Binary choice

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It took years. This search for the answer to “who am I?” She doubts if she is any closer to the truth, assuming there is one. Each time she thought she was near, the road lengthened. She felt a sense of belonging in her world, moving within it with ease and confidence, only to be jolted by an unkind word or an ignorant perhaps innocent question. “Where are you from?” Betrayed by the colour of her skin.

Frankly, she never fully belonged in any one place. Something other always beckoning. Certainly not in her childhood. In that place far from where she is now, she was the loner. Children played on dusty streets, delighting in the after-school romps and occasional ice-cream from the ice-cream man, sweaty from the tropical sun as he leaned out from the little van. She was in her room immersed in her own world of words and thoughts, sometimes annoyed by the of sounds of glee punctuating her hard won quiet. Living in a modest single-storey 3-bedroom house and accommodating six, her moments of quiet were precious and rare. There in pages of her books she dreamt of a world far away, in fact quite similar to where she is now, where children are seen and respected as individuals with voice. Where her female-ness is cherished for more than its pretty-ness. It is easy now to look back and identify the insidious manner in which she was undermined. Being a young girl, her accomplishments, and there were many, were badges worn by her parents, an honour ascribed to her family. Where she was not a person yet but she would soon, or so she thought.

That did not come to pass. The struggle to be her own person intensified throughout her adolescence and teenage years. For every intelligent gesture, she was brought down by a fact she could not deny, she was a girl. For every intelligent word, she was told she would marry anyway and they would be in vain. For every little act of kindness and love, a show of vulnerability and compassion, she was confirmed as weak.

So she learnt to be tough, to armour up against a world which sought to “protect” women by disempowering them. She learnt to be like a man, though penis-envy did not last long. She learnt to use her intelligence to convince the rational men of her “right-ness”. Little did she know, she would only be labelled arrogant, a bitch. For intelligence in a man is privileged, in a woman it is threatening and deserving of scorn.

She left that oppressive world with cunning and great effort. Appealing to her father’s pride, she arrived in a land antithesis to hers. The freedom exhibited by those around her was exhilarating and full of promise. She had found the world of her childhood books. The possibilities inspiring and … intimidating. That was when she discovered she had not escaped after all. While she might peer into this world, she found herself restrained by an impulse to hide. While she longed for the limelight, she suspected she was not good enough. She played in the shadows, daring only to step into the peripheral of light in one aspect of her life which had never failed her – academia. Here at least she could be queen for a day. She knew then that unless she kept up with her efforts, this too would be lost to her. And she paid the price of self-sufficiency willingly, withdrawing further into a world of thoughts. The bars of her self-doubt and unworthiness caged around her, seemingly never to leave.

And when her knight in shining armour arrived, it was not on a noble steed but a black charger She found what she had lost many years ago in that far away land. The expression of her freedom and care free existence, and the power that came with giving the world the proverbial middle finger. She was happy, at last.

DINKs (Double Income No Kids), they were called and remained so for many years. She continued to exist within the boundaries of her cage, not that she knew or cared. Her world beguiled. And she met the expectations for a corporate professional living in a capitalist Western urban environment. Yet her past whispered incessantly, reminding her of what she had denounced. Amidst the oppressive world of her childhood, light did shine. The sense of connection and belonging to familiar rituals and common purpose; attuning to a sense of community and doing for a greater good than the self. Again, she fought. The self she had claimed within her so-called new world had equipped her with stronger armour – that of social and financial independence, freedom of speech and the language of rights – reinforcing the battle lines between old and new worlds. She had chosen, yet unease remained. She ought to be happy, contend at least but even that was slipping away.

Losing herself was something she never thought to experience or believed possible. But some things, she saw with hindsight, were beyond her control. That was at least a comforting thought. And this loss and the emptiness did not stand in her way of success and family. Ironically the portent from the life she thought she had escaped, the words “you’ll just marry and have children no matter how clever you are” had come to pass despite the resistance. She can now smile at her younger naïve self who believed in the dichotomy between marriage and family, and success. It is but an exercise in interpretation.

She had never fought so hard, but she did then – for herself and to know what she wanted from the one life she had. She saw now the lessons of her youth. The travels from being caged by her past through recriminations and blame to acknowledging the lessons of her youth. These well-intentioned lessons delivered via suspect means were valuable after all. Together with a parallel exploration of the flawed self and the integrated life she must live, change was inevitable.

