Friday, September 30, 2016

Cartoline di Roma (Postcards from Rome) -- And Short Stories from Readers!

You can see why I needed that Cerulean paint, right? (which I've now bought, thanks to Kristine, at the Poggi store near the Pantheon, what a delight!) -- the skies always seem to have something of this colour here.

Don't you think this would make a good photo, if only I could clear all the tourists out of the way, perhaps move a few vehicles. . .

I snapped the photo because a few lovers have clamped their looks onto the teeth of the Roman wolf. So many cities have been dealing with this problem of love locks, the damage they cause, the expense of their removal, and last week, I posted photos of a sculpture recently installed in Vancouver expressly for the purpose of allowing these tangible declarations of attachment. And at the time, I invited short stories -- postcard length -- promising to choose three of those stories and send a postcard from my travels to their writers. . .

It was a very spontaneous idea, and I wasn't sure if it would glean any responses, so I was delighted with the four entries -- two from one writer, who seems to have released a nascent talent for this form. Indeed, I think all three writers handle the tiny narrative form skilfully and engagingly. And because the four entries come from three writers, I can send a postcard to everyone who wrote us a story.

You can hop back to the original post to identify the photograph that prompted each story -- happily, each story here was inspired by a different photograph, although it might also be interesting to see two or three different interpretations for the same image.

I've decided that if any of you are still (or again, or anew) inspired to try your hand, I'll happily send a postcard to any new entries, within reason (I think I'm safe in assuming there won't be a deluge ;-)
Meanwhile, do enjoy the following clever little stories, and Lorrie, Eleanore, and Stacy, please send me your mailing address by email (to fsproutATgmailDOTcom, and I'll send you a postcard from Rome, although it will probably have a French postmark - two, two countries in one postcard!

From Lorrie:

He noticed the way she admired her friends' sparkly rings. Her steps slowed and sometimes stopped while passing a jewelry store window downtown. She never said anything, but he knew. And he wished he could have given her those diamonds, those glittering baubles to wear. She wore her plain gold band always; through the years of scrimping for schooling, raising a young family, and sending the children through university. The budget constraints eased considerably, but diamonds seemed less important than they once did.
For their 30th wedding anniversary, he presented her with a small box. Her eyebrows raised, then contracted. It was much too heavy for jewelry. Opening the box, she saw the heart, covered in diamonds. Real diamonds. She held in her hand, examined it, and raised her eyebrows again. 
"We'll leave it here, in this park," he said. "A symbol of our forever love. No one will suspect these are real."
She leaned in for a kiss, as he pulled the second box from his pocket. "Here's something else."

from Eleonore:

It had not worked out after all. She had always wondered if he loved her the way she loved him and nothing he did could free her from that doubt. When some of her friends had taken their sweethearts to the park to put a lock on those strange statues, it had occurred to her that maybe they should do the same. If he was willing to confess his love for her in such a public fashion, she wouldn’t have to worry any more, would she? She suggested the idea, he shook his head. That was ridiculous. He loved her, he had told her a thousand times, wasn’t that sufficient? It was not, she insisted. She needed the ritual, the formal act. After that, she promised, she would believe in his love forever. He shook his head again and laughed.

But three weeks later, for her birthday, he took her to the park and unwrapped a shiny lock. “Let’s do it”, he said. She looked at the lock, then at him. “Where is the key?”, she asked. “There is no key. The lock opens with a code. You close it, turn the dial, and nobody can open it again.” “Unless you know the code”, she said. “But nobody does”, he said, folded his hands around hers, hung the lock on the statue’s arm and clicked it shut. “There you are”, he said. “Happy now?” She nodded. And wondered. Did he remember the code?

And Eleonore also sent this charming contribution:

It had not been love at first sight between them. Later, they could not recall the exact moment or circumstances of their first meeting. They had worked in the same building, Sam on the fifth floor and Stan on the seventh. They began to exchange looks when they met in the lobby or the elevator, then the looks turned into smiles. They had coffee together at lunchtime. They went to the movies, had dinner, and finally went to bed together when it seemed only natural to do so. 

But the day Sam moved into Stan’s apartment remained special for the two of them. Neither had lived with a partner before. Both were worried that quarrels about toothpaste in the sink and wet towels on the bathroom floor might ruin their love. But nothing of the kind happened. Different as they were, they seemed made for each other. Sam was a wonderful cook, Stan enjoyed doing the shopping. Sam was excellent at planning trips, Stan was able to start a friendly conversation in the most exotic language. Sam never forgot the birthday of any of their friends and relatives, Stan was famous for his ability to invite the most diverse set of people and make them all feel at home.

