ON PARIS

"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris ... then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." Ernest Hemingway

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Combined #WEPff/IWSG post - My favorite genre, Women's Fiction - "CAGED BIRD" JUNE CHALLENGE - MY #FF, MEMORIES

Hi everyone!
Click here to read more posts...

Alex's awesome co-hosts for the June 5 posting of the IWSG are Diane Burton, Kim Lajevardi, Sylvia Ney, Sarah Foster, Jennifer Hawes, and Madeline Mora-Summonte! 

Please visit if you can!

It's time for the June WEP/IWSG challenge. One of the changes to WEP, other than L.G. Keltner has taken over as host, is that posting can be any time from the first of the month to the third Wednesday of the month.  So I thought, why not combine the two? So ... the June 5 IWSG question:

Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?


I'm an eclectic reader and writer, but one of my favorite genres is Women's Fiction, a pretty bleh name, since many 'women's fiction' writers claim over 40% of their readers are men (Jodi Picoult). I like WF as it delves into women's issues and foregrounds women. Unlike Romance, WF can contain a romance, but it's not the main focus and there doesn't have to be a happy-ever-after.  


Like everyone, I have hot-button issues - domestic violence, abuse of women and children - sexual and otherwise, inequitable salaries and promotion opportunities ... you know, just life. Not saying men don't have their issues ...


One of my WF novels which I hope hits the shelves this year has within the storyline - domestic violence, patriarchy, a woman fighting for independence, fighting to be strong. Hmm. Does she reach her goal? Of course it contains a hot romantic element. It is set in Paris after all.


So ... my flash fiction for the WEP prompt CAGED BIRD has the nasty whiff of one of my hot-button issues (boil, boil, boil, rant, rant, rant). My little caged bird is in a metaphoric prison shared by too many women. I hope you enjoy reading, although you may not like the subject matter. 


Image result for IMAGE OF HOUSE FALLING INTO SEA


Memories

She was a fool to leave Paris. 

The city where she feels safe.

She was a fool to come back.

Here.

Here holds too many memories, too many secrets.

Memories and secrets she can no longer ignore.

She must deal with them or she’ll never reach her potential.

There. In front of her. The beach house, its timbers broken and exposed. Since she escaped, years of relentless tides have eaten away its foundations. It now teeters on the edge of the dunes, on its knees in the sand, ready to surrender to a king tide.

Today the ocean holds no threat like it did that night many years ago. Its gentle waves lap the sand, leaving a trail of silvery froth and grit. Gazing at the peaceful sea, she almost forgets why she ran away from her memories for so long. But the mind holds onto things, remembers things best forgotten, overwhelms in the early morning hours when the body is most vulnerable.

Confronted with the crumbling house, her mind searches its dark recesses, unearthing hidden secrets which she thought buried. Through the years, in her silent moments when the busyness of life paused, it spoke so softly in the gentlest of whispers, as it tried to speak to her of its memories. Then there were other times when her pain rushed to the surface without warning, hurtling through her like a runaway train, threatening to derail her altogether.

She cries, falls to her knees in the wet sand. She no longer wants to carry that heavy sharp stone of hurt which has kept her caged like a helpless bird. 

She no longer wants to be a prisoner to painful memories.

Memories of her last terrible night in the house threaten to drown her in a tidal wave of hurt.

 vvv

On the night she died to her old life, the wind roared, the rain poured, the waves crashed. The Pacific swirled, rose and fell in a dance of wave and tide. Then the winds calmed, the moon rose and sat outside her window, bathing her in light.

She’d been asleep, tossing and turning like the tide as she did every night. She’d opened her eyes and watched the moonlight creep across her bed like a lover’s soft caress. The sheets tangled and folded over the bed like waves. Kicking off the covers, she threw herself across the bed like a beached whale.

The moon’s light overlooked the angry welts criss-crossing her legs. The welts throbbed, but she had no ointments to ease the pain. But the pain she felt inside at her father’s betrayal was worse than any belting.  There were no ointments to soothe that sharp pain.

The crashing waves heralded high tide. Soon the water would rise to just below her window. The relentless pummeling against the house posts, thump, thwack, thump, thwack, thumpthwack, mimicked the sound and rhythm of her father’s belt as it cut her tender flesh while her mother cowed in the corner, praying. For her husband’s soul? For her daughter’s pain? Why didn’t she do something? Anything … But her mother was as helpless as she.

