Happy dance

Sold something

Yay, good start to my day, this painting 'The Fisherman'(before it was framed) I took to a shop yesterday and today it is sold... so am doing a happy dance. the cash will be very necessary this week, or any week!

Have also taken a lime green framed painting of the children to the shop...crosses fingers.

Cursing as I can only find the photos of these 'unfinished' the fisherman I worked on a lot more, must go through my photos and make a new art folder! when there is a spare day?
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    creative creative

ljidol series 8; Week 27. 'Once upon a time'

Once upon a time I was a small girl, living through air raids ‘There is a war on,' was the excuse. I don’t remember it all, but seared into my head behind my eyes, with flames and fire I see a crashing plane. I was three, and standing on the back path. My parents urging me to the shelter. “ Quickly, come on, Daddy will carry you.”
The smell of the warm rubber of a gas mask against my face as I protested; Then the fog like darkness of the shelters; Back to my cold bed when the wailing sirens stopped. Back to my flannel sheets and my hot water bottle; Another air raid we had survived.

The wooden veranda, where I sit, slants slightly to the left, years ago that part was a ‘sleep out.’ I imagine the old bedstead there, with its occupant waking to go and work at the Co-op. They tell me he weighed the dry stores and let the children sit on the scales too. This house has seen different times, it is a hundred years old, it is a place for reflection, looking out as it does onto the main street. The wooden floor echoes with my footsteps, today is warm, the sun heats the front first then creeps to the side. My hanging baskets of impatients will soon be over, as winter starts to bite at them. Today they nod in a balmy breeze.
Once upon a time I didn’t live in this half of the world, where the sun gets so hot it can cook eggs on the path. Instead I lived where winter had a cruel edge. Even as a child I cried for the sun. I used to stand by the window watching the rain, and longing for the summer to return. Hating those winters I stayed in England until I was nineteen. Then, escaping with my artist husband to sail to New Zealand, I started a new life.

My first summer in New Zealand I devised ways to take everything outside, I was the mad English woman. who ironed outdoors, whose small daughter ran barefoot and naked. When Kerry was only seven months she had a play pen set up in the shade with a blanket beneath it. My agile baby daughter got her feet under the blanket and pushed the pen into the patches of sunlight,
That first summer we spent long days outside, playing and sleeping, with me cutting up vegetables or sewing as Kerry played in the warmth. That love of the sun, and being free. I like to think it is my legacy to her.
Now she only visits; It takes a full day or two of torrid travel to close that gap between us. We dream of our time together when we will again drink cold wine, and tell secrets. Knowing we are forever connected by our sun worship, and a binding thread from those far off days; we survive.

From my chair beneath the shelter of the verandah I can watch passing life, school buses, and housewives with shopping jeeps. I stretch out my feet feeling the wood reflect back heat. The magpie with a broken wing has made his way to me, a perilous route from the bowling club. Danger lurks when you can’t fly. He comes to feed on cheese and scraps, and basks in a warm spot against the fence, head on one side in an imitation of mediation. When he is threatened he runs along the back lanes, one wing speeding him as he holds it up. He survives.

The peace for a moment is complete, then I turn my back on the world outside to cook and clean. Still needing this routine even for just two of us.
Once upon a time I was a busy mother, with a job and three children, I crammed cooking and housework into spare corners of my life. I baked bread and made three different meals at once.I worked in a hotel, or a hospital, or a clothes shop, I stayed out until dawn at parties. I lived every wild moment, never leaving room to breathe and reflect. I cared for my dying mother in law, dried teenage tears when love went wrong, had moments when my life nearly went off the rails because of the stress, but made it all work, kept the threads of life woven together. I survived.

Once upon a time there were picture perfect days; like the holidays in Devon, when the sand was washed clean reflecting the sky, and the sea was like silk. Not only the place but the time is one I wish I could return to. Ten of us went on holiday. There was endless food to prepare; and wet sand-logged trousers to dry. Travel was in a transit van, with Grotty our dog on my lap, his face a picture of pleasure. I would arrive covered in blonde dog hair, and have to cope with an over excited dog vomiting grass in the lounge. His perpetual happiness at being with us was a joy. Now I know those last holidays when the children were not quite grown up were so precious. We rented a house and took my parents too; for them it was a brief respite from the daily struggle to exist and the last time they both enjoyed good health. Those were good days, once upon a time.

