About Ana Linden

"Parallel Lives" by Ana Linden Enjoy the sample fragments from the book and all the other miscellaneous thoughts and opinions!

Scale

In response to WP Weekly Photo Challenge – Scale.

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Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 89

“See… I told you this would be worth it… My sweet…”

Amalia covered his mouth with her lips again, smothering words she refused to hear, feelings that she had deemed as fake even before they had a chance to be uttered or perceived, an aberration of nature and logic in her mind. We’re all about sex, why do you need this make-believe? Why act as though you need to trick me into something I obviously want to do willingly?

The rest of the night would become one of her fondest memories, one of the deepest expressions of forgetfulness and ecstasy, self-discovery and renewal. The moment Adam gently sat her down on the bed, endeavouring in taking off each piece of her clothing with sensual touches and kisses was the instant Amalia transcended to a different dimension, one where she could share both happiness and control with the man touching her. Nothing mattered. Not his past, not her present, not their future. Their bodies knew just one moment in time, when nothing else existed, and that moment was theirs alone.

If you want to read Parallel Lives, click on any of the following links: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 88

One dull November evening, Amalia kissed him. Without any warning, without having planned it, without even knowing for sure what she wanted, one evening she stopped thinking, she just reacted. He was bringing her home after a night out with friends, he had stopped in front of her building, but she didn’t get out of the car, waiting for him to finish his sentence. The moment his voice died out, Amalia turned her head towards him, she was thinking of telling him goodnight, but then she saw him, the way he was looking her right in the eyes, half smiling, polite, but clearly ardent, uninhibited, unafraid. That’s when she realised the only thing she could do was place her right hand on the back of his neck and just kiss him, while his arm was already pulling her close to him. She had no idea about it, but she was half smiling too; as she was getting out of the car, a glimpse of her face in the side mirror reflected an expression very similar to his.

The sensation of that dreary November night would follow her like a sweet ghost for a long time afterwards – a dear friend she thought so fondly about, wondering at times whether she would ever forget it or manage to overcome it. That kiss had changed something, an undeniable fact that couldn’t be overlooked and Amalia was aware of it, but also somewhat indifferent to it. I can find a parking space… You could invite me upstairs… The woman shifted on the comfortable sofa, still looking at the flowers and smiling at the not so distant memory of little things.

If you want to read Parallel Lives, click on any of the following links: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 87

November was different. November was difficult. November was lonely. And November was Adam. From the very beginning, the twice divorced, arrogant, intriguing and highly annoying man triggered a very instinctive defence mechanism, possibly without either one of them being aware of it. He was wrong for her, that was her initial instinct, one she didn’t doubt. Then, as she got to know him better, she realised they were actually wrong for each other; and then, in November, he told her that exactly because they were so wrong for each other, exactly because it seemed such a bad idea, the two of them together would probably be such a great fit, such an opportunity for happiness. Yes, we would most likely destroy each other, but think about how great we’d be together, how happy we would be until then. And maybe we can be clever enough to get out of it just in time. If anybody could, that would certainly be us.

If you want to read Parallel Lives, click on any of the following links: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Layered Emotions

“I don’t want any apartment plants, they’re just not my thing.”

That was my usual go-to reply whenever somebody wondered why there were no plants in my home. “I’m not good at taking care of them, I have neither the time nor the patience to keep them alive,” I would continue, if they insisted.

That was the easiest way of avoiding a conversation on a topic that was somewhat unclear to me too. I liked decorative plants. Yet I knew I didn’t want them in my home.

Frustrated and tired, I was walking fast towards the exit of the large store – one of my last hopes of finding the perfect curtain rail. I was in the middle of renovating and redecorating, and it was more exhausting than I had initially imagined. They were all either the wrong size, or the wrong colour, or the wrong shape, or the wrong price. I was obsessing over curtain rails, the same way I had been obsessing over each and every little detail, when I stopped abruptly in front of a 50% off shelf. I picked the small colourful pot with a small cactus, instantly wanting to take it home with me.

