The Storms We Cannot Weather

Submitted for Contest #73 in response to: Write about someone who gets proposed to five times on Christmas Eve.... view prompt

45 comments

Dec 20, 2020

Fiction Fantasy Romance

“And still I dream he'll come to me, that we will live the years together. But there are dreams that cannot be, and there are storms we cannot weather.”

A cool whisper of air came through the vent below Colette’s feet as she stumbled over the rattling floorboards. They were tile, with cracks and broken bits plastered back into place many times over the years. Beige stains were strewn about the floorboards and walls, possibly from the messes that had emerged in the tiny apartment over the years, or possibly from some old artist who thought they were being clever by making it purposefully marbled with the ugly shade of yellow. 

Sighing, Colette reached towards the small window in the corner of the kitchen to quickly slide it open and prop it up with a bowl she kept there for that very purpose. Gradually, she exhaled a breath she had been keeping in for the entire morning. After all, it was Christmas Day, which meant yet another dream came to her that night. 

The window showed the old Notre Dame cathedral in it’s misshapen, burnt remains, something that had lowered the cost of the apartment significantly. If Colette wanted to sell her apartment, though, she’d have to wait until it was rebuilt. Not that she wanted to, anyway. It was tiny, cramped, and not particularly aesthetic despite the beautiful city it was located in, but without that apartment, the dreams would stop. 

And Colette didn’t want that. No, she wanted to stick with those dreams as long as she could. It was her little secret, and there was no way she was going to give it up. 

Last night’s dream was different, however. Unlike the others, it started with the man. He fumbled with the ring in his pocket as he walked down the streets of Paris, passing by the beautiful buildings to admire the architecture and style. There was a certain stride in his step, the same stride that all the men in the dreams had. He was about to propose, after all. And knowing herself, Colette knew he knew she’d say yes. 

She always said yes. 

The man walked into a flower shop to his right, and came out with a bouquet of red roses. Cliche, but still pretty. He grinned and told the shopkeeper they were perfect, smiling from ear to ear. Then, he jumped into a taxi, telling the driver all about Colette. 

Except, this wasn’t Colette. At least, not the same Colette who lived in twenty nineteen with her dirty apartment and poor ventilation system. This was some other Colette. She was never the same person, but she always got engaged in the same city, by the same apartment. She never lived in the same time period as Colette, but she had the same flaws. The same eagerness to rush into things, the same desire for romance and the great city of Paris. 

After last night, there were five of her, each with different names and backgrounds. This one was named Azelie, and she wore a grey scarf around her neck with a maroon hat, despite the spring weather. She pulled a flip phone out of her matching maroon jacket pocket while the wind whipped her hair to and fro. After dialing a number in, she excitedly spoke. 

“Jules!” she said, her blue eyes radiating brightness. “Are you almost here?”

The man stepped out of the cab, holding his phone to his ear. “Right here, darling,” he replied, putting the phone back in his pocket. The woman ran to the cab and hugged him, right as he began to get on his knee. Behind the two was a perfect view of the cathedral, it’s luminous golden lights shining, even in the day. It was Christmas Eve, after all, so why not bring some cheeriness? It was perfect for the young couple, exactly what Colette would have liked if she were Azelie. 

Azelie was young, in her mid twenties. She was headstrong and brave, but Jules brought out a gentler side of her. She loved him with all her heart, something clear to Colette from her outside view of the dream. She was his Azzie, and he would always love her, until the day of his death. 

The dreams always switched to the lowlight of their lives right after the proposal. Azzie’s happy grin turned dark and dreary as her surroundings grew into a toned grey. She was wearing all black as she stared down at her feat, sniffing back tears. “I’m sorry, Jules,” she whispered at the grave in front of her, grey like the skies. “I should have protected you.”

She placed a red rose on his grave, and walked forward, towards the gentle horizon, the great cathedral in the background. This was where her happy life went dark. When her Jules was taken from her by the darkness that haunted her dreams. 

That was the end of Azelie and Jules’s story, but there were still four more lives. Four more couples lost in time, four couples Colette could see only on Christmas Eve. 

