He found her intriguing from the very beginning, but he didn’t expect this, he didn’t expect to find her irresistible… In fact, this is the kind of reaction he doesn’t expect to have in general, guarded and jaded as he is. Not that he’s refusing himself the joys of a profound relationship, he simply isn’t able to experience them… or so he thought. He’s met other interesting, intelligent, beautiful women, and yet… He only felt this sort of connection once before, equally unexpected, undeniable and strong. So why the fuck does it have to be this one? Why her, of all women? There is no logical explanation to be found, that much he knows, and what he does with these feelings is hardly his decision.
Much as she hated to admit it, there was a certain comfort and complicity in that room… two old friends catching up, picking up where they left off. Fifteen years apart couldn’t erase the familiarity of growing up together, of knowing what had shaped them and the marks they’d left on each other’s soul. Certain people can become a part of you, when they’re your support system and you’re theirs, when you’ve shared the best and the worst of moments. That was why severing all ties with him wouldn’t have been her first choice… That was also why she had to do it, when she understood it was the only way he could have a future with somebody else. But she never explained her decision, nor did she even announce it. Instead, she disappeared. Ghosting wasn’t a coined term back then, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t happening.
Hopes and dreams weren’t for the likes of him; every time he forgot what his mother taught him, he needed to be put in his place… and life never failed to do so. Nevertheless, anger started to bubble inside him. Much as he tried to tell himself otherwise, he still felt he didn’t deserve to be overlooked this time. Moreover, his mother’s words were gaining a grotesquely unfair tone and his brother’s haunting image infuriated him even more. Exhaustion got the best of him, but his sleep was fraught with frustration distorted memories shaped into nightmares. Nothing makes for a scarier nightmare than reality.
Frames by Ana Linden is now available on Amazon.
That sort of pressure can break a couple and words like divorce or separation were starting to explode in the middle of passive aggressive conflicts. They still loved each other, they still wanted to spend their old age in each other’s company. But in spite of how they were perceived by the children they taught, they weren’t that old yet; and sometimes routine and frustration are a lot easier to face alone rather than have them constantly mirrored by the person next to you, feeling guilty for their unhappiness and blaming them for yours.
She agrees. After all, just because – for some unknown reason – she feels inclined to overshare, it doesn’t mean he should do the same. They only met that morning and even if she has decided he would make for a pleasant fling, she has no long-term intentions. It would be wrong to lead him on… But that doesn’t mean she can’t allow herself to enjoy all sensations a man like him can provide. Intensity of any sort isn’t something she cares to avoid. If anything, she craves it and this is the time to offer herself everything she can. He has become a part of that “everything” as soon as she calmed down during their drive to the hotel. When he suggested drinks in the evening, she felt relieved not to have misread their mutual attraction and also animated by the fact that a man like him still wanted her. Handsome, successful and cultured, surely he can have any young woman he wants… and he chose her. That vain side of her personality was doing a happy dance the entire afternoon.
I had been looking forward to that getaway for months – a trip I wasn’t sure would materialize – and as I was driving that early morning, it was finally beginning to feel real. It was real. That patch of beautiful wild flowers featured in my title story, Frames… well, it was also real. Everything else is fiction, but the flowers were real, an out of place wonder covering a mound of dirt in an otherwise prosaic field by the freeway.
Some images stay with you… their impact makes you want to find out the story behind them or at least create one such story. By the time I reached my destination, a rough outline of a nameless story had already taken shape in my mind. But I had recently finished Albatross and needed a bit of a writing break, so I knew it was a story for another time.
A shot would easily take that patch of flowers out of its natural context and create an entirely different reality for the unknowing observer in another context. It could suddenly be a dreamy field of wild flowers instead of some wild flowers on top of dirt by the freeway. Reality reframed or just one frame of a bigger, more complex reality? The answer is a personal subjective choice.
Coincidentally, I took some poppy shots the other day. What an unexpected find, I thought to myself, blooming poppies in the wind, with the beach, a calm sea and a blue sky on the background. Some of you also liked the one I already posted. All sorts of positive words come to mind when thinking of those shots, especially considering the recent lockdown months. But… but what you don’t see in any of those photos, what I carefully avoided to include in any of those frames is the large pile of rubbish only a few steps away from those beautiful flowers. Thinking back, perhaps I should have included it, but I was too taken by the angle excluding it.
