The Lady’s Story

It’s been a while since I’ve had the opporunity to write something for that fantastic writer’s community known as The Lightening and The Lightening Bug. Surely, you’ve visited and read the varied and talented contributions of the writers who link up each Sunday, right?

The prompt this week suggested that we write about “Objects in the Mirror”  – you were supposed to write about something seen in a mirror. It could have been yourself, someone else, a ghost, a car, your evil twin from another universe – the looking glass, as Alice might have said, was wide open. Oddly enough, I was recently experimenting with a fiction piece about the ghost in my childhood farmhouse and used the very words, “looking glass” in my character’s inner dialogue.

Since we’ve entered that month devoted to pagan holidays, I decided to link up my tale about the Lady, my nearly constant childhood companion. If you recall, my stories were all true…this one is not. It is merely my imagination at work, attempting to explain who the Lady was and why she stayed with me for so many years. I removed drafts of my true ghost stories from Narragansett No. 7 because I’m working on the in my graduate program…I suppose that if anyone wants to see them again, I could post in honor of Halloween.

This story is nothing more than an experiment.

THE LADY’S STORY

How long have I been waiting in this silent house? I have no way of knowing. I wander from room to room searching for my daughter, worrying that she’ll never come home. Time seems to stand still, as if years have passed while I was sleeping but, I never recall going to sleep. Forever waiting and searching, my thoughts drift, returning me to the hours I spent pacing the length of the hall, waiting for my girl’s fever to break.  Throughout those nights, I crept into her room to check her, to make sure she was still breathing. There were times when I couldn’t help but lean over her tiny bed and nearly place my ear against her frail chest, listening for her wheezing exhalations.  How many times during those long nights had I hovered over her as she slept? Filled with helplessness and worry, I waited for her father to return with the doctor.

Now neither of them is here and I didn’t remember them leaving. So I wait, sure that he has taken her away for treatment. But how long ago had they departed and left me with no word of their whereabouts? I’ve become frightened that the influenza has infected my body; it’s the only explanation for this strange mixture confusion and isolation. Certainly, high fever is known to cause odd visions and perhaps the sense of timelessness I have been experiencing. Fever would explain the sense that I’ve slept for days when I come to in a room, one of my own, that suddenly appears foreign.

More than once, I have been sure that I heard voices and hurried to peer from the windows, hoping to see them below in the dooryard. I have scanned the windows of each barn, hoping to see the light of a lantern. So far, I haven’t seen any sign of life and the landscape looks peculiar – askew, as if something has changed and I can’t bear to look for too long. When I do, it seems as though the world has been reversed. An image sent back through a looking glass. Everything is off, as if the trees themselves are different.

Once, I stood before the window in my daughter’s room and forced myself study the world outside. I quickly backed away when the feverish hallucinations began to set in. I was studying the yard in the front of the house and the lane beyond when the very air seemed to quiver, much like the wavering air above a roaring fire. Most disturbing to me was what I saw in that quivering vision. For the briefest moment, I saw a great and brightly colored metal machine moving into the dooryard. The lane in front had transformed to a flat grey stretch as far as the eye could see. It was then that I began to grow dizzy and my body became weightless but, it wasn’t until my eyes moved to my new beautiful marble walk and the young maple tree that I nearly fainted with terror. Somehow, the great heavy lengths of white marble had been lifted and warped by the roots of a tree that could only have lived for years beyond my own existence.

To the right of the giant maple, the row of new lilacs had grown so large as to obscure the lower fields. I stepped away from window, feeling too light and afraid of becoming faint. I turned to fall into the chair at my daughter’s bedside and instead saw a room coated in dust. The plaster was crumbling and the furniture that remained was not our own.

I expected that weightless feeling to consume me and drag me to the floor but I did not faint. Instead I remained quite still and listened. Strange voices traveled up to my ears. Someone was speaking on the floor below. When had I last gone down the stairs to the first floor? I could not remember. When had I last gone outside and walked in my gardens? I grew alarmed and felt as though I was moving through a thick fog that wiped away recent memory.

In my state of distress, I nearly ran from the room that should have been my daughter’s and hurried toward the staircase of the center hall. I was sure that fever was affecting my thoughts and causing these disturbing visions. I was suddenly quite sure that the voices were those of my dear husband and daughter. With an air of determination, I stood at the top of the stairs and willed myself steady enough to descend. Certainly the familiar faces of my family would break this spell and make my world right again.