She would not be a fugitive forever, running away, hiding and avoiding. She would be all of herself – the old, the new, the one to come and everything in-between – embracing them in her world that she has created. Yes, she has rediscovered her creativity too.

So it is that she is still taken aback when she is required to locate herself in one world or another. Where is she from? Where will she begin?

Life does not exist through binary choice – old or new, success or failure, married or single, holding on or letting go… It is a journey of continuous connections and separations, relationships and aloneness, belonging and isolation, lost and found; measured by the subjective internal barometer of “right-ness” which evolves.

And her heart still aches for that younger person who had experienced much, and fills with compassion for the one who is naming them.

 

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

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The poet and poetry

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boat_on_the_river_by_chris_lamprianidis-d4ulqhg

The poet lives and writes at the frontier between deep internal experience and the revelations of the outer world. There is no going back for the poet once this frontier has been reached; a new territory is visible and what has been said cannot be unsaid. The discipline of poetry is in overhearing yourself say difficult truths from which it is impossible to retreat. Poetry is a break for freedom. In a sense all poems are good; all poems are an emblem of courage and the attempt to say the unsayable; but only a few are able to speak to something universal yet personal and distinct at the same time; to create a door through which others can walk into what previously seemed unobtainable realms, in the passage of a few short lines.”
– David Whyte

 

Image by Chrsi Lamprianidis http://chris-lamprianidis.deviantart.com/art/Boat-on-the-river-293267284

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

The room within

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Connecting three dots… so bear with me.

1. Late last night, a friend thought I might enjoy Sue Vincent’s writing prompt revolving around this picture…in less than 100 words. At the time I was inspired to write of a cosy space, filled with what I love… books.  But it was late then…

hobbit-door

2. But this morning, I was struck by this sense of our humanity as I sat in my car waiting for the light to go green, watching the sea of people crossing, each unique and yet the same as we go about our daily life, making a living, caring, loving, bearing loss, feeling anxious, being grateful, experiencing pain…

3. As I sat sipping my morning coffee, I was reminded of one of my all time favourite songs “All of Me” by John Legend while reading Erika Kind’s ‘Song of the Day’ post.

And thus inspired, here is what I think lies behind the door:

Beyond the door lies a space which beckons and welcomes, lit by the warm glow of a smouldering hearth. And stepping into this room with its low whitewashed ceiling, it compels an exhale of air releasing the tension and anxiety of the day. Stretching from the floor of polished rocks to the ceiling and spanning the walls, books gently and haphazardly compete for space on shelves of polished timber.

At the center sits a sofa of dark leather, aged by constant use, its texture softened by loving. A pale sheepskin rug lay before it. Here you find the room’s only occupants. They share this library and experience great comfort, exhilaration and joy from its contents, as much as from each other. Always acknowledging their unique human need to connect and to separate, to be individuals and to be one. No matter the disappointments, the loss, the grandeur and thrill of beyond, they know they are home to each other.

Alright, I am a romantic too… at times…when I have time to be. Interesting thought…having time to be romantic…?

– FlorenceT

 

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

Gift of Randomness and Rhyme.

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The cat went to the hat and spelt out scat,

but the hat spoke back and now is on the attack.

When the cat ran by with the hat flying high,

the spoon hid in the cradle so timed, so shy.

The little boy blue gave chase of the cat,

but became enthralled by the moon and instead sat.

The cat ran out of the house and through the field,

looking for something to use as a shield.

What did it do, but slid under a moo,

and that’s how we found out Elsie flew.

Now you may wonder what this is all about,

but I’m here to tell you, you need no reason ever to shout.

Pick up your pen, and put it to paper,

and perhaps what comes out will be a world shaper.

If you don’t try, you will never know,

then so many people may remain in sadness and woe.

A gift of the gab and the written word,

waits for your dreams to be heard.

 

 

Written partially to test Florence’s new theme here on Meanings and Musings.

Copyright 2016 Ronovan Hester. The author retains all rights to this work.

Time lost

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Drunk

He tries looking beyond the crowd, to the source of the haunting voice. It has appeared from nowhere …and he just has to see. If only the throbbing would stop…

His head is ready to explode… and the pressure behind his eyes… what a sweet song. Who is she? A feeling of dread … of curiosity… of…, oh he can’t think, trying to focus. On the voice.

