magpie 29

Author: angiem, 08 25th, 2010

The old grandfather clock on the landing has just chimed the midnight hour.  I kick at the sheets and get out of bed. Perhaps a hot cup of milk would induce the land of dreams to claim me. Wrapping myself in the cashmere throw at the foot of my linen upholstered sleigh bed, I tiptoe to the darkened lace-curtained window.  Outside the rain is falling, enveloping the neighboring houses in a cloak of mist.

I switch the church candelabra-turned lamp on my kitchen counter on, and set about warming my milk in one of the copper saucepans off the potrack. I remember when papa brought this set of saucepans with him from one of his solo yearly trips to France. I had been about eight at the time, and had come running home from school, bounding up the stairs to see him, only to be shushed by my mother and scooted down the hall into the living-room. I remember vividly the slant of the afternoon sun across the pinks and blues of the Savonnerie rug and the brown leather of the opened suitcases. I remember the shiny, golden orange of the copper pans, and the reflection of my face staring back at me, my large black eyes, my chocolate chip eyes, papa liked to call them, inquisitively trying to peer at the girl inside.  But I cannot remember the day he left. Or why.

And now here he is. His tall lanky frame tucked away in the canopied bed he had shared with my mother.  The canopied bed I would slip in myself those nights after he was gone, when I was frozen with the fear that she would disappear as well.  Why now?  Why is he here now?

When the milk almost reaches the boiling point, I ladle it into my mug, and because I can’t stand the thought of milk alone, break half of a dark chocolate bar into it and wait for it to melt. How perfect the tiny kitchen looks bathed in the lamplight, with the pine cabinets from some farm kitchen long abandoned, and the walnut hutches containing all the pottery and ceramics mother had collected in the years since.

“There’s no way of justifying my neglect of you. Or of your mother.” I start at the sound of his voice, spilling half of my drink across the trestle table.

“No.” I say. “There isn’t.”

“I’ve never wanted children and your mother knew that. I let her talk me into it, I was young and in love, but was relieved when the doctors told us we couldn’t have any.”

“But somehow, you decided to adopt me. That must have been a conscious decision on your part as well. And for a while there, you loved me.” My voice drifts off and I sit still. I feel drugged. As lethargic as though I had taken a narcotic. I look at him; a feeble old man, that’s what he is.  He’s probably come home to die.  Suddenly I don’t want to know his excuses for making me feel so unwanted.  I don’t want to know his reasons for being here.  Perhaps in the light of day that may change.  But now, all I want to do is get between my egyptian cotton sheets and fall asleep.

“Help yourself to whatever is in the refrigerator.” I say.  ”And don’t forget to turn off the lamp.”

This is a work of fiction.  For more, visit

Magpie Tales.


50 Responses to “magpie 29”

  1. Nes Says:

    Hey there,

    That was a beautiful piece of writing! I love how I seemed to be right there in that house, feeling all that she was feeling. Good job!

  2. brigid Says:

    Compelling tale, Angie, how the past comes to haunt us, great Magpie.

  3. Susan Deborah Says:

    Another tight read from you, dear Angie. I see that you have limited your posts to Magpies alone. Hard-pressed for time?
    Aren’t the magpies titled? I am wondering what you would call this piece?

    Joy always,

  4. christine Says:

    Such a sadness about your tale.I was relieved to read it was just a tale, too cruel to think it might be true.

  5. Diane Says:

    Your specifics to details is amazing. I feel like I could have been right there watching! :O)

  6. Madame Butterfly Says:

    This brings back a memory of my fathers - he was re-united with his mother, who left him with his father when he was still a child. As an adult he forgave her, but too mcuh water had passed under the bridge for them to ever have a relationship.
    Thank you for posting this magpie.

  7. Stephanie Says:

    ooh … now I am waiting for more. your writing is so evocative!

  8. Julie Says:

    By your wonderful descriptions of this house and furnishings .. I want to live there!! Although it sounds like it housed a sad family….

    Hope you are enjoying the last of summer over your way!! Almost spring here.. xxx Julie

  9. Jena Says:

    Beautifully written Angie! I like how you dealt with the abandonment issue by showing her transfer her love to material things rather than another person. I wonder what made you write the story about this.

  10. Pan Says:

    Nice Magpie. :-)

  11. angiem Says:

    Susan, I’m hoping to change that in a couple weeks. I miss blogging so much, but right now, it’s blog for half an hour or go to sleep half an hour earlier. As to titling the magpie tales, it would take as much time as writing it, in my case.

    Madame Butterfly, I am so sorry for your father. I can imagine the feelings going through him upon the reunion and in the years since.

  12. Susan Deborah Says:

    Awaiting your posts as always :)

    Blessings and joy to you and your family.

    ~ susan

  13. bkmackenzie Says:

    Great read and all I can say was the father is the one that lost everything in this Magpie….well written…bkm

  14. Berowne Says:

    Powerful, moving.

  15. willow Says:

    A wonderful read, Angie! I like what she tells him at the end.

  16. Susan Tiner Says:

    Angie, I so related to this story. The not wanting to hear the excuses. Your writing is so amazing!

