statueAmelia stood on the edge of the tour group cluster and dutifully stared at the statue. She didn’t belong with these people. The only person close to her age was the guide and she suspected she made him uncomfortable. His engineered expressions that elicited laughter from his usual audience of octogenarians evoked only sighs from Amelia.

She reminded herself that she could leave at any time.

They’d been in Rome for two days; the next stop was Naples. She’d paid ahead of time for the guided tour package, thinking she might learn something, but all it did was exhaust her. She was sleeping well for the first time in months.

The statue, pockmarked and missing its original details, stood alone, far from its companions on the steps of the palazzo. Amelia could imagine the suffering it had experienced over the centuries. To endure so long only to be ogled by strangers, the thought brought tears to her eyes. She turned away.

Behind her, modern Rome rushed by in a haze of tiny cars and scooters. Commuters forced to drive in circles to avoid the ubiquitous past.

The sight of a rounded green car like the old Volkswagen she’d owned with her ex-husband pulled her own past into the present. She cut the memory off and turned back to the group. But the group was gone. Fear and panic filled her. She froze, only her eyes moved, darting, searching. The group didn’t move fast, they couldn’t have gone far. Would they notice she wasn’t with them? Would they care?

She’d resented them, all those old, nosy gossips, digging into her past, but now she wanted them back. If they came back, please come back, she promised she would tell them the truth: that she hated being alone. It was the reason she had stayed married for as long as she did. She would have stayed forever if her husband hadn’t finally, oh so gently, pushed her out the door.

“You’ll be better off without me.” he’d said.

The old ladies echoed his words, “you’ll be better on your own.” And now they had, oh so gently, walked away from her.

Amelia stood motionless, surrounded by strangers, and waited to be found.

 

51 thoughts on “Statue (flash fiction)

  1. I think your writing is beautiful – at times even completely perfect, with every word right where it should be. I keep getting excited that there’s something new of yours to be read, and I resent my boyfriend trying to talk to me as I read…! Everything I’ve ever written has always been too ’emotional’ or ‘sentimental’ (just the way I am!) but your work is always very controlled and cool, something that I admire very much. Anyway – keep writing! x

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    1. Thank you! The only thing I can say is, twenty years ago my writing was ’emotional and sentimental,’ -an apt description. I think age provides patience and experience. What I admire in your writing is your fearless honesty – hold on to that and you keep writing too!

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  2. I think that many of us would love reading this story. hate being alone and “you’ll be better off without me” thing are some that we often deal with in life.

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    1. Thank you. I’ve got nothing more to say about Amelia, but other short stories are here waiting to be read, and I keep writing more.

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    1. Perhaps she was boring. Or too needy. Or maybe he was just a jerk, or he fell in love with someone else… Many possibilities…

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  3. I loved the line – Commuters forced to drive in circles to avoid the ubiquitous past – evocative and a powerful way to place the reader firmly in the setting of Rome – nice work.

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  4. Nice, simple, evocative and I think easy for people to relate to. My only suggestion is that the simplicity works, and ‘crept into her consciousness via the form of a green car’ doesn’t. ‘Amelia’s own past was evoked by a green…’?
    Good stuff though.

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    1. Here’s a blogging question: Lets say I agree with your critique (and I do, I hated that sentence.) Now, what are the rules here? If I take your suggestion verbatim, (although I won’t because I have a horror of passive verbs 🙂 ) am I obligated to include you in the ‘authorship?’ I am exaggerating the point a bit, but it does make for an interesting question on the etiquette of what to do with comments, especially on works of fiction. This isn’t a writers workshop (or is it?) where authors are expected to absorb critiques from others into their own work.

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      1. Nothing is expected.
        I think if someone wants ‘co-authorship’, however small, for offering feedback – they are a cock and would be laughed out of any court.
        It’s not a writer’s forum, it’s a place where Blends share thoughts – for me anyway 🙂

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  5. I re-worked this story and re-posted it – just in case you have that strange sense of deja-vu while reading it…. =)

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