Friday, August 13, 2010

Magpie tale


Willow, at
hosts a weekly writing prompt
using the below photo
write a poem or small vignette

She heard the car coming up the gravel driveway and watched as a slim chestnut haired young woman existed the car and walked toward her.
"I'd like to know if I can photograph your farmstead, particularly the out buildings. Buildings like these are disappearing from the American landscape and I want to preserve their images."
Mabel Price just stared at the young woman, remembering when she had such ambitions. In that brief pause she thought about her life choices, marrying Karl and living the life of a farm wife, an isolated life with the man she loved. 
"What' your name?" is all she managed to ask this wisp of girl in front of her.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I'm Claire,Claire Dunn."
If she had said anything else Mabel hadn't heard, but rather she took in the sight of the young woman's large hooped earrings and the silver bell she wore around her neck on a long silver chain, the fitted tank top with a strange symbol on the front and the rather masculine Harley Davidson black, lace up, leather boots on her feet.
"I promise I won't be long...just a few shots. May I?'
Mabel gave her permission and watched as Claire began shooting photographs of her farm. She watched her climb onto things twisting her body to get just the right shot of something that had caught her eye.
Mabel felt something akin to excitement rise in her, something long abandoned. She watched as Claire stopped by an old ruin of a building, the only things remaining of it were a brick wall and the old pipes that once connected to a sink. She watched as the young woman with great ease squatted on the ground and began shooting pictures of the pipes, then watched as she put down her camera and just stared at them. 
"Yeah, it's a sight those old pipes," said Mabel,"been meaning to do something about that old building, but out here folks don't bother with things that fall down or wear out. They just leave 'em. It took me a long time to learn to live with all that.  I don't even see it anymore."  
Claire stood up and looked Mabel straight in the eye and said, "I'm glad it was here. I saw the desert."
"What?" asked Mabel.
"See here," Claire said placing her fingers on the pipes,"See the turquoise and rust, it's the colors of the desert."
Mabel might be old and have lived alone for decades, but she knew longing when she saw it.
"Well, Claire, what is it about the desert that interests you so much that you would contort yourself to get a picture of some old pipes on some old lady's farm?'"
"It's my boyfriend, he's moved to Santa Fe. He wants me to move there."
"Well?" asked Mabel.
"I don't want to live in Santa Fe, all my family is here in Illinois and Iowa."
"Do you love him?"
"Do you see yourself marrying him?"
"I thought so,but then he moved. He said that is his dream as an artist, to live there."
Mabel looked into the fields just beyond and remembered when she almost let Karl slip away because she had wanted to be a newspaper reporter in the big city.
"Now I'm just an old lady, but if you want my 2 cents, I say go...go to Santa Fe...and take your camera. There must be old buildings needin preservin there. If you saw the desert in some old rusty pipes, I say it is a sign."
Claire hugged Mabel and began laughing with tears, "You're right."
Mabel walked Claire back to her car, and yielded to Claire's request for a photo of her.
Mabel wondered if the photo captured the longing in her eyes.



  1. I enjoyed this a lot - it really is best to follow your heart. Although I read a quote from Marilyn Vos Savant the other day where she said that if your head & heart don't agree figure out which one is smarter - or something like that. I wonder how you know?

  2. Hi Suz! This was so charming, so well written! I felt every emotion between the two women and in each woman.

  3. This was a good one, and all of this from one old pipe

  4. Bug...Helen..glad you liked it..

    Audrey, I racked my brain looking at that photo and all that I saw was the turquoise color on the pipe...thanks

  5. Hi Suz, you have captured so well, the one-way feelings older people have for the young. The tolerance and wisdom that sees the possibilities and understands the complexities but holds all that back, offering only '2 cents worth' which if the young person only knew, is gold. Most young people see only the snapshot of an old person in that place at that time. For me you just clarified that relationship, and with ten grandkids, that's my piece of gold.

    And... Thanks for your support. I have decided to stop commenting on comments on my blog. Of course I love comments, and they are so empowering but replying takes time I would rather spend reading other people's work. XX

  6. What a great job you have done with the picture. A great read.

  7. Suz, this was a gorgeous story, torquoise is my favourite colour. I particularily loved the last line, now I think thats a line we would all identify with.

  8. Excellent. You brought a lot together from such a simple picture.

  9. Ooo, I disagree on this one, I would have advised Dear Claire to stand her ground.
    It would be refreshing to see am man encourage his love to follow her heart:o

  10. Wow! Yes, love the color of the pipe. (I kept thinking she was going to be an axe-murderer) but no- your story is wonderful - absolutely love that last line.

  11. Stand your ground, Claire! I'm all for following one's heart, but in the case for love, it's mostly the women who give in.

  12. closer...she never advised giving up her desire
    she only gave her a word of wisdom about love

  13. I loved reading this. Great setting and characters, a story i think everyone can relate to somehow in their lives; the fear and joy of starting life somewhere new. great writing.

  14. very powerful. love the detail and conversations between the two ladies. love is a strong emotion and can take us many places. dogwood

  15. A lovely story..reliving through someone else's dreams..a lot of emotion here!

  16. Such a charming story! Loved it!

  17. I loved the colour in these old pies too - and I love your story.

  18. Dear Suz,

    This was filled with longing and release - how wonderful for Mabel to have experienced regret to make sure Claire doesn't lose her chance for happiness...

  19. beautiful write Liz...i especially liked the last line..Mabel wondered if the photo captured the longing in her eyes..sometimes a picture can capture it and that's just fantastic

  20. sorry Suz - not Liz .... was confused with Claire and Mabel....

  21. Oh I liked this one. I too would follow my heart!

  22. This one made me cry. Happy tears, of course, but still cry. I want to be that kind of old lady some day. The kind that talks to strangers and encourages young people to follow their hearts.

  23. Charming and poignant tale - I so enjoyed the imagery and the characters.

  24. Great story! I really enjoyed how you summed up every moment of the events in the last line! A story of hope....


  25. This was so good, it brought a tear to my eye!
    I LOVED the last 'did it capture the longing in her eyes'... good god! Eyes can speak a lot!! But I don't know what to hope for... that it catch her longing, or not!
    A fantastic read! At the end of the day, love takes precedence over everything else!

  26. There is so much contained in this story, great characterisationa dn you really captured the life changing decisions of both women. and, a great read!


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