A Path of Roses and Snake Hisses

From everything dark and crude
I wanted to escape
From every hurt and suffering
But running was a sour grape.

Life is not a path of roses
Its roads wind and scream
To find a shortcut through this trip
Would be a truly wicked dream.

So I walk the frigthful road
And in it take my pride
Human is what I need to be
Even on a dreadful ride.

I wanted to be myself
To possess a proud zeal
And I wanted to be strong
Never in need to heal.

I gave my very best
Powerful, bold and free
When a rose bush came to obstruct my way
Growing firm in front of me.

All the power, bold and free
Melted hopelessly and fast
The stone heart where used to be
Broken crumbles turned to dust.

Why now curse the new-found sorrow
When the fault lies all in me
I went down the charming way
I forgot how to be free.

Hear the snakes hiss:
Happiness lives here no more!
Love can only gleeful be
If you’re true to your being’s core.

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Quote for Thought: Weeds are Flowers, too

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My inner child is very much alive and strong. So is my love for plushies. And for Eeyore. This little donkey may be the most pessimistic character of children’s literature, but I find him adorable.

And this quote is perfect. We shouldn’t judge people easily, especially before getting to now them. Everyone has a story to tell. Looks can be deceiving. After all, weeds are just plants who happen to find themselves in the wrong place, in the wrong time.

Killed by the Past

Dahlia proudly held the envelope in her hands, feeling the folded paper underneath her fingertips. A then she drew it out, led by turmoil of emotions, as if she still didn’t believe the clearly written words it carried.

It’s so dramatic to receive a letter! As if she were in a book, or somewhere in time when everything was slow and uncertain, and the answers had to be waited for. She would’ve been excited even if she’d received the answer electronically, but it seemed more fateful to open the white envelope quickly but with shaky hands, to tear it impatiently but wanting to postpone the ultimate truth. Because what if the answer was unpleasant?

She had already read the letter several times, but each time she drew it out of its paper home she felt uneasy. And now she once again made sure that everything she dreamed of had become reality. She got the promotion she’d always wanted! What more could she ask for?!

Everything happened just two days before her high school reunion. It took a lot of effort for the reunion to be organized and it even seemed for a while that former classmates would not see each other again. There were always those who disagreed with all of the suggestions, and Dahlia noticed that they sometimes did it only to spite people they didn’t like. The long ago started feuds were still alive in those vile minds, even though they probably didn’t even remember what caused them. That was one of the reasons why Dahlia didn’t even want to see her classmates again. Most of them never paid any attention to her. They didn’t want to get to know her, so she never tried to get to know them. And those were the good ones. There were also those who didn’t respond to her standoffishness with disregard. Some found it funny…

But it was different now. She became a somebody, and as she’d heard (and it’s so easy to find out anything about anyone today), those most conceited and mean weren’t even close to her now. She would show up with her head held up high and the painful past she had to share with them would finally disperse.

***

Lucius was shocked. Is it possible that she’s asking him to do something like that? He was looking into the eyes of Victoria Preaterita, his beautiful, but cruel mistress.

“Do I really have to…?” he stammered.

“Lucius”, Victoria smiled. “Don’t you remember I saved you once?”

“Of course I remember”, Lucius didn’t want to disappoint or offend his mistress with his reluctance.

“And considering you’re just a slave, aren’t you doing quite well here? Don’t you enjoy the privileges other slaves can’t even dream of? Thanks to me, you have a lot more then destiny intended for you.”

“You are right”, Lucius looked at the floor in shame.

“That’s why now, when I’m asking you to do me a single favour, I expect you to say yes, no questions asked”, Victoria was still smiling, which made Lucius feel more at ease.

“I’ll do it, if it’s really necessary…”

“Kill, Lucius, kill. There’s no other way.”

***

Dahlia was observing all the people she used to spend most of her time with, and she couldn’t make herself feel any connection or closeness. But she didn’t feel fear now, when she knew she could run away as soon as she wanted to. She walked among them as a successful woman who was nothing like the girl they could insult and humiliate.

And then, Aldo approached her, almost completely unchanged. His face was just a little bit sharper and more serious than in high school. As though she was dragged back in time, she felt herself tremble.

“Dahlia! I’ve never seen you after the graduation”, he greeted her cheerfully.

“Yes, that’s true…” Dahlia looked him straight into the eyes, insecure but determined not to look away and run off.

“You haven’t changed a lot. And if you did, I have to say it’s for the better”, he was looking at her without shame, as if they were old friends and he never did her wrong.

