Friday Fictioneers–Connected

Posted: May 8, 2013 in Friday Fictioneers
Tags: , , , ,

Friday Fictioneers.

One hundred words, one story.
One picture, many stories.
Read more by clicking the link at the very end…
or join if you dare!

Icon_Grill_copyright Ted_Strutz

Icon_Grill_copyright Ted_Strutz

Connected

He almost didn’t go.  Too many miles in too few days, a week of writing deemed not good enough and erased, too many restaurant meals, too little exercise.  But he needed time to unwind before going home.

She sat, absorbed (as always) in a book, somehow more connected than those constantly online. He caught her eye, smiled, raised his glass.  Her grin and raised glass decided him.  Tonight he’d say hello.  He rose and…

jerked awake, sweating,  crying, catching that same grin in the picture frame as he rolled across the empty space on the other side of the bed.

Comments
  1. That was powerful. You captured a lot in little space, especially in that last line. Great work.

    • Thanks, David. I had another story line going and it just didn’t work so I dropped it (although I may use it in a longer form). This one came to mind after I looked more closely at the picture and saw the woman in it. Glad you liked it.

      janet

  2. brainsnorts says:

    i like the aura surrounding the story because it’s one i’ve sat in many times. so it’s like a familiar place to me.

    first question: not 100% sure what this means, “Her grin and raised glass decided him.”

    second question, why parentheses? “She sat, absorbed (as always) in a book…” why not just write, “she sat, absorbed, as always,in a book…” i’m not sure why parentheses are better than commas. it could be argued that there would then be too many commas in one sentence, which may be true, but then – if you see the next question, you might not need the commas.

    third question: it doesn’t feel like the right place for the “as always.” when reading it aloud, it feels like it should either be after “sat” or after “book.” for example, “she sat as always, absorbed in a book.” or maybe “As always, she sat absorbed in a book.” or maybe “She sat absorbed in a book, as always.” just playing with variables.

    the good part is that it’s not wrong the way it is. but that doesn’t mean it can’t be better. everything can always be both good enough but also improved.

    • Rich, I appreciate the time you take to not only read and like but to think and comment.

      In order. “Her grin and raised glass decided him” follows the previous sentence. He smiles and raises his glass, thinking that he might go over and say hello. Her returned grin and raised glass make him decide he will, as she seems receptive.

      The parentheses were chosen deliberately because I like the added pause that they give, rather than that given (at least in my mind) by the commas. Any of your suggested re-writes would work just fine, but I like the feel of the way I chose. Just personal preference.

      Thanks for reading. I haven’t had time to return the favor but I hope your writing’s going well.

      janet

      • brainsnorts says:

        thanks. no need to return any favor. never a problem. as for the pause with the parentheses, i like the pause too, but you can also get that pause with a hyphen. there’s something distracting about the parentheses, but the pause is necessary and important.

        i think the problem with “decided” is the use of the verb. what about something like “Her grin and raised glass clinched it.” or “sealed it.” or “confirmed” or something, not sure. what i assume you are going for is that the grin and raised glass sealed his decision. but physically, he can’t be “decided.” so it’s not a transitive verb situation.

      • From Dictionary.com, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/decided:
        3. to bring (a person) to a decision; persuade or convince: The new evidence decided him.

        Somewhat of an irony, I think, since this new evidence decided him. 🙂

        The parentheses give me the feel of an aside, more than commas would do, which is what I was looking for. Just pretend you see commas, OK? 🙂 And anyone else who reads the story, please feel free to weigh in. If the parentheses are distracting, I’m willing to go with commas.

        Hope your day’s off to a good start, Rich.

        janet

      • brainsnorts says:

        as for the parentheses, i think you’re right, a matter of taste. i thought about the aside, but that would more come into play if it were a first person narrative. perhaps it’s just personal preference, so enough said.

        i see the definition to support “decided,” but i don’t like the use. not saying it’s wrong. i guess that’s another personal preference. oh well.

      • When I have a little time, I’ll think about a better verb. The hundred word limit makes it a more difficult decision but something like “clinched it”, as you suggested, would work.

        Thanks again. Steel sharpens steel and that’s a good thing (unless you get stabbed with the knife.) 🙂

        janet

      • brainsnorts says:

        yup. btw – part of the reason i stopped doing the FF was because (as i posted 😉 ) to focus on finishing/revising a novel. but another thing happened that caused me to think of the “novel” thing. i had a similar exchange with someone, making a suggestion like this, and that person reacted very harshly. i was surprised because it was someone with whom i had made these kinds of comments to on other occasions, so it was a surprise. and then i thought, “why should i bother? i’m trying to help someone – politely – and i get snapped at and also told that i have “no imagination” if i couldn’t see how their version was better than my suggestion.

        so i greatly appreciate that you’re a reminder that these discussions are vital for learning and improving, and they can be done politely too.

