Short Scenes: Touch

This is the first post in a series of posts of short descriptive scenes using a particular theme. The theme for this series is 5 Senses and this post is about the sense of Touch

The cool, salt laden breeze caressed her skin as she stood on the boardwalk watching the sun set over the ocean. It was a nice contrast to the prickly heat of the day and her skin shivered deliciously as it cooled. She closed her eyes and let the gusts twine around her, lifting her thick curls from her neck and brushing her damp nape with its refreshing fingers. It played with her dark hair, gently tossing it around her face, the stray tendrils tickling her nose and grazing her cheek. She laughed with delight at its playfulness and revelled in the kiss of it against her bare flesh. The scratchy wooden railing bit into her hands as she gripped it and leant back, stretching her arms and throwing her head back to the sky. She made a picture with her upturned face and gently arched back as the last rays of the sun roved over her, setting her golden skin aglow for just a moment. She felt the magic of those dying rays like the parting touch of a lover and the heat of it radiated through her before it was gone and the sea breeze once again wrapped its gentle arms around her. With her eyes still closed, she could feel the moment the sun finally slid below the horizon. Like a soft blanket being thrown over her, dusk settled around her and she felt the beginnings of the night nudge timidly against her. Her skin rippled with the change and she sighed with contentment. She loved the hot summer days, the way her skin warmed and glistened with sweat, but this is what she loved most about the season. Those first few minutes of twilight when the wind turned cool and prickled her skin, when the eternal struggle of day and night found common ground and shared the day for just a moment.

I would love to read your Short Scenes just link to this post and use the tag Short Scenes

The Slow Regard of Silent Things

Slow-Regard

This started out as a review of a novella by Patrick Rothfuss named “The Slow Regard of Silent Things”, but became something else.

Before I begin my review, I need to out myself on a few things…

 slowregardFirstly, I am a Patrick Rothfuss fangirl (that is if a married 41 year old woman with two adult sons can even be considered a fangirl). I first read “The Name of the Wind” a few years ago and was unashamedly captivated by it.  I had only just started tentatively reading fantasy (previously I had been a strictly crime/political thriller reader…i.e. James Patterson, Tom Clancy, Patricia Cornwall, Dale Brown, Sue Grafton) and I had been intrigued by the books title…”The Name of the Wind”. They say to never judge a book by its cover, but to me the cover (especially in the fantasy genre) tells its own story and if it doesn’t interest me, then I’m likely to pass on the book.  I have read other books simply because the cover caught my eye (Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files is one such series, before they changed the covers which is a pet hate of mine, they were made to look like old files…kind of cool…and then there is Joe Abercrombe whom I read just because I liked his name), so with a title like “The Name of the Wind” I was definitely interested.  The story that was contained within that cover was even better than the name had hinted at.  Mr Rothfuss’s use of words, imagery and world building wrapped around me like a cocoon and by the end of the book I was converted completely to the fantasy genre. I have since re-read both “The Name of the Wind” and book two “The Wise Man’s Fear” (something I had never done until reading these books) a couple of times and have tried to get them into the hands of as many people as I can.  So, yes, I am a fan.

The second thing I need to be upfront about is that I am grieving.  My beautiful daughter-in-law died two and a half weeks ago (here is her story) and the world just hasn’t seemed the same since that day.  Many things in my life seem meaningless (vanity of vanities, all is vanity) and I even considered whether or not to write this post (but I have and I hope by the end of it you will understand why) and so it is under the very heavy grey cloud of mourning that I read this novella and now write this review.

And thirdly, this is not the book three that you are looking for.  Mr Rothfuss made it very clear in the lead up to and in the forward of the book that this was not Book Three of “The Kingkiller Chronicles”…this is a novella that expounds the story of one of the characters in it. It is an addendum to the original story, not a continuation of it.

So, with all that out of the way, let me get on with my review.

Illustration by Nate Taylor

Auri – Illustration by Nate Taylor

Quite simply, I loved it…but I know that not everyone will.  Mr Rothfuss admonishes us in the forward that this book is not for everyone, and I agree, not everyone will understand it.  This story breaks a lot of rules and there are some people that will find that hard to deal with, but again, we are warned of this in the beginning.  To be perfectly honest, I don’t think anyone could fully tell this story without breaking the rules. Auri is not a character that can be explained by conventional means, she is an enigma and so too is her story.  And, quite frankly, I don’t think everybody should read this book.  I think that something like this should only be read by those that will appreciate it; people who get Auri, who are maybe even a little bit like Auri.  It almost seems indecent to expose Auri to the unwashed masses, those that only wish to impose their will on the world and are not at all interested in being changed by something or someone else.  If nothing else, then this is a story for those of us who have known great loss and have been forever changed by it.

This short story spoke to the part of me that was broken, the part of me that now looks at the world and wonders why.  Although we don’t find out the why of Auri, we do get to know the who.  In very cold and clinical terms, Auri would be considered obsessive compulsive, but in my bruised and battered frame of mind, I see beyond that.  I’m sure that if a psychiatrist got a hold of Auri, they would have a field day and in doing so would destroy her. To me, Auri, through her brokenness, has found a deeper meaning.  She looks only for harmony, she desires only for the things around her to be in harmony with each other. I envy her.

