Finding ‘Eva Luna’ in Utrecht

Ever since I first read Isabel Allende’s ‘House of Spirits’, as well as watching the great movie, it has been my absolute favorite when it comes to her novels. Her writing style, not to mention her rich descriptions, and the way she uses magic realism, enchants me, however, I must admit, most of her books seem to follow the same formula.

There is the main female character who is always strong and fey, facing any adversity with creativity and courage, the mysterious and dark male characters, whom she falls in love with (there are usually at least two or three of these), a couple of strong yet flawed mother-figures, an almost-always absent father-figure, as well as a major war/social upheval in the background. The male love interest is always, in some way or other, invariably linked to some kind of resistance or rebel force, and the heroine ends up trying to help him, even though she’s shocked by the harsh reality he lives by. And this is the plot-line for most, if not all (since I haven’t read all of her books) of Allende’s works.

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Although not actively seeking out her books, I tend to read IA’s novels when I come across them, even though at this point they are entirely predictable.This was the case when I purchased one of her novels which I’ve been curious about for some time now. I refer to ‘Eva Luna’ which I’ve been hearing about on and off for some years.

Street leading to Bell Tower of the Utrecht Cathedral

While in Utrecht (Netherlands) last December, my boyfriend was off visiting the bell tower and I had some time for myself. I didn’t go up with him cause I’ve been suffering from some back problems recently and all those stairs were definitely not going to help my muscles. So, obviously, I ended up gravitating towards the local bookstore. Most of the books were in Dutch and there was only a small selection of books in English… and there it was – ‘Eva Luna’. 

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Although purchased some weeks ago now, I only started to read it, and finished it, last week. The plot was, once again, the same as usual, yet Allende’s writing style was as rich and captivating as ever, so no I’m not at all sorry I bought this book. I’m not gonna delve any more into the storyline as I guess I’ve already given enough spoilers. 

Stars: 3

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Monday Morning (What do you think of the GRANNY PORN industry?)

I sigh and prod my face into a mask, trying not to slump. The last session has not gone well. The gynaecologist said that unless I stopped with my current lifestyle, not only would the continual discharge and incontinence continue, but the flow would increase too. I don’t really understand what he said the problem is; a ‘prolapsed cervix due to a weakness in the pelvic muscles’. Pelvic muscles – now THAT I can understand.

Mulishly, I gaze at the veggie-shop beside me. I’m so fed up of eating fruit and vegetables to ‘flush out my system’ as Dr Weiss says. What a load of nonsense. Better have surgery, like Didi, and be done with it. A little nip and tuck is all it takes. Change my way of life? As if.

It’s not that I like my job really, I tell myself, as I cross the street. I don’t. All those sweaty struggling faces trying so hard to look consciously earnest. The newbies are the worse, thinking it’s all real and then unable to do the job with all the lights and coffee-swigging mumblers on the side-lines looking on. Just another day for me – a traumatic experience for them. I guess I’m too jaded at this point. And that, too, comes with the job, as my mother used to say.

The bus stops and I get on, swiping my card and taking a look at the driver. I wonder if he recognises me, though obviously, he will not, exactly, remember where. Slowly, I shuffle along, trying to sit down gingerly, carefully, before the bus re-starts. It hurts to sit down. Not where you would expect though. My back and legs hurt, creaking with too much use. At least I never had the presumption to have any children. That would have ended my career for sure. Don’t know how they manage it – some people. Well, not all, just look at Cheeky Cherry – not even able to look her son in the face anymore. Should have known it would come to that at some point.

Arrived. I stumble past an old guy with sunglasses and a greasy baggy woolen vest thrown over frumpy trousers. Blearily he stares at me and looks away. Probably more of an interracial underage aficionado. No loss there. I round the corner, and enter the studio, a dim shabby building squashed between a hippy record store and a run-down block of apartments. Bathroom, then make-up and a look at the rack of underwear prepared for today.

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I glance at the three pimply teenagers waiting around hopefully, then spying me, with widening eyes, grabbing at the pill provided to strengthen their resolve, stiffen their spines, and everything else. No alcohol though. That would defeat the purpose. I wave a hello at Doris, the washed-out fluffer, as zombie-like, she coughs her usual mucus-riddled cackle, and sashay along towards the toilets, mockingly ogling the thin terrified wannabes. Bad, bad Nancy. Wasn’t nicknamed ‘Naughty Nancy’ for nothing.

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© Darkly Dreaming Moonsong

This short story was sent to Keith Kreates as part of his weekly challenge – https://wordpress.com/read/post/feed/36207183/831896472

ANNIVERSARY of Edgar Allan Poe’s Mysterious Death!

I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity’ – Edgar Allan Poe

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Technically, this was yesterday, but I only realized today.