Father would not be denied his will. She was her father’s daughter. She would never give in. She would not marry the boy from Afghanistan her father chose for her. She would marry the man she loved.

There was a big storm earlier in the night and now the rain starts again. Relentless. Like her father’s demands. He locked her in her room until you come to your senses were his words. She hasn’t been able to communicate with Ahmed since she was imprisoned, but she was not afraid. She would escape her cage. She and Ahmet would be together. As God willed.

She knew Ahmet waited for her beyond the dunes. It was her hope. Her belief.

She wrapped her hand in the end of her sheet and smashed the locked window, thankful the pelting rain muffled the sound of breaking glass. Falling from the window, she was thankful she did not cut herself on the jagged edges. The black night sucked her in. She swam for her life in the treacherous waters, her robe tangled around her knees, threatening to drag her under. Water filled her mouth and nose. Waves slapped her face but fell more gently than her father's hands. She fought the urge to surrender to the elements. No. She has waited too long for freedom. What was this water compared to the joy that lay ahead, a new life with her love? Her name meant ‘Heart’s Wish.’ She would have her wish.

A new life in Paris. With Ahmet.

Her bare feet found sand at last. Running out of the water, she held her sopping robe in her hands and sprinted toward the trees.

‘Emma Dil.’ Ahmed whispered her name from his place on the dunes where he later told her he’d made a shelter and watched her window for many days.

Ahmed held her in his safe arms.

She was home.

vvv

Ahmed watches her now from the top of the dunes, next to the crumbling wreck that had been her home when her family first arrived from Afghanistan. Before it became her prison. A few long strides and he is by her side. He gently lifts her from the sand. Cradles her. Rocks her like a baby while she cries in his arms.

Her tears are healing.

She will be whole again.

‘My brave girl,’ he whispers.

Over her shoulder the house groans and lurches, falls into the sea. Its timbers break up like skittles. The tide reaches out its greedy hand and sucks it under the waves.

vvvvvv

WORD COUNT: 949

My main reason for surrendering the hosting of WEP is that I need more time to sort my stories/books for publishing. I have plenty. I am collating a series of short stories from various genres written over my 9 years with RFW and WEP challenges. Most have grown from the 400 word days of RFW and the current 1,000 word limit for WEP to between 2,000 and 4,000 words. The above story may be included in one of my collections, so please comment on how to improve it. As it's a PRESENT/PAST/PRESENT it's easy to make mistakes of tense. 

Thank you!!!!


FCA



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83 comments:

  1. I am a multi-genre reader too, but my favourites are increasingly from the non-fiction spectrum.
    Love your tale. Harsh, and real for far too many. For far too many who never escape, either literally or from the attacks of the three am horrors. A happy ending is such a hopeful (and perhaps empowering) touch in your story.

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    1. Thank you Sue. Sort of similar to yours. Go the happy ending!

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  2. Sure can go anywhere with women's fiction indeed.

    Sadly, many get stuck and continue the cycle at times too. Hopefully she stayed away forever indeed.

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  3. I like to read in many genres and age groups. I loved your story because as the story went on, we see more and more of your main character's problems and how she solved it. My only suggestion might be to get to scene with the father a little quicker.

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    1. I value your opinion Natalie and will look at that and see if I can in keeping with the story.

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  4. Your flash is simply beautiful and I was very happy because there was hope and courage written in your female character, Emma Dill, that I love. Thank you for a refreshing flash.

    I also read today that you're moving on and I find that great. Everything changes. The demands on our lives force us to set up priorities. I too have discovered that and it is also one of the reasons that I am not participating in the WEP this month. To stay focus means saying No to some things.
    I truly wish you all the best. Maybe we will meet one another one day at a book fair and have a cup of coffee together. I would like that.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

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    1. Pat, I bask in the warmth of your words. You're always a fan of the happy ending, not so much the horror. I want Emma Dill to be happy and free.

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  5. Such a beautifully written story. Very poetic. I loved this line --> "The sheets tangled and folded over the bed like waves."

