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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

LULLABY FOR A SWEET DREAM

My love, my darling
Close your eyes
For the healer of fools
And wise alike,
Drunken sleep
At last arrives,
Telling us all
Those same old lies:

Sleep, sweet love,
For no monsters peek
Under doors or
From the deep;

Tonight I take first watch,
Tonight no dark dream
Can sweep
Peace from you,
And when you wake,
I swear you will
Find me still
At my loving vigil.

Sleep sweet, love,
For no monsters peek
Under doors or
From the deep;

And if you should wake
I swear my arms
Are round you still
Your cradle, and
Your safe-keep;
This night, my love,
Believe:
I keep the watch,
I do not sleep.


Manuela Cardiga

Thursday, 26 December 2013

RED LIPSTICK AND WAR BANNERS

The tumble rag-tag
Jumble of words
In my mind led me to find ´
An image, a voice
Packed in dust and dry time:
Alexander cried to his brother
As they faced Darius
(Or some such potentate
Surfeit with power and
treasures of pleasure)
Some doe-eyed man
Rich in armies,
Silk-skinned as any girl.
Alexander cried
"Hold the center!"
And I heard.

So I may stand
White and thin-fingered,
Eyes dark-smudged with khol,
I may smile quite sweetly
And nod at you all,
But I am no soft thing
To yield sighs or tremble.

Whatever I may resemble,
Do not be deceived:
Should my loves call,
I will hold the centre;
What ever breaks,
And whatever it takes.

I am bone and stone;
Should the very world 
Crumble along with my heart,
I will not hide nor die nor faint
If I step on some blood.

Though armies break
My lines do not fold.
I hold the centre.
Do you hear me, Alexander?

I remembered:
Alexander
cried "Hold"
So I hold.

Manuela Cardiga
CLEANING OUT FILES FROM THE HARD DRIVE

Unwrapping souvenirs tonight
I find such odd things.
Tags I chose to bind
To memories:
Frail sights,
Pungent scents,
And words that shape mouths
Rather than be shaped by them;

Slow motion moments,
A song that fit
(quite by chance)
Exactly as it should,
And another moment
So good, I know
It will stand example
Of how motion
Can expand
And steal devotion
From God
And bind it to
Human emotion.

Manuela Cardiga

TAKE THE FIRST STAR ON THE LEFT FLY STRAIGHT UNTIL MORNING


TAKE THE FIRST STAR ON THE LEFT
FLY STRAIGHT UNTIL MORNING

Life, alas, is not poetry-
Though there is poetry in life;
Nor yet tragedy, for such
Life cannot sustain:
Pain becomes a bore,
And boredom I abhore.

So let me have comedy,
Let me have farce,
Let me have my giggle
At whatever may tickle
My fancy while yet
I bide my time
Waiting for the plot
To thicken,
For the story I am living
To unfold and send in
The next surprise.

And in the mean while,
If all else fails,
(along wih a glass of wine)
Let me have satire,
Comedy's sharper sister-
and in truth much less kind:
But which has yet been
A good friend of mine,
When a sharp tongue
And a quick wit
Has served me better
Than gentleness
In defending
My foolish heart
And my pride.

Manuela Cardiga

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

NIGHT'S CANDLES HAVE BURNT OUT

Dark trees bare
Of limb and spare,
Malevolent silhouettes
Of raised leprous hands
Scrabbling through
The crusted dirt
To rake pale-mottled
Skeletal fingers
At the dawn-stained sky.

Manuela Cardiga

Saturday, 14 December 2013

GET OUT OF BED!

I can't help it.
I'm just not a pessimist.
I can't be. I love history and can clearly see the upward-turning curve on the feel-good graph for all of humanity.

That is RIGHT!
Things are not getting worse, they are getting better and better by the day.

YES, there are wars and hunger and murders and pain galore.
YES, we all feel helpless rage before the things we can't change.
BUT...Look back, if you please.

A hundred years ago the poverty levels were 5 times higher; most people lost a child in infancy to a myriad curable diseases; women faced childbirth as a life-threatening process; the life expectancy for the average man was in his mid-forties; most people could not read (and here I am talking about the Civilised West!); and expectations of personal happiness or achievement were scant; the technology that brings so much ease, safety and magic into our lives was no-where in sight.

The pursuit of happiness we all peevishly proclaim as a RIGHT, was a dim fantastic flight of fancy - a Utopian dream. The truth is that the last one hundred years have brought more change and radical improvement into human lives than any other period in History. We have leap-frogged over thousands of years of stagnation straight into a roller-coaster of social evolution.

Now...
Ask yourself why we forget these things?
Turn on your TV.
Tell me what you see: blood, gore, despair.
Do some zapping. Tell me where you pause. Be honest with me.
What draws your eye, keeps your attention?
Blood, gore, despair. We see what we want to see.
Don't blame the TV. The Media is a business like any other. They give their customers what they want, what sells.

And what sells is blood, gore and despair. TV series about murder and monsters are what sells best. Oh the Romans had us pegged! We sit in the dim arena of our own lounges and greedily guzzle up the same fare, and if the blood we see is real? Oh the more we like it! We revel in the dark side. We buy into it.

But the light is shinning, people!
Brighter and brighter. We are on the edge of a fantastical age of magic and mystery!
For the first time in history technology and art are indistiguishable. We spent ten thousand years crawling in the mud, now we are learning to fly. Nation-hood and current forms of government are taking their very last breath. We are becoming a community of light, linked together by an invisible web.Our lives are changing, and we are changing our lives. Here, in this new and evolving society we choose what we accept, and we must take responsibility for what we seek out.

The magic is: what we imagine is what we become.
Nothing is impossible.
What we can emcompass with our minds can become real; so it's time to decide: do we take the old path? or do we look for the bright side?

Do we look for affirmation in growth, awareness, kindness and love? or do we wallow once again in the confirmation of the seductive darkness feeding our pessimism? Is the picture you see of the world negative or positive? Black or full rainbow-bright? Please don't let the only colour you let into the dark-adapted eye colour the world the dirty red of blood.

Open your eyes, and choose carefully what you see; what you let into your mind and into your life, that is what will become your reality.
Wake up, open your eyes.
It's time to decide.

Manuela Cardiga

Friday, 13 December 2013

How do we stop the killings?

Tell me how do we solve this?
People shoot other people which is bad enough, but suddenly,somehow it seems the favoured targets are children.

Why? I asked myself this, again and again.
Oh but then I saw the blank uncomprehending horror in the faces of the victims' families, and felt the echoing lurch in my own heart.

The violent death of children unarms us all, for we see ourselves bereft and dimly sense a vague shallow facsimile of what the parents experience.

