365 Challenge: Day 106 – Opine

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Opine: to hold or view something’s worth, merit and value

Every so often, my mind is not focused enough to think of the best word for the 365 Daily Challenge. As I ran some errands, ate lunch and cleaned up the apartment, I still couldn’t decide what to blog about. My mood or demeanor have been somewhat quiet and removed the last few days, and I’d rather not post something with a negative or disillusioned tone. Instead, I thought, let’s get out of my own head and into yours…

I’ve cut and pasted below two small descriptions in the first chapter of the book I’ve written and am currently both searching for an agent and contemplating self-publishing. I offer them to you to opine on or weigh in, to see what others think. Feedback is important and it helps to have the thoughts of people who’ve seen your writing before. You’ve seen the 365 posts, and now you’ve got a sample of a few paragraphs from the book. Hit me with the negative, positive, or even in between! Both sections describe the scene and emotions of the main character shortly after burying her husband, who died in a car accident. The widow has not yet learned the secret he’s left in his will.


The burial service ended thirty minutes earlier, and although everyone else had left, Olivia stayed behind for her own final goodbye while her memory focused on the somber tones serenading the lowering of Ben’s casket six feet into the ground. Once the skirl of the bagpipes blasted its sorrowful resonance, Olivia, standing a few feet from Ben’s fresh open grave, could no longer thwart the wrecking ball prepared to decimate any lasting strength within her mind. The slow, melodic sound sliced away at the newly loosened threads once tasked with keeping her heart intact and sheltered from acknowledging a widow’s pain. Her battered eyes betrayed any remaining fortitude she’d stored deep within her body and as the chords of “Amazing Grace” resounded from the chanter pipe, the cords of her soul, once intricately woven into Ben, ripped from Olivia’s chest. The flood of tears from her stinging red eyes trailed her cheeks as she walked to the car, leaving behind a single set of prints marking her unknown future.

As she stepped off the cemetery’s grassy path, Olivia pulled the black cashmere sweater closer towards her shivering skin to halt the biting frost that settled in her bones. Ben always told her she looked more beautiful when she wore black and gray, complimenting her on the elegant silhouette against her ivory skin and dark sable hair. She kept her shiny locks shoulder length, usually tied back with a clip, and although gray had appeared the last year, the varying shades were regal and striking on her patrician face. Olivia pressed her palm to her chest and lowered her head until she’d emptied a few layers of grief, a stream leveling off into the ocean.

She opened the car door and slid across the back seat next to Diane. All that remained before her impending post-Ben world began was for Olivia to tell her driver he could leave the cemetery, but uttering those words resembled an impossibility. As if Diane sensed the struggle within her sister, she leaned forward and motioned to the driver to start the car, allowing Olivia a few moments to accept the beginning of her new life. While the car served as a false protection from the reality waiting outside the doors to its passengers, it also evoked an atmosphere full of budding nostalgia.

Olivia recalled Ben’s marriage proposal, when he’d arranged a private afternoon lunch in the southern nursery of Connecticut’s finest botanical gardens. Dressed in a heather gray knee-length chiffon silk dress with sleek embroidered violet straps wrapping around her neck, Olivia meandered the slate stepping stones to a patio shrouded by voluminous twenty-foot cherry trees. Ben waited underneath their cascading flowering branches, shadowed by the umbrella sky of brilliant pink, red and white hues, holding a single sprig of cherry blossom. On the far corner of the patio, before the grafted trunks of the cherry trees met the pristine, freshly-mowed green lawn, a four-piece string orchestra crooned romantic melodies. When Olivia stepped inside the trellised gazebo, she smiled at the intensity of the fresh-cut lilies, reminiscent of the bouquet he’d brought her on their first official date. A waiter poured them each a glass of Dom Perignon, and as she reached for the champagne, Olivia felt the thick edges of the goblet press into her fingers, inhaled the scent of the sweet liquor and shivered at the sprinkles of the bubbly effervescence dancing on her face. The quartet played Roberta Flack’s “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” Ben dropped to one knee. Olivia’s hands trembled until Ben took one into his own. As the strings of each instrument blended immaculate harmonies and the musician’s lyrics rumbled in the background, she felt the reverberation through the wooden floor of the gazebo.

Olivia could still hear Ben’s words flutter in her ears the way a butterfly glides with gentle wings… Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife… to complete the picture of the future I have wanted… ever since the day we met at the opera… even in the car moments after Ben’s burial, when realizing she wouldn’t ever again see his face.


It’s an opinion. You can choose to share or keep it. Never any pressure. But since today I struggled with any other post topic, this is where we ended up. Thanks in advance.


About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.


13 thoughts on “365 Challenge: Day 106 – Opine

    lghiggins said:
    June 26, 2017 at 1:34 PM

    I think this is really good. I could see the widow in both the before and after paragraphs and felt her sorrow. it didn’t seem contrived. Press on with your writing. I am looking forward to reading your finished work.

    Liked by 1 person

    wakinguponthewrongsideof50 said:
    June 26, 2017 at 2:48 PM

    I like the premise. Your intro of the character is good. I want to know what happened and I want to read more.My only negative is it’s a little descriptive heavy. I agree that you need to set a mind picture, but maybe structure the sentences differently….you know…the infamous show don’t tell.

    Liked by 1 person

    shalini said:
    June 26, 2017 at 3:04 PM

    I opine that this will be a good book.. Great opening lines.

    Liked by 1 person

    caterpillars2butterfliesblog said:
    June 26, 2017 at 11:34 PM

    Great work… I could certainly envision the scene…the intensity of her grief is astounding.

    Liked by 1 person

    Kristin said:
    June 27, 2017 at 4:35 AM

    My opinion: why isn’t this on the shelves already?

    Liked by 1 person

    Rae Longest said:
    July 3, 2017 at 12:14 PM

    I KNEW you were a good writer from your blogging, but I didn’t know until I read this just how good you are! This definitely has me captivated and wanting to read more! I, for one, will most assuredly buy the book!

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      July 3, 2017 at 2:22 PM

      You are sooooooooo kind to me. I appreciate it. 🙂 I’m considering the Amazon self-publish route and am looking at options this summer. Need to find a strong editor to tell me what they think of it before I consider publishing it without going thru a traditional publisher. Thank you!!!

      Liked by 1 person

        Rae Longest said:
        July 3, 2017 at 7:37 PM

        I think a strong editor who cares is needed by every author!

        Liked by 1 person

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