"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris ... then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." Ernest Hemingway

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

P is for Poetry. Write...Edit...Publish -- April challenge -- Peace and Love -- my flash fiction. Peace and Love and Pomegranates, set in Afghanistan.

Hello! It's time for the Write...Edit...Challenge. Today, you'll find some bloggers who participate in the A-Z, using their 'P' day to write to the WEP prompt, PEACE & LOVE. April is poetry month, but we're not asking people to write poetry if that's not their forte. It's certainly not mine; I'll leave it to the experts.

Today, my flash fiction is inspired by the poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, the poem which is the inspiration for the WEP challenge. With a light hand, I've sprinkled some of the sentiments throughout my story.

I'm a day early, but WEP likes early entries so the reading is spread over the week. So, here we go...

There are two angels, messengers of light,
    Both born of God, who yet are bitterest foes.
    No human breast their dual presence knows.
As violently opposed as wrong and right,
When one draws near, the other takes swift flight,
    And when one enters, thence the other goes.
    Till mortal life in the immortal flows,
So must these two avoid each other's sight.
Despair and hope may meet within one heart,
The vulture may be comrade to the dove!
Pleasure and Pain swear friendship leal and true:
But till the grave unites them, still apart
Must dwell these angels known as Peace and Love,
For only Death can reconcile the two.
Poetical works of Ella Wheeler Wilcox. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox 
Edinburgh : W. P. Nimmo, Hay, & Mitchell, 1917.

Peace and Love and Pomegranates

I dedicate this story to all those caught up in war, terrorism and other atrocities, to whom peace is a distant dream.

Daily Mail UK

Outside was a sun-baked, bright-skied Afghan day, the kind where Hallie itched to be outdoors. She dreamed of driving her beat-up Toyota to the green-folded mountains that surrounded the city of Kabul. From her vantage point overlooking the valley, she wouldn’t see the scars, the emptiness, the bombed-out places.

She smoothed her purple satin bedspread, then dusted the candlesticks in their hand-blown glass containers and placed them beside her bed. Then she knelt, head in hands and prayed. Would her prayers be answered today? It’d been weeks since he left on his clandestine mission of peace in a country that had never really known peace.

She hurried downstairs where the lunch crowd was multi-tasking—gulping espresso from colourful demitasse cups, sipping mint green tea from long glasses, wolfing down Shari’s food, while scanning newspapers for the latest news on those opposing forces, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and the Taliban.

She despaired of this Islamic republic achieving peace in her lifetime. This was a land of warriors. Warriors needed wars.

She stood at the bottom of the stairs and chewed her thumb, admiring the brown door Bosco had built for her before he went away to investigate the latest bomb blast in Kandahar.

“It has to be at least a foot thick,” he’d said, “or the NGOs will no longer authorise you as a safe restaurant.” He’d hammered in the last nail, then stepped back to admire his handiwork. She knew he wanted her safe, but they both knew the only protection between her café and the treacherous streets of the city was a flimsy wall. Just last week her front windows had been shattered by a random blast at the nearby food markets. The gaping holes mocked her—You’re next, they whispered.

The room hushed. Westerners in suits and jeans and locals in shalwaar kameezes and turbans turned towards the brown door which her security man, Asmaan, pushed open. They studied the new arrival as he ambled towards the counter like he was taking a casual stroll through Central Park. He looked exotic in this setting—tall, blond hair, dressed in black, eyes hidden behind wraparound Ray Bans. A machine gun hung over his shoulder, a sidearm swung from each hip and who knows what was hidden in his boots.
Maybe he’d come for a plate of Shari’s Qabli Pulao, or perhaps some qorma, a platter of melon from Mazar-e-Sharif? No, more likely pomegranates from Kandahar. 

Hallie clutched the counter until her legs stilled. “Hey there cowboy!” She held out her arms. “Can we trade? Guns for lunch?”

He was so close he could touch her.

He crushed her in his arms, kissing her breathless…hmm, imagination was a wonderful thing.

He scoped the room, then handed his armoury to Asmaan, who stashed it under the counter. Behind his shades, Hallie felt his eyes daring her to search him for the knife and pistol she knew he had strapped to his thigh.