There was one thing they had in common: they were quite superstitious. Most of all, they feared that their relationship might break up in the seventh year. So when the sixth year of living together drew to a close, they started to throw nervous glances at each other. They treated each other with particular care and tenderness. The year advanced and nothing happened. They began counting the days, feeling more and more confident. When the day of their anniversary arrived, they were jubilant. People in the park turned round to watch the two middle-aged men who radiated happiness while they were hanging a lock on one of the statues.

and from Stacy -- for this story, you really should check out the prompt photo, which shows a lock with the brand name "Fortress" clearly engraved, the "lover's inscription" added above it.
"I'm trapped", she thought. Years went by, children came and went. He decided that she stay in the house and make a home for the family. She felt, at times, like a prisoner. Lovely wallpapered walls enveloped her home, but walls none the less. A few times a year she longed for the sky with no burdens or bounds. The children grew, the finances became easier and she had learned to make peace with her circumstances. It dawned on her one day that being part of this marriage wasn't a warden and a prisoner, it was a team which worked together. One evening in summer, they decided to walk, reveling in their empty nest and calm understanding of each other. At the sculpture, she took a lock from her pocket. She had started writing on it years before, but couldn't finish the thought. Then, with the pen, she changed 'This" to "Their" and finished the sentiment.

Aren't those wonderful? Could we have a round of applause, please? Thank you so much for indulging my spontaneous idea. When next you hear from me, I'm likely to have a different address. Remember that in between posts, you're very welcome to follow my travels on Instagram . . .


  1. "a few lovers have clamped their looks onto the teeth of the Roman wolf...:" how could that be seen as romantic, or, for that matter, as anything other than a selfish desecration of an important piece of civic art?

    1. I can't help but agree. . . and I'd be very curious to see a longitudinal study. . . how many of these loves so declared last out the year?

  2. What wonderful stories. I was trying to get one together too but time ran away with me. And Stacy's story is so much better than mine was going to be so I'll sit this one out.

    But if you ever do it again...

    1. Oh, I wish you had, Ceri, and now you've got me thinking of how/whether I could try that again.

  3. Your first photograph is a wonderful prompt for another story. What a challenge to put your hand into a wolf's mouth, event if it is made of bronze!

    1. See? You're hooked, Eleonore! I've released a nascent talent for the mini-story. ;-)

  4. Lovely stories
    Beautiful photos
    I am curious where would you be next (I have some gap between locations :-))

    1. All will soon be revealed. . . ;-)
      I'm guessing some have guessed. We're creatures of habit...

    2. and now you know . . . Bordeaux!

  5. I did it again. Here is another lock story:
    It was April 17th 2016, Sofia’s 35th birthday and their anniversary. They had made love for the first time as a consequence and culmination of her birthday party ten years ago. A few months later they had married, but they always considered this date the beginning of their love. They were a happy couple. Only once had jealousy and distrust overshadowed their relationship. That was when Luigi had turned up, a new waiter in the restaurant where she went for lunch every day. It had not taken him more than a week to fall madly in love with Sofia. At the beginning she had not taken this seriously. But when she told Gianni about Luigi’s looks and remarks, finding it all very amusing, she suddenly realized that Gianni did not. On the contrary, he accused her of flirting with Luigi and betraying her husband. Her decision was swift: she promised Gianni she would not exchange another word with Luigi, and from the very next day she never set foot in that restaurant again.
    On their anniversary, they had dinner in town and then went for a stroll. He led the way to the piazza with the statue of the Roman wolf. He stopped and took a lock out of his pocket. “Here is your birthday present”, he said. “Ten years is a long time.” On one side of the lock he had written: “Sofia & Gianni. 17.4.2006”. “Put it on the wolf’s fangs” he said as he gave her the key. When she opened the lock, he added “You know that this statue works like the Boca de la veritá, don’t you? It will bite off your hand if you have a lie on your conscience,.” She gave him a long look. Then she took out a pen and added to the writing on the lock, put her hand between the long bronze teeth without hesitation, clamped the lock on, turned around and walked away. He looked at the inscription on the lock. It said: “Sofia & Gianni. 17.4.2006-17.4.2016”.

    1. wonderful! A great twist at the end. . .

  6. What lovel stories. Thanks for sharing.

    1. They're great, aren't they, AC? Such clever readers here!


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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