ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Write...Edit...Publish August challenge - REUNIONS. My #flashfiction, The Reunion.

It's time for Write...Edit...Publish again. This month of August, the challenge has been set by Nilanjana Bose--Reunions. I've asked for early posts as I'm busy with the Romantic Writers of Australia conference, then packing for a trip to Europe soon after. So...I'm posting early myself!

I've been inspired into a magical foray for this one, a flash fiction piece, as always. My first thoughts were of The Kiss by Rodin and checking out the backstory for all those The Kiss statues in various places--St Pancreas station, Times Square, Milan, Paris--but the stories weren't what I was looking for. Here's my story instead ... sorry it's slightly over 1,000 words ...



The Reunion

Charlotte scarcely remembered the long bus ride from the city through the rugged countryside, so focused was she on seeing Jack again.

‘We’re here,’ the driver said. ‘You’re being met?’

‘Yes,’ Charlotte said, as she slashed her lips with the bright red shade Jack loved.

Slinging her black tote over her shoulder, she thanked the driver who’d come to the door to help her alight.

‘Are you sure about this, lady?’ he asked. ‘People who wander into the bush often never wander out again.’

‘I’ll be fine.’

‘No luggage then, love?’

‘Not this trip.’

‘Are you sure you’re at the right place? There’s no one here.’

‘He’ll come.’

‘But no one lives here. All the houses were bulldozed years ago. There’s nothing left.’

Charlotte smiled and turned away, slipping a pill under her tongue. ‘Thanks for bringing me this far, young man. I know it’s out of your way.’ She handed him a tiny red rose from the posy she carried.

He twirled the flower. ‘I’ll come back. One? Two hours?’

‘Thanks, but no. You can be on your way now.’

Charlotte walked away, tugging her bright red coat around her shoulders. The last leg of her journey stretched ahead.

The track was once a well-maintained gravel road and there’d been shacks amongst the trees, but now it was no better than a goat track.

It was hard going, but she made it to Gulliriviere, the tiny settlement where she once lived with Jack. It’d been named by Irish ex-convicts who were used to plentiful rains in their home country. How flummoxed they were by a river that bore nothing but gravel year after bitter year.

Further into the bush she trudged, her steps slowing, away from the desolation of the little street where houses were sacrificed for a lumber mill that was never built.

Logging.

Controversial even then.

As she passed by, the eucalyptus trees rustled their arms in salute.

Home.

But home had left. Only the scraggly beauty of nature remained. Where once their cabin stood smugly, framed by the white picket fence Jack built and the fragrant flowers she planted and lovingly tended, there was … nothing.

‘Jack,’ she whispered, ‘there’s no clue we ever lived here … Oh … but I’m wrong. Look!’

Charlotte creaked to her knees before her tatty rose bush, hanging on after all these years. She tugged out weedy grasses, revealed tiny closed buds, then inhaled the earthy smell. ‘Not everything’s gone, my darling Jack.’ She lay the posy beside the rose bush, memories flooding her head.

She recalled her twenty-three-year old self following her love to his rough-hewn shack in Outback Queensland. It was two hours’ drive to the nearest town and a light plane trip to Brisbane twice a year. She loved the koala who lived in the tree nearby, she loved the solitude and yes, she even loved the big red kangaroos who nibbled the green shoots in her garden, looking cheekily at her over their shoulders as they loped away.

She’d set her easel amongst the trees and paint miniatue bush flora until the sun set on the faraway horizon. Her paintings would hang in art galleries in Australia and the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris long after she was gone.

Living in the bush had been good.

Leaving it had not.

After their cabin had been razed to the ground, they’d relocated to Byron Bay. Plenty of flora for her to paint, but Jack had to fly in/fly out to continue his work on the western Droughtmaster grazing property.

‘Hello, Madam Charlie,’ Jack would greet her at the airport. Tossing his duffle bag in the *boot, he’d hurry to the passenger door, wrench it open. ‘Come here,’ he’d growl, kissing her over and over much to the delight of the traffic inspector.

