First came the fever.
Then – a few days later – came nausea and vomit, followed by swift hospitalization.
Then – a few hours later – came death. Continue reading “Wasted”
Happy New Year, everyone! But is it, though? Has anything really changed overnight? For the better, I mean…
Much as I try, I cannot shake the feeling that we’re trying too hard to put 2020 behind us. I can certainly understand the need for a fresh start and the hope for a better future. I share them. What vexes me is the senseless desire to “forget”, as well as the strange belief that everything will not only change, but go back to the way it used to be “before”.
Forgetting means repeating the same mistakes over and over again. And… maybe I got something wrong… but wasn’t what we’d been doing “before” exactly what brought us where we are now, to this place we dread and desperately try to escape? I’m sorry, but I don’t think we learned our 2020 lessons… not all of them and not all of us, at least.
Right… deep breath… it’s neither the time nor the place for yet another rant, much as I feel like one. Instead, I’d rather thank our lovely Lens Artists hosts for keeping us together and helping us in our efforts to stay sane and creative in 2020 (Tina is hosting this week’s challenge – Favourite Images of 2020). Continue reading “2020 Moments”
I seem to be lacking words of wisdom right now… even traditional sweet clichés are somewhat difficult to string together, because the year that just came to an end was anything but typical. So I’m only going to say this… if we can’t find it in ourselves to do anything for others, to accept we are part of society (whether we like it or not), at least let’s make our own lives easier and better by thinking of the bigger picture. For once, the common good is undeniably our own personal gain as well.
A happy, healthy, and if possible sane and fulfilling New Year to all of you and your loved ones! Stay safe by keeping others safe too!
Happy and safe holidays, everyone! Merry Christmas!
Christmas Eve used to be for decorating the Christmas tree. Now my artificial tree sits in its corner, nicely trimmed, for over two weeks. Different place, different times, different traditions. But back then, I couldn’t wait for my mother to arrive, usually on December 23rd; and in my very young mind, the fact that we had to decorate the tree together on the 24th was somehow a promise that she would always be there for Christmas.
The two day trip was as close as you can get to an out of body experience, a step towards something else that resembled readjustment, more than change. The drive back home takes forever when all you want is to finally be by yourself, so you can analyze and categorize all aspects of a new experience. Closeness becomes overbearing, and indulging in another person’s company all of the sudden turns into an ordeal. Sex tends to bring people together, all the barriers or propriety and privacy are expunged and such devouring closeness allows for no personal space. Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 55”
Amalia slowly climbed in bed opposite to him, her long legs stretched on top of his, his fingers finally touching her, taking their time, moving gently higher and higher, until their warmth would finally settle on the white flash of her thigh, between the stockings’ line and the lace panties. The lust in their eyes became a comprehensive language, as words were now obsolete. The young woman allowed him to unhook her stockings and remove them slowly, with experienced moves, one by one, followed by the garter belt. Without looking away from her even for a moment, he picked up her shoes, his eyes inquiring, “Can you put them back on?” Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 54”
She had been right from the beginning, she had read him well after all.
Such a predictable character when it comes to what he’s hoping to get from me, to what he wants me to be.
So he was a cliché from some points of view; but wasn’t she one as well, with her sexy outfit on, trying to be elegant at the same time?
Certain instances, certain feelings and emotions are classic, not cliché… and so are certain behavioural types, she thought, we repeat timeless actions and we fail to see how new we are to them and how jaded it all is on the outside. Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 53”
And they both drink their burning courage, hoping to be able to remain true to themselves and provide each other with all the fulfillment craved.
“To you and I,” whispered Amalia, carefully setting the empty glass on the nightstand by his side of the bed.
“You’re amazing… I can’t believe the way you look, I never dreamt of something quite this spectacular.” Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 52”
Those eyes will wonder from the stiletto heels, upwards on the long, graceful legs, even more enticing in black stockings; they will linger hungrily on the garter belt and on the lace panties and they will take their time, being thankful for the tight corset, sending a distinct message to the tip of the fingers which almost feel it, anticipating the moment when they would struggle to tear it off the woman’s body; they will feel the heat of the body, as they focus on the whole image of the sensual woman standing a few metres away, the white flesh contrasting with the sexy black lingerie, her soft, long hair covering her shoulders and her naked back. The happiness becomes complete when those eyes meet another pair of long lashed, desire filled eyes which mirror the same wishes and carnal promises for the moments to follow. Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 51”
“I thought it’s more of a whisky night, rather than wine. What do you think?” Robert almost yelled as soon as he heard the bathroom door open.