Now I still cram my life full, but have oceans of silence. Days of tranquility; I need to have deadlines. So I paint, and enter competitions and try to create art and cook in tandem. In quiet moments words jam my mind, the keyboard becomes my escape, and there are a dozen reasons why the ironing isn’t finished. The thoughts burst through and find their way to a page, captured everlasting. They survive.

Once upon a time I was sensually alive, it was the core of my being. Sensuality is still my soul food, reaching out like warm fingers to the world outside, unchained desire still etched deep in my skin, it was once the driving force, the very scent I exuded. Sex is power, sex is stronger than we ever know. Yet I was unaware of my power, had no idea of the unharnessed roar of it. Too late I know what I had, and lament its passing. Yet I will not cry too many tears, the past is gone, but in my life I have had more love, and joy and wonder than I ever deserved. Is this my happy ever after?

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    contemplative contemplative

ljSeries 8. Week 26.

Hotel Paridiso, A Play,

Characters.    James, and Marnie.  Married to each other.

Two large women also guests who have latched onto them. One called Fran, the other called Barbara.

Scene, a hotel dining room, four of them round a table, desserts being eaten.

Background noise of cutlery, music, and conversation.

Rain outside.

Having watched the two large women consume enough at dinner to fill several dump trucks, Marnie decides on polite conversation.

Marnie.  “Are either of you married?”

Fran.  “Nope, fancy free these days, almost given up men for all the trouble they are. I was married once, but don’t have much luck with men generally.”

James.  “Did your husband die?”

Fran.   “No, but If I had my way he should have died. No, I divorced the pervert.  He was into all sorts of weird stuff, I’ve never been able to look at a vacuum cleaner in the same way since!”

She snorts and scoops huge mounds of slippery ice-cream into her mouth.

Marnie.  “Is it still raining?”

Fran.  “Yes bucketing down.  But I love being cosy in a Hotel like this, you can drink yourself stupid then crawl back to your room.”

Barb. “Done that before haven’t we dear?”

The food is the focus for a few minutes; Fran has a huge ice-cream sundae, Barb, has three serves of a French cake, James a plate of cheese and biscuits, and Marnie fruit and cream.

Silence for a while as they eat.

Marnie looks at James, who is making little towers of biscuits and cheese.

Marnie. “Thirty eight years for us, isn’t it darling?”

James. “Yes, get less for life, but better the devil you know.” 

Marnie.  “Don’t start that! Anyway he only stays with me for the cooking.” She looks smug, basking in her security.

They smile at each other, and resume eating.

Barb.  “Hey Fran, what about your latest admirer, he was something wasn’t he?”

She stifles a laugh. “Go on tell them Fran, tell them about Walter.”

James sits back in his chair, leaving his unfinished cheese. Looking bored, his eyes searching the room for escape.

Marnie leans forward, and spears a strawberry.  “So what happened with this Walter?”

Fran smiles and wipes her chin, cream has dribbled onto her pink satin blouse.

Fran. “Well, I met him when I played in a band in Melbourne,  he came round and watched me for weeks then asked me if I wanted to come out for dinner, must have thought I looked starved.”

Barb. “Your Rubinesque charm got to him didn’t it!”

Fran.  “Yeah, you’re right, he told me just that. He liked bigger women, fancied me like crazy. So eat your heart out, Kate Moss.”

Barb. “Too many stick thin women about, can’t see the point myself, life should be enjoyed, eat drink and get shagged that’s what I say.” She laughs raucously and drinks more of the wine.

James pales and fiddles with a biscuit.

Fran. “Watch out Barb, we don’t want to leave this place in a hurry, not a repeat of Spain, slow down on the sauce girl.”

Barbara just makes a rude gesture.

The married couple look uneasy, shifting in their seats.

Fran.  “Anyway, this Walter, asks me out for dinner, so I thought why not? I hadn’t been seeing anyone for six months.  Took me to Chapel Street; we had lobster.”

Marnie.  “Was it lobster thermidor?”

Fran.  “No idea honey, just know it was lobster, and he bought the best champers too.”

Marnie.  “Remember when we first had champagne?” a misty glaze over her eyes.

