Wednesday 16 January 2013

#RomanticFridayWriters - New Year! New Love! Hugh Jackman, anyone?

It's time for RomanticFridayWriters again! Our first challenge for the year is: New Year! New Love! You are welcome to join up and flex your writing muscles. The linky is open until Monday, January 21. Any genre--flash fiction to 1,000 words or poetry. 

Of course my mind's on Hugh Jackman, recent Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee, for his Jean Valjean role in Les Misérables.  My mind's also on the Australian bushfires which are sweeping across the country as we swelter in heatwave conditions, so I resurrected this story and updated it for this challenge...

(All words and expressions are in Australian English.)

‘Jeremy, we need to talk.’ 

Hannah leaned across the table, showing just the right amount of creamy white cleavage. She took his hands in hers, kissing his fingers one by one, studying him with half-closed eyes, waiting  for his reaction. With a jolt he noticed how cold her eyes were—glittering icy emeralds in her beautiful white face.

The meal had been superb. Nothing like a bloody beef steak to satisfy a cattleman. He wasn’t used to champagne, though; it had messed with his head. A bad idea when he was on the morning roster for the volunteer Bush Fire Brigade. No telling when the latest crop of fires might jump the river and hightail it into town. 

He loosened his bow tie. At Hannah’s words, the bubbles sloshed around his stomach like cattle dip.

Every man knew what ‘We need to talk’ meant. 

‘Why? Why do we need to talk?’ he managed to croak through a throat scrubbed with sandpaper. ‘We’ve just spent the whole day together. We enjoyed the riding, the campfire, the--I thought it was a great day. A perfect way to see the New Year in.’

Hannah hung her head, brushed an imaginary crumb from her breast.

Jeremy’s heart had been soaring with joy; he could have sung at the top of his voice from the highest hill...but now his joy was disappearing like the smoke from a stuttering campfire. No other girlfriend came close to the raging torrent of his feelings for Hannah. She was his Botticelli angel with her mane of red curls, her smile that cracked open his heart.

‘I’m married.’ She jutted her chin into the air. 

The waiter had been about to top up their Pouilly-Fumé. He made a hasty retreat, leaving froth in his wake. Poor bastard. They must have a sixth sense for trouble in paradise.

Married! He hadn’t seen that coming. How did she fit in being married with all the time they'd spent together on their adjoining properties--working cattle on his, shearing those stupid sheep on hers?

‘How--’ He started to speak, but the words dried up like a river in drought. He tossed his bow tie onto the table and wrenched open the top button of his checked shirt.

‘How did I fit you in? He travels a lot. He probably has other women.’

‘And this makes it okay?’

‘I’m just saying.’

He turned away. A hot tear ran down his cheek. The waiter flicked his white napkin, then crumpled it in his fist.

She reached up and patted his face where the tear lay, caught in his stubble. ‘Poor Jerry. You must hate me.’

‘Yes. I hate you.’ He tried to man up. Wished those hollow words were true. He leaned back in his chair and clasped his hand around the little box in his checked bespoke sports coat pocket. He watched her and caught the pitying look on her face. She knew!

‘I didn’t want it to happen.’ She folded her arms, lay back in her chair, not a care in the world.

‘Didn’t want what to happen? The marriage? Meeting me? What?’

She leaned forward again. ‘Meeting you. Having an affair. You were just so darned cute. So Hugh Jackman. So irristible.’

‘So I’m just some fantasy?’

‘Heck no; Hugh Jackman’s more than a fantasy. He’s real. God, he’s so real. I can’t wait to see him play Jean Valjean, if it ever gets to this hick town.

‘He bleeds huh? So do I. I’m bleeding here.’

‘When I was with you I felt so excited.’

‘Like Nicole Kidman in “Australia”, huh?’

She laughed out loud. 'Well, watching you have your bucket wash out in the back paddock last night--I was excited all right.' 

The waiter took a few tentative steps in their direction, bottle in hand. He saw the look on Jeremy's face and retreated quick smart. 

Hannah was enjoying herself. ‘As Nicole would say: "Too bloody right mate." You are so hot, Jerry, more's the pity.’

‘I love you Hannah. You. You’re my fantasy come to life. When I met you I made a resolution to give all the other girls the flick.’

‘Hmm. It’s not working out with Frederick, you know.’

‘Frederick? No, I don't know. Who the hell is Frederick?’

‘What a name, huh? That’ll be the husband. Old money. Descended from the British squattocracy. Thinks he's still British and Australia's part of the empire.' She sniggered. 'Sheep’s always been his thing, not cattle. Lowered himself to marry little-old-convict-stock me. That’s why I relate to Hugh’s Jean Valjean.’

‘Another fantasy?’