That shadow pain is so intense as to leave us without defence or ability to keep a saving distance between what we witness and what we sense.

That instinctive outpouring of sick horror is what fuels these endless attacks. Our pain feeds the vampire killers; and inspires successive generations of murderers to greater and greater extremes of cruelty.

Tell me how do we fight this?
How do we starve the ambition of repulsive creatures latched on to our emotions? How do we put an end to the ravages of mediocre empty people whose only way to leave a mark is by branding unbearable loss across our hearts?

How can we fight when it is our own grief that empowers and inspires the killers to ever greater heights?

Manuela Cardiga

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

FROM HERE TO ETERNITY

FROM HERE TO ETERNITY

You know that scene?
With the surf
And the guy
And the salt kiss,
And the cry
Of impassioned seagulls
Flying by?
You know when they roll
And are tossed by inner
And outer waves,
Alternatively fire and ice;
Their heat unquenched
Though drenched;
Wet and licked
By the avid tongues
Of successive waves?
Know what crosses my mind?

When they got home after that,
Betcha she cursed that sand...
(it has the uncanny ability
to infiltrate every crack...)

Manuela Cardiga

JUGGERNAUTS AND NIPPLE-CAPS

Juggernauts like junkies
Are quite blind
To any fever but their own
And can neither comprehend
Nor apprehend consequences
Or what delicate nascent
Beauty they may crush
In their frantic heaving rush
To the satisfactory
Completion of their mission.

By Juggernauts I mean
Rolling unstoppable
Waves of massive intent,
In the form of a Human
Or Institutional Revenant;
And not as you all may think
– knowing me I must admit
it’s not unlikely-
Referring to freaky guys
Who roam the skies
In helmets like pork pies
And dream of home
And mammalian glands
They sometimes call
By pet names like tits
Or tatas or JUGGS!

Though now that
I think about it,
That can work too!
JUGGERNAUTS!
Hey! Fancy that!

Manuela Cardiga

SOURED MOUTHS

The malicious gossipping
In the icy morning,
The fractured sound
Of hardened mouths
Gaping wide to the clapping
Of verdigris-embittered
Tongues
Ringing
Complaining
Proclaiming
Creased obligations
To past passions
And old loves bruised
By coarse hands,
Soured words
Echoed by
The brazen bells.


Manuela Cardiga

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

IF I FELL AND SCRAPED MY KNEES

If I fell for you,
Maybe off those
Spiky black stilettos
You like so much;

If I fell for you,
Really hard,
Tripped so
My composure
Cracked and I
Couldn't get
My cool
Demeanour
Back.

If I fell for you
And lost
Every last scrap
Of control over
My flustered or is it
Fluttering heart;
Just handed over
Every last part;

If I fell for you,
Hypothetically, of course,
One of those wild 
What-if scenarios,
Would you help me up?
Brush off
My stockinged knees
And mutter embarrassed
"Sorry 'bout that!"
Or would you fall
Right back at me?

You know...
I was just wondering
What would happen
On the really
Remote off-chance
I sort of slipped
And found
I fell for you.

Manuela Cardiga

Sensual Secrets of a Sexual Surrogate: No slobbering on the boobies!

The nape of the neck, with its delicate veil of fine hair, is most sensitive to soft stroking fingertips and to brushing lips. To simply stir the hair at the nape with your breath—do not pull a Darth Vader here—or a low murmur, will arouse startling sensations.

As with the palm, soft and delicate almost-kisses will elicit the strongest response. The no-saliva rule applies here as well. In fact, take it as a given that trailing saliva anywhere is an absolute no-no.

Let’s try to keep boobies dry, too. Never, ever slobber.


Excerpt from "Guilty Pleasures" by Manuela Cardiga




Look for 

"Guilty Pleasures - The Food and Fornication Fables" 

by Manuela Cardiga

TODAY

Get it online or at a Bookstore near you! 

Sensual Secrets of a Sexual Surrogate: Exploring Alternative Erogenous Zones...

Two of the most sensitive erogenous zones in a woman’s body are easily accessible and legal to explore in public places. Curiously, these are also often neglected by even the most experienced lovers: the palm of the hand and the nape of the neck. Caress the first lightly, delicately with your fingertips. She will not even be aware of the intensity of her response. In a second phase, kiss the palm, brushing your lips softly back and forth across the skin. Thirdly, flick your tongue briefly across the palm. Do not leave trails of saliva. You don’t want her surreptitiously wiping her hands on her skirt.

Excerpt from "Guilty Pleasures" by Manuela Cardiga




Look for 

"Guilty Pleasures - The Food and Fornication Fables" 

by Manuela Cardiga

TODAY

Get it online or at a Bookstore near you! 




Sensual Secrets of a Sexual Surrogate: Fantasies and Flight...

Get your woman to tell you what she wants. Really listen to her; it’s the sexiest thing you can do. Get her to share her fantasies in a non-bedroom environment such as a romantic dinner, making out on the beach, or in an elevator. Never be shocked and never show surprise at what she might reveal. Never say, “No shit, you slut!” And never, ever laugh: “HA! HA! HA! You want me to dress up like that cartoon fella, Tintin, in pink bloomers and do WHAT?”
A word of advice: if she mentions cattle prods and SS uniforms, gracefully excuse yourself and don’t come back. (Unless of course...you LIKE that. not my style, but hey! To each his own!))

Excerpt from "Guilty Pleasures" by Manuela Cardiga




Look for 

"Guilty Pleasures - The Food and Fornication Fables" 

by Manuela Cardiga

TODAY

Get it online or at a Bookstore near you! 





Monday, 9 December 2013

THE LONG AND WINDING TAIL OF A RAT AND A MOUSE

The Rat
Who stole my Mouse
Was a dirty louse!

Drat that Rat!
He had no right!
He pranced
Right into the house
And absconded
With that Mouse.
And if that
Wasn't enough
Of a lemon sucks,
He had the gall
To blame it all
On that silly Cat.
(I rather agree
With him on that)
The vain feline insists
On wearing
A jingly silver bell
With amethysts
Which rather destroys
The element of surprise
So essential
To a preemptive strike
Be it Air, Tank
Or Cat-attack...

Be that as it may,
The Rat stole the Mouse.
You know the chocolate one?
With the marzipan whiskers
And the liquorish tail.
The delicious one,
With the ginger-bread filling
That I was saving
Just for you, my love...

Oh and he vengefully
Nibbled a hole
In a black satin glove.
The right hand too!
And that's the end
Of this rather
Sad tale...
(It would be remiss
Of me if I fail
To point out
That last line is in
To keep it rhyming
Right to the end.)