Their only argument was over his retirement.

 ‘No, Charlotte, I won’t retire. I’m only sixty-five. Our experiment with the new Droughtmaster breed is ongoing. Perhaps when it’s done …’

***

Midnight.

Phone call.

Frank Mangin, Jack’s boss.

‘I’m sorry, Mrs Sandilands ... Jack’s gone ... Heart attack.’

The bed caught her as she fell.

‘He wasn’t alone. We were working in the study.’

Only garbled noises came out of her mouth.

‘Can I call someone?’

Clunk! The phone hit the floor, but she could still hear Frank screaming at her. 

‘Mrs Sandilands? Im calling someone.’

‘No!’ No one could put her back together. 

‘Mrs Sandilands! Jack had a message for you. He said, and I wrote it down—um—Tell Charlie to come to the shack.’

‘Are you sure?’

‘Yes. I know your home at Gulliriviere is long gone. But that’s the message.’

‘Thanks, Frank.'

If Jack wanted her at the shack, then to the shack she would go…

***

Still kneeling at the rose bush, she took the gold fob watch out of its pouch and let it drop into her palm. She’d bought it years ago to give to Jack when he retired. It was a work of great artistry, with minute patterns painstakingly etched into every chain link. She read the inscription: 
To Jack, my wild Colonial Boy! Yours ever, Charlie. XX

She brought it to her lips, kissed it, just as the first pain hit.

***

The rose bush bloomed with blood-red roses. The fragrance enveloped her as it mingled with sweet summer smells.

‘Charlie!’

With the sweet fragrance of roses whirling around her, she ran through the tall grasses, trailing her fingers over the white, silky flowers. He’d be waiting by the creek just ahead, beyond the grey houses.

She hesitated at the stand of weeping willows, their lush tendrils like dishevelled hair as they caressed the surface of the water.

Then she saw him—her Jack—running through the willows, pushing aside the graceful drapery. He hurried towards her—arms outstretched—welcoming her home.

She held out the fob watch and beckoned her love.

They gazed into each other’s light-kissed eyes, marvelled at their sun-painted limbs, overjoyed at the beauty they saw in each other. He took the gold object from her soft, smooth hand, then they strolled away hand in hand across the sparkling water, fading from sight in a gentle swirl of silvery mist.

 *trunk


The End

Words: 1037
FCA

©DeniseCCovey2016
  
WEP CHALLENGE FOR AUGUST, REUNIONS.
Thanks to Olga Godim for the badge!

If you would like to join us, sign up in my sidebar or at the Write...Edit...Publish website. Click on entries with DL (Direct Link) after the names.

Don't forget--our next challenge is in October--Halloween! Wooo hooo...



  



47 comments:

  1. A reunion in the after life. Couldn't live without the other. Or maybe Jack called her before her time as he didn't want to wait hmmm. Another great WEP entry indeed.

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  2. This story tugged at my heart. And you have such a great way with words: "rustled their arms in salute." Love it!

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  3. Really lovely and poignant. Sad how just about all traces of their village was gone. The physical traces of our lives will not survive but hopefully the love will.

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    1. I'm sure this is a real experience of lost towns, Deborah. Queensland's country towns, though not razed to the ground, are abandoned like Gulliriviere. So sad. I was born in such a place.

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  4. Sad and tragic, and yet they were reunited.

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  5. I doubt that she could possibly have asked for more.
    This is truly lovely and yanks on my well hidden sentimental heart strings.

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    1. So glad you enjoyed it, Sue. Glad that you have sentimental heart strings.

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  6. Never really took an interest in flash fiction and didn't know it could be written in various lengths until I begin my present writing course and had to take part. The challenge included a piece in 400 hundred words and it was amazing fun. Loved your contribution, really interested in this kind of writing.

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    1. Hi Carole-Anne
      When Francine and I started RomanticFridayWriters, there was a 400-word limit and we got so many complaints. But it can be done. And enjoyed. Writing flash fiction teaches editing like nothing else.

