Prompt: A photograph from the 1960’s of a woman in a bright floral dress seated, smoking, on a bright floral outdoor rocker

Hilda always wondered what people did without any color in their lives. Those people in the tract houses all painted the same shade of khaki from the outside and ecru after the front door. Were their dreams in a washed out palette, too?
Then there were the opposites: the dictocrats, the matchy-matchy’s as she liked to call them. The ones who dressed all in black all the time. To avoid having to make a decision she supposed.
Why couldn’t color run rampant? Why couldn’t pattern scream from the heights, shake down the mysteries, reveal the hidden agendas of the soul?
Howard had always appreciated her bohemian vagaries. Her “nerve” he called it. Too bad he’d found the nerve to sleep with that tart and enact the free love he’d always yammered on about. At least he’d left her the Art, and the books, her bound beauties lined up in a row. Those and the 24 year-old Macaw were all she had left from her time with Howard.
Things grow, leaf, die and fall she thought. Trees, people, relationships. Yet, here she still stood, hot as fire on the inside, burning embers waiting to extinguish, or set aflame, or tear through the ideas of Romantics and misty-eyed fawns who showed up every fall for her Introduction to Modern Literature course.
How could these soft-shelled, pasty little figurines ever see the passion? What kept her going were the surprises. Even 40 years later she was still taken aback that her first assessments on the first day of class turned out to be only half right. In the still of the semester, on that rare occasion, a lone purple orchid bloomed from an otherwise wan little child and a beauty unbeknownst to anyone revealed itself.
Those moments, stark in their clarity, showed brightly. Their contrast bemused her, fueled her passion to continue on, to drudge through the oblique reasoning with yet another group of children. All for that moment of discovery, a revelation. A spark revealed.
Yes, that is what I’ll say, Hilda thought, as she lit another cigarette. That’s what I’ll tell them when they ask how I’ve lasted this long. As the Deconstructionists have been abandoned and another Postmodern truism becomes the faddish catchphrase, my Beauty will throw them. “A Romantic?” they will think, “Old Mrs. Rubicon, a Romantic?”

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Comments
3 Responses to “Prompt: A photograph from the 1960’s of a woman in a bright floral dress seated, smoking, on a bright floral outdoor rocker”
  1. Feel free to use it. How flattering!

  2. Wow. I heard it the first time, but I love seeing it in print. This sentence: "Howard had always appreciated her bohemian vagaries." Tells so much about both of them. The relationship as a whole. I want to steal that as a first line prompt for a workshop. It's just wonderful.

  3. Great character. All the images of color throughout is wonderful, down to the lone purple orchid. I love the burning embers (red) inside Hilda Rubicon, contrasting to the pasty (beige)figurines who come to her classes.

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