Second Chance (Speakeasy #158)

04-21 Butterfly

Rebecca Myles stood amongst the dusty contents of a 6×8 storage locker. It had only been four days since her husband of fifty-one years had passed away and the shock still left her numb. Fifty-one years, nine months and four days.

“This doesn’t have to be done so soon,” Dee said, placing a hand on her friend’s shoulder. “The funeral is enough stress for one day.”

Rebecca shook her head. “I didn’t know this space existed until yesterday. I need to find out what Arthur stored here.”

“Are you sure you don’t want me to stay?”

“I’m okay.”

Dee enveloped her friend in hug. “Call if you need me.”

Rebecca surveyed the stacks and reached for a box at eye level. She sat in a plastic patio chair with the box on her lap and lifted the tucked flaps. Medical journals. She smiled at the memory of the pride Arthur carried for his cancer research.  Just last month, he felt sure a vaccination was close. Her throat tightened. Before his heart attack.  He was a good man- stable and reliable.  She refused to fault him for what was missing when he gave her so much.

She slid the journals aside. Off to her left, a glossy white box tied with blue ribbon caught her eye. When she lifted the lid, she thought it strange the box didn’t have a coating of dust like the others. Inside, she found a stack of hand-written letters. Unfolding the first yellowed, brittle page, she noticed the shimmering blue and black butterfly at the top. She scanned the script with vague familiarity, though the writing wasn’t hers or Arthur’s- the letters were a century old.

The poetic proclamation of love caused raw emotions to fester to the surface. Tears dripped from her eyelashes, soaking the linen paper. She rushed to wipe the wetness away, smearing the ink into a black smudge. She gasped. “No! Oh, no… it’s ruined!”

The hairs on her arms raised, as if charged by an electrical current. Rebecca moved to smooth them down and the paper slipped from her arthritic fingers, drifting to the ground on an unseen breeze. Her eyes widened as the butterfly’s wings lifted from the page. In stunned silence, she watched as it flitted toward her and landed on her shoulder. A ripple of fear rushed through her, followed by a serenity like none she’d felt before.

Warm fingers brushed the side of her cheek. Rebecca’s eyelids lifted, breath momentarily suspended when she caught sight of the handsome dark-haired man beside her. She looked up and saw a spray of stars across an inky sky rather than the metal storage unit ceiling.

“Caroline…”

She returned her gaze to him. “Antonio?” Confusion clouded Rebecca’s senses. She ran her palms along the back of her arms to ease the chill, shocked that her fingers weren’t bent and arthritic and her age-spotted papery skin had transformed into a soft, youthful glow. “What’s going on?”

“I’ve spent the last hundred years figuring out how to change our course.”

Rebecca sat up. “What?”

“Caroline, from the moment you wed Joseph, I’ve searched for a way to get our time back.”

“I-I don’t understand. I married Arthur.”

“In your last life, my love. Arthur was Joseph a century ago.”

“I don’t believe in reincarnation.”

Antonio sighed. “Or time travel?”

“I don’t know anymore.” She took in their surroundings. It felt like a different era. She glanced at her hands, absent of raised blue veins, and couldn’t find another explanation.

“Your tears brought you here. If my letter no longer stirred emotion, I would’ve let you be.”

Brows furrowed, she searched his face. “Were you Leonard?”

He smiled. “It killed me to step away again, but this is the moment I’d waited for.” He cupped her face in his hands. “Our second chance.”

Her cheeks warmed when he grasped her hands and pulled her into him.  The electricity she’d felt when the butterfly neared her before returned.  It beckoned her to choose passion over practicality.

“You’re to wed Joseph tomorrow, Caroline. Marry me tonight.”

She searched Antonio’s eyes for truth.  She’d sometimes wondered where alternate paths would’ve led, and in that moment, she couldn’t help but think the rightness eclipsed every mistake made along the way.

~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-

This is my response to the Speakeasy weekly challenge which is to write a response in less than 750 words (mine is 712) and (1) use “The rightness eclipsed every mistake made along the way.” as the final sentence, and (2) make some kind of reference to the media prompt (a trailer to Love in the Time of Cholera.)