“Now, what’ll it be, cowboy?” Hallie gestured to the table near the door, where he liked to sit and watch the comings and goings. As they walked, she pressed closer to him until his leg brushed hers. His black shirt strained at buttons her fingers itched to rip; those broad shoulders…she longed to massage away the knots; that bronco belt buckle, oh Lord... She dropped into a chair, breathing in short gasps, pushing her heart back into her chest.

He sat opposite, grinning. He knew her so well. He pushed his shades on top of his head. His black eyes lingered on her freshly-washed hair which fell to her shoulders in a mass of red curls she hadn't tried to straighten, then moved to her breasts, which pushed impertinently against the bodice of the floaty dress she’d bought at the market.

“I’m not hungry for food, Hallie,” he growled, shuffling his chair closer to hers.

“No? Look at everyone stuffing their faces. Ta da!” She snapped her fingers. “The best food in Kabul. A fresh shipment of pomegranates arrived this morning.”

"I brought you some." He seemed enthralled by her twitchy hands. He couldn’t touch her here with the local men watching their every move through slitted eyes, but even so, she could feel his fingers closing over hers, the strength of his grip, the warmth of his breath mingled with hers.

“My darling,” he whispered in that sexy tone she loved. “’The heavens set your appetites in motion’, Dante says. My appetites can’t be slaked by Shari’s food.”

“Is that right, cowboy?” Hallie wanted out of here, wanted his hands on her. She pushed away her chair and walked towards the stairs...fast, feeling every male eye boring into her back.

Asmaan stood, gun across his chest, guarding the stairs. “May Allah hear your prayers,” he said. Hallie blinked at him. He winked at her.

As soon as they reached the landing, Bosco scooped her into his arms and ran with her into the bedroom. The sound of his boot kicking the door charged the air with their need.

This was why she stayed. Hallie had followed him to one of the most dangerous countries in the world, terrifying her parents, her friends. But she’d never leave while Bosco was here...


The muezzin’s call to prayer woke her. She could still feel Bosco all over her—the desperation in his kisses, the pressure of his arms wrapped around her, the delicious scent of him.

She clutched the silken sheet around her shivering body. Night was falling, shaking the last light from the dusty air. The cooing of laughing turtledoves in the rooftops clashed with the wop-wop-wop of helicopters overhead.

He was gone. Like the pomegranates they’d fed each other in her bed. She was as empty as the champagne flutes that had overflowed with sparkling stars as they’d toasted those angels of peace and love, while knowing that only death could reconcile the two.

Salaamat! Hallie joined her prayers with thousands across the troubled city. “Be safe, my darling.”

Then, the bomb.

Close. Too close.

Her windows shattered.

The acrid smoke burned her lungs.

She clutched her heart.

You're next!

Oh, the pleasure and pain.

                            Image result for blog dividers graphicsImage result for blog dividers graphics

I hope you enjoyed my story for Poetry Month. Click on the links with a DL (Direct Link) after the name in my sidebar for more entries in the April WEP challenge or go to the WEP website.  

Product DetailsAnd thrilling news! Yolanda Renee's new story, The Snowman, is out on Amazon in e-book and print. If you love detective thrillers, you'll love Yolanda's book. Go HERE to read a free sample, then make Yolanda's day -- BUY! 


  1. I was waiting for the bomb to fall the entire time. You had me holding my breath, very nicely done. Love amidst war, how much more it must mean to those lucky enough to find it. I can't even imagine! Excellent, and it fit the prompt beautifully, mine, this time, not so much, but it is what it is!
    Thanks for the shout out!
    Have a beautiful week!

  2. I suspect that pleasures are savoured more fully in times of war. Savoured so that if the unthinkable (which is always thought of) happens the survivor has precious memories to hug to his or her heart.
    Beautifully told.
    And huge congratulations to Yolanda.

  3. Intense and fantastic story. You have many details in here that made me feel like you know the culture. Short stories are so hard to write, and you did a great job with yours. Thanks for sharing it.

