The girl in the yellow dress now has a name - Alice.
And if you've been wondering how she got on at the ball here's the next installment...
Alice was precipitously dazzled by the flash of a camera,
not a silly little flash from a mobile phone but the monster brilliance of a
“Oh dahling,” a nasally voice whined, “How splendid, a
champagne coloured dress. Sebastian. Sebastian, please introduce me to your
date. I did see you escort this heavenly creature, now don’t be shy.”
All of a sudden her errant date was beside her again drawing
her closer as they had their photo taken together.
“Smile Alice.” He hissed from the corner of his mouth as he
switched on that disarming smile again.
She should have just chucked the champagne over him there
and then but instead forced a grin for the camera.
For fortitude she took another gulp of the sparkling nectar,
bubbles went up her nose, alcohol rushed to her head and she giggled causing
everyone around her to titter too.
She wanted to ask what was happening but whiny woman was speaking again.
“Sebastian, you said you had a plan up your sleeve. You’ve
come up trumps this time. What a fabulous marketing plan. I can see the
campaign now,” She waved a graceful arm in the air. “The golden girl of Summer
Brook sparkling English wine. Of course everyone is comparing it to champagne
but we can’t use the name officially. And you my dear are such an English rose,
with that pale yet interesting complexion. We’ll photoshop in a little blush on
those cheeks but otherwise there is very little to do.”
Alice nearly choked. Did this woman ever shut up?
“But where are my manners.” The whiny whirlwind extended a slender
manicured hand. “Melanie Preston Smythe with an e but not hyphenated. Sebastian
and I work together in the marketing department. We put this wholeevent on. Marvellous isn’t it?” Melanie drew
breath for a fraction of a second as she glanced around the room. “Of course
you must talk to Edgar, C.E.O. of Summer Brook. Sebastian, he’s going to just
love our idea. Come on.”
And where she led it seemed they had to follow. Sebastian
grabbed Alice by the hand and almost dragged her in his wake.
As Alice passed the waiter he looked a bit subdued.He was still smiling but it was fake, never
quite reaching his eyes. She noticed because he didn’t wink this time instead
held the tray out in a resigned manner. As if he’d rather be anywhere else than
here. I know the feeling Alice wanted to tell him.
“You might need another glass.” He sighed.
She graciously exchanged her empty glass for a full one. She
reasoned she might need quite a few to get through this evening.
There's plenty more to tell, it could be a LONG short story...although so far it is still less than 1000 words. I've been inspired!
As well as being inspired to write a Ghazal poem at writing group last week I also started this story.
We were only warming up with a short time of free writing based on a picture prompt chosen from a set of postcards.
I chose the one of the girl in the yellow dress, I didn't notice her expression, or the fact she had a flower in her hand but her dress reminded me of daffodils so I started off...
"Her dress was daffodil yellow..."
And then I was off. I've since changed the beginning and who knows quite where it will end but this is part 1
He was dressed like James Bond, very suave she thought, the unmistakable
tailoring of his suit had the air of extravagance to it.
“You’ve picked a good one this time.” She silently congratulated
As she was assessing his worth she noted he was making his own
appraisal. She was thankful for her friend Clare whose skill with a needle created
a masterpiece that showed off her curves to best effect.
Seemingly he approved too, his smile was both dangerous and disarming
and something inside her fluttered.
Her dress was the colour of rich butter; she was no longer a
margarine girl from the council estate. She was off to a grand ball, only
Sebastian had neglected to tell her it was a black and white "do".
As soon as they entered the ballroom her mistake became apparent
even to her uneducated eye. She stood out for all the wrong reasons, a lone
daffodil in a bouquet of exquisite lilies. Common – that was the only word for
Suddenly she was fourteen again in a hand-me-down dress at
the school disco. Tears threatened to spill from her eyes. Sebastian realising
his faux pas of picking the wrong kind of flower was nonchalantly looking
around and ever so slightly distancing himself from her.
It took courage not to turn her back on the lot of them and
run. She didn’t belong here, that was painfully obvious. Were they already
sniggering? Or was it her overworked imagination?
In the split second of deciding what to do for the best to
salvage the situation a waiter appeared by her side.
“Champagne?” Glasses sparkled elegantly on a tray presented
to her. “The colour perfectly matches your dress.” He added with a wink and she
knew it would be rude to refuse.
Of course Sebastian had completely deserted her by this
point, but she stood a little taller, breathed deeply and took a sip…
How will it end? I have a few ideas, I'll keep working on it and hopefully will share some more soon!
Last week I spent a few days away on a New Wine Christian
conference for Women and Leadership. The accommodation was excellent, food
superb; the speakers were challenging and the worship was amazing.