      • I think a big part of the problem is that writing is so personal, so even well-intended suggestions or criticism (in the positive, critiquing sense of the word) can feel like attacks on the author rather than differences of opinion, grammar corrections, etc. I usually only “correct” when I think that person will take is as I meant it–as a way to improve the piece. Of course, authors break the rules all the time and it can work, but I think you should know the rules before breaking them deliberately, rather than because you don’t even know the rule. And grammar does matter.

      • brainsnorts says:

        yup. and when i “correct,” i try to use words like “consider” and “perhaps” and “maybe” and “think about.” i certainly won’t forget a graduate writing class when a suggestion by the teacher angered a woman so much she threw a chair across the room and stomped out. was very strange and disappointing. the comment was that the woman’s chapter would likely fall under the “romance” category, and that insulted the writer.

      • I do the same. As for chair-throwing, at least here it can only be virtual! 🙂

      • Bill says to tell you that he always appreciated your input.

      • brainsnorts says:

        thanks very much, and he should feel free to send me a link to anything he’d like input. for. on. which.

    • Ankita says:

      May I interject here? I really learn a lot from you guys, Janet and Rich. I read all of your comments and am grinning because you both have helped me improve a lot! 🙂 Keep doing that please, I promise not to throw any chair, table, etc. 😉

      • Thanks, Ankita. Good to know I won’t be dodging objects, virtual or otherwise! I’m also glad to be of help in any way I can and glad you know it’s never meant otherwise. :-). Enjoy your Thursday.

        janet

  3. The dream and the harsh reality
    excellent Janet just excellent

  4. You wrote the words and I can see the pictures – that’s just great – THANKS!

  5. Joe Owens says:

    Wow Janet, I thought we were seeing the beginning of a love story, but instead it was the end and a sad reminder of how we must love every day as if it is the last.

  6. tedstrutz says:

    Oh my. This is the first story I have read, and it tells a story from my photo, because I have sat in this enjoyable bar and know how it could easily become a favorite place to hang out, and you maybe meet the person to spend your life with… until something takes them away from you. I was enjoying your story so much, Janet… until the last line. Excellent story… I don’t know if I shall read better.

    Thank you for tagging me on facebook… my followers (haha, I sound like such a big shot) will get a chance to see FriFic from someone other than me. Ted

  7. Lynda says:

    I like the parenthesis, and agree that their use makes it ‘an aside comment to the reader.’
    (Well, that’s my .02 cents, anyway. 😉 )

  8. tedstrutz says:

    Reblogged this on TedBook and commented:
    This week Rochell Wisoff-Fields used my photo of the Icon Grill in Seattle. Janet Webb has written a fine story. This is the first I have read… there will be almost 100 written this week… and having sat in this bar, I am moved more.

  9. I like the idea of connectedness you’re working with here, Janet, in bars, with books, online, and then in dreams. Very powerful story.

    • Thanks very much. I wanted to have more about this being his usual place, but I had to take some things out so I’m glad the sense of connectedness came through.

      janet

  10. Kir Piccini says:

    “empty space on the other side of the bed” are there ever any more sad words or feelings?

    This was done so well, racing along and then stopping with a heartbreak. I loved it, every single word.

  11. Penny L Howe says:

    Hi Janet. Exceedingly well written. the flow was flawless. I liked your take on the prompt also! Although I do have to add that the exchange in your comment section, most intriguing 😉 It was a little bit tempting to jump into the mix!

    • You’re more than welcome to jump in as long as you jump respectfully (which I know you would). Talking in real life is fraught with the possibility of misunderstanding and that of the written word, which has no body language to go with it, even more so. That’s why I often err on the side of caution when commenting with corrections or getting into a discussion. But by all means, feel free. I’d love to hear your opinion if you’d like to give it.

      All that aside, I’m glad the story worked so well. This one really was a quick write after I set the other aside.

      janet

      • Penny L Howe says:

        A great quick write Janet, I find that can happen sometimes when discarding a first attempt.

        On the other – Thanks, if I jump in I will be respectful. Editing is important. When it comes to blogging, I am guilty myself of missing typos or poor usage of words, too many, etc. So I also tend to be very cautious when commenting on someone else’s work, and also like you appreciative when someone points out a valid error that I can correct!