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  7. Great, unexpected take on the prompt, reunion after death. You do flash fiction so beautifully! "Home had left" - loved that! This piece reminded me of a short story called Old Love by Jeffrey Archer, very different treatment but the same tug at the heartstrings.

    Am back now, will go work on my entry forthwith. Your August sounds luscious- have the most awesome trip!

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    1. I'm glad you are safely home Nila. Now it's my turn!
      Thanks for your kind comments. I love the nuances of this story.
      I must check out Old Love. I like Jeffery Archer.

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  8. Hi Denise - I know I commented ... but I loved this ... as she went off forever - but to be with her lover. I certainly could see the deserted land ... and that one rose bush surviving ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks Hilary for reading on both blogs. Glad it spoke to you.

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    3. Hi Denise - I know you're travelling ... but I tried to find my other comment - and it's gone awol - oh but at least this one is here. It is a sad read ... so true for so many I guess - cheers Hilary

      PS typical grammatical your/you're error - now corrected!

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  9. Wow - so beautiful! You really do have such a gift with words. I felt like I was there and could see the koala and "cheeky" kangaroos. Poignant and unexpected ending. <3

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    1. Julie, thank you so much for the compliment. I'm glad you liked it. Will be over to read yours soon!

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  10. Lovely!!! I had chills by the end!

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  11. Ahhhhh. My heart went pitter-patter on this one. Very touching, Denise.

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  12. So wonderful to read a sweet love story, especially after I posted my own. It's always surprising to me where the prompt will take me, but honestly, this time I wasn't so surprised. :)
    Still, I loved this, and I do appreciate a true love story! You are the Queen of Romance! Thank you!

    And CONGRATULATIONS! My fingers are crossed for you, but I've no doubt you've got this! I'm thrilled for you and can't wait to hear more of your conference experience!

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    1. I'm glad you liked my story of enduring love. A fantasy to some, eh? Thanks for the Queen of Romance title. I'll try hard to achieve it!

      Working on my rewrites on my ms right now...:-)

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  13. So tender! A love story always melts me.

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  14. Beautifully written, if a bit sad. :-)

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  15. Absolutely beautiful, a lovely story, definitely magical.

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  16. I wondered how you were going to end this. I was hoping it would end on a positive note and you didn't disappoint me. I know, I'm a hopeless romantic, but I love this story.
    Very well done, Denise.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Patricia

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    1. Thanks Pat. Glad you're a hopeless romantic. Is there any other sort?

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  17. Very touching! Love the way it ended. :) Bravo!
    ~Jess

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    1. That was the fun part Jess. Glad you liked it.

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  18. Bittersweet. Some couples can't bear being separated and one follows the other through the curtain of death. Of course I could relate. Well done, Denise. Your words were such that I could see the image in my mind of the watch and the flowers. . .

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    1. Thanks D.G. I"m glad you could see the story. I loved writing it.

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  19. Ah, suicidal love. Yep, it works for me. Beautiful writing :)

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    1. Thanks Donna. Not exactly suicidal, but life goes on...in death.

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  20. A reunion after death for one and a reunion that is death for another. I don't quite understand how it all came together, but I know these two are together in some sort of afterlife. Was it part of their plan, another step in the progression of their relationship involving unspoken supernatural meams or was she simply love sick? In the end, I do feel that she was happy.

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    1. Hey Toi, thanks for coming by. Who can believe that a great love ends at death? Not me. Somehow it's got to continue on...I meant it to be magical. And she and he were gloriously happy. :-)

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  21. You brought me to tears, absolutely loved this story. Thank you!!!

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    1. Bringing you to tears is exactly what I intended. Glad you loved it!

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  22. Hi Denise
    Touching in many ways. A great little story.
    Nancy

    Mine is up.

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  23. Hi Denise, this is wonderful. I loved it :)

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  24. Heart wrenching! Excellent writing. Beautiful painting of the Aussie setting, too.

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