Risqué

“Her glutes aren’t showing, Simon. Stop seeing things.” She pushed the man away, and walked towards me while still talking to him. “The pose might be a little risqué. That’s all. But it’s our daughter’s best self-portrait. She wants it at the center of her birthday celebration, and she’ll have it.”

“Bethany, please.” The man put a hand on the woman’s shoulder. “Let’s talk about this.”

She slapped the hand away. Hard. The flesh on flesh sound echoed through the empty parlor. When he reached for her again, she stopped and said, “There isn’t any talking to be done. Grow up, Simon! Our daughter is sixteen-years-old. She has the right to show some thigh, if that’s what she wants.”

“We don’t know, Bethany,” the man said. “Maybe she—”

“There are no maybes here.” She left him talking to empty air. Wiping tears on the sleeve of her black suit, she closed the distance between us. “Excuse me,” she said. “You’re the event planner?”

“Yes, ma’am.” I extended a hand. “Let me offer you my—”

“Never mind that.” She waved my words away. Her tears and her annoyance towards the man were covered by a bright smile. “My husband can’t agree on the details of the celebration.” She glared at him when he joined us. “Would you mind being the voice of reason?”

“Bethany,” the husband said. “Don’t do this.”

“I understand now.” The woman laughed. “You know he’ll agree with me,” she said, pointing at my chest. “I’m right and you don’t want to hear it. Well, too bad.” She took a picture out of her suit’s inner pocket. “Let’s get this over with.”

The husband tried to grab the picture, but she had already put it in my hands.

“You tell me, sir.” The woman looked from my face to the picture. Then she turned towards her husband. “Tell us,” she said.

I didn’t look at the picture. My eyes were on the husband’s face. The dark circles under his eyes were wet and swollen. His lips were trembling. 

I squeezed the picture between my fingers.

“He’s getting to you, too?” The woman shook her head. “Just look at it. I made her that dress. I don’t understand the ribbons, but I made the dress. It was the only thing she asked for, so of course mommy made it for her baby.” She smiled and hugged herself. “It’s hand sewn. I had a business meeting I couldn’t miss, but I made the dress during the plane ride. On her birthday. But I don’t understand the ribbons.” She began to cry. “I don’t understand the ribbons. I don’t understand the red ribbons…”

“They told me she had to see it for herself,” the man said.

I nodded before lowering my eyes to the picture in my hands. A naked girl floated in still waters. Tendrils of blood, that looked almost too red to be real, streamed out of her wrists.



for Magpie Tales 182
photo by Elena Kalis 

59 comments:

  1. Sad end to a young life...

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  2. Stunning visuals - I think, one of your best.

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    1. Strange how sometimes our "best" bursts out of our brains in just minutes...

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  3. Naked grief accompanied by red guilt....I can almost smell it.

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    1. I like the way you've described it...

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  4. Oh my Goddess, Magaly. I'm stunned. I think in a good way...but damn. That is just...wow. I want to take that poor dad in my arms and hug his sadness away.

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    1. I want to hug them both... Loss affects people in such different ways, doesn't it?

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  5. I think this really is one of your best so far, in terms of the characterization through conversation. It's very, very real.

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  6. I loved this, very painful. But it was a little difficult to follow the first time through. I don't know what I would do to change it though, and it all made sense on second reading.

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    1. I'll keep this in mind, if I ever add to it... Knowing me, I probably will.

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    2. I figured it out: Because there is no introduction to the characters it's hard to know how many there actually are. One thinks it's just wife and husband, then the sudden "I" after a few paragraphs makes things a little confusing.

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    3. I love very short stories, but they do have their limitations, don't they?

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  7. A lot of hope and promise gone.. What a twist!.

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    1. Life (and death, it seems) always comes with a little twist...

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  8. Excellent write...my favorite of yours to date...

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  9. Grief is a perception. Sometimes...... Excellent story, disturbingly so.

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    1. Grief does all kinds of things to people's minds. And some of the things are disturbing indeed...

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  10. I love it....thanks for sharing

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  11. This was so powerful Magaly. Stunning imagery and just heart renching. This has made my favorites list for sure.

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    1. I'm working on a story tentatively titled "I Lied." I have a feeling you'll like it quite a bit...

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  12. Gah!....*made me cry*...beautifully done <3 XXX

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    1. Didn't mean to make you cry, my Gina. But we both know certain things in life (and death) can't be helped...

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  13. A truly amazing story!
    Saludos.

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    1. One day, I'll write "amazing" in your colors, Leovi. I hope my words can be as liquid, palpable and sensual as your images...

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  14. Replies
    1. I agree. It looks very haunting from every angle...

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  15. Oh wow this truly was exceptional, powerful

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    1. "powerful" is quite acceptable here ;-)

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  16. This was a pulling and powerful read. I loved it. The story is beautifully complete as it is - no need to change or add.

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    1. It feels that way to me, too... particularly when we consider that although grief can grow less debilitating, it never really goes away.

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  17. Wow! You really captured the mother's confusion and denial of her daughter's death, and the imagery! Ribbons of blood flowing from her wrists, although sad, I can't help but appreciate your writing and story telling skills :)

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    1. I'm right with you about the confusion... I think that's what Ms Misantropia was feeling (comment above). Losing someone is such a difficult thing and it always seems unreal. Who am I talking to? Like you don't know *sigh* One of these days, we need to share a bottle of wine and talk about our Summerlanders...

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  18. Amazing as always my love. The grief seems to ooze from the screen as I read this and the imagery is amazing.

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    1. I almost used the word "oozing" at the end... but "trickling" and "streaming" kept on popping up...

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  19. Very sad! Very well written!!!

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    1. Thanks, dear friend. I love happy, but every now and then we need to throw a little sad to balance things out...

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  20. Replies
    1. Thank you, you very handsome bird ;-D

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  21. so sad
    so painful.

    you're so talented Magaly.

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    1. I'm glad you think so ;-)

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    2. I'm not glad about the "sad" and "painful" as that would be awful. About the talented bit ;-D

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  22. Wow.....almost like having you lead me across a street...when suddenly you let go...and Wham! Run over ;P

    It was that good :)

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    1. "...you lead me across a street...when suddenly you let go...and Wham! Run over." Wow. And they say I have a way with words.

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  23. Damn, girl! If you are going to cheat on NaNoWriMo, what a way to do it! My goosebumps are all sad and ravaged feeling!

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    1. WoooHooo! Sometimes cheating is so delicious (and productive). I actually completed my NaNo quota, and was so thrilled to have some time left to do something else, that the adrenalin fed quite a bit of extra writing ;-D

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  24. The madness of grief - perfect... Those poor parents

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  25. Sad, Powerful, very visual, and your best yet!!!!!

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    1. Writing more about the tale is a bit draining, but in a good sort of way... if that makes any sense.

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  26. I'm a huge fan of Elena Kalis' work; her Alice in Waterland images are startling and new, so I was delighted to see this photo used in such a poignant and moving way. The moment the mother approached the 'event planner' is genius, cutting their sentence short so that the reader inserts 'congratulations' instead of 'condolences' Just magical, Magaly.

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    1. I saw her work, for the first time, when The Mag shared this prompt. I've been lurking around every since. Wonderful...

      Thanks for the feedback, I was looking for the best way to mislead without lying and in something this short it is rather difficult for moi ;-)

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  27. After reading twice to understand the characters, the pain is so evident...

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    1. When I finished this story, I was convinced that it was done. But no... I re-read it and I found myself wanting to know more about the parents, the girl and the circumstances that brought the family to this point. So, we'll see...

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