Encounter (fiction)

Woman gazing by Anna Gorin

She was leaning against the wall when he first saw her. She seemed frail but that is not what he noticed. She was gazing into the distance, across the fields, into something marvellous that captured her attention. A small fence and the wood that stretched beyond the fields were in front of them. He could not see what she was looking at, but he was captivated by her face. Her smile as if made of rubies shined in the morning light; if he could follow her thoughts he could decipher the origin of such smile, but he did not dare to approach lest he disturb her. 

Yet we all know when we are being watched so she turned to glance behind her back. Their gazes met. Without knowing how or why he suddenly felt weak, like a bird that recognised itself as a prey. Almost an instant later, the opposite happened. Her smile showered him with a radiant force and in that moment he was ‘seen’, he was born.

© Iva Beranek (Dublin, 1st July 2016)
Photo by © Anna Gorin

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She was frail like a flower (fiction)

older woman-cindy-joseph-beautiful

She was very frail. Her inner constitution was tender due to life taking her through some rough waters. But her frailty was not a sign of weakness as much as it was a frailty of a flower that learnt to bend under pressures she had to encounter through her many years. When you talked to her for even a short time soon you would notice that she had a heart of gold, with a very red human middle. She would feel everything and I mean literally everything. From joy to sorrow and wonder and disgust and every layer of emotion in-between. Yet you would not be able to see that on her, her composure was calm.

She could laugh a fierce laugh, and mean it, while her soul was breaking inside due to some fresh pain that life has thrown at her, just out of a habit. You know, as life does. On the surface she seemed like she was a calm sea, but her interior was deeper than the ocean in which many wild rivers flow. This depth carried her, it was there that her endurance came from. Women in my family were like that, frail on the outside but giants inside. No matter how much life tried to break them, and it did try, they endured. For the rest of us who witnessed it, their frailty was our strength.

© Iva Beranek (Dublin, 2015, excerpt)
Photo from here.

The museum of lost ideas (flash fiction)

Flash fiction photo Jan 2016

Last night a friend took me to a museum of lost ideas. I stumbled across a room where only I could enter. The ideas I thought of as a child and later as a young adult were all there. A pile of post-it notes was bound together in a book, each note stating something I intended to do, but had never done. It was like entering a bar that was never used for drinking. Not a bad idea if you were an alcoholic, you’d say, but I wasn’t. The bar had a pool table in the middle of the room, unused. The chairs were position at the exactly same spots as five years ago. The only surprise, there was no dust. An hour or so later I would realise the museum was not real,  it was a dream. Yet upon awakening I will have a choice: think of it as a load of silly thoughts, or wake up to my life, not waste potential, find one or two things I love, and get it done.

© Iva Beranek (Dublin, 17th January 2016)
Photo by © Etol Bagam
(Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge, Week of 12th January 2016)

Before dreaming (fiction)

house in a bulb-storytelling

I switched on the light, sat on the bed and sinked into my thoughts. Normally I would open one of the books that were resting near my pillow, hungry for attention, but this time I decided that my thoughts can produce lines a book proudly hides between its covers.

Somewhere far away there was a little house, with a stream running through its yard, and a tree was planted nearby.

Old lady used to live there, a writer she was. She died a year ago. I peeked through the window and saw one of her books sitting on the chair near the fire, its pages open waiting for a reader to come and savour the words. I didn’t think anyone lived there now, yet the fire was still burning in the corner, and a warm pot of tea was at the table, ready as if the house was waiting on someone; a guest perhaps.

I entered, hesitantly at first. The door squeaked, making my heart pause, before it relaxed into its usual beats. There was no one around, only me. The birds were singing outside, it is springtime in that little town, and they were busy making nests. I sat in the chair taking the book into my arms. It was a big, sturdy one, with hard-covers, embroidered even. What could it be about? I marked the middle, noting the page where the book was open, and then curiously I looked at the front. “Ancient Tales of Oliver Mackleby”, hundreds of stories were written in this book. They were like fairytales, though real. It’s hard to explain. I must first read a few, before I can tell you more, but I sat there, near the fire, as I entered the world of stories, and was lost, as if the book became my temporary home.

