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  • Writer's picturecherylmurfin

The Day Cyrano de Bergerac Left Me

Not a lot of walking this week. Instead, I've been sitting in the same chair for most of each day being trained as a facilitator in the Amherst Writers & Artists writing workshop method. My behind is numb and my legs are itching to roll but what a wonderful week of inspiration!

The AWA method is grounded in this belief: if you pick up a pen and set it to paper, if you open a computer and write on an open page, you are a writer. A writer is someone who writes.

I am looking forward to facilitating this powerful method in groups and workshops in the near future. I hope, if you have words itching to get out, you'll join me. Stay tuned here or check in now and then on the Compass Writers page at

A few short/flash fiction pieces written during a glorious week of learning, dreaming, and writing.


Cyrano in Pieces

The day Cyrano de Bergerac left her was one of the saddest days of her life.

The statue of Cyrano called out to his beloved Roxanne from the marble mantle of my grandparents home for decades. With his ruby red robe dotted with gold dust stars, his billowing shirt of canary and mustard yellow, and a dramatically protruding proboscis, he was the picture of 17th century romance; a Majolica treasure baked and painted under a hot Sicilian sun. The multi-colored plume in his cavalier hat was so detailed as to seem freshly plucked from an (oddly) multi-colored ostrich.

Her childhood was filled with Cyrano. She thought the stories she made up were just as good as the play written in the 20th century by Edmond Rostand that her nearly blind great-grandmother read dramatically from behind glasses thicker than Coke bottle bottoms. She was pretty sure her grandmother knew the play by heart.

When her father and aunts and uncles invited the grandchildren to take one item from the house to remember their grandparents by, she didn’t have to look into boxes or at the long dinner table arrayed with so much kitsch.

She packed Cyrano in bubble wrap, a liaison sure to last a lifetime.

After the divorce, she didn’t allow the movers to pack him. She swathed him in her purple velvet coat and personally carried Cyrano across the threshold of her new studio apartment, a little like a bride on her wedding day. The irony was not lost on her.

She didn’t see the lip of the doorway that sent Cyrano flying, like an off-course rocket, out of her hands and into the wall. Unable to move, she stood speechless amid the shattered wreckage. The flow of tears that followed was fierce and fast and yet it could not carry the weight of loss.

She dug the bottle of Superglue out of a box marked “kitchen” and gently laid the pieces of Cyrano out across the table, a mourner set on bringing him back. But five minutes into staring at the fragile fractures and clay dust, she dropped the glue back in the box.

Some things, she understood, you can’t fix. No amount of gluing or praying will resurrect them.

Childhood memories are one of those things. Broken marriages. A perfect ceramic piece of her heart molded and glazed on an island off the coast of Italy.


The Package

The box arrived in the mail three days after it was posted, small and square and heavy. It thumped when she shook it. She laughed at the missing return address. She recognized his handwriting.

She set it on the table, not sure if opening it would reopen that yearning in her heart, that desire to return to a broken thing with the belief that she could fix it.

Curiosity being stronger than self-preservation, she used a kitchen knife to cut the through the cellophane packing tape. Inside she found a loaf of bread wrapped in plastic.

Its crust was a rich molasses brown and as she lifted the burnished mound to her nose a mix of cumin, caraway, and walnut tickled memories of morning toast and New York Times crossword exchanges across an oakwood breakfast table.

She smiled then, noticing the heart-shaped score in the center of the bread.

The card said “I Loaf You.”

Her heart did, indeed, fly open.


Good old-fashioned hot metal text layout!

Forward and Back

“Option, Shift, Dash,” he said.

“What?” she said back.

“That's the shortcut to the em-dash. You don’t need to hit the hyphen twice, and besides it doesn’t look right.”

This is a foreign language, she thought, and she hated him for speaking it. Always butting in as her fingers flew across the keyboard using all its old-fashioned ways, taking the long way, backing up letters one by one or saving images to her desktop where she knew she could find them.

“You know you can actually organize those in Dropbox,” he told her. No tone of contempt in his voice, but, nonetheless, she felt it there like a flashing red neon sign. Although he did not say it, and she knew he didn’t think it, the sign read “You Idiot.”

She would never speak this language. It wasn’t a country she wanted to visit. She liked the old country, its stone buildings and rutted roads, its wide expanses of space and time. Old-fashioned paste-up in a magazine production office.

“Things are always moving forward,” he said, almost under his breath. But not quite.

“I’m comfortable back here,” she said, definitely not under her breath.

She reached for the dictionary. The hardbound one, not the one on Google, and looked up the word to be sure she spelled it right. She planned to print it out and tape it to her screen,

She planned to embrace that word like a lover.



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