Fabric of Life, Bedelia’s Wake-Up Call

Prompt: Fabric

Bedelia woke from a horrible, if possibly nonsensical nightmare in which—having agreed to see Finn Canter again—she’d opened her closet to discover ALL of her wardrobe was devoured by moths.

Trembling, she rushed from bed to investigate, trying to slow her breathing and pulse as she raked her hand through the hangers draped with old but serviceable garments…relieved, she saw not one lonely moth fluttering, nor any readily apparent damage.

A bit wobbly yet, she went to her kitchen, took her morning meds with Diet Coke, and sat down at the dining table…where she noticed the cotton place mat was worn, threads coming loose, the fabric more faded than yesterday.

‘Yesterday’, she pondered, tears filling her eyes…Yesterday was certainly faded and worn, a feast for ravenous moths.

The ‘still small voice’ of God was attempting to get her attention:  it wasn’t too late to have the “abundant life”, but she needed to seriously consider what that meant to her—what she wanted before the hourglass sands ran out; the choice was hers, His Light was available.

She reached for her Bible, opened it to Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope'”. (New Living Translation)

©Rhen Laird/Cobbled Contemplations, 2020 ~ All rights reserved.


Bedelia’s Quandary: Boundary Lines

Prompt:  Line

Bedelia wasn’t tremendously surprised when Father James phoned to ask how she’d enjoyed the Meet ‘n Greet—somewhat guarded, she described it as “nice”, and thanked him politely for inviting her.

But her ribs began tightening against her lungs when he admitted it was his brother, particularly, whom he’d wanted her to meet…and then asked, as though he were a lonely hearts facilitator, what she’d thought of Finn.

Choosing her words carefully, she acknowledged that he seemed a pleasant gentleman, courtly even…(which turned out to be not cautious wording at all).

Father James jumped on her assessment with barely concealed glee, telling her Finn was a widower of many years…alone, like herself…and that he’d expressed interest in seeing her again.

Oh, Lord, Bedelia thought, feeling like she’d stepped into a bucket of ice water—she wasn’t a “maybe” sort of person, had always found adherence to clear “yea” or “nays” safer; her silence lengthened while she scrambled for a response which was less than a hardmarked boundary line that shouted, “Hazards Ahead, No Crossing!”

And thus, Divine intervention favored her:  Father James abruptly ended the conversation, having just then received a note regarding a parish emergency…he promised to get back to her soon.

©Rhen Laird/Cobbled Contemplations,  2020 ~ All rights reserved.


Bedelia and the Meet ‘n Greet

Prompt:  THUMB

It wasn’t the first thing Bedelia noticed about the man Father James introduced as his brother, but it stuck in her mind…perhaps because it was less disconcerting to ponder.

As he extended his hand to shake hers, she hesitated, seeing Finn Canter’s right thumb was well-bandaged and no doubt tender (she recalled the priest had remarked on her “firm grip”).

But he took her hand in his…holding it for what seemed ages as his faded-denim eyes smiled around the words, “it’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Cornell”.

Father James hadn’t over-sold the Meet & Greet group, everyone was friendly toward her without being pushy…but she’d been solitary so long that attempting small talk was as constricting as her ‘going-out’ shoes, unworn for years.

And then Finn rescued her: offering a “plastic crystal” cup, he said, “I may be mistaken, but you look like a lady who prefers punch, to coffee”—(surely her face had gone crimson as she ducked her head and thanked him).

She had felt frumpy as a feed sack, entirely out of place when she’d entered the parish hall—more so, standing next to Finn, who resembled an actor she’d seen in a recent movie; now, relaxing in her recliner (her stomach still all fidgety), his quiet, pleasingly modulated voice played amid her thoughts…how could he know she didn’t drink coffee, when his priest brother didn’t know even that much about her?

©Rhen Laird/Cobbled Contemplations, 2020 ~ All rights reserved.


Bedelia’s Iron Grip

Prompt: IRON

Bedelia had kept an iron grip on herself, once she’d called Father James to accept his invitation to the Meet & Greet…though, little good it had done to stop her nerves from taking flight.

She discovered a black and white knit tunic and a pair of black slacks which needed no ironing, in the back of her closet, and studied them—they’d have to serve, as she’d had no reason to purchase new clothes since she couldn’t recall when.

Peering at face and hair in the mirror, she shuddered at the ferocious frump staring back at her and nearly called the priest again, to cancel—on any other day, she scarcely noticed her looks.

