First, let me express my sincere thanks to Dvora Swickle for hosting me on her blog this week for the Tasha Turner Coaching Virtual Blog Tour. Thank you, Tara! I appreciate your hard work and your generosity in sharing your blog!
Our assignment was to write a Flash Fiction piece inspired by a picture. When I saw this picture, I knew I had to write about it. I write for women over age 50. This is a picture of all my character desires: peace, love, joy. And isn’t that what we all desire, no matter what our age?
So here goes:
I hesitated before opening the door and asked myself if I really wanted to do this.
Oh, for Pete’s sake, I answered myself. Don’t be silly.
You’re a grown woman. Go inside. It’s your birthday present to yourself, after all.
No one else knows you well enough to buy it for you.
No one. Not one person knew me that well, especially not Dave, my husband of 30 years.
The brass prayer bells jangled when I opened the door. It had been over 30 years since I’d last been in the local head shop. Of course, now the High Flyer had added the words “specialty store” to its sign on the wall outside to convince the police that it offered more than rolling papers and bongs.
Other than the name, not much had changed in the tidy little shop since the last time I’d visited. Funny…the last time I’d been in here I was shopping for a birthday present. I bought Dave a Pink Floyd poster for his 21st birthday.
Mellow incense wafted through the air. Hookahs were displayed on the walls behind gleaming glass counters filled with artsy looking glass pipes. Decorative swords and martial arts equipment hung neatly on the opposite wall behind the racks of tie-dyed tee shirts. Tarot cards and crystals occupied a long display case next to shelves filled with incense sticks and cones. Good marketing technique demanded that the teakwood burners were close by. Teas, cigars, and herbal remedies all had their place on the spotless shelves.
A balding man sporting a long gray ponytail approached me when I stopped at the display of DVDs. Embarrassed when I realized they were all rated XXX, I looked up and saw the bigger than life size dildos stored above the porn behind locked glass doors.
Well damn, I thought. Maybe some things had changed. I sure didn’t remember those from my last visit!
“Can I help you find something?” the old hippie asked.
“Uh…yes,” I said. “I want to buy a poster.”
“Anything special in mind?” he smiled.
“The one in the window,” I said. “I noticed it yesterday when I drove past here on my way to work.”
“It’s just the right thing to put over my desk,” I added.
“Hendrix? Yeah…that’s a great one,” he said.
“Um, no. The circle colored blue and purple and green,” I answered.
“Oh, that one!” he said. “It’s not a poster. It’s one of my originals…on canvas. Yeah. I like that one too.”
He walked over to the window, lifted the fabric backdrop and pulled the painted canvas out. He handed it to me.
My hand shook a little when I took it. Yes. This was just what I wanted. I didn’t know it until I saw it yesterday, but I had wanted this exact thing for a very long time. The circle was painted in swirly greens and blues and purples, yellows and browns on a background of pale gray. Encircling the design were the words peace, joy, intuition, love, gratitude, compassion.
These were all the things, the feelings, I wanted. I had them all once. And I wanted them back.
“It’s beautiful,” I said. “I’ll take it.”
The graying shopkeeper led me to the back counter where the cash register was located. While he wrapped the painting I listened to his partner, a man with a shaved, tattooed head and nose ring give instructions to another customer.
“So, you take this 48 hours before your physical. You can’t eat any fats or dairy products and you gotta drink at least two gallons of water after you take it…over that 48 hours,” the tattooed man explained. “Then you should be rid of all your “toxins” before you have to take your piss test.”
The customer nodded solemnly.
“That’s $81.19,” my helper said.
Oh, shoot. I hadn’t even asked the price.
“How much was the painting?” I asked.
“Seventy-five. With tax,” he said.
I winced. I only had a twenty on me. Then I took Dave’s MasterCard from my purse and handed it to him. It seemed a small price to pay for everything I wanted.
“Thanks,” I said.
“It’s my birthday present to me,” I said. “I’m 50 today.”
“Well, happy birthday to you!” the shopkeeper smiled. “You don’t look a day over 49!”
I blushed again.
Back at home, I pulled the framed photograph of Dave and me from the wall above my desk and hung the painting in its place.
It was just a painting to remind me of all that I desired. I wanted to have it all again.
It was just a painting, but it was a pretty good start.