James.  “Yes, our honeymoon, I thought I was so sophisticated ordering it!”

Marnie puts out her hand to touch James.

Marnie.  “We wanted it to be special, we only had three days.”

James.  “So what I did was check out the motels, and just to make it memorable, so we could say ‘we went to ‘Paradise our first night,’ we found a motel called just that.”

Barb. “What - -  Paradise?” And she laughs.

Marnie. “It was damned cold I remember, I wore little baby doll pyjamas and we ate Chicken Maryland.”

Barb. “God I would have frightened the horses if I wore  baby doll pyjamas! “ She splutters, spraying cake crumbs everywhere. “Anyway back to Walter….”

 She scoops up more food and pauses.

All three watch fascinated as the sticky cake is crammed in.

Fran.  “At the end of the evening he drove me home, and I was a bit out of practice, didn’t know whether to ask him in, you know a night cap and all that!  I felt silly and I was just sitting there.”

Barb.  “Tell them what happened next.”  Barb squirms in her seat smiling.

James is now fiddling with his cheese, Marnie is spooning the last mouthful of fruit in.  They all stop and wait.

Fran.  “There I was in the car, trying to decide about the coffee, when whoosh, he pressed a button and I was flat on my back like a stranded whale!”

James tries to control a snigger.  “Sports car was it?”

Fran. “I think it was a Porsche, but he definitely had sport in mind.”

Marnie glances at James and they both laugh.

James takes control for a minute.  “Brandy anyone?”

He signals to the bartender who takes an order for four large brandies.

They all sip their drinks.

Marnie, looking coy. “I fell for his car first.”

James.  “Jezebel?”

Marnie. “Dear old Jezebel, it was so draughty, a thirties model with soft sides and gaps where the wind whistled in.” 

James. “Amazing how little you feel when you’re in the first flush of lust.”

Marnie. “Darling!” She says in mock shock, “Go easy on the brandy.”

Barb. “Hey Fran you haven’t finished your story, spill the beans about the rest. You two will never believe this, it caps the lot!”

Fran.  “A few days after my encounter in the Porche, I saw him in town.”

Barb.  “Oh this is brilliant!” she gushes.

Barb holds her chest and gasps. Cake stuck to her fingers leaves greasy tracks on her lime green top.

Fran.  “There he was dressed as a woman! Black tight skirt, stocking, and panda eyes, the lot!”

Marnie.  “What ever did you do?”

Fran. “I confronted him, said what the hell are you doing in fishnet tights?”

Barb.  “He had the answer didn’t he?  Glib as anything.”

Fran. “Yes, swore he was a private detective and was following someone.”

The brandy glasses are drained. The laughter subsides.

James.  “Well, I’m heading for bed, coming?”

Fran quickly bats her eyelashes and replies, “Ready when you are!”

Barb. “You’re hopeless Fran, come on let’s go to the bar and see if any drunks are desperate enough. Face it girl they would have to be, to do a horizontal dance with either of us!”

Marnie.  “Goodnight, we might see you at breakfast, we leave at ten, how about you?”

Fran.  Unless we get lucky, we are too. See you.” With that the two sidle over to the bar, and order.

Fran. “Two cocktails please, What do you reckon Barb, ‘A slow screw’  or ‘Between the sheets’?’

Barb. “Both honey, you’re a long time dead.”

Footnote; Based on a real encounter we had in Ibiza, the two wonderful ladies were large, but very happy  in their skins, they were also the best dinner companions, I raise my glass to their memory.

Here; for more entries to read.         http://therealljidol.livejournal.com/564152.html

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Series 8, week 25, lj entry. "Closer"

Closer. “The Sea of Grass”

The sound was of a motor spluttering and coughing into life. A savage sound breaking her reverie.
There was a young man in a denim shirt walking behind a mower. A pale swathe of exposed roots appeared in the sea of green. Seed heads billowed up dancing in the sunlight as he moved purposefully across the paddock.

The house seemed so empty now. Frank’s chair looked almost forlorn, the recliner still holding the shape of his buttocks. Her ears strained to hear the remarks about what was on TV and his frequent, cry of “How ridiculous!” She missed the sneering, the acid comments, the predictable tirade; she missed Frank.