You may think it strange to envy a character who is quite obviously damaged, but it is her very damaged-ness that makes her enviable.  She is no longer consumed by the trappings of materialism, she no longer feels the need to impose her will and desire on the world around her and she takes delight in the simple things.  We have become a world of cynicism and disdain and we have lost the most sacred of emotions…wonder.  Where is the childlike wonder of imagination?  The powers that be have reduced our lives down to scientific theories and financial facts totally disregarding that part of us that calls to the deep mysteries of life.  Children have lost their childhood and adults have forgotten how to dream.  Our world has been broken by the very things that we created to fix it and yet we keep trying to fix it with the same things.  We need more wonder in our world and Auri shows us a glimpse of wonder and my heart yearns for more.

So, perhaps this isn’t a book review at all, but more a study on finding meaning in life when you are broken.  Auri’s world is not perfect, she is still broken, but her brokenness is beautiful. As I grieve the loss of a beautiful person in my life, I look at Auri and I see that there can still be life after loss, not just existence and there can be beauty in brokenness even though it looks different.

A Woman on a Boat

She stood at the ship’s railing and looked out at the open sea.

Wisps of brunette hair had escaped from the chignon under her hat and drifted lazily in the breeze.  Her grey wool suit was well tailored and cinched at the waist with a thin belt, the skirt fell to mid-calf with a kick pleat in the back.  She wore black pumps with a sturdy heel on her feet and silk stockings with a dead straight seam.    Her clutch, which matched her shoes and belt, was clasped firmly under her arm and she wore grey kid gloves on her hands.  A red and white polka dot scarf tied around her throat finished it all off and was the only splash of colour in an otherwise sombre outfit.

Woman on a Boat

It was quiet, the only sound that of the ship’s hull slicing through the waves.  The sun slowly dipped below the horizon turning the sky pink and purple and as I stood there watching her, I couldn’t help but wonder what her story was.

I looked down at what I was wearing and felt frumpy beside her.  My black leggings and oversize shirt with a stain on the collar where not the height of fashion; I had simply put on the first thing I could lay my hands on that morning.  This woman’s outfit was no mere coincidence, a happenstance of fate; no that outfit had been planned with care. I wondered again what her story was.

Was she waiting for someone?  I didn’t think so, she looked too sad.  Well, I couldn’t see her face, but her posture made me believe she was unhappy.  There was an air of loneliness about her as if she were saying good bye to someone she loved.

I wondered where she came from; where she was going.  The journey was a long one, as there was no land in sight; just the unending expanse of the ocean.  Was she leaving a lover behind?

I imagined her smiling, sunglasses on and a broad brimmed sunhat on her head as she held on to a tanned man piloting their Vespa around the sun drenched streets of Tuscany.  A summer holiday in Italy, a summer romance.  A beautiful Italian man with sun kissed skin and toned muscles.  Halting English and a delicious accent, declarations of love in the language of romance.  Stolen kisses and tender looks, the accidental brushing of hands as they walked along cobbled streets in the twilight.  I imagined them picnicking among the grapevines of a picturesque vineyard and sharing an evening meal in a secluded corner of a restaurant.  Long looks over candlelight as they sipped dark red wine and picked at the olives and cheese between them.

Or maybe it had been a Frenchman in Paris.  Him showing her the sights, bribing a guard so they could visit the Louvre after closing.  I see them lying on great white beach towels soaking up the sun as the waves gently lap the shoreline in the South of France and walking the streets of Paris, arm in arm.  She is wearing a white halter neck dress with red polka dots, red lipstick, her hair flowing free and a large straw hat to protect her delicate skin.  They share croissants and coffee in a corner café, he feeds her plump red strawberries dipped in chocolate.  As she takes a bite, the juice runs down her chin and he wipes it away with a crisp white napkin.

Perhaps she is not saying good bye to someone, but rather looking for them.  A husband, a lover gone away in a desperate attempt to realise a dream or seek their fortune.  She has had no contact for far too long and is worried about his fate.  She sets off with the determination to find him, to tell him she loves him, to help him make his dreams come true.  To tell him that he is enough.

Then again, it could be she that has set off in search of her dreams.  Travelling alone to an unknown country, spending the last of her savings and forsaking all for a brighter future.  She is strong and capable and is bigger than the box they put her in so she is striking out, breaking through and stamping her independence on the world.  She is determined and she has a well-defined sense of who she is, where she wants to go and what she wants to achieve.  The hardships that she faces are mere obstacles to be overcome, they will not stop her, they will not hold her back.  She is on the voyage of a lifetime and determined to prove everyone wrong.  She will succeed; she will be triumphant.

“’scuse me maám,”a voice says as I am jostled out of my reverie.

Looking around I see the humdrum hustle and bustle of the shopping centre and my life snaps back into focus.  I look at the woman standing at the railing.  The canvas is life-size and captivating.  The pose of the woman, the atmosphere of the background, it is a beautiful piece of art.  I squint through the glass at the price.

Alas, she will not be coming home with me.