“Pour me a glass too.”
She entered the room and everything was quiet again. Words were unnecessary, his lustful smile was enough for both of them. There is a certain gratification in having imagined what the unseen would be like and then discover it is even better than expected. It was worth waiting. Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 50”
He had already planned to have a quick look thorough that bag when she’d be in the shower, but he hadn’t thought about the fact that she would need it exactly then. Never mind, everybody’s tricks would become clear soon. After closing the terrace doors and the curtains covering the windows, Robert lay down on the bed, pulling the hotel bathrobe, so that he would maintain a certain amount of decency, absently watching TV while waiting for her to finish with the bath. Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 49”
“Breath-taking, isn’t it?”
“Maybe, but it needs a river or a lake, water of some sort, it’s just out of balance.”
Was she serious? What kind of an answer was that?
“I think there’s a few streams of water hidden away out there, some creeks, maybe even a river.” Continuing what seemed to be her joke was the only thing to be done, after all.
“But you can’t see them. That doesn’t help much, does it?”
“Yes it does, it’s fun to think about the things you can’t see and then discover them one by one, see if you were right in the first place.” Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 48”
Out on the generous terrace or their room, Amalia was struck by a lazy image of mountain peaks, dark forests and what looked like little toy houses scattered around, following no distinct pattern. It was almost dark and she could guess more than actually see their shape, while trying to relax, leaning against the banister and breathing the dry, cool mountain air. People find such things extraordinary, she thought, but she was not one of them. Of course, the view was nice and the smell of the fir trees reminded her of Christmas, but try as she might, the reason for which such a view, such a place subdued and amazed people was just out of her grasp. There’s nothing special about it, it’s just nice and fun, she thought, but not at all out of the ordinary… But is it just the mountains? Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 47”
“So… how did you like dinner?”
“Nice place, good food, just the way it was supposed to be.”
Back in the hotel room, without the escape route of random conversation about scenery, restaurants, people in the mountain town and all other miscellaneous things tourists use to keep themselves occupied, the two of them couldn’t avoid the obvious reason for their being there and a bridge needed to be forged between what they had been thus far and what they needed to be that night. Avoiding any sort of physical intimacy or closeness up to that point might have been a mistake and a way to remedy it had to be reached immediately; but a solution didn’t appear to be at hand, as they both seemed slightly uncomfortable and out of place. Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 46”
She was terribly amused by the new him… or was this actually the old him, the one he was a long time before they ever had the chance to meet? The two tourists were finally at ease with each other and the remaining part of the day was a nice promise for them both.
And tourists they were. The other’s life is a territory one cannot and does not want to explore to its full extent, as the intricate paths of thought and feeling and the prosaic everyday dramas are just the inherent death of any sort of magic that might have sparked an interest in the first place. The tourist is looking for the perpetual delight of uncharted territories – many have been there before, but what really counts is their own discovery, the thrill of the experience. Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 45”
A very new kind of euphoria took over as a first consequence of pressure disappearing in Robert’s case. He wanted to experience everything with her, he wanted to share the beautiful place, to show her new olfactory, visual and taste stimuli. He wanted to make her a part of everything he had always valued about the picturesque towns in the mountains. Nostalgia about times gone by would be nothing now, compared to everything he wanted to make her a part of for that day. The mountains were for him what the sea was for her. So that’s who he is when he doesn’t doubt himself anymore… And that’s who he is when he forgets who he is supposed to be… And I am the reason for this transformation, it’s happening because he knows now that I’ve accepted him. The sense of empowerment and the loss of any insecurity of her own were sublime. Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 44”
“I know of it, my mother used to come here with an old boyfriend of hers. I hear the place is pretty great.”
“I’m sorry. I’m such a dick… I had no idea, believe me.”
