ON WRITING

Remember writing doesn't love you. It doesn't care. Nevertheless, it can behave with remarkable generosity. Speak well of it, encourage others, pass it on. A. L. Kennedy

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

#WEPff - WEP August challenge - my #flashfiction - Carpe Diem.

Hello everyone!

My story for the inaugural combined WEP/IWSG challenge has a long history. I first wrote a much different version for my first #fridayflash entry in 2010 which was somewhat behind my idea to start RomanticFridayWriters, now WEP. I've since written a novel based on this original idea which is languishing in the slushpile at Avon Books. 
I present to you a snippet from the original Saskia and Raphael Parisian love story. 
I hope you enjoy my women's fiction. 

Image result for images of paris rooftops

Carpe Diem

It happens every morning. That seeping dread. Jolting her feet until they burn from toe to heel. Creeping up her limbs like a colony of ants, enflaming her throat. Finally, it settles like a leaden ball in her chest where it maintains its constant slow burn.
As the room washes with the first glimmer of light, Saskia lies in the bed of her third-floor Parisian apartment, whispering her mantra over and over – Carpe diem, carpe diem, carpe diem, willing the dread to pass.
She has always loved this golden hour when the world holds its breath, hoping the new day will disperse gifts from a benevolent god.
What will be my gift?
Will He send the angels for me today?
Or will Raphael come back to me today?
She spies a dove at the window, silvery wings fluttering, ‘Get up. Get up. Get up.’
Ignoring the leaden ball in her chest, she throws aside the sheet and pads across the carpet to the open window.
Satisfied it now has an audience, the little dove dives into the ornate bath in the courtyard, shaded by purple wisteria which creeps restlessly along the exposed ledges as if it knows time is short, that in winter it will become an ungainly skeleton.
From the spindly branches of the pretty tree, the bird begins its morning song. The joyful notes thrum like a soaring solo in a Beethoven symphony.  
Song over, the silver bird soars into the sky.
She stands at the window clutching the sill. The beat of every passing moment pulses in her ears.
Carpe diem.
She must seize the day.
I will not think of all I have lost.
Raphael. Raphael. Raphael.
I will not think of the glory days.
Raphael. Raphael. Raphael.
She puffs out a breath and decides that a pure blue sky demands a walk over the bridge in front of Notre Dame.
Today she will miss the ecstatic sounds of Eloise and her lover in Apartment 2 who like to make noisy love in the afternoon, all afternoon, reminding her of herself and Raphael in the flush of first love.
Before he had a change of heart.
Before he found someone he loved more than her.
Why does her heart still pine for him?
Perhaps she can blame Eloise.
Get out of my head, Raphael.
She studies the glorious golden sun cresting the horizon. She watches the orb creep over the beautiful old sandstone buildings like a playful giant, blowing fire onto the zinc rooftops, transforming them into molten gold.
She completes her salute-to-the-sun routine, bathed in the warming rays.
While she dresses, she glances at her bed. Their bed.
One morning she woke and his side of the bed was cold, the sheets unwrinkled. He has never shared her bed since. According to the social pages he has warmed the bed of many of Paris’ young women and broken their hearts like he has broken hers. She wonders how he finds the time.
Today, if she can manage the short walk from la Tour Eiffel, she will surprise him at his latest art exhibition at the Musée du quai Branly. She must give the gods a chance to bestow on her a last wish.
To see Raphael one more time.


Leaning over the wide cement ledge, her vision fills with the Gothic splendour of Notre Dame. The sun-bathed brick structure stands proud and golden on the Île de la Cité, her buttresses grasping the edges of the Seine. Taking a deep breath, she inhales the river smell − reedy, thick, brackish.
She averts her eyes from the thousands of glinting golden padlocks that lovers have attached to the bridge’s mesh sides, signifying undying, unbroken love.
Hers and Raphael’s lock is lost amongst the thousands of metallic clasps engraved with initials and love symbols, rusting away, short-lived like their marriage, soon to be cut loose by Parisian councilmen.
Why is Raphael clouding her mind today of all days? She closes her eyes and imagines him running across the bridge as he used to do, wrapping her in his arms, spinning her around, making her feel safe.
How she would love to feel his arms around her again.
She stands glacial, immobile, a Rodin sculpture. 
Tomorrow.
Tomorrow she will leave all this beauty to enter an entirely different world.
A world of hospitals, doctors, nurses, prodding, jabbing, priestly prayers and last of all, hope.
She steps away from the rails, Mahatma Ghandi’s words giving wings to her feet: ‘Live as if you were to die tomorrow.’
She whispers her mantra over and over.
Carpe diem.
Carpe diem.
Carpe diem.
A pain stabs her heart, throwing her against the concrete rail. She clutches her chest with both hands. No, not yet!  The ground rushes to meet her. Warm concrete slaps her face. A dog yaps.
Then black envelops her.


