and compassionate. This is for her the ultimate success.

As she stumbled over the cobbled stones and headed to ‘Antoine’s’ where her family must be waiting by now, mixed emotions assailed her. Has she made a success of her life? What’s the meaning of ‘success’? Has she hidden behind the façade of duty and care all this time? Or is it…

“Mum, over here.”

“Hi sweetheart, sorry I was daydreaming. Did you have a good time?” she asked as she looked expectantly at the other two faces staring at her.

“What?”

“Mum, you look, um, kinda I don’t know, different..?”

“Oh, must be the brisk walk I took…”

“No, it isn’t that, I…”

“No matter, guys. Mum looks like she has had an interesting time. Now, let’s order. I’m famished.”

Something dislodged within her. She sat down and picked up her menu, wondering how familiar yet alien these people at the table are to her. It’s like she was seeing them for the first time, through unfiltered lens.

Do I even know them? Do they know me? The real me. She stilled at the realisation of what she has said, in her head. Taking a deep breath, her fingers gripped the menu tighter as she tried to reconcile the sensation emerging from the pit of her belly.

“Darling, you ok?”

She turned to the man she has been married to for close to 26 years, and smiled.

“Yes, I am. I think I finally am.”

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How many of us are privileged to be reminded of soul desires?

How many of us are willing to step out from the life we have to a life we could have?

How many of us are prepared to let go and grasp each new moment?

 

This is a continuation of a short story I wrote last week, and is in response to #WritersQuoteWednesdayWritingChallenge . This week’s theme is ‘rebirth’.  Join in! 🙂

~ FlorenceT

© 2016 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

The spirit beckons?

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She meandered through the cobbled-stone streets of the old city. Thoughts swirled in her mind, as she wondered about this … and that. Of what-ifs? And how-coulds? And but-whys? Her heart beating a little faster each time she encountered the new, the mysterious, the different… and then she saw her.

She had crossed this square before, and this was the first she had seen the old woman with dread locks hanging loose over her shoulders. She seemed to hold court, sitting on her fold-able nylon chair. Something about her demeanor, the piercing grey of her eyes and toothless smile…irresistible.

Feet which seemed to take on a life of their own carried her to the chair across from the old woman. She sat down, as if compelled. Not knowing what to expect, she smiled.

‘Take, hold and rub if you wish until you feel one which calls to you.’

She nodded, her hands tentatively reached over. Odd sensations ran through her as she caressed each deck. Her mind could not comprehend but she sensed the difference of sensations. Till she finds… comfort… familiarity… in the final deck. She shuffled the cards and handed them over, noticing for the first time the look of alarm and curiosity on the old woman’s face.

‘You have not picked the easiest deck, my child. This deck has many shadows in them, you know what I mean?’

As she shook her head, the old woman continued, ‘this tarot deck is the darkest of the four. Are you prepared?’

Still trying to digest the old woman’s words, she nodded.

The old woman spread ten tarot cards out in a triangle.

And her adventure began.

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In the French Quarter of New Orleans, on St Ann St next to Jackson Square, artists and psychics share space – all seeking to express their imagination, creativity and intuition, while seeking some connection with the sea of humanity that passes by.

Don’t we all?

This is in response to #WritersQuoteWednesdayWritingChallenge – this week’s theme is ‘adventure’. Join in! 🙂

~ FlorenceT

© 2016 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

A first time

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There is always a first time for everything. And this will be mine…for this. I do not know what came over me, but once I had it, I could not not go through with it. It was a bit of a dare and maybe with an element of a joke. Now, I am not so sure.

The vision of being stopped halts my step. Ahead of me is the barrier, its sentries looking fierce and entirely unfriendly. Maybe it is just my guilty conscience.

This is my second time visiting here, the first shortly after a terrorism threat to the country. Security was tight then, everyone was suspicious of everyone. But why are they looking grim… suspicious now?

Oh get over this. You are fine, you will be fine. It’s a minor thing, they wouldn’t care.

Each step closer to the barrier, the louder my heart beats. Oh, it is not illegal… or are they? Despite the liberalism portrayed on the big screen, America is more conservative than at face value. What if they are illegal unless a license is required…? It’s for personal use, pleasure and entertainment, they won’t … will they?

The officer smiles and beckons for me to approach. He seems friendly, not irritable or impatient. Even as I breathe a sigh of relief, another thought crosses my mind… Damn, they have time … increases the likelihood of being stopped.

I just need to brazen this out, come what may.

Smiling in reply, I walk casually to the counter, my hand clutching my luggage. ‘Good morning’, I said.

‘Good morning m’am. First time to America?’

I quickly replied in the negative, hoping this will be over soon. Looking behind me, the queue has grown significantly and getting restless. If there is a God…please.