It was then, with my foot poised above the step, that I was startled by the little girl coming out of the parlor. On first sight, I saw my own girl and I began to open my mouth to call to her, but then she turned. This girl was not mine at all. She was dressed strangely, with her bare legs showing and odd shoes on her feet. Her hair was long and loose, obscuring her face while she stood at the bottom of the stairs inspecting a toy boat. Startled, I moved back and watched her climb the stairs and sit in the alcove. Shocked and unable to speak, I quietly moved toward her and the floor creaked under my foot. The girl jumped, startled by my noise and I began to speak…

The Conversation

 

We all have a pair of shoes that tell a story. It may be a story remembered or a story that never happened, but shoes can speak volumes, after all they’ve walked many miles. This week we want you to take a picture of your favorite pair of shoes (or a pair of shoes with a story) and tell the story of those shoes. Where have they been? Where will they take you? Let the shoes do the talking!

 

Hey, what did we do before children? I can’t remember.

I don’t know…we went out dinner, traveled a bit, cocktails. We just walked a lot.

Remember when we used to go shopping on Newbury Street then meet up with the Alden’s at Cigar Masters?

Oh, right. I remember that! They’re so handsome. Then we’d walk across the street and check out the scene at Saks.

Mmmm hmmm…and sometimes we’d even take gorgeous couple home with us.

So naughty…even when we knew we shouldn’t do it.

Remember that time we went back to New York and ran into all those old shoes?

Oh my God. Are you talking about that time that we ran into the old sneakers? What were their names…?

..The Nikes.

Right, the Nikes! But we looked good that night!

Damn good!

Those old things didn’t expect to see us walk into that bar.

What about that French bistro in Beacon Hill…

Pierrot Bistro Francais?

Yes, that’s the place. We went there a few times.

Of course. I loved it because the walk from the parking lot to the restaurant was easy.

Right…no cobblestones.

Shudder

I’ll never forget that night we tried to walk on the cobblestones a Faneuil Hall.

Well, those cocktails sure didn’t help!

Laughter

At least there was no permanent damage.

Yeah.

Sigh

I miss us. I miss those times. I feel boxed in.

It’ll get better.

Seriously, I can’t live like this. I can’t stand this tiny box anymore. I need to get out and live a little! We barely even talk to our friends anymore. For God sake, they’re shut-ins now too!

Those really tall black ones must be going crazy…what were their names?

The Gucci’s.

Oh, right…The Gucci’s…

Well, I don’t know about you but I’m kind of glad to see all those Blahniks get knocked off their high horse. What a bunch of elitists.

Hey, Jimmy?

Yeah, Choo?

Do you think she’ll mow the lawn with us on her feet again this summer?

I hope so Choo…I hope so, because I think our glamour-filled nights are over.

At least we’re still the favorites. Thank God we’re pink.

 

Captive

An enormous jar of marbles sat perched on a shelf in the depths of the basement closet. In the dark, damp and musty room full of laundry soap and tools, a jar filled with perfectly shaped orbs in riotous colors was held captive in an old Ball jar. She reached in and pulled the jar into a shaft of sunlight pouring through the basement window. She was below ground, sitting on the cool cement floor and enjoying the silence.  One small rectangular ground-level window provided a view of the deep blue summer sky. Outside, the day was filled with heat but the basement was nearly frigid. She held the jar up, using the bright blue sky as a backdrop. The sunlight caused those perfect glass orbs to come alive again. Their color returned.

She marveled that inside of the dusty long forgotten jar, a bit of magic had been caught and held hostage. Inside the jar, the marbles screamed for release. For sunshine. To be held in the hands of a child. To roll across the sidewalk and click against another once again. Inside, under that zinc lid and neglected in the depths of a basement closet, they were captive and forgotten. Possessed but unloved.

She heard her mother’s footsteps on the basement stairs, “Be careful those are Ron’s marbles and they’re very old.” That was enough of a warning. To lose even one of those marbles wasn’t worth his vindictive wrath. Once he possessed something, he made it clear that no one else was entitled to touch what was his. From experience, she knew that children were not immune to his spiteful revenge.

She turned the grimy jar and marveled at the stifled beauty within, “Why are they in this jar in the basement?”  Her question was answered with a shrug and look of confusion, as if her mother couldn’t understand why it mattered. She felt a wave of aversion, realizing that her mother didn’t recognize the disservice of capturing such beauty and hiding it away. She stopped asking questions, knowing she’d never get her point across but also realizing that the marbles were his to keep confined forever. And wasn’t she avoiding just that? She constantly bucked against his masochistic need to dominate what wasn’t his. Including her. She’d given up waiting for her father to rescue her. She realized, at fourteen-years-old, that she must fight her battle alone.

