Friday, June 10, 2011

Second Chance - Flash Fiction

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    He left the Austin along the road and walked, having left his unhappy wife Katherine. A dappled Shire eyed him disinterestedly and went back to cropping. David made his way over, expecting a hasty retreat, but she allowed his approach.
     “Hello,” he whispered, scratching the roots of her mane. Leaning in, he laid his cheek against her neck, smelling the comforting scent. It'd been years; he'd tried to forget about the war, been successful too, or so he thought.
     He was 13 again, standing on the crowded platform, father stern, mother red-eyed, clutching his baby brother to her chest. Expendable, that's what he was; shipped off to Cornwall to shovel shit, no doubt, while everyone else braved bombs that fell night and day. Sirens, ack ack, the thrum of aircraft, the lurch of the ground coming up through his feet and making his heart thud; they'd made life unbearably exciting. He felt old enough to be man of the family while Dad was doing police duty. But off he went to the farm. The first day, being a city boy, when set to weeding he'd managed to pull up the crop instead, and had suffered a beating for it. Ivy, the farmer's daughter, had laughed, but later brought him tea and consoled him.
     Ivy, brown-eyed, beautiful. She'd taken him swimming in the pond, taught him to take care of Prince, the plough horse, run with him barefoot in the fields, and introduced him to the pleasures of love. Their heated fumblings hadn't amounted to much, not really; it was the solace of another body, entwined with his, soothing words and complete trust which had seared themselves into memory. And then, the tearful parting and the vows exchanged as he'd left to go back to London.
     Oh Ivy. How could I have forgotten. I wonder where you are.
     The war ended, as they do; memories faded, as they do. He'd fallen in love with Katherine, they'd made a good start together. But somehow, ennui, bickering, the daily minutae of everyday life had chipped away at them until they were nothing more than lodgers forced to share a flat.
     David wiped his hands on his trousers and nodded, having made his decision.

     Katherine walked in as he was packing his bag. Seeing her shocked look, he took her in his arms.
     “We're going for a holiday in the country. Together.”

400 words exactly. This isn't as complete as I would like it, due to the word count guideline.

Almost forgot: today's recommended blogger is Emm in London. She's currently featuring Secret London, a mix of photos and info on some of London's hidden delights. It's almost as good as being there...give her a visit and take your own virtual tour.


  1. I like your story :-)

    A holiday in the country can do wonders for a relationship :-)

  2. This is lovely - WHEN you go back to it, let us know it's a Shire PONY cropping grass (I know, word count!) as us city slickers might not "get" that at first. And at first I wasn't certain that he'd LEFT Katherine, as in their marriage, or simply left her in the vehicle.

    This is a great line: The war ended, as they do; memories faded, as they do.

    You take us through a whole character arc in this short space. I would polish it a little then submit it; I REALLY like it.

  3. Sometimes the memories of happy times can remind you of how to rekindle the flame you hold that may be close to burning out. Loved it Lisa. Next week's the next difficult issue... I came up abysmally again this week but I;ll get there one day... in the very distant future.

  4. I loved this - the scent of the horse bringing back all the memories. Smell is (apparently) our most primeval memory and this captures that instant beautifully. I hope this is an excerpt and that I can read more one day.

  5. I thorougly enjoyed this, well done on a wonderful post.

    Enjoy your week-end.

  6. Man he was quick on his feet. :) And for a ten minute break pretty dang complete, put me right there with the plow horse :)

    Have a great weekend!
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  7. Hi,

    I'm with Margo. I could smell that equine: it's a unique mixed fragrance of horse out to grass. The times I've laid my head against a horse' neck, buried my face in a mane and inhaled!

    Nice little cameo, and captivating MC memory alongside his ultimate decision! ;)


  8. I loved how you incorporated the senses in this piece!

  9. Hello Lisa.
    I'm not much into horses, but the images & sense of smell you painted were very real.
    I especially enjoyed the little twist at the end...going from bickering lodgers to holiday in the country together...nice touch.

    Good job for a 20 minute morning break. Wonder what you'd do with an hour...a novel perhaps! (smile)

  10. Double nice love story with Ivy and Katherine. And a surprise ending, and as you say very open. Regards.

  11. Nice post Li - I was shipped off to Cornwall to shovel shit. They called it my first job.

  12. If you can write this in a 20 minute break you're a genius! The senses are beautifully evoked by the horsey smell. I loved the slice of life as it must have been in wartime. I love that line that Beverly picked up, with the repetition of 'as they do'. Your pacing is exquisite.

    People's Friend would love a long version of this story. Check out their guidelines. They love memory pieces set in the UK.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this story for us at RFWers. You rock!


  13. I absolutely loved this. It gripped me throughout. Original choice of topic and I thought the twist ending was very satisfying. I agree with Denise you should write a longer version and get it published. :O)

  14. Hello everybody - I've been trying to get around to blogs and catch up, so I won't answer all individually. (I deleted the bit I had about writing it on morning break since it didn't exactly sound "professional", but now I see it's turned up in comments! Oh well. I'm delighted most of you keyed in on the scent/memory connection, I try to incorporate the senses into a story and not just "talk at people". Yes, this could be expanded quite a bit, the 400 word limit was rather restrictive. I should have chosen a less involved idea, but that's what happens when you wait till the last minute.

    @L'Aussie - I'm going to check it out and see what the guidelines look like. Unfortunately, most publications won't accept anything previously published, and that typically includes on a blog or website. But...fingers crossed! Thanks for the suggestion, and if not this story, perhaps a different one.

  15. Beautifully written. Shocked at the end. I thought his decision was going to be leaving his wife and finding Ivy! Loved every word!

  16. Well done. I'm a city girl so I'm not familiar with horses. But I loved how he pulled up the crops, got a beating and then the farmers daughter took pity on him. I think this captures how we truly remember things.

  17. Again, nicely imaged in so short a space. It made me think, very fondly, of someone who escaped my life, long ago. Twenty mins? amazing, simply amazing.

  18. Now I want to take a vacation with wifey. But the kids. Forget about the countryside. We'll have to settle for Disneyland where we have annual passes.

  19. I really enjoyed reading, this God now I need a holiday

  20. Lisa, this is so beautiful - a gentle, tenderly written piece. I so love how you write!

    (Ack, Google hates me! It's refusing to post me as Shrinky, again.. hmph.)

  21. Ooh, nice twist. What happens, what happens?? : )

  22. You sure tried to pack a lot into that flashback, Lisa! Time to go back to that unhappy Katherine and make it right.

  23. I liked the ending a lot, how his memories made him want to save the present. Nice.

  24. I always like how you end your stories, with a slight, satisfactory twist. Nice one.

  25. Hi Li - a gorgeous story, I felt right there with him, smelling, remembering... and hurrah for a hope-filled ending :)

  26. just twenty minutes. I love a story that just brings my senses alive, and this one did. You really are incredible.

  27. Rekindling old flames is especially good when their is a commitment involved. Nice story.

    Tossing It Out

  28. Once again, you've captured life. The breathtaking beauty of it and the crummy, gritty, wish this wasn't my life parts. You are so inspiring.
    I think a getaway is always a perfect remedy for deep ruts!

    I'm in awe, all over again. :)

  29. Loved this!!! I grew up in the country. To this day, the scent of fresh rain triggers much so I could relate to the equine connection.