It’s the lushest rainforest I’ve ever seen. If one could say Mother Nature had a life force it would be here, hidden within this vibrant foliage. For me green is the color of life and I think of the exotic creatures found here and I understand why environmentalists are vehemently protecting a forest full of wild animals and their habitats.
To imagine this brilliant life force gone would be painful. There is an ache in my heart picturing the dustlands of a destroyed forest, where nothing can regrow because of how horibly the soil has eroded, stripped of trees. Seeing this century old car buried randomly makes me curious of how the car ended up here; I imagine it’s a fabulous tale. But there’s no one here to tell that story, only me, and miles of greenery. Here in the womb of Mother Nature, one could disappear.
Thanks to the lovely Bikurgurl for hosting 100 Word Wednesdays.
Deep in the woods you’re lost. Have you considered if you’ve come upon an enchanted forest? It’s difficult to comprehend when you’ve crossed the threshold from the untamed wild to land of talking animals, pixies, enchantresses, wizards, and magic folk.
It’s impossible to know after days of wandering whether that deserted cabin in the clearing is actually deserted. But with clarity, you inhale the potent herbs mingling with the scent of roasted venison and fresh bread.
Do you believe your eyes when the most sinfully attractive man approaches and offers you a cup to slake your thirst and food to fill your belly? Do you trust your senses? Have you realized yet, you’ve always been in an enchanted forest?
Shadow the horse was spirited and wild; the same could be said of her mistress Evelyn. Although Evelyn’s parents tried to tie her down to a man of prosperity and ‘good breeding‘ at twenty-one, she had refused their efforts. More than a decade later she was a renowned Dermotologist and still fiercely independent.
Evelyn had expected to be alone with her thoughts riding Shadow in the morning. Then, Ryder had appeared on his chestnut horse. He was the neighbour’s son who had left home at twenty-two to become a successful artist. He was as attractive as ever.
He cut Evelyn off with his horse, so she was forced to ride Shadow in the ocean surf. Ryder tipped his riding hat to her, his brown-eyes glimmering at Evelyn with challenge.
She had never been a woman to back down, so she raced Ryder back to the stables on his property and won. Ryder had grinned at her with charm and Evelyn for once, allowed herself to be affected. She remained with Ryder long into the following day.
Alice was home from school. She hated boarding school, but she hadn’t had a choice. Her father had insisted his daughter have the best education a girl could have. This meant school was not merely academics as it was for boys. Her boarding school was an all girls boarding school and a great deal of focus was put into “the finishing school” aspect of education for women.
She needed to learn how to be a proper hostess and wife; those were the ideals of the Victorian woman. She needed to be the angel in the house, the moral compass of her household.
Alice spent countless classes based on the proper religion for an English girl. The God her school taught about, was an an angry God; judgemental and all powerful. He didn’t seem particularly forgiving. But she was told doing her duty as woman would make God happy.
Alice and her best friends Margaret and Prudence, often liked to cause trouble. They played tricks and sometimes skipped their more tedious classes. The girls were often punished with rulers smacking their hands soundly until they couldn’t feel them. Or writing lines of verses from The Bible until their fingers were too numb to write or days.
All in all, the school couldn’t punish Alice and her friends how the would’ve punished other girls. Her and her friends were daughters of enomoreous patrons of the girl’s school.
That being said, Alice was excited to go home for the summer. She thought fondly of her childhood, her dreams that always wandered to her childhood fantasy world Wonderland.
When the carriage dropped her off, Alice approached her home with a bit of trepidation. Her mother had been angry she had left flowers all over the headmasters office. The man had almost had a heart attack and Alice had laughed and laughed when she heard what he discovered. Bringing her suitcase with her, she opened the front door.
Suddenly, the house started to move in various directions from the front entrance. Staircases opened from every way, along with doors leading to God knows where.
Alice had a peculiar feeling, she was travelling back to her childhood world. Staircases continued to rumble and groan as they moved. Leaving her suitcase, Alice jumped onto a staircase leading to a familiar giant golden door knob with a large decorated keyhole underneath.