Hey?
What are you talking about?
What chocolate trail
Around my mouth?
Didn't I tell you?
This dirty thieving Rat
Sneaked in just like that
And stole my Mouse?
The one I was saving for you?

Manuela Cardiga

Sensual Secrets of a Sexual Surrogate: Handling Nipples...

Never twiddle nipples. Always caress with your fingers or thumb. Nipples are not knobs. Clitorises are not knobs. Do not tweak and strum frantically at a woman’s clitoris.

Both respond best to slow, almost-there-never-quite-arrive caresses.
Try to tease, tantalise. You may be firm, but never coarse.


Excerpt from "Guilty Pleasures" by Manuela Cardiga




Look for 

"Guilty Pleasures - The Food and Fornication Fables" 

by Manuela Cardiga

TODAY

Get it online or at a Bookstore near you! 




Sensual Secrets of a Sexual Surrogate: Light that fire...

Lighting is very important in a romantic setting.

Yes, we like it bright—the brighter the better—while women don’t.
They feel that halogen spotlights kill the mood and tend to bounce off every little dimple of cellulite on their thighs, highlight every little roll of flab, every delicate little tracery of a varicose vein, and every tiny sag and droop.

Opt for soft candlelight. It’s romantic, sexy and flattering; firelight is also good.
But do try not set fire to the house.

Excerpt from "Guilty Pleasures" by Manuela Cardiga




Look for 

"Guilty Pleasures - The Food and Fornication Fables" 

by Manuela Cardiga

TODAY

Get it online or at a Bookstore near you! 





Sensual Secrets of a Sexual Surrogate: Advice for the Sucsexful Man by Lance Packhard

Tell her you love her.Yes, she’s supposed to know it—even when you act like a jerk—but tell her anyway. Then, you tell her again and again. You tell her ten times a day if that’s what she needs. Tell her she’s beautiful, tell her you love her body, then tell her again.

Tell her when you’re making love to her; tell her when you’re not.Whisper it when you’re inside her, and when you’re at her mother’s and the old bitch is driving you mad. Pull her into the bathroom just because you need to touch her in the middle of a party. Make her come at the movies. Make her feel irresistible. Make her feel desired.


Excerpt from "Guilty Pleasures" by Manuela Cardiga




Look for 

"Guilty Pleasures - The Food and Fornication Fables" 

by Manuela Cardiga

TODAY

Get it online or at a Bookstore near you! 






Sensual Secrets of a Sexual Surrogate: The flowers always work...

Surprise her. Show up with flowers. Yes it’s corny. Yes, they love it, and yes, you’ll surely get laid.
Give her balloon bunnies, or a pretty shell from a beach you walked along together.
Diamonds also work, but we’re trying to keep this to a budget.

Dress up like Elvis—unless you look like Elvis in his last years, then don’t—and sing her a serenade. Make a fool of yourself. Women believe true love means being willing to give her ammunition to humiliate you for the rest of your natural life. They are quite right.

Excerpt from "Guilty Pleasures" by Manuela Cardiga




Look for 

"Guilty Pleasures - The Food and Fornication Fables" 

by Manuela Cardiga

TODAY

Get it online or at a Bookstore near you! 




Sunday, 8 December 2013

LIP BALM FOR THE DISCERNING MERMAID

I float like flotsam
On a wave slow
Silken swelling
Heaving me higher
Where no fear
Foe or fire
Can reach.

I am tossed within
Diving in glassy satin
Silver silence
I am lost to all
Falling through
The blinding blue
Star hands opening.

Sea-burned
Lips splitting
On a liquid cry
Smooth spilling
Unravelling thirst
Salt taste
Of you.

Manuela Cardiga

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Weep maidens and warriors for a great King is dead

Tonight we weep for the passing of a good man.
He was not a hero. He was a man doing his best. Heroes choose to be so; I don't think for him there was choice. The work had to be done. So he did it. His country was in pain, so he healed it.

No other nation managed to change as South Africa did - without bloodshed.
Even Gandhi -the great Mahatma - did not free India without massacres and horrors; retaliations and revenge. Yet Madiba took a rag-tag group of warring rival tribes of all colours and shamed us into brotherhood. He stood in front of the revenge seekers and said: "Have you suffered more than I?"
He stood before the oppressors and said: "I will not be so", and stretched out his hand.
Sounds ever so mystical, doesn't it? It sounds like the lies historians write after great men die. But for once, there is no lie. A good man died.

Tonight not one South African of any tribe can say his Father did not die.
The magical prism that transmuted the hard light of bitter judgement into a rainbow nation is gone.
The miracle, hopefully, will live on.
Pass in peace Madiba.


SAILING ON THE EVENING TIDE

I will not baulk at disappointment.
I will not turn my face away from daylight, or cringe in fright in case I fail.
I lift my chin so you can see the scores left by years, and not a few acid tears.
I will not hide my face with all its scars, nor shield my heart from dreaming.
I have made mistakes, yet these are not what I regret.
Mistakes are not what mar us, it is the unwillingness to set sail and risk the fickle tide; that is what leaves us twisted out of true.Whatever chance on pain or joy I take is mine.
I will not flinch not claim redress from others for what ever responsability can be attributed to me alone.
I will place no curb on feeling, or dreaming or doing.
What ever plight befalls me: what ever the future brings of victory or defeat is mine.
Here I stand: whatever I am, or come to; I own it.

Manuela Cardiga

Review for Manuela Cardiga's "GUILTY PLEASURES - The Food and Fornication Fables""

I had no idea what I was getting into when I started this book, but boy am I glad to have been on for the ride. I loved this book. Cardiga has a talent for mixing romance and humor...and food, such delicious food. I love all the detail Cardiga added in this book. I didn't even know a lot of the food listed, but it sure as hell sounded delicious. I loved all of the elaborate events.

The story was quite an interesting one that I just couldn't put down. Lance is approached by Millie's overbearing and quite evil mother. She wants Lance to impregnate Millie so she can have a grandchild to raise. He is desperate for money that will help save his mother, so he agrees. He takes on the persona of a man named Will so he could work at Millie's unique restaurant, Guilty Pleasures. It is a restaurant that offers more than just food, it offers fantasies. People who want elaborate plays or supermodels who want to pig out on nothing but chocolate without being ridiculed, Guilty Pleasures will give it to you. Will soon falls in love with the place. It is something fun and exciting every night and he has warmed up to Serge, who causes a lot of people to quit. He soon starts to have feelings for Millie and wants to leave Lance behind and live his life as Will, start a new life. He is afraid of what would happen if Millie found out why he was there in the first place.