Teeth clenched as she pushed the thoughts away. But they came back anyway. Whispered secrets as they lay on a blue blanket. Midsummer days, with sun seeping under their eyelids. Languid warmth, and Frank so close to her.
Then the sound invaded again.
"Go away!" she almost screamed. "Leave me alone!" but the throbbing motor relentlessly sheared her haven, moving closer to the house.

Her hands stretched out to feel the smooth marble of the fireplace. The cloying scent of mown grass filled her being. It had been early spring, their romance gathering speed as summer approached. Had she really been so young? It felt like a dream now. The ‘sea of grass’ she called it, her place and Frank’s, a special place.
Silly old goat she thought, he deserted me and we were only a year off our sixtieth anniversary! How could he? Just like him, no thought for her.

The children, well they had their lives. Who would want to come and see a dotty old bat like me Viola sighed, she had been alone one whole winter now. They came with their ‘ipods,’ and music plugged into their ears. Grandchildren running like young colts, and their parents with all the talk of holidays in Venice, the stock market and going to the gym. Viola kept up with some of the technology, tried not to pour cold water on too many of their new schemes. But inevitably she crossed one or the other of her brood, and it ended in tears. She suddenly realized she was more like Frank lately. Had it rubbed off on her? Heaven forbid.

Lacey was special though; with her flashing eyes and her loping gait, like a young gazelle. They say that sometimes eye and hair colour skips a generation. Lacey had inherited her looks from Viola, not from her delightfully zany mother Jenny. Luckily she made up for dun coloured hair and hazel eyes with her infectious joy for life.
Jenny was musically talented though. At present she was single again after another broken relationship. Sometimes Viola wondered if she would ever settle down.
Lacey was like her grandmother, eyes like spring skies, black lashes, and pale skin. She was beautiful; willful; talented.

In the corner of the room, its dark wood glowing, sat the piano, dust shrouding its lid. Just for an instant, Viola imagined she could hear the music, soft and lilting the way Jenny had once played. Now it stood neglected. There was talk that Lacey would like to have music lessons, but Viola had heard nothing lately, another madcap idea she supposed.
Viola moved to the window. The grass was short now; the soft green sea had become a sharp yellow pathway. Memories kept coming back, unasked. The void her life had become filled to bursting with them.
She sighed, almost a sob, remembering his lips on her throat. She closed her eyes. Her fingers traced the warm flesh, touched her lips. Her eyes opened and she again saw the room as it was, just empty.
Lost days, lost years, when had she become so old, and so spent?
Regaining control, she decided she must know who that was out there in the grass, in her domain. Had Jenny sent him?

Another sound drew her eyes outside. As a white sports car came through the gate, and screamed up the drive. The door opened and a long cream skirt swung out, followed by a supple body, her blonde hair shining in the noon sun. Arms outstretched Jenny ran towards her.
“What have you done to your hair?” asked Viola. Incredulous as she saw how beautiful her daughter looked now.
"Never mind about that now, I had some highlights; let me look at you….. Mom, oh, God you're pale!".
A worried frown curled her brows as she gathered her mother into an embrace. Her tears fell as she drew her mother closer.
"I'm here now, we'll soon sort you out,” she whispered through her tears.
Shaking free Viola bristled.
“I do NOT need ‘sorting out’, as you put it.”
“Well how do you feel about a paying guest and housekeeper, plus a rather sexy handyman?”
Viola was heading for the kitchen and the kettle, she said nothing.
Outside she could see her beautiful grand-daughter, black hair flying, playing with Smitty the dog.
But she had already started planning. The small room over the eaves would be right for Lacey, there was a double room in the back. She hummed as she put cookies on the plate
“Better call that handsome gardener in”, she said as Jenny got the cups. “And tell him I don’t want the grass cut so short next time.”
From the other room a sound mingled with the kettle singing, the piano was being played harmoniously, and the notes filled the corners of the house, seeking out the darkness. Lacey played, and the notes seemed to carry straight to Viola’s soul.

This is an Intersection piece, I am with the amazing, wise, Myrna Bird, and her piece needs to be read first. She wrote "Cesspool."

To get to our entries: http://therealljidol.livejournal.com/561685.html
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LJ IDOL series 8. Week 24."In my wheelhouse"

The Brooch.

