I confess my love in silence
Words of adoration offered as a prayer
You, unwilling victim
Never knowing my heart’s desire
I confess my love in silence
Words of adoration offered as a prayer
You, unwilling victim
Never knowing my heart’s desire
Driving through the country roads towards the small town where I lived, in the last evening light, my mind was ticking off the items on my to-do list when an old but familiar voice softly crooned on the radio. Jolted from my thoughts, I reached for the dial and turned the sound up, fingertips lingering on the knob while a wistful smile crossed my face. “Do you hear what I hear? Ringing through the sky shepherd boy.” My cowboy was singing, not just for me but for everyone.
The setting sun was glistening off the lightly falling snow and the meadow in front of me looked perfectly arranged for a winter wedding; late blooms of color peeking out of the new snow, circles of evergreen giving promise of new life, and the fresh, white snow signaling a brand-new start. A sob formed in my chest and unexpected tears slipped down my cheeks, I quickly brushed them away as if it could ease the sudden ache that had formed in the center of my heart, the place where he began and ended.
I was sadly proud of him. In the years that we had spent apart, he had made a name for himself and shared his beautiful gift of song with the world. It was what he dreamed about and that made it my dream too. I hadn’t known then what I would be giving up now. But isn’t that the way the world goes? It was subtle, a week away, then two, a month here and there. Not unlike his life before only different. Too late we realized how much had changed and then, you really can never go back.
My thoughts returned to the deep whiskey melody filling my car. Maybe it was fate, hearing him on the radio, singing my favorite Christmas song after all these years. Maybe he hadn’t even remembered it was my favorite song. Either way, our life together had not worked out. But I found happiness anyway. I hoped with all my heart that he had too. And, I would always cherish my memories of him, my sweet cowboy.
He sat on a stool in the center of the smoky stage, soft lights focused on his face, his hands, his guitar. The sleeves of his worn plaid shirt were rolled up, revealing his tanned forearms, strong hands with calloused fingers gently strumming a beautiful melody. His chestnut hair was longer now, falling in soft layers that framed his face, then curling into waves at the nape. His eyes were closed, fringed with long, dark lashes. Rough stubble darkened his face, giving him a disheveled, sexy appeal. As he sang, his lips formed that familiar heart shape when they pursed together, and unleashed a deep croon when they came apart. The effect was altogether sensual.
I sat motionless on my bar stool, not daring to move – not wanting to leave this moment. He sang for me. In his deep whiskey siren song, I heard the pleas of his heart and the promises from his soul. I succumbed to the overwhelming emotions coursing through me and tasted the salty relief that slid down my cheeks. As he asked, my heart had listened and his song had moved me to tears. For so long I had questioned his intentions and his motivations. Life had beaten him down, broken his spirit. I wondered if the past would always haunt him. While he wandered and chased his dream, I hoped that he would realize his dream was waiting for him to come home.
That night my cowboy sang his song for me. His words touched my soul. And I finally saw forever in his eyes.
The Cowboy Series
PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz
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“There’s a hurricane coming. You should stay home.” He stared at the darkened sky, inky black in the distance.
“This interview is huge. I can’t miss it. And I have my lucky charm.” She jangled the bracelet he’d given her for their anniversary. “Besides, they won’t run the ferry if it’s not safe.” She kissed him softly, sweetly. “I’ll be fine. Call you tomorrow.”
~ ~ ~ ~
Turning on the morning news, his coffee mug fell and shattered, hot liquid rivulets snaking across the tile floor when he saw the lead story.
FERRYBOAT CAPSIZES – NO SURVIVORS
It was a tradition dating back to high school. Every year on July 3rd we gathered at the river, drank beer, and lit bottle rockets; a “Fourth of July Eve” of sorts. Thirty years later and we still gathered, the sound of 80s hair metal mixing with laughter carried on the night air, soaring as high as the fireworks we set off. Our numbers had dwindled, some had moved away, some had moved on from this world. We toasted to everyone who couldn’t be with us, and remembered the days long gone. Days we thought would never end, and days we knew would never last.
© C E Ayr
Sophie pushed through the crowded terminal. She had to make this flight. In ten minutes the doors would close. She picked up her pace and prayed she didn’t clip anyone with her rolling carry-on bag.
She thought back to their conversation the night before. She and Nate had a nasty fight and she’d said some awful things. The kind of things you can’t un-say. She’d tried to call him back to apologize but all twenty calls had gone straight to voicemail. She’d done the only sane thing she could think of – booked the first flight to Boston. Sane is in the eye of the beholder.
