Revolucion! – Friday Fictioneers

Well, it’s Friday Fictioneers time (write 100 words inspired by a phot prompt provided by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields) and I’ve decided to write a story about death, darlings. Much ado was made about my prologue to last week’s entry, particularly my attitude toward death.

Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear, or perhaps as the discussion went on, my thoughts became more distilled. It was not death that I was objecting to, per se, but rather, the trend of simply writing the easiest tale imaginable each and every week, and one of those just happens to be the jilted lover tale. Man catches wife cheating, cuts her up into little pieces and feeds her to his pet (insert animal, actual or fictional here). Or, woman catches man cheating, decides to poison him (even I have written this story, darlings, so fear not — the challenge is directed at myself as well). There are other popular trends, but that one is just the most… well… offensive, both in its ability to offend and its frequency of offenses. The other trend is the forced twist ending.

A twist ending is only a good twist ending if it clicks with the rest of the story. When you read the last line of a story and it changes your perspective on the whole tale — that is, you realize that this has been true all along, you just didn’t see it at first.

I hope that my tale this week illustrates that.

copyright Dloverling

copyright Dloverling

Marta didn’t know how long the soldiers had been gone; she only dreaded their imminent return.

“Please,” her daughter cried, watching her wrap a towel around rotten bread. “We need to leave, Mama.”

Marta feared to look in the corner of the room; refused to acknowledge what lay there. Instead, she stared out her door, at the abandoned streets that lay bleeding like a rape victim. Faded bunting from celebratory parades hung from the roofs like old spent semen.

“Get your father, mija. It’s time to go.”

The girl collapsed in the corner and wept into her dead father’s chest.

100 words exactly.

Genre: Drama

Be sure to read as many of the others as you can, and give comments as comments are due.

 

Incidentally… just as an afterthought – this is my 300th post.

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102 responses to “Revolucion! – Friday Fictioneers

  1. I’m still with you on the jilted lover/forced twist ending front. Variety is the spice of life, as they say, so let’s keep it spicy, shall we?

    I had a strong feeling from the start that whatever was in the corner of the room was either something Marta loved very much, that was taken away, or something absolutely horrible or terrifying. The rape comparisons were powerful—it made the scene that much more painful, and filled with violation after violation.

    For a photo that seemed rather joyous, you certainly turned it on its head! Now I have to balance this out with something happy…

    • I re-wrote this story about 5 times. In one variation, the mother SEES the soldiers standing outside the door — sees them clearly — even though they’re not really there, and so she’s terrified to leave the house, despite the urging of her daughter. But I couldn’t quite convey that level of madness and hallucination in 100 words.

  2. After last week’s wonderful insanity fueled by your frankness, I just had to check out your story right away. You are clearly a marketing genius. Your story is divine! I love the descriptions, especially, “Faded bunting from celebratory parades hung from the roofs like old spent semen.” I’m still worrying over my story this week. To kill or not to kill. To continue the serial or not. Such a quandary.

    • Just to let you in on my own personal opinion (shhhhh, don’t tell anyone): I don’t like it when people do serials for the FF. It seems contrary to the whole spirit of the “self-contained” story, and I USUALLY skip them out of principle. I have read yours because I really enjoy it, and I don’t know that you’ll write it otherwise. I think you’ve got a good idea, and if you have the time, you should definitely expand it and write it — not necessarily for FF. Just my two cents.

      • I don’t really like serials either, but I kind of fell into it. It’s hard to keep up with them as a reader. I’m unsure about continuing it. Some readers are excited about the next part, but I’m sure others are sick of it. I’ve been contemplating writing it as a longer story outside of FF. I appreciate your feedback and that you’ve taken the time to read my serial. It means a lot to me.

  3. You have taken upon you a great challenge.. to describe the horrid moments when a life have been ripped apart. I think that the imagery (where the reader is forced to understand the back story) is really good. The mother’s shock is also apparent… and only the little girl having witnessed it all seems to have some sanity left. Sad sad sad.

  4. Wow. You knocked it out of the ballpark. I could see all this going on. But that imagery you used … Freud would have paid YOU for a house call! 😀

  5. Agree again with your pre-story comments. Some of the stories on here would be better without the last sentence. Feel some of us can’t resist overloading the last line with a twist/punchline totally out of place i.e. it simply doesn’t belong and ruins a perfectly good story. If in doubt just let the story fade out with some nice imagery. Don’t always need a knockout blow.