My point is, we go about doing this in many, if not all, aspects of our lives. We like to think we see the full picture, we have the full truth, when in fact we only have instances, a few frames on which we choose or are forced to build our judgement, conclusions and decisions. Sometimes we get it right, even by mistake… other times we ignore the background, we find a way to exclude the ugliness from the picture in order not to have to deal with it.
The same happens to my characters. They’re neither picture-perfect, nor horrid, but they might appear to be either one or the other, depending on the moment one interacts with them. But once the angle becomes wider and the background less blurry, does their behaviour become understandable and acceptable? That, too, is a personal, subjective choice…
“Help yourself. You still smoke?”
Pointless question, stating the obvious, so it would fill the air between them… He tilted his head apologetically and smiled back, that embarrassed half a smile of his, when she’d catch him doing something she didn’t approve of and she’d point it out. He lit up and inhaled deeply, turning to ashes a good portion of the cigarette. He smoked when he was nervous, she remembered; and when he was upset, and when he was afraid… He smoked all the time, a lot, and the smell of smoke mixed with his aftershave used to cling to her hair. She’d come home from their dates and feel he was still there, in the room with her, when she brushed her hair before going to bed. Who was he now?
Frames by Ana Linden is now available on Amazon.
Don’t tell anyone about this, his father’s words ring in his ears as though he were sitting next to him. He then got out of the car and asked his youngest son to take his place behind the wheel. You’re the first one I’m teaching how to drive, remember this, but it has to be our secret for now. He was sixteen and his older brother, seventeen at the time, was soon going to be old enough to get his driver’s license… yet he and not his brother was the first one to be taught. His father’s words had a magical effect, suddenly erasing the morning’s tears and humiliation. For once he was ahead of his brother, for once he was the more important one… probably the only time in his life. He spent the rest of the day driving around the deserted industrial yard, improving his skills, absorbing every piece of information his father had to impart. You’ll be a great driver, son.
Frames by Ana Linden is now available on Amazon.
The two young men look each other in the eye for a quick moment. Worlds colliding, brought together by a common surge of arrogance – it becomes one of them, it makes the other look even more uncouth. One smells like expensive aftershave, drives a German luxury car and looks impeccable in his designer clothes, next to his model of a girlfriend. The other one reeks of manure after cleaning the stables, wears dingy clothes and shoes, and his hair is a mess of unwashed uncombed curls. They are only a few years apart… they are worlds apart… with no common ground other than this temporary, illusory dimension. How could they ever really see each other? Why should they?
“Defines you?…” His intonation delivers a question, but the words form a statement inside him, because in the mist of his past he used to know exactly what she means. He used to have exactly that, he lost exactly what she lost.
“Defines you… but not in the sense that you become who that person wants you to be or that you’re devoid of character without them. I mean, they’re that one person to whom you can reveal all your weaknesses, the deepest darkness residing in the most hidden corners of your being, together with all the beauty you’re capable of, and they won’t get scared, they won’t run away. Instead, they will embrace it and love you for all you are, not in spite of it. They define you, because you don’t have to hide anything that defines you. They encourage you to be exactly who you are, they accept it and they don’t step back even when it’s anything but easy for them to be there.” Continue reading “Frames – Choices (Sample Fragment 1)”
Here I am, once more… I mentioned working on a new book, as some of you might recall, but I didn’t dwell on it. Well, in spite of various changes and challenges, I can now relax and enjoy, because I managed to stick with the schedule and it’s finally ready!
In case you noticed that countdown on my site and wondered about it, that’s what it’s about. Frames, my new book, is already available for pre-orders on Amazon and it will be published on May 15th. That’s also when the printed version will become available (click on the image).
Maudlin as it may sound, before I go on and tell you what the book is all about, I’d like to thank you for your support and encouraging words over the years, ever since I’ve started this blog. As many of you know from your own writing experience, this sort of warm, inspiring and supportive blogging community means a lot to an indie author.
I know it’s customary to do a cover reveal first, to create all sorts of buzz about the book, building suspense before the big publishing day. All’s well and good in theory, but promoting the book – relevant as that may be – is the part of self-publishing I loathe. So there I go again, revealing everything at once.
I’ve put together four stories this time, not exactly short ones, but no novellas either. Hopefully the common denominators will become clear as you read them, but I’ll let you be the judge of that. All I can say is, once they took shape in my mind, I couldn’t separate these stories.
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.
I’ll stop here, in an attempt to keep it short and sweet. I’ll explain my choice of title and I’ll share excerpts from each story over the following days. Hopefully, you’ll find them enjoyable.