Short Story – Life’s Riverbed (By Haidji)

Life’s Riverbed

Square Table.

2 persons, 4 places.

One for the handbags; one empty place.

The plate was in front of Sophie.

Marianne was sitting in front of her, speaking so much that Sophie could not hear it anymore:

“Why you don’t move to Tokyo?  There you could learn Japanese and work as a teacher.  Or you could move to France, learn French and work as a teacher too.  Or stay where you are, but work as a teacher in a school.  Any school.  But what you do, this what you do now, will bring you nowhere.  It is not even a street with an ending.  It is not a path anymore.  The world doesn’t need creators, we already have everything we need in this world.”

Sophia was looking at her plate…

Looking at the food on her plate.

It was like the kind of thing where you need more calories to chew and swallow, than the calories that the food itself contains.

Like Marianne’s words.

No wonder that Sophie was tired.  It was exhausting.

Sophie had her own small atelier, where she made custom dresses.  She thought about each one of her little growing pallet of clients.

After many years, Marianne decided to visit her, and Sophie was anxious about showing her the new collection.

Sophie’s small pallet of clients was happy.

And this made her happy, too.  Growing step by step with her own business, she was happy.

She already had a friend to speak with about it, Lidia.

Lidia was an art student who liked to spend her free time in Sophie’s atelier, speaking about fashion and ideas.  They helped each other in the past and Lidia used to say that they were like ‘sisters in art’.

Lidia rented a room to use as her own painting atelier, in the same building, and they liked to speak about art and fashion, a lot.  And, to see each other’s work.

Sophie did not know why she accepted this lunch invitation from Marianne, after spending all morning hearing the same advice from her, about her atelier.

For lunch:  Fancy Place, Fancy People, so Sophie chose her most beautiful dress.  Made by her own hands.  Persons turned to look at her, when she passed by, but Marianne did not notice that.

Sophie had brushed her hair 100 times, to have it bright and beautiful.

While she was trying to eat, her sister Marianne continued vomiting her world-view all over her.

Which made chewing her food even more difficult.

Life seemed to be just a letter, or a few words, in the metaphor of the Earth’s biography.

The Earth has a biography, what we see is a just a metaphor of it, and human life seemed to be just a small, minimal, part of this metaphor.

Sophie, hearing Marianne’s words, felt as would she be just a letter in the alphabet of a foreign language that no one seems to speak anymore.

With her life, just a few words in the metaphor of the Earth’s biography.  Just a small part of it.

She wanted to speak about her ideas, and to have the approval and admiration of her sister.  The love of her sister.  Maybe her sister would like to wear one of her new creations?

The same sister that used to brush her hair and dress her like a princess.

The same sister that showed her how to make a dress for a doll.  The same sister who explained to her that dresses were not made always in series by machines, but that they were creations.

But, with the first dress she wanted to show Marianne this morning, the answer was:  “I know your dresses already.”

As would they all be the same, since she made the first dress for a doll when she was 6 years old, under her sister’s advice.

And now, the same advice again…at lunchtime.

It was exhausting.  Marianne had changed.  Life changed her.

Marianne had become dreamless.

Sophie ordered water.

Thirsty, because she needed water to be able to cleanse the words vomited all over her.

Close your eyes, breathe deep, drink the water.

The water brought her to a fountain, where she could see the water spreading out of the earth, into a river.  She could see the people in a small village, somewhere in Northern Italy, bringing bottles for the water. Sophie could feel the water all the way from the fountain to the restaurant table, as would the water be flowing through human hands, as if they were the riverbeds from the fountain to the restaurant table.

Sophie smiled.

Seeing the smile, Marianne thought that Sophie had finally agreed with her words.

But Marianne’s words, and even her image, disappeared for Sophie for a while.

The vision of the riverbed made by nature and the riverbed made by human hands to transport the water, made Sophie imagine a beautiful dress made by the water, always flowing in different riverbeds.  Never stopping, it was now flowing inside of her.

Sophie took a fountain pen from her bag and made a drawing on a napkin.

Exactly in the same moment her sister was telling her about how important it would be if she would move to Tokyo, learn Japanese and be a teacher.  A teacher for kids.  Kids who would like to make doll dresses with her.

“Yes, it would be nice to make dresses with kids”, said Sophie, but I like to make dresses for kids, for adults, for all persons.  I like to create things.”

“There are already too many designers in the world.  You will not make it.”  And Marianne spent her time speaking about other designers and their creations.  And about the next dress that she would buy from a certain designer.

“It was nice that you tried, but it did not work out.

You will never get it.  You will never be successful.  It is too hard.  You should give up.  I don’t know why you insist.  There are already too many dresses in the world.  And yours will not be better.  I myself have lots of dresses, made by the most famous designers in the world.”

It was…painful…for Sophie.

Persons don’t suffer because they are paying for their sins, or because they need to learn lessons.

Persons suffer to understand other persons’ suffering in the world.  To be able to help, and to really be there for someone else.

It is called Compassion.

This was what she could feel at this moment.



Compassion for dreamless persons.  Compassion for someone who sees the world as a grey frozen wasteland and gave up his or her dream to change it.

Compassion was a feeling that Marianne would never know, because she never went through the pain of being a creator.  She had given up before she even felt the pain of creation.

“Listen, Sophie, You need to wake up and be realistic.”

Then, a woman from a table next to them came by, and asked Sophie:
“Sorry if I’m interrupting your lunch, but I saw you entering the restaurant, your dress is so beautiful, where did you get it?  Where can I find one like that?”

Sophie smiled and gave her business card to the woman, who also saw Sophie’s drawing of the water dress on the table.  The woman scheduled an appointment with Sophie.  “I want to order that water dress, is it possible, maybe?”

After the woman was gone, Marianne said:

“It is one woman and one dress…this will not make it.  You should think about Tokyo and the kids’ school.”

It was time for Marianne to take the train and go.

Sophie brought her to the train station.

She had a package with a dress that she had made for Marianne, ready to give it to her.  She decided not to do it.  Marianne would not wear it.

The package was inside of her bag.  She would give it to Lidia, instead.  Lidia would wear it.

“Take care of yourself, Sophie. ”

“I will, Marianne, don’t worry, I will…”

And she continued the sentence inside of her mind:

“…And I will go back to my atelier and work.”


Our life is just a letter, or a few words, in the metaphor of the Earth’s biography.

But even a letter in the alphabet of a lost foreign language, which you never heard about, is part of the language.

The world speaks all languages that exist inside the human soul, and a few more, too.  These few more can seem to be strange or out of place…but they are all a very important part of the Earth’s biography.

They keep the Earth moving and alive, bringing to the surface the air that the Earth breathes.

Making the Earth flow, inside of Life’s Riverbed.


Author Bio: Haidji

Writer, abstract artist, painter, designer? name describes me.