“He’s looking for his penis, you know, he thinks he’s lost it”, Doris said.
“You shouldn’t say things like that Doris” I replied, but smiled.
Some of the surprising statements uttered by Doris made conversations with her interesting, if at times confusing.
I worked at the nursing home as a carer.   My craving for a life of luxury was unlikely to  be realised. The fact that I enjoyed the work helped, the wages certainly didn't allow for caviar or champagne.

We both watched as Clem still searched his lap for an elusive something. Doris was ninety-two, and she wore her hair pulled so tightly in a bun, it seemed if you let it down and released the tension her face would crumple and collapse.
“I like men.” she stated, “Put me next to a man.”
Oh Doris I thought, you are a woman I admire!
How mis-matched her face and body were; her face was deeply lined;  yet her body could have belonged to a younger woman. The skin so smooth, it was like alabaster. The beauty she had once been was easy to imagine. As I put her next to Clem she said “When I was young if you had sixpence you could buy anything.” Clem stopped looking at his lap and smiled in greeting.

During my lunchbreaks I took Doris to the garden and we talked as I ate my sandwiches.  Flowers were bursting into bloom, the air was full of jasmine, and grass was thick around the edge of the concrete courtyard. Doris dozed under her floppy blue sun hat, and then woke again in time to share my chocolate biscuits. As she nibbled at her biscuit she gazed at a cherry tree, and told me a story of Paris, and a young man who had pursued her. Her mind was like a butterfly, flitting from one subject to another, telling me of husbands who died before I was even born and lovers she had known between her marriages. She talked of tea at the Dorchester in London, and of a brooch a suitor had given her. She looked tired though, so I said, “It’s getting cold Doris, we should go in.”
Next day the train was delayed at Richmond, so I was late. I usually breezed in to say hello to Doris first, but this day something made me hesitate, as I heard voices in her room.
The nursing director’s voice was low but insistent, “No, they requested no resuscitation, and no drugs, we must adhere to the wishes of the family and the resident.”
Doris lay still, her white bun  tight on her head, but her mouth was open as she laboured to breathe, normally pale, her skin was flushed and mottled Out of the silence, one of the things she had told me returned….
“Had I known I could not have children I would have had such fun in Europe”
I didn’t want her to labour and struggle only to become a pale version of the Doris I loved. Her spirit was not meant to be erased so cruelly. Leaning close to her white head I whispered “Don’t fight Doris, just go to sleep, let go, I’ll hold your hand, please just go to sleep”. She gently squeezed my hand then released me.
The funeral was very small, about a dozen assorted mourners. Her  niece shed no tears, but was pleasant to me. “She liked you.” Mandy said, “Thank you for all you did.”
“I loved her.” I said, and meant it.
“I have a small suitcase of things you might like to have to remind you.” Mandy said quietly.
Flustered, I said, “There’s no need.” but Mandy insisted. I knew Mandy had inherited well, so said no more.

Some weeks later I had almost forgotten about it, and I was sitting in my small garden, when a young man came to the back gate and left the battered case for me.
I sat with my bare feet in the sun, musing about my life, and how Doris had touched it. In my mind I saw all the places of her stories, I lived through her memories. As the shadows grew and deepened, I eventually clicked open the locks of the case and pushed back the lid.
Something soft brushed my hand; it was a white ermine cape, smelling of lavender. It was so elegant, creamy white and with a clasp of glittering stones. In the pocket I discovered a small silver perfume phial, the source of the musky smell, an icon of her earlier life-style.
At the base, on the yellowed paper lining of the case, lay a purple velvet purse with a silk tassel. The gold button closure was stiff, but with a little effort I opened it. Inside, was something bulky. It was the brooch, the one Doris had told me about.
My hands trembled as I took in the details, rubies, pearls and gold. The elegance of the design made me think it might be Faberge! This could make a difference to my life!
Vivaldi flowed over me like a stream; my lap was covered in a crisp white table napkin. An attentive waiter hovered nearby. The sounds around me were the tinkle of teacups and quiet conversation. The Dorchester was just as Doris had described it.
“You would care for more tea Madam?” The quiet voice inquired.
“Yes please, and could you bring me more of those delicious cakes?” I asked, and then I raised my teacup and whispered. “Here’s to you Doris, I am going to have such fun.”