“I’ve always known what I wanted, and it came true. Maybe that’s why I look different”, she replied with a smile.

“That’s great!” he said. “When I think about it, you do look much more confident. That’s nice to see. Opposed to the princess over there…”

Aldo looked at the once most beautiful girl in the school. Patricia wasn’t as attractive now. She seemed messy and tired, and the saddest part was that she lost all of her assertiveness. Dahlia had overheard somewhere that Patricia had gotten married only a few months after she had finished high school, and the marriage had ended badly. Dahlia didn’t know exactly what happened, but she knew that Patricia takes care of her son alone, changing one uninviting job after the other.

“You shouldn’t be laughing at someone’s misfortune”, frowned Dahlia, and Aldo noticed that her words alluded to an old, unresolved injustice.

“That’s nice of you. Defending her like that, even though it was her who started… I’m not trying justify myself, I’m equally guilty”, Aldo seemed sincere, but Dahlia knew how well he can play a fitting role.

One day, Aldo and several people he hung out with decided to play a little trick on Dahlia. Even though she didn’t believe him in the beginning, he managed to persuade her that he liked her and that he wanted to meet her alone, far away from their caustic classmates. Dahlia liked Aldo, but she couldn’t even admit it to herself. He was one of them, the people who seemed to be from a completely different universe. Maybe that was the reason she fell se easily into the trap. She waited and waited… And then he finally showed up. But not alone.

“She’s so stupid!” laughed Patricia. “Did you really think someone would ever even look at you?”

An old joke, seen so many times before, and she fell for it. Patricia was right, she was stupid.

“I’m sorry, what we did was awful”, Aldo’s apology snapped Dahlia from her thoughts.

“It was a long time ago”, she smiled, but she felt the old wounds awaken and make her shiver from the cold feeling of dread.

“We should meet once”, he said with ease. “Perhaps even tonight.”

He had the same boyish smile as before.

***

Lucius still couldn’t come to terms with what was asked of him. He’d never refused to do something for Victoria. He owed her too much. When he first saw her, he was so scared and weak, and then she changed everything.

Lucius was a child of an ordinary man who was driven away to the battlefield. He didn’t know much about his father, he only remembered him as a tired, quiet man who looked much older than he really was. Lucius didn’t even know the name of the land he lived in before the Roman soldiers enslaved him and sold him to an aristocratic family. Shortly afterwards, he was taken to a square to be sold again. The family didn’t need him. Blinded by the sun, he couldn’t even discern the faces of the people around him. In the painfully zealous sunlight, he saw his father’s figure, hunched and broken. He couldn’t save his himself, and he couldn’t save his son.

But there was a silver lining for Lucius. He was bought by Julius, a proud man with upright posture and head held up high – Victoria Praeterita’s husband. Victoria loved the boy as soon as she saw him, and she accepted him as if her own. She and Julius had two sons, both younger than Julius, but already rather separated from their mother. They had to become like their father, sleek and powerful, and they couldn’t spend their time in their mother’s arms. Victoria probably found their replacement in Lucius. He didn’t mind. He got the affection, and a little bit of love, and that was more than he could ask for.

“What’s your name?” Victoria asked him, and he just kept looking at her, confused. Slaves didn’t have names. “Well, you need a name. How did your father call you?”

Lucius couldn’t remember his father calling him. He was ashamed that he couldn’t answer the genteel lady’s questions.

“You are the light of my life, and I shall give you a name. Lucius. My bright Lucius”, Victoria smiled at her own wit.

And that was how a slave became a personal servant to his mistress, and thus received many privileges. If Victoria wanted him to kill someone, could he refuse? Absolutely not. She knows what she’s doing, and he should never doubt her.

***

The street was neither empty nor cold, summer was in full swing and everybody saw the evening hours as the opportunity to finally leave the safety of their air-conditioned homes. Still, Dahlia was shaking.

She was meeting Aldo. She had about an hour to gather her thoughts about what happened that afternoon. He insisted they meet the same evening. But why? What changed?

Dahlia should believe his honesty. More than anything, she wanted to be sure that she made the impression of a changed person, a more successful and interesting one. Wasn’t that who she was now? Better, stronger, more attractive?

The feelings she thought were long forgotten started to haunt her again. Disappointment and pain. Aldo’s laughter. Patricia’s mockery.

