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March Story Chat: “Sweet Feeling” by Yvette Prior

If you love to read short stories, you will enjoy Story Chat. For links to all of the stories bookmark the Story Chat Y2 Page.

Something to Think About

In “Sweet Feeling,” Marcel is transitioning.

  • How do you think he handles the stress? What helps you manage stress?
  • What does Marcel’s choice of music tell the reader about him?
  • What brought Marcel’s sweet feeling? How do you find your “sweet feeling?
  • Why did Marcel feel like an ember?
  • What is the theme of the story for you?

“Sweet Feeling” by Yvette Prior

“Sweet Feeling by Yvette Prior” printed on a mountainside

“Slow Ride” from Foghat, played on the radio as Marcel drove up the bumpy, narrow mountain road. Wondering if this strenuous drive was worth it, Marcel continued upwards. Sometimes a sunset from what feels like the top of the world is what the soul needs. 

It is like a Corpse Pose after a challenging 55-minute yoga workout. Corpse Pose does not feel quite as good unless it follows a workout. Sweetly satisfies. Or it is like watching the final episode of Breaking Bad – it only tugs at the heart – and leaves a sweet feeling – if you watch the full season leading up and ease into Baby Blue playing. 

This strenuous ascent was a way for Marcel to regroup. He recently left a job that held him back like a ball and chain attached to the ankle. Now he is still dealing with resistance as people question his choice. That drain only added to the strain of his job exit. People have good intentions, they do. Most do.

Marcel knew that this would pass. The transition would be over and the new job would eventually sync with his identity – but handling the criticism in the meantime was like trying to extract water from a dry sponge. Marcel felt parched and done. Yet inside, he felt an ember. His inner fire almost went out the last couple of years- from feeling stuck. From “being” stuck. One does not easily walk away from employment; however when the time to break free came –  it allowed his wings to stop getting clipped. It allowed that ember inside to get some fuel and to glow again. 

Parking his truck, Marcel put on his gear to hike up the final three miles. He had a new song in his mind. You might think it was one of those songs about being free or coming alive. Instead, it was the lyrics to “Simple Man” that ran through his mind. “Momma told me…” played smoothly in his mind as his feet carefully maneuvered the rough terrain and switchbacks. The sounds of nature then flooded his essence and he had that decompression of thoughts as he reached the summit. 

Finding a makeshift campsite, he lightly shook the dusty poles, sipped water, hung the food bag, then zipped the tent and walked 50 feet to the cliff’s edge. 

There he stood and looked down – and thought of the Van Halen song – you know, “… lost a lot of friends there, baby…. I’ve got no time to mess around….”

Marcel wasn’t messing around anymore by staying stuck.

Then 

Looking up – there it was. 

Right there. 

Sweetness.

A mesmerizing creamsicle orange, canary yellow, and streaks of gold sunset. Hints of purple near the bottom. This phantasmagoric sunset left him speechless; it paused all thought. It was, in fact, sweeter to see a sunset from what felt like the top of the world. The physical fatigue from hiking also added to the refreshment. Funny how the human body needs stress and it needs to be fatigued. 

***

The next morning, Marcel started hiking back down before dawn. He had things to do – life was waiting to be lived – so he took sips of coffee while slowly making the descent. 

As he came closer to his car, the dawn was breaking and he lightly tripped over a rock. He reached for the branches of a dried-up shrub to try to prevent the fall, but he still landed on the ground – thump! He landed with four or five branches in his hand. He began to chuckle, lightly, because the toughest terrain was behind him – covered astutely, and to now take a spill on flat ground seemed humorous. Yet there he was, catching his breath and shaking off the dirt. 

Looking down, Marcel noticed something. The dried-up shrub was not dead. It was dormant. There’s a difference. 

Inside the broken branches he found all this bright green and white live tissue. So much life. It looked all dried up and even looked dead. But it wasn’t. It was teeming with life even if it did not appear vibrant inside. And that reminded Marcel that he too was not completely done. His fire would roar again. 

As he brushed off the final bits of debris – he smiled for the fall. He was grateful he had this simple little stumble because there was a message he needed to take back home. He hiked to see the sunset –  to be in nature – to let a challenging hike fatigue his body and refresh his soul. But he also got a little more – right near the end – and that little extra left him with a sweet feeling. 

Shinedown “Simple Man” Official Video

246 replies »

  1. Hi Yvette.
    Wonderful story and excellent writing.

    I really connected with this story because hiking used to be a favourite hobby of mine, and I found it a brilliant way to de-stress. My dodgy knees put a stop to hiking though. These days a walk on the beach or in the forest does it for me.

    It seems that a strenuous yoga workout is what Marcel usually does to combat stress, but it’s not what he needs at the moment.

    I think this is the first time Marcel has taken a hike to the top of a mountain to watch the sunset. As he drives, he’s not sure if it is the answer either.

    When Slow Ride comes on the radio, he takes note of the lyrics. Slow ride. Take it easy.
    That’s what he’s supposed to be doing, yet he’s feeling challenged by the rough drive and the climb ahead of him. Then he remembers how corpse pose after a taxing yoga session makes him feel. Sweet. So he keeps going, in the hope that the sweet feeling will come. (I don’t watch Breaking Bad but I’m do yoga occasionally)
    While yoga can mentally take him away from his stressors, a hike to the top of a mountain can physically take him away. Marcel did the right thing. ‘Get away from it all.’

