#DPChallenge ~ 2 AM Photo

It’s 2AM and your phone has just buzzed you awake, filling the room in white-blue LED light. You have a message. It’s a photo. No words, no explanation. Just a photo. Tell us all about it. And what happens next.

One New Message As usual I wake up in seconds.  And immediately I know where this pic comes from, and you know I know.  So you must be, perhaps, on your own?  Well I am, as probably you know now…

Yes I like the picture, I like the ring, your ring, where the ring is, and what is around it, close to it. And I am staying calm: you are, after all, some four thousand miles from me, and even making a start now, it will be a good twenty hours before I can get there, and touch your ring… So far away you are, my treasure, and your country is still a mystery for me – as you are.  Its 2 in the morning here, so it’s five in the afternoon for you.  I have just noticed, the pic is just now, a few minutes back.  My mind is racing.  Not for long, I know this cold determination.  I’ll catch the next available flight.  Here is my picture in the meantime…

#FiveSentenceFiction: Paradise

To Susan

Daria Bagrintseva His dedication to his work is exemplary, and he is admired by colleagues and friends.

But in the depth of his heart he hides a wonderful secret, a secret always present, as he works through the day.

Only he – and the one who shares his life – know the secret: it is their shared treasure, the magic link between them when he is away.

She has the key, and she knows, every evening he will be there, at their door…

For she is the guardian, collared, fragile, her white skin like snow in Spring, her lips so red, waiting to open for him the door of Paradise.

Image: Daria Bagrintseva

#FiveSentenceFiction: Whisper

Felix MasYou lie supine, naked, the image of confidence, of peace.

Yet we know the fire, the incandescent light, under the veil.

We know the perfection, the miracle of time and patience, the perpetual discovery.

So I listen, attentive, tense, admiring, my gaze on your lips, waiting.

It’s a whisper, and for me, your lover, it’s a call I cannot resist.

Image: Felix Mas

#amreading: The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes

You get towards the end of life – no, not life itself, but of something else: the end of the likelihood of change in that life. You are allowed a long moment to pause, time enough to ask the question: what else have I done wrong?” ~ Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending

I Capture the Castle I am a happily married man. Gorgeous and I rarely argue about anything of substance, and when we do, it is with the certainty that I will quickly realise my error. Books, and the interpretation of certain books may be the exception. I tend to take the viewpoint of the author, or at least what I guess that might be. She, is the Reader.

So it is that, a few of days ago, I picked up Her copy of Julian Barnes “The Sense of an Ending”, and proceeded to read it the same day, on a train journey to Paris. The novella moved me to tears. I found Barnes’ description of ageing, of the confusion of memories and feelings this implies, the nostalgia of the whole tale, and the tragedy of the characters, simply overwhelming. I understood the Man Booker Prize jury and their decision in 2011. This is a small masterpiece, a jewel of a book that one must read and re-read.

I found poignant the description of the college boys growing up, their hopes, their shattered illusions, their eventual defeat once they accepted that Life would definitely not turn out as Literature. I identified myself with Tony Webster, the gentle (my view) fellow who learnt to survive, was victim of a manipulative and heartless young woman in the person of Miss Veronica Mary Elizabeth Ford, to my mind fully deserving Tony’s own description of bitch and “cockteaser”.

I too believed that History was the lie of the victors. And my taste in music were not that different from Tony’s own. So, I too felt “like a survivor from some antique, bypassed culture whose members were still using carved turnips as a form of monetary exchange.” That actually made me laugh – on a good teasing day Gorgeous calls me her “Neanderthal”. If you haven’t read the book then stop reading this post now. The rest would spoil your pleasure when you come to reading it.

I have my interpretation of the tragedy, and was even more disgusted at Veronica’s antics when Tony, with good reasons, attempts to contact her again: this confirmed to me his correct diagnosis regarding the lady. But of course nothing is that simple.