What if they were doing it again? What if this is just another cruel game? She wasn’t vain enough to believe in Aldo’s compliments. She wasn’t sure she’d truly changed. And she didn’t want to suffer again, to be back in her old skin, this time even more insecure, completely broken. Can a person really change? And, more importantly, can a person ever escape the ailments from the past?

Dahlia didn’t have the courage to answer that question, not yet. She turned around and ran back home. She felt the tears well in her eyes. She threw her bag on the floor and crushed on the couch. And then she saw him.

First, she only saw the dusty sandals and dirty feet. And then, she raised her eyes to see an armed man dressed in a Roman tunic.

Lucius came to carry out his task and without a second though he drew a knife on his victim.

One Lovely Blog Award

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So, I was nominated by lovely Nicole.Ilene over at Sorry, I’m Booked. Her blog is great and you should check it out! And here is her post. Anyway, I decided not to do the award thing, but I did want to make this post. So I won’t be tagging anyone.

Here are the rules:

The Rules!
1. Thank the person who nominated you.
2. List rules and display award.
3. Give seven facts.
4. Nominate 15 other bloggers and notify them.
5. Display award logo and follow the blogger who nominated you!

And now I’m suppored to share seven fact about me. Hmmmm… This is kind of hard. XD Anyway, I decided to share some facts that have nothing to do with books, since I write about books all the time anyway.

1. I don’t like coffee.

At all. Yes, I know, shocking, but I really don’t like the taste or the smell so I never drink it. Tried it once, and that was it for me.

2. I love animals.

All animals. You don’t have to be fluffy to be cute… Snakes are actually among my favourites. I also don’t believe in the cat-person and dog-person distinction. I love them all! My dream is actually to have a cat and a dog but that’ll have to wait a little longer…

3. I love Disney films.

And no, not even the older ones. I’m not really a fan of Snow White, Cinderella etc. My favourites are Tangled, The Emperor’s New Groove (so funny!) and Mulan. And I liked Frozen. When I’m feeling down or want to relax I often watch one of those. 🙂

I also like some Dreamworks and other animated films. How to Train Your Dragon was amazing!

4. I’m a little bit obsessed with vampires.

From Disney to vampires, well that escalated quickly. Yes, I could say “I liked them before Twilight” but I won’t (except I just did). I like vampires my way. I don’t care for mindless monsters, I don’t find them interesting at all. But I also don’t like the washed-down, goody-two-shoes versions. I think they should be mean, but also have certain human qualities. Nothing is black-and-white.

5. I love The Sims.

I have these periods of Sims-obssession when I play the game all the time, then I stop for a period and don’t play at all. I think it has to do with my love of creating characters, I always have an entire backstory for all of them in my mind, and an idea where it may lead.

6. But my favourite game is Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines.

See 4. XD It’s just such an interesting game and an intriguing world.

An honourable mention are Spyro the Dragon games which I played as a child but also later on. My entire familiy loved them, and my mother was actually the best at it. XD And the main character is a cute purple dragon, you just have to love him! And his firefly friend Sparx! Adorable.

7. I’m very, very introverted.

I love spending time alone. Of course, I need and appreciate my friends and family, but I don’t like being in large groups or being surrounded by people I don’t know. I’m also anxious when it comees to phone calls. If I have to call a doctor or order a pizza it’s almost a torture to me. But, I’m working on it. Getting better each day. XD

So, those were some little facts about myself. I hope I made myself look at least a little less boring than I actually am. XD

Quote for Thought: The Return of Philip Latinowicz

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Hands. Just what do those thousands of human hands moving about the city look like? Human hands that kill, shed the blood of other animals, construct machines, prick with needeles, hold burning irons, lamps, banners, razors, tools, people carry them in the street as if they did not know what to do with them. They take off their hats, wave their sticks, carry things in their hands, cigarettes, books, one hand holds another with the magnetism of physical contact, human hands are warm, they sweat, grow rough, can be wounded, bathed, painted, make meaningless gestures, follow the movement of human bodies like flashy ornaments of monotonous size, moving about the streets together with the people, in that long and fruitless human procession which flows and swells between the walls of cities as water. (…)

There is sorrow in every human eye, like an animal peeping out of a cage; human gestures are like hyenas’ and vunerable because everything is barred and everything is locked, and painting is altoghether unnecessary in cages. How could one possibly stop those human streams and begin talking to them in terms of painting?

Miroslav Krleža, The Return of Philip Latinowicz

Well, I though, why not mention a Croatian author on my blog. So, here he is, the most famous of all – Miroslav Krleža. Miroslav Krleža was nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature seven years in a row, from 1958 till 1964, but he was never awarded.