Downtown traffic was heavier than usual and she was close to missing her flight. Just ahead in the crowd she saw a pocket open and she rushed forward, hoping to move past the lollygaggers. She stopped abruptly when she saw it – the statue of the lovers, reunited and locked in a passionate embrace.
She thought of Nate and imagined him holding her in just that same way. Kissing her and telling her all was forgiven. A wistful smile crossed her lips and she moved again with renewed energy toward Gate 47A. Toward her future.
I’m an imaginary person in my own world. Invisible to everyone, I exist only in my mind.
PHOTO PROMPT © Karuna
“You shouldn’t put yourself through this now.”
She ignored his plea and stepped out of the car into the cold December air.
Standing in borrowed clothes before the charred clapboard skeleton, she took tentative steps forward in the rubble.
She felt confusion and frustration at being lost in her own home.
Finally, she found the playroom and fell to her knees, hands sifting through the burned remains.
There – underneath a broken rocking chair – the children’s toys.
A hand on her shoulder held her back. “Don’t do this.”
Her teary eyes met his. “It’s all I have left.”
I spend a good portion of my time avoiding people with the mistaken belief that I can circumvent the emotional turmoil that comes with relationships; when the actuality of solitude is an emotional abyss tethered to Hell.
I dropped onto the damp grass, a cold bottle of Riesling in my hand. I made sure to get the one with the screw-cap – it would be easier. Opening the lid, I tilted the bottle in a mock salute and took a long drink. A few tears escaped my eyes, snaking down my cheeks and dropping onto my bare legs, untanned from long months inside, escaping the cold winter.
Dammit, Lizzie! It was supposed to be me. I was the screw-up. You were the one who prayed, who went to church, who helped others and did charity work. Mother Teresa I used to call you, only half joking. You, you could save the world. Me? I was destined to destroy it. Or at least destroy anything that came into my path. It’s not supposed to work this way. “Only the good die young?” That’s bullshit. The world needs all the good people it can get. More you, less me.
I put my hand against the cold granite.
Elizabeth Anne Donohue
Mother * Wife * Daughter * Sister
January 14, 1974 – April 20, 2017
My finger traced over the word ‘sister’. You were so much more than a sister. You were everything to me. Big sister, best friend, mother, confidant, partner in crime. You weren’t supposed to leave me. Not now, not this soon. We didn’t even have a chance to grow old and wear purple and join the red hat society.
I poured some wine into the grass, as if you could taste it, and took another long swig myself. Looking up at the cloudy sky I thought of all the dark days in front of me. “I guess I have to be the responsible one now, huh?” I said aloud, as if you were sitting next to me. But then I did feel you, right next to me, nudging me like an over-protective big sister would. “Whatever, Lizzie.” I finished the wine and nestled myself against your tombstone. “Just let me rest a bit first.”
She pulled the diamond solitaire from the dusty box, carefully as if it could shatter. The gem was lackluster from years of neglect, the gold band dull and lifeless. She thought back to the last time it had seen light, it had been almost fifteen years since the funeral. Cradling the ring in her fingers, she gently rubbed and buffed it until it shone like the glistening sun. When she delivered it to her eldest son, a gift to his betrothed, she wanted it to shine just like the day her beloved husband had presented it to her. A token passed down generation to generation. She wished her husband could be here to give it to Matthew; although, if he was here, she would still be wearing it. She stifled back a tear. Now was not the time to get weepy. It was a celebration. Jason was surely smiling down on them.
I allowed the hurt and anger to build, simmering just under the surface, waiting for the inevitable moment the bomb inside of me would detonate.
PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll
She stood in the rubble, memories flooding back like ocean waves. She was twenty-two and dressed to the nines. The sounds of jazz and laughter filled the air. Then she saw him and the room faded away. The melody that rang out from his trumpet was like a siren call. She knew he was the one. Sixty years later, after the funeral, when she was alone, she returned to the place where they first met, where she first fell in love. She found the place in shambles, much like her heart. And she said her final good-bye.
He loved me completely. At times soft and sweet, then with the passion and fury of a madman unleashed. He teased me with his sweet words and played me with his strong fingers. When we made love the mountains moved and the heavens opened to hear our cries. When we came down our bodies molded into one, with no beginning and no end. When he was gone I wept, not for the loss but for what he had given to me. He left an impression on my heart that nobody would ever be able to fill.