  12. Nice job. I think “decided” works just fine. It’s a strong word, whereas clinched, sealed, etc. sound more fickle. This saying “Hello” is a big deal. He needs all the strength he can get. 😉

    As for the parenthesis – they work, but I find them a bit distracting, especially in the middle of the phrase. They might work better at the end of “absorbed in a book.” Coming after “absorbed,” they suggest that she’s always absorbed without qualifying “in a book.” That said, take my comments on parenthesis with a grain of salt… I’m not crazy about them in general. As you said, personal preference.

    The story itself was sweetly painful.

    • Thanks for the input on both aspects under discussing and I’m glad you liked the story no matter which choices were made. I value your input, whether or not I change something. However, next time I’m tempted to use parentheses…

      Glad you dropped in and glad you liked the story, which is really the heart of the matter.

      janet

  13. Ah there is a lot of story packed into a few words. I like it because it tells about unfullfilled expecations and failures. I really liked it.

    • Thanks, Bjorn. I’m really glad you liked it. 🙂 And of course, I mean that.

      janet

      • I have really thought about how you can pack “a life’s story” into 100 words. And to do that you have to guide the reader’s fantasy.
        Using “common references” is great, I think many of us know the feeling of sitting in a bar by yourself and looking at the people around you, So that is something you can rely on. Then filling in those colourful details making it a complete story. I learn every week.

      • That’s one of the things I enjoy about reading all the stories, even though it takes some time. I learn something each week, too.

  14. I really liked the premise of this story but I had a hard time reading it. It just didn’t flow, for me, for some reason. I read it three times with the same results. It could be that I am distracted and need to work on my to do list instead of being on Word Press.

  15. kdillmanjones says:

    I wasn’t expecting that ending! You really had me caught up in their moment.

  16. rgayer55 says:

    #1 – thanks for being the 1st to read my offering this week. Yours is the 1st I’ve visited.
    #2 – I enjoyed the story and could picture myself right there (or is it write there?).
    #3 – I got a kick out of your exchange with Rich. That guy can slip frog hair nine ways, but I always learn something from him. I had to duck to avoid the virtual flying chair 🙂

    • Ah, Rich, your eyesight must be going. There were no chairs flying at all, just two English/grammar-oriented friends having a discussion and agreeing to disagree. With FF, it could be right there or write there, depending upon the circumstances. I’m glad you got to my story before fall, that you liked it, and again, safe travels.

      janet

  17. Sheila says:

    I love all the different connections. Very beautiful and sad, but also nice that the connection was so strong.

  18. the ending shocked me awake… the reality of the empty bed, sad. Randy

  19. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Janet,

    Your story moved me. I’m glad I read it right away. Sinks deeper and fixes itself in my mind.

    Aloha,

    Doug

    • I know. It started innocently enough as the story of a man going to his usual place, to relax, see friends and that night, decide to get to know this interesting woman better. But that’s not good enough for FF and the ending introduced itself later.

      janet

  20. kz says:

    a really sad ending… makes me wonder what happened to her.

  21. pamtanzey says:

    Lovely, sad (reads like a poem) I loved it!

  22. Great story, beautifully told.
    Very well done.

  23. Dear Janet,
    You turned me every way but loose with this one. Well done, multi-layered and I shouldn’t have read it on my lunch break. People might think it odd of me to weep over my cell phone. 😉
    Shalom,
    Rochelle

  24. Sandra says:

    That’s a lot of story in a few words Janet, I really enjoyed that. Well done.

    • Glad you liked it, Sandra. Hope you’re feeling better (both of you) and enjoying being home.

      janet

      • Sandra says:

        Yes thanks we’re both much better, and now on the boat in France. Like you, it’s all go for us…

      • Great! How long are you on the boat? Do you just go home every so often or is there a season for each place?

      • Sandra says:

        Probably 4 – 6 weeks each cruise, anytme between April and late October, depending on the weather, with 2-3 weeks back in the UK in between just to check on things. At the moment the river is running about 4 metres above normal so we might have to delay departure for a few days. 😦

      • Nice–about the cruising and being at home division. Not so nice about having to delay your departure. Do you have pictures of your boat on your blog? I guess I should wander over and look. Just been so busy.

  25. zookyworld says:

    You packed a lot into a flash fiction piece… once connected, now disconnected, and the last sentence is descriptive with how the reality of being apart makes the male character feel. Great writing here.

  26. vb holmes says:

    Good story, Janet, and I, too, wonder what happened to the girl (sign of a successful tale). Enjoyed your interchange with Rich–I’d like to see more constructive criticism (as long as the recipient doesn’t take offense and the reviewer doesn’t expect every suggestion to be utilized).