I really loved the characters in this book. Millie was adorable and very funny She was also very perky. I think it is a crime for someone to be that happy at 4 AM in the morning. I loved hearing her backstory. It made sense why she didn't want anything to do with men. I wasn't a big fan of Lance's, at first. He was the kind of guy I would punch in the teeth before I talked to him. When he first sees a picture of Millie, all he can do is point out her cellulite and other tiny things he doesn't like. I did warm up to him after a while though. When he took on the persona of Will, we see a different side of him and I liked it a lot. I also loved his story. He is a sex therapist that refuses to have sex because he has been used and tossed aside and he won't go through that again. I also loved Serge. He was an absolute riot. You never know what he was going to say, but you know it will be entertaining. I also enjoyed Mrs. Belmont. Oh what a great lady. Her and Serge were just too much.

I am so in love with this book. Seeing these two people who have been damaged in the past find their way to each other was a great experience. You willl find yourself rooting for them and you will want them happy. I love the chemistry between them. They really steamed up the pages. I love the characters, the twists and this incredible story. Cardiga definitely has a winner here. I am so in love. Highly recommended.

http://offbeatvagabond.blogspot.pt/2013/12/release-day-review-guilty-pleasures.html

"GUILTY PLEASURES - The Food and Fornication Fables" by Manuela Cardiga is out NOW!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

THE INK BLOT GUEST SPOT: - ONE DAY TO GO : "GUILTY PLEASURES - The Food and Fornication Fables" by Manuela Cardiga

Get a "taste" right here!

“Can you believe this, Will? Here we place fake dew on berries, for people who sell fake dreams and pay real money so they can eat real food without anyone knowing. Amazing. They go out and eat macro/micro/molecular or whatever is in fashion for the week, when their bodies crave something fat and rich . . . we are like a dirty secret. They come and eat with their hands and they lick their fingers. Here is the world.”
Lance laughed and shook his head.
Serge waved the spray mister about. “People are ashamed to eat good food in decent portions in public, but you get a two-bit whore teaching bored housewives how to give great head on morning TV.” He sighed and shook his head. “And let me tell you, she didn’t know what she was talking about. Best practitioner of fellatio in the world was the Empress of China.”
Lance’s jaw dropped. “Empress of . . . are you serious?”
“What an artist . . . the man could make a stone come. He was a eunuch, a real pure from birth, reared in the Forbidden City. He trained us—the new arrivals—decided on our speciality, and our look. He was an old, old man when I knew him, but he still had all his own teeth, and was limber and graceful as a gazelle. A very wise man. He told me I had to decide, as a freak, if I’d rather be a clown or a demon. He said we oddities—and he spoke from experience—attracted the cowardly and the cruel. Easy targets for the unimaginative, you see.”
Lance nodded soberly. “A wise man, your friend.”
Serge smiled grimly. “Yes, he was. So I was the demon, and Yusuf was the angel. What a spectacle we were, Will. Food for the gods’ lust, or the devils’. Yusuf was a hermaphrodite, see. Beautiful, Will. Never have I seen a more beautiful face. He had breasts and a body to make Aphrodite weep with envy, and a man’s prick he had, but the Empress always presented him fully clothed in a long white virginal shift, his hair loose like an angel’s, and then he’d wet the shift down. It would cling, see, the breasts of Venus, the prick of Mars. Some bastards would pay to see us freaks together.”
“My God, Serge, how did you stay sane?”
“Willie, things are simple. You do what you do to survive. We all pander to the powerful’s desires, don’t we? Only today, it’s even worse. Since survival is practically guaranteed, these people obsess over the basic things that signify survival—food and fucking. My father said that when the few value our art the most, is when the many are the most hungry. He was right.”


Look for 

"Guilty Pleasures - The Food and Fornication Fables" 

by Manuela Cardiga

TOMORROW

Get it online or at a Bookstore near you! 


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

THE INK BLOT GUEST SPOT: - Countdown to Release: "GUILTY PLEASURES - The Food and Fornication Fables" by Manuela Cardiga TWO DAYS TO GO!

Manuela Cardiga's forthcoming Novel "Guilty Pleasures"!


Excerpt

Lance Packhard, sex therapist, the world’s number one G-spot sleuth and premier undercover man, was flummoxed. Never in his long career had he been faced with such a challenge.
Millicent Deafly—his mark—ignored him. Him. It seemed almost impossible. Instead of eyeing his magnificent body, Millicent was lasciviously fondling a cucumber. Her eyes misted. Her delicate pink tongue flicked over her pouty lower lip.
“Yes. Oh, yes!” she whispered. “Tonight, yes . . .”
Lance had spent the last hour following her through the local supermarket trying to get her attention, to no avail. Millicent ignored him at the fruit and vegetables section, and at gourmet cheeses he deliberately brushed up against her back, murmured an apology in his huskiest bedroom voice, and accomplished nothing.
Undeterred, he followed her to the wine section, where he attempted prolonged eye contact. Alas, she always seemed to be looking in another direction, and Lance found himself trailing her into the Seafood Court. There, he liberally doused himself with a powerful pheromone spray he usually avoided using because of the unpleasant side effects.
But again nothing happened. 
Nada.
All he got was a serious skin rash from the pheromone spray and a multitude of lustful supermarket attendants—not all female—insisting on giving him a “hand.”
Lance should have known when he first saw Millicent that she was trouble—big trouble. In fact, he should have known before. He’d never been hired by a mother. Husbands hired him, lovers, concerned friends, even someone’s boss once, but never a mother.
Something in the almost always competitive mother/daughter synergy precluded a mother from fixing her daughter up with a man she fancied herself, and let’s face it, Lance was well aware that all women fancied him. From his dark, silken hair to his sinewy—and talented—toes, he was regarded as prime genetic material, and he had improved on nature’s bounty. He worked out four times a week—running for an hour each morning before sun-up—and rigorously watched his diet. He used a moisturiser, a hair conditioner, and carefully barbered his muscular chest and abdomen, while cultivating a becoming three-day scruff. All this was in addition to a six-foot-three lean and mean frame, a sculpted face with dreamy green eyes, and a sulky, sarcastic mouth.
Everything about him screamed absolute bastard and he came across as absolutely irresistible.

And what happens when an irresistible object collides with an indifferent target? Something’s gotta give . . . 

Look out for Guilty Pleasures from the 5th of December 2013!

On-line, in a book store near you, or in your own kitchen...

Guilty Pleasures - 
The Food and Fornication Fables  
can also be pre-ordered on


It will be on sale at Amazon.com from the 5th of December as as e-book and Paperback!

