Serene Piety

Southgate snow London

Published in OZIP Magazine as a Christmas special. The theme was “serendipity”, hence the title.

This Christmas, too, he would visit his good old friend. A bouquet of white lilies in his hand, he treaded softly on the icy cobbles—as if treading on someone’s dreams1.

Big Ben struck twelve. He walked into the gates, onto a pathway surrounded by green grass—buried under thick snow. Passing a statue of an angel, he felt as if in some heavenly garden.

He always had to smile whenever he recalled how they had met; he had found her notebook on the street, covered in snow—it had been snowing then, just like today.

If found, please return to… Lucrezia, is it an Italian name? Certainly not English… and then, her address; Is this fate? Some fortunate accident taking me—finally—to my soulmate?

When he arrived at the address, he was met by an old woman.

“I found this.”

“Ah, thank you. Come in… Fancy some tea?”

“Yes. Very much.”

As she went into the kitchen he looked around. His eyes fell upon a photograph of a beautiful young woman about his own age.

“Is this your daughter? She’s very beautiful.”

“No, I have no children. That was me, many decades ago.”

Pity. Then the man next to her must be…

“My husband. He… died.”

Her eyes wandered outside the window.

“I’m sorry.”


She handed him his tea. Did her hands tremble?

He took a sip and listened to her stories; how she had met her husband in Italy; how he had introduced her to Shakespeare; how he had changed after the war; how he died…

It was curious how two strangers could meet, share their most intimate secrets over a cup of tea—feeling strong affection for each other. For him, it was certainly much better than sitting alone in his apartment.

So he had spent that Christmas with her. And every other after.

He was now close to where she was, the bouquet of white lilies still in his hand. Ah, there she is, as beautiful and peaceful as ever; though it has been a year since I was here.

“Hi Rezia. Brought you some flowers.”

He wiped the snow off the headstone.

Here lies

Lucrezia Warren Smith2

189_ – 19__

“Fear no more the heat of the sun;
nor the furious winter’s rages3.”

He laid the lilies down and realized he missed her. Immensely.

“Merry Christmas, old friend.”

1 W. B. Yeats, He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven (1898). Originally: “Tread softly because you tread on my dreams”.
2 A character in Virginia Woolf’s novel, Mrs. Dalloway.
3 This line, from William Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, was resounded by Clarissa Dalloway and Septimus Warren Smith in Mrs. Dalloway.

Sky Sairyou
Antwerp, Belgium


5 thoughts on “Serene Piety

    • Hi Edwin. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      I appreciate your question. Believe me, I’ve thought about it myself for a long time. I did it on purpose, to honor Virginia Woolf’s intention for Lucrezia—a character in her novel, “Mrs. Dalloway”, which is set in June, 1923. From the novel we know that she’s twenty-four years old. So I suppose I could (or should) have written 1899. I will edit this later, probably. [EDIT: I forgot one thing: When I wrote this I actually calculated when she could have been born. And I found that she could have been born in either 1898 or 1899. So that’s one reason why I left it blank there.]

      However, since the events in the novel happen over the course of one day, it’s quite impossible to know what happens to Lucrezia afterwards. So you could say that this short story is a tribute to Virginia Woolf. Because I will never know what she intended for Lucrezia in her mind, this is just one possible interpretation; one possible outcome of her story.

      Also, so that readers can imagine freely how old the two characters in this short story could be. When readers catch themselves thinking and tap into their own imagination, it makes the experience much more personal, don’t you think?

      That’s why I left it blank.

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