The fog licked at the sides of the buildings and draped over the benches like a watery veil. As Emma walked to her aunts house she cringed and felt queasy. She couldn’t help notice, the way the heavy oppressed day looked, was pretty much how she felt about this mandatory visit.

Emma’s life and circumstances had dealt her a lousy hand, so she waged a war and constructed the cubbyhole life that she existed in. It was small and there wasn’t room for anyone else. All the people in her life who were suppose to care for her had misused and discarded her, so her walls shrank and there wasn’t room to share.

Aunt Polly required more of Emma than she felt willing to give and  swept into her life unannounced and unwelcomed. Years after her mom died and she had run away from her dad, SHE showed up. Of course she had a fortune in excuses and money.

Often Aunt Polly would remind, “Maggie threw her life into the gutter Emma! She chose a needle and that low down drunken pig over you and the good life she could have had.”

Maggie, Emma’s mom, rejected  the wealth and status of her well bred upbringing as completely as a publisher spurns the work of a hack. She was firmly committed to heroin,and everything that wasn’t dignified or refined, like her family. She vanished into the places in New Orleans where it’s dark, dirty and desperate and people live their lives unclaimed, nameless and unknown.

Polly rummaged the city for Maggie. She looked behind every broken door, and searched the ravaged faces of every wrecked woman on every street corner. Maggie, living and breathing, was never found. The quest ended when she found out Maggie was dead.

Finding her sister had a child, Emma, was like the sun began to shine again for Polly. She gently scratched and tapped at Emma’s doors and walls knowing over time a seemingly impenetrable obstacle can be breached. The years she spent chasing her shadowy elusive sister created a woman with persistence like a rose growing through a rock; strong, determined, beautiful and deeply rooted.

Emma knew her Aunt had an unchanging, devoted love for her but her cubbyhole was built for protection. It kept her from the weapons unleashed on her by those who said they’d shield her from abuse. She would not sabotage her fortress by letting her guard down because one more defeat would surely turn it into a pile of rubble she could never rebuild.

Emma continued to slog through the sloppy soup of fog until she reached Aunt Polly’s manor. It should be foreboding due to it’s sheer size but at the hand of Polly, it was full of the life and color of a child’s painting. As she walked up the wandering path to the door, she smiled at the splashes of random color and texture that included a long, wide rope swing on a grand old oak tree. The perfect place to release yourself as you reached for the cotton candy clouds or the tip of the crescent moon.

Cora, Polly’s “accomplice” (not maid) let her in. Emma made her way to the foot of the glorious staircase whose unique charm implied whispered stories and secrets like a book waiting to be opened. She liked the mystical wonder she sensed as she looking up the winding climb to the Aunt she wanted to love.

A tiny smiled creeped  into the corner of her mouth as she began the climb.

Maybe she could.


Another speck in the portrait of Emma….  (More of Emma at – “Emma”  , “Better than Bad”  , and “Love and Velcro

“This week’s assignment was to write a piece inspired by pictures. You could chose either one or even do both.

What did the images mean to you?”


6 comments on “Vanished

  1. DM says:

    You paint pictures my mind can see with your words. I love the way you made the fog move by such simple words as licked and draped. Beautiful! The idea of a cubbyhole life is intriguing also. I’m anxious to find out more about Aunt Polly and Emma. I need more about why Emma is so shut out to everyone else.


  2. I like the promise and hope for Emma you put at the end.


    • debseeman says:

      She has glimmers of hope and trust. I don’t want her to be a hopeless character. Want her to have depth and true emotion.


  3. CDG says:

    Aunt Polly sounds like a fascinating woman. I wonder if she isn’t just as much of a protag as Emma…


    • debseeman says:

      Aunt Polly came to being due to the prompt. It fits so well with Emma because she can’t continue being as dark and broody as I’ve written her so far. Someone has to be able to make a significant impact and I think the “birth” of Aunt Polly is the perfect person to continue to prod and pry at Emma.


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