Monday, 2 December 2013

THE INK BLOT GUEST SPOT: GUILTY PLEASURES - Countdown to Release: Interviewing Manuela Cardiga

Tell us a bit about your novel.
Briefly: a red-hot narcissistic compulsively healthy-living control freak - Lance Packhard - who happens to be a bankrupt sex-therapist (writing a book called “Sensual Secrets of a Sexual Surrogate”) gets hired to impregnate a woman who just loves food. Millie Deafly. She’s not interested in men, let alone someone like our hero. So in order to get close to her, he gets himself hired as an assistant to the Chef at Guilty Pleasures - a dinner club belonging to our heroine - and her partner, Serge. Serge used to be a prostitute in Istanbul, a fluffer in skin-flicks in Vegas and is now a Master Chef in London. He’s also a homosexual black dwarf with major personality/sensitivity issues. Every night a new set of crazy guests come to the Guilty Pleasures to pig out, and poor Lance (as his alter-ego, a geeky but sexy Will) finds himself sucked in to a riotous world of eccentricity and sensuality quite unlike anything he’s ever experienced. He suddenly finds himself falling madly in love with his “subject”… and about to be outed as an impostor! If you want to know how it ends, read the book! (It’s really funny) Every chapter opens with “advice” from Lance’s how-not-to book, and closes with excerpts from Millie’s diary. I had an obscene amount of fun writing this book. I hope my readers enjoy reading it.

What gave you the idea for Guilty Pleasures? How long did it take you to write?
One night we had a Girl’s Only dinner at a friend’s place. We had something Mexican I’d made, I believe; and lots of wine. Lots. Lovely red wine, which led to confession time; so these wonderful, bright, successful, stunningly beautiful women started talking about their sex lives. And they weren’t getting any “Satisfaction” as Mick might say. So I got home and suddenly Lance showed up and says: “Hello! I’m Lance Packhard, Pubic Detective Extraordinaire! Looking for a lost Orgasm? Call me! Satisfaction guaranteed!” THEN Serge pushed him aside. “This arsehole doesn’t know WHAT he’s talking about! You wanna know about sensuality, desire and passion for life? You talk to ME! I was -and still am - the absolute BEST in the business! Lemme tell you a story…” And that is how it happened. I wrote a chapter a day, for about three months. That was it. I was taking dictation...

Which character was your favourite to create? Why?
I didn't CREATE him. He just showed up! I loved living with Serge inside my head. He is funny and fierce and loyal. A survivor. A wonderful character. I had a hard time keeping him in his place. He wanted to take over the whole book! Only way to get him to behave was to promise him he would get his OWN book...He's still here, waiting.

If you were asked to make a soundtrack for Guilty Pleasures, what songs would be on it? 
There is a soundtrack to it! I love music and it keeps creeping up in the story! I would use a lot of James songs for Millie: Laid, She's a Star; Waltzing Along; oh and Cure: Love Cats; but her "shattered song" would be "Someone That Cannot Love" by a brill singer called David Fonseca. Lance is a Neil Diamond fan so a lot of his scenes would go thatta way; Lance's broke up song would be "Creep". Serge would be snazzy, cheeky and jazzy; Hendricks is a Goth...

If your book was turned into a movie, who would you choose to play the leading characters?
Oh that is HARD! Millie would be Adele...Sensuous, so utterly lovely! Lance/Will would be Diogo Morgado (he can do cocky sex-appeal AND geeky-vulnerable and he is so gorgeous).I don't think I could convince Morgan Freeman to do an entire movie on his knees, so Serge would be Peter Dinklage. He is AMAZING; he forces me to interrupt writing so I can watch him in Game of Thrones.. 

What’s your writing process like?
I don't really have one. Really. The characters write themselves. The story tells itself to me. I listen, I write it down. I'm just as astonished at how things turn out as anyone else. The characters just show up, push me around, tell their story and then leave...

About the author
What is a normal day for you? Take us through your usual routine.
I have a pre-pubescent pre-teen girl? I don't do normal.
My usual routine starts at 7:00, I go to work (day-job, starving writers etc).
I take a train along the shore, and then a long walk by a sea wall to the office. (My desk is separated from the ocean by a 12 foot high picture window and a 5 meter wide quay, it's what keeps me sane).
So I work, I go home at the end of the day, 18:00 train ride. Get home, make dinner; the usual gripes: "Mom! YOU RUIN MY LIFE!"; I put in another three hours on the keyboard, and usually try to be in bed by 24:00...

When you’re not writing, what else do you like to do?
Oh I love reading, and drawing, and painting and cooking. I love music too, I love singing (badly and loudly!)... And I love writing. I do it even when I'm not doing it, if you know what i mean.

Tell us about the day you found out Guilty Pleasures was going to be published. 
How did you react?
After about a year of sending the manuscript to agents and publishers, I got used to receiving these e-mails that said: "WE LOVED YOUR STORY! I killed myself laughing, the Acquisitions Department loved the concept; however...It is not our Genre.Don't give up, it's a GREAT story!" Everyone laughed, everyone loved, nobody published...HUNDREDS of lovely encouraging "no"'s. So one day I saw another e-mail, I clicked on it. I read it. I didn't understand a single word it said. So I read it again. And again. It was weird. I just couldn't understand. My daughter came over and said: "Mom, why are you crying?" And I was. So I told her, "I think someone wants to publish the story, but I can't be sure." And she started crying too.

Is there a certain book that has made a lasting impression on you?
Yes. Harper Lee's To Kill a Mocking Bird. It is so absolutely perfect.
Also "The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexander Dumas. It was my first "grownup book".
My Father gave it to me when I turned 7. I love that book.

What made you want to become a writer?
Oh dear....You think people WANT to be writers??? It's not a choice, it's an affliction, a compulsion. Stories possess and overwhelm you. You either let them out or explode.

If you were planning your perfect aphrodisiac recipe, what would it be and why?
Let me tell you a secret…There are no “perfect aphrodisiac recipes”! The secret is eating with someone who awakens you in every way: your heart, your mind, your sensuality. So the perfect aphrodisiac recipe? The main ingredient is the guest.You can serve pizza, or baby quail stuffed with wild rice and pine-nuts in a port-wine chocolate and orange zest sauce. The intention is what spices the dish, tantalizes the palate and arouses desire! Serve what ever you serve with fire in your eye and a pout promising kisses.

What do you think the most important thing in a relationship is?
There are two, as far as I’m concerned: love and acceptance are indivisible. And don’t underestimate the quality of kindness. Kindness is the sexiest quality.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what five things would you want to have with you?
Chocolate, lipstick, eyeliner, silk stockings, and a bold Knight on a quest...

What’s next for Manuela Cardiga?
I have absolutely no idea! I'm waiting for life to surprise me.
(there is a novel harassing me, but I'm considering a restraining order)


Bonus Questions
Favourite movie/TV show/food/season?