  6. Excellent. Powerful imagery!

    P.S. I hope you don’t skip mine because it ‘looks’ like a serial. It’s more like excerpts from a larger (as yet unwritten) tale, but I’m keeping the title the same just to indicate that they are tied together in some way. They are certainly in no way chronological. Anyway, just wanted to inject that. 🙂

  7. Great story with some graphic descriptions. (I’d say ‘great imagery’ but I hear the phrase has been banned.) 😉 I misunderstood this at first reading, thinking that Marta was the name of the little girl so I couldn’t understand why the mother asked her ‘mija’ to get her father. Now I do though, and it adds volumes to the tale. Well done.

      • You nailed it! Totally and utterly. And while I’m back here, I too dislike serials on FF. Apart from the fact that few of us have the time to keep recapping, particularly when there are more than a few serials on the go, I don’t understand why writers wouldn’t want a fresh sheet to write on each week. Just me I guess. 😦

  8. I loved the idea that the bunting (or whatever it is) is like ‘spent semen’. I’m never going to look at a papery garland in the same way again. I also loved the open ending of your story; it left me with questions, how will they carry the father, how will they travel, where will they go? For me, FF stories that leave me with more questions are the best stories.

  9. I like the way you set up just enough story to set the emotional as well as the physical stage, then left it open to our imaginations, whether good, bad or ugly. Congratulations on your 300th post and I’m in your corner regarding serials.

    janet

  10. War leaves corpses of different kinds behind and you have brought out the horror of those gruesome moments so succinctly in this piece!I feel for the little girl-a mother who has possibly lost her sanity or is in denial and a father who is no more!Worse,the streets are unsafe-deserted and she is just a child!Excellent writing Helena and the descriptions were so real that it made me gag with revulsion.

  11. I was blind-sided by the rotten bread, and kept seeing it being wrapped and wrapped, as though important…

    • I put it there as a deliberate item of interest — either this woman is incredibly desperate and is taking everything and anything she can find, or else she’s completely lost touch with the details. Or both.

      • *bossnod* As they say on the Pintrest (though this time, with genuine meaning) NAILED IT!

  12. Helena- This one was incredibly strong in imagery., I assumed a solider was dead in the corner at first. But in the end, her father, everything snapped to focus and your writing broke my heart. This is one of my all time Favs.

  13. if there were anything i could change, it would be the semen, but that’s because i’m a guy, and the word is just funny to most of us. but clearly it is my childish issue and nothing more or less.

    this was to wrenching to imagine what happened before, although that’s imaginable from what you clearly described for us to deal with. but what’s coming next? that’s something far too disturbing for me to think about. well done.

  14. Very thought provoking. I wonder did the mother realize her husband was dead? Did she choose to block it out? Was it some sort of ritual to carry a corpse? Either way the daughter has a lot on her plate.

  15. A vivid story of wartime atrocities and living in a state of fear. What made the mother’s insanity clear to me was when she told her daughter to bring the father. The child is going to have a hard time of it in future. Well done as usual. I looked up the word “mija”. I suspected what it meant but wanted to make sure. Well written once more. Congratulations on your 300th post!

  16. Dear Helena,

    You have shown us in this dramatic piece how death is done. 😉 Disturbing and well written. It seems it’s been said and said, so rather than belabor the point, I’ll nod and smile in agreement. .

    Thank you for your participation and support, darling. It’s something I’ve come to look forward to every week.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

  17. A powerful and haunting story, Helena. Congratulations on a superb ending. When we know in the last line that the thing in the corner the girl couldn’t look at was the body of her dead father, the whole story shifts. Love this.

  18. Dear Helena,

    One of the best ever (and by that I mean not just your best, but everyone’s, for over two years). Powerful writing. Your performance this week (and last) reminded me of The Babe, standing at the plate and pointing to the outfield, then delivering.

    Aloha,

    Doug

    • Doug,
      You say that and I am laughing out loud, because you know that’s kind of exactly the mindset I was in! After making that declaration last week, I knew I had to hit it out of the park this week. Thank you for the affirmation, I think this is a good story too. As evidenced by the fact that I’m not even resorting to my typical self-deprecating humour.
      So wait a minute — does this mean I get a candy bar named after me?
      (wouldn’t you know it — there already is a Dilettante chocolate company?)
      Thank you again — I don’t know if I should retire now and go out on a high note or keep trying to do better. Probably the second option.
      Helena

  19. Dearest Helena,

    It was my pleasure. The second, always the second, please. It’s like tasting new types of chocolate, yes? Your writing is that good.