    I want to take him home and pump his mind with positive quotes. Help him to surround himself with people who support him, and how to handle those who don’t.
    I think he’s moving in the right direction though. He has already made the difficult decision to leave his job, and he has recognised the need to remove himself from the people who don’t support his decision. Soon he will be strong enough to handle criticism in a different way.

    He feels that the fire in his soul is not completely gone. He knows he can re-ignite his passion for life. He feels it deep down. He’s not giving up on himself.
    Marcel has things he wants to do. His wings have been clipped but now he’s free. Free to be who he wants to be. He’s ready to fly!

    The song Simple Man runs through his mind because he realises that’s all he needs to be, and that it’s the simple things in life that will make him happy. And isn’t that what we tell our children? Live simply, follow your heart, be true to yourself, love and understand yourself.
    When he looks down on the world from the cliff edge, he’s thinking about the friends who have lost themselves in the rat race. Or from staying stuck in a rut; a place that brings them more misery than happiness.
    Thank God he didn’t jump off the cliff…I thought that was his intention. Instead, Marcel is saving himself.
    He watches the sunset in awe. Just him, alone, on top of the world, his fatigued body telling him it was worth it; good things don’t come easy. And that often means making difficult decisions. Maybe Marcel also realised that in order to appreciate the feelings of exhilaration, he must first experience misery.

    His stumble at the bottom of the mountain gave him his sweet feeling as he realised that where there’s smoke there’s fire. His fire might be extinguished but it’s not completely out.

    Marcel enjoys music. He takes messages from the lyrics. The songs he thinks about on his journey are already songs he has been mulling over. He’s using the words in the songs to drive himself further along his desired path.
    The theme of this story for me is, ‘Liberty’.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Gloria, what a beautiful analysis of this story. From my less-than-intimate knowledge of the story, I think you have captured exactly what Yvette wanted to express, and you did it beautifully. Thanks for this well-thought-out comment. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marsha- I agree with you fully that Gloria had such a beautiful critique of this short story – and I will be back later today to better read it and reply.
        But so far I think she nailed it (expect Marcel was definitely used to challenging hikes, which is why he had the gear and why he chose to jump in the car and go catch a sunset – to cope and to destress through the stress of a challenge).

        Liked by 1 person

    • Gloria – I will be back with a more complete reply but had to first say that when you added the take it easy to the slow ride song Beijing on—
      That was exactly what I was going for –
      People that knew the song (or just learned it) would have that “take it easy ”
      Ring in their thoughts and it set the tone
      And now I am glad I didn’t take it out –
      And side note – just for fun I know some that sings “take it sleazy…”
      Lol
      🎶🎵

      Liked by 1 person

      • I didn’t know the song. I had to check it out on YouTube to find out why Marcel questioned his trek when it came on the radio. Part of the fun of reading stories is learning new things, and delving deeper into the characters thoughts. And if that means looking up songs, locations, or whatever it may be, I’m on it. 😄
        I didn’t need to look up Breaking Bad, because I understood what you meant. I know the ‘sweet feeling’ from watching final episodes of other shows.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Hi again Gloria – wanted to say that I loved the connecting you made for the misery and exhilaration – reminded me that sometimes folks say the worse experience was also one of their best (sometimes – ha)
          And the liberty theme was a really powerful word to choose!
          I also like how you got t the jugular here with this: “His fire might be extinguished but it’s not completely out.”
          And may we all take that message and tuck into our heart!
          My mom always says
          “You are up until you win”
          And my husband would tease and say – huh – what does it mean???
          But she does not mean the big win (the W) that the world talks about in certain ways – instead / she means it is not three strikes and we are out! Nope – we get to keeping “being up” and improving to win for what that means for our journey!
          So cheers to the Marcels of the world and encouragement for all of us who need it later – or even right now!
          Thanks again for chiming in Gloria and Marsha – I hope your weekend is going well!
          -Yvette

          Liked by 1 person

  2. A sweet story. Unfortunately, I don’t know the TV show Breaking Bad or the music mentioned in the story, but I thought it told a great lesson that life isn’t always playing out the way we think it is. I’ve had many incidents when I thought the whole world was against me, but then I encounter or hear something that makes me think that things aren’t that bad and that it is far better than what some people are going through.

    I thought Marcel would jump off that cliff, so I was relieved all he was doing was checking out the sunset and that the fall he did have gave him new hope.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I had the same issues of not being able to be in context, but most of us can identify with stress and what we need to do to get rid of it. Great comment, my friend.

      Liked by 2 people

      • And Marsha – isn’t it good to have these “issues” when reading because if we only read about things we already know we might not fully grow? Ya know?
        Hahaha
        But on a serious note – we could have added some footnotes but part of not knowing everything in a shirt story could be a gift and not a negative (not that you ever said it was a negative even tho the word “issues” stood out just now ) and Even if I picked more obvious songs it still does not mean most readers would have known them, eh?

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Hugh
      Thank you for your feedback and a few others thought Marcel might have jumped –
      And I am glad I didn’t go in that direction – life is such a gift and it breaks my heart when I hear about anyone taking that way out – oh the despair or anger (because sometimes a suicide is anger and control related – always some pathology to it – but I believe that Kate Spade and my spouse’s ex both were examples of control and anger issues – as their last act of control (and I’ll show you if I can’t have it my way) was to exercise control in the area pertaining to their life – well not my area of expertise but I have had some study of it and no matter what the details it truly breaks my heart!

      And I like what you wrote about how you encounter something or hear something that will remind you of truths or lifts your spirits when needed!