I actually had to read The Return of Philip Latinowicz three times – first in high school and then twice in college. I didn’t like it the first time, until we started to talk about it. Miroslav Krleža is known for his descriptive style and too long sentences, but I grew to like this book and truly appreciate Krleža.

It is a novel about a man who returns to his hometown after spending many years away. He is a painter who cannot find inspiration for his work. Along the way, he meets several interesting characters, and none of them are very likable. He also has to deal with some issues from his past which cause him to have a love-hate relationship with his town. The novel gives quite a bleak view of people and human nature, and even has elements of Naturalism. For a large part, it discusses the purpose and futility of art – which I think is reflected in the chosen quote. The quote is long, yes, but that is quite fitting considering Krleža’s style in general.

Hope you enjoyed this little trip to Croatian literature!

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Choosing to Choose

For as long as I can remember, I felt his dark eyes following me. I don’t know why I say dark, because they were pale blue and icy, but it is how they seemed to me.

His presence enveloped me every time I danced in the meadows with the others. I don’t know why we did that. It seemed as if we were having fun, but it wasn’t the reason we were doing it. We were supposed to dance, and we were expected to admire the colourful flowers. It wasn’t dancing, it was only living. We could be nothing else but happy and pretty. And even though I had often heard that I was the prettiest of them all, I never saw it. We all had flowy dresses and flowers in our hair. We were all beautiful. We all looked the same.

One day, we felt the ground shake underneath our bare feet. I heard the screams in fear of an earthquake, but I knew it was something else. I lowered myself to the ground, trying to keep my balance, grabbing the soft grass. My white dress flew around me like a cloud and the flowers from my hair threatened to fly away. Suddenly everything was still again.

I opened my eyes to see a crack in the ground, in front of me a deep, endless abyss. I noticed that I was shrouded by a dark shadow, so I looked up. I met the eyes that had haunted me. It was him.

I was scared, but more than anything I was angry. He grabbed my hands and helped me lift myself from the ground. Before I even noticed, I was falling down the abysmal pit. I never had a choice. First I was dancing, and now I was falling, and I chose none of it.

He was silent. We stood in the darkness until my eyes got used to it. Then I saw a ragged man with tangled beard and fiery eyes. He motioned to a boat and I knew I should enter it. My captor walked behind me, and took a place by my side. Suddenly, a swarm of fireflies surrounded the boat, and they flew beside it, lighting the way. The ferryman rowed carefully, obviously not used to the fireflies flying around him.

We first sailed the river of pain. I expected to hear screams of the dead, souls fighting to come back to life. Instead I encountered peace. Never have I experienced such silence, such tranquillity. Its eeriness reminded me how fragile life is.

Then we entered the river of wailing, and cold air of sorrow surrounded me. I had never felt like this before. My life was a cheerful one, life of songs and flowery meadows. But now sorrow seemed beautiful to me, because only those who had something to lose could feel it. I never did.

Next was the river of forgetfulness. I moved from the edge of the boat, scared that its water would touch me. I don’t want to forget who I am. But who am I anyway?

The fourth river is not a river at all, but a path of fire. This is where I hear the screams. Do some people really deserve to be punished so harshly? What have they done? I realized I didn’t know what to think of it. I knew nothing of evil and human crimes. I knew so little of life.

The last river was the widest one. It was peaceful and it led us to a great hall. I took a deep breath and absorbed its dark beauty.

My captor held my hand.

“You know me”, he said. It was the first time I heard him speak. His voice is husky and calm.

“I know who you are”, I responded.

“No, you know more. I know you do.”

I was not sure what he thought by it. I followed him into the hall. I felt tired. We had spent much more time on the boat than it seemed. It was hard for me to keep my eyes open. My captor led me to a room, furnished only with a huge bed covered with the softest feathers I had ever touched. I soon fell asleep.

I recall the previous day now, at the large breakfast table, filled with all kinds of colourful fruits. I’m looking into my captor’s eyes as he offers me some pomegranate seeds.

“They will come, and they have all the right to take you back, your colourful mother and my sweet brother”, he says calmly, and I feel a bitterness in his tone, a bitterness which somehow sounds familiar.

I guess I was lucky it wasn’t his brother who took an interest in me. Those young women never ended well. I feel anger again. I do not want to be so powerless, I refuse to live by the caprice of others.

“There is nothing I can do about it, but you can. You know what they say about the seeds in the Underworld. Once you eat them, you must stay.”