    Cheers - Ellen

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  6. "The sheets tangled and folded over the bed like waves." That sentence also snared my fancy, Denise. You did a wonderful job. I wish you the highest of sales with your next books!

    As for genres I like to read and write ... I believe my fondness for speculative fiction is what keeps me off the Must Buy list of many. Yet, I feel if do not write what you love, no one will love what you do write. :-)

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    1. Thanks Roland. WF is a very popular genre so I may well sell a few. Thankfully I write what I love although writing to market seems crucial if you want to sell heaps.

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  7. You write what you are comfortable with - and obviously what you enjoy.
    We have issues? Never.

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  8. You handled the flashback very well, Denise. The image of the house, the crashing waves, her pain at the memories--all vivid and heart-tugging.

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  9. There's definitely a lot of different options when you're writing women's fiction.

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  10. Wow! So evocative and powerful. Stunning stuff. Here's hoping you've got more time to sort through everything now.

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    1. High praise coming from you Nick. Glad you liked it. I eventually hope to get more time.

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  11. Love the story and its happy ending. You write about a strong woman, the one who reached for her dreams, and attained it too.

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    1. Ah, don't we love a strong woman, yet my critters often say they're not strong enough LOL. Maybe they want woman like Xena the Warrior Princess. Hmm. Better take a look...:-)

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  12. Strong piece. I too love the "sheets tangled" line.

    I am so with you on the name for "Women's Fiction". It really doesn't do the genre justice.

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    Replies
    1. That's so true, but it's ingrained. Look, they tried to cut 'chick lit' too but everyone still uses the term.

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  13. Great story.
    Being an eclectic reader makes you a better writer :)

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  14. good story. I don't see anything that needs improving but I'm too amateurish to give any suggestions.

    I'm always for happy endings but I also kind of think leaving her mother by herself with her father might just make her father get violent with her mother, I guess in situations like these, it's hard to decide who is in more in need of an escape, the mother or the daughter. you didn't say what happen to the mother though.

    have a lovely day.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Lissa. Thanks for joining the challenge. I believe the mother will be better off with her brute of a husband after Emma Dil leaves. I wanted to show her powerlessness. The story is not the mother's, but the daughter's.

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  15. Women's Fiction encompasses so much. So glad you enjoy writing what your heart tells you.

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  16. Hi Denise
    This is a powerful and beautifully written sentence. It now teeters on the edge of the dunes, on its knees in the sand, ready to surrender to a king tide. Improvement can be made by deleting the word 'It.' in the beginning. Not necessary.

    If you need a critique partner for your project, I can help you. I'm a member of an awesome critique group and if you'd like to join I can submit your name.
    Nancy

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Nancy. I think it does need the 'it', but critiquing is such a subjective thing isn't it? Thanks for the critique partner offer. I'm good for now.

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    2. If you want to contact me, aol won't let me into my old email address. So I have a new one. Here it is.

      author.n.r.williams@gmail.com

      Delete
  17. There are times when people say "keep trying, keep going" but it doesn't work because the world has become too foreign a place. Your protagonist is a person in just such a position.
    I'm in kind of a bleak mood today, so I can fully identify with the desire to just be washed out to sea and not have to continue a fight which seems unwinnable.

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    1. Yeah, that's how I imagined she would feel.

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  18. This is dark and poignant and hopeful and stunning all at the same time. I always find your descriptions moving. Particularly liked the metaphor of memories being a cage, they so often are and people never break free. Glad that she could and be with the man she loved.

    A couple of typos - but those will get ironed out at the first edit. All the very best, Denise.

    You will be missed more than you can ever imagine.

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    Replies
    1. Now you've given me a punch! Typos! Where! Gah! Now I'll get out my magnifying glass! Glad you were able to read the story despite it, Nila. Thanks for your kind words.

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    2. Just me on the next round. So glad my last statement is now no longer true! So. Very. Glad.

      Delete
  19. That kind of inbred dominance makes me boil, too. Powerful writing.

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    Replies
    1. Boil. Boil. Thanks Ian. Now I've started I'll want to write about more Emma Dil's.

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  20. A moving story, that use metaphors in a superb manner. Well done, Denise.

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  21. My heart is racing from this. Powerful and a hot-button topic for me as well. Well done

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Jemi. Always good to make the reader's heart race.