      ☀️😊

      Liked by 1 person

    • Robbie, thank you for taking the time to check out story chat and read about Marcel. I am going to try and get a photo of some live green and white tissue from a shrub in my yard – and hope you have a great day
      🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for reading and commenting , Robbie. Yvette has connected with a lot of readers through Marcel’s stress and the way he coped with it. I need a list and a long walk, but no mountains to climb are needed for me to unwind.

      Like

  3. I so understand the power of walking when you’re down (although I’m not a hiker! Never was, even in my younger days). Still, when I’ve been unhappy I’ve found that walking cheers me up.
    But ways to unwind differ from person to person (as do preferences in music). Your story still gets across that need to unwind physically from knotted up lives, be it from a stressful job, a relationship, or a diagnosis… to shed the past.
    I’ve been in that job! But I never had the confidence (bravery) to leave it without finding another first. The impression I have here is that your character doesn’t have something conveniently lined up but is getting the most out of shedding his former job. Sometimes nothing is preferable to a stopgap. The life in Marcel’s torn branches is a good metaphor for the hope of recovery and new beginnings.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Cathy Cade. Thanks so much for coming back to share your insight and I like how you said, “torn branches is a good metaphor for the hope of recovery” – 🙂 and love how you said we all at times can have “knotted up lives”

      I fully agree that the ways to unwind will vary. So nice to hear that walking cheers you up! We have often heard that many successful authors were GREAT WALKERS – like Dickens and Henry David Thoreau wrote:

      “Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”

      Something about movement that can energize and keep out the funk.

      Liked by 2 people

    • You always have a fabulous response, Cathy. I’m with you about finding another job before leaving the first one. I’ve been let go for various reasons – seasonal, etc. But I usually was able to find another job fairly quickly. I went through a lot of different jobs as a young person. I’m sure most people do that when they are young.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yvette – I enjoyed Marcel’s journey out in nature, losing himself, just like you and I also do when hiking in nature. I cringed when he stumbled and was happy he was able to go on, refreshed and ready to take on the world again. Forget about what the others say about his decision … he is his own man, and just as we should all be doing, i.e. relying on our gut on what to do/not do.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Linda, you and I both really do enjoy nature the way Marcel did here – and side note, you enjoy nature perhaps more than most people I know – I think I need to do another post about your walking adventures and many many miles you cover every year (but we can talk abut that later).
      Thanks for joining in the story chat conversation and adding your nice summary:
      “Forget about what the others say about his decision … he is his own man”
      and so let each of us live our life for what we want – because it is too short to keep playing it safe or too short to keep the ball and chain for good.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes we do enjoy nature Yvette – it keeps us grounded and we need that peace in today’s topsy-turvy world. Here in Michigan we had a brutally cold day that felt like January – I was still happy to escape to my favorite nature nook. The erratic weather these days makes us even more grateful for our escapes to the woods.

        We learn, the older we get, that we do not have to follow the crowd – sure, it is difficult as a teenager when you want to be like everyone else, but when you are no longer an adolescent, it is time to march to the beat of a different drum, your own drum.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Yvette and I have a Breaking Bad connection and it’s cathartically true that the final episode of BB not only tugs at the heart but leaves a sweet feeling. After I read Sweet Feeling, I listened to Baby Blue on YouTube to refresh my memory of the ending and for some strange reason I started crying. Which surprised me because I hadn’t cried when I’d watched the ending the first time. To be honest, my sweet feeling was triggered when I read how Yvette’s Marcel found all the bright green and white live tissue inside the broken branches (read: hope and possibilities). Later, my sweet feeling came out in happy tears watching Baby Blue.

    I’ve always been a fan of Yvette’s writing. Reading this “Sometimes a sunset from what feels like the top of the world is what the soul needs” summed up the story for me. Which Yvette elaborated beautifully: “to show someone feeling down while hiking upwards; feel up while coming back down; then landing in a fall, and the ultimate down when he felt the ultimate up.”

    Yvette’s writing is powerful because I now want to know what happens to Marcel next. I see opportunities. 

    Liked by 2 people

    • What a beautiful comment Mahesh! I’m so glad you got into this story at such a deep emotional level. Thank you for taking part in Story Chat this month. I know you had a hard time finding your comment. I had to scroll through 710 spam comments, and I found two of your comments buried on about page 23. I apologize for Akismet who must have done that. I’m so glad I found you! 🙂 Have a nice week.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marsha, thanks for rescuing Mahesh’s comment from spam.
        I am not sure why some comments go there and some do not?

        Also, I wanted to introduce you to Mahesh and glad he was able to around the blogosphere at this time to chime in on story chat!

        wishing you both a great day.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Mahesh, thanks for your wonderful comment. I am grateful for the years we have had to connect as writers, as friends, and…. as Breaking Bad fans! hahah
      And Mahesh – regarding Marcel and wanting to know what happens next – well did you know I first introduced Marcel as a character on my blog for two flash fiction entries back in September 2017 – I forgot there were two entries (I know there was one, but just saw the two) – and maybe I need to keep developing this character….
      __
      here are the past links about Marcel (both very short reads)

      Marcel Rebuilds (Sept, 7, 2017)
      https://priorhouse.blog/2017/09/07/marcel-rebuilds-friday-fictioneers/

