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. 🙂

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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. 🙂

Bridge

There are certain bridges we should learn to stop crossing back and forth, as they take us to the worst version of what our lives could be. Then there are those scary, almost hidden ones, the ones we hardly ever notice or take into consideration… Who knows what unchartered territories, what world full of options might await on the other side of those bridges, the ones not yet crossed, not yet deemed as worth burning …

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 76

When Paul arrived only a couple of minutes later, Amalia had to wonder whether he hadn’t been in front of her building all along, even when he called her. She barely had time to put on a pair of old jeans and a pink sweater, her face still flushed from the hot bath, her damp hair hanging on her shoulders, emanating the sweet smell of conditioner. Her opening the door like that, looking so natural and her image unencumbered by makeup and carefully chosen outfits had a strong impact on Paul’s imagination and audacity.

Her voice sounded cold and distant when inviting him to have a seat and quickly tell her what his visit was about, and her pretty face was devoid of the usual warm, friendly smile. But Paul wasn’t observant enough to wonder if by any chance that image she put on was nothing more than the socially acceptable mask for such situations; all he knew was that his determination was fading away quickly and he wanted to run away, so her piercing eyes wouldn’t drill any more pits of shame and uncertainty into his soul.

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. 🙂

Lazy Days Reads, Summer/Winter Sale

It’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere and winter in the Southern Hemisphere. This can mean only one thing: it’s time for the 9th annual Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale!

The sale kicks off this Saturday July 1 and runs through end of day July 31.

Each year, tens of thousands of Smashwords authors, publishers and readers participate in this global ebook celebration that offers FREE and deep-discounted ebooks.

Visit the promotional catalog at https://www.smashwords.com/books/category/1/newest/1 Check back frequently because hundreds of new books will join the promotion each week. Coupon codes are clearly marked for participating titles: SW100 for 100% off; SSW75 for 75% off; SSW50 for 50% off; and SSW25 for 25% off.

Readers can browse the catalog and search by coupon code levels and categories.  (The coupon codes only work at Smashwords, not at retailers served by Smashwords.)

In case you enjoyed the sample fragments from Parallel Lives and Glass Slippers and Stilettos by Ana Linden, take advantage and download them for free using the SW100 coupon code during the Smashwords Summer/Winter sale.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/645454

Reviews are welcome and appreciated!

Transient Moments

Every time I go to the mountains I am somehow pulled towards these seemingly insignificant water streams. I could almost say that the sound of undisturbed nature is incomplete without that murmur of rushing waters.

Once in a while, it stares you in the face, the enormous strength and consequences of something apparently so small cannot be denied or ignored. Bit by bit, over what seems an eternity, water droplets have carved their way through impenetrable walls.

There’s nothing else to be done other than admire the force of repetitive transient, apparently insignificant moments.

Fleeting instants and unexpected people walk into our lives and leave it just as fast, like water streams… They occasionally leave indelible marks, the consequences of which we only notice much later. Once we do, we need to accept that nothing can ever be the same.

Local Knowledge

Summer arrived particularly early that year. For us, locals, it felt like a well-deserved, yet unexpected treat. It may not have been my native town, it may not have been that long that I lived there, but I liked to think of myself one of them. Of course, being a student who had to not only survive exams, but actually maintain a certain grade average was something of a drawback… but nothing I couldn’t handle gracefully, I figured.

I’ve never been one to study well in libraries or excessively quiet places, so that early summer weather was a real gift. I could simply go and study on the beach, the sound of the sea drowning all that unwanted noise in my head. It was still too early for tourists to flood the shore, so we had the beaches to ourselves, a few people here and there enjoying the perfect weather, delighting in that sandy peace.

I passed my exams, I managed to get a bit of a tan and the study experience proved to be a lot more enjoyable than I could have ever expected. I certainly had to make a mental note and return to that particular beach the following year, in case the weather was going to be on my side, I decided.

I was quite proud of my little discovery, in fact. Not far enough from home to feel guilty for the time wasted to get there, the place wasn’t completely abandoned. Bur the best part was that the very few people populating it seemed to be single, no screaming children disrupting my study sessions. There were other single young ladies working on their tan and it felt like a stroke of luck to have stumbled upon that place where men seemed to be rather polite and civilized when trying to approach them. I remember being offered drinks a couple of times, but they took my refusal very well and I could just burry myself in my study material again. I didn’t really feel offended that after trying to approach me, one gentleman proceeded to try his luck with another girl – she was gorgeous and I had admired her designer beach bag from the moment she arrived. A while later I lifted my nose from a book and noticed they were both gone.

My friend burst into loud, incontrollable laughter. I really didn’t see why my study experience was such a thigh-slapper.

“I had no idea you were looking for a summer job,” is all he manages to utter between fits of laughter. “So how much did you make,” he wants to know next…

I may not be the blushing kind, but I could feel even my earlobes burn as he imparted his knowledge. Clearly the ladies on that corner of the beach were working, but not only on their tan… on the bright side, I was informed, it was a high-end corner beach. Everything – details I had completely ignored – fell into place. Some strange looks I got while sitting there, in the sun, surrounded by all my study notes started to make sense; some of the guys’ giggles when telling them where I had studied were clearly justified. However, the girls seemed oblivious to it when I later shared my hilarious, yet somewhat embarrassing faux pas. Hmmm…

It may have happened many moons ago, it may look entirely different now, but I still smile when I pass by that place and I remember studying on the beach that early summer. You can know a place… and you can know a place…

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 75

Theirs was the kind of security that can only be reached when two persons have no deep feelings for one another, yet they still choose to be together, to share a common part of their lives and not to ask for more than the other one is willing to offer unconditionally. Neither one of them wanted to say it out loud, but they were both aware that things would most likely continue in a similar manner, unless some tremendously unexpected event broke their routine; and Robert was already at the age when he knew for a fact that there was no room and no tolerance for such an event in his life. However, Amalia was still a variable, not always reliable, not always understanding or understandable, with plans, dreams and a future of her own yet to build, so he would sometimes catch himself being restless when she wouldn’t answer his calls or reach him in any other way for a longer period of time.

