Story of a Lifetime

writing-with-pen-570x351She picked up the book and held it, sliding her fingers over its smooth, leather exterior.   It was small, but substantial in weight with a feeling of both importance and secrecy.  The gilt-edged pages were blank and inviting and the floral endpapers were infused with the scent of gardenia that welcomed her as she opened it.  She turned it over and noted the tiny white tag on the back; $65.  Normally, Susan would have balked at such a price and put the book back, but these were not normal circumstances and she carried it to the front of the store, paid the clerk, and took it home.

The book sat on her desk for a week before she came back to it.  Susan was not one to avoid confronting the harsh realities of life but she needed time to consider how she wanted to remember.  She would lose herself, bit by bit, as her memories slipped away.  Slowly at first, and then faster; with years, perhaps decades, falling away.  The diagnosis had felt like a death sentence.  But here, with the morning light pooling on the kitchen table in front of her, Susan considered the possibility, the freedom, being offered her.   She was enticed by the idea of releasing what was done, and enthralled with the challenge of weaving a new story, a tall tale, that she would have no choice but to believe she had lived.   With the swoop of her pen, Susan could grant herself a past bound only by the limits of her imagination.  Crafted properly, with care and attention to detail, she could breathe new life into her final years.  But would she?  Was she ready to leave behind her truth, the joys and hurts that made her who she is?  Susan wrapped her hands around the warm mug of coffee in front of her and stared across the room at the book that waited for her decision.  One day soon she would cling tightly to it, afraid and in search of answers.  She tried to put herself there and imagine what she would hope to find inside, what would give her the strength and courage to move forward, no longer knowing where she came from.  Truth, fiction…or some combination of the two?

Susan moved to her desk and opened the book, running her fingers over the smooth, blank pages, imploring them to speak to her, to guide her.  The faint smell of gardenia wafted up from inside the cover, mixed with the rich aroma of the leather binding and slowly she found her inspiration.  With long sweeping arcs of her pen, she began.

© Kelly Rainey, 500WordsandCounting.wordpress.com, 2015

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8 thoughts on “Story of a Lifetime

  1. Your writing evokes a graceful introspection. I’m left wondering what ails the narrator. Is this the start of a longer piece? If so, I’m intrigued about the narrator’s fate. As a piece of flash fiction, though, I think more plot would help the reader. You have a lovely writing style that could shine more with a bolder plot.

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    1. Thank you for the feedback. This could easily transition into a longer piece. To me it feels only like a snippet, a taste of the whole, as if the reader was only peeking into her thoughts for a few moments. And in 500 words that was really my only intention. But I see your point…if I’m going to commit to a smaller, self-contained piece I need to work on balancing my descriptive writing style with the need for more plot movement. Thanks for the input…something to work with.

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      1. Thank YOU, Kelly, for taking my comments in the spirit they were intended. I’m trying to be more critical (in a good way, I hope) in my comments. And I do believe you have a lovely narrative style.

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  2. I’m fascinated with the blurred lines between memory and truth. What matters more: how it actually happened or how we remember it? Your handling of Susan and her choices navigates the subject well.

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    1. Thank you. Perception is a fascinating topic…never ceases to amaze me how two people can view the exact same circumstances in such different ways. Of equal interest to me is how much of who we are, what we believe we are capable of and not capable of, is rooted in our past. If you could swoop in and replace someone’s past with different circumstances, how differently would they carry themselves today? Thanks for reading and commenting…glad you enjoyed it.

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