ON PARIS

"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

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

#FREEDOMMORNING - #WEPAPRILCHALLENGE - MY #FLASHFICTION, 'THE BEACH HOUSE.'

 Hello! Welcome to the #WEP April challenge. This is our Year of Art at WEP, and we started with a very successful challenge with Klimt's THE KISS for February. A challenge won by Jemi Fraser with Sin and Sunshine. To read Jemi's flash to give you an idea of the kind of writing that wins prizes, go HERE


This month we honor Claude Clark, an African American artist and art educator. In his bio, he said, 'As a child in the churches, the schools and the community, I dreamed of a destiny.' This dream is shared by so many today, with modern day slavery skyrocketing to numbers over 40 million. And of course, that's just a very conservative estimate. Big Chocolate, Big Coffee, Big Tabacco  -- most of the 'Bigs' have discovered how using child slaves in their plantations adds to their bottom line, even though they've promised to 'end child slavery' -- ha ha ha.

The 'Big' stories are for another day. I nearly shared Arno's Big Chocolate story, but that would have spoiled Easter for you. This challenge is perfect for one of the causes close to my heart -- arranged marriage and domestic abuse, whether mental or physical or both. These stories make me fume.

Today, I want to share Emma Dil's story. Like Claude Clark, she dreamed of a destiny far removed from her present day situation.


The Beach House

 

Image result for IMAGE OF HOUSE FALLING INTO SEA

Emma Dil was a fool to leave Paris. 

The city where she feels safe.

Where freedom reigns.

She was a fool to come back.

Here.

Here holds too many memories, too many secrets.

Memories and secrets she can no longer ignore.

She must deal with them or she’ll never reach her potential.

There. In front of her. The beach house, its timbers broken and exposed. Since she escaped, years of relentless tides have eaten away at its foundations. It now teeters on the edge of the dunes, on its knees in the sand, ready to surrender to a king tide.

Today the ocean holds no threat like it did that night many years ago. Its gentle waves lap the sand, leaving a trail of silvery froth and grit. Gazing at the peaceful sea, she almost forgets why she suppressed her memories for so long. But the mind holds onto things, remembers things best forgotten, overwhelms in the early morning hours when the body is most vulnerable.

 Confronted with the crumbling house, her mind searches its dark recesses, unearthing hidden secrets which she thought buried. Through the years, in her silent moments when the busyness of life paused, it spoke so softly in the gentlest of whispers, as it tried to speak to her of its memories. Then there were other times when her pain rushed to the surface without warning, hurtling through her like a runaway train, threatening to derail her altogether.

 She cries, falls to her knees in the wet sand. She no longer wants to carry that heavy sharp stone of hurt which has kept her caged like a helpless bird, which has stopped her enjoying the freedom of her new life. 

 She will no longer be held hostage to painful memories.

 Memories of her last terrible night in that crumbling house threaten to drown her in a tidal wave of hurt.

  ~*~


On the night she died to her old life, the wind roared, the rain poured, the waves crashed. The mighty Pacific Ocean swirled, rose and fell in a dance of wave and tide. Then the winds calmed, the moon rose and sat outside her window, bathing her in light.

 She’d been asleep, tossing and turning like the tide as she did every night. She’d opened her eyes and watched the moonlight creep across her bed like a lover’s soft caress. The sheets tangled and folded over the bed like waves. Kicking off the covers, she threw herself across the bed like a beached whale.

 The moon’s light overlooked the angry welts criss-crossing her legs. The wounds throbbed, but she had no ointments to ease the pain. But the pain she felt inside at her father’s betrayal was worse than any belting.  There were no ointments to soothe that sharp pain.

The crashing waves heralded high tide. Soon the water would rise to just below her window. The relentless pummeling against the house posts, thump, thwack, thump, thwack, thumpthwack, mimicked the sound and rhythm of her father’s belt as it cut her tender flesh while her mother cowed in the corner, praying, flinching each time the belt descended. Did she pray for her husband’s soul? For her daughter’s pain? Why didn’t she do something? Anything … But her mother was as helpless as she.

Father would not be denied his will. She was her father’s daughter. She would never give in to his demands. She would not marry the boy from Afghanistan, her father’s choice for her. She would marry the man she loved.

 A big storm had struck earlier in the night. Now the rain starts again. Relentless. Like her father’s demands. He locked her in her room until you come to your senses were his words. She hasn’t been able to communicate with Ahmed since she was imprisoned, but she was not afraid. She would escape her cage. She and Ahmet would be together. As God willed.

She knew Ahmed waited for her every night beyond the dunes. It was her hope. Her belief.

Tonight she must choose freedom.

 She wrapped her hand in the end of her sheet and smashed the locked window, thankful the pelting rain muffled the sound of breaking glass, thankful she did not cut herself on the jagged edges.

The black night sucked her in. 

Hitting the surprisingly warm water, she swam for her life, her robe tangled around her knees, dragging her under. Water filled her mouth and nose. Waves slapped her face but fell more gently than her father's hands. She fought the urge to surrender to the elements. No. She has waited too long for freedom. What was this water compared to the joy that lay ahead, a new life with her love? 

Her name meant ‘Heart’s Wish.’ She would have her wish.

A new life in Paris. With Ahmet.

Her bare feet found sand at last. Running out of the water, she held her sopping robe in her hands and sprinted toward the trees.

