Monday, August 18, 2008

Behind The Glass

Rose Marple, 71, had not stepped out of her house since a broken October morning in 1966.

"And why should I? I have everything I need right here."

Fresh flowers—ordered from Miriam’s Grotto at 8:00 a.m., prompt—arrived daily, so that her guests could divine, with a glance at her parlor window, the nature of its mistress’s mood.

Sunflowers reflected a generosity of spirit. A niece, or grand-niece, materialized after months of neglect. She’d brought saltwater taffy, Aunt Rose’s favorite. Sprawled on the pink chaise, the girl shed tears for the brutishness of men…and an empty purse.

Daisies implied wistfulness for girlish days. Georgiana lugged over the photo album and dusted off the LP’s. The two sisters drank their Earl Grey tea, listening to Ella Fitzgerald croon, “Prelude to a Kiss.”

Snapdragons forbade visitors of any kind. Solicitors failing to notice this warning were to be pitied. Miss Marple’s silky tongue could sprout thorns.

But orchids? Such an exotic, sensual flower. A little too other for the Oaksville crowd. And certainly for Rose Marple, behind the glass of 233 Alice Street.

Georgiana rode her curiosity through Rose’s front door. In the parlor she discovered her sister, wearing a stiff cream dress, and matching bolero jacket. A faded Samsonite suitcase leaned against her leg.

Georgiana could not immediately locate her tongue.

“Hello, Jo, dear. The cab should be here soon. Help me with this suitcase, will you?”

Old starlight from her milky blue eyes bounced across the room. Unveiling a dust dance around the corner curio with Mother's china entombed inside.

“But Rose! What on earth?”

Her sister gave a short laugh. “Oh, well. Got to start living sometime.”

Georgiana sank into the parlor’s chaise. “But why now?”

“Since Linus’s death, I’ve been a bit silly. No, I know. Trust me.” Rose adjusted the fingers of her lace gloves. “It started that I couldn’t go out. Physically, I mean. My feet were on ice. And then it became that I shouldn’t. Like I was betraying him in the act of living. I was going to be more of a widow than any old wife, you see. I could marry him that way..."

She winced at the sunlight streaming through the window.

“And then the fear took hold.”

Georgiana’s eyes absorbed the stale, shabby room. As if it were the first time.

“And now?” she asked.

Rose turned to her. “Now--”

The cab driver. Honking twice.

“Miriam delivered orchids today, instead of Black-Eyed Susans. Imagine that.” Rose shook her head and smiled. “Clever girl.”

Striding past Georgiana into the foyer, Rose swung open the door. Confronting the blue haze of Indian Summer.

Filling her lungs, she sighed.

“I could swear I smell lilac. Can’t you?”

Georgiana could. In a way. Must have been the power of suggestion.

"After you."

The orchids' petals shivered as the door clicked behind them.


*~*{Sameera}*~* said...

I am at a loss of words to praise this piece of fiction.I can so relate to Rose.Glad she realized she should "live" and decided to get some sunshine :)

Anonymous said...

Delightful! Dust motes and pressed flowers and cups of tea from delicate china cups delightful. Sunshine and surprises wonderful!

Ruth (easywriter)

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a piece. Not only have you woven a tapestry of images and colors and soul, but you've delivered complete and compelling tale on top of it. Bravo!

That's not even mentioning the wonderful message here. My only sadness is that the orchids didn't inspire Rose sooner. But I celebrate her awakening now. And the amazing life she's about to live.

Aine said...

My favorite line:

"Georgiana rode her curiosity through Rose’s front door."

This was lovely to read. Your words choices and details were perfect for the mood and Rose's age. I love how you used the flowers-- an added bonus of the flowers was that the story evoked color in my mind's eye despite very few actual references to color. That's something that I've noticed with your writing before.... :)

"Like I was betraying him in the act of living."

So true-- I can just hear these words uttered by an elderly widow. I'm glad Rose has found the inner strength to live again. Perhaps she'll find her own identity now....

Sarah Hina said...

Sameera, although she represents an extreme, I think many of us have a little bit of Rose inside. Years can slip by if we allow that feeling of helplessness to take root.

I'm glad she took control again, too. :)

Ruth, I'm so glad to see you again! Really, seeing your name made me smile. I've missed your beautiful cave writings. I hope things are well with you.

And thank you for the delightful words--more evocative than the story itself. :)

Jason, I like seeing Rose's story through that prism of hope, rather than regret. I think she sees it that way, too. Which bodes well for her future. :)

And thank you for the kind words! They're always deeply appreciated.

Aine, I'm so glad you mentioned the style reflecting the characters. I felt like the writing here was thicker than I've been shooting for lately, but it did feel appropriately matched to the story. And the flowers were a fun, evocative detail to play with. :)

I'm not sure where Rose is going, but it's someplace swimming in wildflowers, I think. Maybe she should lose the stiff dress, though. ;)

Charles Gramlich said...

Your stories always have a lot of sensory and sensuous details.

Bernita said...

"I could swear I smell lilac. Can’t you?”


Anonymous said...

This is wicked-good. Very very good. I enjoyed it immensely!

I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!

Thanks for sharing this.

Sarah Hina said...

Charles, I do like incorporating details that make the reading experience vivid for the reader. I hope it felt like a lived-in moment.

Bernita, thanks. :) Lilacs intoxicate the senses with spring, and newness.

Paul, you made me laugh. :) But thank you. I'm glad it worked for you!

Vesper said...

Beautiful, excellent piece, Sarah, full of little gems made of words... A pleasure to read!

Ello said...

Sarah, I loved this story! Please write more about Rose and Georgina? Please? I don't know how you made me love a character in so few words, but I need to read more!

Simply loved this!

Dusk Watchman said...

Wow! Absolutely superb! The magnitude of your pieces, within the confines of their brevity, proves--to me, at least-- that you are a writer for the ages. To be remembered long after we are not.

aoc gold said...

O wind , why do you never rest,

Wandering, whistling to and fro,

Bring rain out of the west,

From the dim north bringing snow?

~by wow powerleveling