Shelved Ideals


Photo credit: Ian Sane (modified)

Hallaea searched the old tome, squinting.  Why could divines heal broken legs, but not fading memory?  “Aging is not illness.” What nonsense.

Finding the passage, she copied it carefully.  After such painstaking research, she could not risk misquoting other scholars.  Her theory was solid.  Ground-breaking.  She was so close.

A knock startled her.  “Who is it?” she shouted.

The woman in the doorway confused Hallaea.  She forgot that Adarae aged too, was no longer the lithe beauty she’d married.

“Me, naturally. Who else dares disturb you?”

She used to smirk.  When had she stopped?  “Sorry, dear.”

Adarae poured steaming tea.  “You said you’d join us for dinner.” It was not a question, not even an accusation.  Simply a statement.  “Cana brought his baby.”

“She’s too young to notice.”

“Cana isn’t.”

Hallaea sighed.  “When this is done, I’ll have more time.”

“You said that last time.”

Hallaea turned away.  She’d forget her idea if this interruption continued.

Her wife’s hand hovered over her shoulder, then disappeared.  Hallaea wondered if Adarae was well.  She’d been so quiet lately.

Spying a wording mistake, Hallaea cursed.  She’d have to rewrite this entire page.  This was for posterity, after all.  One must have standards.  Priorities.

Word count: 200.  Inspired by this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction.  Big thanks to Alastair Forbes for tirelessly hosting this challenge and providing the original photo prompt (below).  Click here to read the other stories written for this prompt and to submit your own.

Those of you who are regular readers may have noticed that I almost never repeat words in my stories.  The repeated use of “time” in this one is a deliberate reference to the Depeche Mode song “Leave in Silence”, about the long end to a fading relationship: “This will be the last time / I think I said that last time.”  I must be in a lyrical mood today, because I almost named the story “Another Book on the Shelf,” referencing the Pink Floyd song, of course.  I decided to go for the dual meaning of shelved instead, because you know I like my double entendre titles…


Photo © Al Forbes

10 thoughts on “Shelved Ideals

    • Thank you! I was trying to zoom in more on their relationship this time, on the little interactions that indicate the broader problems, so I’m so glad to hear that the strain came through there. (Especially since I have about 200 more words of the story in my mind that I couldn’t fit in!)


    • Thanks Al! Yes, and it’s too easy to fall into the same trap — where she’s so focused on those details that she seems to be missing some of the details going on downstairs with the other people in her life.

      And I’m very glad I can do this on a computer too! I hate to imagine having to retype an entire novel from the beginning to make revisions, and that was not so long ago.


  1. Great take Joy. It’s a hard balance to strike, being immersed in your job or a project, yet paying attention and spending time with your loved ones. Seems like she should be doing more things with her family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I couldn’t agree more — work-family balance is really hard to achieve. I think it’s even harder when you have a great job that you love. But I also agree that Hallaea’s balance is way off; she will probably regret it, in the end, like her family already does.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Being disturbed when we’re writing can be a real pain! So often an idea can be hovering, just on the edge of becoming something needful, or possibly inspirational, and someone speaks and the idea floats away. A big ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign should be a must for all writers!.
    I love the fact that Hallaea’s searching for something to heal ageing! If she finds it, let me know what it is.

    Liked by 1 person

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