Finding a near-empty can of old hairspray beneath the sink, she misted then pushed at her coif repeatedly, one way and another till it appeared (and felt like) a tarnished helmet…and her cream foundation began to trickle “bisque” perspiration.

As Father James’ car pulled up, she drew a deep breath and reminded herself she was only obliged to go this once…she hadn’t signed a legally binding five-year contract, for heaven’s sake.

The priest greeted her with effusive cheer, and shaking her hand, he chuckled merrily, saying, “My, you have a firm clasp…to match your iron backbone, no doubt; do relax, Miss Cornell, Saint Barnabas’ folk are warm and friendly…I’m not tossing you in the lion’s den!”

©Rhen Laird/Cobbled Contemplations,  2020 ~ All rights reserved.


What to Do, Bedelia?

Photo: Rhen’s home



Bedelia shook her head slowly over the written invitation, pursing her lips; Saturdays she watered her houseplants…she could hardly leave them to their own dry devices while she went off to a Catholic ‘social’.

She tossed the note card aside as her paranoia spun out: Meet and Greet’ …probably trendy code for ‘group therapy’!

If indeed crazy, dysfunctional, she was entitled to remain contentedly so; and anyway, she had nothing appropriate to wear, having given up dressing to successfully impress…a good twenty-odd years ago.

Putting dishes in the sink to wash, her eyes meandered to the gray envelope again; surely it was some kind of trick…who was this stranger that the insistent Father James wanted to introduce to her?

It couldn’t possibly be a man; but she had zero interest in meeting a lonely woman, either…held captive and forced to listen to gallbladder complaints, or nagged to join the choir or flower committee…while holding a plastic cup of sickly sweet punch.

Her plants had been recommended as “therapeutic” by the grocery’s floral department manager—she wiped her hands on a blue-striped cloth, and consulted the green friends in their terracotta pots: “perhaps I could water you a day early…and call Father James…maybe”.

©Rhen Laird/Cobbled Contemplations, 2020 ~ All rights reserved.

Bedelia Reflects On Romance



Bedelia surfed the cable TV guide for a Friday night movie, and settled on the classic romance, “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing”, starring William Holden, Jennifer Jones.

She wasn’t crazy for Holden but liked love stories with tragic endings; she’d wished her ex-husband had been hit by a bus and died…widows received sympathy—divorcees, suspicion.

On reflection, having been alone 40 years, she would have traded flash fire of romantic passion for real love’s lantern, long-burning—if she’d had good sense and opportunity to choose differently, wisely, while still youthful.

Time trudged on, the shame of having been a ‘dolt deceived’ clung like a sopping raincoat—and, convinced she was as desirable as a boot-squashed mushroom, the notion of daring another chance at romance nauseated her; neither lonely nor bored, she’d redirected her passions to God, and writing.

As the movie credits rolled, Bedelia picked up the mail she’d forgotten to open; mostly handbills and charities requesting donations…also a small, pale gray envelope with no return address, but local postmark.

Instinctively wary, a frown cut into her forehead and jerked her lips tight, as she pulled forth the note card with neatly penned message:  “Dear Miss Cornell—I know you declined my previous invitation to the Meet & Greet, but someone you might enjoy getting acquainted with will be there…I could fetch you at 4 pm, Saturday, and easily return you home afterward…please reconsider, and call me at the parish office ~ Father James Canter”.

©Rhen Laird/Cobbled Contemplations, 2020 ~ All rights reserved.

Bedelia, In Her Own Right


Prompt: RIGHT

Tedious and terrible, Time’s insistence on introspection after you passed the half-century mark…Bedelia’s beleaguering thoughts began.

Had she ever done anything right, or were all her turns a veering left—only to discover herself trapped in a dead end?

She’d known right from wrong since first punishing curse landed on ears, psyche…yet her sins rose up like a chorus.

Every time she hears the phrase, “it’s the right thing to do,” she fights urge to murder the speaker.

And now the new parish priest is trying to persuade her to attend ‘Meet & Greet’…despite her pointed statement that she’s not Catholic.

You’d think the old priest would have left a note:  “Don’t bother recluse at 57 Right Road NW—she could be right crazy, a serial killer”.

©Rhen Laird/Cobbled Contemplations, 2020 ~ All rights reserved.