The challenge is open to anyone, so click on the badge above to view Speakeasy’s site with the complete guideline information.

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62 thoughts on “Second Chance (Speakeasy #158)

  1. Eric Alagan April 21, 2014 / 6:13 AM

    This is marvellous, Janna – you wrapped and offered up so many themes here. Love it!

    • jannatwrites April 21, 2014 / 7:34 AM

      Thanks, Eric! Time travel/romance is a bit out of my comfort zone, so I’m glad you enjoyed the story 🙂

  2. Lance April 21, 2014 / 6:47 AM

    While this romantic and dramatic, it’s real and simplistic in it’s approach. If all romance novels were like this, I might read one.

    well done

    • jannatwrites April 21, 2014 / 7:36 AM

      I take that as a big compliment, Lance! Maybe I’ll have to write a ‘romance’ and hold you to the challenge…. oh, don’t worry – I’m notorious for never finishing projects, so I think you’re safe here 🙂

    • jannatwrites April 21, 2014 / 7:37 AM

      Thanks, Phil! The butterfly idea came to me when I was out in the yard and this huge, gorgeous yellow and black butterfly kept hovering around where I worked. I didn’t have a photo of that one, so I changed it to one I did have 🙂 I really do need to get my camera out there…it’s the second time that one has visited here.

  3. nrhatch April 21, 2014 / 7:03 AM

    I want what she’s having . . . a giant step back in time.

    • jannatwrites April 21, 2014 / 7:38 AM

      Haha, on the surface, it sounds tempting, Nancy. I couldn’t get into it in such a short piece, but the ripple of ramifications could change things in ways they couldn’t have anticipated 🙂

  4. BCIJo (aka Joanne Edith) April 21, 2014 / 8:01 AM

    I’m a sucker for a good love story, and time travel, to boot! Nicely done and I love the photo.

    • jannatwrites April 21, 2014 / 12:05 PM

      Thanks for reading, Joanne! One of these days, I hope to get a photo of the yellow butterfly that’s been visiting…

  5. suzicate April 21, 2014 / 9:13 AM

    I love how you took off with that challenge…the time travel was totally unexpected.

    • jannatwrites April 21, 2014 / 12:06 PM

      Thanks, Suzicate. I’d hoped it was a different angle… I’ll see if it comes up in other responses!

  6. Debbie April 21, 2014 / 11:55 AM

    While I like your story, Janna, I’m not sure your last sentence works. It almost feels as if it’s forced, if you know what I mean. You’re talking from the woman’s POV, then suddenly, you switch to the man’s, and that’s a bit jarring. (Sorry, I don’t mean to sound critical, and I hope you won’t get your feelings hurt because I want to be helpful!) Anyway, what an interesting concept!

    • jannatwrites April 21, 2014 / 12:09 PM

      Eeps! You’re so right, Debbie. Didn’t even realized I’d head-hopped there. I changed it to reflect her thoughts. (Oh, and please don’t worry about sharing your thoughts – while it’s nice to hear ‘it’s great’, it’s even better to get a constructive comment 🙂 ) Thanks for taking the time to read and share your comment!

  7. Kathy Combs (@Kathy29156) April 21, 2014 / 12:22 PM

    OMG, that was one of the best stories of yours I have read of yours yet. Phenomenal story telling. I want the story to go on…to see if she marries him or Joseph!!! ♥

    • jannatwrites April 21, 2014 / 9:54 PM

      Aw, thanks, Kathy! I’m glad you enjoyed the story 🙂

  8. SAS Fiction Girl April 21, 2014 / 12:33 PM

    This story is a good start to a serial!
    I like the imagery of the butterfly coming to life and lifting off the page as the introduction to magic in the story.

    • jannatwrites April 21, 2014 / 10:00 PM

      Thanks for reading, SAS! I’m glad you stopped by 🙂

  9. TheJackB April 21, 2014 / 5:27 PM

    Outstanding, I really liked it. I see potential for something more.

