He Waits Alone

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Just as it did every year on this day, Malcolm’s cane rattles across the cobblestones.  He knows where the walkway is uneven and how many steps it takes to get from the flower market to the clock tower.  Fifty-five, fifty-six, fifty-seven.  For the last ten years, the number has always been the same.

The roses smell stronger than usual, their sweet, musky scent hangs heavy in the foggy air.  The treads on his old shoes struggle to grip the stones still wet from the street washer’s hose.  He tightens his hold on his cane and feels for the wall behind him.  A chill seeps into his spine as he leans on the stone bricks.

He knows he’s in the right place when he hears the soft tick-tock of the clock tower.  The steady tempo calms his pulse and soothes his nerves.  It’s been so long, but the thought of her still makes his hands clammy and his knees wobble.

Footsteps approach and they could be hers . . . but, no.  Too heavy and too far apart.  They belong to Jakob, a waiter from the café across the street.  A large gentle hand squeezes Malcolm’s arm with the assurance of friendship.  He says nothing, but gives Malcolm a warm cup of coffee before walking away.

The steam warms his nose and weaves through his thick mustache.  It’s enough to warm his bones, but not much else.  She said she’d be here and he still believes her.  People get lost or wander away, but they always end up coming home.  Don’t they?

As the minutes tick by and his coffee cup empties, he listens carefully for the sound of her voice calling his name and sniffs the breeze for a hint of her perfume.  He would know her touch anywhere as there is nothing like the feel of her hand in his.  If he tries hard enough he can imagine her phantom fingers caressing his skin.  Though, he cannot see her face. The memory is no longer vivid and his eyes are a thing of the past.

She would come, he knew she would.

Side street view of the clock tower in Old Town Square, Prague, 2008, c.b.w.

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This is a little experiment in free-writing with the assistance of a prompt and a partial story it inspired in one of my journals.  I played with both a bit more and filled in some blanks.  The photograph comes from a trip I took to Prague a few years back.

Prompt: They’d agree to meet under the clock on Valentine’s Day.  That was four years ago, but he still came very year on that date to wait for her.

Source of prompt:  First 50 – I’ve had the prompt tucked in my journal for a while, but never checked out this blog until today.  It’s an amazing source of writing prompts and I highly recommend it for any writer looking for a little inspiration!

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c.b. 201

Just Believe

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The first time I heard the name Mary Wollstonecraft was back in college during a women’s studies history class.  I admired her right from the start for not only having a strong voice, but the courage to use it at a time when women were largely expected to be silent.  Her writings have an air of elegance, but they are also among the first to advocate equality between genders, which made her one of the first feminists in history. She had guts, intelligence, and fortitude when the whole world told her women had no right to any of those things. Still, she believed.

Wollstonecraft died well before the women’s rights movement took off in the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, so she never got to see the ideals she supported take shape.  Seneca Falls, the suffrage movement in Europe and America, and a slew of other gender related battles took place long after her words. Long after there was any hope of them coming true.  She still believed, when all seemed impossible.

There are, of course, many individuals who contributed to the long journey of women’s rights, but I have a soft spot for Wollstonecraft.  She understood the importance of believing in something even when it seems so far out of reach.  While an incredibly difficult thing to do, it is well within our grasp if we make the choice to believe.

For the last two years, I’ve chosen “believe” to be my word of the year.  It appears throughout my home – on the refrigerator, end table, dream board, as well as several hidden places where I’ll unexpectedly happen upon it one day – to help keep me focused.  A couple of months ago I made a necklace with a “believe” charm to wear on days when doubt threatens to steal my determination.

"Believe" Beaded Necklace, created by c.b.w.

Each strand of the pendant has charms that I chose for both meaning and sparkle.  I’ve always loved leaves and their ability to bloom even after a cold winter, while dragonflies are the epitome of strength and grace.  On the third strand is the all important “believe” ring, an infinite tribute to the idea of believing without fail.  Just as Wollstonecraft kept writing, so will I.

My goals for this year are daunting and the propensity for rejection is immense.  How easy it would be to give up, but . . . I won’t.  I must believe.

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Factoid: Wollstonecraft’s daughter is Mary Shelley of Frankenstein fame.

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c.b. 2012