Lake in the woods

This is my bit for last week’s Picture It and Write! photo challenge brought to you by Ermilia Blog. I’ve read some very well written entries for this one and most were tragic in one way or another, the photo surely inspires such trains of thought but my mind tends to veer in the other direction. Shall we follow and see where it leads?


via Ermilia Blog

They say around, the way you’ve asked for me. There’s even talk of you wanting me … I need to know, oh baby girl, I need to know … wondering if you’re gonna take me there … it’s getting harder not to think of you … If it’s true don’t leave me alone out here … tell me what you’re feeling … I need to know … I need to know … I need to know … … …

The Latino beats were ripples in my blood, growing into giant waves of a jittery high that crashed inside me as I moved in time, as my limbs interpreted the lively, seductive rhythm. The music, the dance, the heat of it. It was like a fever in my veins but I was going to out scorch it, I’ll be damned if I didn’t. My skin was slick with exertion, breaths left and entered my lips in sharp rushed bursts. I felt on fire as I twirled on the tips of my toes in my ballet pumps, my shoulders got into it, my arms had a mind of their own. I conjured him here with me, my shadow prince in my dreams. His handsome features hidden under a mask of midnight, how I longed to see beneath it.

I threw my head back, eyes closed, as the blare of the trumpets swept me away, my hips swayed with the delicious spicy beats. I imagine his hand closing around my waist, the other one taking possession of my wrist pulling me closer and away. I grit my teeth as I stepped up my pace. Feeling more that a bit wanton in this snatched moment, no rules, no delicate movements here like what was demanded of me in the studio, but still graceful as the Black Swan. My body was free, mine to manipulate.

“Marie? Are you still up?” my mother called from the front door. Crap. I came to a halt. He faded once again to nothingness, smoke chased away by the cold wind of reality that strode in after the woman who insisted on its constant presence. I hurried over to cut Mark Anthony off in the middle of the chorus in time to hear her keys drop with a feint clatter in the bowl on the coffee table. She didn’t consider this music of quality. I love Mozart and his lot, don’t get me wrong, but tame music all the day long never did a body any good. I wonder, though, if Mark was loud enough for her to have heard him.

“I am, Ma. You’re home late,” it was a quarter past eleven, her shift at the grocery was over half an hour ago.

“Traffic,” the single word was uttered like a cuss,“Were you dancing? What to?” I think she’s in the kitchen now.

“Yes … um, it was John Williams, Swing Swing Swing.” Believe me please, he was decent enough. I didn’t want another fight, the petty things have a tendency to build up to nasty spats as always was the case with her.

She said nothing, maybe she didn’t catch what I’d said, speaking of which, I sat a the foot of my bed trying to steady my breathing. Opposite stood the full length mirror where I’ve spent hours upon hours of practicing perfection. Instead of the public image of a well poised ballerina with her ankles crossed, there was a disheveled young lady with knee length brown hair in a scattered mess, feet sprawled, a careless smile was an arc against her face that gleamed with sweat, she had the devil in her eyes. There was a string of faux pearls around my neck. I had on my thigh high black frock, frilly sleeves but it was mostly functional, allowing easy movement. Simple but pretty.

Without a second’s warning, mother stormed into my room with quick, pissed off strides and a CD in hand. Oh, dear.

“But I’ve got it here. Marie, I hope you haven’t been listening to those vulgar types.”

I didn’t move to stop her from checking the stereo, I knew where this night was heading. I know where I was going.

“Anthony! I have told you what I thought about his kind – ” but I interrupted.

“Well, I’m not racist. So you see, I think about it differently. Now, would you put it back?” What was the use of playing nice when she wasn’t going to let it drop easily? It didn’t take much to to get my ire up, especially after just now.

“How dare you accuse me of such a thing?”

“Oh please, don’t pretend! I heard what you and Arti were saying about Ramos yesterday. I won’t ignore it.”

“He’s a bad influence!”