Colette sighed again, as she shifted through the pots and pans on the shelf in front of her. It was about dinner time, and she had hardly started cooking. Remembering a quick omelette recipe, she went to the fridge to find eggs, contemplating Azzie’s story. Not all of the dreams ended tragically, but most did. It made Colette wonder sometimes - was it some sort of hint? Someone trying to warn her against love, or against that apartment? Against Paris? 

But no, she wouldn’t move, nor would she stop looking for love. It was part of who she was, and that showed through each life she led in the dreams. Cracking the eggs into a small metal bowl, she thought about the dream the year before.

Adela reminded her a lot of Azelie, and a lot of herself, as well, though Pierre was nothing like Jules. While Jules loved Azelie with all his heart, Pierre was noble and fierce, like Azzie liked to show herself as. He decided he wanted to marry Adela, and so that was that. Off they went to the wedding, the bells clinging in the background, right behind the cathedral, the same spot where they got engaged. Pierre said his vows, and Adela somberly nodded and whispered out her own, wishing her life were different. Colette didn’t know if she loved Pierre. Perhaps she did, and just wasn’t ready to commit to marriage. But still, she was never happy with him, not when there was always the itching in her mind to leave and live her life. 

As always, the dream switched back to her lowest point, showing Adela struggling with Pierre years after the wedding, wanting to move out of the city of light while he stood firm in his footsteps. Colette tossed around in her sleep that night, thinking about Adela the the life she lived alone afterwards, missing the life she had while still never really getting what she wanted. It was a sad tale, even if Azzie’s was probably considered sadder. She never got her happy ending after the trials she faced. Colette hoped she someday would. 

And then there was Corinne. Oh, Corinne. How could she forget her, with her bouncy curls and prideful gaze? She was everything Colette wished she could be at times, and everything she hated about herself at others. She was just her, and that was that. Of course, she would never accept that, but it was the truth, and sometimes the truth hurts. It hurts when we get married to a man we know we’ll never love, and it hurts when we stick by his side forever, even if we want to let go. It hurts when we tell ourselves that we can be ourselves, but never let that happen.

It hurts to be Corinne, which means it hurts to be Colette, too, because every life was just a little bit different, highlighting each individual quality in such a complex way. Corinne’s story might have been similar to Adela’s, but it was almost an alternate version of it. While Adela was kind and gentle, Corinne was fierce and tough. And yet, Adela was the one to let herself go when she needed to, and Corinne couldn’t do herself any favors. 

Perhaps it was just the time. The dreams were always hazy on the time periods, but there would be hints and clues. Corinne could have ended up someone’s great grandmother, if she didn’t end up dying early on in life. But alas, her life ended before she could ever let herself go. 

Colette sighed, adding a pinch of chives to her cracked egg mixture, along with a few tablespoons of milk, just to amp up the creaminess. It wasn’t traditional, but neither was she, especially not as her second life, Genevieve. 

Genevieve was wild and different, ahead of her time with her fierce eyes and intense feelings. She always had something to say, but usually regretted it. Marriage was something she never really thought about, but when Anton got on his knee right in front of her favorite building in all Paris, how could she say no? It was just perfect.

But, of course, it wasn’t perfect. Not when Anton kept his secrets and left her to cry alone at night scared, but wondering what could possibly have gone wrong with such a perfect situation. Not when she found him with Cecilie, or when she weeped out tears of pain in front of the two of them, even though she’d still be sticking by Anton’s side without a choice either way. The opinionated Genevieve had grown to be scared and distant, something Colette knew she still held, even four lives later. 

Holding her breath, Colette slowly flipped the omelette, letting it fly through the air before finally hitting the pan again, a swizzle of smoke coming down onto the eggs as it toasted. The smell of chives and eggs wavered through the open window into the streets, following around the wind until it finally stopped at the old cathedral, burnt to a crisp. Sighing, Colette stared out the window, wondering how they would ever be able to fix it. She knew that there was a good likelihood it would stay that way for a long while, but she still hoped for her own sake that it would rise again. 

Maybe it was just because she loved her view. Maybe it was because of her first life, Leane, who had been hiding out in the crypt underneath the grand cathedral when she was proposed to during a war, though the dream didn’t show which one. Maybe it was because each and every life had a connection to the cathedral, whether it was positive or negative, which meant Colette did, too. 

