The lady who lives in Porta Mare

No one has ever seen the lady who lives in Porta Mare step outside the gates. She isn’t even old, early thirties if that. If you’re lucky you can catch a glimpse of her pruning the roses in a silk skirt and wide-brimmed black hat, or else standing on the third-floor balcony watching the waves. Her skin pale and watery, like skimmed milk.

People say she’s made a deal with the devil. But what kind of deal leaves you trapped in a house with no other soul for company? And such a beautiful house too. It’s wasted on her.

PHOTO PROMPT © Ronda Del Boccio


This piece was written for the Friday Fictioneers hosted by the lovely Rochelle Wisoff-Fields – Addicted to Purple.

Each week a photo prompt is given and the challenge is write a flash fiction piece of no more than one hundred words.

Find other Friday Fictioneer stories here.

Author: Jennifer Kennedy

Mother, teacher and writer. I love all my jobs but writing holds a special place in my heart. I hope you enjoy reading my short stories as much as I enjoy writing them!

46 thoughts on “The lady who lives in Porta Mare”

  1. neilmacdon – I have published stories in several magazine, including Structo and Gold Dust. I am the author of five books about Latin America and the Caribbean, and most recently Cautionary Tales for Development Folk, a collection of humorous and instructive stories drawn from a career in international aid. I have had a varied working career including science, journalism and publishing until I settled into the aid world. He is now turning to fiction writing full time, and have been serving an apprenticeship to the craft. I was born in Scotland, raised in Jamaica, and have lived and worked in England, the US and South Africa. I now live in a cottage in Surrey, England together with my wife and the obligatory cat and dog.
    neilmacdon says:

    I liked this portrait of the lady

  2. James McEwan – I enjoy writing short stories as they take a concentrated discipline to write. I also like reading a well crafted piece that give provide pleasure through the words. I am the author of two short story collections, The Case of the Mahjong Dragon and The Listener. I have also published on CafeLit, Literally Stories and Fiction on the Web. My aim as a writer is to entertain and captivate readers with enjoyable moments of escapism in an imaginary world. Read my Flash Fiction on my site: Fiction illuminates the truth.
    James McEwan says:

    I love the mystery in this. A woman lives alone perhaps she suffers agoraphobia, perhaps she is mourning life’s disappointments. No one understands, it is not normal in their minds (whatever that is), why is she a reclusive? The curiosity generates unfounded stories and ideas about who she is, and concludes that she is undeserving. For me this story captures the human nature of the nosey neighbours who need to know all about you or else they will make it up.
    Enjoyed reading this.

    1. Thank you so much James! I’m so glad you found this interesting as it’s the seed of an idea for a much longer piece I’ve just started working on. 🙂

  3. Sandra – I used to cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and wrote fiction and poetry. Now I live on the beautiful Dorset coast, enjoying the luxury of being able to have a cat, cultivating an extensive garden and getting involved in the community. I still write fiction, but only when the spirit moves me - which isn't as often as before. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
    Sandra says:

    A woman of mystery. I loved your description of her.

  4. Iain Kelly – Canonbie Ave, East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire G74 4, UK – 41 year old writer, avid film viewer and book reader, employed in the media industry as a television editor.
    Iain Kelly says:

    Love the mystery that is left to ponder – what is the story of the Lady, and why does she hide away in her house? Nice one.

  5. James Pyles – James Pyles is a published Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror author as well as the Technical Writer for a large, diversified business in the Northwest. He currently has over 30 short stories published in various anthologies and periodicals and has just sold his first novella. He won the 2021 Helicon Short Story Award for his science fiction tale "The Three Billion Year Love" which appears in the Tuscany Bay Press Planetary Anthology "Mars."
    James Pyles says:

    She might not think so.

  6. pennygadd51 – United Kingdom – I write. I've written many pieces of flash fiction, dozens of short stories and two novels, with a third in progress.
    pennygadd51 says:

    That’s an intriguing story. Who is this strange lady who prunes roses while wearing a silk skirt and never leaves the house? You evoke an atmosphere of privilege and sadness, wealth and poverty of spirit.