It seemed perfectly healthy, I thought while carefully placing it in the cup holder in my car. The moment I saw that prickly thing on that depressing shelf, I felt just the energy boost I needed. For a second, I could see it clearly, where I would place it and how it would look, once the renovations would be over, when everything would be the way I wanted it. It helped me see the bigger picture, the one that was going to be worth all the stress and effort. For that, it deserved to be given a proper home, especially since it seemed like it was just what mine needed.

It grew quite a bit ever since (for a cactus) and it now has little ones… because the truth is, I’m not really terrible with plants. I never have been. I do like them and I do enjoy taking care of them… even if there have been a few green casualties over the years.

Detaching certain activities from certain people and the memories they bring up is not always easy, or even possible. It can take years. Or years may not be enough and we may never get there.

I grew up in a home where decorative plants were treated better than people. I was always shocked when hearing my grandmother talk to her potted plants, not because I thought it strange, but merely because I never heard her use such a warm, affectionate tone towards a human being. I must have been 8 or 9 when I caught myself feeling jealous of a cactus – what was I supposed to do to deserve such attention, such praise?

Nevertheless, plants and people weren’t all that different for her. They were all things she could show off. When a plant wasn’t as impressive as she would have liked it to be or one of her friends had a better looking version of it, said plant would be given away. They may have received her kindest words, but her care for them was erratic and shallow, I eventually realised. Large plants were never repotted, it was too much effort; but they were placed strategically, where they could be seen and appreciated. Small plants were constantly being moved in larger and larger pots, because she was convinced that was all they needed to grow faster and prettier. Only years later, when I started caring for my own decorative plants, did it occur to me that she never fertilized them. As for the one that incurred my childish jealousy… that was her favourite one. The very old, very large cactus didn’t go with anything, but it was her pride and joy; and as a result, it got dragged in a nice, cosy spot in the living room, right by the door. Nobody could miss it… except for the sun light.

We give up too many small pleasures because of the negative experiences with which they’re associated. Sometimes we give up entire pieces of ourselves. Digging through the layers and layers of pain, memories, healed scars and bleeding wounds form our past may lead to some pleasant moments and experiences they might be suffocating.

This morning I picked two cherry tomatoes and put them in a ball with the ones from previous days. My small gardening experiment amused me over the summer. Looking at the cherry tomatoes, I picture my great-grandmother and I can hear her laugh at them and then at me, joking at my expense. As a child, I would visit her in the country and she would teach me all sorts of things about gardening. When I wanted to have a small patch of ground for my own flower garden, she lectured me on the waste of time in growing something you can’t eat, but then taught me how to plant bulbs and care for them, so I’d get the flowers I wanted. She would mutter about it, but I knew that caring for the small flower patch between my visits was something she enjoyed doing for me.

She’d call me crazy for growing cherry tomatoes in flower pots outside my window and we would laugh together. She would probably find the mini herb garden acceptable and useful. She would call my orchids and other decorative plants an atrocious waste of time and space, then she’d point out which ones need more attention. Plants and humans had some things in common for her too – they needed to be constantly cared for in order to thrive and she could generally see them for what and who they really were.

Peeling off those layers (when possible to do so) is often a lot more painful than letting them build up and suffocate certain pieces of what used to be…

Structure, Restructure

I leant over the small fence, resting and taking in the view. My feet and I were no longer on speaking terms, but it wasn’t really as bad as I had feared.

Once I no longer had to focus on breathing and on stepping the right way, memories and thoughts started bubbling in my mind, all at once.

I looked at the tents spread a few metres below me, trying to remember when I last slept in something like that. I was still in my teens. Look at them, they seem such feeble structures… yet they were the epitome of shelter and safety during those trips of ours. In many ways, I was a creature of comfort, even as a child; and nights spent in a tent didn’t quite go with that part of me.

Looking at them now, I experience a different kind of gratitude and satisfaction, this time deriving from knowing I don’t have to make that compromise anymore. Sure, we used to have fun back then – we were together and we were escaping… That was it, the escape… That’s why climbing the mountain, the hike itself, were less satisfying now than I remembered them being back then.

It wasn’t an age thing. Anything that wasn’t home, anything that allowed us to detach ourselves from our families and everyday lives was bliss. For a while, we were in a different universe. We could pretend we wouldn’t go back. We could attempt to believe in freedom and convince ourselves and each other that everything was possible. After all, why shouldn’t it be? If we could push our boundaries like that, if we could conquer and survive nature, then nothing could stand in our way.