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  22. Hi Denise - what a great tale - I kept on thinking about the 1953 floods we had here ... where houses toppled into the North Sea ... in the UK and in Holland - I could see it ... feel it - cold ... cruelty from her father ... I hope he got swept into the sea ... but am so happy they were able to be safe and together ... well done - loved it!

    Oh and good luck with pulling all your stories together for publication etc ... Cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks Hilary. Yes, I've seen my share of floods in Queensland and I could just imagine how it felt. Brr.

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  23. A well written piece showing bravery and courage in the face of adversity, human and nature.

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  24. Beautifully and cleverly crafted - unlike the beach house. The imagery was strong as was the characterisation. I liked the contrast between the present and the past. One minor correction was the spelling of 'Ahmed' / 'Ahmet' - or was there a reason behind that?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Roland. I did that thing with Ahmed’s name to see if anyone noticed. Just kidding. My bad. Both spellings are correct but I overlooked that. Eagle Eye!

      And you’ll be happy to know we’re going back to InLinkz next challenge.

      Delete
  25. This piece is so powerful. The sound of the waves reminding her of the lashes from her father's belt sent shivers down my spine. I'm so glad she was strong enough to withstand and ultimately escape the abuse. Not all are so fortunate. Wonderfully done!

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    1. Thanks Laura. Glad you like it and the similes.

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  26. Fantasy and horror are my first loves, but I've gravitated to WF as I've grown older. I like writing it, as you say, it is versatile for any theme/genre without having the tropes overwhelm the woman's story.

    Beautifully written excerpt; loved all the crashing waves, then the calmness of watching and experiencing all that natural violence. A good counter point to the family violence and drama. Too many women and children live in that environment. Well done.

    Good luck with your writing/publishing adventures. I remember how much time RFW consumed, and I imagine WEP, even with four partners, is even more of a "job". I hope you hanging in there another month or three gets all the issues resolved.

    Take care.

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    1. Thanks Donna. I hope so. WEP will be better than ever.

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  27. Denise - I just feel that WEP won't be the same without you. First Yolanda Renee and now you. Having said that, I laud your decision to sort out your stories.
    And now to the caged bird - very atmospheric, love the happy ending. Very plausible story. The changes in tense were skilfully done. And yes, Ahmed/Ahmet. Powerful and gritty.

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    1. Thanks Kalpanaa. Already back at WEP. Some things never change, eh? Only way to keep it the way I want and it's going to be better than ever. I'll still find time for my publishing, I hope.

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    2. Yes, you must find time for your publishing. Somehow.

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  28. So, this brave young woman broke free of more than her father. She faced down the 'cage' of tradition, and, luckily, she was met with love that healed and sustained her. Would that more women found this way free. Beautifully told. Part of me wonders what she would have done if Ahmet had not been there. May the rest of your writing go well as you shake free from too many commitments. Write on!

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    1. She's the sort to make it alone I'm sure. The fact that she had an Ahmet was a bonus.

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  29. Oh want a haunting story! I can feel all the emotions this woman was experiencing. Well written!

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  30. I love the imagery in this piece, especially with the house crumbling into the sea at the end. It's heart-breaking and healing at the same time.

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    1. That's what I wanted to show, Tyrean. Thank you.

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  31. Love that this has a HEA. Glad she was able to marry for love, willing to fight for it. That's what gives the word marriage meaning.

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  32. Hmm... tried to post and something froze. I was agreeing with all the comments about the beautiful imagery, and commenting that I wanted more: more about why she's come back, and how long it's been, and what has happened to her parents (especially her poor mother).

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    1. Like most of my WEP stories, Rebecca, I will turn this into a longer story so I can discover more myself, LOL.

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  33. Very descriptive. I loved the comparison between the waves and her father.
    (Just a small correction, in some places her husband's name is written as Ahmed and in others as Ahmet).

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    1. Thank you Bernadette. My bad. I didn't change it after it was pointed out to me.

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  34. Wow, just wow. Your story is so moving and inspiring, though also sad. Excellent descriptions.
    I haven't read as much WF as I should have. I think I'm afraid that the stories will make me sad or feel small, but I'm beginning to see that is all wrong. I need to expand my horizons.

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    1. Your stories do touch on WF Toi. It's a challenge but very fulfilling.

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