“On who? He’s my best friend, and you can’t change that.”

“He’s gay and it’s wrong!”

“Says who? You and your bible thumping cohorts? How do you know he’s even is gay? All you do is assume and there’s a name for people who tend to do that overmuch.”

“Tone! Young woman, you tone, don’t use that with me! I haven’t raised you to be a disrespectful little bitch.”

Oooh! The name calling has begun. It’s a shame I won’t be sticking around to enjoy it.

“No, you didn’t. You raised me to be like you. Like what you were. I always wondered what was wrong with me that make you want to change me. Am I not thin enough? Am I such a disappointment? A waste? No – ” I stopped her before she could speak, “You were a beautiful ballerina, no lie, but I’m not you. Believe me, I have tried but it doesn’t seem enough for you. It never is! You haven’t a clue how much it hurts.”

“You are easily upset and too quick to over think – ” at this I guffawed. The irony was too heavy to bear.

I stood up and walked to the closet and bent down for the camouflage duffle bag. Pre-packed for when the time came when I had enough. And I had, this nagging and verbal badgering was wearing away my patience and my respect and the will in me that was still standing. I slipped on my coat and came stepped out. Mom was still there. She saw my travel ready self and narrowed her ice queen eyes. It was a reflex to squirm, and boy did I, but it had to be done. I looked away and made for the door.

“Where do you think you’re going, missy?” she questioned my backside.

“Somewhere, anywhere. I think I’m going to be a prostitute. I’ve always dreamed to be one when I grew up,” I spat over my shoulder. I know where I was going, planned a long time ago.

“Now you wait here, how are you going to live, huh?”

“I’ve got my means,” and with that I opened the door and walked out into the night as cold as mom’s eyes, I pulled the coat closer. I swung my leg over my bike with the bag hooked on my shoulder. Sorry could not describe my situation of a brief dress. Ah well. Off I was with her calls at my back, I didn’t give a chance to see the tears in my eyes.


I was supposed to head on over to the Rodriguez’s, I’ve always felt welcome in their home. Nothing was expected of me there. But as I approached the woods ahead on my left, I felt drawn to the shadows. I slowed till I came to a standstill. The mist was up tonight, it began to curl itself around me in smoky tendrils. I’ve been here before … but never this late … I felt as if I had to go in there … something was pulling me towards it. Why not? But still … I braced the bike against the trunk of the closest tree, set the duffle at the base. I was being stupid, had the movies taught me anything? Why am I always so scared? But it looks as if I’m on a roll tonight. Why not?

With the full moon as my guide, I navigated the familiar path through gnarled trees. It was late summer and they’ve already started their annual shedding. There were a few spiny ones, skeletal fingers grasped at the sky, combing through a sudden arctic breeze. An owl cried in the distance. I moved deeper and deeper in the depths of these woods though these parts I haven’t ever ventured past before but I feel as if I’ve roamed here before. Faster and faster my feet carried me. Soon enough I came to what was the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. The foliage was progressively thinner here, branches spread out as if in welcome to the sight before me. It was magical.

A lake. Smack-dab in the middle of Surebrook woods! Who would have thought? It had the unreal colour of the sky at twilight, the surface occasionally disturbed by fallen leaves. The leaves that were still attached rustled gently in a warm breath of wind. Weird. Weird also that I wasn’t all that scared anymore. I reached into my pocket and retrieved a pair of pale pink gloves and pulled them on. On a whim I flung the coat aside and stood there taking everything in. I removed one shoe and placed it on a nearby branch, along with the pearls that had come loose, and I toed of the other. I listened and I began to sway to the music invading my mind and I danced. What’s gotten into me?

I danced bare feet with my eyes closed. Without a care. It was cool again, a pleasant kind, soothing. My eyes fluttered open when I sensed a pair on me. I looked around, there was no one else was here. I walked to the edge of the lake and stared down but it wasn’t my echo that I saw … Madre di dios! It was him! The man that’s been visiting my dreams. Now, in the water was a perfect reflection of my surroundings. I looked behind me. Nothing. Inside, he was still there. I was hallucinating, I had to be.