“How could you have known? I didn’t even know this place still existed.”
“We can go somewhere else, if you want. Anyway, I assume it used to be different back then, they have refurbished, almost rebuilt the entire place a couple of years ago.”
“It’s fine, don’t worry. I’m sure it’ll be nice.” Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 42”
The few hours stolen away from them by the drive to the mountain resort felt different than their other drives together. They talked some more, they inquired some more, trying to figure out how the day might conclude. The music was still a catalyst, erasing the age difference and the distance between them; but the scenic route they were taking was somewhat ignored this time. Nature lost its relevance as human urges took over, bringing them closer even during long silences. Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 41”
The morning didn’t betray the sleepless moments of the night before. A few hours of good rest are all a woman Amalia’s age needs to recover, especially when the metabolism is already used to late nights of reading and studying and even later nights of adrenaline and dancing on loud, exhausting rhythms, which have the benefic effect of helping one forget the misery of life, at least for a while. The freshness of the new day reinstated Amalia’s confidence and vanity, settling her nerves and allowing for full enjoyment of the little escapade. Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 39”
Some women can instinctively figure out what a man needs and wants from all points of view and she was one of those that didn’t have to make any particular effort to do so. She knew it and she appreciated the value of such an ability, but one has to wonder if that was always enough, if that kind of a skill would always work to her advantage, the way she wanted it. Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 38”
Nervousness makes the heart twitch with a very odd kind of emotion for some people, because not everybody can recognise a shadow of insecurity in those few, vague situations they become afflicted with it. Robert seemed to differentiate himself from the not so many other guys in Amalia’s past, something about him made you think “a real man” more than you would be inclined to do so in other cases. Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 37”
It was a good thing he wanted to leave the very next morning, that way nobody had enough time to overthink things and give in to their nervousness, cancelling the trip as a result of fear or overactive analytic abilities. It was the right moment for the next step, Amalia thought, and the worries such a moment may have brought up were matched by heightened expectation.
She spent the next hours deciding on outfits, trying on things in her mind and planning all the little details of the night she knew they would spend together, avoiding any ideas that might make her feel nervous and prevent her from going through with it. Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 35”
“Stop that, you’ll ruin your shoes!”
My grandmother repeatedly chastised me every autumn, but I couldn’t care less. All it did was teach me to save that sort of behaviour for when she wasn’t around to notice it and get angry. Even now, when I care about my shoes perhaps more than I should, I still drag my feet through fallen leaves, the way I did as a child.
“I’ll pick you up tomorrow at 9 in the morning.”
As soon as he could see Amalia entering her building, the sun reflecting in the glass window, Robert looked up the number of one of his favourite hotels in a nice mountain resort; he lingered for a while before dialling, staring blankly at the screen. Should I actually book one room or two? If you fail the woman’s test at that particular point, there is no turning back and no making up for it… especially with certain women. In some cases, it’s exactly the ones that put up the most impenetrable, holier than thou front, that turn out to be the loosest, and it’s usually an easy and safe guess as to how they might react, given the chance to bathe in the depravity they condemn so loudly, yet crave so desperately. The ones that are open about such things, however, tend to be those that constantly surprise you. For some reason, they live with the belief they are above all others, having a very strong sense of entitlement, which spawns exactly from their open-mindedness and sometimes paralyzing bluntness. Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 34”
One thing I appreciate as a self-published author is to have complete control over book pricing. This is why I enjoy the freedom provided by smashwords.com – aside from their yearly promotional sales, authors can create coupons, let the readers choose the book price or even give away their books for free for as long they want, including on the affiliates’ sites (like B&N or Kobo).
December 1st marks my latest book’s publishing date on Smashwords.com (and their affiliates). But I’m running a presale until then, so all you have to do is click on the link, use the coupon code and download Frames for free! In case you found the sample fragments interesting, but you didn’t have a chance to purchase the book on Amazon, don’t hesitate to take advantage of this small gift of mine – you can have as many copies as you want and even offer the book as a gift to those you think might enjoy it! Furthermore, the presale makes it available to you immediately, you don’t have to wait until December 1st! Happy reading!