Suddenly, the door knob sneezed. “You again. I thought I’d seen the last of you.”
“Alice, yes? I remember. I had a cold last time you were here too; although, you’ve grown since then. Thinned out too, you were a bit fat for awhile, all that bread.”
She gasped, “Excuse me, the ideal woman these days, has a round body with childbearing hips, my teachers told me and my mother agrees. And you aren’t even real. I’m dreaming.”
“I wish the staircases would stop moving and the rest of the house weren’t so confusing. I have no idea where to go and I really was looking forward to a nap, ” Alice complained.
The giant door knob sneezed again. “No Alice, I know you and you know me. You know us all. It’s been a while and you’ve blocked us out. We tried to visit, but you convinced yourself we were all childhood dreams, despite having been to Wonderland twice.”
“You do play delightful tricks at school, I must say –you, Margaret, and Prudence. You should’ve brought them along . . . Then again, they wouldn’t believe Wonderland is real either. They don’t believe in magic, but you do. Oh, you deny it Alice but you do believe. You wouldn’t be back here if you didn’t,” the door knob lectured.
Alice stomped her foot, “You’re not real.”
“I am indeed, open me. Better yet, have some of that bread you like so much, in your left pocket first; it should do the trick.”
She gasped and frowned when she put her hand in her pocket and found the delicious bread. She nibbled on the edge. Alice hadn’t realized how hungry she was. She took a bigger bite of bread and sighed with pleasure.
“Not too much,” the door knob cautioned. She sniffed and raised her nose at him; she had shrunk in size considerably. Carefully, Alice turned the icky runny door knob nose, she needed no key. She stepped into another world; wiping her hands on her skirt, before gazing up in shock.
Alice truly was in the Wonderland of her youth. It appeared to be the same as she dreamt it to be. A path lay in front of her and she saw her body had become small. The grass and foliage around Alice was lush and towered over her.
She started to think of her old Wonderland friends when she came upon a catapillar on a large mushroom.”But you’re a butterfly now,” she said to the catapillar without thinking.
The catapiller sniffed at her and took a long drag from his hookah. “Whoareyou? Have you figured it out yet? Time does pass. My great-grandfather spoke of you. Time doesn’t move so fast here. He’s out flying about and I’m waiting until I can fly too. Why have you returned?”
Alice blinked rapidly. “I don’t know. I went through a doorway talked to a door knob, shrank, and now I’m here. It’s not a dream is it?”
The catapullar laughed, taking another drag. “I assure you. It’s all quite real. There’s a pathway going that way,” he pointed to his right. “You should go there. It leads somewhere important.”
“I see it’s a dock and we’re below it. It’s so large. Should I go below it in the sand? Or should I grow larger and go ontop of the dock. It’s quite big when you’re only six-inches tall.”
The catapillar laughed, inhaling his hookah promptly after . “There you go insulting those of us only six-inches tall again. Do you have bread in your pocket to grow taller?”
Alice searched in her right pocket, “No bread but I think the mushroom you are laying upon has one side which will make me larger. Alice ate of one side which made her shrink more, than climbed up the mushroom to eat off the other side. She grew until she was her normal size again.
“Curious and curiouser,” she said. “This is all too familiar. I hope there’s no seagull who thinks I’m a serphant ready to eat her young.”
“You can say that again,” the catapillar said smirking. He bowed his head as Alice walked off, having shoved a piece of mushroom in her right pocket for future use.
She walked ontop of the dock until there was nothing but a short stairwell leading to a row boat in the sea. She recalled this moment in her second journey to Wonderland. But there should be a sheep somewhere she reasoned.
On que a sheep appeared and they both rowed off into the sea, but it wasn’t really a sea. Alice thought it was more like a river. The sheep said: “Bahhh,” then smiled at Alice.”Hello Alice have you learned to feather yet?”