He was leaning against a willow, his thick jet black hair glistened in the moonlight. He was watching me with piercing green eyes through the slits of a black silk cowl. As he ambled towards me his equally dark cloak parted, revealing his lean muscular frame clad in a crisp white shirt and breeches. The man look like he stepped out from another century. My breath hitched as he got nearer to the surface, my heart worked overtime. How can this be real? He smiled a killer smile and extended a long arm, beckoning me to him. I’d be crazy to go, but would I regret not going? He said nothing, and I couldn’t squeak out a syllable because the said heart just shot up and lodged itself in my throat. I bit my lip in indecision, he remained in that stance. Waiting.

Tonight I finally broke free and left home, a big step for me, so what was this? I’m tired of people doubting me and tired of me doubting myself, and fed up of being afraid. Here’s a complete stranger connected to me somehow and he wants me. No one had ever wanted me if I hadn’t done anything remarkable, that’s why I worked so hard. To please people. If liberating myself from that kind of living led me here, then wasn’t is meant to be? Finally, I made up my mind. Meeting his eyes I peeled off my left glove and it joined the other things on the branch, one of the last bits that of me that would be left behind, a small memory that would eventually be forgotten. Holding his gaze I stepped into the other world rippling at my feet with silent goodbye to the one I knew.


Halfway through I wasn’t too happy with this, I think it got a bit pointless to me somewhere after the middle but seeing as I stayed up all night Friday to write this I would hurt me to scrap it after all that. Thoughts?

Here are a few other contributions for last week:

Goodbye In Fall

She was three, no five …


The mind of a boy in the body of a girl

Disappearing Act


Filed under Picture it and Write!, Writing

28 responses to “Lake in the woods

  1. What didn’t you like about it? I thought the character was good and liked her self assessment of, “I’m tired of people doubting me and tired of me doubting myself, and fed up of being afraid.”

  2. I love this story. I adore the ending, especially her stepping into his world. good prose!

  3. I love it! The rebellious girl, the conventional mom, a constant fight between rigidity and change, something that is still being debated even today… And that level of mystery in the dark woods… almost supernatural… 🙂

  4. Tad

    Wonderfully written!

  5. Did I get this right, that the dance at the end was with the shadow prince from the beginning? Well written and elaborate story. Maybe a little darker than you suggested with the racism and the oppression from Marie’s mother. Haha, I love Swing Swing Swing!

  6. Beautiful, As always querida 🙂

  7. Oh, that was very sad…!
    I can imaging this happening; habitual criticism can lead some to suicide, for sure..
    I was ‘okay’ with the tie in to the picture; it seemed to ‘pull’ the story together in those last few paragraphs, taking many elements (sadly) into one…
    Thank You for the mention. That was very kind of you…! 🙂

  8. You create a wonderful mood with your words. I know the song and I,too, have danced with an imaginary lover to it’s powerfully suggestive rhythms.–great choice! I love the beginning–all the way where she leaves the house.

    Then maybe you try to make your story fit the picture too literally. She has to make a decision to give up on her passion or go against her controlling mother’s wishes. Perhaps the image is a symbol of the emptiness of either choice. Just a thought…

    • Me too, right up to when she left. That’s exactly what I did after, try to fit the picture in, molding the story around to fit to it. It wasn’t necessary to do that but at the time I started writing this I was bursting of ideas and … then the energy and the same ideas started to ebb and I was a bit lost after that.

      Marie was fed up of living in her mother’s shadow, being told what to do and how to live. The only solution was to leave. I’ve to keep reminding myself not to take the photo too literally. Thanks as always for your input, Lorna, they’ve been very helpful.

    • This is a good observation, Lorna. I do this too often, trying to write the picture rather than let it inspire what I write.

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