‘‘M’am, if you could open your luggage.’

My heart sank. ‘Um…sure.’

Maybe if he saw how neatly everything is packed…

His hands reached into my luggage, somewhat carefully lifting the folded shirts then skirts then pants, moving aside my lingerie…

I groan inside… or maybe not, as he turns to look me in the eye.

I try to smile but I suspect it came out more as a … grimace?

‘M’am, are you alright?’

‘Ah, yes…it’s just I had packed my things so carefully… you know, tidy.’

His eyes narrow, as he continues with his inspection. Each movement deeper into my luggage …

Will he ask me to open the box? To take it out… I move to put myself between the officer and the passengers waiting in line behind me, to shield my luggage and the inevitable.

No longer under any illusion, I hold out my hand for the palm-sized box he found. ‘If you will, open the box and take out its contents’.

And as I slowly pull it out, his eyes gleam and his face breaks into a wide grin.

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This is my response to Ronovan’s Friday Fiction prompt. Comments welcomed. 🙂

© 2016 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

At last

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And he never did after the many plans, fantasies I now know, that we made.

The meeting at the bar in the hotel where I would stay with the excitement of young lovers, restrained familiarity. The coming upon each other on our favourite beach, somewhere where he as I would love to sit and listen to the waves rolling in. The anticipation of the airport first encounter when he would exit the arrival hall and into my arms, or more I into his.

There will be no sitting on the deck of our beach home, at peace in each other’s company. No back rubs in the afternoon after a weary day of writing. Those meals we had savoured in our minds, the diverse flavours which our adventurous selves had vowed to experiment. Those carefree mornings, though few but complete with sensuous lovemaking and a bagel and coffee to follow.

To have the children visit on special occasions, bringing laughter and joy while we secretly looked forward to being on our own at night, if only so we could sing their praises of how they are faring in their world. To be comforted by how contented we are in ours.

So many dreams that will never come to pass.

Here they all are… my people here for me. I watch them making their way over, despite the dis-ease of being here, their love I still can feel. My boy holding himself so tightly… “It is alright, breathe”. I used to say to him. Wish I could now. It is indeed a beautiful gathering… everything organised to the finest detail. If this is how she copes, then I won’t complain. “Mum loved these purple hues.” There you are, regal no matter the circumstance. Losing one’s mother is not easy. I know.

If only they could see me… finally free from the ties that had bound me to them. If only they knew how important these ties were yet how restrictive they had been, how much sacrifice they had demanded of me. I had made them all. Perhaps they feel it now. Ah, but what use is that to me now. And …

Oh, who is that… almost hidden behind the casuarina… looks like him… but it cannot be … but how… It is him. He made it after all this time, well I guess better late than never. Ironic after such indeterminate silence … I wonder if he will make his presence known, his identity … us. What will my people say?

That is no longer my concern. Time to go.

Is he waving at me? No… yes, he sees me but how… Oh dear man, is that why you never said goodbye.

“Oh my love…at last.”

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My flash fiction challenge with RonovanWrites. Somewhat morbid…well, I sat down to write with the challenge of “Write about a family gathering” and this is what turned up.

– FlorenceT

© 2015 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

Memento

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“Mum, mum, he hurt me, he hurt me!” Sophie runs across the room, hurling herself onto my lap. She curls tight and places her head on my chest, waiting for my soothing words. Peace is shattered. I sigh.

The decibels had gone up, steadily and I knew it was a matter of time before Sophie was in my study. She and Robbie had been playing companionably in the rumpus for an hour or so now. I guess an hour of solitude for me is nothing to scoff at, though it frustrates me how these two kids just can’t play amiably. There is a large space, enough to leave each other alone if they so choose. There is a wide selection of toys and games, both single play or shared play to occupy their attention. So…

I place my hand on her head, gently stroking her hair. My mind still on the recent past. “It’s alright, darling. It’ll pass.”

“No it won’t! It hurts and it’s all his fault. Robbie is mean.”

“Sweetie, Robbie’s behaviour is mean, is it? Tell me what happened.” I ask, already knowing her reply. Her reply has not changed since 5 months ago, and it won’t today.

“Well, Mum, he hit me on the head with it and he called me names.” Oh dear, this is new. Robbie is usually a gentle child. He is angry now and has resorted to name calling but hitting? This is disturbing.

“Sophie, tell the story from the start.”

“Well, I wanted to play with it, it’s so beautiful. But Robbie said I can’t. He keeps saying it’s his and it’s special. But I wanted to, Mum. Who made him boss?”

I can’t help a little smile forming, she is a feisty one.

“Okay, so you took it anyway?”