Favourite movie.
JUST ONE?
It's a Wonderful Life; The Piano; Blade Runner; Breaking the Waves; When Harry Met Sally; Black Cat White Cat; Dangerous Liaisons, just about anything directed by Clint Eastwood or starring De Niro.
(I hate De Niro). Sorry, there are just too many.

TV Show
Game of Thrones
(I dont watch TV. This is an exception)

Food
Are you kidding? Don't ASK things like that!

Season
Summer. Autumn. Winter. Spring.

Who would you give the award to for best first kiss (in a movie)?
The award goes to: COLIN FIRTH! In anything. The man can kiss...
(Did you see what he did in "The Diary of Bridgit Jones"? He MADE that movie)

Sweet or salty?
Both. Separately or together. Also spicy...

Worst fear?
I wake up, and this is a dream.




Guilty Pleasures - 
The Food and Fornication Fables  
can be pre-ordered on



It will be on sale at Amazon.com from the 5th of December as as e-book and Paperback!

Saturday, 30 November 2013

LADY DA GRIND MISSED A KISS


Oh poor Lady Da Grind,
She did so sob...

Oh she cried
And pled and trembled
Cause the dream kiss
In no way resembled
The tender mouth
For which she sighed.

Manuela Cardiga

Friday, 29 November 2013

THE INK BLOT GUEST SPOT: "Faerie Tale" by Grant Harbison

Suffering Socrates
I’m awoken with fright
For once again that mischievous young sprite
Has set my alarm for the middle of the night
Blurry and beat I stumble out of bed
Trip over the cat and land on my head
The pain is immense as I lay on the floor
But I try to persevere and crawl to the door
As I get to the door the wind slams it shut
Dazed and confused I sit on my butt
Mustering strength I continue to toil
To the sanctuary of the of the kitchen and the kettle to boil
When I get there I find the power has been cut
And stare at the sympathetic face of my mutt
Moaning and cursing I head to the porch
I need light
Need to find my torch
When I get back to the bedroom
I’m far from amused
Because the fucking sock faerie thinks she’s got me screwed
For she’s mixed up my socks and stolen my shoes

Grant Harbison

Loving This Living Moment

Oh you are
My constant
Silly smile;
I look a fool
And love it

Oh you are
The spark
That lights my eyes;
I feel alive
And love it

Oh you are
My senses devouring
The dazzling present;
And the delicious treasure
Of anticipating
Pleasure.

I am here,
And love it.

Manuela Cardiga

Thursday, 28 November 2013

About maths and truths and lies and loneliness

THE BINARY CODE IS A GODDAM LIE!

Lets count one - nothing - one- nothing....
STOP!
Go back...
Start again and count: one...nothing...one...nothing....
So where is the other "one"? You know, the other number that would make it Binary. That is what binary means, supposedly. Anything with a "bi" in it means two.
TWO. Not one....nothing!

This just goes to confirm what I've always believed.
Mathematics is a language for lies.
A clumsy language too; pretending to be precise, when all it is is crude.
Rude AND crude; and crass.

You can't tell stories with just Maths. You just can't. The lovely liquidy flow of words tripping off your tongue, painting pictures, planting image-seeds in minds? Can't do it with Mathematics. What you CAN do, is dress up "facts".

Maths is also great for reducing things people don't really want to think about, to shift awkward amounts of money, poverty and whatnot about. You can shore up ridiculous theories, explain away most things, discard responsibility, and also "prove" why apparently reasonable solutions are just plain impossible!

But I tell you one thing, they can't refute THIS!
The Binary Code is a fraud. Disprove THAT! Go on.
Let me show you.
COUNT! There you stand alone.
Count: one...nothing...one...nothing....
That is only ONE. You, alone. That is who and what you are. ONE.

Now, drop the bloody phone, or step away from the mirror or what ever substitute of one you have been using to tell yourself you a Binary Code sort of person. Look at the person across from you.
Count: ONE
Count again: ONE

Lean over, and say it:
"I count You. ONE. You COUNT."

Now smile. That is NOT a "one...nothing...one...nothing" count.
Specially if your other ONE smiles back.

So now that you can count: one...one...one...; you get up, take that other person's hand and hum to the lovely sound of the stuttering drumming numbers leading your feet to dance.

THAT is a Binary Dance...one-two, one-two.

Go on, take a chance.
Forget the bloody Mathematical statistics proving probable failure.
Dance.

Manuela Cardiga

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

This breathless moment just before...

There are moments when it seems you stand with your hands so full of promises of joy: dreams hatching and trembling to life between your fingers, that none of it seems real.
It seems too much, your heart is too full, the hopes are too great to be contained.

I'm standing here exactly like that. I have worked so hard for this moment - all my life I think - and now that is here, I can't for the life of me decide if i should laugh or cry. 

I am too used to hard paths, and burdens, and bruised knees. I am too used to getting on my toes to dance even with no music, just on the off chance that maybe mid-twirl some God will prance in and teach me some practical magic to make things real.

Oh so now, what do I do?
 My hands are quite full, the hatchlings are clinging to my fingers and stretching their wings, and me (like a fool) can only stand here with my mouth hanging open as all these dreams unspool, become true things, and challenge me to dance for real.

Manuela Cardiga

Monday, 25 November 2013

Guilty Pleasures by Manuela Cardiga will be available in Paperback and Kindle on AMAZON from December 5th!

LANÇAMENTO INTERNACIONAL DE AUTORA PORTUGUESA NA FNAC DE CASCAIS

The Writer's Coffee Shop apresenta a Autora Portuguesa Manuela Cardiga e o seu novo livro

GUILTY PLEASURES
The Food and Fornication Fables




 Venha conhecer a nova aposta da Editora que descobriu as "50 Sombras de Grey"...

Ás 18.30 de 7 de Dezembro, na FNAC de Cascais

THEOREM PROVING THE FLUIDITY OF TIME AND ITS RESPONSIVENESS TO THE HUMAN MIND

Memory works both ways:
Forward and backwards, 
Proving the circular flow- 
The paradox that is the nature 
Unlimited and finite 
Of the measure of Time.

Memory goes surfing the tubes; 
Hitching on quantum particles 
Skipping and sliding 
On the ambitious slippery
Light of the divine.

Don't argue with me, 
Saying I know nothing about this! 
Tell me how it can be otherwise? 
That I can forward-remember 
Your smile?

Manuela Cardiga

Saturday, 23 November 2013

LAMENT FROM AN OYSTER BED

I am by will become
An unshaped thing
Given over
To the random
Silken drift-wood
Languid sea-weed
Tides lift
And take me
Salt-tongues of waves
Rough shape me,

Providence
Wash over me,
Be faith in fate
And trace me
A map of stars
As yet unlit
By gods gone
Or yet to be,
I follow.