“Oh, that’s a rowing term. I understand now. Same with catching a crab. I was so young then, sheep. I reached for those rushes remember? They’re still look and smell lovely. You can never catch the most beautiful ones, they are free.”
The sheep bleated and sighed. “Do you ever think, Alice, that beauty is not meant to be tamed or kept?”
“It’s a curious question coming from a sheep. But I think beauty should be left to exist and shine. You’re saying I should leave the lovely smelling rushes alone?” Alice asked.
The sheep sighed again. “I’m not talking about rushes. You should pay attention Alice. That school you go to and those Victorian norms and rules of society, do you think they’re all correct? Do you believe everything you are taught without question?”
Alice wrinkled her forehead and thought. “No not really. My bestfriends don’t either. It’s why we play tricks, skip classes, it’s why I sit in class bored. I do not want to be a proper woman, a tamed or kept Victorian housewife with her brood of children. I don’t want to think God is always angry and mean; I think he’s benevolent too.”
“Ah, I didn’t think you agreed with your education. I think in the future things will be better, only wait and don’t grow-up too much. Don’t forget Wonderland –we’ll see you when you dream. We need your wildness, Alice.”The sheep bleated again and Alice instantly, woke up.
She was riding in a carriage to her house for summer vacation. She attempted to remember her dreams. Alice swore she dreamt of Wonderland vividly. But all she could remember was a sheep telling her to stay wild and untamed. She grinned thinking of the tricks she played at school. She wasn’t a tame women yet; never if she had her way.
Read Part 1 here: Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers – Never Again
Part 2: Never Again – Returning to The Chateau
Jolene was back at Chateau Blanc to visit her Auntie Cathy after five-years abroad. Cathy worked as an event planner at the Chateau helping with Weddings, Fundraiser, (etc.). Jolene had always thought of Chateau Blanc as magical and mysterious castle as a young girl. She was thirty-five now with a daughter of her own, fourteen-year-old Kasia. For Jolene and Kasia, the Chateau held a sentimental appeal they associated with Aunt Cathy.
Jolene had faded out of her life in Nice, France, living with her Aunt Cathy at the Chateau when she wasn’t travelling as a model. Jolene had thought it would be safer to start a new life with Kasia in Canada. The move took Jolene and Kasia away from their beloved Aunt Cathy. But it also helped Jolene cut off all ties to her ex-boyfriend Scott who had become a great bother to Jolene.
As Jolene crossed the path which lead to the Chateau, she was caught off guard by a feeling of desiring to hold Kasia’s hand. Jolene knew her head-strong teenager would never agree to be that close to her Mom; never mind, holding her Mom’s hand. Waves lapped up against the edge of the path and Jolene knew at times it stormed and the waves slammed harshly against the walkway, taking away anyone who was foolish enough to cross.
Kasia dragged her feet behind Jolene and Jolene told Kasia: “Come on now ma belle, tres vite! We don’t want to spend too long on this pathway. The sea could become rough.” Kasia laughed at Jolene’s worry and shrugged when Jolene gave her an admonishing look.
“It’s fine Mom,” Kasia said. “The sea has been calm today. It’s not going to start storming in the time it takes us to cross to Chateau Blanc. I was wondering. . . why do we live so far from Aunt Cathy now? We used to see her all the time when I was a kid?” Jolene sighed.
“I keep telling you Kasia. It started when I obtained career changing, modelling jobs in North America. I wanted to earn my degree in Fashion in Toronto, where I had been given a full scholarship. Then, I started designing clothes with your Aunt Judy whom I met in school. Our business grew. You should know, you work in one of our main stores of La Petite Mademoiselle in Ottawa. You already know this ma belle. What are you really asking?” Kasia looked down at her feet. They had crossed the pathway and the Chateau was a short distance before them.
“I don’t understand why we left Auntie Cathy. She’s the only family we have besides an odd cousin or two. You’ve never even told me who my Dad is and I’m pretty sure he’s from here. I think that’s why we left. Not only for your modelling career and your education.” Jolene paused and tried to redirect her conversation with Kasia.