Edgar Allan Poe, his works, and his life, have always had a special fascination for me. He is the daddy of the horror genre and the supernatural mystery. His poems especially are so full of dark romantic agony, that they called to my trembling brimful heart from a very young age. Poe, who married his cousin a child bride of 13 who died only 2 years after the marriage (she was 15). Poe, who forever after wrote sad poems lamenting his pure innocent lost love. Poe who was given to bouts of depression, took laudanum and was a drunk, but published brilliant detective stories, the first of their kind. Poe, who always had a kind of mythological terror of cats, because for him they symbolized the dark wild part of himself, and who feature again and again in small ways in almost all of his prose-work.

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Poe who mysteriously and inexplicably died 166 years ago, yesterday.

Most people erroneously believe he died of his alcoholism but that is not the case. First of all, though he was a known alcoholic, he is reported to have not touched a drop for ages. Also, the person who found him, alone, confused and wandering, in the dark a week after he had disappeared from his home on the way to New York, said he looked sick but not drunk. Secondly, let us keep in mind that the person who wrote Poe’s biography after his death, Rufus Wilmot Griswold was a hated rival who was trying to portray him as badly as possible. He said he was ugly, dirty and unkept, a drunk, a brute and a savage. To which others, Poe’s doctor included, attested he was not. Unfortunately, there was no autopsy done on Poe’s body, and all his medical documents were ‘lost’, so there is no record of what actually took place.

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Theories abound. Some say he died of a heart-attack. Some that it was suicide (he had already overdosed on laudanum once), which is not possible since he was ‘found’ wondering the streets. Some say it was diabetes or tetanus.

Like Poe’s marvelluous detective mysteries, his death too, remains a mystery. Still he played and still plays a big influence on my mode of thought, not to mention my writing and my tastes. ALL HAIL EDGAR ALLAN POE – MASTER OF TERROR!

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Btw this is a very good article on his death – http://www.openculture.com/2015/10/the-mystery-of-edgar-allan-poes-death-19-theories-on-what-caused-the-poets-demise-166-years-ago-today.html

Enjoy 🙂

No One

I admit, at first not existing was kind of hard to get used to. 

No one saw me as I crossed the street. No one nodded to me as I passed the store. No dog barked at me while I wandered around the windy park. No one smiled faintly as I stopped to grin at a comic poster. No one even noticed when my skirt blew up so high that my underwear showed.

I guess that’s when I started tackling non-existence as a comodity, rather than a curse.

I didn’t need to get up early. Didn’t need to brush my hair, put on any make up, or even wear decent clothes. No one saw me anyway. I just wasn’t there.

I didn’t need to be polite to the person waiting before me for the bus. Hell, I didn’t even need to stay in the queue. Or pay the bus fare. 

No one scowled at me because I had left the window open. No one muttered because I had forgotten to bring the ketchup on the table. No one told me I was not good enough, when I didn’t know where they had left their car keys the day before. No one pawed at me while wiggling smelly body parts, as I tried to watch a movie. No one even tried to bite and hurt me, because of some ‘remark’ they did not like.

No one belittled me or berated me ‘jokingly’ because I didn’t read their minds and know what they wanted beforehand. No one ‘forgot’ to mention my name or that I even existed when talking to their friends, when in fact I did. Now, I truly was not there, so it didn’t bother me not to be mentioned. There is no one to mention.

I have gotten used to not existing now. I do not even feel bad about it. It is a relief really.

Existing is so much harder.

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What is Flash Fiction?

My most recurrent problem with writing has always been that of writing too much. I guess there are just too many words flittering and skittering in my brain. This was an issue when I wrote essays at school (they were always too long), when I wrote my Bachelor of Arts dissertation (which exceeded the word count set by the University board) and when I wrote my Masters dissertation (which I spent months trying to shorten, while most of the other students couldn’t make ends meet).

This may sound like me bragging – but it really isn’t. When it comes to writing, I believe this consists of three parts. First, one must be a reader. One simply cannot be a writer, if one does not know the world one is delving in. Most importantly, how can one handle the written word, if s/he hasn’t encountered different examples of how it can be used again and again? Secondly, technique (which is where flash fiction comes in). A writer should be able to navigate through the sea of words and meanings, and steer herself clear in order to arrive wherever she wants to go. This means that if she sets out to write up to a certain word count, she must know how to economize and use her writing skills in order to do just that, and stop the extra flow which is mostly only frills.

Thirdly, of course, a writer sees the world like no one else does. She sees the world with a thousand eyes and none. This is what is called ‘imagination’ by some, ‘inspiration’ by most, and ‘dreamland’ by others. But that, of course, is another story.

FlashFiction

Flash Fiction, also called Micro-fiction, are short moments in time, or very short stories, described by a writer in a few words. Flash Fiction is usually something which happens in one single act. Opinions differ on how long a flash fiction story ‘should be’, there being markets for works as short as 100 words, up to 300 words, or even as long as 1,000 words. There are also many competitions, especially online, for writers of flash fiction.

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Flash Fiction is fun, economical, easy to write, and is really good for ‘flexing’ one’s mind, so to speak. It is also quite good for exercising one’s stream of consciousness approach. Having limited time, but an infinite amount of words waiting to come out, I have decided to post some of my flash fiction stories from time to time, and maybe letting my ‘dreamland’ suffuse my waking moments… and make them more interesting.

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