I drift and swallow
Random benedictions
Most sacred tears.
Providence
Allay my fears.
Give me love:
A pearl
Of Faith.
And I am thine:
Complete,
Unshaped
And Oceans-deep.

Manuela Cardiga

THE INK BLOT GUEST SPOT: "Desire's Detective" by Jacqueline Sapphire

 "Desire's Detective" by Jacqueline Sapphire

In glamorous Versailles someone is murdering the Jesters.
Feisty Coursesan turned Detective Noelle de Jouissance investigates the crimes and finds herself embroiled in the sex-mad Royal Family’s erotic secrets; her virginal sidekick, Desiree, is being pursued by the King's lecherous brother; the King is out to seduce the Queen and her Mistress, and the only clue to the suspect's identity is a tattoo on his scrotum...

A deliciously raunchy Historical satire: a funny, tongue-in-cheek take on the sexy shenanigans at Louis XV’s notoriously sinful Court.


Excerpt:

The coach sped over the bumps and stones, mercilessly throwing its young passenger back and forth against the velvet cushions. Desireé sighed. She could hardly believe she was leaving her childhood home and refuge behind. The lovely landscape of poverty-stricken rural France unspooled before her eyes. The picturesque villages and cultivated fields; the charming chateaus were a grim contrast to the pinched faces of the bare-foot children.

Desireé knew her life’s true mission was amongst these people, tending to their needs, nurturing their souls; and not in glittery Versailles, in high-heels and satin. She clasped her delicate hands together and closed her eyes tightly.

“My dear, you must be strong”, the voice of the Mother Superior at St Cyr echoed in her memory. “God calls and we must answer. Do not doubt there will be many thirsty souls at Court: you will be a fount of goodness, a shining light. Perhaps more needed than you could imagine…”

She had been about to enter the Novitiate when the fateful letter had arrived, ordering her to present herself at Court; and place herself in the care of her cousin, Mm. Noelle de Jouissance, her only living relative. Desireé remembered her vaguely, a green-eyed angelic-looking girl seven years her senior. She could hardly believe all her plans for the future, her tranquil life with the Sisters could so easily be overturned by one letter.

The cracking of a whip and a vicious scream of invective from the coachman tore her from her reverie. The coach now trundled between stunning gardens, manicured lawns interrupted by fountains where nude statues reposed in languorous poses, sometimes spouting water from… gasping - Desireé averted her eyes.

Before her, Versailles unfolded in all its splendor; like a fanciful sugar confection cast into stone by a dizzy Fairy-Godmother. The sour-faced coachman threw down her luggage, then leapt down and opened the coach door. Trembling, Desireé alighted and stood riveted, as he drove away. Never had she felt more alone, more abandoned than at that moment, not even as a six-year old orphan.

“Desireé?” A husky voice, with a lilting quality spoke from behind her. Gasping, Desireé turned and found herself facing (had she but known it) the woman who was to be the single most important influence in her future life: a tall figure - lissome, but somehow voluptuous - moved gracefully towards her. She glimpsed glistening emerald eyes, and a lush scarlet mouth, before she found herself enveloped in an intoxicating cloud of jasmine, pressed against firm springy breasts.

“Oh my dear, Sacré Dieu, how you’ve grown!” This, this lush fleshed woman with the full pouting mouth, her rouged nipples peeking over the edge of her scandalously low-cut bodice must be Noelle. Her cousin Noelle! Desireé found herself flushing. How could she stand there, her breasts overflowing, her waist so tightly strapped her hips swelled with obscene ripeness under the farthingales. She found herself fascinated, unable to draw her horrified eyes away from a black velvet patch glued onto Noelle’s left breast, an inch above the crimson peak.

“My little Desireé, you are so pretty! We must find you something to wear, you look like a nun.” Desireé found herself being firmly herded through a luxuriously appointed sitting-room, up a narrow staircase, two floors, a long corridor, and into a large but modestly furnished room.

“Here, darling, you will stay here with me.” Noelle sat on a graceful chair and gestured Desireé onto another.

“Tell me about yourself, what can you do? Do you speak English? Italian?” Noelle leaned forward eagerly “Do you sing, or play the clavichord? Perhaps you are talented in other pursuits?” Her cousin was turning out to be quite disturbing in her mannerisms; her pink tongue seemed to lick out her words, “we de Jouissance girls must move up in the world, my dear.”

That evening, dressed in a pale grey silk gown with a very modest décolletage, the work of the St Cyr seamstress, (after refusing point-blank a frothy scarlet voile confection proffered by Noelle as «sensual» that left her shoulders and her small breasts practically nude) she attended her very first Versailles dinner and masked ball.

The people were astonishingly friendly: not at all what she was expecting from the notoriously standoffish aristocracy. The Ladies smiled openly at her, running admiring eyes over her dress and upswept – and un-powdered - hair; the Gentlemen were even more amiable, stopping Noelle to beg for an introduction. Really, these people had a most unsettling habit of licking their lips. It looked very unpleasant, animalistic even. A few of them actually slavered. One elderly Gentleman, overcome by paternal affection, kept planting moist kisses on her hands and wrists, and was shortsightedly moving up her arms when Desireé finally managed to extricate herself from his grasp.

Noelle watched sympathetically as she patted her hands dry on the back of her skirt.

“I hate that, especially on my tits.” Desireé gaped at her cousin in horror. “Oh please! You telling me no-one’s drooled on your boobs?”

“N-No!” she gasped “N-never!” Noelle drew her into one of the doorways and stared at her in horror.

“Desireé, are you a virgin?”

“O-of course!!!”

“Bon Dieu de la Merde! A virgin.” Noelle was dead white, “What am I going to do with a virgin in Versailles?” Her hands trembled as she handed Desireé an egret’s feather mask.

“You sit, you don’t talk to anyone, you don’t go anywhere. After the ball we will talk. Now, I have work to do…”



http://youtu.be/_Xs9f1qbp2A

DIZZY DANDELIONS GROWING WILD

Sharp-edged iron
Tore open
Unready ground;
Seeds dropped 
Unplanned
Unseasonably
Birthing seedlings
Too frail to stand.

Though there was
Ambitious love for light
In this timid flowering,
Imperfectly was it mirrored
In the indifferent sullen sky -
The drought winds withered
The promised angel fluff
And blew the seeds about.

So blow, you fierce winds:
Blow with all your might!
Gather in the tossed
Bosom of that storm
Fierce beginnings;
Freely scatter
The dizzy seeds about.

Fall these to warm earth,
And watered by kind strength
May yet a sweet crop sprout.