She hears him.
A much-loved engine purrs in the distance.  
A huge black motorbike is propped against the kerb.
Her angel. Her Raphael.
He stands at the end of the bridge, hands in pockets, watching her, his studded motorcycle boots planted firmly on the timber.
Her heart beats so loudly the sound chokes her throat.
If only she could get out from under this block of concrete and run to him.
Oh, those capricious gods!
Why is he wearing black?
He opens his arms.
She stands, but is rooted to the spot, hands pressing her heart, feeling the throbbing joy.
He beckons her … come!
She whispers her mantra over and over as she staggers into his waiting arms.
Carpe diem!
Carpe diem!
Carpe diem!
‘Saskia.’ The aching note in his voice moves her more than his words.


WORDS - 948
FCA - as per preference list below

STATE YOUR FEEDBACK PREFERENCES

This is my entry for the WEP/IWSG August challenge.

WEP CHALLENGE FOR AUGUST....CHANGE OF HEART~

Please CLICK on entries at WEP to read more stories. 

Thank you for reading. If you're not joining the WEP/IWSG challenge this month, perhaps you'd consider joining us in October for Deju Vu Voodoo - (((shiver))) (((shake)))

eyes




70 comments:

  1. Oh Denise.
    As I read I was transported to another time, place, body. I loved the way you evoked all the senses. And hope her black Angel holds her safe forever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, Saskia and her dark Angel. They belong together!

      Delete
  2. Beautiful, Lady, simply beautikful. You transported me. I was there with her and I felt her longing. Now, let's pray that Avon get a move on getting that manuscript into a book and out to the masses. I would love to read the entire book.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks to you Lady Pat. I'm glad I transported you. More coming! I'll certainly let you know when the book is out. The above excerpt hasn't been written yet.

      Delete
  3. Ditto on all the comments above. This was lovely, and so very scenic and sad. Betrayal is the worst heartbreak. And unrequited love beyond description except in your hands.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah Renee, you can see how I love this style of writing, but I'm well aware not everyone does. But glad I'm being indulged so far in the comments.

      Delete
  4. Hi Denise - so evocative world that is Paris with its recalling of the feeling of love in the city. Raphael appears not to be the dark character she might have thought even though she loves him ... where will the story lead ... lovely excerpt - cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Raphael is a dark character all right. This snippet is a bit of a teaser.
      Thanks for your email re the typo. I'd picked up another myself!

      Delete
  5. I really felt as though I was in Paris as I read this. A great piece, filled with such longing and heartache.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad I transported you to Paris, Laura.

      Delete
  6. Sure brought forth all the senses indeed, awesome job. Such longing she had. Betrayal and the wonder why can sure lead one down a dark path.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What an indepth experience played out through the artistry of your words. It is beautiful, sad, and painful in the best possible way. Well done. Hope the rest of the story gets shared at some point.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Toi for your generous words. Don't worry. This story will be out one way or the other!

      Delete
  8. You used all the senses to great effect - I loved the phrasing. I was transported back to the Paris I remembered and further. Wanted more, so glad that it's coming. I can see where saying when the piece is a snippet helps - as you said on my post.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Gripping!

    She lives in Paris with a courtyard and close enough to the Eiffel Tower to walk. Life's not so bad! :)

    Uh...well...until her heart gives out at the end. I wonder, was Raphael really there? Was he dressed in black in grief?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So many questions Sandi but I'm not going to answer them, LOL. Was he really there is the question...

      Delete
  10. This was beautifully written and filled with emotion. I experienced her heartache alongside her. Wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Poignant and lovely. A wonderful story.

    ReplyDelete
  12. So much longing and love. Paris evoked beautifully! - as usual. I think your best writing emerges when you set the story in that city :) I particularly loved the metaphor of the dove.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll just have to live my dream and move there Nila and just write all day and night :-) Glad you got the metaphor of the dove...then there is the wisteria vine...

      Delete
  13. I was transported to Paris, to beauty, to lost love and longing and finally to the sense of time lost. Her chant of Carpe Diem is so apt, considering how it ends. I hope this novel sees the light of day soon.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Fantastic, Denise. What an emotional story. I admire your use of the senses, not forced, just right.

    ReplyDelete
  15. First, I'm glad you have the critique code here--I'm new to WEP and wasn't sure what to say about that!

