Dreaming of Xanadu

She dreamed of Xanadu, with its gilded palaces, a lush paradise full of possibilities.

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And here were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

If she could just break free from this house, this ivy-covered prison.

When he had brought her here, she had been thrilled. The manor was peaceful, a fair mile from the village, and so solid she didn’t hear the winds that barreled across the plains and the storms that regularly blew in felt distanced. The thunder rumbled and lightning filled the sky, but she was safe to watch the spectacle, framed by the huge window in her studio, a room set aside for her to create, paint, dream, imagine, a room he never entered except by her request, hers alone.

She had been delighted. It was a hideaway for the two of them, apart from the world. They had planted a garden, curled up on the sofa in the evenings to read, but slowly, gradually, she had felt it change. He became angry more often, blamed her for something she didn’t understand. He left, sometimes for days, locking the door behind him, a lock she couldn’t open from the inside. She was trapped, isolated, alone. When she looked out her beloved window all she saw was the emptiness of the fields, the menhirs a bittersweet reminder of a civilization long gone.

She tried to paint, to evoke the images in her head of distant lands, exotic peoples, wild animals. She tried to escape into her worlds, but she couldn’t. Canvas after canvas was covered with the same image, the same painting of the scene outside her window, sunny, overcast with dark gray tumbling clouds, at night with a million sparks of light in the sky, but always the same place. It was killing her.

He was gone, again, had been since yesterday afternoon. She looked at her painting again, tears springing to her eyes. She threw it with all her pent-up anger and frustration, shattering the window. She looked out and imagined herself walking down that path. She stepped through, cutting her calf on a jagged shard still clinging to the frame, and began walking, blood dripping, as the clouds let loose, rain soaking her.


Not my best, but I needed to use an X. The quote is from “Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, published in 1816. The A to Z Challenge is hosted at its own blog.

The X that was the image on the front page for this post is by Melanie J. Cook.

Dottie at Tink’s Place has a Monday Morning Flash Fiction challenge that I’m enjoying. Each Monday a new picture prompt will be posted and if you choose to participate you post your story on Friday – 350 words, give or take.


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