May 1, 2012 Fiction










The Silence in my Cell


Stella Pierides



There are two thousand souls on the Holy Mountain; all male. Most of us lead the monastic life, a quiet, uneventful existence, surviving only on bread, water and silence. To protect this way of life we have forbidden women to enter our monasteries. Their presence distracts and slows the path to spiritual enlightenment.


I am an icon painter. My work is treasured here and my routine leaves me contented and spiritually uplifted. I have only one sin. I will neither confess, nor indulge in my telling more than is necessary.


The cool tiles in my cell are oases for my feet. Focusing on the sensations, I take five measured steps forward, five back : first the heel then the arch, then the ball of the foot, the toes, all in a rolling movement. the next foor forward. May God forgive me for taking so much sensual pleasure.


During these meditative journeys, I picture a landscape of coconut forests fringing sapphire seas, long white beaches, and distant horizons. Balancing on the cool tiles, I feel slithering seaweed dangling from my legs, tiny fish tickling my toes. Waves breaking around my feet explode in sparkling fireworks and a joy that bursts and bounces against the walls of my skull. Until the dove that nests on my windowsill taps upon the pane and I believe he is sent to bring me back. Then the silence returns and all is as it should be.


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  1. michael j. solender May 13, at 21:30

    mr. marcus always captures the moment and here he's done that and then some including before and after. it is the fine and toothsome piece that takes you right there with its immediacy and marcus is the unmitigated master of this high artform. bravo sir.

    • Marcus Speh July 27, at 15:50

      michael, what a great comment and mini-review, thank you so much, mate! i hope summer is treating you well!

  2. Stella Pierides May 03, at 13:56

    Marcus, as an unclassified European, I sympathize with the writer in Blunderbuss. Lovely stuff in all three here – including the swearing Paradise!

  3. Marcus Speh May 01, at 19:26

    Beautiful, Stella—coincidentally, I've just begun to read Tolstoy's "Resurrection", so the mindset that allows for silence and longs for a spiritual journey is all mine, too.

    • Stella Pierides May 02, at 20:15

      Marcus, thanks! I'd love to read this too! Now that you mention it, I will... I've read Kazantzakis' Fratricides... a different kind of monastic life alltogether!

  4. Chris May 01, at 17:06

    Nancy, wow, I was thinking I might have to try this next time a migraine strikes, but what a price to pay for a bit of mental rest! Love how this piece keeps building. The narrative kept pulling me along, but I had no idea of where it was taking me.

  5. Chris May 01, at 17:00

    Stella, this monk's 'sin' is a blessing. Were the other monks to know, they would envy him his escape,his ability to immerse himself in such a magnificent meditation. Your description of his imaginings is so vivid. I can just feel that seaweed, and those nibbling fishes. Great piece!

    • Stella Pierides May 02, at 20:09

      Chris, thanks so much! Yes, it is an escape. Though, the other monks may have their own ways of escaping too... Imagine how many stories this would make...

  6. Chris May 01, at 16:54

    Marcus, you had me from the first line, with the billboard incitement. Love how the tourist begins with a sort of unsure brazenness,the middle section moves into the natural world of Texas, and then comes the bit of cultural discomfort in the final section. The last line is a gem. This piece reads like a road trip.


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