Spellbound by the marbles and his need to control, she spat on her finger and rubbed a circle into the grime of the Ball jar. Through that clean spot, the marbles gleamed. She stood and walked to the washing machine to retrieve a towel and polished the grime-coated jar. Once more, she held the jar against the rectangle of bright blue summer sky and slowly turned it. Inside, the marbles knocked against glass and clicked against one another, begging for release. I can’t help you, she thought, I can’t help myself. She slid the jar back onto the shelf and closed the door on the beauty that shone within.

This is a piece inspired by the photo prompt at The Lightening and The Lightening Bug. It is a memory. I don’t know what became of the jar full of beautiful marbles held captive. I eventually escaped.

Sometimes, it’s good to write about things other than “Mommy”… I am a writer, therefor I write what comes to me. If you enjoy my odd (schizophrenic) mixture of mommy horror stories and creative writing, please deliver a click on the annoying flashing box right down there. If not, click on the box to return to regularly scheduled programming…not really, but you will find oodles of cute mommy blogs, baby gear giveaways and people who really dig coupons.

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Snow What?!

This post was written in response to the prompt at The Lightening and The Lightening Bug.

Rewrite or modernize your favorite fairy tale or take a story (book, movie, play, or memory) and turn it into a fairy tale. Lots of room to play around with this one, as long as you use the fairy tale aspect in some way. I’ve made the word limit greater this week, so you can develop your story further.

 

She woke slowly, her eyes heavy from her dark slumber. A hand brushed against her face lovingly and she heard a cacophony of noise as the woodland creatures she had called friends celebrated her sleepy stretch. Sunlight danced through the leaves, casting shadows on her face. This was the moment she’d anticipated ever since she’d been denied her birth right and forced to perform the duties of a scullery maid. She knew he’d come.

There had never been an apple so red before. The old woman held it in her gnarled hand, its beauty accentuated by her hideous form. She knew who the hag was but she also knew that in order to meet her prince; she needed to have faith in the ancient tales. She needed to bite the poison apple to summon him. Feigning naivety, she plucked the fruit from the wizened hag’s palm, pausing for the briefest of moments before bringing the apple to her mouth. It smelled of dust and earth. The impossibly shiny red skin seemed to undulate beneath her fingers causing her to recoil with disgust that she disguised by forcing a quick, hearty bite. The old woman, her stepmother in an enchanted disguise, mistook her haste for stupidity and beamed with the anticipation of her stepdaughter’s demise. Her lips pulled back in a smile that revealed the rotting, pointed teeth of something inhuman. The shock of seeing her stepmother’s true form caused her gasp, lodging that piece of poisoned fruit in her throat.

Her eyelids struggled to rise after her long sleep. Her lashes fluttered open but her vision was cloudy. “Wake up, my love,” whispered a familiar voice. Was it familiar because she’d always anticipated his voice to sound this way, or because she actually recognized it? She willed her eyes to focus and sluggishly turned her head toward the voice.

A form kneeled over her – blurry but familiar. That smell…the faint fetid scent of pickles. Her vision remained cloudy, but she saw the hand coming to stroke her cheek. “Shhhhh…baby, don’t fight it,” was breathed into her face, carrying with it the tell-tale odor of cigarettes and Budweiser. Now she was beginning to struggle her way through the remnants of her unnatural slumber. This is all a mistake, she thought, I’m still feeling the effects of the poison. She forced herself to blink clarity into her vision and rubbed her eyes to speed up the process.

It couldn’t be…

She pushed herself up and slowly focused on the form of the man kneeling at her side. He slowly rose and, finally, she was able to confirm what she had feared. “Steve?”

“How’s that for a magic kiss, huh baby?” That annoying stupid laugh made her skin crawl. “Wait ‘til the guys hear about this…you and me back together,” he boasted. “We’re a fuckin’ match made in heaven.”

She threw up a little in her mouth and recoiled against the side of the coffin she’d been placed in. Her hand fell upon the soft, rotting apple. She looked from Steve’s face to the apple and back again, suddenly infuriated at herself for being foolish enough to believe in fairy tales.

“So you gonna get up or what?” he asked impatiently. “I gotta go play some Fantasy Football.”

Without further hesitation, she picked up the putrid poison apple and took an enormous bite.

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