Perhaps the fire was a hint of some sort, just like the dreams. A hint that she should leave the city while she still could, that she should sell her apartment and move somewhere where she wouldn’t be doomed at romance. A hint that a single girl had no place in the city of love, whether she liked it or not.

Perhaps the dreams were a message, but Colette would still stick with them. Because they held the truth about her life, but also because she loved the stories. Perhaps her man would never come for her, and she’d never have that perfect proposal by the cathedral. Or perhaps he would, but she’d know what to do from her past lives mistakes. Either way, the dreams were helping her, and that was all she could hope for. 

By this point, the omelette was just as burnt as the cathedral. Sighing, Colette went to throw it away and start on another breakfast. 

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45 comments

Zilla Babbitt
16:40 Dec 22, 2020

Hiya Maya! Sorry it's taken me so long to get around to reading your story! Just know that I always see your comments and stuff and upvote them and I'll always read and like your stories, and the only reason I wouldn't comment is time constraints. So this one, I really liked. I had no idea what was going on, but I liked it. I dislike the name Colette, because there's a dog named Colette in one of my favorite books and to me, it's forever a dog name. Just me, of course. This was a unique take on the prompt and unique, out-of-the-box, is wha...

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Maya W.
16:58 Dec 22, 2020

Thank you, Zilla! Yeah, this isn't one I'm especially proud of, and I'm aware that I add in way to many commas, lol. Rhonda usually edits these for me, and she catches some of them, but I know it's something I really need to work on. I'll definitely go through this one and fix them if I have the time before it's submitted. As for the story, yeah, it's sorta all over the place. If you don't really get what's going on, Colette can see her past lives proposals on Christmas Eve via dreams, which all happen to be on the same day on the same str...

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Maya W.
23:24 Dec 20, 2020

I'm not super proud of this one, so please be honest in the comments! I'd really appreciate feedback. Thank you! Also, 25 submissions? 1,230 karma points? 160 followers? Yay me! I know that's not that much here but I'm still super proud of myself, and I can't wait to continue writing here :).

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Hello Maya! You should be proud of this story! I mean...it's just amazing! Also, the title is just beautiful! How did you come up with the title for this one? You deserve a round of applause! :)

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Maya W.
20:08 Dec 21, 2020

Thank you! I just used part of the quote at the beginning, which I thought fit the story well. Also, the storms sorta ties in with the fire.

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Exactly! The storm does kind of connect with the fire! Also, the quote at the beginning was beautiful! It really did fit the story perfectly! :)

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Maya W.
20:35 Dec 21, 2020

Yup! Thanks!

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Lauren Sarney
19:52 Jan 14, 2021

Ah this was so interesting! I felt hooked from the first line all the way to the very end, and when I read that last line I wanted more. Great job!

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Maya W.
19:54 Jan 14, 2021

Thank you, Lauren! Would you mind checking out some of my other stories?

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Lauren Sarney
20:00 Jan 14, 2021

Sure, will do :)

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Maya W.
20:20 Jan 14, 2021

Awesome! I'm working on my novella right now, but I'll read yours, too. :)

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Yolanda Wu
23:28 Dec 27, 2020

Okay, you had my attention at those first two lines from I Dreamed a Dream, because I love Les Mis so much. But anyway, this was such a unique story with an interesting plot-line, don't even know how you came up with this, but it was amazing! The idea of all these different people reflect Colette in some way was so intriguing, and watching how each of their lives played out. The whole connection to the cathedral and how everything was linked together was just so well done. And of course, your writing is amazing as usual. :)

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Maya W.
23:57 Dec 27, 2020

Thank you so much! Yeah, this came to me pretty randomly. I just sorta started thinking about what I could do that would be out of the box, and I was like reincarnation! Genius!

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Yolanda Wu
00:13 Dec 28, 2020

I loved how you incorporated all her different lives!

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Hi Maya! Wow, amazing story! One of my favorites this week:) The title is soo unique. All your stories are so touching! Loved the idea of using Colette's past time proposals and how she felt. Great work:)

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Maya W.
22:55 Dec 23, 2020

Thank you so much! Yeah, I couldn't think of any other creative ideas, so I ended up just rolling with it!

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Of course! And great work!

