Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday Scribblings #235 - Flashback

I have joined up with Sunday Scribblings, a group of writers who write based on a prompt every week. So here I am, scribbling on Sunday! Make of this little piece what you will.


The old woman sat by the window, trying in vain to feel the touch of a breeze. This afternoon was hotter than yesterday - perhaps the hottest this year. The sun seemed to stifle every spark of energy beneath its gaze, and the wind had given up weeks ago in its attempt to give solace to the fevered village.

The woman shifted in her seat, but the change was of little use. Her arthritic joints groaned in protest at the slightest provocation, buckling against her efforts to make herself more comfortable.

Her sewing lay abandoned on the table in the decrepit kitchen. The needles were still clinging to the same muffler she had been working on since last year. She had given it up a long time ago. Her fingers were no longer nimble enough for such delicate work, and her eyes too far gone. She could hardly make out even the door of the next house anymore. The village doctor had encouraged her to do as little reading and sewing as she could, so to preserve her remaining vision - but it was not his advice that had finally caused the muffler's neglect. She was simply tired of miscounting stitches in the embroidery.

Tired... the word was appropriate. She was tired. Tired of the heat, tired of her blind eyes, tired of being in pain... tired of being alone, day in and day out, every week, every month, every passing year...

Through the curtains, a sound reached her from the dusty street outside - for though her eyes were failing, her ears were still plenty sharp. It was a sweet sound... not at all unpleasant... someone playing some sort of flute outside. It was a dancing tune, very light and easy... and so familiar...

And suddenly it was night. The moon and stars shone bright and clear over the moors, and the air was crisp and cool. Laterns lit a circle of people on a gentle hilltop, from whence floated the sound of happy laughter and racing music. She stood among them, dressed her simple finest, the blush of the virgin yet glowing in her cheeks, her hair hanging unhindered down her back. A young man approached - ruddy faced and handsome as a stallion. He offered his hand, smiling a smile brighter than the stars above. She laughed sweetly and placed her hand in his own.

And they were off. The flute and fiddle never ceased, rushing through the notes like a waterfall rushes over a cliff. The two dancers' beating hearts and tapping feet kept time as they flew across the dancing green, his hand firmly on her back, her hand grasping his shoulder. Each held as tight as though their partner was the only thing keeping them anchored to the earth, their eyes never wandering from the other's perfect face. They whirled around and around, skipping and leaping, singing and laughing, never pausing to rest until the musicians finally retired for the night. Without anyone to provide music, the crowd of revelers was forced to return to their own homes as well. But even then, the blushing virgin and the handsome youth did not part, but walked back to the village hand in hand, whispering of many things which only the moors and the moon could hear.

The music outside the window had stopped, but the old woman did not stir. She reposed in her chair, her eyes closed. The sun continued to beat upon the street, and the dust still rose from the cobblestones. But to her... to her the moon was shining, and the night wind was gently blowing, and she was without pain, dancing across the green...

Anyone looking upon her in that moment would have seen once again the rose of youth in her cheeks, and the smile of a lover gracing on her face. And any who saw her would have wondered that anyone in so ancient a form, and bearing so weary a soul, could have looked so undeniably... free.  


  1. That's it. I'm auditioning for the Rachel's Writing cheer squad. I believe I'll make an excellent captain, with a big R on the front of my uniform and a pair of pompoms made from clippings of your writing.


    This is an absolutely stunningly-beautiful piece of writing, Rachel. I love how you used the trios of periods to ease the reader in and out of the flashback sequence. And the sequence itself? Oh, the imagery! The pulsating, titillating imagery you conjured! I'm beneath that moon, dancing to that music. You really are a word magician. :)

  2. Oh my gosh Rachel that was amazing holy cow! I wish I could write as poetically like that!

  3. ok rachel, I'll be honest: I'm not a native speaker, so I have a little indulgence when I make mistakes with my english, mainly when I'm writing. But after read what you wrote and how you wrote, I thought with myself: " guy, you really need improve". I really liked your way of write. In portuguese I write more or less like that. Not so pretty like you but not so far to get there. Congratulations, I hope you keep going and keep inspiring people like me.

  4. Wow... That is all I can say as my first impulse. Not only was that an amazing story but the feel was wonderful! I could feel the annoyance of seeing the muffler and the wonderful joy felt during the old woman's flashback. Just marvelous!

    Right, I am going to be looking over your shoulder now... No, I am not cheating! (hides notebook)

  5. Thanks by your lovely comment. You relly is adorable. I need to say ( ok, I would write this before, actually in the comment above, but I lacked courage :) ) that after I read you I rewrote my story, adding some details. When you put your comment I still was writting.
    So are women, make us stay awake all night for improve to them :) I'm kidding, please do not be offended.

  6. Good to see you join in with Sunday Scribblings. I like your sympathetic piece that illustrates that even oldies have had romantic and exciting lives. Looking forward to more of your work.

  7. Amazing, beautiful writing, taking us their to the dancing green after the contrast of the harvest years... nicely written.

  8. Extraordinary piece of writing. Rachel, you are so gifted at creating mood quickly. That takes skill and consistent imagery. I loved the sentence about arthritic joints complaining at the slightest provocation. You lead the reader to drift into the dream. Perfect.