He’s back, my midnight cowboy. Singing sweet words in his deep whiskey siren voice for an audience of one. Night after endless night playing in smoky bars didn’t catapult him to fame. He returned slightly rumpled, ego bruised and I welcomed him with a standing ovation. I inhaled the smell of his cologne and sweat as I pulled him tightly to me and whispered in his ear, “Welcome home cowboy.”
The sun peeked through the bedroom curtains, casting a glow on his scruffy beard, and my head raced with excitement. We’d waited through weeks of rain for this beautiful clear spring morning. I didn’t want to waste any of it. I did have a small pang of regret for waking him. He was so peaceful and beautiful in slumber. I could watch him for hours, his normally furrowed brow at rest, long dark lashes hiding his mesmerizing cornflower blue eyes. But this morning I couldn’t wait. I shook him like a child waking her parents on Christmas morning. “Spencer. Wake up.”
After a stop at the coffee shop – black coffee for him, Earl Grey for me – we walked hand in hand to the park. I tipped my head back, allowed the sun to warm my face and smiled. “You’re beautiful.” I turned to see his grinning face, heart-shaped lips stained red from the fresh strawberries we ate at breakfast. I waggled my eyebrows at him, “Race you” then took off running, laughter bouncing off the tree branches.
When we reached Conservatory Water I slowed and approached in awe. It was our first visit of the season and I marveled at the deep blue color of the glassy water. The light wind would be perfect for sailing boats. When we were finally ready we put our boats in the water and I watched the surface break, sending wave after tiny wave out in perfect circles. We looked at each other as if we were five-years-old, the innocence and wonder of a child pure in our eyes. A simple nod was all it took – our boats were in the water, set adrift to wait for a puff of wind that would send them sailing as far as our hearts allowed.
My heels sunk into the soft grass. I didn’t care that they would be ruined but I couldn’t help but wonder why women wore heels to funerals or why they didn’t put something on the ground for women to walk on so they wouldn’t ruin their heels. It was a strange thought to have, considering the circumstances. My face showed no sign of the turmoil brewing deep within. A drunk driver had not only killed my husband, but by default had killed me too. I was only a shell left to muddle through the days as if life had a meaning. A single tear escaped my eye and snaked down my cheek. Making no move to wipe it away I stood woodenly alone. Too soon my family and friends would descend, smiles plastered on their faces, feigned concern in their voice. No, for now I was alone. I broke the silent morning air. “You bastard. How could you leave me?” Then finally, I smiled. Because in my head I could hear his voice echoing back. “You know, you’re ruining your favorite heels.”
PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot
Blurry eyes struggled to focus. A very late night and too many tequila shots led us to this late-night diner.
“You shouldna given ‘im your number.” Tessa’s slurred words rang true and regret filled my veins.
“I got this.” I made a zigzag path down the aisle. “Scuse me. Y’want my phone?”
The girls’ shocked looks never registered as I dropped my phone on the stained Formica counter and wobbled away.
“See. Problem fixed.” I brushed my hands together and dropped into the booth, stuffing a handful of fries into my grinning mouth.
He was notorious for his ability to charm any woman into believing she was content with a relationship built on nothing but the promise of yesterday.
I don’t know when it ended exactly. Or how. Or why. I only knew that what was once eternal love was now expendable. I kept up the farce for as long as I could, afraid to let the world see how I had failed so miserably at love. But defeat was inevitable. I waved the white flag and surrendered my heart to the universe.
We were on the precipice, our future in the balance. What you said next would determine the rest of our life. I bit my lip and held my breath, waiting for you to speak. Seconds ticked by, agonizingly slow, your face betraying no sign of the emotions you held within. I silently exhaled, my lungs crying for oxygen. Waiting for an answer was like slow torture. Finally, you spoke. “You’re too good for me.” GAME OVER
She used men like Kleenex. She had no qualms about loving and leaving; a trail of masculine wreckage in her wake. A regular female Don Juan.
Love is a blind collaboration
Two hearts believing
Two souls trusting
With no guarantee of anything
Beyond this kiss
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Dark, ominous clouds matched the fog in her head. The statue looked vaguely familiar, as if she’d been here before, but she wasn’t sure what she was doing here now. Sitting on the marble pedestal below, she held her throbbing head and searched her memory. Images ran wildly like an old carousel slide projector. A small hotel room overlooking a piazza. A cup of cappuccino at a sidewalk café. Holding hands with a man near a fountain. A Celtic tattoo on his forearm. A shiver of fear ran through her. Why couldn’t she remember more?