My mind went blank this time too, the same way it did back then, allowing all my resources to focus on the physical effort. Not thinking of anything was comforting, but not in the same way. Now I was calm; back then, I felt such a rush simply by not thinking of anything anymore… But now I don’t need to forget about going back home, there’s nothing scary waiting for me behind the locked door. Now it truly is a trip, not an escape. This time I feel like I’m travelling, not running away without looking back.

Those feeble tents made for good shelter, in spite of all their uncomfortable features. We were resilient too, and if we had to, we could look after ourselves – occasionally, even after each other. Our dysfunctional families were what we had in common. Only now do I realize how dangerous some of our escapades had been. Our parents rarely knew what we were up to, and most of the time we were sure we preferred it that way. But did we, really? You can do whatever you want, as long as you don’t ask for money. You can have all the money you want and do as you please, as long as you aren’t in the way. You can do whatever you want, as long as you get good grades. You can do whatever you want, as long as you keep up appearances and don’t embarrass the family with scandalous behaviour. Each one of us received their freedom at certain costs, and we chose to enjoy it together, because we understood and supported one another.

Then we started choosing our own paths, building on those shaky foundations, structuring our beliefs and characters. So we grew apart, because dysfunction was no longer enough. When constructive, destructive and self-destructive tendencies manifest themselves within each and every one of us, often all at once, while we struggle to find our way, it takes more than dysfunction, we need to have more than that in common. Or at least that was the case for us.

You get much clearer a perspective from that place, thinking back and appreciating the present. I take the Sprite bottle my friend got me. I don’t normally have fizzy drinks, but I wanted something sweet, something I would have liked back then. The two of us remained close and in our own personal, very different ways, we found some sort of balance. The kids we were would be pleased with the adults we are, I realize while staring at the forest, the mountains and the tents of past, present and future. We may not have kept in touch with the others, but these days one finds out things even without trying. So we know that some of them followed in their parents’ footsteps, no matter how much they hated the perspective back then. They now have dysfunctional families and children of their own, who try to escape. Dysfunctionality breeds dysfunctionality. Some are somehow frozen, unable to be self-sufficient, constantly relying on their families or partners for support. Some lead normal, average lives, somewhere in the middle, completely ignored by certain people, utterly envied by others, depending on perspective.

We all failed, we all succeeded, it just depends on the moment and the point of view. But what I think we could all agree upon, if we were to meet around another camp fire, sharing stories and dreams, is that the stability we silently craved is one shaky, complex and tricky structure, that constantly needs to be propped up.

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 86

A car drove past them, heading the other way, the driver’s side close enough to her so she could see the driver quite well. Just a man in the car, the driver by himself, and Amalia’s heart was racing, although she stopped breathing for a few seconds, almost unaware that she was looking back, her head turned for several moments, until the dark car disappeared in the pink morning light.

*

“Did you have a nice weekend? Relaxing? Fun?”

“I did, yes… all of the above. How about you?”

“Oh… so did I… Can’t complain, I kept busy.”

Their shrewd smiles were the same and none of them could penetrate the thoughts behind the other’s eyes. They had noticed one another on the quiet road, in the pink morning light, heading their opposite ways, but none of them was going to give in and ask anything. Lives go on serenely and separately, as they always do.

If you want to read Parallel Lives, click on any of the following links: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Parallel Lives Sample Fragment 85

“You get used to one woman, you get used to not even thinking or wanting others and all of the sudden you realize that was something you didn’t really choose to do, you just followed the steps you had been told time and time again that you need to take, because that’s what life is. You find a woman, a good woman, you love her if possible, she definitely loves you, you get married, have children, you provide for them while she takes care of them and there you have it: life.”

“Is that not what you want anymore?”

“Sure it is, I wouldn’t give that up for the world, but what about the rest? That’s not all there is too life, I tried to talk myself into believing that, but…”

If you want to read Parallel Lives, click on any of the following links: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Distracting Windows

There’s something about windows… Whenever I’m in a new place, just wondering about and taking in the sights and architecture, I often get distracted from the big picture. My eyes fixate on windows and I find myself wondering what it would be like to live behind some of them. I lost count of all those times I bumped into people, looking up distracted, ignoring everything and everyone around.