    Off to Rio now.

    Ciao Bella,

    Doug

  20. Perfect, and I don’t mean because you got 100 words exactly. For me, the imagery wasn’t gruesome (“at the abandoned streets that lay bleeding like a rape victim”). They were spot-on and especially for a story that appears to be taking place in some Latin or South American country. The story evokes many stories I’ve read or heard about atrocities in those countries, the way they are described much like the way you describe them here. [If I’m not making sense, it’s because I’m writing fast, trying to get this comment in before I’m off to work.] I’m thinking of Rigoberta Menchu and others (and, no, I don’t want to get into the controversy of her books). This is definitely something you could develop into a much larger story.

    • I was picturing either Spain during their civil war or yes, a South American nation. I really wanted the idea of the woman being positively shell-shocked to come through. In my original draft, I tried to convey the idea that she was refusing to leave because she could “see” the soldiers standing outside her door — soldiers that had long deserted their posts. But fear kept her there. Fear and madness. Unfortunately, that draft got far too big (in scope if not in words as well) and I trimmed it down to this.

      • Your story also reminded me of One Day of Life by Manilo Argueta, a Salvadoran author. I read it almost 40 years ago and although I don’t remember the details, the essence of the novel has always stayed with me. Much like your story will stay with me.

      • The sounds of gunfire and shouting, and debris rustling are clear, but they are background noises.
        There is a haze of smoke in the plaza, and terrified people moving about – darting or running or walking in shock – but it’s all sort of removed and subdued by the action in the house.

      • Fairly close to what I had in mind — I pictured the scene you describe, but maybe even a day or two further on — and that Marta and her daughter have barricaded themselves in their house, terrified to go outside.

  21. Your vivid and jolting imagery securely implanted itself in my mind as I read the story. I could, of course, expand upon this, but I’m sure you’ve heard it all by now. It’s amazing though how rotten bread and spent semen can really paint a story! I loved the suspense of what was in the corner the whole time, though I was scared to find out as well. The whole situation is heartbreaking, but especially the fact that the daughter has to take over her mother’s role. Sometimes, trauma can lead us to grow up long before our time.

  22. It’s all been said… but this piece really shines, Helena. The powerful sense of loss (sanity, life, hope…) is palpable throughout. The semen reference didn’t resonate as strongly as the rest, but I’m not sure what would work better. It follows the rape reference perfectly, but there’s something about it that falls flat for me. Otherwise, brilliant… and in the end, if Doug calls it “one of the best ever,” nothing I say holds much weight. 😉

  23. You set the bar too high for we mere mortals. Great peace and full of unspeakable imagery. But then there isn’t any romance in war and in what the civilians experience.

  24. Ahh, I missed last week’s piece and so all the controversy 🙂 I’ll have to go hunting for it.
    This week’s piece is very dark and the imagery with the abandoned streets, blood, rape victims…Ack, not nice.

  25. Superb graphic imagery. I hope the daughter can bring the mother back to reality so they can escape, but I think she’s paralysed by grief and denial.

  26. Powerful and disturbing imagery here, m’dear. You serve it up with a side of rotten bread and plenty of blood in which to soak it. A nice way to show any naysayers how death is never trivial. I raise my glass to you, dear.

    Cheers!
    Marie Gail

  27. Oh Love, this was beyond good. In my heart I knew that someone lie dead in their home. How sad it was her father. I felt every word. Absolutely fantastic. Thank you.

    Love, Renee

  28. Dear H
    You created some powerfully disturbing imagery here, that is very unsettling. How I would react in a situation like this, one that is being replayed in many parts of the world as I type, I just can’t imagine.

    How do the women survive and stay sane? This poor woman obviously didn’t.

    That my photo inspired this is amazing

    Dee
    x

  29. I had to read this several times and read the comments with it to get a better understanding of what was really going on. I don’t say that as a criticism because I think it is an excellent story that is full of spaces for us to fill with our own imaginings, but just because I wanted to let you know that it made me want stay here and soak it up. This is one to be savoured Helena. 🙂

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