Friday, October 1, 2010

Magpie Tales: The Hurricane Lamp

Tongues of flame race down the curtain, into roiling crimson orange clouds retreating across the hard wood floors, returning their luster. The clouds condense into liquid fire, distill until they separate once more, embraced by shards of glass that crawl across the floor regaining the shape of hurricane lamp.

Leaping into the air, the now whole lamp whizzes within a hairs breadth of a man, raising to standing position, staring at the woman who catches the lamp in her hand, curling her fingers around the neck, just below the globe. At the top of her lungs she inhales a scream, "!dratsab uoY" She places the lamp on the small side table, turning from him, tears retreating up her cheeks into her eyes.

The lamp had been in their family for generations, forged before electricity found their first home. It has served as the beacon of hope on many stormy nights. None quite like that night.

Susan stood before the man she once loved. Still loved. The nail of her finger tracing the lines in the stone that called his name. She found it hard to believe it had been a year since his passing. Every time she came here, to his side, she thought of the night they fought. She ran it forward and backward, but knew she could never take it back. Would never take it back.

Leaves of various browns and yellows pinwheeled across the grass, grasping briefly at the edges of the stone, before letting go and allowing the wind to carry them on. A year had passed. She could not let go, though she felt the chill wind pressing into her. Their love had been one to cling to though.

Jeff was the last man she thought she would end up with. He was born with nothing, while she had everything. They were of different classes, but that meant little the afternoon she and her girl friends spilled giggling onto the secluded beach for a late refreshing swim. The beach was empty, but they all fell silent as he waded out of the water, body chiseled by hard labor in his father's employ.

That was the moment she knew that she must have him. He was not just another acquisition to be had though. With a humble smile he excused himself and walked away without looking back. Try as she might to acquire his attention, all her efforts were turned away. He wanted nothing to do with her.

She was used to people doing what she said. The servants at her family house. People that wanted favors from her father. They would line up to do her bidding, but not Jeff. It made her angry. Something he would continue to do even after they fell in love.

It happened one day when he was called to her family home to work on a stone wall, ringing the central flower garden. She stood in the window, watching him work, savoring the movements as he shaped the stone and the way the sun kissed his body. Her teeth worked grooves into her finger, until she could resist no further.

So intent on his work, he was surprised to hear her voice, but quick to retort. He had dismissed her as she would a butler.

"What makes you better than me?"

"For one, I am willing to work for what I want," he had chided her.

When her daddy found her later, covered in grime working by the side of a common laborer, he had no words for her. And none for the next couple days as he made arrangements to send her away for schooling, where she could learn to be a lady. She despised her father for what he was doing, just as Jeff was beginning to warm to her.

So many memories haunted her thoughts at what might have been, had Jeff lived. Turning from the headstone she left them there, among the leaves, once living now fallen and decaying, she made her way to the car parked on the driveway through the cemetery. She was going to be late, if she did not hurry.

"Mom!" they met her at the door, ushering her into their home. Her daughter. Her son-in-law. Their two boys. They led her to a comfortable chair in the living room, so aptly named. She smiled at each of their faces, each a part of her. All the regrets she felt earlier by the graveside, melted away.

Tim, the youngest of the boys came around the corner with a large wrapped box, his mother intercepting him with gentle hands, "Be careful with that. That is Gramma's special gift."

"Hap Birfday Gama!" he said excitedly, helping place the gift before her.

Separating the tape and removing the wrapping paper, a brown box sat before her and as she parted the flaps, her breath caught in her throat. There sat the hurricane lamp she had thrown at Jeff the night before she was to leave for school, when he asked her to run away with him, forsaking her family and all that was hers.

Tracing the cracks, now bonded closed, she smiled, and though of the feel of his hand as they had run across the yard to his waiting truck. How they got all the pieces, she need not even ask. How tends to work itself out when it needs to. No, she had no regrets.

This is a Magpie Tale.

88 comments:

JeffScape said...

Longer. More.

Just kidding.

I like this one. The reverse opening is a fun read (not sure the backwards text is necessary, but it fits).

ladyfi said...

Great story! Must go back to read it again.

OJ Gonzalez-Cazares said...

true love is never gone... they make their way back!! very romantic!!

Cindy said...

Very enjoyable story, nice one, Brian.

kathi harris said...

I like this story. I wish sm of the things we do in life cd b reversed, like u did in the beginning of this story.

Bernie said...

Brian I am sure you must have some creative writing courses under your belt as this is quite professional especially the beginning.....I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.....:-) Hugs

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

Beautiful, just beautiful!