What does one do when life comes to a hopeless standstill and the desired fresh start is not what it seems? Four enthralling, emotional short stories capture diverse characters who are stuck, desperately searching either for a new beginning or for an end to their misery. Opportunity presents itself under the unexpected guise of theft, murder and suicide intertwined with love, friendship and generosity. In need of purpose, as well as affection and passion, they are torn between their conflicting desires and moral values, often finding solace and support in unexpected, shocking situations and people. Can an assassin love? Is one’s death someone else’s fortune? Should outcasts dare to dream of a better future and should the past be put behind? These are merely a few of the questions tormenting them, pushing them to honestly acknowledge and assess their needs and their existence.
The direct way proved to be the easiest approach, yet again.
“The hell with it all… I need a break.”
“I’m going to the mountains for a couple of days. Do you have any plans for tomorrow or could you be persuaded to keep me company for a change of scenery?” He paused, waiting for a reply. “You can have your own room. No expectations, no pressure. Just two people having a couple of days off from their lives. I’m leaving anyway, I set everything up already, but I just don’t want to be alone.” Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 33”
Well, here we are again… and I can’t say I’m surprised.
No, I’m not talking about finally returning to the lovely Lens Artists community and our inspiring hosts (I’m more than fashionably late for Ann-Christine’s challenge, Found in the Neighbourhood, and I haven’t participated in a few months, but these ladies have been very understanding in the past, so I hope they won’t mind this time either).
Sadly, I’m referring to my town going back in a sort of lockdown and to the fact that the only surprising aspect about it is that our authorities are finally doing (or creating the appearance of doing) something to control the situation. Right… deep breath… I did promise myself not to get political about the whole mess… and truth is, they’re not the only culprits. On top of a tourist filled summer, too many of us, locals, have systematically disregarded common sense safety measures and have refused to believe the threat is real.
But there was some sort of uncertainty in Robert’s behavior. Although he felt they were heading to the desired resolution, he also felt that she was one that would constantly keep him on his toes, she made him feel like he might not be worth a second glance sometimes, she looked at people in such an indifferent and distant fashion. Yet in spite of everything, he was still attracted, somewhat subdued by her strange ways, cold eyes and cynical attitude, so he needed to subdue her in his own way. Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 32”
Amalia and Robert knew what they wanted, and where they would end up was something they both became aware of in a very short time; first the girl, then the man. It was almost shocking how much it would take them to move on in an era when making acquaintance, having sex and breaking up happen almost simultaneously, at times not even in that order. But they wanted more than sex, and by that neither one of them understood commitment – they wanted the fun, the thrill, the mystery and the challenge, they wanted to discover and be discovered, and they wanted to make the experience and the adrenaline last for as long as possible. None of them desperately needed sex or a new sexual partner, the type of satisfaction they were seeking in each other was slightly more complex or multifaceted, although also derived from basic lust. Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample fragment 31”
Two weeks are a life-time for a summer relationship, and if a two-week interval is spent without touching the other person, sensations are heightened to an unusual, unexpected level, governed either by awareness and self-control or by raising uncertainty and insecurity, sometimes all of them mixed into a flurry of highs and lows, altogether building up the enticement to continue the game. Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 30”
“How come you can get away with such behaviour? Not many married men can afford that luxury.”
She asked the question, but she knew the answer. The truth was simple, his wife couldn’t care less; as long as she was provided with a transparent lie she could hold on to and a very comfortable life, she didn’t care what he did in his spare time. Amalia hated everything the unknown woman represented and she vaguely felt that was one of those aspects of marriage she dreaded the most. But that unknown woman most likely leads the same kind of double life and her husband is completely oblivious, because he cannot be bothered to care, thought at which she almost started laughing. Robert pretended not to hear the question and the loud music drowned their conversation prematurely. Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 29”
The whole town may not be entirely that way, but they are, Amalia thought as she was heading towards their table that evening in the club. She felt she would fit right in, she would be accepted instantly by all of them, because she was young, beautiful, vibrant and free.