Gorgeous said then that since I’d finished the book she wished to have my views on it. I was happy to discuss it and had no concern about the outcome. I gave my wife my views of the book, in a literary sense, and then of the story and of the characters. It turns out that her interpretation was completely different. For a start her belief was that it was Tony who had made Veronica’s mother pregnant. This made/makes no sense to me although I admit that my reasoning is solely based on the fact that Mrs Ford mère – Sarah – left Adrian’s diary in her will specifically for Tony, with a note saying that Adrian’s last months had been happy. To my mind, Adrian, the philosopher, had somehow got close enough to Veronica’s mum and made her pregnant, “at a dangerously late age”. Of course there is still an unexplained mystery as to how and why. To my mind the explanation may be that young Veronica behaved just as badly with Adrian as, before him, with Tony, and had taken him to bed merely to frustrate Tony – didn’t she push Adrian to write to Tony that they were “going out”?  – Upon which the said Adrian followed Tony’s recommendation and visited Mother with the unplanned consequences. Wife was not convinced. Wife thought Tony Webster was a fine example of male brutishness and insensitivity, in one word another stupid prick, although She admitted that I may be right about the paternity. As for Veronica’s attitude and “cockteasing”, Wife declared, to my stupefaction, that a young woman had a right to chose her own ways to satisfaction. I  nearly choked, and felt awkward since that affirmation is, of course, undeniable. But I thought it was about a relationship, and what of the mess that evidently ensued, and that Tony in his older age only discovered as a result of receiving Mrs Ford’ s letter via her solicitor? What of Veronica’s refusal to explain anything to him but let him guess at some of the truth through parables and a display of contempt that surely would infuriate anyone? What was her right to withhold, perhaps destroy, Adrian’s diary that her mother had legated to Tony? I was on the wrong track. As Tony says: “There was no arguing against “feelings”, because women were experts in them, men coarse beginners.” Well now, for a start I have never thought the “Sixties” were a time of “permissiveness”. For a tiny minority of “artists” maybe, but for most of us – here and there and everywhere – the decade was a time of hypocrisy and lies. The main problem then for young people was contraception, when things were not cheap and not easy to get, and we were poor.

“But I was wrong about most things, then as now. For instance, why did I assume she was a virgin? I never asked her, and she never told me. I assumed she was because she wouldn’t sleep with me: where is the logic in that?” – I really felt for Tony reading this. Gorgeous said he was an idiot. And by inference I was on my way to become one too!

He had been warned. Mother had told him: “Don’t let Veronica get away with too much.” I am sure Mother knew what a bitch daughter was, and Tony was evidently not Miss Ford’s first victim… Still. Some forty years later he tries to understand. Yes he wrote that odious and very stupid letter, and rather than warn his friend, as a true comrade should have done, he insulted him, and her. I said to Wife that I would never have done such a thing, Wife looked at me critically.

I said, “Whichever way one reads the book, Miss Veronica Ford is the personification of all that can go wrong with human relationships.” Gorgeous smiled: “and of course it had nothing to do with him?” I thought again of Mr Tony Webster: “Why should we we expect age to mellow us? If it isn’t life’s business to reward merit, why should it be life’s business to give us warm, comfortable feelings towards its end? What possible evolutionary purpose could nostalgia serve?” But Gorgeous had the last word, when she quoted Adrian himself: “If life is a wager, what form does the bet take?”

If you have read “The Sense of an Ending”, we are interested in your interpretation of the book and its characters!

#FiveSentenceFiction: Ringing

Owned The small torus was perfect, its pale colour matching her skin, its location a delicious dream, a constant evocation of a deep secret, his and hers.

They had chosen the craftsman carefully, an old Chinese silversmith who knew his piercing, and was discrete.

She had been a little afraid, but trusted him, blindly.

For him it was symbolic of his coming of age: him, the master.

And for her, the beautiful slave, it was her pride: she belonged, she was owned.

#FiveSentenceFiction: Devotion

“True strength lies in submission which permits one to dedicate his life,

through devotion, to something beyond himself.”   ~ Henry Miller

(Quoted by Una Tentazione)

Melissa In his sleep Melissa was talking to him about higher mathematics, about the marvels she was learning with her new teacher.