“You could be a model Kasia, if you like. Simon my agent, was saying how modelling would suit your love to travel well, before we left New York yesterday. You’re 5’10,” beautiful, you have slight curves, and are outgoing.When we get back to Ottawa, I’ll arrange a meeting with Simon. Maybe, we can even model together?” Jolene mentioned casually. Kasia’s face crinkled and she gave her Mom an ‘are you serious’ look when Jolene said they could model together.
“I know I could model Mom. Boys tell me I’m gorgeous all the time and the girls hate me for how much I look like one of those models in Seventeen. That’s why almost all my friends are boys except for Janelle who is a petite model. But I’m not sure I want to go the same way you have gone with modelling. I think I want to write or be an artist of some kind. And yes, I want to travel everywhere.”
“Well, that’s fine Kasia. But you could make serious money for school and travelling if you you model. It’s a great start for a young girl such as yourself.” Jolene added. Kasia looked at Jolene and a small smile passed her lips.
“Okay Mom, that sounds like something I’d like to try. So where is Aunt Cathy? I thought she said she’d meet us in front of the Chateau. I bought her some tulips from the market as we passed by a flower stall in Nice. I think they might wilt if we don’t see Auntie soon.”
“My thoughtful girl.” Jolene said messing up Kasia’s long dark hair with a head rub.
“Oh, I can’t believe it, Jolene! Is this my sweet Kasia? You’re almost all grown up ma belle. I hardly recognize you from the seven-year-old girl I last saw playing with her Barbies in my sitting room.” Kasia blushed and presented Aunt Cathy with the tulips she bought her.
“Oh, tres beaux!” Kasia blushed and was pleased with Auntie’s compliment.” Merci beacoup! I love tulips in the spring. And these are such a pretty shade of pink. How are you darling girl and how is your Mother?” Cathy said looking Kasia and Jolene over with pride. It was clear she missed them a lot over the past five-years.
“We’re doing fantastic Auntie,” Kasia said beaming.”Mom models a bit but mainly she runs her chain of clothing stores La Petite Mademoiselle, with my Aunt Judy, her close friend. It’s a clothing store with beautiful classic clothing for all body types, size double-zero to twenty-two.” Kasia added.
“I was at a private school and had a nanny up until grade nine, but I’m turning fifteen soon. Mom told me I can get a tutor and travel with her during high school. Mom also told me while we were walking here across the pathway, that I could model to make some money for University and travelling across Europe in four-years.” Cathy smiled down at Kasia and gave Jolene a questioning look after some of the things Kasia said.
” Kasia had a nanny? Where were you?”Cathy asked Jolene. Jolene sighed, hesitating:
” I was going to fashion school in Toronto and modelling across North America. It’s difficult being a single Mom, trying to fulfill your dreams, and take care of a child. It was more stable for Kasia to be at home when she was younger with a trusted Nanny.I have never been gone longer than four-days and Kasia always came with me on modelling and business trips during her long school breaks, such as in Summer. It was a great deal of work starting up my own clothing brand/store and growing it to the success La Petite Mademoiselle has now. We have stores across Canada and in the US.” Jolene said defensively.
“I just wish you’d let me have been with you and Kasia, Jolene. You two are my only family. I would have loved to look after Kasia while you were in school and travelling for work. I could have worked from home. You never asked me what I wanted before you left and I hardly heard from you.” Aunt Cathy said with anger.”You sent me a picture here and there on your phone. You never talked to me online or ever phoned me. I’m hurt Jolene.” Auntie Cathy wiped a stray tear from her kindly blue eyes.
“I’m sorry Auntie. I just thought — I didn’t think. But I had to get away from Scott and Katrina. I had to leave because Scott kept contacting me. I left and I didn’t look back. I’m sorry for that Auntie. But Kasia and I are back now. We’re going to try to open up a few branches of my clothing store in France. We’re going to see what the consumer market is like here. If you want, after we’re done working here, you can come with us back home to Ottawa.”Jolene offered happily. She had missed her Auntie Cathy more than she realized.