t’s odd how some would find this so promiscuous, and I feel as though I’m coming back home after a long journey. Promiscuity implies deception, hiding away and shame, but look at them, they want nothing more than to be seen how proud they are to be themselves…
Robert stood up as soon as he noticed Amalia arriving and the others turned their heads instantly, admiring her and envying him – she was there for him tonight. But it didn’t mean they couldn’t try their luck too, some of the men thought for a moment, drinking their whiskies. Wanting something and just knowing you are daring enough to reach out and take it is one of the most exquisite types of freedom. And having an impact in the world of such people is a special task, few can do it instinctively. Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 28”
One of the things to value most about the town that Amalia had moved to a few years ago would be its honesty – nothing going on there is different from the normal life of any other big town in the country. Its people aren’t by far any worse than those in other places, although some of them might be richer, but they lead their lives acknowledging who they are and what they do at a far higher level than anywhere else in the country. The men lead double lives, so do most of the women, and although some social appearances are respected, everything else goes on in plain sight, out in the open, with no need for denial or pretence for their own benefit. Robert and his friends were by far an example of it, all of them successful and proud, some of them well-educated, others perhaps lacking in culture, but all of them married, with a nice family at home and a multitude of parallel lives aside from it. The paradox a myriad of existences creates is a simple one Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 27”
“What does your wife have to say about this? Where exactly does she think you are?”
Certain questions make a man feel as though he is interrogated and Robert was amongst those not used to accounting for their actions; vague information about where he would go and with whom usually sufficed when he left home.
“Where does your boyfriend think you are right now?” Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 26”
The more time they spent together, the harder it was to avoid the temptation of meeting again. The following days turned into a matter of broken calculations and decisions. Robert wanted to give her some space, he wanted her to make a move towards him, but he was not the patient type and he liked getting his prize sooner rather than later; so the days would start with the decision of not calling her and they would generally culminate in some poor excuse to ask her out for coffee or for a drive or for a nice dinner in a restaurant by the sea. Amalia relished his growing interest in her – she was young, but she knew so well how easily one gets bored of another human being, especially how easily she got bored, so she also relished her interest in him. She knew the high point would come soon and it would be no more than a decline from there, so the remaining period would be a time of sensations, evolution and revolution. Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 25”
A cup of coffee and chocolate ice cream on a crowded terrace came as a welcomed antidote to the sun filled shard of emotions and past. Perhaps they had been more open and honest than either one of them had intended to be, both with the other person and with themselves. The drive back to town cemented conclusions and resolutions and the Eagles CD on the background trickled innocuous intimacy between the two of them. It was that kind of intimacy and freedom you feel when you talk to a stranger, and from it derives the trust you can say anything and everything. Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 24”
The sky was starting to change colour, something seemed to be about to happen while they were sitting down staring at the water and thinking back of other worlds, and it took her a few moments to realise what it was: the sun was sinking towards the horizon, it was getting lower and lower and soon enough they would witness the sunset. She wanted to run, she didn’t want to see that, not then, not there, and not with Robert. For some reason, it suddenly became clear that it would be one of the most intrusive moments.
“We should probably head back to town, I think we lost track of time. Somehow, this seems the right place for it,” and she wanted to smile light-heartedly.
“Are you sure you don’t want to stay and watch the sunset? It can’t be long now.”
“Honestly, I didn’t really know what to think. But I did hope you would appreciate this place for what it truly is, I was relying mostly on the fact that you grew up in a place that might have made you partial to such experiences.”
“True, I was raised as a city girl, but I also had relatives in the country. So I guess it’s all those weekends of climbing trees and running around in open fields that still help with keeping my balance on paths such as these.”
“I wouldn’t have guessed you are one to enjoy the country side… You hide it well.” Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 22”
“How about we swap that apple in your hand for a nice cup of coffee, in an air-conditioned restaurant?”
“Do you mind if we wonder about the ruins a little bit longer? I like it here, the world seems so far away. Look at it, aside from those suntanned archaeology students hoping to dig up God knows what hidden treasure, ignoring the obvious fact that they are simply being surrounded by it, what else is there that might drag your thoughts back to the dreary real life?”
Robert gave in immediately, it didn’t matter what time of day it was anymore, how long the drive back to town would be or whether he needed that good cup of coffee or not, because she was right. Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 21”