🙂 Tuesday is upon us once again!! Let the #Blogbattle begin!!
#BlogBattle is a weekly short story challenge using a single word for inspiration. Hosted by the talented Rachael Ritchey. Feel free to join in, or click here to read the current week’s stories and vote for your favorites.
This week’s word: Fallow (yep…had to look it up, several times 🙂 )
People often referred to Liam as a recluse. He would just nod his head in agreement, no need trying to explain yourself when a person has already judged and labeled you. No, he wasn’t a recluse, he just likes his solitude. He lives alone, with no family in the area, he works, and spends time in his studio painting. Over the years he found that too much going out for the sake of just going out, was a distraction that interrupted his creative flow. He had a goal. He was working on getting enough material together so that he could have his own showing at the local art gallery.
He works at a job that he tolerates enough so that he has a place to call home and a separate place to do his painting. His home isn’t anything fancy, it’s actually a second floor, one bedroom condo, just right for him. He’s happy with where he is in life and where he is headed. Then one day it all went down in flames…literally. It was an accident, caused by one of the other tenants in the building. Luckily, everyone escaped unharmed, but they lost everything. He was so grateful that all his paintings and supplies were in a different location, but still, losing all your earthly possessions, sure does knock you off balance.
It’s been months since he has been able to paint. Even after finding another place to live, and replacing some of his creature comforts, he just can’t seem to find inspiration. That is why he took some time off, and is now spending it in a little cabin in the woods by the lake. Getting out into nature should help him snap out of this funk.
After a good nights sleep, and his first morning there, he begins his trek through the wooded forest, anticipating the burst of colors that arrive every fall. He stays on the designated paths for the most part, but at one point he decides to veer off, and go deeper into the forest, hoping to catch a glimpse of some of the wildlife, maybe a fallow deer. With each step he takes into the crisp cool air, relishing each natural sound that reverberates in his soul, he feels the muddledness of his mind break away piece by piece. Walking towards the lake, he takes in each detail that surrounds him. He makes a mental note to return to the lake to experience the rising and setting of the sun. Looking out towards the horizon, he can picture what it just might look like. Now, the sun is brightly shining off the smooth calmness of the water, he returns to the path that would take him back to his cabin. In the distance he can hear a rhythmic sound of footfalls on the graveled path, it was a unique steady rhythm, nothing clumsy about it at all, determined actually. It reminded him of a reggae beat with an emphasis on the first and third note. As if hypnotized by the sound, he finally looks up and sees a beautiful woman jogging towards him, ear buds in her ears, the swaying of her copper pony tail perfectly in sync with the drumming of her feet. The sun shining down on her highlights strands of shimmering gold nestled in a sea of ginger, and when she looks at him, it’s as if he was looking into a tropical ocean. She keeps her steady pace as she moves past him with a dazzling smile, and a slight wave of her hand, she continues down the path.
That evening he decides to sit by the lake to take in the sunset, and to enjoy the unseasonably warm temperatures. It was then that he notices she must have had the same idea. A little ways down the shoreline he can see her sitting in a folding chair, sipping on a beverage. He stands there unsure wondering if he should approach her or not. Just then she looks up and when she sees him, she raises her arm to wave, then motions for him to join her.
He walks over to where she is sitting. She reaches out her hand to introduce herself, “Hi, I’m Dahlia.”
“Hello Dahlia, I’m Liam, nice to meet you.” He sits down on the ground next to her, with his knees bent, he rests his arms on them.
They talk for hours. He tells her about losing everything in the fire, how it has affected him and the problem he is having trying to find the right inspiration to paint. Dahlia tells him that she is on somewhat of a healing retreat, physically and emotionally. She needed this time after a tumultuous relationship with her ex-boyfriend and the accident that left her without a left leg from the knee down. Just then she stretches out her leg, and he sees her prosthesis.
“Dahlia, boy do I feel like a jerk. Here I am going on and on about me losing just stuff, when you have dealt with losing part of your leg.”
She laughs and waves him off, “How were you to know? But just like you I had to move forward, and I am determined not to let it slow me down.” She says with a confident grin.
The conversation stops as the last bit of the sun sets over the horizon. Reluctantly, he returns to his cabin, however, believing he has found his muse.
There is no way he can sleep now after spending the evening with such an incredible person. Besides, his creativity has lain fallow long enough. He works well into the early morning hours, but yet he feels energized, alive!! Finally!!
When he sees her on the path, he briefly jogs along side her, not wanting to break her stride and asks her to stop by later that evening. She agrees without losing pace.
When she arrives, the table is set and he has a stew simmering on the stove.
“You made me dinner.” She says with more appreciation in her voice than surprise.
“Oh…yeah…well we need to eat.” He says with a shrug. “But this is what I wanted you to see.”
He shows her the painting, it’s her. Standing by the lake. She steps closer to take in every detail. He steps back to give her room, silently praying that it doesn’t freak her out. She looks back at him and says, “Liam, it’s beautiful.” Then turns away before he can see the tears forming in her eyes. Is that how he actually sees me? Her past and the accident made her feel anything but beautiful.
As if reading her mind, he says, “Dahlia, you’re beautiful. You have inspired me. I can see the difference in my work, the colors, the details, are so much more vibrant. This dinner was my way of thanking you. You’ll never know what you have done for me.” He steps in front of her and wraps his arms around her and pulls her in a hug then whispers in her ear, “Thank you.”
“No, thank you Liam,” she says holding unto him, as if his tight embrace would put all her broken pieces back together.
© 2015 Carrie Ann