Friday, 1 June 2012


Mags’ favourite author was F. Scott Fitzgerald. She wanted a life full of glittering parties and scandal – waking each morning to days sewn around the edges with sequins. Hours would be measured by the number of diamond necklaces around her neck and it would be so dazzling that if the sun hit her she would refract, scattering rainbows like petals.

Instead, she was a check-out girl in a yellow fleece and brown trousers. The shabby uniform was a test, a trial to endure for six hours of the day, four days a week, while she served customers. “Would you like a bag with that? Here’s your receipt. Have a nice day”.
 The other three days were owned by her. They were smothered in silk robes recovered from skips, and velvet dresses bought in jumble sales. A cheap wardrobe from IKEA was filled with metallic fabrics and sleek satins. She wore lurex, beading, pailettes, shiny pleats – layering bronze and pewter shades until her eyes hurt. Then she walked in the sunshine, kicking through afternoon flowers alone.  

She spread jewels across every surface, draping them at the end of her bed and piling windowsills with glitter. To walk through her rooms was to hold ones breath, for fear of dislodging a mound of paste brooches or glass rings. The sparkle was a veneer though – any professional would note that the bracelets she clasped shut on her wrists were nothing more than costume jewellery.
It was habit that had begun in Mags’ early teens. Go to the shops, admire the market stall, slip the beads up her sleeve and wander away sedately. She’d felt the hidden items twinkling, and a place somewhere between her ribs had flickered with fear. But she justified these small liberties – told herself that they would not be missed, and were of little value. 'It was a cameo with a ‘£2.50’ label on it, not a Faberge egg'. Tiffany’s and De Beers and the other shops that lined Bond Street were mere fancies. She might occasionally visit a jewellery auction, but only to glimpse the lives of those who could afford Indian emeralds and filigree tiaras. She always assumed the part of course, hidden behind a smart black dress and a shawl, hair twisted and pinned with a starburst slide: like today. 

Mags didn’t even meant to take the necklaces. An auction assistant handed them to her - to “take a closer look at, ma’am” – and then lost focus, listening to the conversation of an attractive colleague. Mags could feel the cold weight in her hands, the way her translucent shawl was slipping down her arms. It was quarter to twelve. No one was looking at her, or listening to the urgent tick of the carriage clock on the next table. She snapped her fingers closed and took three long steps. No shouts or stares. One foot in front of another, shoulders held back, she walked towards the staff doors.

Two hours later, lying on a hillside, she fizzed. Blue lapis lazuli beads were strung around and around alongside pearls, silver and crystal and her sash was pinned by a brooch. The afternoon was full of yellow fields and dandelion clocks. Oh, to fly like the grating rooks or crows darting above her head. A magpie circled. One for sorrow. Another joined it. Two for joy. She stood up – the heat on her face replaced by a breeze. It stirred the edges of her shawl so that light fell through it. She raised a hand. The fabric swelled like water.

Tomorrow morning she would be slumped behind tills, jewellery replaced with the 10p glint of change, or perhaps a two-pound coin; concentric circles of silver and gold in her palm. For now, though, she was here: this day, this hour, this moment. The breeze snagged her shawl again. The necklaces were heavy around her neck, crystals cold on skin. A jay flashed against the blue. Two buzzards hovered. Sparrows swung in and out of sight. Mags was tethered by routines; responsibility caged her. She felt the next few weeks pushing towards her, pulling at her skirt and tangling her hair. Now the jewels were chains. Why had she done it? What had she risked for a handful of glitter? No, no, better to stay here and not to think about it. Or maybe better to flee. Her white wings were eager in the wind. Birds called. With a run and a jump she took off - arms quivering as fabric turned to feathers. A single magpie climbed the sky, joining the others. Five for silver turned to six for gold and they soared together across the clouds. 

'Magpie' - story by Rosalind Jana. Photos by Rosalind Jana. 
 Model - the always elegant Ellen.
 Clothes: all charity shopped or from flea markets. Costume jewellery: family hand-me-downs or   charity shopped.


Closet Fashionista said...

wowza!!! I loved that!! Why are you so talented, haha...the photos and story are amazing as always :D

Nicoleta_B said...

Such an intresting great blog! Lot's of inspiration for myself!

Whould u like to follow each others blog to keep in touch this way?

Lots of hugs,

Nicoleta_B said...

Such an intresting great blog! Lot's of inspiration for myself!

Whould u like to follow each others blog to keep in touch this way?

Lots of hugs,

Melanie said...

As I said before, your posts are like art. Your picture story is magic - but the photos and text could each stand alone.

Bella Q said...

Holy crap, Roz, did you write this? Amazing. Amazing. Amazing.

SabinePsynopsis said...

What a wonderful story. I really felt for Mag and her shining dreams... and I love the black/white photo! xoxo

On The Fence said...

Roz, you are truly something else! And it just so happens that I read the first 25 pages of Tender is the Night just this morning. You give that dearly departed author a run for his money! If alive, he would surely be head over heels for you.

Katrina said...

Wow- brilliant! And sounds so much like me... Everything is perfect)


Willow said...

Beautiful photos (I love that first one.) You're a wonderful writer and it shows in all your posts, I loved the story and the way you described her love of the jewellery. That field and view is so stunning! I imagine that shoot would have been very fun to do. I love behind the camera shoots, my most recent post is an Alice in Wonderland shoot I did with my beautiful god sister - I find it so much fun when I get to be the one taking photos, the only problem is deciding which photos to post!

Mikazuki said...

That's wonderful!

The Foolish Aesthete said...

Glorious photographs (especially that monochrome -- looks like double exposure) and jewelled words. If we were magpies hoarding words instead of glitter, we would be stashing all yours up in our secret nests. Beautiful location too with all the golden wildflowers. -- J xxxx

The Cat Who Walked by Herself said...

Most eksillent eet eez.
ze cat who walked by herself

The Cat Who Walked by Herself said...

Rather sad too

Fashionistable said...

Beautifully told. I was wondering where she was going. Love how you have illustrated your story too. Hope you had a good time in Wales. Xxxx

Leticia said...

Hi! I just know your blog is great. Already have a new follower. I invite you to visit my blog and if you like would be happy to follow me.

A big hug

Izzy/Bella said...

I love intense, short stories-- flash fiction is my new obsession. I loved it! Especially the language to describe the drab uniform compared with the sparkling, dazzling clothes in her wardrobe. You have to read Jean Rhys's short short "Illusion" if you haven't already. I think you'd love it. This story is unique but made me think of the other. You'll see why :)

Stephanie Hoff Clayton said...

Wonderful, Roz...the writing, the imagery. Amazing!

Pull Your Socks Up! said...

Poor dear Mags, the dreary weight of dull routine was what destroyed her wasn't it? What a beautiful tale - thank you for sharing it xxxx

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