This is the first post of the year for the WEP - aka Write..Edit..Publish. And look, I managed to make this my first real post of the year 2020. Writing progress, lol.
I don't have a lot of time for intro - gotta get to work and make that money. So here's the copy/paste details from the WEP linkz post. Hurry hurry to create your own submission.
1. SUBMIT your name to the list below on publication of your entry. Add DL after your name. (DirectLink) We will no longer add your Direct Link.
2. POST your edited entry, making sure 'WEP' is in the TITLE along with the CAFE TERRACE badge within your entry.
3. STATE feedback preferences and word count at the end of your entry.
4. READ other entries, giving feedback if requested.
5. SHARE THE CHALLENGE on social media. Tweets are ready on the WEP blog.
PLEASE NOTE: ENTRIES CLOSE FEBRUARY 21 (NY Time - check WEP blog clock)
ALL GENRES WELCOME except erotica - 1,000 words maximum
Sonia coughed and spit a wad of bloody mucus into a sodden rag. The rag had once been her favorite kerchief, the one Carlos had liked so well. Now it was thread bare, colorless, nothing left to hold onto except the memories of love and life and laughter. Sonia missed his laughter more than anything.
She was a large dirty bundle tucked into a deep doorway, though she was thin, scraggly woman of 70 years. Everything she owned was piled under and around her; keeping her warm and well hidden. More than the foggy night creeped in the dark alleys of the abandoned old city center. Her tattered scarf itched and moved, and she dusted a fevered and mittened hand against the knitting, hoping it was wind and not bugs burrowing into her thin hair.
This doorway had been her permanent night home for more years than she could remember. Across the street was a long wooden porch that had seen better years, but somehow had not fallen completely apart. She thought it once must have been home to an outdoor market, and reminded her of the Café she and Carlos met at. Before the war, and death, and so many failures left her just as abandoned and bereft as the city she streets she haunted. Not the same city, not even the same country.
Between the remnants of the farmers market, and the old school like building down the street that resembled the orphanage where she initially made her simple vows. Sonia’s hand fell limply to her side, her breathing slowed, and her mind slipped into a memory of the day she met Carlos. The clatter of broken glass shifting in the wind became the sighing tink of a tambourine.
Carlos was known as The Gypsy Boy, even though everyone knew he was no Gypsy. Tall and lean, in too small, patched breeches and a woolen shirt several sizes to large, Carlos frequently entertained the lost ones and Nuns who ran the orphanage. Sonia’s family just sent her Convent Dowery, assuring another year’s comfortable existence as an initiate, but already the Reverend Mother was expressing doubts about Sonia’s suitability to the religious community. She loved people too much to be effectively cloistered, but the church needed the income, and Sonia had a gift with the children’s education.
“Dance with me pretty Sonia,” Carlos begged, waving his tambourine in front of himself.
The tinkling symbols made her giggle. The warmth of his hand made her heart skip a beat. He took her bread basket and set it on the grass, then bowed.
But no, that wasn’t quite right. Not on that day. That day the Café was just opening, the owner was washing tables and setting out flower vases. Now it was busy with smiling patrons, women and children were dashing across the street to laugh and talk with each other, and Carlos was dressed in the Khaki’s she’d last seen him in. She grinned at him as she had that day, only now trying not to remember he’d been shot as a deserter.
“I don’t think I shall,” she said, now as she had then. “The Reverend Mother is watching.”
He looked around, as he had on that day, and smugly replied, “But we are alone. And the day is fine, and you have inspired a song in my heart.” He danced around her, singing something non-sensical about love and undying devotion.
Her heart leaped with him, and she felt the years of toil and despair fall away. But that was wrong too; she was young, only 17, lush and fully developed beneath her habit. Her tunic was new, her grey veil had been freshly cleaned. She spun around as she watched him circling her, her bare feet relishing the feel warm grass.
“I should be wearing shoes,” she thought. Before her first initiation rites she was the family disappointment, always shucking her expensive shoes and tramping barefoot through the freshly cut grass with the servant’s children. It was hoped life as a Religious Sister would calm her wildness, give her life purpose since she had shunned all the arranged marriage proposals. Unexpectedly, Sonia had agreed to the terms of service with enthusiasm.
Until Carlos. It had taken months of mischievous meetings for her to succumb to his charms. A bouquet of wild flowers appeared in his hand. She took them, inhaled deeply, absorbing the colors and fragrance. He frequently offered her gifts of flowers, bites of pilfered chocolate, pebbles that shinned like crystals, if only in his eyes. Once he wove a ring out of fine twigs and asked her to marry him.
She looked at her left finger, and there was the woven ring. “Not on our first meeting,” she reminded herself, but still smiled at the inaccuracy of her memory.
Except, it didn’t feel like a memory anymore. It felt like a new meeting, in a familiar setting. Everything about their affair was mixed up, but fresh and new. He laughed again, a sound that she loved and craved. More years fell away.
Sonia let them go easily.
“This day will never end,” Carlos promised, pulling the veil from her hair. He’d said that often, and meant it every time.
