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Sunset over Lake Junaluska, NC - Photo ©Ashley M. Calhoun

Sorry this has taken a couple of days to post up.  My blog has gotten kind of cluttered lately, but believe me, I’m not complaining!  I recommend that EVERYONE enter Emlyn Chand’s (The Ambitious Ambigue) flash fiction contest – your readership will take an amazing leap in numbers!  My thanks to Emlyn for being the great instigator, for her great prompts, and for being such a great blog mentor! Three “greats” in a row. . .WOW!  Great! (4)

So I will now share with you Emlyn’s beautiful entry:

I love clouds too! They serve as a major thematic element within my novel, “The Iron Pillar.” The protagonist, Daly is a struggling artist, who has lost her job as a teacher and been forced to move back home with her emotionally estranged mother, Laine.  Since her husband was taken by cancer thirteen years ago, Laine can no longer bear looking into the face of her daughter—it looks so much like her late husband. 

A major point of contention between the two women pertains to the mural that graced Daly’s childhood bedroom.  The mural was a landscape of sun, mountains, and clouds.  It reminded Daly of the times she spent as a little girl flying with her father in his private aircraft, but it caused her mother too much pain.  When Daly left for college, Laine painted over the mural.  Daly is unable to forget—replications of the landscape keep coming out when she works.  The following serves as a metaphor for the relationship between the mother and daughter.

Daly reasoned that, with no remaining busy work to be done, she might as well get to painting. She was an artist after all—a clichéd starving artist, living in her mother’s basement. After some debate, she selected water color as her medium. She closed her eyes and drew out a slightly used Filbert brush at random from her large pot of brushes. She liked the surprise of blindly selecting her tools. Sometimes, she even used this process to pick out her paints, but not on this day.

Digging through her water colors she chose white, yellow, blue, purple and gray. “That should do it,” she sang to herself. Sitting down at the battered architectural table, which Laine had picked up for her at a second hand store, she laid out a piece of 22×30 deckle-edged, cold-pressed parchment and clipped it into the magnetic metal. Immediately the art began to flow out of her. After forty-five minutes of furiously spreading paint around, she was finished with her piece.

It was a difficult phenomenon to understand, but sometimes a piece just grabbed Daly. It took her by the collar, putting her into a choke hold, and said “Okay, now I’m going to run the show, you are going to do exactly as I say.” It often played the role of a terrorist, taking Daly as an unwitting but willing hostage, threatening at gun point, lest its captive should become cognizant of the situation and try to regain control.

Not until the time when the piece had released its hold was Daly able to consciously examine the painting. She stepped back a few feet now in order to take the whole scene in at once.

The graying purple mountains caught her eyes first. They were crumbling, dying. Not in the bold powerful manner of a landslide or an avalanche, but in a sad, pathetic way. Time, it seemed, had just taken its hold on the range. They had stood long enough and now needed their chance to sleep, even if sleep meant death.

Next Daly noticed the sun, shining disgustingly bright. It was the sun, she realized, that was suppressing the mountains. It wanted to be the only beautiful piece of the sky; it couldn’t share, not even if the mountains were only serving as a backdrop to its brilliance. The mountains, having previously been so happy and strong, were a threat. The bright, powerful types always seemed to win in the end. The mountains, for some reason, weren’t using their strength to their advantage.

At last Daly noticed the picture’s third element, the clouds. There they were:  peaceful, content. They were surrounding the mountains in a wispy embrace, soothing them, assuaging them in their shame, helping them to rise again. They were reprimanding the sun for not sharing the sky, explaining that there was room for everyone, that they improved one another, and were more beautiful together than apart. How wise they were.

Upon further inspection, Daly realized that the clouds had a shape. Looking past the swirls of cumulus and cirrus, she discerned a face. It was her father’s face, but it was also her own.

Those of you who have not yet entered my Blogoversary Contest, please consider doing so!  You have until February 11.  The rules (there basically are none!), parameters, and where to send in your entries are found here.  The more entries, the better, and everyone who enters will receive a compilation booklet of all the entries.  In addition the three winning entries will get to chose from my photographic portfolio the print they would like, and it will be framed and sent to them.  Some of my photographs are on my “Photos” page, but there are many that are not yet.  The portfolio from which to choose will be provided the authors of the three winning entries. 

Dear Gentle Readers – may you always have enough. . .