D is for Devout Despair

Day 4 of the challenge!

My theme is NIFTY NUGGETS. Little nuggets of writing based on a photo, a phrase and an object, which is designed to encourage lean, tight writing. I’m aiming for a word count of under 300 words.

Thank you to L.Diane Wolfe for providing the beautiful photo prompts.  You can visit her blog to check out more pictures.



PHRASE – those who live in glass houses should not throw stones

OBJECT – button

It’s a rare find. The lady at the counter of Arabella’s Antiques on Second Avenue peers through her monocle. She studies the button. Then she peers down at my faded denim jeans and T-shirt before her eyes come to rest on my face. Probably not the dress code of her ‘normal visitors’, you know the ones who pull up outside the shop in a fancy Limo or even a Bentley.

I picked up the button at the foot of the statue. I suspect that the marbled lady left it there. Every day, when I pass the statue, I feel a sense of peace. She is beautiful, yet sad. Despair clings to her marbled surface. She stands devout and sorrowful yet there is a strong and unyielding resolve. Her upright carriage and head tilted downward. A woman of substance. Deep.

It’s an old valuable medieval shaft button made of metal, probably a pewter-based alloy. She delivers the verdict, dismissive and laced with a hint of impatience, darting a strange frown in my direction. I clutch the button. I know that look. It makes me sad. I see it all the time. Don’t judge. That’s what my mother always taught me. Don’t criticise others. Look at your own faults. Who is Miss-High-And-Mighty-Arabella anyway? Behind that professionally plastered smile and haughty appearance, who knows what demons haunt her “white picket fence” existence?

Want to know my truth? I am haunted by sadness. Every single day. Just like my devout lady. We have that in common. It makes me wonder about things. Does the antique shop lady ever feel sad? What possible sadness is concealed behind that smile? Why is the devout lady sad? Did the owner of the button ever feel acute sadness?Why do I feel constant sadness? I struggle to recall a time when the sadness didn’t exist.

I vow to return to the antique shop and sell the button.

There is still time to register for the classes that start next week.

I hurry past the statue and the wind unravels my scarf which billows on the air, and then settles on her shoulder and wraps itself around her tilted head. I dig deep into my pocket, squeeze the button and mouth a silent thank you to my marbled benefactress.


  1. Alex J. Cavanaugh on April 6, 2015 at 2:01 am

    Wow, that was really intricate, Michelle!

    • Michelle Wallace on April 7, 2015 at 8:54 am

      Thank you!
      I like the way you’ve described it… intricate. 🙂

  2. Patricia Lynne on April 6, 2015 at 3:02 am

    That was really beautiful. Great job.

    ~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Member of C. Lee’s Muffin Commando Squad
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

  3. Sara C. Snider on April 6, 2015 at 7:08 am

    Really nice story. We all have sorrows and problems that hurt us, many of which are unnoticeable by others . I love the gentle reminder of this.

  4. Rosie Amber on April 6, 2015 at 7:57 am

    A really great phrase to use and the picture is really lovely, is it raining in it?

    • L. Diane Wolfe on April 6, 2015 at 11:26 am

      Hi Rosie. The water you see is from the fountain. The figure is its base.

  5. SittieCates on April 6, 2015 at 7:59 am

    It’s a beautiful story, Michelle! I felt the emotions captured in each sentence, the beauty of movement and its sense of place. Wonderful! I love it!

    Oh, BTW, just visiting. I didn’t join the A-to-Z challenge this year. Maybe next year. Good luck with the challenge, Michelle!

    • Michelle Wallace on April 7, 2015 at 8:55 am

      Thank you for the visit and the wonderful comment, Sittie. Much appreciated.

  6. L. Diane Wolfe on April 6, 2015 at 11:25 am

    Hopefully the classes will change some things and lift a little sadness.

  7. Hilary on April 6, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    Hi Michelle – lots going on here .. I can feel the sadness, the emotional toil of her time – the frustration of Arabella – bet she’s hiding horrors. The medieval button – I think deserves to find a better home than with Arabella … it’s a charm for a better future … in the classes perhaps she’ll meet her man.

    Devout Despair – Diane’s photo gives us that .. cheers Hilary

  8. Nadine Feldman on April 6, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    I love how she realizes her sadness is a reflection of the sadness we all feel. Our emotions can bring us to greater compassion if we let them.

  9. Stuart Lennon on April 6, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    Lovely post and cracking photo.

    Happy A to Z!


  10. Chrys Fey on April 6, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    L. Diane takes stunning pictures!

    Your story is beautiful, Michelle! Her sadness was very powerful.

  11. Elizabeth Seckman on April 6, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    Makes me think of Robin Williams. Real sadness and heart ache behind that smile.

    • Michelle Wallace on April 7, 2015 at 8:59 am

      He’s the perfect example of the deep sadness behind the smile…

  12. Beth on April 6, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    you have such a beautiful rhythm to your writing. I love it!

  13. Tyrean on April 7, 2015 at 12:28 am

    wow! I felt drawn into your amazing character and the depth of her thoughts. Excellent writing, Michelle!

    • Michelle Wallace on April 7, 2015 at 9:00 am

      I’m so happy that you connected with it…
      Thank you Tyrean! 🙂

  14. Julie on April 7, 2015 at 12:34 am

    Wonderful story! Thanks for sharing.

  15. Stephanie Faris on April 7, 2015 at 12:46 am

    I love what you did with this. Great job!

  16. Tawnya on April 7, 2015 at 2:22 am

    Beautiful!!! Loved it!

  17. Alex Hurst on April 7, 2015 at 2:26 am

    You’ve got a talent for marking description with poignancy. The idea of the despair clinging to marble is really evocative. Beautiful phrase. 🙂

  18. Beverly (@Bevimus) on April 8, 2015 at 2:30 am

    Another gorgeous photo- truly breathtaking!

    And today’s piece is haunting- melancholy and hopeful all at the same time.

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