I look at the seeds, and then I gaze again into his eyes. Was he right? Do I really now him?

“You can choose to be my wife”, he concludes.

“I do not choose to be a wife”, I say as I pick up the seeds from his hand. “I choose to be an empress.”

He smiles a crooked smile and I know he likes my answer.

“I choose to choose”, I smile back at him.

I bite the pomegranate seeds, and I feel them melt on my tongue. They are both sweet and sour, and I know it is the best taste I have ever experienced. I am amazed that something so wonderful grows in a place so dark.

But the Underworld does not seem dark to me anymore. It seems as alive as the flowers and the green grass of my meadows. It is just the other side of the same coin. One does not exist without the other. Before coming here, I never knew what life was.

My captor points to a mirror. I look and see myself changed. My ginger hair turned auburn in the Underworld light. There are no more flowers in my hair, and my dress is not flowy or white. The dress is now black, close-fitting and sturdy, decorated with giant feathers. Instead of a nymph-like girl, I see a person of power. I see somebody who should be respected, even feared.

For the first time I see in my reflection that I truly am beautiful.

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Hades and Persephone by Dulceta on Deviantart http://www.deviantart.com/art/Hades-and-Persephone-145221721

The Chocolate Book Tag

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I thought I might do another fun tag, and since it is the first day of September and my beloved autumn is approaching, it’s the perfect day to do it. When I heard of this tag I just knew it was the right one for me. Books and chocolate, what more do you need? So, let’s do it!

1. Dark chocolate – a book that covers a dark topic (abuse, domestic violence, rape, lonlieness, bullying, death, etc)

The first books that come to mind are Carrie by Stephen King and The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, because the first deals with bullying and the other with suicide (obviously). But the one I would like to mention here is Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan. The story follows tourists on their visit to Burma, but it is much more than that. It is written from the perspective of their dead friend, who would have been their guide. Since she is dead, the trip goes all wrong. But what is really dark bout this book is that it delas with the horrible condition and mass murders of Burmese tribes by their government and the complete naivety of the tourists who cannot grasp what is really going on let alone help anyone. It is dusturbing to thin about how unaware and powerless we are in the face of the real horrors of this world.

2. White chocolate – Your favourite light-hearted/humourous read

Well, when it comes to fun, but still great literature, Terry Pratchett is the king. And Good Omens by Pratchett and Gaiman is so much fun, I think everyone should read it!

3. Milk chocolate – A book that has a lot of hype that you’re dying to read.

Rain Wild Chronicles by Robin Hobb. I’m not sure if “hype” is the appropriate word, but Robin Hobb is a quite popular author. I have never read any of her books (shame on me!) and this series seems the best choice for me since it is all about dragons. I’m definitely planning to read this series soon.

4. Chocolate with a caramel center – Name a book that made you feel all gooey in the middle while you were reading it

I’m not really interested in gooey reads, not that I think they are bad but they are just not my thing. So, I don’t really have a lot of choice for this question. However, I think that The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan Philipp Sendker is a really nice story, and it did make me feel quite emotional.

5. Wafer-free Kit-Kat – Name a book that surprised you lately

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. I though it might be interesting, but I just loved it! It’s just brilliant. I never thought I would love it this much, even though medievalism is my thing. XD

6. Snickers – A book that you are going nuts about

Lately? Well, I’ve been telling everyone how much I love the style of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca. Yes, I know that everyone has read it long before me, but I read it just this year and it really stuck with me. I just want to buy all Du Maurier books right now! XD It really has something magical about it, something that drags you into the world of the novel and makes you feel what the narrator feels. When I read it, I just thought – I wish I could write like that.

7. Hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows – What book would you turn to for a comfort read?

Harry Potter series, without any second thought! These books are a part of who I am at this point. XD They just make me feel happy, even though they are often sad. I remember the wait for the next book and I just can’t stop smiling.

8. Box of chocolates – What series have you read that you feel has a wide variety and a little something for everyone

Can I say Harry Potter again? XD I don’t read a lot of series, so I’m not really sure… Maybe The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series by Carlos Riuz Zafon, though I wasn’t really impressed by the last one, but the first two are really amazing. And they can be read separately, though they do connect in the third book, but if you read them as stand alones you can enjoy them as well. And there really is a lot of everything in them – history, love, mystery, even some creepyness, and a lot of mention of books.

And that was it! Let me know if you have read some of the books I’ve mentioned and feel free to give recommendations, I love those! 🙂