© Iva Beranek (Dublin, 12th January 2016)

A garden where my dream blossomed (flash fiction)

garden-Graham Lawrence

I always wanted to be Matisse but I thought I lacked the skill. My paintings were often done in words; writing is what I do. Pen is my paintbrush. Or so it was until the summer in 2005 when I got very ill. The doctor told me I needed to move to a warmer climate. Northern air was destroying my lungs. “You have no time, you have to move today, tomorrow may be too late”, he said. With death lurking behind my left shoulder I packed my bag and took a flight to the South of France. I settled in a house in Provence. I would sit in the garden among the flowers, birds serenaded me with their songs. There I started painting, shyly at first afraid that all the famous painters from centuries ago would not approve. Gradually I eased into it. I didn’t drew, I sang with the paintbrush. Joining the birds I knew my dream has blossomed into paintings.

© Iva Beranek (Dublin, 29th September 2015)
Photo by © Graham Lawrence
[This post is inspired by Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers]

Morning coffee (flash fiction)

A&B building

The A&B Building was made entirely from driftwood. It appeared deserted, old, as if it was hardly ever used. Not that it mattered to John for he worked in a modern building next door. His building was equipped with the best technology. One easily assumed something uncanny was happening there, though there was no way of checking it.

When John arrived into the office this morning shortly after 7am, he glanced at the old wooden building. In an instant he focused his gaze, scared. His eyes screamed ‘Fire’. The coffee in his hand still rather warm helped him not to explode into panic. The commotion outside, firefighters, people screaming, years of working in this area flashing in front of his eyes. “I asked my wife to marry me in front of that building”, he said out loud. “The old building is burning, not your memories”, a comforting voice came from the background.

© Iva Beranek (Dublin, 28th September 2015)
(This flash fiction story is inspired by the prompt from Mondays Finish the Story)

Mysterious ring

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“What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

She looked at the mirror and the eyes of a stranger stared back at her. “I no longer know who I am. It worries me.” No one could hear so she continued expressing her thoughts out loud.

“Ever since they lied about that ring. Heh, they thought it was funny. It belonged to your Granny and it’s very expensive. Lies, all lies. I don’t understand why they couldn’t just say, ‘we found this ring and we don’t know who it belongs to’.”

She looked at the shiny object at the corner of the coffee table. It glistened in the sunlight. The blue diamond in the middle of it spread into thousands of rays of light. She approached and lifted it up. To my dear was engraved next to the initials. “Someone must miss this ring.” She was afraid to put it on. “Ah, I watch too many films”.

© Iva Beranek (Dublin, 1st July 2015)
Photo by © Iva Beranek   

[This is a response to the prompt: This is a unique flash fiction challenge where we provide you with a new photo each week, and the first sentence of a story. Your challenge is to finish the story using 100-150 words, not including the sentence provided.]

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Before we are 100

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“You have beautiful blue eyes”, he complimented her. “My eyes are brown”, she said sharply. He has been drinking again. “I know you think I am drunk.”

He had a way of reading people, and she made it easy for her every thought showed on her face. Before she could say anything, he continued, “I am actually colour-blind, but I can still recognise beauty”. He said it with a wink in his eyes. Why mention colour of my eyes if he is colourblind. She wasn’t impressed but she also wasn’t able to take in a compliment. Her mind was preoccupied with the news she got last night.

He noticed that she got even more tense, so he said, “I am sorry”. She looked with amazement. Why is he apologising now? “I am sorry that your best friend is not well.” “Who are you?!” These three words cut to the core of his soul, as if they asked for the reason of his existence. His heart split in hundreds of pieces as he tried to find the suitable answer.

Should he tell her? He knew how she would react. “I am your husband. We used to joke about the colours and that I was colourblind. You used to laugh when I said these obvious mistakes.” It made no sense to her. “You are not my husband!” She ran towards him. His heart broke into thousands more pieces. He held her tightly. She wept. And he did too.

© Iva Beranek (Dublin, 24th June 2015)
Photo by © Iva Beranek

This post was inspired by Sonyca’s 100 words story “The Girl Who Lived“. While I didn’t decide to write this in only 100 words, I realised you can say a lot in just a few words.

Mrs. Browning

(sequel to The second letter)
2015-04-10 00.06.30

I was in the kitchen, reading and sipping my third cup of coffee, when my grandfather came to the house. He never knocked, even though he no longer lived here. He looked for me in the living room and then when he couldn’t see me, he called. “Joan, where are you?” He followed my voice and came to the kitchen door smiling. I thought the gentleman from the past had a weird influence on him. My granddad never smiled in such a strange way.