“I have lots of money now Auntie. You can do anything you want with your retirement. Why not travel with Kasia and I? Live with us in Ottawa or have your own place if you like.” Cathy couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“I would love that so much Jolene. Thank you for the invitation. Event planning is hard on a woman in her late sixties. I have a pension and money I’ve saved, but it’s nice to know I have so many more options for my retirement. I can spend my time with Kasia and you.”
“Who’s Scott?” Kasia piped into the conversation. “Is Scott my Dad? If he was the reason you left here, he had to have been my Dad.” Jolene and Cathy’s faces both went pale and they looked at each other uneasily.
“Oh, he’s no one dear. Just an old boyfriend.” Jolene said feeling stupid for mentioning Scott’s name.
” You never date now. He must have been important.” Kasia said slyly.
“He’s your father, Kasia,” Cathy said in one breath. “Oops,” Cathy said, “That slipped out.” Turning to Jolene Cathy said: “Kasia is fourteen now, she has the right to know, anyway.”
“That wasn’t your decision to make Aunt Cathy. I’m Kasia’s mother, not you!” Jolene stormed off to walk off her anger in the hallways of the Chateau. Kasia looked at her Aunt aglow with expectation and curiosity.
“Please tell me who my father is?” Kasia begged her Auntie.” Tell me the story of how my parents met? Why didn’t my father want me Auntie?”
Cathy sighed and adjusted her hair a bit nervously.”I shouldn’t,” Cathy said. “Your Mom is already so angry with me.”
“Please!” Kasia asked, “Mom always changes the subject and won’t tell me anything about my Dad. I don’t even know if he’s alive or dead.”
Cathy sighed and motioning for Kasia to sit down next to her on an antique love seat, she held Kasia’s young hands in her wrinkled ones, and told Kasia about the relationship between Scott Jeune and Kasia’s mother, Jolene.
“Scott and your mother went to highschool together. Jolene always had an infatuation with Scott since junior high school.Jolene went through an awkward phase before she turned fifteen. Ever since that age, your mother was known as a classic beauty. She always reminded everyone of Grace Kelly. You have inherited her beauty, Kasia.” Cathy exclaimed.
“Jolene was wild in high school. Your Grandma couldn’t keep track of her comings and goings, before your Grandma died in a car accident. Jolene was extremely popular with all the boys and made all the girls jealous of her. She had a busy social life, and a new boy every couple of weeks. When Scott asked her out, Jolene was overjoyed. Their first date was the only time I’d ever seen her primp and beautify herself so much to go on a date….
Prompt: What or Why is it important to go out with friends, interact with people, and have fun. ( Idea provided by clcouch123 . Please check out his blog and his wonderful Psalms.)
When I was a little girl I didn’t have the easiest time making friends with other girls. I would be friends with a girl for awhile then a fight would happen and the friendship would cease. Both parties would go play with someone else. In consequence, I spent a lot of time hanging out with the boys and playing sports or rough-housing. Maybe, this could have been because I had two younger brothers and was use to playing with them. I was also a tubby little girl so the guys didn’t see me as a ‘girl’ per say, because I didn’t quite have the skinny physique that the popular girls had.
But time changes social status. I was skinny and pretty in Jr. High but Sr. High had its moments of misery. But when university began, since I had had such a small graduating class at my high school, the kids who went to the university across the football field from the high school, were close to each other for the first two years of university. I hung out with my friends and new friends from high school. Some of my university pals became busy around third year as some of them opted for a three year BA, especially if they were going into a teaching degree afterwards. As a result, I made new friends, many from the University Bookstore I worked at throughout my BA. A girl named T worked with me and I made friends with a bunch of her friends from high school on a Pubcrawl, one extremely fun Halloween. I made friends with her cousins too and it was the year the Oilers were in the Stanley Cup final so we had fun watching hockey then heading to Whyte Ave for crazy fandamonium. We meant another girl named L in my fourth year of my degree and became friends with a girl K I knew who worked at the university in development; also my friend from highschool S, and her friend from Russia A were part of my circle. There were other girls we hung out with when we went out and an even larger group of people we socialized with. Now my social circle is made up of a small group of girls, who I have been friends with since university and even before that.