“Yeah and he chased me, and Mum,” Sophie looks up at me, tears still glistening on her lids, “I ran faster than him”. A tone of smugness creeps into her voice.

I hug her a little tighter.

“Anyway, he got me in the end, he is bigger you know. He snatched it and then, and then…” a sob escapes her lips.

“Hey, where does it hurt?” I guess Robbie’s behaviour can wait. I need to look after this little one.

“Here.” she pointed to the top of her head. I felt the lump. Not too bad… nothing a little lavender oil can’t fix.

I reach for the oil on the shelf next to my seat. This is one of my favourite spots, on this wing-backed occasional chair Tom bought for me and had it positioned overlooking my herb garden. Tom was always thoughtful like that. I had said how wonderful it would be to have a chair here, and the next weekend, he had insisted we went shopping for one. Wouldn’t take no for an answer. That was just before he left for his conference in Italy. Only 5 months… but seems like a lifetime ago.

Shaking a small quantity on my finger, I gently rub the oil on the lump.

Sophie smiles, “magic oil mummy…”. “Yes darling.”

Sophie relaxes into me, having had her ‘injuries’ attended to with the requisite TLC. Tender loving care, as we call it in our family.

“You sit here on my favourite chair and have a little rest… I’ll go and speak to Robbie, and bring back some afternoon snack for us, alright?”

Sophie nods and closes her eyes.

I cross the hall and into the rumpus room. At first glance, Robbie is nowhere to be seen then a soft sound from behind drew my attention. Turning to the corner table, I see Robbie sitting under it with tears running down his face. Clutched in his hands is the aeroplane, a model of the one which his father had died on that fateful day 5 months ago.

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Flash fiction using visual prompt provided by Ronovan’s Friday Fiction. As usual, I am late for the deadline. but I figured it is good fun so why not.

 

© 2015 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

To live another day

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Light flickering…the candle burns to its demise. Like me, it has no choice. I welcome the end though, I wonder if the candle does, if it could think. Never mind, it’s done. What comes next is inevitable like the cliché, night will come after day.

But oh what a day I’ve had. I doubt anyone has had such bright sparkling days filled with all things beautiful. The days of freedom to roam the wild countryside, weaving my way through the trees as my feet felt the tremor of the earth, the tresses of my hair flying in the wind. I was not a beautiful child but attractive, so I was told. Women adored my gentle features, my gracious movements. Children, well they enjoyed my exuberant company. And men were fascinated by my witty intelligence. That was fine until I became a young lady, as my mother reminded me often. I could not recall being a young lady, more like an extroverted tomboy. Alas, who was I to disagree…

So it was that my attractive self, on its 15th birthday, lost my virginity in the cabin in the woods. Another cliché? My life seems to be filled with them. Perhaps it was the era I was born and raised… where conformity was a virtue. Oh I bet you want to know, who? A handsome devoted friend who pursued me till I relented. I was curious that’s all and it was glorious at the time. Till I knew better. He was 18 and not exactly the consummate lover. I would tell him so now, to his face if only he was here.

Lovers, yes I’ve had my share. Made my days brighter… and whyever not. I could not think of a life limited by social proprieties so I ventured forth. The criticisms never amounted to much in my mind. I would have paid the price if I had to live my life again. Yves, Paolo, Johan, Mick,… they were kind, generous in their own ways. I was never left wanting.

Regrets, I may have one though children would have impeded my style. Oh boy was I stylish. Haute couture, designer homes, fast cars… see, I told you…so many clichés. Glorious!

Hush, let me finish before the night comes. The places I’ve been, men and women of the silver screen whom I’ve met… well, I could have written a memoir. But confidentiality is my middle name. I am not one to kiss and tell, never have been. But the money I could have made… ah, well I’ve had my days in the sun, so why spoil it for others…

Silver has only just specked my hair. How can it be that I am about to close my eyes … to this world … forever. They never told me it would end like this, alone in a cabin once again, only this time clothed in shreds, my feet blistered and their skin cracked. To live another day… no. I am scared, you know… will he be back? Is it this time that he finally kills me… for good?

– FlorenceT

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Flash fiction using prompts provided by Ronovan’s Friday Fiction – and I used all 6 word prompts provided. These words are in bold in the story.

 

© 2015 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

As always

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Ronovan’s Friday Fiction – this should get me writing again. It is a writing prompt challenge and participants are to use at least 2 of the 6 words provided. The words are in bold in the story.

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She licks her lips as the aroma of chocolate wafts through the room, warmed by the heat emanating from the hearth. Searching for its source, she follows the scent till she steps into the adjacent room. The dim does not reveal much except for the garish wallpaper of red and gold. A bedroom, as far as she can see. Illuminated only by the light of tapered candles adorning the standing candelabra, the room’s only other light source is the evening light peeking through the curtains drawn tight but it would seem, not tight enough.

