Friday, August 07, 2009

Breaking Day

I owe the genesis of this tale to A. Victoria Mixon. I was reading an article (seemingly no longer available) on her site and came upon the lines "Or you’ll be lying at dawn watching the curtains blow in on two lovers, and one of them will get up ever-so-carefully, stand by the window for a minute, and silently begin to dress. . ." and the following simply flowed.

Stella shivered as she slipped out of bed. Glancing out the window she saw unmoving clouds, just beginning to redden. An hour, maybe two, yet before dawn broke.

She stood by the window, her thumb worrying the ring on her left hand, and watched the sky.

No longer night, not yet day, she thought. Caught in-between.

"Aren't we all," she whispered. "Aren't we all."

She shivered again, but stood a moment longer, as unmoving as the clouds.

What are you trying to do? Punish yourself? There's a lot more than a little chill needed for that.

Stella's skin was covered in goosebumps as she shook herself and turned, gathering her clothes from the bedside chair.

She slipped on her plain white cotton bra and panties but faltered trying to button her sensible, starched blouse.

Jesus, God. What's sensible anymore?

The palms of her hands hurt as her fingernails dug deep groves into them. Her eyes were as tightly closed.

An eternity passed before she drew a deep breath, forcing the emotion down, hard. Stella opened her eyes. The clouds through the window remained unmoving, just tinged with a deeper shade of rose.

She unclenched her fists and finished buttoning her blouse.

Enough, she told herself. You made your bed, you lie in it.

She caught herself as hysteria rose in her throat.

If this were your bed, Stella, your husband would be lying in it. Your kids would be down the hall. The banner for the church social would be over there against the wall.

She busied herself, pulling on her hose and zipping up her skirt. Earrings, cross and chain, watch. If she could keep doing, not thinking, then it would be all right.

All right? Exactly how is this ever going to be all right? 

Stella stepped into her shoes and moved to the mirrored closet door. She regarded herself for a long moment, an uncompromising audit of the lines on her neck, the creases at her eyes, mouth, the gray visible in her hair.

She turned and looked towards the bed. The figure there stirred, dark hair flowing over the pillows, but didn't wake up.

Jesus Stella, she's ten years younger than you.

She turned and opened the door, her face a mask of pain.

The door closed quietly behind her.

"But she's my life," she whispered to the dawning day.


  1. You evoke so much pain in this. The 'caught in-between' really says it all. So many of us are shadow-people, standing outside of society in one way or another. Beautiful piece, Kevin.

  2. Very nice piece indeed, Kevin. Wrought both with longing and regret. A real stir of emotions here.

  3. A beautifully written piece. Very emotional.

  4. The moment when she looks in the mirror is gripping. Great description there. Very visual, showing us her state of mind rather than telling it.

  5. Thank you all - I was going for something that would connect. I appreciate your reading it.

  6. I like the double meaning of "caught in-between". When the reader finally gets to the conclusion, this line makes sense. You did a fine job writing the conflicted soul with this one, Kevin. My hat is off to you.

  7. You did a great job and decribing her inner turmoil... it made me incredibly anxious. This is very well written, I always enjoy reading your #fridayflash.
    Sorry for being such a slacker; I am catching up

  8. @Dana - many thanks, glad you enjoyed it
    @Stephen - glad the sense of conflict made it through, it's always tough to get what we see in our heads out onto to the page in words
    @2mara - thank you, glad I could make the reader anxious. As I mentioned above, I was hoping I could write something that wold connect. No worries about slacking, I can't get to read all the #fridayflash on Friday either.