The Short Story Series were originally published on Through Frog Eyes as a collaborative effort between a guest photographer and my writing. I am relaunching the stories individually for all those who are new to the website and Marie Balustrade´s writing. The ED Series features guest photographer Edna Dott from the USA. Click HERE for the full set.
Marianne slammed the journal shut and threw her glasses onto the desk in frustration. The poem she had been working on was not taking the form she wanted. There was too much noise in her head and unrest in her heart to be poetic, let alone romantic. She yearned for Johann to put his loving arms around her again and kiss the inspiration back into her soul. She pretended he was roaming around the gardens, giving her the peace she needed to dive into her world of images and words. “You need your soul capriccio and that is a road I cannot walk along, because it is your soul that dictates the direction, not mine. The mind and spirit are selfish when it comes to the embellishment of images, a fine line between inspiration and despair.” he had always said. She wrapped both hands around her mug of herbal tea, hoping that the warmth would inspire her, but it never came close to his embrace and much to her chagrin, the tea had gone cold already. The tenderness in her hands soon metamorphosed into aggression and she could not pinpoint why. She had experienced writers block before, and in her youth it was usually parallel to a major disaster in her personal life. But everything was running smoothly so far, and things couldn’t be better.
A movement of a shadow outside the window where her desk was placed distracted her momentarily. Ah, the large branch of the chestnut tree that protruded onto her terrace was bobbing up and down in a peculiar fashion. She squinted and tried to spot her favorite squirrels that came every morning for some peanuts, no matter what the weather. Strangely enough, she had not seen them in two days. She loved chestnut trees more than any other tree, and so did her twin brother whom she missed so much.
As children growing up on the farm they were two of hearts, inseparable and always partners in crime from the very beginning. There were not too many toys to play with, or time since they each had a set of chores to do after school. Mother was very strict about that, and would not budge even if they were sick and running a fever, but somehow Marianne and Otto always managed to squeeze in some playtime in the barn or out on the fields. It was the saving grace that kept them both sane, especially when father went on another drinking spree and became violent.
There was never any money left over for toys, so they had to make their own with whatever they could find. Autumn was their favorite season because the large chestnut trees would drop all the conkers and these could be fashioned into all kinds of imaginary characters. When Otto died, Marianne took his ashes up the hill and buried his urn beneath their favorite oak tree, where they had cowered in fear, laughed until they fell off the branches, and cried in each others arms. His death had devastated her more than any other loss she had suffered in her life. Each step towards the large tree was a requiem for a fall, a fall from grace and a falling out with life.
Marianne pushed her chair back, and moved over to the glass sliding door to let some fresh air in. It was still quite chilly outside for this time of the year but the room suddenly felt stuffy, as if she were on the verge of suffocation. Her nose caught a whiff of the magnolias from the tree in the neighboring garden and she smiled. The first dance she had ever been allowed to attend was her Senior Prom. Her date was Pietro, the son of Italian migrants who had settled in the village and opened a little fruit shop. His devastatingly good looks had every girl in the county swooning over him, but he was devoted to his ailing and demanding mother, and had little time to spare for dates. He was older than Marianne and had graduated from High School three years before her. When he came to pick her up, instead of a rose corsage he offered her a single magnolia blossom with a satin pink ribbon. The flower had been picked from their tree and the ribbon he had stolen from his sister’s dresser. It was a dream come true and her brother had whispered “Don’t let the moment slip away” as she waltzed out the door. Marianne eagerly and willingly surrendered her virginity later that night to the scent of magnolias and sweat.
There was that heady scent again, as if a little flower fairy were whispering to all her senses that change is in the wind, imminent and inevitable. Deep down she knew what that change was going to be and was ready for the eternal journey, but there were a few more things left to do.