Most of my good friends are married or have a serious boyfriend. I can only think of one or two who are single like me. I was single for along time. I had no boyfriend in university. Then I was too sick for two or three years to handle a relationship and finally at twenty-six-years old I started dating A and we dated for four years.
But all these times I have spent with friends from whatever age I was, why was that so important? Well, friends help us validate who we are. We know in our families that we are accepted for being us and because often our own short fallings are the same short fallings are parents deal with too. But when we make friends when we’re children we learn to get along with people who are different from us. The lessons we learn from our parents can be different from lessons other kids are learning from their parents. We may gravitate to other kids who are different from us because that is appealing to us, to not follow what our parents say. Or, we may end up being friends with people who are a lot like us, who have to follow similar rules, and are in similar activities.
Children are often talented at making friends. But some kids have something about them that makes them different from other kids. Maybe they are poor, look geeky, are chubby, or another kid decides they are jealous of them or don’t like them. Bullying is a terrible action that occurs to some kids, an action that scars kids and their parents alike. If you asked certain bully’s why they hurt other kids when they did, they probably wouldn’t know. They would say they didn’t like a particular kid. Maybe, they were having trouble at home or they were bullied too. It seems whatever our generation there are mean kids around to make other kids miserable.
How we act with other kids, determines a lot of our happiness when we are in our pre-teenage and teenage years. We crave acceptance, to be part of the crowd. We want to fit in. The validation we receive from our peers makes us feel good; it makes us cool. It makes us feel as if we belong somewhere. Once we come to University or College we find there are many types of groups and friends for everyone to hang out with in classes, sports, campus events, campus clubs, going out at night, and many other events.
Having a large group of friends was a lot of fun for me. I could be my quiet self but I could also get my fix of crazy. This was especially important in University as an outlet for the stress caused by taking five courses at a time, working part-time, and being involved in campus life. It was a miracle to party on the weekends, to drink and forget stress. It was a relief to have fun with friends and meet new people. It made me feel that I could handle stuff in the week because on the weekend I was a wild girl who didn’t have to be responsible. There were bad points about my style of life such as friends who became angry or cried a lot when they were drunk. Also, there were boys we hurt or hurt us when feelings weren’t returned after the weekend party was over. The binge drinking wasn’t the smartest either.
Since, I went on disability from work seven or eight years ago, being with my friends has taken on new meaning beyond school. I enjoy conversations one on one more; I concentrate better. But I love anytime my friends and I can give each other over a coffee or tea. I like that we can go to events that have drinking but I also like that we go to events that are not drinking events. I enjoy going over to a friend’s place and having a glass of wine, or having friends over to my house for wine; but I like Wine Tastings too. My friends and I have gone on vacations together and learned a lot about dealing with each others differences. We have house parties and we play card games and board games. There is still conversation about comparison of classes but they we are for self-improvement and for job education. We have seen ourselves going from young twenty somethings to adults who are around thirty and becoming married, having kids, and moving into houses and condos. We share advice with each other and support each other. Sometimes we help babysit. Sometimes we just listen to a friend who is dealing with a ‘real life issue.’ We are vital to each other because people need a support network in life, and family and friends are a part of that network. We need our friends to help us get through ill health, and love us even when we are ill or being a bad friend. We need advice when it comes to choosing someone we want to spend our lives with, or a portion of our lives. We need to listen to each other and give that gift of understanding, despite our own opinions. We share about our lives and look forward to times we will see each other again. For these reasons, fun time with friends is vital.