On Friday morning we began our worship time by singing
Give Thanks to the Lord,
our God and King,
His love endures forever…
with the chorus
…Forever God is faithful
forever God is strong,
forever God is with us,
Immediately I was transported back to another moment in time
when I sang those words with gusto.
It was exactly 6 years earlier as I drove to church for one
of our regular community breakfasts. It had been raining a bit but the sun was
trying to shine and as I drove and sang the most beautiful rainbow appeared
directly over the church where I was headed. And I thanked God for all his
promises, his goodness and faithfulness to me. God indeed is VERY GOOD.
Little did I know that 2 days later my husband would die
unexpectedly from a heart attack.
The song we sang next was Everlasting God
Strength will rise as we WAIT upon the Lord…
…You are the Everlasting God
You do not faint
You don’t grow weary
You’re the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like
I couldn’t believe the song choice, although why should I
have been surprised by God? This was a song we had played at Andrew’s funeral
but it’s been a long while since I have stood and sobbed rather than join in
with the singing. Instead I listened once more to the words of promise, those
comforting words that God is with me all along. That rainbow was a foretaste
of God’s amazing faithfulness as he has provided for my needs and never left me
through these years.
However faithful God is, it is WAIT that has been my word
for this season and it has lasted soooooo long.
While the boys have grown, moved schools, taken exams and in
the case of oldest son even gone off to university I have remained STUCK, still
in the same house, which hasn’t sold. I’ve been frustrated, resigned,
motivated, let down, energised, demoralised and through all the ups and downs I
WAIT for a new season to begin.
A few years ago I was at the New Wine summer gathering and
God gave me a glorious reminder that he was still with me and had many
blessings in store.
I thought my life was about to turn around from that moment
but years later still I WAIT.
So often I have felt that I am on God’s pending pile,
someone He will deal with tomorrow because there are so many other situations
in the world that hold His attention.
Of course God’s not really like that and He has made me
promises that there are blessings to come and so I hold on to them and WAIT a
At this conference I shared a room with someone I’d never
met before. When I checked in my room-mate hadn’t arrived but by chance or
God-incidence we happened to be sitting at the same table for dinner.
“Do you need a miracle?” She asked.
“Ummm, I don’t know!” I was hesitant. We all dream of having
our prayers answered but was a “miracle” a bit excessive for my needs.
“Oh well I got this sense earlier in the week that I should
buy a bottle of perfume called MIRACLE for whoever I was sharing a room with.
But if you’re not sure perhaps it is for someone else after all.”
And so we left that conversation there and turned our
attention back to the delicious meal before us.
Later that evening we shared a few stories but I knew I held
back. There was a time when I would have startedby saying I was a widow but I’ve come to a place
where I don’t want my loss to define me, I still wear my wedding ring, although
I went through a phase when I didn’t.I
am learning to tell less of my backstory as new chapters are being written. In
lots of ways I am moving on.
Besides saying “I am a widow” is a real conversation killer
as people struggle to find the words to say back.
However the next day, sometime after our most meaningful
worship time, I found the opportunity to share.
The words and tears came tumbling out. And the real issue at
the moment is not the grief or singleness but our mini mansion of a 7 bedroom
house, in its own grounds set in just the wrong location, an area in the North
East where houses, particularly of this magnitude are just not selling.
This year I have had 2 serious offers on it, I even instructed a solicitor to get the paperwork started and I
dreamed of finally moving and starting a new life somewhere more manageable,
closer to church and my friends.
Both buyers pulled out and I am faced with the prospect of a
future here on my own. One son is already at university, the other has started
A levels, these next two years will fly by and then what do I do?
“You do need a MIRACLE!” Said my room-mate. “I should have
trusted my conviction.”
She produced a beautiful bottle of sweet smelling pink
perfume in a shiny box full of promise.
There was a story to her purchase; running late, she only
just made it to the shops in time with 2 minutes to spare but there was the
perfume on display in front of her.
MIRACLES are meant to be, divinely ordained to happen at
just the right time.
And I know for sure my MIRACLE is on its way, too many
things are pointing in the same direction and some things I can’t share here
and now but one day I will…there is so much more to this story and that's just the bits I know about, God's overview of proceedings is like a rainbow encircling the whole.
And just to make sure I don’t forget, guess which song is
currently getting a lot of airplay on the radio with a brand new version by
Simple Minds and KT Tunstall…
Yes God I am listening, still waiting for now, but I have a
lot more hope in my heart that this season is almost over and the fragrance of
MIRACLE will one day fill the air.
( I have scattered old blog posts throughout this and here is one final thought on fragrance - a short story called The Musings of Martha.)