His chest constricts, a twisting sensation. Gasping for air, he chokes on the smoke assaulting his throat… Taking another gulp, hoping for some soothing, some comfort… Awful… yeah, he has left his drink for too long. Tepid beer…

Lifting his arm, he tries again to usher the crowd aside… his hand connecting with the nicotine-filled air and drops to his side. That voice…if only he remembers but…

Swivelling back on the barstool, he raises his hand , lifting his index finger…red, he decides as his eyes connect with the bottles lining the wall behind the bartender. His mind drifts to bodies swaying gently, the sensations of her dress brushing against him, her hands in his hair…his heart fills full; she was smiling, her eyes shining with love for him, her beauty was unsurpassed, he would tell anyone this…now…but…

Mhmm, damn thirsty, he thinks as he downs it in one long swill… nice red. Crimson spreads across his striped shirt. He does not notice. Craning his neck to catch a glimpse of her. He is not leaving without seeing who she is… no, he can’t leave his friends.

Oh, where are they? They must be up front, where she is… yes, he remembers…they used to dance to her songs. He must say hello, she’ll remember them…she must. He jumps off the barstool, his forehead meeting the floor in one graceless fall. His world darkens.

Ticks and tocks of essential time, sink the spirits lower than wine.

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This is in response to a weekly fiction writing prompt hosted by RonovanFriday Fiction with RonovanWrites.  Join in for some writing fun!

– FlorenceT

 

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

At last

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regret

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.

New Strengths in New Friends.

Eleanor Roosevelt Quote on New Strengths
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“With the new day comes new strengths and new thoughts.”-Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt Quote on New Strengths

“The stress of life is the past carrying over into the present as well as the future pressing back onto today. Live in the now.” -Ronovan Hester (Your guest author for today.)

 

As a person of yesterdays and tomorrows colliding in the now, I find living in the now tends to be the best option for me.

For a man who lost all his memories, except for those of his son, due to a head injury, for a man who doesn’t plan ahead because he’s not certain tomorrow will be a day he will get out of bed, I lead a pretty decent life up here in the noggin.

Yes, I have a few things I ‘plan’ for, but those are long-range plans, towards which each day builds. If you had asked me two years ago if I would have a successful blog, a book about to launch, with several more in the works, I would have laughed if I had known how. I could not spell, speak, and when I did write, I would alternate which hand to use. You read that correctly, I did not know if I was right or left handed. I used both with equal ability. Eating was an interesting time. The foods given to me were the kinds you could pick up with your fingers, just in case I forgot to use the fork.

Three months later, only a month after I discovered I owned a laptop, I had written the first draft of a novel. I am not saying it was a beautiful piece of literature, but I had accomplished something. Where the rest of my body failed me, and even at times my mind, my imagination never left me.

Today, there are days I can’t walk. On those days, I do not eat for those obvious reasons. During those moments, I throw myself at the world of Romance, Adventure, History, or wherever my imagination takes me. I get looks of pity. And often times worse looks than that. I do not look on anything as a reason for pity or a cause for regret. But the day my head hit three to four surfaces on the way to the floor of my home, I count as a day of awakening.

There are places I’ve visited since that day I never would have otherwise. My son and I have visited the Amazon looking for an ancient church treasure our Scottish ancestors hid centuries ago. I’ve earned a medical degree, made a mission trip to Northern Africa, and escaped a rebel group to make it back to the love of my life. And I’ve solved murders by demon-possessed individuals in a small New England town.

On top of all of that, I’ve made friends around the world who are closer than any, except perhaps for a very few, I’ve ever made in person, with Florence being at the top of that list.

The former owl who’s feathers were hiding a beautiful mother and daughter and brain now allows me to step into her home here and share my thoughts at times because my own is a jumbled mess at times.

Don’t take that sentence for more than it is. A man can call a friend beautiful and be stating the obvious as opposed to stating something else. In this case, I am speaking about the person she is, not the physical casing that houses the wonderful person she is.

She encourages my writing. She calls me stupid when I hate my stories. She pushes me to finish a book. Moreover, she wants to see my name on a cover of my own solo book maybe even more than I do, mostly because she knows she’ll be in the acknowledgements from correcting my punctuation.

‘With the new day comes new strengths.’ Sometimes a new strength comes from within, and sometimes it may come from the other side of the world. I have the thoughts; sometimes she gives the strength I need.

Ronovan Hester Quote on Living in the Now.



Ronovan Hester is an author, with his debut historical adventure novel Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling due out in December of 2015. He shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer through his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge, a new Weekly Friday Fiction Prompt Challenge, and the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.com.

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@RonovanWrites

 © Copyright-All rights reserved by ronovanwrites.wordpress.com 2015

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.