    • Glad you liked the story, vb, and to be left wondering can be a good, if sometimes frustrating, thing.

      I agree with you about criticism and as I said to Rich, sometimes it just boils down to personal preference. I often mention grammar issues because I think they detract from the story. But I hope I’m always mentioning them in a positive, useful way.

      janet

  27. Steve B says:

    Excellent. The sudden crash from hopeful expectation to bereft loss. One of my favorites so far!

  28. denmother says:

    I can feel his pain as his dream is dashed by reality. Great story.
    Denmother

  29. Jan Brown says:

    This was wonderful. The ending was jarring, a rude awakening from a lovely dream. Great job!

  30. Mystikel says:

    I thought that you were writing more “distantly” than usual but then reality flooded with the twist. Very sad and well done.

    I liked the use of decided. I personally would have removed the parentheses but it really is a matter of writer’s preference to me. Also I very much appreciate your attentive readings and corrections. You always “have our back” as they say.

  31. Mystikel says:

    … reality flooded *in* with the twist. I had to correct it because it’s not fair to make you pull out your editor pencil on your own blog 🙂

  32. pirate says:

    Snatched back into reality! From dreamy to real – very nicely done!

  33. petrujviljoen says:

    I like this story a lot. It’s put together excellently, enjoyed the flow and the heartache at the end subdued any stereotypes of this sort of encounter. Loved the interaction between you and Rich. Learnt from it.

    • I’m glad you ended with the idea that this wasn’t “this sort of encounter.” The bar was simply a place where they met and the beginning of a relationship. Glad the interaction between Rich and me was of use to you as well. 🙂

      janet

  34. Janet, you heartbreaker! Drifting along in that gentle dream …. great emotional contrast.

  35. troy P. says:

    God Janet, you just punched me in the gut with that one. This has to be just about the most powerful FF I’ve ever read. Seriously.

    Bravo, my blogging buddy, bravo!

    • Troy, you just made my morning sunny even though it’s cloudy and rainy here. Thank you so much!

      Have a marvelous Friday,

      janet

      • troy P. says:

        Janet, I meant every word. Thank YOU.

        Oh crap, it’s cloudy here now as well. Bummer. Have a marvelous Friday regardless!

      • Sorry to send the cloud curse your way. 🙂 We’ve had rain and the plant life is bursting out all over. It’s as if spring were only a day or a week and then all living things morphed into summer! But I plan on having a marvelous Friday, too.

        janet

  36. JulesPaige says:

    I didn’t see the woman at first either. Too caught up in the details of the bottles. Yup I know what you mean about ideas morphing 🙂

    Memories are unique triggers. I’d like to think he had some time with this gal…the picture on the nightstand… but then maybe his grin was reflected in a different piece of framed art… you weave a good story with open ended questions.

    Thanks for stopping by both of my pieces. I thought I had stopped by here before, so I’m glad I came back to check…

    • I’m glad you did, too, Jules. I almost always go through the stories in order, otherwise I can’t remember where I’ve been until I get there. 🙂

      As for the grin, it was hers from her picture in the frame and in the rest of my story, they married and lived happily until whatever happened happened.

      Enjoy your day!

      janet

  37. erinleary says:

    Sad dream – you create empathynfor him in so few words. Nicely done!

  38. 40again says:

    You managed to get so much into this very powerful tale. The last line packs a hefty punch.
    Dee

  39. unspywriter says:

    Very nice–from a barroom pick-up to absence making the heart grow fonder. Well done.

    Here’s mine: http://unexpectedpaths.com/friday-fictioneers/if-at-first-you-dont-succeed/

    • The question becomes is it a pick-up if that’s just where they meet? Did he pick her up or did they find something in common during that first meeting and build a relationship that lasted? Always questions…and my author’s ideas may not be those of the reader, part of what makes writing, especially in such small does, so interesting.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      janet

  40. I wonder if he dreamed that dream every night and what exactly he had lost. Or if he ever really had it in the first place. A lot to think about there in so few words. Thanks, Janet!

  41. Enough of an incomplete story there to make me feel his grief. Nicely done.

  42. Shreyank says:

    A great story Janet ! and a very animated conversation with Rich.. also thanks for handing me out a better title for my story 🙂

  43. I guess the dream is the first step. Good story.

  44. Linda Vernon says:

    Oh great story. I just love the “record scratch” technique you used very effectively in the ending. 😀

  45. nightlake says:

    It sounded great in the beginning, but sadly it was just a dream. a good twist

    • Well, that’s one interpretation. 🙂 Mine was that he actually met and married her, but lost her to death. He woke while dreaming of how they met. I find it interesting how there can be other completely valid interpretations of the same story, although by saying that he saw her smile in the frame, I tried to show that he’d actually met her.