    • jannatwrites April 21, 2014 / 10:01 PM

      Thanks, TheJackB – I appreciate you reading it 🙂

  10. Renada Styles April 21, 2014 / 9:27 PM

    This is so beautiful. What a marvelous story- so well woven! Love always finds a way, doesn’t it?

    • jannatwrites April 21, 2014 / 10:02 PM

      Thanks, Renada! I’m glad you enjoyed the story. I do think if a love is meant to be, it will be 🙂

  11. knotrune April 22, 2014 / 2:49 AM

    It’s an intriguing idea, well written, but one thing jars with me. She clearly loved Arthur and he must have been a good man doing cancer research, what does Antonio have to offer which could be better than what Arthur/Joseph does? It would make more sense for her to pick Antonio if there was some more obvious flaw in her marriage to Arthur. Maybe Arthur was solid and a bit dull, while Antonio seems more flamboyant, but that can go with unreliability. Maybe that is what she would learn if she chose to change her future, but personally I would be inclined to stick with Joseph if I was her 🙂

    • jannatwrites April 22, 2014 / 6:58 AM

      Great comment, Knotrune! You made some excellent points that led me to make some changes to clarify that Arthur was reliable and stable, but she felt passion with Antonio. So she has to choose if she wants to follow the mind (go for a stable life) or the heart (follow passion.)

      Thanks so much for taking the time to offer your opinion. I really do appreciate the feedback!

  12. tnkerr April 22, 2014 / 7:33 AM

    Great story Janna. I really enjoyed reading it and would love to know more. You could do great things with this kernel!

    • jannatwrites April 22, 2014 / 11:24 PM

      Thanks, Tnkerr… I appreciate the encouragement 🙂

  13. AZ Gringa April 22, 2014 / 3:07 PM

    I love how you got into the magical realism spirit, Janna. I would love to read the rest of this story. (Also, I keep seeing those yellow & black butterflies, too. They’re gorgeous!)

    • jannatwrites April 22, 2014 / 11:28 PM

      Aren’t those butterflies cool? I just love butterflies 🙂 Thanks for reading – magic is definitely out of my comfort zone, but hey, that’s what writing is about- stretching!

  14. peggyshope April 22, 2014 / 7:37 PM

    I had thought about a reincarnation twist with the prompt this week, but can’t seem to get it to fit within the word limit. You’ve given us such a lovely story, with magic and romance and second chances – I hope she makes the right choice and I hope it brings her the happiness she chooses

    • jannatwrites April 22, 2014 / 11:31 PM

      I had wanted to do more, but ran into word count issues, too. I also had trouble getting stuck in the ‘cholera’ plot line. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, Peggy!

  15. pattisj April 22, 2014 / 11:26 PM

    What an interesting concept! Nicely done.

  16. imab00kworm April 23, 2014 / 3:21 AM

    Everything’s already been said it seems… I like the way you did things differently, it may be out of your comfort zone but there’s something here… maybe you should challenge yourself a bit more often? 🙂

    • jannatwrites April 23, 2014 / 7:07 AM

      Haha, you’re probably right- I should write outside my comfort zone more. Thanks for reading, imab00kworm!

      • imab00kworm April 23, 2014 / 7:22 AM

        Thank YOU for reading mine… And for answering 🙂

        • jannatwrites April 24, 2014 / 12:10 AM

          Always a pleasure, imab00kworm 🙂

  17. Suzanne April 23, 2014 / 6:20 AM

    Fabulous concept, Janna! Love the time travel, love the timeless love story. I don’t know if you did it on purpose, but I also love that you brought magical realism into this. Gabriel García Márquez would be proud. 🙂

    • jannatwrites April 23, 2014 / 7:14 AM

      Thanks, Suzanne – I’m glad you liked the idea. I did hope the bridge between the two worlds and the time travel would be believable, but I didn’t know there was a name for it 🙂

  18. Kir Piccini April 23, 2014 / 11:37 AM

    wouldn’t it be nice if we got that 2nd life or 2nd chance someday?
    love that is boundless and timeless and magical? Yes, please. Yes, Always.