Then there’s the other side of the window…

Do you ever get the feeling that there are certain people meant to inhabit that ground floor flat, the one closest to the entrance, with the best view of everybody entering and leaving the building?… I wonder, have they always been that sort of people and their choice of a home is merely an extension of their personality… or is it always location, location, location, and they morphed into the neighbourhood busybody exactly because of it? They always know who you date, what time you got home, from where and with whom, yet somehow they never notice who dinged your car… It’s all about prioritising, I suppose.

Everywhere I lived, in every building I visited several times, they were there, and they never failed to make themselves noticed. I remember the one living in the building I grew up in… and all the ways I had to invent in order to get in and out at the wrong hours, without being noticed. I tell you, it was not an easy job. Getting home late in the evening generally went unnoticed by my grandmother. But another pair of curious eyes would see and report as soon as possible… and god forbid I made my grandmother look bad in front of the neighbours. So what’s a kid to do? Well, nothing else but come home even later, making sure that said lady was sound asleep by that time.

There was no way of escaping them, I concluded a few years ago, when I was contemplating moving. I eventually found a place that was tempting. A couple of visits with the real-estate agent brought him, the ground floor guy, out of hiding. When looking out the window failed to provide enough information on the newcomer, he went out in the garden, blatantly staring at the windows of that flat. To his great delight, we were on the balcony, so his curiosity was appeased. I remember driving to that building the following day, wanting to take one more look without the agent before making my final decision. Parked in what would have become my parking space, I was analysing everything, weighing the pros and cons. The head eventually stopped peering from behind the curtain… because the neighbour decided to come in front of the building to nosily stare at the car and whoever dared to trespass on his “personal” space. Did I really want to live right above this person?… Well, that wasn’t the deciding factor, but it certainly weighed heavily.

Summer is a busy time for one of my current downstairs neighbours, and the good old window and that pulled aside curtain corner are working overtime… so much so, that she even leaves her door slightly open once in a while. The window is just not enough. She may be the keeper of all neighbourhood gossip, but she isn’t among the most obnoxious ones, so I find it easy to tolerate her whenever I fail to avoid her. Hurrying by the open door, I realise I’ve never been too curious to know what life is like behind it… and that’s because the woman living there never fails to overshare. Furthermore, her endless, indiscrete inquiries make people want to keep their distance. Ironically, what most likely is the consequence of loneliness and a need of human contact, is also what prevents her from getting close to anybody.

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 84

The brisk air and the slight noise the motion of the waves propagated in the winter night impressed their awakening effect on the senses, making urges grow stronger, feelings and thoughts becoming almost palpable in the shallow obscurity of the seashore. Possibilities and desires are the only relevant matters at such a time, especially if one manages to overcome doubts and anxiety. Amalia finally felt like she could breathe the salty air and appreciate the company of the man next to her, tearing herself apart from all comparisons, from past and future, from her own judgemental ideas, values and expectations, and just let the course of events determine her state of mind. Some young women are all too aware of the futility of their charms and of the steep, degrading passage of time, so they find the strength and the ability to break apart from the world and simply enjoy the euphoria one experiences when a man they somewhat value becomes their sweet victim, even in such instances when feelings are not mutual.

If you want to read Parallel Lives, click on any of the following links: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 83

People hide from the truth in the most intriguing and senseless corners of their mind. Paul was one of those perfectly able to deny any of the facts his soul and character were not able to bear, avoiding coping with so many things that might have to change his vision of life. He would hold on to some statement or idea, acting as though that was what conferred it a value of truth, refusing to assimilate anything that might compromise the vision that kept him going. Yet he openly accepted Amalia, somewhat aware that she would most likely shake all his beliefs to the core, some perverted, masochistic side of his ego indulging in the anticipation of the coming struggle.