‘Yes, Frederick’s. He thought I was so exciting after all those hoity-toity blue bloods his parents paraded under his nose. But we do have a family together, Frederick and I.’

‘Family? What?’ He leaned forward, body rigid.

‘The triplets are six. Nanny insists on throwing a birthday party for them tomorrow. They're home from boarding school. That’s why I can’t spend the whole weekend with you.’

He knew she was lying through her pearly white teeth. Triplets! What a ridiculous cover story! ‘Then why did you promise me we’d have three whole days here on the property?’

‘Sorry. I’d forgotten.’

‘Forgotten you were married? Forgotten you had triplets? Forgotten you’d promised to stay with me?’

‘All of the above.’She stood up. Patted his cheek. Sighed theatrically. 

He growled his best Wolverine growl. ‘Now you’ll have to forget me.’

‘Already done. Bad memory. That’s me.’

He sat nailed to the chair, watching her, tearing his black curls, Les Misérable personified.

Hannah knotted her silk scarf around her lying little throat, picked up her sparkling evening bag, threw him a kiss and sashayed across the room. Every male eye followed her swaying hips.

The waiter hovered by his side, watching Hannah melt into the night.

‘I’d stay away from her, mate. She’s bad news.’

‘Bring me a beer.’

‘A whisky might be more the thing, old chap.’

‘Beer’s my drink. No more champagne for me.’


WORDS: 998

I hope you enjoyed my story. You can enter your story or poem by clicking on SUBMIT YOUR LINK below: get the InLinkz code


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

There's a word for women like her. I won't use it here. You know how to crush a dude's heart, Denise.

C.S.H said...

Well, I declare!!! What a piece you've got here.. I was sitting on the edge of my seat the whole time!!! I was hooked!!!

dolorah said...

Now that's a shining example of how flash fiction is done. Concise, complete from beginning to end, leaves just enough to the imagination to linger in reader thoughts long after the story's end. Very well done Denise. You've written quite a number of impressive flash fiction pieces, and if this isn't the best, it surely ranks high in a collection of favorites.

I loved both these characters - and you know I'm partial to the intimate third person pov. Jerry was just masculine and vulnerable enough to make me want to give him a hug; but Hannah is truly the star here. I loved her attitude; but the right choice was to see her through his perspective. Aw baby, cut so deep but leave them loving you :)

Loved Hannah's sassiness! Reminded me of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, or Mae West. Pure socialite attitude, but with a heart for causes. And Jerry definitely seemed to be a "cause". And the waiter added just that extra touch personality to both characters.

Totally awesome Partner. Loved it all the way through.


Denise Covey said...

Twasn't me Alex!ii

Denise Covey said...

Glad i gotcha Crystal.

Denise Covey said...

Yep, thought it sounded best in third person pov. Not my usual choice. I adored the fun of writing with this!
Glad you liked it Partner!
I'm out on the trails...will get to yours soon...D

Scheherazade said...

Well, that was an interesting ride! I did not like Hannah or understand her motivation for being such a jerk nor why she chose to conduct this conversation in public. I guess I'm looking for a little clue (or I missed the clue) as to why she chose to be so cruel. What is her motivation? And why does Jeremy take this all so lightly in the end? I'm not questioning the dialog or the writing, but that one little piece between man and woman that will pull it all together and make it feel more authentic.

Denise Covey said...

She just is...cruel Linda. There are people like this in the world. And he was shattered...draw your own conclusions...his reference to champagne might be a clue...D

Michael Di Gesu said...

Well.... It's women like her that would turn a dude gay... LOL. Seriously though. Geez. Now you know for ME to make a comment like that it had to be VERY CONVINCING! And of course, Denise, you certainly delivered that. WOW. I was totally drawn into the scene.

Jeremy is a real man's man. Rugged, sensitive, and a true gentleman. No nonsense. He sat there and took it. His snide comments were PERFECT. Now as for our ... clears through here ... LADY, she gives frigid a new meaning. SO calculating. SO blase' .... I was expecting her to yawn in his face... LOL. I have met woman like her .... their beauty is enticing .... men are a moth to their flame .... but the end is always deadly.

Well done, Denise. As Donna has said, this is one of your best! Congrats on a super excerpt!

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Michael. Always good to hear if i nailed the male pov. Thanks friend...D

Nilanjana Bose said...

You held my attention right through. Super intriguing! Hannah seems pure evil, so cynical and remorseless! but very realistic. Triplets to get out of the promised three days - neat touch. Great read!

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Nilanjana! I'm coming across to read yours soon. D

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

Bloody awesome piece of writting,had me gripped to the end....

Denise Covey said...

Hi Jo-Anne. Bloody awesome of you to visit...D

Charmaine Clancy said...