      Marcel Finds Clarity (Sept 14, 2017)

      https://priorhouse.blog/2017/09/14/marcel-finds-clarity-friday-flash-fiction/

      thanks again for your comment

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I enjoyed the story of marcel Yvette and completely understand the uphill walking when feeling a bit down, that was great writing! Some of the music and TV shows didn’t register with me but it didn’t impact on my enjoyment of the story. I loved the imagery of the sunset the way Marcel was walking for a purpose and the downhill fall had me gasping a little, as I don’t much like heights – I was right there with him!
    Well done Yvette and thanks Marsha for sharing Story Chat – you are a wonderful host. I always love reading the comments to, so helpful and interesting from people far more qualified to comment than me!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hi Debbie, I appreciate your comment especially on noting that the music & TV show reference was not too much of a distraction – that was nice to read and affirmed how I feel abut adding some details – because I do think that we can sometimes “over think” what will appeal and then we could lose where we wanted to take the story

      and so I guess Marcel is a Breaking Bad fan who liked classic rock on this day. But he has a wide variety of music genres and this was just that day – hahah

      and Debbie you are right, Marsha does a great job hosting and it is kind of CRAZY because I remember when she launched story chat – that seems like last week but it was over a year (we are in month three of year two so that is more than 15 months ago) and it has been fun to see her idea take roots and grow into this fun exchange.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Thank you both for your kind words. Story Chat is an interesting kind of challenge, in that most of it is not me. I am the hostess – a place to encourage lively exchange. This is the fifth month of year two. We start each year in October with a Halloween story from Hugh Roberts. It was a brainstorm between us that got Story Chat started. So without authors and commenters, Story Chat would cease to be.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Marsha – I did not realize the year started then – and…. now that makes sense to me as to why you asked Clive if he wanted to join in for year three -I was thinking there were still spots of Y2 – but not so because it is not the typical months –
          And Debbie, it sure is nice to meet you and I look forward to get to know you more though up coming story chats.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Not a big deal but I’ve got an arrangement with Hugh for every October for as long as Story Chat lasts. He always gets first billing AND he loves writing spooky stories.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Deb, but YOU are very qualified to comment. Everything you say makes sense. A reader is the most important ingredient to a published story. Without readers, the story is just scribblings in someone’s diary. Each of you bring it to life in your own ways. Yvette is a strong writer and has a strong sense of who she is. She is not overly affected by what people think. Since everyone has different thoughts, you can’t write to everyone’s liking or you’d never finish. That’s always been my problem. Eventually you have to be BOLD and realize that your writing is YOUR GIFT to the world and if people enjoy it, great. If not, then different strokes for different folks. We can’t all love the same writing anymore than we can all want the same husband. What a mess that would be, right?

      Liked by 2 people

      • WELL SAID, Marsha!
        and I have so much I could add to that – but want to reply to the fun note about not wanting the same husband.
        I have been married for 25 years (woo hoo) and my husband was married or a few years and then divorced – and the very things she criticized about my spouse were things I wanted in a man! Go figure!
        so you are so right “different strokes for different folks” and this gives the world flavor.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Same here! I never met Vince’s other wives – he had two both for very short times, very long times apart. We have been married 27 years. Third’s a charm. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Yvette
    Nice to see you on story chat.
    There’s a lot to like here, with the imagery and the progression of Marcel during his mountain top sojourn.
    I read Gary’s response – why do I always follow Gary? – and those ‘bumps’ of his. I was like him in not knowing the musical and other cultural references, save for Breaking Bad (how can he not have seen this? Is that even allowed Stateside? Doesn’t he get disenfranchised or something?) but unlike him, I don’t mind a break to ask Google. I should have known the corpse pose reference; my daughter in law teaches yoga, though when I’ve tried it I fear my pigeon pose is more like a rather arthritic spatchcock chicken. But you are right; some will know the refs, some won’t, some will love learning about them and getting insights into your thinking and some won’t. For me they didn’t distract and added to how I perceived Marcel’s current situation.
    That said, there were a few lumpy bits. Marcel’s truck became a car; the tenses slipped from past to present a couple of times; and the pov that was mostly Marcel’s became omniscient mid paragraph. Small things but they do grate a tad.
    I’d also suggest you did a little too much telling us what Marcel was thinking and not enough showing us. As an example, the section dealing with the life in the dried branches might be a place to look at.
    All in all a very enjoyable piece which, for me, would be tremendous with a little bit of a polish.
    I hope this is helpful. As always, just one man’s opinion to be taken with a pinch of salt.
    Best
    Geoff

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hi Geoff – I really appreciate your comment and agree that a bit of polish could make the story shine – like oops on the car ad truck – and funny because I really see him in an SUV so just might have Marsha switch it to that in both spots. But thanks for catching that detail.

      I am glad the music references didn’t distract and REALLY love what you wrote about Gary:
      “how can he not have seen this? Is that even allowed Stateside?”
      Hahaha
      I think there are three groups of people in the world as it relates to breaking bad – this who LOVE the show or like it 2) those who watched it and did not like it and 3) those who judged prematurely ( by the cover or by the trailers) and they might be missing out because it means they didn’t really get a feel for the writing or acting. So I am not sure which category Gary was in, but I am glad to be in category one – having liked the show – although it can be heavy at times and there are some scenes I turn away or fast forward
      ..

      And regarding this:

      ” did a little too much telling us what Marcel was thinking and not enough showing us.”