“Are you okay love? That bump on your head looks bad. I can take you somewhere to get it checked out.” She looked up into a smiling face. He spoke with an Irish brogue and seemed friendly enough. She reached for his outstretched hand and noticed the tattoo on his forearm. A memory flashed through her mind. A struggle inside the hotel room. A broken lamp. Running down a stairwell and disappearing into a crowded piazza. His smile was suddenly sinister and she pulled her hand back. A shiver of terror ran through her. “Now Abigail, let’s not put up another struggle.”
I enjoyed the view from the hospitality suite. He stepped beside me and held out a frosty bottle of beer. We stood in silence, sipping the cold brew and drinking in the sight of the Temple of Baseball laid out below. Players in bright white pants and bold red shirts dotted the emerald field in various stages of warm-up. Some stretched, some hit, some threw, some ran. Some merely stood talking, about what I wondered. Game strategy perhaps, or maybe something as simple as what they had planned for their day off – one day in the middle of a long stretch of back to back to back to back games. My eyes darted back and forth from one group of players to another, not settling on one spot for very long before moving again. It was a visual delight.
I breathed the smell of popcorn and hot dogs and beer and fresh cut grass and summer air, a combination unique to a baseball stadium. “It’s a beautiful day. Thank you for inviting me.” I turned to him, meeting his cornflower blue eyes. My stomach flipped at the upturned corners of his plump lips and the apple cheeks that formed when he grinned. His deep southern drawl still melted my heart. “Darlin’, baseball is no longer my favorite pastime.”
I feel like my life is a maze and I’m in the middle somewhere with no idea where I am or how to get out.
Pink is the color of first love.
White is the color of eternal love.
Green is the color of misplaced love
Blue is the color of broken love.
Red is the color of forbidden love.
Gray is the color of lost love
Black is the color of betrayed love.
Purple is the color of violent love.
We met on a bright spring morning. Under the pink blooms of the dogwood trees in the park. I hadn’t wanted him to pursue me. I did everything in my power to discourage him. Still he persisted. And I resisted. For as long as I could, I shut him out, afraid to give him my heart. His charm proved to be unavoidable. I fell hard. When I love, I love completely. But when I lose . . . He loved me back, for a while. It wasn’t long and it wasn’t enough. In the end, I had an empty space where my heart used to be.
We met on a crisp autumn morning. Under the flaming red leaves of the dogwood trees in the park . . .
I love a man who can cook. I was lucky enough to have found a man who could cook and sing. A sexy man with many talents is a dangerous thing.
He was making berry pancakes with cream cheese and berry filling, one of my favorite breakfast dishes. Even if it was almost noon. He moved skillfully around the kitchen, measuring, chopping, adding things to the bowl. He hummed as he went, probably without even realizing it was my favorite song. He’d written it years ago, well before we met. Before life had beaten him down and love had twisted his heart. Back when he was still full of hope and dreams and good intentions. Whenever I heard the lyrics I liked to imagine that man was still somewhere inside of him.
A small sigh escaped my lips as I drank in the sight of him. His short dark hair spiked wildly with no particular sense of direction. The sleeves of his blue and white plaid shirt were rolled up to his elbows, showing off his tanned forearms. Calloused fingers moved quickly and as effortlessly as if he was playing the guitar. Long lashes framed bright cornflower blue eyes which I got just a glimpse of every now and then when his head moved just so. His lips were full and when he looked up and saw me staring intently, they curved up at the corners into an impish grin that made my toes curl.
He lifted the spoon from the mixing bowl and carried it over to me, one hand underneath to protect the tile floor from drips. I took a tentative lick and closed my eyes, breathing in deeply. “Oh, my God, that tastes like sin.” He put the spoon to his own lips and I felt the warmth of desire spread through me. He could make even the simple act of licking a spoon sexy as hell. He scrunched his nose and shrugged modestly. “Mmmm. Not bad.”
Moving back to his place behind the kitchen island, I watched him continue. His hands moved quickly and he still hummed softly. I felt butterflies form in my stomach. I was completely and hopelessly in love with him. I wanted to know this wasn’t temporary – this feeling, this thing between us. He’d been burned pretty badly in the past but, hadn’t we all been hurt? We’d said the words, shared the passion. I knew he loved me. I just didn’t know if he loved me forever.