Stars burst overhead in brilliant rainbow streams, the cloudless day not dampening their brightness. Sonia remembered the New Years celebration before he left to fight a war he didn’t believe in. The promises, the night of romance. She didn’t believe any of it then.
Sonia believed now. She stepped into his arms, swayed with the shimmering tambourine and the sweetness of his voice.
“Yes,” she agreed. Willing it to be THAT day, everyday.
word count: 949
full critique acceptable
Oh my heart! Love and heartbreak and a wandering, tired mind choosing the love. Beautifully done!
Such a sad, beautiful love story.
Oh the memories. The rich, crowded, elusive, bitter sweet memories...
This is truly lovely. Thank you.
Whoa Donna you grabbed me from the first line and didn’t let me go. The ending lingers in my mind and you’ve left it to our imagination to write it our way. A unique story in so many ways with charming characters. Such poignancy too. You’ve left me wanting more.
Thanks for a sad captivating tale for the CAFE TERRACE prompt.
Beautifully told. I pray that it's exactly that way in the end. Our loveliest memories, a second chance, our guide - true love! Perfect!
Charming yet heartbreaking, done with your usual elan. A wandering mind choosing to burrow back into memories of happier times and undying love. Excellent, evocative descriptions - particularly liked the clatter of broken glass changing to the beats of the tambourine. Superb imagery!
First, let me say I like the transitions in this story. You went from the past and what had happened to her current situation, constructing it very well.
You've painted a picture of a love interrupted by war, a war that neither he or she believed in. The sadness was that he didn't return and she is now homeless and penniless fighting a miserable existence. As it is in war no one knows who will return and the dead don't know what happens in the lives of those they leave behind.
Oh what a lovely, sad, poignant story of love, mischief, abandon, the pity of war, hope, horrible
reality and the beauty of escape into the dream of a better day. Wonderfully masterpieced.
Simply beautiful! One...The name..Almost felt like me...Two love interrupted by war..Ah...Ask me...The entire story so relatable and stupendous imagery. I loved it!
Sonia from A Hundred Quills
Hi Donna - that makes my heart feel sad ... she's suffered, yet those memories are still so much alive - wonderfully told with an emotional pull - so desperate to be in that doorway. Take care - and congratulations - cheers Hilary
War always takes those who are young and just beginning to live and love. You've captured her grief and her youthful memories very well.
You've created so much story in such a limited number of words. I felt for Sonia and where her life has taken her, and poor Carlos losing his life so young for a war he didn't want to fight. Your portrayed her emotions beautifully as she remembered her forbidden romance and the love she still feels for him. Marvelous!
What a sad, yet beautiful love story. First she lost her love to a war she didn't believe in and now she has nothing but her memories. I like the way you capture the emotion of the past and present colliding in her reminiscing. Nicely done.
Donna your story began with such details of suffering and sadness and slowly the mood changed as your protagonist immersed herself in happy memories, jumbled up. The imagery was fabulous. Really drew me in. Well done.
Thank you for a story that reminds us to cherish each moment, for the only promise we have is change in all we know, and death comes to us all. I especially appreciated the main character’s slide to forgetfulness, perhaps dementia, where broken, abandoned, alone, this elderly woman relives her love.
So very beautiful! Women like Sonia are always misunderstood. I've been reading a lot of thoughts on homelessness of late. I feel that a society that allows homelessness has failed. Everyone should have a place to live regardless of their ability to earn a living. The Draconian beliefs of the past must fall away.
One small nit to pick.
"The tinkling symbols made her giggle."
I think you may have meant cymbals.
Other than that, wonderful work!
I really felt this story - great writing.
Your first para pulls me right in, Doona. Your words create immediate images - tucked; itched; bugs burrowing - so many. And in the sad darkness, such memories. Why do I want to cry and dance? Powerful writing.
WILD THING ~
You have a genuine gift from God. And with it, you really have the potential to make a significant difference in the way things are (or will be) for some people. You need to channel this gift according to His Will.
'Stephen T. McCarthy Reviews...'
Love your writing style. It makes the readers feel all of it.
Very bittersweet. I also hope that in the end, our eternity is spent in our happiest moods with our most beloved people. Great job!
Wow! Such a bittersweet story. The opening was dramatic and I really felt for this poor elderly woman living in those conditions, just trying to protect herself against the elements. Heartbreaking.
The memories of her relationship with Carlos were so beautiful, yet tinged with sadness. I loved the line: "Her heart leaped with him, and she felt the years of toil and despair fall away." You cleverly captured the infallibility of memory and how different times and places can merge into one in our mind.
I'm not sure if this is correct, but I interpreted the ending as her passing away and dreaming of being reunited with Carlos as she did. Very effective, emotional piece!
Thanks everyone for the kind comments. My apologies for not responding to every comment - I've been busy, but think I visited everyone on the WEP link, and all my commenters.
Elizabeth and Anstice: thank you, thank you. You are the only one who understood that she is not just dreaming, she died and has gone to her version of the afterlife.
A beautiful evocation of loss and memory. Well done.
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