Her new interest in physics amazed him, his recollection of her was of a rather simpler type of girl: how she had changed, his school sweetheart…

But he was trying to follow, she was so keen for him to understand, she was talking with passion, of their future, of the new sense of her own existence, of her search for him.

She said she would never give him up, she was learning to achieve something: to reach him in his world, the world of the living.

In his dream, her devotion was palpable, as real as her presence, and he did not want to let her go.

The story of Melissa and Julian is told here.

The spirit of Love is never, ever broken…

the sacred road


beautiful –
it is not for the fearful
or the weak.
giving your heart so completely
takes a trust
and vulnerability in the pure hope
that it will be looked after
cared for.

so i worry –
i lie awake terrified
that my heart is not big enough,
my words not compassionate enough,
my arms not open wide enough
that i will fail you
live up to the unworthiness i feel.

i have lived incomplete
for so long.
and now
now that i have gotten to bask
in you.
been blessed
to stand in your sun –
i struggle to feel
of such a precious gift.

tonight you hurt….
and i lie here.
desperate to reach out
mindful of boundaries
and i am once again
my heart can not endure your pain

so i pray

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#FiveSentenceFiction: Flawed

For Naoko

 Lighter than feathers the notes of the piano float through the room, as you play, your gaze from time to time turning to me, radiant.

The evening is perfect: the rain falling on the terrace, now in darkness, can just be heard, and the sound of the fire crackling in the chimney, lighting this room, a perfect setting for the prelude to love.

Your white dress hardly conceals your perfect body, as your flawless hand hangs lightly above the keys, as if time was suspended…

You smile at me, and your smile is that of an angel, as I turn the pages of the book I pretend to be reading.

And for an instant my mind flies into the future, that far away shore where we have become the grey ashes of this glorious present.



#FiveSentenceFiction: September 7 – Memories

 The summer was coming to an end, and she dreaded the return to her “normal” life: how could she give up what mattered to her more than anything in the world?

Yet she knew the secret to keep him, to continue to be the one he had wanted her to be, she must obey by the rules, respect his freedom, be there for him when he wanted her, ready, the creature he had made of her, the whole of her, her past, her present, their present, just for him.

She packed slowly, her old clothes, and the new ones, what he had got for her, the lingerie, her collar, the high heels shoes in beautiful leather, and the bits of their shared life she had kept in secret: the bottle they had drank from, there, at the top, on the cliff where she had become his, for ever.

She could hear his steps in the now empty house, he was coming to her, to say good-bye, she started crying, silent tears running down her face.

She had closed her eyes, waiting for the blow, for his departure, but he was still there, next to her, a hand on her shoulder: “I have changed my mind” he said in his calm voice, “I am taking you with me, and, by the way, I will not ever let you go far away from me”, and he kissed her, full mouth, ignoring her tears, lifting her from the ground, a tall young god.

#Geometries: Lieben

nascent love like –

the new moon turns

its face away

 Beginnings glow, and often fail to spark much longer. When we met we knew a few things, that experience was not measured in promiscuity, that love is for most of us a mirage, that looks and bodies change – over time – and “bien fol qui s’y fie”, as le bon Roi Henry reputedly said…

Our geometry evolved, by trial and error, infinite patience, a shared belief in waiting, respect, and, yes, tenderness, without which physical love declines into hell. Early on you decided you’d be on top, mostly. I respected your will to be in control, to decide when, in the end to rely on this man to be what he claimed to be – nowhere to hide, the armour-less knight. One night we became what we are now: lovers for the long haul, interminable foreplay, exploring the far away shores. Once, I could have made the mistake of dreaming to tame the panther, and was saved by humour, and you showing me the way to understand myself, the feminine side of me.

For now, every time, we discover more, those secret paths that lead to new delights, the beautiful corners of ourselves we have not yet explored, in new geometries of body and soul…

mountain summit

how easily reached

by the autumn wind

– Johnny Baranski