      I do know this is a writing 101 thing to learn – but with that said – I think there are times I prefer to tell and not show – because sometimes showing leaves things for chance – or it assumes people will “see” what we show
      and so even if not always ideal – I believe there are times to tell and tell some more –

      thanks again for thoughtful comment and I look forward to getting to know you more

      __
      Yvette

      Liked by 2 people

      • Glad it made sense. I think Gary is in the ‘open to be educated’ group.
        Re show and tell you are totally right that there is no right. That said with a short piece like this I think you might find your audience enjoying it more – or maybe I mean in a different way – if you leave them to do some of the lifting. It does mean some readers will see a very different story to what you intended but that’s one of the writing joys.
        Maybe if you had the time you might try a show version and try it on some people and see what they think.
        Anyway enough from me. Lots of good stuff in there.
        PS as Marsha will read this she needs to conduct a I ❤️ BB poll so we know who to unfollow immediately.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Hi – I do have time to edit the story using the feedback provided here – and while I completed agree with your advice that parts could show and not tell – I am not sure I will do that this time. But I do need to clean up a few words (like the word workout in an early paragraph doesn’t need to be in both sentences – and I will turn the truck and car into the intended SUV (but I hope everyone knows Marcel does NOT and will not drive a Subaru) lol

          Regarding Breaking Bad – It would be cool if someday Gary did get to check it out and could feel the wonder that is there for the taking. But it just not ever be something he discovers – hahah
          and laughing at your humor about the poll so we know who to unfollow – perhaps the poll could show who to follow more regularly – lol
          wishing you a great rest of your day
          🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • LOL, Geoff. I’d have to unfollow myself. That would be hard. I can live with differences. Before this, and even after, if I’d kept my mouth shut, you wouldn’t have known that I’d never seen BB! We’ll see how the comments go. Hopefully no one will unfollow me.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Geoff is quite a talented writer. I just finished the second of the two books I bought of his. Amazon has them for only $1 right now. I’m in the never saw BB category! Sad but true. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hi Marsha, well my husband said there is a fourth category of folks – those who never even heard of the show – and likely never will – hahaha
          – and you might not like it if you do watch it – I started watching it in season three (after it was already over for a while) – but heard of it when it was in season four and enjoyed hearing people I know share about it – and NEVER thought I would like the show.
          But it really does take getting to know the characters.
          And jot sure if Geoff remembers this or not – but the last episode of the entire series has some amazing scenes that show and do not tell.
          There are the exchanges between Walt and Skyler where they say nothing – but through her facial expressions she says, I love you – and goodbye – and it is all deep – with no words.

          and then Jesse and Walt have their huge face expression conversation near the end too (before Baby Blue starts playing) and that change was pretty amazing.

          regarding Geoff’s books – I might just need to check them out because he seems like a cool guy (and now I want to see what kind of writer he is – hahah)

          Liked by 1 person

  8. What a lovely story. My mind raced into all sorts of places as I read but the story didn’t follow me anywhere. It was a sweet ending to a story that I thought may have been tragic.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Hi Yvette,

    Welcome to the monthly spot light.

    “Sweet Feeling” left me with exactly that; a very sweet feeling, after reading it. You did some interesting things that I’d like to hear you think-out-loud about.

    You started your story by referencing a song — to do what? If a reader knows the song and it has a common impression, you just saturated your stage with that verbal memory.

    On a theater stage – this is common and the results are easier to control. In a written story, if the reader does not know the song – didn’t you just give them an excuse to pop out of the story while they go find it?

    I’d not heard this song before, so it added a speed bump. I wanted to enjoy your full experience, so I You Tubed it and – umm, not what I expected, but it’s your story so let’s go with it. I was expecting something soothing. I went back and could not reason why other than I thought the story title suggested it – but that song (maybe this version?) was not soothing – it was R&R pounding, and left me confused.

    But I’m not a big music fan, so set that all aside. I think you lead with it and I think, took a risk that likely worked great with other readers.

    I thought the image of Marcel working his way up the road, getting bumped around set a good tone of, ‘Is this really worth the effort – I want it to be, but I don’t want to destroy my car in the process.

    Then the thought of a sunset from . . . the top of the world, ah, what a great image, so yes, this will likely be more than worth the effort. I’ve climbed to and enjoyed several of those mountain top experiences – they do feed the soul.

    I thought your reference to the Corpse Pose was interesting. It was another image I did not understand but guessed at what it likely was (and confirmed later after the read). It was a good point about such an “unwind” works better after a good workout.

    But then, you compared it to watching Breaking Bad. I’m a terrible fan and haven’t seen the show. I heard others talk about it and decided to spend my time elsewhere – which left me not understanding your reference to “Baby Blue playing. The thought crossed my mind that – for me, the last sentence of the second paragraph could have been left out because I had the image I think you wanted me to have and that last sentence might well have finished me because I’m from the wrong culture or something.

    The next paragraph was for me. I’ve had that job, done that work, climbed arduously out of it, while thoughtful people tried to help and I also had some friends who did invest and succeeded in helping. To this day I remain in their debt.

    I was right there with Marcel – thinking through how hard this whole process is, but, like the mountains I love, can be tough to navigate. For me, I always wanted 4 leges rather than 2 because the leaping critters handled these slopes so much better than I ever would.

    You almost took my breath away when you walked Marcel to the edge (surly, he’s not going to step over the edge.)
    Whew – he didn’t.

    I was so relieved, I didn’t even care about the Van Halen reference I didn’t recognize.

    And Marcel got his sunset – YES! I could feel the tension unwind – I recall many of the same views.

    Another breathless moment, distracted by carrying that coffee cup while walking on uneven ground no doubt, when I did not want him inured after all this, but the imagery worked great. There was plenty of life left in those weak broken branches and of course there was plenty of juice still left in him. The point was very well made.