  17. Elizabeth Says:

    Angie, wonderful writing, vivid details evoke a mind that is forced to awareness, remembering, yet pushing away the feelings, trying to find answers for unspoken questions. Nuances galore, and then the ending, where she simply can’t handle any possible excuses. You put your reader in the moment, and allow her to feel those years of abandonment and loss. Fantastic magpie,


  18. Mary Moon Says:

    To me this is a story about how things cannot replace people and love.
    Sad. True.

  19. Tumblewords Says:

    Your talent shines. This piece reaches deep to pull at the hidden strings.

  20. Paul Andrew Russell Says:

    Lovely Magpie.

  21. Lyn Says:

    Such a dramatic take..sometimes we forgive, just because old age has taken much to think about!

  22. Crystal Jigsaw Says:

    A very enjoyable yet bitter-sweet piece. Your imagery took me away and placed me on the edge of that sleigh bed. Beautiful.

    CJ xx

  23. Susan Says:

    Oh. I can’t say more now. But I’m thinking of you. xoxo

    (titles are always right there before the writing or…after. but if it’s a strain, I know it’s not right. Usually. I have a friend who is done, ready for the next novel to go to the publisher & is now polling us friends for the title. Seriously. Happens all the time….)

  24. lisagolden Says:

    I love how compelling this is. And yes, your descriptions put the reader right there.

  25. Holly L Says:

    You amaze me more and more with each new tale. A book…I want a book!

  26. Fireblossom Says:

    My favorite part of this was the description of the kitchen at midnight. There is something about the kitchen, late at night, when it is quiet and softly lit, that seems so perfect.

  27. krista Says:

    write it, girl. xoxo

  28. Linda Says:

    Hi, beautifully written. It shows that everyone deals with things differently. Thankfully this is fiction. Hopefully, not rooted in any real life experiences.

  29. brian Says:

    angie, excellent write…loved the description of the room and the little haunting…wonder what stirs us from our eternal slumber to come back…guilt…nice magpie…

  30. Ange Says:

    Oh Angie, such an exquisite house and all that loss…
    So great to get back to your tales. Autumn isn’t far off here in spite of the heat. I’m nearly ready for some of that rain and some inside time.

  31. Lydia Says:

    I was spellbound to spend this time inside the cottage. For my first magpie I wrote about it also but didn’t enter the dwelling.

    Decided to join the community at MT after meeting you last Sunday at brunch and reading some of your remarkable earlier magpies. :)

  32. Kathe W. Says:

    wonderfully written-I was there in the kitchen too….

  33. Becky Ramsey Says:

    Wow, this is a powerful piece.
    I can imagine it all and feel the feelings.
    Great job!
    I always enjoy your work!

  34. Kary Gonyer Says:

    angie…what a vivid and powerful piece…i felt like i was sitting in that kitchen with you…

    what a talented writer you are…

    i always enjoy your writing so much

    sending love to you today, my friend
    kary and teddy

  35. She Writes Says:

    Nicely done. I believed he could be a real person.

  36. Francesca Says:

    So sad. Some thoughts and vision happen only at night time, no matter how pretty and cozy are the furnishings or the atmosphere around.

  37. M Riyadh Sharif Says:

    So touchy. I smell the existence of the fiction.

  38. jane Says:

    wow… i love your writing style. there isn´t a wasted word. you left me wanting to read more:)
    p.s. hi!

  39. La Belette Rouge Says:

    Very sad. Your writing is always so very powerful.xo

  40. Englishvers Says:

    A languid melancholy punctuates your words - you are a skilled storyteller. You carry ideas with metaphysical wit!

  41. Susu Paris Chic Says:

    Moving as usual… How lovely to see you write your little path out! I love the Magpie concept. Creativity is what we need!

  42. Patience Ray Says:

    you sure have a talent for flash fiction like this. another great one. you sure know how to capture angst in all its forms. you are def a fave of mine.

  43. audrey Says:

    for a moment i lose myself in your stories. i enjoy them so much. even when they are sad, there is a warmth and a feeling of home that i especially enjoy. fantastic descriptions!! oooo egyptian cotton sheets sound niiiice and good for what ails the heart.

  44. Christie Says:

    Your imagination never ceases to amaze me. Thank you for another wonderful tale.

  45. Relyn Says:

    This is a powerful piece of writing, Angie. And, if your house looks anything like that, I’m coming. Seriously.

  46. Bunny Says:

    I do believe this is my favorite so far! I hung onto every word dreading the end. I love the description of the warm milk in the kitchen and her confrontation with her father…I felt like I was in the room.

  47. Jeanne Says:

    Wonderful Angie…I was right there with you wrapped in your cashmere throw.

    I feel we need another chapter!!

    Jeanne :)xx

  48. Ava Says:

    Wow!!! You rock Angie! I love the descriptions of the home, especially of the kitchen at night. I hope the pain of abandonment in this story was never a real one for you.

  49. ~T~ Says:

    Vivid storytelling. And so intriguing!

  50. Ruth Says:

    I want to know more! This story has a past and I want to know it. I feel it’s about love and forgiveness. I love the copper, the chocolate chip eyes, the lace curtains. And I love the picture of the house that goes with the tale. I can fit those things and people in it. How do you choose your photos for your pieces?

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