I chuckled all the way through this. Maybe I have a mean sense of humour? I love all the intertextuality you've used, very Australian pop culture!
I'll look through my shorts, but I don't think I've got one ready for this challenge. See how I go :)

Yolanda Renée said...

Thanks again for the email reminder. Illness was keeping me stuck but your push made me move forward!

I loved this. I could see them both very clearly and understood that in the public setting -- it went just the way it should. She was priceless and so recognizable, he was, well, a bit of a putz -- not Hugh Jackman like at all -- an engagement ring... If he were Hugh she would have been trying to figure out how to kill the MR. Or maybe that's just me? LOL!
No, seriously,t his was fun just the way you wrote it! PERFECT!

Denise Covey said...

Chuckle, chuckle. You raise a few valid points Yolanda. It could have played out very differently.
Thanks for posting. I know you've been ill--sorry to drag you out of your sick bed, but it's lovely that you got to post for our first prompt of the year!

Denise Covey said...

Hahaah. There's a lot of stuff maybe you had to be Aussie to get, but I had a hoot writing it. Just in the mood! I was hoping for a Rosie story. I was sure she'd be up for this one!

Anonymous said...

Oh wow I especially loved the lead up to this piece, great sensual description and emotion throughout.

Poor Jeremy. Not a Happy New Year for him, I guess?

Denise Covey said...

Maybe it will be...D

Roland D. Yeomans said...

You've raised the bar high for me to try to reach, Denise!

Romance Reader said...

Awesome Denise! You hooked the reader in from the very first!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Denise ... this was amazing - I loved the imaginery setting etc .. definitely a film, or tv programme there ...

I have to see Les Mis ... possibly next week ... and your bushfires sound very difficult - I see yesterday (maybe it is today actually?!) was the hottest day on record ...

Now I'll be thinking about this piece for a while yet - great writing ... cheers Hilary

Laura said...

Loved this Denise! I was completely drawn in, and could completely see this scene unfolding in my mind's eye. Fab piece. Will try to get something up myself over the weekend
Laura xxx

Unknown said...

Dear Denise,

What a great text to start the new year with! This is a superb piece of writing! You have woven so much into this story, a good slice of live with the brush fires and the small touches of Australian culture.

Good use of dialogue to show us who these two are as individuals, but moreover as representatives of each the worst of the sexes/being from Mars and Venus. I am not sure what is true about Hannah; she seems to be a good 'story-teller'.

This is such a funny text, too.

Love this one, Denise!
Thank you for your comments on my post.

Best wishes & hugs,

J.L. Campbell said...

Now that girl has some personality on her. The imagery was good. I could picture both of them, but for some reason, I thought this was set in the past until I came to the modern references. Poor Jeremy came back to earth with a crash, but yeah, going forward, he knows what to stay with in a possible partner.

Liked Jeremy's description of the fire's possible action and the term British squattocracy .

Anonymous said...

Oh, Sis. Horrible bush fires. But, awesome story! All the fun allusions. A bit of hyperbole. The writng flawless. LOVED it.

Anonymous said...

I'll have to pass on the romantic writing, although I should give it a try sometime if only to expand my writing horizons. And thanks for posting the Re-Introduce Myself badge on your side bar!

Denise Covey said...

Hee hee, Ann, a lot of hyperbole, but such an enjoyable write. Thanks for coming by! (((hugs)))

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Joy. I love the British squattocracy too. Great word! Lots of connotations, hahah.
Yeah, it does have a bit of an olde worlde feel, but I thought that was fitting for the conversation.

Anonymous said...

So it's the 20th in your part of the world. Any slowdown on the fires? Have a great Sunday. Jen says "Hi" too.

Denise Covey said...

Hi Jen! (((big hug))). The fires are still raging. It'll go on until the weather cools which we can only hope and pray will be soon!! It was 43deg.C. (109deg.F) where I live yesterday! My skin was on fire nearly literally. Fancy fighting fires in this heat! Still we survive...D

Denise Covey said...

I will be excited to read it Laura!

Denise Covey said...

A film? Now wouldn't it be nice! Hope you enjoy Les Mis.

Gina Gao said...

This is an amazing piece, I enjoyed it a lot.

Anne said...

Great story here Denise! That girl was BAD BAD BAD! Loved the imagery and the foreboding of things to come.

Didn't get any writing done for this, sorry. Hope I do better next time :)

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Anne. Hope you do get a story next time!

Sally said...

Hi Denise,

I liked your rider at the beginning of the piece which gave me the right context to read the story otherwise I might have got lost.

I agree with your other commentators about the two main characters (I don't like her very much at all)but I also enjoyed your cameo character of the waiter who was able to provide extra dimension and atmosphere to the piece.

(I can swap you some very cold snow for a bit of heat).

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