    So, what did I think? Yvette you are an artist. I feel like I shared this man’s trip and now his memory. I’ve wanted, even needed this same therapy and found little cuts or blisters that became pivot points for my own mental remodel. Mountain side trail memories can be the best because of the effort invested in being there for them and how well they fit our souls.

    You captured them very well, put me in the picture with Marcel and feeling like I need to peal off those sweaty socks and let my feet breath now as I drive back down the rocky road.

    But yea, guilty as charged. The music references did not work for me. I’ll own it Don’t tell Marsha. She still thinks I have an ounce of culture and I’d like to keep it that way.

    Very nicely done.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Gary – wow – your feedback was so detailed and I feel like it would take me two or three replies to adequately respond / but I will try my best in one response
      First – your comment/review was mixed with constructive criticism and then personal shares and that was refreshing.

      I am still getting to know you (and plan on coming back to read more of your flash fiction – and like what you are churning out).

      The songs in this story were for me and for where I was at the afternoon I crafted this!
      For three years I wrote flash fiction that was published on three different sites and all of them are for my liking first and foremost –

      And so any details I add will never appeal to everyone – and I could comb through my past work and have many examples that were like the music here – or the corpse pose.

      Regarding the music – I was going to have Marsha take off the Slow Ride song because it was getting classic rock heavy –
      But that weekend – I had finished breaking bad and my heart was all tugged from Baby Blue and so that part was ONLY for breaking bad fans and if this causes bumps for other readers – it just has to be that way.
      And one of my favorite lines was the sentence you mentioned – about easing into Baby Blue playing !
      But thanks for your feedback and I know not everyone got into the breaking bad show – but some of us did – and this recent rewatch was something we talked about and so I used that and the yoga example to depict the experience
      – on a side note – I only mentioned corpse pose because that was a convo at our dinner table – how if we lie down to do corpse pose it is okay – but if you do it after a class – wow – amazing

      And if not knowing corpse pose or another song causes bumps – well perhaps this is why readers who read many authors grow!

      I have previously warned writers to not use too many colloquialisms or niche and personal examples because they can lose (or frustrate) readers / I still feel that way / and hopefully my songs and pose were not too much of a nice thing

      And again / I would have removed the slow ride song and changed maybe a word here or there – but I submitted it and Marsha and I already had enough to tweak
      Did I mention that another reason the music was added was because I was connecting with DJ Clive a lot while writing this – and also / the hubs and I did house projects all weekend and we had some “fun with music”
      And when he played shinedown’s version of simple man- I paused and had a moment.

      So all of this real life stuff trickles into what we create

      And even tho I wrote for myself first – I do think of my audience as well’ which is why I cut the fat and all that / but I also know that the gift we give to readers is when we write with our chosen examples and don’t overthink who would know this or that!
      Because that kind of thinking could prevent us from writing with our essence
      And it could prevent my signature style from unfolding.

      Do you know what I mean?

      Okay – I might have more to add to your very thoughtful comment (thanks for that Gary) but wanted to reply to that part
      Oh wait
      The coffee part.
      Also Personal example – my husband has a nice travel mug and once in a hike – we both needed to hurry down and we sipped our coffee as we descended
      However – I could have worded it better – the coffee gets tucked away in the Osprey backpack side pocket (and Gary – you might already know this – but Osprey has a pocket built for Nalegene botttles – the kind you mentioned in your post about Making a hot water bottle for warmth)
      So anyhow / the coffee is sipped while pausing and taking a breather –
      Then put away as going down more.
      Does that make sense?

      It could have been worded better!

      Appreciate the time you took to read and reply!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • and this is what I like best about this Story Chat phenomenon, look how well we just got to know each other and what we’re thinking when we write. Yvette, this was a wonderful story (I hope I did not manage to bury that morsel) and knowing you much better now and your feedback to mine . . . this is almost as good as doing it in person with our own real coffee mugs in hand, laughing, probing, encouraging and, yes, you are correct, learning things along the way.
        I hope both to read more from you and, knowing more about your POV, to be read and critiqued by you. Friends read each other, but really good ones add some polish as they pass through the virtual rooms we live in.
        Wonderful stuff Yvette!

        Liked by 2 people

        • Hi Gary – you are so right that this virtual connecting is almost as good as in person – and maybe has different perks.

          And side note – remember how I said the baby blue line was important to me? Well the person that was on my mind actually commented on it to me (before your comment was in so it ws not as if he was building on that) but he mentioned that the section on that had him go and listen to the Baby Blue song and stirred up memories from years ago when he and I connected with the show – and he also Sid he went and listen to Baby blue.

          I do hope to make an auto recording of this short story and will stream in snippets of the music mentioned – although I still might take out slow ride.
          And did you know the “slow ride, by foghat was on the radio” – was what got this whole story started – and funny that I now might still want to edit it out – and not sure why I mentioned the band name for that song and not the others – hmmm
          but I am glad I went with all of what was on my mind while creating this story because in a way it is a little microcosm of early March 2022 and I am super grateful that Marsha encouraged me to write a new story and not use the “centerpieces” story I first sent her – a story from a few years ago that I would have enjoyed chatting about – but now I see that would have been stale (to me at least)
          and so thanks again for your comment and cheers to story chat!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Hi – it is very interesting how the music has come up.

            And I guess that is to be expected when a short story (under 1,000 words) includes four songs – hahah

            and Marsha, not sure if you saw my comment reply about slow ride, In a future edit I would have taken out the opening song (even though it truly was what got it started – I imagined Marcel hearing that song headed up to the hike area. But not sure I’d keep it and yet I am glad it was there.