    I really enjoyed the story, though it's out of my usual area :) I was struck particularly by "the beat of every passing moment" bit, because you really got the rhythm right in her thoughts.

    I'm a little less convinced by that potentially happy ending, unless she's actually dead (I'm not sure which it is). But you kept me reading, and the prose is nice (too lush for my genre, but I enjoy an occasional dip into lush prose :D).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some lush prose is more fitting for some genres than others, I'll admit. This snippet doesn't offer a happy ending. She's dying...I'll say no more...but does she die?

      Delete
  16. I love the use of the dove flapping his arms, "Get up! Get up! Get up!". That made me chuckle, such a good use of psychology and how her mood interprets how she sees things. And the scenery of Parisian sunset is painted out so vividly, I could totally visualize it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your generous comments, Tanya. Glad you 'got' it.

      Delete
  17. She died of a double broken heart...

    ReplyDelete
  18. An interesting and well-paced piece. Using her mantra to increase the pace of story as paragraphs switch. A impressive use of imagery. A great read, Denise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Christopher. Glad you liked it.

      Delete
  19. You can be in the most beautiful place and still be depressed and unhappy. The scene out the window really came alive with the dove and the wisteria. Raphael does not sound like a very nice guy. She was going through health problems, a bad heart? I thought she might jump off the bridge into the river.Then she dies,covered in concrete (a tomb) and sees him after death. But maybe he's not worth it,love is blind sometimes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It surely is. Raphael is selfish all right, but they manage to work through that.

      Delete
  20. In death he was there for her
    as her death played tricks
    on her mind.

    once he traded her for another
    his death to her should have been divine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That’s one way to look at it Ellis

      Delete
  21. Such a well-described picture of unrequited love! I also like the imagery of Paris; I've never been there, but your words bring it to life in my imagination.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Elizabeth. I’ve been there multiple times so I should be able to describe it. Glad I brought it alive for you.

      Delete
  22. Ooh, I love the mystery of this, and all the senses that you evoke. Funny, I was listening to this when I happened to be reading (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2nrhxRVrKs) and somehow the song seemed to fit the longing in your snip. I really want to know what happens -- hope Avon hurries up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Deniz. I’ll have to check it out.

      Delete
    2. I listened. Agree. Very evocative of a woman scorned. Thanks for sharing the link.

      Delete
  23. Ah... I really enjoyed revisiting this story, Denise.
    Atmospheric. Evocative. Love the melancholy vibe.
    I had almost forgotten about the rich, lush prose...

    Hoping that Avon get back to you soon, so that the Saskia and Raphael Parisian love story can be released into the hands of waiting readers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you remembered it Mishy. This comes after the story with Avon.

      Delete
    2. I can't wait to read what you did with that 'hospital scenario'... *rubs hands together*

      Delete
    3. And then there’s a delicious scene in Notre Dame. (((Sighs)))

      Delete
  24. Very evocative imagery. Sad but somehow uplifting at the same time. Interested to see how the story is resolved!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Ah, the heart, it breaks, it suffers, and it causes us humans such pain. I liked the descriptions which brought back all my Paris memories of Notre Dame, the museums, etc. You did evoke much with the repetitive use of 'seize the day'. What else can we do? If there's more, I'd like to know--was the concrete holding her down as a cemetery marker? Or will she recover. . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're meant to think she's dead, but she ends up in hospital...

      Delete
  26. Wow. That's some darkness and sorrow there. Poor dear! I feel for her.

    Great work with this story.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Death arrived a day too soon. You created some beautiful images about this city of love, Denise. I also found the one brief bit of humor a delight. How did Raphael find the time to bed so many women? Cad.

    ReplyDelete
  28. As others have said you words evoke such feelings and perfectly describes a Parisian apartment and the ideal of romantic Paris although seeing it through a 'real' person's eyes shows us life has pitfalls, physically and emotionally. I do think she could do better than a man like Raphael.

    ReplyDelete
  29. A lovely story that beautifully captures the agony of a broken heart. Fantastic sense of place too.

    XX OA

    ReplyDelete
  30. Very dramatic. I can see how it led you to write the full novel :)

    ReplyDelete
  31. Hi Denise.
    What a tease you are. This is so well written I was blown away. But I want to read more.

    I have a new computer. I'll be back in the grove shortly. Trying to catch up on all my writing.
    Nancy

    ReplyDelete
  32. Aw thanks Nancy. I was hoping you’d join us again.

    ReplyDelete
  33. As others have commented above-very evocative and emotional! Well written with using all the senses. And ah...Paris!

    ReplyDelete

I love hearing from you! Hit me with your wisdom!