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A short story by Margery Verner Reed


Title:     Ashes
Author: Margery Verner Reed [More Titles by Reed]

IT was a large house on the outskirts of the town.

IN the living room a fire blazed. Soft shaded lights--a contrast to the blizzard raging outside.

A SMALL gathering of people for informal afternoon tea.

LYDIA STUART had come in rather late. She sat comfortably on a huge divan near the fire.

A PICTURESQUE magnetic figure, dressed in purple, with beautiful warm furs.

RATHER dreamily she gazed at the fire. And mused to herself on the strangeness of life--


SOMETHING within her long ago had died. And the new Lydia had risen, stronger, better, for the horrible struggles against herself--


HER art had been created by the ashes of a dead love.

SHE had conquered.

ON the other side of the fireplace was standing the man she had once loved.

THE man who had once possessed her every waking hour.

SHE had fought. An inward battle--a brave struggle--

IN another town she had begged him not to see her--not to write.

* * * * *

THEN later they had met unexpectedly at a ball--

THERE was music--many flowers--brightness--laughter--

HIS arms had held her close as they danced--

A FLOOD of memories rushed across her mind.

FOR a moment she had stood with laughing lips--

IT had been a moment of triumph.

THEN, out of nothing--with no tie to the absorbing passing moment, the image of her mother rose in her thought.

THE triumph gave way to a new compelling mood. She was choosing between two loves--

WITH cold, calculating eyes he had watched her as she moved across the floor--

A GRACEFUL figure in pink.

* * * * *

NO one saw her as she slipped home--sad--the depths of her soul in burning conflict. The flowers she held fell unnoticed.

THE greatest struggle of her life.

DAWN found her still fighting against the overpowering yearning.

FOR months she struggled.

HER art increased.

A DYING part of Lydia gave power to a new-born personality--strong deep-seeing character grew up from the ashes of her former light self.

* * * * *

THIS afternoon, sitting on the great divan, she reflected and understood.

PERHAPS she had overcome months before.

TILL now she had not known.

AT last--only ashes--where once had been love--

HE stood there--looking at her.

SHE saw him only as a stranger--

SHE did not know him--save his name--

THE new Lydia--the artist--could find nothing in common, no union of thought.

WHAT strange lost element in her had once loved this man--

LYDIA--risen from the ashes--walked out into the snow and cold. She felt her release to a new freedom. She could meet him again--without harm--


AT any time--

HE was a stranger.

[The end]
Margery Verner Reed's short story: Ashes