Angie Muresan said...

So wonderfully romantic! I love what you did with the beginning of this tale. I wouldn't change a single thing about it.

Claudia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alan Burnett said...

"ydoolb taerg gnitirw", he cried.

Claudia said...

you had me at the first few lines - and then i loved how the story developed - you are so creative!

Susan Deborah said...

What a nice magpie that warmed the insides. Since it had my namesake, it was doubly nice :)

Hope the Saturday is rolling well :)

Joy always,
Susan

BLOGitse said...

no regrets - my motto...
Greetings from Helsinki, Finland!

Jinksy said...

A very clever, convoluted story. I liked the rewind plus words, with their association of a video running backwards.

Valerie said...

Fire worries me, but I got through it and enjoyed the whole tale. Wonderful writing, Brian.

Emmanuel Ibok said...

when I read your works, I get so awed, so awed that I lack words to express. but know, you write supreme.

Cheers.

Zuzana said...

I love that it went backwards! It reminded me of a very cool candy add that used to run around Christmas a few years back, where a couple fought over the same candy - and demolished the apartment in the process. The clip is run backwards, starting in a room on fire until it ends with them holding the same wrapped candy, at each end.;)
You are so clever Brian and you always come up with something new.;) Always a pleasuer to visit here.;)
Have a great Saturday,
xoxo

Cheryl said...

I like the backwards opening. Got a little hung up on trying to figure out the backwards text. Nice rhythm.

adeeyoyo said...

Just like a movie, rewind your descriptions are 'spot on', Brian. I think love can turn to hate in an instant, but the love will always remain deep inside. But I may be wrong - maybe not 'always'!

Lyn said...

Inhaling a scream seems to land one through the looking glass! Great romance..vivid...

Birdie said...

Wonderful. She had no regrets. Lucky woman ... happy w-e Brian!

slommler said...

Oh I am so glad she grabbed his hand and ran!! And that is the perfect gift. The hurricane lamp all mended as life tends to do with time!!
Well written Brian!
Hugs
SueAnn

Nessa said...

I love the way you keep the mystery - we shouldn't always require the mind to explain - it's good to just be.

***

I think the backwards text idea was very clever but it required that I take too much time away from the story to figure out what it said (granted my being dyslexic could be the problem.) Just spelling the words backwards may have worked just as well. I hope you don't mind me sticking in my opinion.

Lorraine said...

sentimental...and lonely

DJan said...

A wonderful tale of love taking over two lives, creating new life, and memories. I loved it. I also liked the way you pulled me in at the beginning. You're good!

Ana said...

Nice story!

Green Monkey said...

a romantic, fun read ... your story developed at a great pace. I enjoyed it from top to bottom....

HisFireFly said...

You certainly DO have a way of telling a story!

Well done!

Eva Gallant said...

Great story. Not the ending I expected, which made it even better!

Mighty M said...

Such a great read - wishing you a wonderful weekend!

Pat said...

What a clever start to a wonderful story! You had me from the first word.

Vicki Lane said...

Time and time again ... a nice Magpie!

Anonymous said...

a very beautiful and touching story. you sure know what true love is.

trisha

annell said...

I'm back, overwhelmed with allergies, sage and ragweed, but liked your piece. Hope all is well.

Mama Wheaton said...

Loved the beginning! I think I might borrow that idea for a writing project for my class (if that's ok)?

Cindybrown said...

Excellent!!, the backwards business was so clever!! Wonderful as always Brian!!

Cindybrown said...

Excellent!!, the backwards business was so clever!! Wonderful as always Brian!!

TALON said...

What a great read this was - a mini epic, Brian! I loved how the beginning was wrapped into the ending putting all the pieces together perfectly - no pun intended! I always always enjoy your writing.

Tracy said...

I had to read this one twice and loved it both times!

Kulio said...

I love the reverse picture at the beginning! mmmmm, I love short stories and this one kept me reading to the end! I also like happy endings so...thanks!!

Betsy said...

One of my favorites of yours...very nice.

Helen said...

A stellar Magpie elicits emotional response ... as yours did, Brian.

Myrna R. said...

So tender. Great writing. I am also awed by your creativity and talent.

(Thanks for your kind words on my blog. So appreciated.)

Bossy Betty said...

Whoa! So packed with details and emotions.

Chris G. said...

Good story, quite enjoyable and romantic. Quite touching - cleverly done!

Life with Kaishon said...