Manuela Cardiga

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

EMOTIONAL COMPONENT OF YOUR HEMORRHOID ISSUES

Or what it means to you 
and what you might do, 
If you suddenly discover 
you are an Arsehole too

Do NOT despair,
All is not lost.

First see the check list
Printed below:

You don't really care
So long as life is fair
To one individual
(namely you);
Justice can be
Just another empty ritual.

You hog parking spaces,
Take the places of two;
You honk late at night
Or obstruct the view
Of small children.
And haven't a clue
On how to behave.
Decently or kindly.

You have
No sense of tact:
As a matter of fact
The most sensitive
Person you know
MUST be you.

You don't give a shit
If the people
You walk with in life
Can't keep up
With your stride;

You barrel ahead
For you it's always
Forward march,
Let the dead
Bury the dead!

Of course you may find
The issue of leaving
Others behind....

OH DEAR!!!
Did I say "behind"?
That's right!
The signs are quite clear:
According to the
Oficial questionnaire
You are a genuine,
Bona fide DERRIERE!

Did I say do not despair?
I lied...
I'm laughing my head off!
You do realise the implications
Of living life
As an undisguised
Arsehole?

It means you get poked
In sensitive places
By medical people
With lugubrious faces
And sharp fingers
In rubber gloves
Humming a dirge
Or maybe
A show tune like
"One singular sensation"
While you -
Strong manly man-
Find you have
To choke back
The urge to blubber:

"Lead me to
a confessional!
I'm guilty! I AM!
At being an Arsehole
I'm an absolute
professional!"


Manuela Cardiga

Monday, 18 November 2013

CASTING OUT VAMPIRES WITH A BOUQUET OF GARLIC

When I lived in a shell,
Someone told me
I wasn't loving
Enough or
In the right way
To heal him
Of his pain,
And if he hurt me,
I was to blame.

When I lived in hell
Someone told me
My smile was
Grotesque,
A vicious test
For anyone's
Patience.
Oh he hurt me,
And I was to blame.

Then I broke the spell,
I told someone:
Take your unlove,
Your anger,
Your disdain.
Go and find
Someone else
To blame
For all your pain.

I forbid you
To drain me of
My joy,
My smile
My light,
My silly delight.

I cast you out:
I refuse the blame,
That is YOUR shame.
You are denied
A place in my life.

Manuela Cardiga

ICARUS SHALL NOT FALL

Daedalus,
Look on me
As I unfold
Wings of light.

Winds of ambitious
Ecstacy tumble me,
Hurricanes sweep
And drift me,
And I soar - drunk
On the sacramental wine
Of words and rhyme.

I spread wide
Feather-flame pinions,
Articulate with desire.
These moments
In the slippery silence
Of flight are mine.

Artificer,
Set me free.
These wings
Were not
Your gift to me.

I, Icarus embrace
That fervid blaze:
The fire you so fear
Is me.


Manuela Cardiga

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Excerpt from MANscapes by Manuela Cardiga

She lay on her bed hour after hour, day after day. To her hovering friends’ distress she withdrew, cutting herself off from humanity once again. Winston and Thomas and Fatimah, and even le docteur prodded helplessly at her melancholy with cheerfulness, or treats or gossip - according to their nature; but still she wallowed.

Clara was locked in, trapped. She had always been able to isolate herself, shut out the onslaught of the world, but could not escape the unreasoning irrational emotions welling up from her inner self.


Nothing she had endured of pain or desecration, or abuse at Bernardo’s hands had prepared her for this agony. She wept, and pummeled at her pillows in helpless rage. She alternated between anger and grief, and crushing guilt. An extravagant storm of sensation buffeted her - and, after years of disassociation - she was helpless before this flood. For two weeks she lay in her bed, knees scored with scarlet healing scars while her heart bled.

Then one day, Sylvine walked in. She pulled up a chair, sat and stared. Clara turned her head away sullenly, silently.

“So do you intend to die on this bed?” There was no sympathy in Sylvine’s voice. It was calm and curious. Clara did not answer.

“Oh, I see...Did you think you had endured all the injustice and pain that life could throw at you? Did you think that after all that you had been through it would all be roses? Violins?” A soft chuckle: “Oh Clara! You are such a child still! That, you see, is the one thing you have to learn. You must learn to live. Endurance requires strength, courage, resilience; and that you have. But living requires so much more! It requires skill, balance and a sense of humour. So grow up, Clara. You carry a child in your belly; you can’t afford this ridiculous display of adolescent petulance. You can’t afford to be a child anymore. It is time to grow up.”

Clara felt a fresh flood of hot tears well up.
“It’s not right. Why can’t it be fair, Sylvine? Why? Every time I think I reached a place in my life where everything is going to be finally - magically - right, everything falls apart!”

“Because it is life, Clara and not a story. Stories end: happy-ever-afters are pretend. Our stories go on, and so, of course something always goes wrong; or less right, if you are lucky. But they do go on. And so must we.” Sylvine’s long delicate fingers gripped Clara’s chin and raised her face so she could look into her swollen eyes. “The sad and bad parts of the stories are what add sweetness to the rest. And you still don’t know how it ends…” The dark eyes snapped with humour, “So now, Clara, take a chance. Get out of bed!”

“But it hurts!”

“True. Of course it hurts. Living hurts. We still do it anyway, out of hope. Because the alternative to this clean pain is despair. And let me tell you a secret, Clara, the worse part of despair is that it is utterly boring.”

For hours after Sylvine left, Clara wept. She wept for herself, mostly, she realised. She wept for her losses, her crushing disappointment, her thwarted hope. She had taken her courage in both hands and forged herself a new life, and it had gone wrong. She wept again. Walker: that wonderful affirmation of her healing; her rebirth as a whole woman was gone.


He was gone, but she was not. She was still here: in the place she had so longed to be, healed of Bernardo’s spite, in full possession of her own heart, owner of a talent she had as yet barely touched. Clara was grieving for herself. Sylvine was right it was time to grow up.

Oh but how difficult to let go of the crutch of familiar pain! It was so comforting, and so safe. This pain she knew intimately, its taste and its sting. Healing from this brought fresh dangers; hope brought new possibilities of new pains, ones she could not foresee and with no guarantees she would overcome them.

The enticing embracing despair that had kept her in stasis under Bernardo’s abuse for twenty-three years beckoned. It would be so easy to fall back, to yield to that poison kiss...

Then she felt within her the child move. The slightest butterfly flutter, and she knew she would not, and could not give in. Somehow she had to shed that hesitant unsure nineteen-year old frozen in the horror of violation.

Yes, Sylvine was right. It was time to grow up.