As her vision adjusts, she sees on the night stand by the bed … a fondue? Now that’s unexpected, but then nothing is ever predictable with him. He never ceases to surprise her. She has learnt to watch for signs. When she received a note from him earlier for them to meet here, she knew this would be no different. And yet nothing could have prevented her from turning up…here…now. Sometimes his largesse were endearing gestures, not always. She did not know what to expect. She does not now.

The skin on her arms tingles in anticipation… in anxiety…? He clears his throat. She startles, then laughs nervously. “There you are.” The tremor in her voice echoes through the sparsely furnished room.

Her eyes rested on him, tucked cosily under his blanket on the imposing leather armchair. Drawing near, she can see a look on his face, one she is familiar with. He inclines his head, and his eyes commands her to be silent. Her feet somehow carry her to his side. He reaches up to remove her earrings. Turning round for him, he unclasps the ruby necklace, a matching set to the earrings and his gift from when they first met.

As the Captain’s fingers brushed against her neck, a wave of lust hits her. As always.

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– FlorenceT

© 2015 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

Relationships are about stories

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holding_hands

 

Relationships are about stories, not truth. Alone, as individuals, we each have our own personal mythologies, the stories we tell in order to make sense of ourselves to ourselves.  That generally works fine as long as we stay sane and single but the minute you enter an intimate relationship with another person there is an automatic dissonance between your story about yourself, and their story about you.

Louise Doughty, Apple Tree Yard

 

Powerful words, don’t you think?  Do you think they are accurate?

– FlorenceT

Making meaning of our life stories

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question markMaking meaning of our life stories” – that’s my tag line, and it occurred to me that I’ve not spoken to it.

Our lives are made up of memories, which are in effect stories, narratives which were told and remembered. These narratives, created by us and others, in turn have created our life, in how we think of or remember our lives thus far.  They give meaning.  And these narratives or stories also in some ways shape our perception of how our life stories are unfolding and how the future stories will be told.

Ever had the weird experience of being told two very different stories only to realize it derives from the same event?  Then you’ll pretty much figure out that these two story-tellers would attach different meanings to this event, and interpret them into their lives in different ways.

The stories we, and others, tell of our lives (and thus us) impact significantly on how we perceive, behave, interpret; and how we live.  It is not just the negative stories I am referring to, even the apparently positive ones have their sway.

woman in glassesI grew up being praised for my academic prowess.  I worked hard, put in lots of effort, and was relentless in my pursuit of excellence.  They were, I was led to believe, the reasons for my success.  I somehow did not quite believe I was intelligent, no matter what my successes.  Without hard work and effort, I would certainly fail.  Let me clarify – when I say hard work and effort I meant HARD WORK AND EFFORT, all the time.  No idleness, I was told!  I recall references to being ‘not really intelligent’ but ‘she works hard’.  So this was one of my stories – which led me to a life of busy-ness, too afraid to relax, always vigilant, just in case I missed life’s ‘opportunities’.  Don’t misunderstand, I do enjoy mental and intellectual stimulation, and I appreciate the work ethic my parents have instilled in me and the importance of having a goal in life.

But (there is always a ‘but’) I have now realised I am indeed intelligent and creative (now, that’s a story for another time!) – that I can ‘wing it’ if I choose to do so, and brilliantly if I may add.  It’s such comfort to have less of the stress and anxiety surrounding a fear for not putting enough effort, for not having worked hard enough and fail. I am far from being a sloth, however I am less hooked on this story of ‘hard work and effort’, and instead realising and/or acknowledging other stories that I fancy. A bit of self-love here 🙂

self loveI have many stories which I have had to fulfill, some of my choosing, some not – stories which require me to be the good girl, the dutiful daughter, the responsible one, the be-like-a-man woman of the world, the self-sacrificing mother… the list goes on.

Be aware of being stuck with any particular story for your life! It may serve others to tell a certain story of you.. be it of a victim, a survivor, the dependable one, the sick one, the weak one, the capable one… Will you let them?  Do you know yourself?

So making meaning is twofold – to re-tell the stories of old in our own words; and to tell the stories which have so far been untold (or ignored) so they can become a  part of our life.

I am conscious now of what and whose stories I am fulfilling… and I am pragmatic.  One story for now – my children need me to be an available mother, and I do so willingly and happily.  And I also know a time will come when this story ends.  And I am also choosing to write my own stories…

What life stories have bound you?  book

What stories will you re-tell now in your words?

What stories untold will you tell now?

Which stories will set you free?

 

Wishing you discernment,
– FlorenceT