This is a story that contains  grains of truth, real conversations, and perhaps a few dreams that didn't come true. RIP Doris. 
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at Maddys

lj idol series 8. week 23. The Weak Force.


"Please Dave listen, its true" pleaded Eva.
"Just look out there. Three crashed cars, in our street, those men lying there, explain that?" she looked at Dave, his face, still pale, still shaky from what?
"You don't remember anything do you?, they made sure of that, its part of their plan!” Eva continued.
"But why would anyone do this, it seems so crazy," she questioned. “Why haven't I been affected? apart from hearing that noise I feel normal."

Dave shook his head, but followed her inside. His small room seemed suddenly confining He felt claustrophobic, and very conscious of Eva filling the room.
There was a heightened awareness of her scent, her shape.
"Steady boy", he thought, "you must still be wobbly". He had rented two rooms in Eva's house for two years now, and treated her with polite friendship usually.

Eva sat down, ignoring the pile of papers that slid to the floor as she did.
She was suddenly pacing again, unable to sit still.
"We have to get the other men to safety'- but it may be too late already", she added lamely, pulling the curtain aside to see the street. The men still lay where they had fallen. It was eerie, so quiet, no children or animals around either.

A few women stood together at the corner, yet they looked distracted, concentrating on the red streaked the sky. Other women stood hands clamped over their ears.
Dave started to look for some clean mugs, he flicked on the kettle switch, feeling stronger now, more in charge. "Sit down Eva, let’s have a coffee." Dave murmered.
Eva sat, and was quiet for a moment, her eyes wary, watching Dave.
He had nice back, strong, lean, and good legs in his dark jeans, she still felt some concern as she noticed his hand shook as he handed her the steaming mug.
Eva took the brew, and her hand touched his. The skin brushing hers briefly, she felt a jolting buzz inside. Pushing the thought aside, she was too confused to acknowledge what had started to stir in her.
Again she tried to explain, "These people are trying to control us Dave, - oh, its such a mess!" she paused, looking really worried now, "they expect the women to just let it happen, because we are weaker but hell we can fight back!".
Suddenly Dave said gently. "You really believe this Eva?"
"Yes, how do you explain it then?" she implored.
"I can't think straight, look how about some eggs, I haven't got much in the house, but can do that for us" he was trying to calm the situation.
" I would like you to stay a while longer, I really need to come round a bit anyway." Dave added.

Eva was on her feet again now, "No I must tell the other women to go inside, and escape from that noise, I just know that noise is the clue."
She rushed to the door before Dave could protest. Yet as soon as she reached the doorway her face contracted in pain as the violence of the sound hit again. He closed the door behind her, as she fell back, real concern on his face.
She stood close to him, and grasped his shoulder hard.

"We should do something, there's so little time" His dark eyes seemed to enclose her, she allowed herself to be led, feeling a little safer now she asked, "Do you feel any better yourself?" she asked with concern.
"I'm almost right." he said slowly, "a bit shaky, but my heads clearing now."
"Who can we contact anyway, and how can we protect you from this sound?"
"I know ". Then he laughed as he thought of a solution, "How about my old bike helmet?"
"I suppose it's worth a try." she smiled weakly.
He went to the back of his cupboard and brought out an ancient steel helmet. It might work. Brushing a few cobwebs from the inside he placed it on her head.
Standing very close he put it on and helped her adjust the strap.

Far above the silver machine hovered watching and listening. The seeds had been planted; Now the final phase, a green panel lit up inside the sphere.
A countdown began. Some of the bodies, began stirring. Only those with greyer hair remained. Their faces dark, their eyes devoid of life.

Dave was filled with sudden warmth, heat coursed through him. His eyes burned into Evas, he pulled the helmet roughly from her head it fell to the floor with a metallic clatter. With a cry Eva almost fell too.
Their breathing became ragged, laboured; mouths open, fusing, aware only of their consuming need.
Clothes joined the forgotten helmet; a chorus of similar sounds floating in through the open window joining the sounds they made.

One relentless sun burned in the sky, then a welcome breeze started to stir leaves, birds began singing, and confused couples appeared picking up discarded clothing, regaining their lives. Children ran from hidden places and started to play. Dogs woke and barked.
A silver flash signified a presence leaving, to return again next year for the harvest.

This has been my entry for The Weak force.
newer turq.