I want you to write a book.
Seriously.
Wow.

signed...bkm said...

lovely story...I thought of the Notebook when I read it....also, Beatrice Potter forssook her family for love....very nice Magpie...Now strong Love is....bkm

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

Fantastic Brian.
Never stop doing this thing you do with the words:)

Rene

Daniel said...

I read it twice and am still trying to piece things together. She did run away with him and have a life together. The thrown lamp was an initial, emotional reaction to his question to elope? Maybe I am a bit slow today.

Who Is Afraid of Alfred Hitchcock? said...

Hi! Brian...
Once again, what a very well-written, and very descriptive piece that you present here...also a very good Magpie Tales entry. Hmmm...Almost Gothic(Her Past) and then Modern (Her Life Today).
Thanks, for sharing!
DeeDee ;-D

Eleonora said...

Whew... again and again and again.
Beautiful and romantic


Ciao
Ele xx

Steven Anthony said...

WOW!

brokenpenwriter said...

What a great story!! I saved reading it until today when I had time to relax and enjoy the longer piece. The first paragraph really catches the reader - great description of the fire - clever use of inverted word, making it seem more real somehow - taking the story through the years and ending with the old girl and her memories. Nice. Real nice. Suggestion: Several times you use the word, "though". While that works well in conversation, it rarely does on the written page. I find that if I read the sentences with the word, they stand on their own feet successfully.

brokenpenwriter said...

I meant to say if I read the sentences without the word: though, they stand on their own feet successfully. Sorry about the typo!

Mama Zen said...

A lovely story, Brian!

otin said...

One word....UNIQUE!

william said...

two words, very good :)

Kaelin said...

The rewind was very cool & the story full of surprises - Love This!

Beedeebabee said...

Gosh that was so good. I read it twice! Enjoy the rest of your weekend. :)

KB said...

A magically, romantic read. Loved it Brian.

CM said...

Such a beautiful piece. I love the vision of her working side by side with him.

So what is the translation of what she said? Oh wait, it's backwards...I just figured it out.

ms pie said...

hi brian the return of love... it gets better every time.... thank you for yr comments...

PattiKen said...

Very clever, Nairb. I like it a lot!

steveroni said...

MARVELOUS! Knowing you, I thought he should have died in the fore caused by her thrown lantern...Guess I don't 'know' you!

MARVELOUS!
--Steve E

Reflections said...

Love it... a touch of romance, a little sad...

and where will it lead?

Nice magpie.

Tannu said...

Really Nice Blog!:)

funspics.blogspot.com

nimaruichi said...

An amazing depiction of the tactile and the visual, this moving tale of love and loss.
“How tends to work itself out when it needs to.” Indeed!

Systematic Weasel said...

Excellent magpie! =)

-Weasel

Lori said...

This is spectacular Brian! Love it!

CatLadyLarew said...

Ah, triggering memories!

daylily (Queenmothermamaw) said...

Great magpie. I immediately thought of The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. Such a sweet story of her family.
Thanks for your visit.
QMM

kathew said...

beautifully written story...great great magpie!

Abhilasha-The Desire said...

Like everyone else, I liked the way of narration, a rewinded plus.. wish we could do the same...
I saved your post to read when i had time to relax as i throroughly enjou reading your stories... And i wasn't disappointed this time either...Very nice mag Brian.. way to go

Everyday Goddess said...

you write so well, but this is really excellent. i've never come across an opening like this one. very very good.

Tumblewords: said...

Excellent tale!

christine said...

Such an amazing story but a sadness in it.. it made me feel quite emotional.

schererart said...

Creative indeed. What a way you have with words!

willow said...

Nice piece, Brian. I've often wondered how this lamp made it through so many years without a crack.

she said...

Nice magpie. Glad she has no regrets.

Carrie Burtt said...

As usual this is a well crafted tale Brian. I love it! :-)

Caty said...

It was awesome how you described the lamp throwing in reverse...this was a beautiful story :)

Jennifer said...

No regrets. It couldn't have been more satisfying.

ds said...

This is a wonderful Magpie Tale! You got me with the ending; very clever. Thank you.

RNSANE said...

Everything you write is so fabulous. I am never disappointed. I think I've told you this before. Whether poetry or prose, it's all good.

RNSANE said...

Everything you write is so fabulous. I am never disappointed. I think I've told you this before. Whether poetry or prose, it's all good.

Syd said...

A good story about passion, love and life changes. The lamp brought it all back.

Marla said...

Love this. Wish there was more because I smell a story here.

The Retired One said...

Alan's comment cracked me up..and I agree completely with him.
Loved this one! You are an incurable romantic, and that is what we love about you and your writing!