Kathy Fleming was born Kathleen Bender at the Cheerios factory in Lodi,
California – at least that’s what she was led to believe, since her parents
pointed to General Mills often, exclaiming, “That’s where you were
born!” --neglecting to further explain it was the former site of a hospital.
As a child, Kathy adored alleys and always stopped to feed and visit the dogs
locked in backyard cages –her favorite being an extremely large and regal
Great Dane. As an adult, she tried various professions, including peddling
flowers, milking goats, and writing magazine articles, finally settling on
the teaching of English. Along the way she married once, divorced once,
brought two children into the world, and is the grandmother of one.
Now retired, she cavorts all day long, sailing, rowing, kayaking, and playing
the accordion. Kathy's story Delight is profoundly autobiographical---beware,
all you fiddle players!
Prompt Option #1
Bibliomancy---open the dictionary to any random page; place your finger
on any random word. Make that one word your story's title, or make it
part of your story's title. Your story should have: a cumulonimbus cloud,
pomegranates, your favorite color, an animal, a stoneware crock, a commonly
known superstition, an emotion, and at least two characters who have rhyming
names. (Sample-rhyming names: Aaron/Sharon, Paul/Saul, Zoë/Chloe)
By Kathy Fleming
The two met unexpectedly. There was jostling in the crowded hallway – cries of greetings, slaps on the back,
embraces that lingered. Her case was set next to his, and the first thing she noticed was the sublime curve of
his back, and the long trajectory of his bow.
"So you’re a violin, then?"
"Antonio A. Giussepe Verdi, 1841." His voice was low, but rich with timbre.
"What will you play today?"
"The Ralph Vaughnn piece, Larks Ascending. Do you know it?"
"Not in my repertoire. But then you and I are very different."
"Pardon me, I did not catch your name!" Antonio exclaimed.
"Silvia. I’m a Piermaria, 1948, Castelfidardo."
"Then you must be—"
"An accordion, yes."
There was a lull in the conversation, which she’d grown accustomed to. A bit of musing went on,
as if searching for the right words, to avoid even the impression of giving offense.
"Please don’t say you dated an accordion once," she smiled through the velvet lining and cardboard casing.
"Not dated, but we were close friends. I’m a great deal older than you, and have traveled quite a bit."
She loved the sound of his voice, and imagined that it was almost a British accent, but that was invariably due
to a steady dose of BBC, her owner’s favorite shows.
"Do you want to hear?" His tone became conspiratorial.
"It was in the Venetian flat of my second owner, who also painted. He had set up one of those dreary still life
scenes, with a bottle of wine, and a stoneware crock of pomegranates. He fussed that it needed something else, then
rushed from the room, and arriving from the market an hour later, thrust an accordion down by the fruit. It was not
full-sized, mind you, more like a concertina. I adored her immediately, the way the folds of her skirt tilted their
bright colors at you, she always seemed to be smiling. Whenever he was away, which was quite a lot, we had merry
conversations, and she taught me all the gypsy tunes she knew, and I taught her arias."
"What was her name?"
"But what happened? Did you live together long?"
"Our owner pawned her first, and then me. But by the time I arrived, she had been sold."
"Who was your favorite owner?"
"I shall have to tell you later. We are going on now."
Silvia listened to the footsteps fading away. Masculine footfalls, but not heavy. The concert hall was quiet. Then she
heard the strains of the violin. She closed her eyes, and held her breath. The notes rose as if they were vapor, and the
runs of the melody were exquisitely painful, as if wrung from the very soul of both instrument and violinist. The slashing
staccato notes made her cry out, as she thought of the delicate frets, the thin wooden box that comprised a violin. But she
gloried, too, in his success.
His case came back, but almost immediately, it was her turn. Her owner was nervous, but assured, too, by the familiar feel of
hand slipping through the bass strap, right fingers resting softly on the piano keys, cleaned just that morning. They were playing
Irish jigs and bonny ballads, and her owner had dressed in brilliant, shiny green, which showed off the red pleats of the accordion
And then the next thing Silvia knew, she was put in the car, and was sad that she would never see him again. But wait! There was
conversation outside the car, a short drive, she was taken up again, and then opened in a beautiful park, with flowers all about and
cumulonimbus clouds floating overhead. A quick glance confirmed that the violin was lying next to her. A bottle of wine was opened,
and the musicians soon forgot they had come to play together.
"Keep a sharp eye out for dogs, okay?"
"Why?" Silvia hoped he liked dogs. Her owner has a retriever.
"One got hold of me once and nearly chewed me in half. See?"
Silvia could see bite marks in Antonio’s neck.
"I loved your playing today."
"And I loved yours, too!"
Passion had crept into Antonio’s voice. She was glad her owner had shined and polished her grillwork.
She did look magnificent.
"I think that’s why our owners got together. Both like the Celtic stuff."
"What’s his name?"
"And hers is Erin! Do you think it’s meant to be?"
"You accordions are so gushingly romantic! They’ve only just met!"
"But if they’re together…"
Silvia tried batting eyelashes she didn’t have. She settled for a suggestive squeeze.
"I’m damaged goods. My heart was broken by a curvy clarinet … ah, seduced by all that silvery shimmer. We lived
in a music shop together, and every day she would break my heart by parading up and down with any tosser she fancied.
God, even the congo drums!"
Silvie snapped her pleats shut. "I’m not like that. I’m true blue. In fact, I’ve held out a long time for—someone like you."
Antonio studied her for a long time, saying nothing. "All right,” he said at last. Let’s take the test."
"What test?" Silvia asked, mildly alarmed.
"The daisy test – you know, she loves me, loves me not."
"Oh, Antonio, you would leave our very fates up to the whims of botanical chance?"
"I think our fates are written in the stars."
"And also, apparently, weedy plants."
"Get on with it!"
"Okay." Silvie picked a daisy from the lawn.
"He loves me … a petal fluttered down … he loves me not. He loves me … fluttering … he loves me not … "
But before she reached the last petal, she felt Antonio’s length against her keys, and delighted in his whisper.
"He loves you."
A few feet away, the fingers of Garren and Erin intertwined, and there was delight in the discovery that they lived only a
few blocks from each other in North Beach, and …