No Time for Patience

"Patience on a Monument Smiling at Grief" by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope.

“And with a green and yellow melancholy,
She sat like patience on a monument,
Smiling at grief.”

“51 years, nine months, and four days.”

“What? That can’t be right! Let me see…”

Helen handed her the book. “It’s right. Look, see? Here.” She pointed with her long, bony finger. Patience moved her lips as she read the offending passage for herself. There was no mistaking it: the potion would have to age for precisely 51 years, nine months, and four days before it could be put to use. She threw the book at the cat who was slinking around Helen’s baseboards. It yowled piteously and hid behind a tottering stack of books and papers.

“Hey! Be careful!” cried Helen. “That book is ancient!” She jumped from her seat at the warped wooden table and retrieved the book, cradling it in her arms like a wounded child. The cat hissed when she came near. She aimed a kick at it but missed, managing instead to topple the stack of books. The cat took off like a streak up the shadowed stairwell where it remained out of sight for the rest of the afternoon.

“What do we do now?” Patience sulked. “We don’t have 52 years to wait.”

“51 years, nine months, and four days.”

“Close enough,” Patience growled.

The two women sat in silence. The kettle began to whistle. Helen rose from the table once more and shuffled about the cramped space preparing their afternoon tea. She decided on chamomile–Patience might benefit from its calming effects. “I suppose we’ll just have to keep looking,” she said, half hoping she wouldn’t be heard. “We found this potion. Surely there must be another.”

“There is no other.” Patience drew in a short, sharp breath and released it slowly. “You know this as well as I do, Helen.”

She put down the kettle and turned. Patience was sitting with her head against the wall and her eyes closed. She suddenly looked so small and frail. It frightened her. She had always known that Patience was small, but her personality made her huge. One could only think of her as a giantess in spite of the physical evidence to the contrary. “Oh, Patience!” she exclaimed. “Why did you do it? You knew he was no good. He was wicked and traitorous! He stole all of your best magic and left you in this deplorable state of… of… mortality!” She spit the last word out like poison.

Patience sighed. “You’re right, of course,” she said. “I never should have taken him as my pupil. I knew it, even then, but I was helpless around him, hopeless! I did everything wrong, and now I’m going to die as a result of my own stupidity. But, you know something, Helen?”

Helen turned her back so her tears could fall unseen. “What?” she asked.

“The rightness eclipsed every mistake made along the way.”



This is me stepping completely outside my comfort zone and writing a small bit of fiction. I wrote it for, like, public consumption and everything.

There are rules that you have to follow and prompts and at first I didn’t think I could do it, but I did, and maybe they’ll accept me over on the speakeasy grid. We shall see. Either way, it was fun, and I’m glad I took a chance on something new. πŸ™‚

54 thoughts on “No Time for Patience

  1. I like what you came up with here! I love the irony that the witch’s name is Patience, but she’s anything but (what a bummer to find the potion needed to sit for nearly 52 years. You’d have to be a saint (a young one) to have patience to wait that long πŸ™‚


    • No kidding! Poor Patience. She is outta time and outta luck. Of course, if she still had her mortality, 52 years would be a walk in the park. But then she wouldn’t need the potion, so there you go.

      Incidentally, I named her and wrote her story, THEN found the picture. I wish I could say I was cultured enough to be aware of the painting beforehand, but ALAS! ‘Tis not true.


  2. I’m really glad you stepped out of your comfort zone – this is a great story! I love that her name is Patience, yet she’s anything but in this story. Fabulous dialogue and an intriguing plot. I’d would love to know how it all turns out. πŸ™‚


  3. Ah, the curse of mortality! Yet, it gives us the incentive to live in every way possible and, if one can die without regret, then it was all well worth it. I think Patience realized that at the end. (: I enjoyed the dialogue between the two.


  4. I love a piece that talks about how sometimes our destiny has a mind of its own. I actually want to believe that everything does happen for a reason, even if something shitty then happens because of it.

    and every line of this was just lyrical and flowed so well I was caught up and sitting on the edge of this very uncomfortable chair.

    nice work in the fiction world my new friend.


    • Wow. Thank you *so* much, Kir.

      I’ve never had the confidence to try something like this, let alone put it out there for other people to read. I cannot tell you how much your warm comments mean to me. Thank you, again. πŸ˜€


  5. I like the measure dialogue and attention to blocking between the two. There’s a great pace to this. And the prompt is very well used.


    • Thanks, Ann! patience has always been a force to be reckoned with. Now forces are reckoning with her. She might just have a few tricks left up her sleev, though. πŸ˜‰


  6. Poor Patience!If only she had not got swept away by her young human pupil’s charms and paid more attention-sigh!What love makes even a witch do,eh?lol!Enjoyed your take on the prompt-original and fun πŸ™‚


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  8. I love that the least patient character in the story, is named Patience. I love all the little details: the cat hiding behind the books, the warped table. You brought out that they witches so slowly, so carefully. I love that. It all flowed so smoothly, this was a joy to read. Excellent job and congratulations on the win!


  9. Wow. If this is what happens when you step out of your comfort zone, well, you should do it more often. I loved every word of this. The bit about the cat was a brilliant little detail to add. (“… where it remained out of sight for the rest of the afternoon.”) It lent a sense of reality to an otherwise fantastical piece. And the prompt sentence at the end felt natural, unforced – that can be the hardest part, sometimes! Great job, and congrats!


    • Thank you so much, Christine! I admit I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by all of this. I also admit that I have fallen in love with Patience and Helen (and even the nameless cat). I love them so much that I’m thinking about telling the rest of their story. I think these two have more to say. πŸ˜€


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  11. This is so well done. It flows easily and believably(even though it’s a work of fantasy fiction). That’s really difficult to do, and you pulled it off beautifully. And like Christine said, your use of the prompt sentence was smooth and seamless. Nicely done. Congratulations on your Speakeasy win! Karen


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