“I hear you have a letter for me”, he said. It took me a minute to gather my thoughts. I had no letter for him, the only letter I had was for an unknown mystery lover whom Mrs. Browning wrote to many years ago. Oh! I looked at granddad in amazement, speechless. “Well, do you have a letter for me, or not?”, he insisted. “I have a letter that belonged to certain Mrs. Virginia Browning, but I am quite sure it was not meant for you. She would have been much older than you, and she wrote to her long lost love”. I said, resolutely, not quite knowing myself why I was trying to convince him that the letter was meant for someone else. Surely I didn’t know who it was meant for, why pretend like I do? I sighed. Granddad noticed I was not at ease so he came and sat next to me, pulled the chair towards the kitchen table, looked at me and explained. As he was speaking calm entered the room, not only from his words but the way he was uttering them was filling the space with unusual sense of peace.

“I knew Virginia when I was a young lad, before I married your grandmother. She was much younger than her brother, whom you met earlier I believe. His father married a younger woman after his first wife died, and so Virginia was born many years after George, the brother you met. My family was selling one of our properties at the time, that’s how I got to know her. Virginia and I fell in love but I recklessly went away one summer, to pursue my own career. I was going to come back the year after and marry her but she took my departure as a sort of a goodbye. She was already married by the time I came back. I left a note in her favourite book, the one she read and reread many times, explaining why I had to go and promising I will be back. She must have never seen that note, or else she saw it too late. If you have that letter, it would mean a lot to me to read it, Joan. I loved your grandmother, never doubt that, but Virginia was my first love and I need to see her before…”, he had to fight the tears before he was able to continue speaking. “George told me she is ill, these are her last months or weeks or even days on this earth. I must see her and ask forgiveness. I never meant to let her go, certainly not the way she thought I did.”

Again I could not really think and it was all a bit much for me to take in, but I run to my room and took the letter out of that box. I gazed at it for a few seconds and thought, “how much love must be hidden in these words, half a century of wondering about your once lost love”. I rushed down and handed the letter to granddad. I wanted to go with him, to meet Virginia, to witness their encounter after so many years. But I knew I couldn’t, it was their story and their moment alone to share. I fought back tears myself as I saw him leave the house and hoped and prayed it will not be too late.

© Iva Beranek (Dublin, 25th April 2015)
Photo by © Iva Beranek

The second letter

(sequel to The wrong postbox)

writing-letter-4

The doorbell rang and I saw a gentleman in the black and white suit standing at my door. He looked like he came from 1950’s. Not that he was born then, no. He looked as if he just came out of a car from almost eighty years ago and landed at my door. He was in his 60’s, his manners were distinctively polite and he seemed to smile a lot.

I rubbed my eyes and pinched myself, just to check if I was dreaming, but I wasn’t. Apparently Virginia Browning was his sister and he came to collect a letter that she sent to this address. It was a mix-up. He said she had put the letter into a wrong envelope and so it got sent to the wrong address, never reaching its proper destination. She wrote another letter, which was meant to go elsewhere, and it seems that she has mixed up the envelopes for these two letters.

I was holding one of the letters, I was squeezing it in fact being nervous because of what I just heard and not sure how to talk to someone who came from the past. My hands started to feel watery and the envelope crumpled at my touch. The gentleman had another letter. He opened it and showed it to me. I didn’t really want to read it at this stage but I had no choice:

Dear Mr. B…… (the surname was blurred)

I looked into the matter of selling your house, the one across the river, further from the centre of the town. The family of five decided to buy it, but due to unforeseen circumstances they had to withdraw their offer. I then decided to buy it myself, but I am having trouble reaching you. Every letter I send seems to come back. I will send this one to your aunt, and should it also come back, I will come in person and hand it to you myself.

Yours,

Mrs. Virginia Browning

This letter was intended for my grandfather, who was a young man at the time. I had no idea if the family still owned that house but what did it matter now, I wondered? She must be long gone. Unless… I swallowed a few word before I was able to speak. “And how can I help you, Sir?” He smiled, which was no surprise. “Is your grandfather around?”, he uttered. I wondered if I should say the truth or not, but my words were quicker than my mind and so I responded, “Yes, he is sitting there reading newspapers in front of the house across the street”. The man thanked me and walked over to my grandfather. My grandfather’s face lit up when he saw the gentleman approaching but I have no knowledge as to what they spoke about. The man also forgot to ask for the letter I had, the one his sister wrote to her long lost love. A few unsettled questions formed in my mind, but I soon decided to let them go. I still had no sufficient understanding who this letter was for, nor why it landed at my door. I went into the house, and walked upstairs to my room. I stored the letter in a box. Perhaps at some later stage this mystery will be solved.

© Iva Beranek (Dublin, 24th April 2015)