If you want to read Parallel Lives, click on any of the following links: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 82

Such different people, such different concepts, Amalia stopped to ponder. On the one hand, you have a woman who is loved for who she is by her somewhat limited husband, but nobody expects her to have a mind, a life or an identity of her own outside the family; and she herself has no desire for such things. On the other hand, you have the wife of an intelligent, successful, worldly man, who has all the freedom she desires as long as she maintains the appearance of the proper marriage, simply because her husband couldn’t care less about her, as she is merely a commodity. Neither one of these situations is one to be desired by a woman, Amalia thought, and the saddest part is that theirs are actually two of the better marriages as far as the treatment of women is concerned.

If you want to read Parallel Lives, click on any of the following links: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 81

Mounds of snow on either side of the road were threatening to roll over the car and suffocate them in their walking sleep. We’re awake, but we’re sleepwalking, otherwise I would feel so much more… But the man carefully manipulating the vehicle on the frozen snow appeared to experience an entire array of emotions, anything but lethargy.

The metal vehicle felt like a pleasant, warm and protective cocoon, offering shelter from the snow building up on either side of the road. Their warm breaths and the slow movement of the car were the almost magic foundation for illusory closeness. The man was obviously happy and nervous with incredulous hopes for their future, full of secret desire to shape an alternative universe just for him and her. His struggle was obvious, pleasing and heart-warming, yet incapable to call forth any deeper sentiment or attraction as far as his companion was concerned.

If you want to read Parallel Lives, click on any of the following links: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 80

There were still hidden corners to Robert’s personality, his ability to pleasantly surprise a woman not being one of those traits easily noticeable about him. However rarely it might happen, certain men can create a much more special context simply because of the fact they present a certain value as human beings; timing moments when small gestures can make a split second seem pleasantly endless being one or their rare gifts.

Being proven wrong after having underestimated such a man can be one of the sweetest defeats a young woman might experience.

If you want to read Parallel Lives, click on any of the following links: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 79

Some people are only meant to fill a void in someone’s existence; and that someone tends to generally be considered cold-hearted, selfish and abusive, when in fact most of us display the same type of behaviour, but more or less cleverly disguised under various pretexts and transparent, yet acceptable sentiments. As far as those people are concerned, they are mainly interchangeable. It’s not the individual that makes a difference and is actually appreciated, but the role they play, the tasks they carry out, the certain egocentric needs they might fulfil. In spite of them being generally nice, harmless people, they cannot offer anything more, they present the same shallow traits of character, no real personality of their own and an exceptional ability to accept and do anything without any matter of pride, as they generally have none. And ironically enough, if allowed to gravitate as harmless parasites around those selfish, cold-hearted, strong minded individuals, they tend to actually reach their full potential; whereas when they deal with their peers, they sink deeper and deeper in oblivion, laziness and narrow-mindedness, often becoming cruel torturers, virtual prison guards to those who decide to share a life with them.

If you want to read Parallel Lives, click on any of the following links: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 78

She stands still, looking around, never moving, never changing. People leave. People change. New people always arrive, so they would take their turn leaving sooner or later. And they live and die, they experience a constant transformation. Yet she transcends stages of life without moving, because she cannot undertake the usual, normal human evolutionary path and follow it through the same ditches of failure and disappointment. So she stands still, most of the times alone, breathing steadily and sometimes stopping someone to keep her company, help her forget fear and loneliness and hatred… and just trying to live.

If you want to read Parallel Lives, click on any of the following links: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 77

Paul avoided looking her in the eyes, just staring at the rug in the middle of the room. All he could see of her were the bare feet, the bright red nail polish on her toe nails contrasting with her skin, making him completely unable to focus on anything else. Those bare feet made it all so private, so intimate, he had intruded upon a part of her life that he had no idea about; and all he wanted was to see more of it, to intrude even more, to see her running around her apartment in her bare feet and her freshly washed hair dripping on her shoulders, not the way he normally saw her, on her high heels, with a proper hairdo.

Then the conflict finally struck him: he came there exactly because of the perfect hairdo, the high heels and the nicely matched outfits, that’s what weaved the spell in the first place; and now he had forgotten all about that, just wanting to conquer every little corner of that part of her life he hadn’t even thought about before. He didn’t know why he was there anymore, what he was hoping to accomplish, since she showed no feeling; annoyance was all that her face expressed from the moment she opened the door. So why? And what? And how? He started feeling as though he was chocking with fear and shame.

If you want to read Parallel Lives, click on any of the following links: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