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Maya W.
23:42 Dec 23, 2020

Would you mind reading some of my other stories? This one particularly isn't one I'm super proud of. Of course, if you want me to read more of yours, I will!

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Sure thing. I'll check them out soon. I'm working on a story right now so I'll tell you when I'm done. And if you want to check out my stories on Wattpad you're welcome to. Details in my bio.

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Maya W.
23:53 Dec 23, 2020

I'm not really on wattpad anymore, but I might check them out if I can get around to it!

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15:07 Dec 28, 2020

I like the notes that hint a the time period, and the description of the apartment was really good. Love the ending, ad how everything she does (make breakfast) ties in to her personal experiences and love attempts. I also wrote for this prompt, and it turned out as a comical fantasy about a rebellious princess and five stupid suitors. This story is amazing, You did great on it!

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Maya W.
15:13 Dec 28, 2020

Thank you! I'll check out your story when I have the time, it sounds cool!

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15:14 Dec 28, 2020

:)

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Hi Maya! New story out!

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Maya W.
23:04 Dec 26, 2020

Thank you, I'll get to reading it soon!

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Kristin Neubauer
14:58 Dec 26, 2020

I liked this, Maya! It felt mystical and I liked the allusion to Les Mis. Beautifully written and a really creative approach to the prompt. Well done!

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Maya W.
19:14 Dec 26, 2020

Thank you!

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Black Raven
01:54 Dec 25, 2020

Loved it! Really nice! I was actually thinking of writing something for this one but couldn't come with any good ideas so decided to start with another one. You really proved me wrong there. The story is just in a whole other level.

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Maya W.
02:29 Dec 25, 2020

Thank you!

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Andrew Krey
13:17 Dec 21, 2020

I really liked the premise of your story, it was a very intelligent take on the prompt. This prompt was a difficult one, and I think you pulled it off well. Although in terms of feedback, I did find it confusing at times on which pair linked to who; some of the names were slightly gender neutral to me, so I feel making the names more obvious would help this, as it is difficult to create so many distinct characters with only 3000 words. Alternatively, names common of the era, and not common now could help too. I really liked the ending - b...

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Maya W.
14:06 Dec 21, 2020

Hello! Thanks for the follow and the feedback! I mostly just used names I liked, though I can see why it could be confusing with so many characters. Often I'll name my characters based on their personalities, and that's pretty much what I did here. If you have any name change suggestions, I'd love to hear them, though!

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Andrew Krey
14:30 Dec 21, 2020

You're welcome. It was always going to be difficult with all those characters. As for names, anything specific I suppose, maybe biblical names for the older lives, or famous names through French history depending on the era you want to set the lives.

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Maya W.
14:34 Dec 21, 2020

I thought about doing that, but I didn't want people to think they actually were the famous people. We'll see what I end up doing - if there are any particular names you want me to do I'll implement those! Also, would you mind checking out some of my other stories here if you have the time?

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Andrew Krey
14:41 Dec 21, 2020

Well I think in most periods of time, people name their children after famous people, so it would still work, just as long as the other half isn't also the same as the famous pairing. I'll add them to my reading list :)

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Maya W.
14:50 Dec 21, 2020

Thank you! Yeah, this isn't one of my best stories, lol.

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09:18 Dec 21, 2020

Before I go into feedback, can I just say how admirable your dedication to writing is? Almost every week you have at least 1 story out, it’s so impressive! Do you have any tips on how to keep a structured writing routine, because finding time to write is something I struggle with a lot. Also if anyone else happens to read this comment then any advice would be greatly appreciated :) About the story, I do like the concept of Colette being five different people—the characters must have been so fun to write! My personal favorite was Azelie, I l...

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Maya W.
14:02 Dec 21, 2020

Thanks so much, Imaan! Yeah, I really like writing, lol. I think it's important at least for me to get at least one story out because it really helps me balance everything else in my life as well as being something that I can work on when I'm bored in quarantine, lol. They're not always good, but it helps me stay on schedule. As to the writing itself, I tried to make the stream of conscience thing a bit more grounded with the eggs, but maybe it didn't work. And honestly I have no idea how Colette remembers her dreams. They are magic dreams, ...

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21:30 Dec 21, 2020

Thanks for the tips! Yeah I did notice that you came back to the present and talked about her making breakfast, it was interesting!

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