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Clarisa’s Brave Entrance

Rainbow Agate stone pendant with accents of Rainbow Jasper and pink pearl beads.

Rainbow Agate stone pendant with accents of Rainbow Jasper and pink pearl beads.

Her nerves shook both her hands and her confidence, yet Clarisa smiled at the woman in the reflection. Time hadn’t been kind to her – you need only look at the wrinkles, bags under her eyes, and expanding mid-section to see the result – yet she still saw a beautiful woman reflected in the image before her.

Opening night always meant excitement, jitters, and anticipation even when she wasn’t the one on stage. Tonight, she would cheer on her former colleagues with as much joy as she could muster. Oh, how she had hoped to be a part of it all. This could have been her opportunity to return to the stage that she loved so well. She had rehearsed her monologues again and again, studied up on the role for which she was auditioning, and walked into the casting office with her head held high.

“‘Twas not to be”, she supposed after much contemplation. Yet it didn’t take away the sting every time she saw another positive critique about the show that could’ve catapulted her back on top. She’d made her choice, left a successful career in order to raise her children away from the hustle and bustle of the city. She’d expected a welcome return once she’d decided to come home, but too much time had gone by. Friends of old retired to make way for fresh faces and ideas. She didn’t have a connection left to introduce her to a public that wasn’t waiting.

She’d chosen a burgundy dress that showed off her best feature – tall, muscular legs – and accented it with a caramel-colored cashmere scarf that had been a gift from her former mentor. She wrapped the gift around her bare shoulders and let the frayed edges accentuate her hips. She clasped the Rainbow Agate stone pendant that hung around her neck and closed her eyes. “Please let tonight be a new start.”

Clarisa heard her husband call for her and knew she was ready to make an entrance.

CeCe and a Shore Thing

Multi-colored pendant with accents of blue, green, and ivory

Multi-colored pendant with accents of blue, green, and ivory

 

CeCe wished she knew how to swim.  Then maybe she could join in on all the revelry down by the water.  Instead, the prone-to-sarcasm teenager stayed up by the blankets and umbrellas, listening to her friends’ parents drone on and on about irrelevant topics: “Did you hear that so and so got a new car?” , “I’m thinking of dying my hair blue tomorrow.”, “I don’t believe that cats really have nine lives.”

She grabbed the nearest beach towel and plopped back down on the tattered blanket to tune out the nonsense.  Day one of her week-long vacation hadn’t turned out nearly as interesting as she’d hoped.  Was it too much to ask to just lay on the beach, read a book on the balcony, and play some video games?  Why were her friends insistent on visiting every single shop in this rundown beach town?  If you’ve seen one store filled with broken shells, boat replicas, and corked bottles you’ve seen them all.

“CeCe, you’re not seriously just going to lay there all afternoon are you?”

“I am,” her muffled response.

“Get up.” Monica pulled off the beach towel and tossed it aside.  “Come on.  You don’t have to actually get in the water, you big baby.”

The bad part about having friends who know you so well is that they know you so well.  CeCe glared at her best friend and attempted her most serious of scowls.

“Not working,” Monica retorted with a wave of hand.  “Let’s go.”

“Fine,” CeCe relented.  She rested on her forearms and sighed.  “What?  Am I not moving fast enough for you?”

Monica raised an eyebrow.

“I hate you sometimes.” CeCe brushed the sand off her body, taking a little longer than normal to do so.

“No, you don’t.  You may not like me but I can deal with that.”

CeCe laughed and gave a half-sincere smile.  “Better?”

“Yes.  Okay,” Monica yelled to the girls kicking water at one another down by the shore.  “I’m coming!”  Her I-mean-it glare only made CeCe laugh more.  “Two minutes, Cecelia.”

As her friends played, the shrieks of laughter  extinguished some of CeCe’s annoyance.  She listened to the waves crash against the shore, the seagulls call from above, and children giggle behind her.  She wrung her hands in an attempt to calm her fears, and took a few deep breaths.

“OMG, I saw the funniest video about a dog playing the piano yesterday…”

“Wait for me,” she called. CeCe tossed her hands in the air and ran towards a new adventure.

 

Katherine and the Opera House

Inspired by The Phantom of the Opera

Inspired by The Phantom of the Opera

Katherine stared at the opera house, a mixture of awe and trepidation keeping her standing in place while the crowd hurried around her.

 On the eve of her twentieth birthday, Katherine stood poised for a new beginning. And what more perfect place than this? She’d prepared herself for this day – she’d be confident, excited, and ready for what the future may hold. Standing here, with the weight of her dreams resting on her tiny shoulders, Katherine doubted her strength.

 “Don’t stand there gawking, child. You resemble those horrible gargoyles.”

 Her grandmother’s inclination to speak her mind stemmed from years of sub servitude in a marriage she never wanted nor embraced. Once her husband died, Katherine’s grandmother made up for all the “Yesses” and “Of course, dears” with forthright and most times unwelcome frankness.