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. 🙂

The Order of Things

She had a “cat that ate the canary” look on her face, but I chose to ignore it. I was too tired, too hungry, and the only thing I craved more than food was a cup of coffee. If nothing else, you could always count on her to have a fresh pot handy when she was home.

I blindly reached for a cup, but my fingers wrapped around what turned out to be a wine glass. Nothing was where it was supposed to be and I was pointed to the most illogical place for a coffee cup. She had taken upon herself to reorganize my kitchen cabinets, the way she would have liked them to be. The same way her mother used to do to her… the same way her mother-in-law used to do to her, until they took back the spare key they had so gracefully offered her. Who cares that this is my home, not hers? Who cares that she knew what a nuisance this type of behaviour can be?

As I was being given a tour of my own kitchen, I tried not to choke on the cigarette smoke. Who cares that I’m not a smoker?

“Do you like it?”

I hate it.

“It’s fine. It was fine before too…”

I was a student and it was the first time my mother was visiting me, in my own home. Of course I wanted everything to be perfect… as close to perfect as it could be on a student’s budget. Sure, everything was old, but I took pride in how spotless and tidy the place was. I had worked really hard to get it in such a decent shape. But I didn’t feel like arguing after the long day I had had, considering everything I still had to do that evening.

“Did you go out today?”

“No, I was waiting for you to come back. Do you really have to spend this much time at the university, even when I’m here?”

Ok… just let it go… breathe and ignore her… one more sip of coffee… you can do this…

“Well?…” She gestured widely around the kitchen, clearly waiting for some sort of comment.

Well, what?

“Have you nothing to say about all the work I had to do for you today?”

I knew that tone of voice. Just breathe, choose your battles.

“Oh, you mean the cabinets… thanks, it was very kind of you, but you really shouldn’t have bothered.”

“The cabinets? Is that all you have to say? I break my back for you and that’s the thanks I get, you don’t even notice… you and that husband of mine, two peas in a pod, just taking me for granted.”

I looked around carefully, only to notice that aside from a heavy cloud of cigarette smoke and some dirty dishes in the sink, the kitchen was just as I left it. Then she angrily grabs at the old fridge, pulling it aside.

“Can’t you see I cleaned behind the fridge,” the voice is shrill, bordering on hysterical.

Forgive me for not using my X-ray vision… and for being one of those few deranged people who don’t go looking behind the fridge, first thing when they get home. But most of all, sorry for not generally noticing you cleaned a place that had already been scrubbed clean and disinfected only one day earlier. And that was only the second day from a three week visit…

Those who know me, tease me about being a neat freak… but I’m nothing compared to the neat freak my mother used to be. Whenever this tendency of mine seams to take an unhealthy turn, I remember her scrubbing the spaces between the tiles with a tooth brush when I was child. That will never be me.

Many things have changed since that visit of hers. Many things will forever stay the same. She no longer cares about having a spotless home; but she bitterly criticizes everybody else. I no longer care about her approval, but I do tend to go overboard when expecting her for a visit. I do eventually manage to step back, take a deep breath and say to myself, “The hell with it, nothing will ever please her anyway.” Last autumn, just before her impending visit, I had that revelation while polishing the exterior of my entrance door. The following day, she was waiting for me to find my keys in my bag, while noticing my neighbour’s door.

“What’s wrong with these people? Don’t they know the door is the first thing one notices about their home?”

“Don’t you know that’s possibly the last thing anybody cares about?”

I smile and she smiles back, because she chooses to consider such comments part of my strange sense of humour, cynical ways.

Many of us spare no effort in our endeavours to change that often perverted order of things, where we become our parents. Difficult as it may be, it is doable; and it can often be a great self-control mechanism. Yet it can only go so far… Certain things are beyond our control, I realize while staring at a recent photo of my mother. Tired and in a foul mood, with no makeup on, she looks exactly like my grandmother when she was about her age. So I wonder… as the years go by, will I end up hating my reflection in the mirror, simply because I might feel my face belongs to somebody else more than it does to me?… All I can hope for – worst case scenario –is to only ever see that reflection in a mirror, and not when the two of us are face to face.

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 74

“Last time I saw her, we went to a concert. It was winter, freezing cold, and the concert was outside. Guess what band was playing! I envy you, you’re still at that age, when you can bear the cold of a winter day in the mountains just to be close to a particular person, because that’s all you need to make your blood boil.”

“I am? Was I ever at that kind of an age?”

He wasn’t listening to her.

“Then we went back to her place. Her parents were home, but they were sleeping, so we could easily sneak in. We sat next to the heaters and drank hot tea to warm up, then we made love. For the last time, as it turned out. She was quiet, which left room to start telling her how I wanted to leave my wife and have her live with me. The only thing she did was point to a ring on her finger. She was engaged, she said. She was engaged, after having given me this speech about not believing in marriage; she was engaged, and he had only proposed to her once; the very same woman who had turned me down so many times…”

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. 🙂