            One more thing, Marsha – I think you had some foresight with the songs with the way you added the lyrics – thanks again for taking them out – but I do see that your initial reaction is similar to some others here = about not knowing the songs (and not knowing corpse pose) anyhow, thanks again for taking the lyrics away and letting people look it up if they need to or want to.
            🙂

            Liked by 1 person

      • What a great reply, Yvette. One thing that you and Gary have in common is the ability to communicate in details. I love that about both of you. You are both well-meaning, too, which makes any constructive criticism easier to take. One thing you said is how personal our writing is. We do write for ourselves first, and when we do, we often find that our communication is not a clear to others as it is to us. At least that has been my experience with writing. It’s always a bit of a shock to me when someone doesn’t understand my writing or my point of view, but that has been part of my journey in learning to write. Well-thought out response, my friend.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hi Marsha, I agree with you so much – and I think the writing journey can change as we change as well.
          I also think there are times when we follow the guides or rules and then sometimes we MUST break them if that is what our essence is calling us to do .

          For example, when e.e. Cummings was writing in the early 20th century – he began to let his style flow and with his free verse and sonnets and short stories he brought new typography, and changed the syntax (used nouns for verbs and verbs for nouns) and he innovated and did things different with grammar, punctuation, etc.

          and so I think all authors have to learn and then break the mold (if that is what they want)

          you might already know this writer a lot, but here is an example of how he changed things up a lot – including capitalization rules:

          SINCE FEELING IS FIRST
          by e.e. cumming

          since feeling is first

          who pays any attention
          
to the syntax of thing
          s
will never wholly kiss you;
          wholly to be a fool

          while Spring is in the world
          my blood approves,
          
and kisses are a better fate

          than wisdom

          lady i swear by all flowers.
          Don’t cry
–
          the best gesture
          of my brain
          is less than
 your eyelids’ flutter
          which says
          we are for each other;
          then 
laugh, leaning back in my arms

          for life’s not a paragraph
          And death i think is no parenthesis

          Liked by 1 person

          • Many things have changed over the years for eons really. A look at the differences between American English, British English and Australian English will set that record straight. Language is meant to be dynamic and change. Technology has changed everything. People text without any regard to punctuation or capitalization and down even spell out words, BTW. We get by. We have to ask once or twice what someone means when they say TTYS or BRB. But we learn and adapt quickly. Writing formally usually means we have to adhere to some of the rules or we don’t get published. We circumvent that by self-publishing. If our work appeals to others, or we appeal to others, it works. Most people sell a few copies to family. It’s all a matter of personal preference and knowing your audience, I think.

            Like

          • I think I fully agree with you – depends on your audience and goals — 🙂

            Re: “Language is meant to be dynamic and change.”

            well said and Victor Hugo (one of my favorite authors) had some nice thoughts on the value of slang – and the way words morph in smaller circles – and how it keeps it alive and growing – as language is living and as you say “dynamic and meant to change”

            I noticed the texting language got better when the keyboards changed – like I think in 2008 it was a lot more abbreviations – but as the keyboards offer predictions and other features it seems to be less initials and less truncated words.
            With that said, there is still the text lingo and I once was working with a student (while on a trip and we were only doing text chat with screens on a photo for the quick check in) and so as I was finishing up with the student it was while in the van with hubs driving -3 nephews and BIL (that would be brother n law – hahaha)
            and so this student was texting me in the chat and replied

            SMH

            I was like, what?
            thankfully I had folks around and I asked them what SMH means –

            it means shaking my head – and a year or so later, I saw Will Ferell have a joke with that same acronym – what does SMH mean…

            ha – and Marsha, I have a few key takeaways from this week’s story chat – and one of them would be to
            “offer footnotes for the three or four obvious tidbits that likely would not be readily known to the majority”

            Like

    • WOW, Gary, I don’t think that, by the way. Yvette is younger than I am. I had to look up all the songs, and the Corpse Pose. I included videos of all of them along with all the lyrics in the post but they were too much and detracted from the story. I’ve been trying to practice the Corpse Pose, flat on my back with my palms turned up because it is good for your breathing, I’ve been told. I think it is very difficult to reference song and book titles without quotes from them. Yvette did include some quotes from the songs, but like you 5-15 years difference in age makes a generation of change in music. And the references are lost. LOL I think the idea that nature, exertion, and fatigue all help out with stress are the real points that Yvette was trying to make, and she did a great job of that. Most of us have been stuck in a role (job, relationship, neighborhood) something we hated or felt stifled at and we could all identify with how drained Marcel was before his strenouous hike. 🙂 Thanks for your comments.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I connected with Marcel as I used to do those hikes and completely soak my hiking shirts with sweat and exertion and recall well how nice it was to find some place to relax and let the outdoors bleed away all the stress I started with. This is a fun chat.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Marsha, as noted somewhere else in the comments (cannot keep track and that is kind of fun right now) but I do think you were “on” to something when you added the songs – and in hindsight we likely should have had a footnote section that explained what corpse pose was and drssibed the songs.
        I was just reading a short story and they had two footnotes for the things that were not likely to be known by “most” readers.