 “And stand up straight,” the elder instructed while primping Katherine’s hair and cloak. “You don’t want to look weak and unsure of yourself.”

 “Yes, Grandmother.”

 “Ah, my beautiful girls,” Katherine’s father declared. He took the arm of both his elder and younger companions, escorting them towards the massive ornate doors.

 Katherine’s amazement only intensified upon entrance inside the centuries old theater. Her mind fluttered with wonder at each new detail noticed. The light bounced from every angle. The intricate wood detailing revealed dedication to the artisan’s craft, and luxurious fabric adorned each piece of furniture.

Her heart pounded in her chest as they ascended the red velour staircase, and she welcomed the myriad of sights and sounds around her. When they paused at the landing, Katherine knew that any lingering fear had evaporated the moment she entered the building so rich with artistic inspiration. She was keenly aware that her companions conversed around her, but she was entranced with the hums that reverberated from nowhere in particular. The energy was palpable, a clear indication that entities long-since passed still remained in a place they once loved.

“Katherine, are you ready?”

 She grinned at her father to calm his worried expression. “Yes, Papa. Absolutely!”

 “Good. You should be after all those years you pleaded with me to bring you here.”

 “This is the best birthday gift I’ve ever received, Papa. Thank you.” She kissed his cheek before following the uniformed attendant to her seat. As she relaxed into the plush high-back chair, Katherine readied herself for a night that would start her on a new journey – one that involved romance, adventure, and music!

 

*These jewelry pieces and the subsequent fictional story were inspired by The Phantom the Opera.  No endorsement from anyone involved with the musical is implied.  Please visit the musical’s website to learn more about this brilliant show!*

Persie and a Soaring Heart

Persie

Her wings took up a lot of space in the room.

“I can’t believe I listened to her. ‘The costume theme is Fantasy Garden.’ That’s what she said.”  Persie glared at Brooke and hoped her one-time friend sensed the anger from across the room.

Persie should’ve known better than to trust Brooke, but she’d been sincere in mending their torn friendship.  They’d been friends too long not to try to repair the damage caused by stubbornness and pride.  Apparently, that pledge was only one-sided.

“What are you supposed to be?”

She rolled her eyes and plastered an insincere smile on her face.  “Clearly I got the wrong memo.”

“Haha!  You think?”

Hank walked away laughing, and Persie fought against the fury boiling within.  She didn’t listen to her gut instincts when Brooke came to see her yesterday, pleading for a fresh start and imploring her to come to the Halloween party.  Persie was uncertain if she should go, but after thinking about all the years past, she decided to give it a shot.

“Oh, Pers.  You talked to Brooke, didn’t you?”

The pity in Felicia’s voice held a hint of laughter too, but Persie knew that her long-time friend was more concerned than amused.  It was a particularly ridiculous situation, to be standing in a room full of flappers and “mobsters”.  She’d considered staying in her car and driving right back home; however, she’d seen Paul enter the pillared entrance and her pride drove her to park that car.

Unless her imagination played a trick on her, which it tended to do in stressful situations, Paul had to be here somewhere.  Thankfully, he’s not currently witnessing her embarrassment.

“Stupid, right?”  Persie shook her head out of annoyance and smiled at Felicia.

“Don’t be too harsh on yourself, that’s my job!”  Leave it to this model-esque femme fatale to break the tension and make Persie  laugh.  “Brooke is an…”

“Shh! This room is full of eavesdropping gossips.”

“I don’t care.  Let her hear me!”

Persie pulled Felicia into the hallway when her friend’s raised voice brought unwanted attention.

“Come on, Lici.  Not tonight, please.”

“Fine,” her friend acquiesced, “but if she so much as says your name wrong, I’m entitled to drop kick her.  Just so you know.”

Felicia winked and Persie knew her loyal confidante was only half-joking.

“Thank you.  I owe you one.”

“Technically, you owe me a couple, but fix me up with that lawyer you work with and I’ll wipe the slate clean.”

“Who’s getting fixed up?”

Her heart fell to her feet, and Persie felt the fluttering in her stomach.  She waited a moment, sensing him behind her.

“I’m fixing Persilla up with a cousin of mine – a handsome doctor.”

“I thought I heard you say ‘lawyer’.”

“He’s both.  What do you think? Wouldn’t Persie make a stunning doctor’s wife?”

Persie guessed her cheeks were as pink as the heels on her feet, and she didn’t turn to face her ex-fiancé quite yet.

“She’d make any man a happy one.”

She spun around, smacking him with one of her wings and followed it up with one across his cheek.

Rea’s Family Tree

Rea“What’s the point?”  Rea kept her gaze upon the tree ahead of her.  “Grammy, why put plastic eggs on the branches?  You don’t expect us to climb up and get them anyway.”

Eighteen going on ten, Rea found this entire tradition to be nothing short of ridiculous.  Why couldn’t her family be normal and fill eggs with money and candy?  Instead, for the first week of Spring, her family adorns a tree in honor of their ancestral lineage.