    1. Thanks Natalie. I've never been there, but always intrigued by the culture, the good, the bad and the ugly. I've tried to incorporate all here in my flash. :-)

  4. Nice contrast of sentiment! I really like the mocking, whispering windows.

    1. (PS: In Blogger, I don't think you can turn just some of the comments off, but you can moderate them for older posts. Go to Settings > Post, comments and sharing then click on Comment Moderation Sometimes. There you can add moderation for older posts.)

    2. Thanks so much for your comments Holly. I'll try that with blogger.

  5. Hi Denise
    This was scary and beautiful all wrapped up as one. Did you know that pomegranates represent love? Loved your story.

  6. Sure captured the want to experience every moment like it is one's last. Has to be so heightened with the never knowing, latching on until the inevitable bomb drops.

    1. Yes, enjoy life while you still can and all that...thanks Pat.

  7. So much tension, so sad and scary and beautiful! Wonderful story, Denise.

  8. Beautifully crafted, Denise! The tension was palpable, I was waiting for that explosion to happen, how heartbreaking it must be for people who are caught up in these never ending megaconflicts.

    1. Aha, so I'm glad it did go off...not that i know what happened to Hallie. Hope she's okay! Yep. These conflicts are beyond bearable.

  9. Beautiful! My heart breaks right along with hers.

  10. What an absolutely beautiful story about love and the desire for peace. Such a fabulous read. Thank you for making my morning so lovely Denise.

    peace #Kalpanaawrites

    1. Oh thank you Kalpanaa. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. :-)

  11. Oooh, sexy, lol. Disaster and love were made for each other. And soldiers fight for peace you know.

    Loved the setting, and the characters. I'm in lust, lol.

  12. Great story - I don't know how people cope when they are going through such struggles.

  13. A bittersweet love story that shows despair and hopelessness but also hope that finds itself in the arms of love.
    Shalom aleichem,

  14. You're next.

    I've always wondered how people survive in a place where those words are forever perched over their shoulders, waiting to envelop them in darkness. I suppose finding little pools of pleasure in between crises is the best they can hope for.

    1. Arpan it makes you thankful for a peaceful life.

  15. That was a heartbreaking story. I almost hope they're together again, feeding each other pomegranates in the afterlife.

    1. Well, he didn't die and I'm not sure if she did or not...??

  16. Heart-wrenching! What a story, sad.

  17. Still processing... I can't imagine living with that kind of horror just beyond the door.

  18. Wow. This was absolutely amazing. Well done!

  19. Ooh, Denise, so many highly charged emotions. What must it be like to live constantly on that knife edge of fear, and yet be in love...

    1. I hope neither of us ever has to find out, Deniz.

  20. This is a wonderful story, beautifully written. Definitely a good use of the peace and love theme.

  21. I wafted along on the rhythm of the words. I like the exotic location, and the bits of realism in the description. Well done and kept me reading. . .

  22. You did a great job of sustaining the tension throughout the piece, via the anticipation of that bomb that was about to drop.

    The setting felt alive, well barely alive, considering the war taking place. I got the sense of a living entity functioning as helpless victim...the walls held their breath while the bombs wreaked havoc all around; and also useful, in protecting the lovers so they could enjoy one more night of passion, which may or may not be their last?
    Great interpretation of the prompt, Denise!

  23. Excellent story! It reminds me so much of "The Best Little Coffee Shop in Kabul." Have you read it? If you turn this story into a full-length book, there you go, that's the comparative for your query letter!

    1. Thanks J Lennie. Yes I've read that book. I've got a book well under way set in Kabul. Difficult to write.

  24. You're the second blogger I've visited today that has this kind of theme. Excellent job, Denise. Just wish bombs among the innocents wasn't so true.

    Miss joining in the WEP, but hope to be back up and running before summer with this hand thing.

  25. Hi Denise - finally I got here ... the A-Z really took over. Brilliant Denise - so evocative of the dangers of heat, potential and probable explosions, the uncertainty ... they were meant for each other ... the dust, the heat, the exploding seeds from the juicy pomegranate ... congratulation - loved the read - cheers Hilary

    1. I'm surprised you're still standing after the marathon Hilary. Thanks for coming by and reading.

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