        And so in hindsight – I would had added a footnote for the yoga pose and the songs – hmmm

        and thanks for noting the points I was trying to depict with Marcel taking his hike and healing from the ball and chain job and coping with the current struggles that come when a risk was taken and the safe path was abandoned.
        He could have stayed at the Ball and Chain job and had less stress and more comfort – but he made the leap! (not off the cliff as someone in the comments suggested they thought might happen – lol – but a leap to stop dying at his current job)
        🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • I could have just included the links to make it easier, but I didn’t have much time, so I deleted them. Oh well. People are enjoying the story without them, and they are certainly chatting about the songs and BB almost as much as the story itself. That might be a note to self as to what you want people to get from the story.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Hi again Marsha – first, I have enjoyed chatting and will miss the fun energy of this story chat when it all quiets down – (sure was fun!)

            and I have many notes to self after this – and the Breaking Bad topic was a pleasant surprise to have gotten some chat!

            and I am glad you didn’t add the links to the songs – as a couple folks noted – they can easily do a Google search (or Duck Duck Go) because it is suer easy to hit control N and open a new window and then art the song name – and voila!

            I admire how you were able to mange all of the details to keep your blog has schedule while also getting the house ready and doing all that you do. as noted before – you get an extra gold star because my story came 11th hour – which was my fault because I planned on using “Centerpieces” and thought it would have been perfect – so note to self – always run the story by the host weeks before it is due – just in case – hahahahah

            Like

    • Thanks for the comment. What kind of different ending would the story have had for you Jacquie? I’m afraid I don’t have much of an imagination when I read, for the most part, I just wait and see what is going to happen. Sometimes I am disappointed when things don’t turn out well, or I’m left hanging and I can’t imagine what will happen next. I know those are some of the best stories, but they make me feel like I’m stuck at the top of a Ferris Wheel and the operator took a long lunch break! LOL

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Hello! I’ve seen you mentioned on two blogs in as many days. Yvette’s blog first, then Janet’s photo of your meet up. I find it endlessly interesting how even after all these years I find out someone runs in the same blogging circles that I do, but we haven’t connected. Anyhow, just stopping by to say “hi!” in a rather wordy way! Happy Wednesday.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Yvette and I follow each other’s blogs, and she gave me the link to this. It’s a lovely story, and I enjoyed reading it.

    Marcel has good taste in rock music, though if I were him I’d have gone for the Lynyrd Skynyrd original of Simple Man. But Yvette already knows that 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s nice to meet you Clive. I wasn’t familiar with Marcel’s taste in rock music, so I had to look it up. That was my favorite of the three songs. I listened to several versions of “Simple Man” before I chose the one I put into the post. Thanks for joining in with Story Chat to support your friend. Hope you come back again! We have a different author every month.

      Liked by 1 person

          • You and me, too. I have written several books, mostly unpublished, one was a result of this blog – Images of America Woodlake. I like the instant feedback of blogging and the comraderie. I learned you are a DJ, is that right? I would love to interview you about how you curate your collection of songs. My Word of the Year this year is “curate” and I’d love to know how you go about choosing what songs to play, collecting music, and a little about you! Let me know if you are interested. I have done a series of interviews about authors and blog challenge hosts and participants. You can see all of them listed on my Interview page. Yvette was one of my first interviews.

            Liked by 2 people

          • If you’ve done all the hard work in writing them, why don’t you publish those that haven’t appeared yet? You count as a writer much more than I do! The interview sounds nice but you may like to reconsider the offer: ‘DJ Clive’ is the nickname Yvette uses for me. This stems from my weekly Tuesday Tunes posts, along with quite a few other music posts. I’m not a real DJ! Yvette is one of the loyal band who follows this series and, like you say, the pleasure comes as much from the feedback as from compiling the selections. I’m not sure if I’d fit your template: I’ll take a look at your page. You’ll get a better idea of what I do by looking at a few posts, to see if I’m what you want to cover as an interview subject: I noticed you have followed my blog, for which I’m grateful 😊

            Liked by 1 person

          • Clive / I was about t mention your nickname! And maybe fiction is not your thing but you sure do write so well with your posts! The musical history, the personal notes, and of course we cannot forget that besides the DJ side there is your advocate sir for wellness – and some of your most popular posts are on wellness and mental health!so cheers to that and cheers to all of us finding our groove!

            Liked by 2 people

          • Thank you, Yvette, for your kind words. I just do my bit, really. I think that’s all we can hope to do with our blogs, and hopefully people will enjoy what we come up with 😊

            Liked by 2 people

  12. Hi Marsha, thank you so much for featuring my story for this month’s story chat.
    I like all of your questions and one of my goals was to show someone feeling down while hiking upwards – and then feel up while coming back down – and then landing in a fall – the ultimate down while that is then when he felt his ultimate “up” – this play with elevation was something I was trying to do…
    anyhow, I like the questions you came up with and it even got me thinking – hahah

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s funny how that works. By the end of the month, I feel like I have really delved into the stry after reading all the comments and discussing different views of the story. The story takes on a life of its own here. Our friends left a few minutes ago. I’m taking a few minutes to catch up with all the comments before I head to bed. Thanks again for all your hard work with this story and for being willing to put it out there. Have a great week.

      Like

    • Great job with the story! Good point about the body needing a certain amount of fatigue. I also loved your line about dormant not meaning rhat your dead and pointing out that his fire will burn again.
      There was hope throughout this story. Maybe Marcel didn’t have it all figured out but he was taking a step and there is sweetness in that.
      Weaving the songs into the story made the story more emotional. It put the reader into it more in identifying with what Marcel was feeling..
      Keep writing, eager to see what comes next! 😉

      Liked by 2 people

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Marsha

Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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