    I liked this very much.

    • jannatwrites April 24, 2014 / 12:13 AM

      I’m glad you enjoyed the story, Kir! Second chances and ‘do-overs’ would be nice, but I wonder if it would take the magic out of living, knowing it’s not your only shot to make it good.

  19. annbennett April 23, 2014 / 4:04 PM

    I read this before I even started. Such a good story, I wonder how her life would be with Antonio? You know there is more to Happily Ever After, at least in a writer’s mind. lol

    • jannatwrites April 24, 2014 / 12:17 AM

      I don’t think there’s a such thing as Happily Ever After. (My, that sounds cynical, doesn’t it?) I think there are many paths to happiness we could take – not just a singular path. And whatever choices we make, there will be setbacks and moments of misery… but our ultimate happiness is what we make of it. I think she could find some happiness in either choice, but Antonio would likely bring some turmoil along with his passion.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your comment, Ann!

  20. Polysyllabic Profundities April 23, 2014 / 4:49 PM

    I love this for so many reasons, Janna. The butterfly reminds me of my mom and the thought of souls meeting each lifetime is such a strong belief for me. What a well told story….it makes me want to follow these two to the end of this adventure and into their next lifetime.

    • jannatwrites April 24, 2014 / 12:19 AM

      Oh, thanks, Susan. That is such a nice comment. I think the idea of meeting souls in another lifetime provides some comfort in this one… like goodbye is not forever. Thanks so much for reading!

  21. agjorgenson April 23, 2014 / 7:04 PM

    The turn from reincarnation to time travel was gripping. The word choice served the story so very well!

    • jannatwrites April 24, 2014 / 12:21 AM

      Thanks, Allen. I appreciate you taking time to read it!

  22. Imelda April 23, 2014 / 7:58 PM

    Wow! This is a lovely story, Janna. Do you intend to develop this some more? The theme you have here is very rich in possibilities. 🙂

    • jannatwrites April 24, 2014 / 12:22 AM

      Thanks for your nice comment, Imelda! I don’t know if I’ll take this one further or not (I’ve got a terrible track record for completing larger projects, so I won’t make any promises 🙂 )

  23. Bastet April 24, 2014 / 7:58 AM

    Well written and as smooth as silk. Great and a lot of potential for future chapters!

    • jannatwrites April 25, 2014 / 8:42 AM

      Thanks, Bastet – I’m glad it held your interest 🙂

      • Bastet April 25, 2014 / 9:10 PM

        Realy did a good one…as always! 🙂

  24. atrm61 April 24, 2014 / 11:13 AM

    Love that transcends time?Wow!To become young again and love and live with your love-ooh!Fantastic and I loved where you took us with this dear Janna 🙂

    • jannatwrites April 25, 2014 / 8:44 AM

      Thanks, Atreyee! It is interesting to think of what a ‘do-over’ might mean. I have no idea if she’d choose stability or passion 🙂

      • atrm61 April 25, 2014 / 11:00 AM

        I think stability 🙂

        • jannatwrites April 25, 2014 / 11:03 AM

          I guess that depends on whether Antonio gives her a seductive look that sends her heart aflutter (thus shutting down all communication to her brain!)

        • atrm61 April 25, 2014 / 11:05 AM

          LOL!Good one 😉

  25. Mollie Claire April 24, 2014 / 2:05 PM

    This is the writing that keeps us all coming back, Janna! 🙂 Well done.

    • jannatwrites April 25, 2014 / 8:45 AM

      I appreciate you reading it, Mollie Claire – thanks 🙂

  26. EagleAye April 24, 2014 / 3:40 PM

    Wow, you’ve given me goosebumps once again. Oh woe, to come back once again to feel that love once more, and then choose another one, however satisfactory. I love the many levels of this story. Outstanding as your stories always are.

    • jannatwrites April 25, 2014 / 8:46 AM

      I appreciate you reading and for sharing your reaction to it, EagleAye! There are many implications in changing her choices that she may or may not contemplate… depends on if the head or heart rules, I guess 🙂

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