On a Still Afternoon

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Krystyna sat quietly...


On a warm and still August afternoon Krystyna slowly perused the pages of a heavy leather-bound book and wondered why she found 19th century botanical drawings so beautifully compelling.

Of course she found quite a few things compelling … wild, windy, and stormy days, clean architectural lines, strong coffee and dark chocolate, very good and very long books, blackberries and ripe pears with a good cheese, a cappella music with its intricate and multi-layered harmonies, libraries - big or small – old or new - but mostly old, any design from jewelry to public buildings that incorporated pentagons – hexagons - octagons, blue and white Polish pottery, silver drachmae - feta in olive oil – poetry - the Parthenon - Souvlaki – tiny hillside chapels - jewel toned islands sprinkled across emerald and cobalt seas …… well, everything Greek I suppose.

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The cherished, and much handled, leather bound book of botanical sketches from the 1800’s, replete with flowers, vines, berries, had belonged to her mother, Madeleine, beloved of memory. Her mother had been gone for many years, almost thirty years. Madeleine, died just short of her fiftieth birthday; she would have turned fifty on December 26th that year. The month of December remained shrouded in sorrow for many years.

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Mercifully, she lived long enough to meet and fall in love with her three grand-children, strong and healthy and loud baby boys, though they quieted quickly when she held them, caressed them.

The time allotted had not been nearly long enough, could never have been long enough, but Krystyna was grateful for the five years when her son’s and her mother’s lives had overlapped. Her sons became more inquisitive, discovered the joys of language, grew taller and stronger, as her mother weakened, grew smaller, quieter.

And then Madeleine was gone, forever, and Krystyna with three small boys in her arms was scarcely twenty-five.

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This warm and still August. Kyrstyna had just turned fifty and her three sons were married and starting families of their own; grand-children would soon follow. Pensively, she combed through the list of things she found beautiful and compelling, had found beautiful and compelling for as long as she could remember. Try as hard as she might, she could not remember when or how she fell in love with wild and windy storms or wild and tangled forests. She had always loved them, as far back as she could remember.

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The crack of thunder had never frightened Kystyna, even though she lived with her maternal grandmother for three years, a grandmother who at the slightest hint of a storm ran around the house unplugging every appliance, who forbade everyone, child and adult alike, to get a drink of water.

Naturally, Grandmother preferred they not be electrocuted in her house and as everyone with a lick of sense at all knew, lightning could and did streak through window panes and kill any soul foolish enough to be holding a cup of water at the time.

Grandmother was fearful and very anxious all the time; perhaps Krystyna made friends with storms and forests and wildness as a way to push back the fear her grandmother so liberally and frequently dispensed.

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With no thought or intention of inoculating her sons against fear, but simply wanting to share her joy, Krystyna always opened the front door wide when a storm blew through and sitting cross-legged on the floor, she shared her deep love for the wild wind and rain with her children.

The four of them reveled in the power and exhilaration of all storms. They probably still do. Perhaps the grand-children will as well....

Poems, Paintings, and Photographs.

Wandering in the Forest Primeval.

More by this Author


Comments are Welcome and Appreciated 30 comments

jhamann profile image

jhamann 23 months ago from Reno NV

This has all things good and beautiful. I cannot wait to read on. The world you created was that old leather bound book the day I opened to the first page. The next semester comes way to quick. Jamie


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Well it is marvelous and already spellbinding. I will wonder where it goes until the next installment. I don't give advice on writing except for one piece of advice and it fits here; keep writing.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 23 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Jamie for such encouragement. All I wrote for almost 20 years were essays and research papers. Poetry seemed to come pretty naturally once I started writing two years ago, but stories are a real stretch. So I am learning and hopefully something good will come of this.

