Thursday, 27 May 2010

#fridayflash At Dawn.

Well this may be a bit of a cheat.  Something written by one of my characters in the Work in Progress. I'm wondering whether it works as a piece of writing. Or is a tad melodramatic.  So thought I'd post as a #fridayflash. My cop out is that Elsie Forbes wrote it. Is this what you call meta fiction?


The women huddled by the rocks on the river bank. Their black cloaks clung to them, damp in the grey-white fog that rolled down to the water’s edge, obscuring the river. They did not speak. It was time to wait. They shivered in the cold dawn as they heard the sound they were dreading. A soft splash of oars – the signal for them to part. Splash, creak, splash, creak, the boat was coming closer. Soon the shape of the prow could be seen, forcing its way through the mist. The crouching boatman came into view, as he lifted his arms and pushed the wooden spars towards the shore.

He said nothing as he arrived, just held out his hand for the girl. She hugged her mother, stepping into the boat without a word. She stared ahead. She did not look back. The boatman took up his oars. Creak, splash, creak, splash. A curlew called across the water, a  mournful screech. The mist rolled round the boat, obscuring first the daughter's shape, then the boatman's. Finally, they vanished altogether, leaving the mother alone on the banks listening to the lap, lap,lap of the waves.

Her daughter was gone. And now she could no longer bear to be silent. She tore at her cloak, let out a curlew-shriek, and threw herself on the ground. When at last, her weeping was done, she picked herself up, smoothed  down the grime on her skirts and walked back across her fields to the house that was no longer home.

The seeds called out to their mother; the corn begged to be threshed; the fruit to be picked. She ignored their pleas. She could not tend the earth until  her daughter was returned to her. Until that time came,nothing in the land would grow. Nothing.

12 comments:

Sulci Collective said...

I can't comment on any wider context for this, but I found this piece all of a whole and rather powerfully affecting. The silent boatman, suggestive of Charon, your description of the quiet but menacing approach signalled by the splish of the oars.

Good stuff

marc nash

Virginia Moffatt said...

Ah thank you Marc. That's what I wanted to hear. My character is someone who never gets the chance to fulfil her potential. A modern day character discovers it, so I want it to be of reasonable quality...So this is encouraging!

Marisa Birns said...

I agree with Marc in that I thought of Charon approaching for the victim.

The splash, creak, splash brought a menacing rhythm to oarman's arrival.

And both the bird and the mother shrieking in mourning was quite a vivid image.

Gracie said...

Made me think of Demeter & Persephone. And then with a hint of Mist of Avalon. But it was completely your (character's) voice.

Excellent and well done. Loved it.

Joanie Rich said...

I thought of Demeter's story as well, especially the last paragraph. That was my favorite and the images of the fields crying lingered in my mind. The anger in the rhythm there is so strong. I love it! Great story. Your character did well!

John Wiswell said...

There is no sense of a particular author to the story. No "I" or first-person insight; the descriptions in the first paragraph all sound third person omniscient. If you say Elsie wrote it, that's fine, but I don't know her from you. I don't think you need a cop-out, either. The story is fine. Probably plays better with the context of your novel, but I swallowed it all just fine.

Melodrama really isn't a problem. Maybe in the third paragraph, with the weeping and overreaction to what we have no context to fear. Not really a problem. Could still be toned down, since the final paragraph cements who the players were and what was at emotional stake. I think it all materializes regardless of how you might reshape it, though.

Virginia Moffatt said...

Thanks folks - this is encouraging.

I wanted to see if it worked as a piece of writing. Ruth a character in 1990 is reading Elsie's notebooks. I want Ruth to feel it's good & identify with the subject matter. So that's what I was checking really. You wouldn't really get a clue about Elsie from this, other than that she's trying to write and likes Greek mythology.
The important thing in the novel is she and Ruth are drawn to the same materials...

Thanks for your tips John will make a note of them.

And yep - its Demeter/Persephone &Charon. Great explanation for the season's cycle and one I really got when I lived in the country. (hence it's presence in the novel!)

Aislinn O'Connor said...

Yes, it definitely works - probably even better in context, but it stands alone well, too.

I don't think it matters with regard to the character's grief that we don't know the background - we know she's just said goodbye to her daughter, so her reaction isn't hard to understand.

In the Demeter context, I suppose it would indicate the storms of autumn and winter, so a bit of melodrama seems appropriate.

It's very atmospheric, and I'd love to read the rest of it!

David Masters said...

Very sensual - with the shivers and the shreiks. I particularly liked the sense of sound - the creak, splash, creak, splash, and the lap, lap, lap of the waves.

Eric J. Krause said...

Good story. The sound effects really added to the atmosphere of the piece. I enjoyed it.

Cathy Olliffe said...

The atmosphere is heavy and rife with untold stories. Mesmerizing description of the women on shore.
If that's a cop-out it's the best cop-out i've seen!

Laura Eno said...

I thought of Charon as well. The piece is quite effective even without the background information.