Microfiction #writephoto: Black pearl

This is for Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt.


Winter sunset and the old stone glows red. Blue as a bird’s egg, the sky, raked with bare black branches. So much colour in the biting cold. The night would bring frost and grass collect a fur of white. She used to live in the house behind the black branches. She had thought of it as home. But it had turned into a trap.

If she looked hard she could see the flames of the fire in the grate. It would be warm inside. He probably had another woman by now to cook him exactly what he wanted, to plump up the cushions and make sure the place was spotless. Because that’s what counts after all. The shell must be as pristine as the inside of an abalone, licked clean by an obliging cat fish.

Inside, the flames dance and the house looks at her with its glassy eyes. It had never liked her. She had not taken enough care with its rainbow shine. She had wanted more than the shell, and he, the mollusc’s usurper, could give her nothing else.

She hunches her shoulders against the north wind. Her hands are cold and raw, but at least she feels the way the air moves and flows around her like a river. A blackbird flies past in his low, rapid dash from tree to hedge. He crashes into the glossy-leaved thicket with an irritated cluck. She smiles, hoping he’s found something to eat in the hard ground. His shell is the sky and he is the black pearl.

She makes up her mind, suddenly, turning her back on the house of no mirth forever. She will be a pearl too, her shell, the sky, flushed with the setting sun, and filled with the last notes of the blackbird’s song.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

38 thoughts on “Microfiction #writephoto: Black pearl”

  1. “-at least she feels the way the air moves”.. I wonder how difficult her life was made by the “usurper”.. before she finally end the abusive relationship..
    [On a totally unrelated issue (because of the Pearl and Blackbird).. “Why is the rum always gone”?]

      1. Gotta ask Jack Sparrow.. Hahaha.. Pearl and Blackbird.. I thought you understood the reference..

      2. I’m so out of touch with films. I haven’t seen a single one of the Pirates films. The kids watched one and I popped in for about five minutes. That’s as much as I could stand.

      3. I know what you mean…but i know it because everyone were sending mails with this one.. The last film i watched was…There will be blood.. And not inside a theatre..

      4. Well, to be honest.. I was surprised by it.. But i prefer movies like Forrest Gump.. Strange i never watch in theatres..

      5. I liked Forrest Gump too. Depends if you like going out and getting the social contact aspect of cinema. I don’t. You have to get home afterwards, late and you’re probably hungry and it’s too late to eat. Also I’m terrible about following plots and like to watch at home so I can stop the film while someone explains to me what’s going on.

      6. Me too.. I watch the Big short (of course at home) and a family member too wanted to see it afterwards…I thought OK.. The 2 hour film became 4 and a half our long because i have to pause after every 15 min. to make him understand what was really going on.. It was excruciating..

      7. But i realise why i never go to theatres.. Here at least i can vent my anger out.. It is my space..

  2. Such powerful writing. There is real depth to your story. I loved the metaphor of the blackbird and the shell.

      1. It is a strange image . I had a go at writing something but it ended up going round in circles with no end in sight. I like your idea of being guided by instinct.

      2. It leads to surprising results. On the other hand, if when you reread you just get a blank—why did I write that? — response, probably best to scrap it 🙂

  3. This is a great story – so sad that she feels so detached from the house and her former life, but the ending is powerful and hopeful.

  4. Such a touching story, Jane. So well done.
    I really loved this bit: “The shell must be as pristine as the inside of an abalone, licked clean by an obliging cat fish.

    Inside, the flames dance and the house looks at her with its glassy eyes. It had never liked her. She had not taken enough care with its rainbow shine. She had wanted more than the shell, and he, the mollusc’s usurper, could give her nothing else.”
    I battle daily with the house and I feel her pain. I drowned long ago and spend each day fighting my way back up to the surface. I’m also good with the melodrama and solve my problems by writing or getting out of the house.
    Hope you’re having a great week.
    xx Rowena

    1. Thanks Rowena! I’m glad I’m not alone in feeling that a house can be oppressive in what it represents and what it demands. Thank goodness they’re not all like that 🙂

      1. I have a few sensible friends I connect with about the house and also live with less than perfection. It’s a huge relief. We have a sort of secret society and you’re welcome to join…even if we are in distant Australia!

      2. I wonder how many people share the feeling of terror when someone calls round unexpectedly? I’m willing to live with an unholy mess but not let anybody see the true awfulness. Is that being hypocritical?

      3. I don’t see it as being hypocritical and I’m sure most people are like you. That most of us are messy, but it’s a very well kept secret.
        BTW I have a great story about someone popping in unannounced. I wrote a post about our local breakfast radio hosts after they visited my daughter’s school. One of them was Julie Goodwin, Australia’s firat Masterchef. Anyway, I received a message to call the radio station and was told I’d won a prize. This turned out to be a visit to MY HOME by the other announcer. I initially freaked and thought: “You call that a prize!!” Well, a huge cleanup began and I had about a month up my sleave thanks to the school holidays. When the day finally came around, my prize turned out to be Julie Goodwin pulling up in her convertible mini with a meal for the family. The whole entourage ended up in my kitchen where we made a salad. They put a video online and they zoomed onto the hotplate which I’d scrumbed within an inch of its life and it was white on white. Phew! Here’s a link: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2017/05/12/rowena-the-radio-stars/
        It was such an amazing day and more than worth the effort. I was also thrilled that we passed muster.
        xx Rowena

      4. I don’t know how you coped. I’d have died! I’m the only one who knows how to work our stove. There’s an intricate system of poles and props to keep the gas turned on, and I have all the dials memorized—there’s no trace of the numbers any more.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s