I started teaching again last week, so I know classes are upon you. Hang in there...you will be such a good teacher and I think you will find mush fulfillment in it. Blessings! Theresa


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia

You've done well Theresa, there is the great start and background for a fine story here. I can't wait until you have time to complete the finished version. As you no doubt realised my challenge was to write a story or poem, so probably the first response you read was one of the poems. Many responders have come up with different interpretations of how to undertake this and that's great. My aim was to challenge and inspire..how that happens for people doesn't matter, just that it does. Well done.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 23 months ago from Olympia, WA

Wonderful write from a creative mind. This is some of your best work, Theresa, and I can't wait to read more like this.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 23 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Eric - This feels very different (because I don't do stories) but I think I will keep tinkering with it between classes and on weekends, I hope all is well with you. Blessings. Theresa


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 23 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thanks Bill. I am rather surprised myself at what came tumbling out. :) And I have Jodah and his sentence idea to thank. Stay warm and well. :)


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 23 months ago from Victoria, Australia

Do keep up that tinkering - it is so wonderfully creative. Love it.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 23 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Blossom. I appreciate your encouraging words. :) Blessings! Theresa


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 23 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Good Evening Jodah - Thank you for the encouragement. You were right, even tho I read about the challenge, when I came back after a week or so the first thing I read was the POEM by Jo / tobusiness, so I was stuck for awhile. :) I will keep working on this and see where it goes. :) Thanks again. Theresa :)


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 23 months ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

Theresa, a great start, see where this takes you, I love what you've done so far, very imaginative, looking forward to reading more.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 23 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Jo. I appreciate the encouragement, and I will keep stealing a half hour here and a half hour there to keep working on it. Here in the south we finally warmed up today after about five days where we got down to 20 every night. Quite unexpected for us, we are so spoiled because we seldom get more than two cold days in a row and we thing 35 is really, really cold. Hope you have been staying dry and warm. Theresa


travmaj profile image

travmaj 23 months ago from australia

This is very atmospheric, I can feel the storm approaching and the lashing of rain outside the open door. (growing up we always had to have the door open in a storm) Combined with the book of botanical drawings, this is fascinating, Krystyna is already a strong, complex character. Look forward to more.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 23 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you travmaj. I am so glad to hear that I was able to convey the feel of the weather and the feelings of those in the story. I shall try to keep working on it and see where the story leads me. Blessings! Theresa


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 23 months ago from southern USA

Fascinating read and you certainly lived up to Jodah's challenge! I truly enjoyed this interesting and beautifully written read.

Look forward to reading more!

God bless


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 23 months ago from the short journey

Reality invokes realism in no more useful place than in writing a story. Though this is not what you usually do, you will enjoy developing your piece and it will be interesting to see what it becomes.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 22 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you RT. It is rather different, not my usual work, but I am eager to see where the story will go. Blessings! Theresa


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 22 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Faith. I am still working on it, a little bit every few days. Jodah really did come up with a unique and interesting challenge. I hope everything is well in your neck of the woods. Thanks for reading and commenting. Theresa


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 22 months ago from California

I so enjoyed this Theresa--the turning of things--and it reminded me of my grandmother a bit--and that is a good thing!


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 22 months ago from Minnesota

I was captivated by your story. Very creative take on Jodah's challenge. Sharing this all over and hit many buttons.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 21 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Audrey. I keep meaning to expand it based on the first sentence, but seems like it has been one "extra" thing after another at school. Hopefully things will slow down a bit before too long. Hope all is well with you and yours. Theresa


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 21 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Linda. What a wonderful word -- captivated. :) I appreciate your reading and commenting, so very encouraging. Thanks also for sharing. :) Blessings! Theresa


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 20 months ago from Taos, NM

What an interesting story, Theresa. You rose to the challenge quite well! I enjoyed reading this and I especially enjoyed your grandmother's paintings and your photos. Voted up + and shared!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 20 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Suzette. I still want to finish it, make it a full length story, but I don'e seem to be able to set aside chunks of time. Maybe this summer. Poems, being short, well mine are, go pretty quickly. I appreciate all your kind words and encouragement. Hope you are feeling and doing well. Blessings ! Theresa Oh, and I hope you had a Blessed Easter!


Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 9 months ago from Hyderabad, India

What a beautiful story. Very much interesting and appealing. Enjoyed a lot.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 9 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you for such kind words, Venkatachari M. Blessings. :)


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 9 months ago from TEXAS

Your sensitivity and word-mastery serve you well, Theresa.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 9 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Oh what balm for my soul. Bless you Nellieanna. In middle school I wrote terrible stories, even the teachers thought and said so, and for 40+ years I have believed I could only write academic prose. Nice to find out that that was not necessarily so. The poetry was a surprise and maybe there are stories to tell. :)


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 9 months ago from TEXAS

Tell the stories.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 9 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Yes, ma'm. :)

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