Eternal Heart



Bedelia sat by the window where the slipping sun shot through her prism, splashing rainbows on walls and ceiling, and mused softly: “which is eternal—love, or the heartache it holds?”

She held the Victorian watch, fingered the sterling scrollwork which resembled ocean waves, and thought of him…

He’d seen her sitting in the dark, the whispering palms and surf behind her, moon glow lighting silent silver streams that slid down her cheeks.

“What is it, Love—tell me,” he’d spoken tenderly, his matinee idol face in shadow…

Etched like scrimshaw on eternal heart, forever ago…was it true memory, or merely recurrent dream?

Closing her eyes she could feel his hand, warm and smooth against her cheek…real as fading prism rainbows.

©Rhen Laird/Cobbled Contemplations,  2020 ~ All rights reserved.

Two Gulfs (6-Sentence Story)


Prompt: GULF

It had been decades since Bedelia visited the Gulf, though her soul held the sounds and scent of rippling waves gilded by sunlight.

Each year she ordered a calendar featuring beach scenes, silvered shells and bright coral, to liven up her drab kitchen.

These misted-dawn, seaside thoughts were disrupted by a knock at the door.

Peering through a slender slit in the drapery, she hardly recognized the man with gray hair and mustache…she began to tremble, heart beating rapidly out of sync.

How had he found her, and what did he want…perhaps to seek her forgiveness?

She remained still, breathless as a glass figurine, waiting for him to leave the paltry property she could claim as hers, unmarred—the gulf between her ex-husband and herself was forever-far too wide, turbid, and serpent-swirled to wade across.

©Rhen Laird/Cobbled Contemplations, 2020 ~ All rights reserved.

Bedelia’s Eccentric Angle (6-Sentence Story Thursday)


Prompt: ANGLE

Image: Pixabay.com

Bedelia would not open her door…safety first, she spoke with the man through a locked window.

“Ma’am, I mean you no harm, I’m here about your roof—the present angle indicates sagging; if I don’t check it out, it may collapse.”

Her voice, muffled by the double-glazed windows, insisted she’d not phoned anyone regarding the roof.

He fishes a company ID card from his shirt pocket, holds it up against the oval pane in her door (perhaps she’ll recall).

Opening the door slightly, Bedelia frowns him up and down—“You do know, don’t you, that everything tends to sag a bit as time passes…the angle of my roof reflects character, eccentric charm.”

“Ma’am, all due respect—if your roof falls on you, angle of death will cancel charm and character.”

©Rhen Laird/Cobbled Contemplations, 2020 ~ All rights reserved.

Bedelia’s Bridge (6-Sentence Story)


Prompt:  BRIDGE

This is perhaps Chapter 2, continuing the story of Bedelia’s circled life, found here https://cobbledcontemplations.com/2020/04/16/a-circled-life-sixsentencestories, if you’re interested.


The fall leaves were no longer…winter’s frigid winds had blown them to another kingdom beyond Bedelia’s world.

Spring took stage, a slow ballet of warming breezes, cherry blossoms, sky’s cloudless blue perfection.

Bedelia said a prayer for courage to tamp down her agoraphobia, donned tattered mauve sweater, and ventured out her bolted door.

Nearby was a woodsy area, fragrant with greening undergrowth and an old bridge.

The bridge was faded gray planks which accepted footsteps without uttered offense, soft and gently ‘neath Bedelia’s feet.

Not much of a bridge, it was more a pallet lying on the ground, extending six feet and stopping at a cliff wall—like Bedelia, the bridge didn’t go anywhere…she turned and walked back over it, returning home.

©Rhen Laird/Cobbled Contemplations,  2020 ~ All rights reserved.

A Circled Life (#SixSentenceStories)


Prompt:  CIRCLE


Circle has no beginning, no end…draw it around a life.

Within, it holds myriad elements…people, events, choices, vows, loves-losses-regrets, seasons turning kaleidoscopically.

Bedelia’s life was circle that began abandoned, already saddened, unattractive, in late autumn…leaves falling, becoming brown, dry and curling.

She blossomed in spring, reigned during summer—all her dreams an open gate.

Then it slammed shut, a frozen wall…her hoarfrost heart prematurely wintered.

Decades passed, another autumn:  her ravaged soul was dusty chapel window through which she peered dimly, alone…watching leaves fall, become brown, dry and curling.

©Rhen Laird/Cobbled Contemplations, 2020 ~ All rights reserved.