I was churning out a little something as a part of “750 words” the other week, and ended up with this story. I try to write stories where I can and leave journalling to other places. I started with a prompt from A Writer’s Book of Days and pretty much vomited how I was feeling at the time onto the page.
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She had long grey hair and wore a shawl of purple paisley. She was a stereotype and I accused her of it as I sat in the chair.
She smiled over her crystal ball, and nodded.
“That’s right. Well spotted.” She waved her hands over the ball, and smoke whirled within. “Is that so terrible?”
“That you’re a stereotype?”
She shrugged. Perhaps she meant something else. She narrowed grey eyes at me, still smiling.
“Should I trust you, when you’re presenting yourself like this?” I asked and waved a hand at her. “The shawl, the hair…”
“Can’t help my hair,” she pointed out. “Or is it wrong to grow it long?”
“No.” I shifted in my chair, loosened up my shoulders. “I’m surprised you’re not wearing a headscarf and half a dozen brass necklaces, actually.”
“That would be going too far.” Her smile widened into a grin. “Now. Tell me why you’ve come.”
“I don’t know why I’ve come.” I didn’t. Still don’t, entirely. The fairground had twenty things more entertaining, but I was drawn here. Not by her… by my own insecurities, maybe. A tent to hide in in a bustling fair. Somewhere to get away from the crowd. “I needed a break from the noise out there, I suppose.”
She nodded, understanding plain on her wrinkled face. She had dropped her eyes to the crystal ball, but looked past it, through it, rather than at it.
“Life isn’t easy, you know,” she said, her voice coming as if from far away. “It’s not, and it won’t become easy. It will be hard every step of the way. Oh, sure, some steps will be harder than most, some a little easier than most, but each day you will carry a heavy burden.” She lifted her eyes to me and looked at me across centuries. “But you know this already.”
“Why can’t life be easy?” I sighed.
“I’ve lived it for eighty years and I still don’t know. It would be nice, if it was easy. But it is not. Each person carries the accumulation of every mistake made, every terrible thing witnessed and understood. And the many good things make life worth living, but don’t erase those bad things from our minds.”
“So what next?” I looked at my palms, laid flat in my lap.
“Keep going. Nothing is easy, but things that are hard are often worth achieving. Keep going, and life will roll out in front of you. Keep going and you will see more wonders and share more love and experience more joy. It will not be easy, but it will be life.”