Idol series.8. Week 22. Intersection "The Bridge".

Bridge to Maturity.

It was bone numbingly cold. The clock said 2.30.am as we drove to the bus station. A quick goodbye to my parents and I was alone. This excursion was unusual for the mid fifties, school trips were rare, and the journey for me, a shy fifteen year old would be the longest trip I had made so far. Two hours on a coach, and four at sea.

I was the only one of our party who remained on deck and wasn’t sea sick. I felt quietly proud of that, it proved I was a born traveler didn’t it? The steamers slid slowly into the harbor of Dieppe. I was at last ‘on the continent!’
Softer air and warmer breezes assailed me, and as I set foot on French soil on my way to Paris I began to allow all my senses to savour every new feeling. Sunshine danced and flickered as we drove along the boulevard to our hotel. Paris didn’t just creep into my heart; instead it grabbed me by the throat, and dared me not to like it. The vivid personality that is Paris was evident in every landmark, like the icing sugar dome of the Sacre Coeur, the four legged monster Eiffel Tower or the glimpses of the river winding round the Il de la Cite. Even the lethal weapons of traffic hurtling about didn’t faze me. I was opened mouthed and drinking it all in.

There were so many bakeries near our hotel, the heady smell of baking bread was always in the air. Everyone in our little street carried a loaf under their arm, or so it seemed. The underground had a sweet smell, hard to define, a mixture of perfume, cigars and an aromatic pipe tobacco that was popular then. As it was April there were flowers everywhere, and the street sellers spread across the pavements, jostling with the coffee drinkers and the artists. We did all the tourist things, gazed at Mona Lisa, went to the tomb of Napoleon, and shopped in Bon Marche. Most of all though, I wanted to stay; and wear a long black sweater, and swig absinthe from a bottle on the left bank. I knew without any doubt I belonged in Montmartre with the struggling artists. I imagined being under the bridges with one; as he devoured me with garlic flavoured kisses.
My first real exchange with a French boy was on a boat trip on the river. We swopped slips of paper with addresses. I think I wrote to him for about two months before he wrote back ‘Dear Susan’ instead of ‘Dear Jacqui.’ Love died and romantic dreams were on hold for a while, after that.

My newly acquired taste for coffee, foreign boys, wine and fashion stemmed from this one trip. Ten short days changed my expectation of my life. The understated elegance I saw on the streets of this city became my yardstick, - ‘that was how women should look’ I thought. Females in my native Bristol, mostly wore grey coats and headscarves. The cold winds from the channel not conducive to high fashion. Most of them had worked hard all their lives in factories anyway. If you dressed up you were thought to be 'flashy.' I so desperately wanted to be flamboyant, ostentatious, and wild. But this was not the time, not yet anyway.

On the last night in Paris we travelled to the city by tube in the twilight. When we got to the Champs Elysees it looked like a lighted caterpillar leading to the Arc de Triumph. I walked away from the group to absorb these last moments. The reflected lights of Notre Dame danced on the inky water; the beautiful bridges arcing gracefully. I memorized every detail, ‘I am coming back’ I vowed.

We went back for our 25th wedding anniversary and loved it so much we went again, both of us as spellbound as I was at 15. We had a small room in the roof of a hotel in Montmartre, I was in heaven.
Now I stir my creamy coffee, and gaze at the river. Along the wide path a fashionable parade of people come thronging. The pungent scent of garlic and seafood drifts from the restaurants along the river. On the bridges across from the busy cafes and shops, people stop to admire the view. A cruise boat pulls away and I hear laughter and the clink of champagne glasses. I walk up the steps to the roadway, the elegance of the carved buildings picked out by late sunlight. The Cathedral clock strikes as I wander looking at the winter fashions in the shops. Clang!; suddenly I am in real time again, a tram passes, this is Melbourne. Melbourne, with its winding, muddy river at its heart just like Paris; with art galleries and coffee shops. Cobbled laneways and the bustle of China Town. Melbourne hasn’t quite taken the place of Paris, it never could, but it’s a close second.

This is an intersection piece, I am paired with the wonderfully talented kickthehobbit Her piece is The Straw.

Note; Yay awesome partner has penned a fabulous piece and between us we can walk hand in hand into a French dream. Find her entry here; http://kickthehobbit.livejournal.com/470420.html
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