“Why can’t we start using different colors,” she asked.  “I’m sure Granny Kate wouldn’t mind being purple this year.”

Her grandmother smirked and coughed to cover a laugh.

“Blue for the men, pink for the ladies.”

Rea stared at the multitude of eggs on the bottom few branches and pondered aloud.  “I’m surprised you can find any more room up there.  Especially if Justine keeps popping out kid after kid.”

I need to go help your mother in the kitchen.”  Her grandmother kissed her cheek and return inside the one-story rancher. 

This was Rea’s first year as the  “Tree Keeper”, the one to manage the family history records and photos.  It was her task now, as the eldest female in her generation to maintain the list and plan the family reunion.  The worn books were cool to look at; the dresses were so different then and the furniture so detailed.

Even though this was a responsibility of honor and importance, Rea didn’t want it.  After all, she was heading off to college next month.  She didn’t want to be saddled down with tattered books and binders full of cemetery records.  She’d need room for her theatre programs and photo collages of her best friends.  All of this “stuff” would only keep her locked in the lives of people in the past instead of focusing on the ones she loved in the present.

Rea plopped on the wicker chair and stared through the intense sun glare.  “The tree does look beautiful,” she had to admit, “but next year I’m definitely putting a purple egg in Granny’s Kate’s spot.”  She smiled and joined the family that were still there.

 

 

Anne and the Spirited Crowd

Multi-colored stone with accents of black, silver, and red.

Multi-colored stone with accents of black, silver, and red.

Jealousy. Ferocity. Passion. She struggled with all as she stared out at the crowd. They blamed her. Doubted her. Scorned her even. Yet, they had no clue. No sense of the truth. She’d never tell them. Wouldn’t admit how much they rushed to judgment. They believe d what they wanted without hesitation.

 Now, here she stood, angry at all she lost and grieving for what taken from her. Her child, now being raised by the friar and his wife. Stolen out of her arms in the name of God and all that was holy. Because clearly, she was not.

 He was here, the man she loved. Yet, he chose to stand beside a woman that offered normalcy and prosperity. She could provide him neither. Despite his cowardice, she loved him still and hoped that afterwards he’d realize the error of his ways.

 The heat intensified and the crowd’s anticipation flooded her sensibilities. The fear stabbed at her with as much strength as the ropes that bound her to the post.

 They gagged her mouth, refusing her the courtesy of any last words. But she didn’t need sound to get her message across. They would suffer for this choice but not because of any actions she took. Their hatred and closed-minded perspective would lead down a path of misery until they succumbed to the pain and frustration. She wouldn’t haunt them nor curse them for eternity. She pictured her daughter and said good-bye.

 The smoke filled her nostrils, and she coughed through the handkerchief. The crackling grew louder and the first touch of fire scourged through her every muscle. The pain seared not only her skin and clothing but her spirit too. “Make it quick,” she pleaded. “I’ll move on to a new life. Just hold on, it’s almost over.”

 The sky blazed in an orange haze, and her spirit flew home.

Rosa and Those She Loves

Rosa

Rosa didn’t want to go; however, the time had finally arrived. She stared at her grandfather’s pocket watch and counted along with each tick-tock.

 

“Come now, Rosa, we’ll be late.”

 

She accepted the hand offered to her and smiled in response to Patric’s pleading eyes. She’d loved him at first sight and knew without a doubt that they’d spend the rest of their lives together. Here they stood on the precipice of a life-changing choice. If even one of them hesitated, well that was something she had no desire to contemplate.

 

“Let’s go,” she replied. “I just needed one last look.”

 

“You spent your childhood here,” Patric said as he wrapped her in a supportive embrace. “We had a lot of great memories here.”

 

She laughed when he whispered in her ear. “Remember how you hid under the bed when my parents came home?”

 

“Yeah,” he said. “I can’t believe she knew I was there the entire time.”

 

“That was quite a revelation to announce to us during our engagement party. I thought you were going to turn purple.”

 

Being near him brought her comfort mixed with utter joy. She rested her head back against his chest and gazed up at her bedroom window. “You think they’re okay with this? Really.”

 

“Hey,” he said, turning her to face him. “They love you no matter where you live.”

 

“It doesn’t hurt that they love you too.”

 

“Eh, yeah, that doesn’t hurt.”

 

“I love you more though.”

 

“You better,” he replied through a smirk.

 

Rosa kissed him softly and brushed the hair from his eyes. “Always.”

 

“I’ll give you another minute.” He kissed her forehead and slipped his hand from hers, not before giving it a squeeze.

 

Memorable moments from her 30 years of life flashed before Rosa’s eyes. The peeled paint on the siding refreshed and the flowers bloomed as she recalled her father teaching how to ride a bike. She remembered the day her parents brought home the German Shepard that became her best friend. Rosa grabbed her remaining piece of luggage and rubbed her fingers over the “For Sold” sign before joining her fiancé on the beginning of their journey.