Thursday, 29 September 2011

Challenge 21 - RFW - Fearful Heart

Romantic Friday Writers hold weekly challenges. The base line being whatever the theme (named and prompts given) we can post up snippets from novels, ongoing WIPs, write a piece of Flash-Ficton or poetry. My contribution this week is a Flash-Fiction piece.  Maximum word count is 400.

The Prompt: "Fearful Heart."   

382 words: MPA.

Jack had said he would be back before dawn, but a storm had blown in before dark and worsened over night. Waves taller than a house had crashed on the shore and pounded the headland. First light of dawn now streaked the horizon in ghostly pallor, and although the sea fallen calm and ebb tide barely lapping the sands she nevertheless walked the beach, her petticoats and skirt leaving a faint drag-trail.    
   It was all so unfair. Jack, who had survived the war, who’d returned home safe and in one piece, and now lost at sea. She could not fault his setting sail, for the man he had gone to warn of impending trouble had saved his life at Waterloo. But Billy was a smuggler, and someone had reported seeing lights out at Hart Point.  
   The local excise men and the militia had been out and about as soon as overnight winds had subsided. They’d already searched the creek and several coves the other side of the headland with lamps long before dawn.
   If the militia had found man or boat or contraband on the beach they would have said, would have been overjoyed in proof of guilt whether men found dead or alive. But there was nothing bar for driftwood and seaweed scattered in heaps. The militia had moved on to the next cove, so why had she come to the beach? It was madness. Yet something kept pulling her toward the headland, to the cavern . . . The cavern.
   She hitched up her skirts and ran and ran as if the very devil on her heels. The tide was not yet clear of the headland but she waded in to the sea, the chill of the water momentarily caused sharp intakes of breath. Soon waist deep, struggling to keep her balance, the entrance to the cavern lay within hands reach. She rounded the corner with difficulty, for pull of the tide on her skirts much like an anchor holding fast on a ship. 
    Fearful though her heart at finding nothing, a hand touched hers and a voice said, “So you do love me.”
    She willingly succumbed to the salty tang of his commanding mouth on hers, and his tongue emulated promised pleasure already indulged in as man and wife. 

To see entries by other members of RFW go here.


Madeleine said...

Beautifully descriptive historical piece Francine. You set the scene well.

Margo Benson said...

Oh, yes! The fear, intrigue and romance brought together wonderfully. Your descriptions are so evocative, I really felt the tug of water through her clothes. Nothing like 'promised pleasure' for a Friday ;-)

L'Aussie said...

Ooh, Francine, that's what you get for spending a day on the land, huh? Has a cast of Poldark. Love it. You created a believable character in so few words. Is this part of a bigger story or just something you bashed out after the mowing? Sneaky as that last line is, I can't believe it's a quick piece...


N. R. Williams said...

I love your voice Francine. I felt your characters fear as she worried about the man in her life and then finding him was so welcome to her. Excellent.
N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium

Anonymous said...

The use of lovely language makes this so well told! Reminds me of many of my favorite historical stories: rich and alluring. Heaved a sigh of relief in the end for all concerned!

Ruth Madison said...

Oh, how lovely! The tension is great and the description of her skirt leaving a trail in the sand. I love the ending.

Francine Howarth: UK said...

Hi Madeleine,

Yeah, I do love the feel of a historical: fits me like a glove! ;)

Hi Margo,

Great to see you back. Ha ha, promise of pleasure does wonders for the soul! ;)

Hi Denise,

I swear on my honour it was hacked out as a last-minute fix for Fearful Heart. I guess it could be made into something else if I had the time. But I don't. Just had dinner after another day's hard graft on the land. :)

Hi Nancy,

Great to see you back at RFW, too. Thanks for the comment, glad you liked it. ;)

Hi Babyrocka,

Thanks for the compliment re rich and alluring. ;)

Hi Ruth,

Ha ha, yes, the ending. Naughty but fun. ;)


Beverly Diehl said...

Francine, the one stylistic choice you make in your short pieces is that you frequently omit your heroine's name. For me, as a reader, even though the stories themselves are excellent, I sometimes get lost without that "anchor" to touch base on. Other readers may not have this problem, I may be the only dullard, but if you choose to address it, it's an easy fix, to replace a few of the "she's" and "hers" with the name.

I do love the connection between her and Jack, and that she instinctively knew knew she had to go to the shore, to the cavern. Very romantic.

Francine Howarth: UK said...

Hi Beverly,

Point noted! ;)

BTW: in Daphne du Maurier's "Rebecca" the reader never gets to know the narrator's name. To be fair though, it is written first-person POV. But throughout no one (dialogue) refers to her as anything but Mrs D'Winter. How weird is that?


M Pax said...

I like the mood and atmosphere you wove in using the history and the details. Wonderful and rich.

Andy said...

Hello Francine.
I love this...the whole setting is so vivid. Great romance too & that ending...oh my goodness...some imagination you've got!


Adura Ojo said...

'Admire the way you set the scene. The tight structure allowed you to tell the story in a few words. Very skilful and not easy to do, IMO. The icing on the cake was the ending, Francine. He can 'command' for as long as he likes, doesn't seem she'd mind at all;)

Francine Howarth: UK said...

Hi M, Andy and Aduro,

It was a fun piece to write, the overall theme not that easy! Hee hee, but got there with romantic element in the end! ;)


J.L. Campbell said...

Loved that last line. It says so much. Glad her fears of Jack being lost at sea did not materialize.

Scheherazade said...

Excellent description that pulls you into the story and a romantic twist at the end.

Francine Howarth: UK said...

Hi J.L. and Scheherazade,

Thanks for stopping by to comment.

Joy, I couldn't bear to let Jack drown!

Scheherazade, I do try for a twist ending with Flash-Fiction pieces. ;)



Anna said...

Wow, Francine. What can I say? This is a wonderful romantic mini-story with a great feeling for the historical setting. Beautiful description of the landscape/seascape and the characters. They are very real and distinct. (Even if I agree with Beverly that a name for the female protagonist would have been nice. Yes, I know that Daphne du Maurier wrote Rebecca without ever mentioning the second Mrs de Winter by name, but this was to make her even more pale, plain and invisible. Do you really want your heroine to be invisible? She seems to be made of real flesh and blood to me.)
I like the fact that she knew that he would be hiding in the cavern. And that he knew what it meant! Oh my!

Great romantic writing. I have so much to learn!

Kind regards,
For the benefit of other readers:

Anna's REWers Challenge No 21 'Fearful Heart'

Anna said...

Just a thought:
You could say that you have written a grown-up fairy-tale and not give your characters names. Except for 'Hansel & Gretel' fairy-tale characters don't have normal names; they are called 'The second son' or the 'Miller's daughter'. If you write a romantic adult fairytale, she won't have to have a name. But then you can't give him a name either.

I any case, your story is a great solution to the challenge of having both fear(worry) and romance(very hot, though very right for the time).

Lovely and exciting!

Best wishes,

Francine Howarth: UK said...

Hi Anna,

I guess all romantic stories air toward fairy tales, and mostly that of Cinderella. ;)