  7. Abhijit Ray – I am an amateur blogger. This is a blog about my thoughts about my life and my society. Thoughts that make me happy and thoughts that make me sad and angry. Blogging helps me express my views on events. Read my posts. Share your thoughts.
    abhiray59 says:

    Jailed in her own prison.

    1. The narrator here is very judgemental! I teach children at home Michael, a few of them haven’t left their houses for years. It’s a difficult life.

  8. 4963andypop – Florida, USA – My name is Andrea LeDew. I write poetry and short fiction and try my hand at longer works, all while acting as caretaker for my adult son with autism. I live in North Florida and blog on For Random Learning Comes. My blog is a window, looking into our ten-year homeschooling journey; my experiences parenting and caregiving in the orbit of disability; our joys and sorrows as a large family, and my take on the crazy world going on around us. I value family and friends, beautiful gardens, reading, fine chocolates, and travel. Way back in college, I studied English, German and law and now I consider myself an eternal student. I believe we must always be ready to learn, For Random Learning Comes!
    4963andypop says:

    Very beautiful depiction of this housebound young woman. And the condemning voice makes us all rush to her defense!

  9. Why do we tend to think the worst? She may have a great deal to offer. Maybe she’s not housebound by choice, but because of her health or some other issue. I think I’d find a way to introduce myself 🙂

    1. I think people can be very judgemental and cruel at times. It would be good if there was a little more understanding in the world. Thanks for reading 🙂

  10. rochellewisoff – Missouri – A Kansas City native, Rochelle's been married to her first husband Jan for nearly 50 years. A trained graphic artist, her passion is creating not only watercolor paintings, but word pictures as well. Her most recent novel about a middle-aged woman battling anorexia is under contract with literary agent Diane Nine
    rochellewisoff says:

    Dear Jennifer,

    Perhaps it’s a bad deal and then again…nicely described story. Leaves the reader to draw his or her own conclusions. Well done.



  11. Russell Gayer – NW Arkansas – Russell Gayer has two fans. One is a 12” 3-speed oscillator made by Westinghouse in 1967 and the other features a tongue-depressor handle and picture of Jesus. Most of his life has been frittered away in the pursuit of laziness and procrastination, both of which slip through his grasp since he refuses to put forth the energy to close his palm. In his made-for-tv-reality-show lifetime, Russell has been a dashing rock-star wanna be, a starving carpenter, a Hall of Shame softball player, and a poor excuse for a fisherman. His only saving grace is marrying way over his head. The fact that poor, sweet Connie has tolerated his antics since 1975 is a testament to her angelic patience and sympathetic heart. His grown children, Greta and Jesse, look at their Dad and shake their heads, praying that most of their DNA came from Mom.
    Russell Gayer says:

    The narrator sounds a little envious of the house. There’s probably more to this woman than meets the eye. Intriguing story.

  12. Stu – I am 100% Creative. I follow my passions: Conceptualizer, Professional Storyteller; Published author, NYS Certified Drama Teacher, Teaching Artist of Theater Arts, and Creative Writing. Arts organizer with an entrepreneurial spirit.
    StuHN says:

    So, we have a woman hiding (her hat in the yard) and nasty gossip going around in the viewers head. Much more going on in this story.

  13. Inside the Mind of Isadora – Intriguing, sensitive, mysterious, loving, artistic and crackling with excitement for life is a pretty good description of who I am. I just retired from the world of art where I sold my Artfully Designed Handmade Jewelry for 28 years; although, art will always be a part of who I am no matter what venue I choose to express it in.
    Inside the Mind of Isadora says:

    A great many endings come to mind with this story. You’ve left us with our imaginations
    running wild. A wonderful take on the prompt. Nicely done …
    Isadora 😎

  14. The narrator does not know the story of the lady, so beautifully described, and has created his or her own story for her… human nature to need to know what doesn’t concern them…. Good one, Jennifer.

  15. A mysterious woman whose story I really want to hear. I like the reflection of human nature, where the narrator creates their own story without knowing her at all.

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