‘Emma Dil.’ Ahmed whispered her name as he stepped forward from his place on the dunes where he later told her he’d made a shelter and watched her window for many days and nights, fighting the urge to break down the door and drag her away from her father's abuse.

Now, at long last, Ahmed held her in his safe arms.

Freedom.

Home.

 

~*~

 

These many years later, Ahmed watches her from the top of the dunes, next to the crumbling wreck that had been her home when her family first arrived from Afghanistan. Before it became her prison. After she rises to her feet, in a few long strides he is by her side. He gently cradles her. Rocks her like a baby while she cries in his arms.

 Her tears are healing tears.

 She will be whole again.

 ‘My brave girl,’ he whispers.

 Over her shoulder the house groans and lurches, plunges into the sea. Its timbers break like skittles. The tide reaches out its greedy hand and sucks it under the waves.

WORDS: 1,000

FCA

If it's too late to join WEP this month, please consider joining us in June. We continue our Year of Art with this challenge - 



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39 comments:

  1. Thank you.
    Here's to happy endings, and the redemptive power of tears and understanding.

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  2. Hi Denise - this is sad at the horror, while yet ... over time and with luck things can come right - but after that terror. Domestic abuse is just awful ... thank you for reminding us.

    Also I was pleased to read about the artist ... I'll check him out.

    Thanks for adding me in ... all the best - Hilary

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    1. It is one of my hot button issues, Hilary. Makes me fume.

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  3. Excellent! Well done. Too many women from western cultures are unaware of how fortunate we are.

    Shalom aleichem

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  4. What a beautiful story. I loved how she was brave enough to fight for her freedom.

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  5. A powerful and empowering story. Your imagery and descriptions are excellent. Thank you for reminding us of this current terror as we go about our western lives.

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  6. Oh, my heart. You know how to wrench my emotions in ALL the directions, Denise!

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  7. "Why didn’t she do something? Anything … But her mother was as helpless as she." - Why Emma expected her mother to do something? Why didn't she hold her father's belt and yanked it hard so that her father fell?
    She appeared brave enough to break the window and reach Ahmed/ Ahmet (not sure which spelling is your choice Denise) whom she knew for how long has not been revealed in the story nor was Ahmed's character.
    Also it is unclear why Emma returned to the house she left.
    It's good to know that all men aren't as monstrous as Emma's father, at least her love seems not.

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  8. Denise I loved how you painted that beautiful picture with your words of Emma's house that finally fell like skittles. I cringed at how her father abused her. At first I thought it was going to be about the couple but I liked how you reflected on the helplessness of the mother. In several Asian countries mothers are a hapless lot. Though it seems to be getting better.
    Sonia from https://soniadogra.com

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  9. Great story and a fantastic heroine.

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  10. A sad tale that is too often played out in real life. I'm glad she found her freedom and was able to join the love of her life.
    Nancy

    P.S. You have both Ahmed and Ahmet in the story.

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  11. This is a wonderful take on the prompt. Dangerous though it was, I'm glad she chose freedom. It's sad that far too many people around the world face similar circumstances.

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  12. The prison house - rocks itself into the sea. I enjoyed the tale of Emma and Ahmed. Arranged marriage is anathema to me as well, even though I live in a country where it's still the norm and even young people accept it as such. Great story Denise. I liked this line "Waves slapped her face, but fell more gently than her father's hands." They made me shudder. Good take on the prompt.

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  13. Very lyrical writing. The story was sad in some ways that people have to fight so hard.

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  14. I'm glad she found the courage to be with the man she loved. Your descriptions, as always, are beyond brilliant. 'Moon rose and sat at her window' just loved that imagery!

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  15. Escape is one thing, forgetting is another. It's a great story, but you are the expert at great stories! Beautiful, emotional, a perfect telling! Thank you!
    Freedom Morning was the perfect prompt this month, timely!

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  16. An emotional tale about the dangers and thrills of love colliding with love's potential to heal a person. Well done, Denise.

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  17. A powerful and emotional love story. Funnily, you could have submitted this for the next round's theme and it would have fitted just as well - the "Great Wave" symbolizing her father's inhuman abuse that she has been rescued from. Well done.

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  18. Her escape is very fortunate. The truth of this tale is terrible and sad. I wish the ending happened for more women/girls! Excellent job of capturing her desperate situation and her bittersweet relief.

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  19. Excellent post! It isn't easy to escape abuse. Glad that the main character was brave enough to flee to freedom and love.

    J Lenni Dorner~ Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, Debut Author Interviewer, Reference& Speculative Fiction Author

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  20. A very powerful metaphor for escaping from the chains that confine the mind long after the physical circumstance has passed.

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  21. Oh, how wonderful. The ebb and flow of the emotions in the story matched the sea, too. Beautifully written and so poignant.
    Jemima

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  23. A difficult topic, but very well managed! Kudos. And more kudos for the badge and theme. Excellent.

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  24. Beautifully written. And the emotions shone off the page.

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  25. I'm here for the monthly IWSG and didn't expect to encounter such a lovely WEP story right in tune with the theme on several levels, for our heroine was able to escape and build a new life, hopefully healed by love. Sometimes I think those scars from parental neglect and abuse never really go away, but we adapt and persevere. Your story brings hope to the reader as well.

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    1. Thanks Beth. I didn't get to the IWSG this month. I started a post, but didn't finish.

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