      Thanks for coming by. It’s always a pleasure.

      janet

      • nightlake says:

        That makes perfect sense. I was under the impression that he woke up miserable because he had once again failed to make a contact with her. But your explanation makes it all the more deep and sad. so much in 100 words. well done. and thank you for visiting my post today

      • Enjoyed chatting with you. The internet is amazing, isn’t it! Have a wonderful weekend.

        janet

      • nightlake says:

        Thanks and wish you the same:)

  46. EagleAye says:

    Oh bummer. I thought he would get his lady love. She sounds like my type too. Hopefully, dreams someday become realities. An empty bed can be a powerful incentive to fulfill those dreams. Nicely written, Janet!

    • He did get her for awhile but she died. They were happy. I was hoping him seeing her smile in the photo would let everyone know they’d gotten together.

      Glad you made it over. Have a great weekend!

      janet

  47. sandraconner says:

    Great, great story, Janet. And I’ll go ahead and weigh in on the “parenthesis” issue since it seems to have grown to something of a major question.

    First I’ll respond as an English and Creative Writing teacher for most of my adult life. In a strictly grammatical sense, the parentheses are used to set off material that truly is an “aside” — something not in the main point of the sentence — but not of “particular” importance. Dashes, on the other hand, are used specifically to set off material that is not in the main point of the sentence, but that is something to which the author wishes to draw particular attention. Dashes say to the reader that this material is more than just an “aside.” It is something that will make a difference in the connotation of the whole sentence — or perhaps the whole paragraph. Commas can be used in either instance, but they do not accomplish the same kind of result, because they are a very generic tool and do not add the connotation supplied by the parentheses or the dashes.

    Now, responding as a Reader, I like the pause the parentheses give. And you are correct grammatically because it is not necessary to draw particular attention to this information — just to let the reader understand the situation better in only 2 words. Well done! As a reader, I applaud you. As a teacher, I give you an A+.

    • Sandra, thanks for giving an “official” take on the parentheses issue–which isn’t really an “issue” in the negative sense. I had no idea of the minute differences among parentheses, dashes, and commas, so thanks for that and I’m glad that as a grammar nazi I wasn’t shooting myself in the grammatical foot. 🙂

      I’m glad it worked on both a grammatical level and a reader level. Thanks for starting my morning out with an A+!! And no read ink! 🙂

      Hope you’re enjoying your Saturday.

      janet

  48. wmqcolby says:

    Ohhhh that hurt! Stung! First rate, Janet! The Earl Gray must have been REALLY strong this week! 😉 The worst part about dreams is you don’t often get them to conclude.

    • Ahhh, but perhaps the dream was a dream of reality, which is why he could see her picture across the room when he woke and why the sense of loss was so great. Both parts were real, but the good one was now in the past.

      Glad you liked it!

      janet

  49. elappleby says:

    A brilliant story! I love the formatting, the change from italics to …er… non-italics? and the lack of capital letter jerks us awake as he was jerked awake. Genius!
    I’m afraid I disagree with Rich on the ‘(as always)’ – I think it does exactly what you wanted, makes us consider those two words a little more closely so we leave the sentence with a strong impression that this lady was always reading. The sentiment would be at risk of getting lost if you’d used commas.
    This is one of my favourites this week and will stay with me for a while.

    • Good morning (or midday), el, and thanks for letting me know this worked for you, both grammatically and, even more importantly, on the emotional level. It’s always nice to start the day with some positive comments. 🙂

      Enjoy the weekend,

      janet

  50. JackieP says:

    Why are they always dreams?! They should be reality. I feel sorry for him. Great story Janet.

    • Thanks, Jackie. There’s another interpretation,a somewhat happier one, which is the one I tried to write. He’s lost her, but is dreaming about when they first met. That’s what the picture of her conveyed. Of course, since he lost her, it ends sadly, too, but at least they had some time together. Thanks for the comments.

      Enjoy the weekend,

      janet

  51. neenslewy says:

    Emotive, I was there in the story.

  52. Sarah Ann says:

    This is haunting, in a good way. I jerked awake too as the pace and tone changed with the font. A great and touching piece.

  53. Great excerpt – very intriguing intro! Thanks, too, for visiting my blog.

    • I enjoyed the visit, although I’d enjoy it more if I were in France and able to visit all those places. 🙂 Thanks for coming by and reading one of my stories. We do these weekly and it’s a lot of fun.

      Have a marvelous Monday!

      janet

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