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Beauty in Unexpected Places

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

In my October 11th post, The Magic in Writing, I introduced you to Paolo Clemente through the eyes of the woman who fell in love with him at first glance. Today, I'm giving you the chance to meet him again as a much older man.


SET UP: Accompanied by her younger sister Anna, Elizabeth is on the streetcar on the way to her home in East Boston when she sees Paolo. She remembers he is the man who stood by her when the ghost of her husband, a casualty of WWII, came to say goodbye.

Excerpt from the First Edition of The Passenger ~

The smell of frankfurters from a roadside stand carried in on the still August air, reminding Elizabeth of the five-cent frank she’d shared earlier with her sister. Like most things she ate nowadays, it sat like a rock in the pit of her stomach.

With a sigh, she leaned forward to see what Anna was working on. The girl always had pencil and paper handy, and Elizabeth envied how her sister could find the beauty in ordinary things.

Now with adroit, delicate gestures of charcoal, Anna transformed the white paper into a wrinkled, weathered face, unshaven and sad. Yet, the eyes were kind, seeming on the edge of a smile.

Elizabeth shifted her attention to the seat across the aisle, and her breath caught. Her sister’s subject was the man who stood by her on the beach the day of her dead husband’s visit. The man had kept her company while she dried her tears, but he’d said little. He just continued to stand looking out at the horizon as if also watching for someone to arrive. She’d felt they were kindred spirits in that way and thought of him often though she hadn’t seen him again.

A steady stream of hot air blew in through the trolley’s open windows and whipped through his hair. The dull gray locks, peppered throughout with streaks of blue black, fluttered in a mess around his head. The man gave several wheezing breaths and mopped his sweaty brow with the back of a black, tattered, coat sleeve.

Elizabeth gathered her arms close around her chest, fighting the bizarre chill that only seemed to grow colder. As if it gathered from the old man’s body and fed into hers.

How could that be?


"...Elizabeth envied how her sister could find the beauty in ordinary things" is my favorite line from the passage above. There — with that line — I think Elizabeth was channeling me. There have been countless times I've found myself awestruck by the beauty found in a photograph or painting. A beauty I wouldn't have noticed had I not seen it from the point of view of the artist.

Take, for instance, this graffiti I once found sprayed on a bridge that crosses the Mississippi River.

Graffiti of crow spray painted on bridge.

Through the eyes of the artist, a person can find things they once thought ordinary aren't so ordinary after all.

Until next time, watch for the beauty in unexpected places.

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About the Author

Joie Lesin, Author of Speculative Fiction

Minnesota-based author, Joie Lesin is a life-long fiction writer and the author of The Passenger. She has long been fascinated by anything otherworldly including ghosts. She loves to write a good ghost story—especially when it includes a touch of romance.

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