100-Word Challenge: Sad to Belong

Week 49’s 100-Word Challenge for Grown-Ups is another text prompt:
….Murray was just about to serve for the Championship when…
As Julia says, you have 100 words plus those in the prompt making 110 altogether. The prompt must be in the piece and not split.

Okay, then! I revisited an earlier vignette for this one, inspired as I was by that trailing “when…”

“Sad to Belong”

(With apologies to England Dan and John Ford Coley.)

They left the hotel television on, simply for the noise: noisy rooms were less likely to be disturbed. And they couldn’t be disturbed. Not now. Not after all the cooped-up days they’d already wasted, yearning for each other’s touch.

Robb’s arms were around her, but, still, Emma had to ask: “You’re certain about this?”

He nodded, nearly desperate. “I can’t go another minute without you,” he said, before crushing his mouth to hers.

They tumbled to the bed then, the television’s chatter covering their moans, and the snap of buttons and belts. Apparently, Murray was just about to serve for the Championship, when Robb’s mobile rang.

It was his wife.

I’m likely alone on this, but I don’t see Emma or Robb as bad people. Perhaps because I see their situation as a case of Right Love, Wrong Life.

What glimpse into another life did you take, with this week’s prompt?

100-Word Challenge: Flirting with Temptation

Week 47’s 100-Word Challenge for Grown-Ups is a picture challenge, of the Teapot Dome Service Station in Zillah, Washington:

Julia says: All you have to do is produce a creative piece of 100 words in length from the emotions / thoughts that this image stir in you.

My head is likely not in the same place as most people’s on this one, but I’ve just begun the process of producing a documentary, so my mind is on editing and video a lot, lately. The following is what I came up with (names have been changed to protect the “innocent”):

“Flirting with Temptation”

Raw footage review is a thankless task. But an editor’s job, as they say, is never done. So he sits in this cramped room the same as he’s done for the last week straight, poring over seemingly endless reels of kitschy novelty attractions, while the world goes on outside the door.

Sitting beside him, equally tired and equally antsy, Emma asks when was the last time he saw his wife.

“When was the last time you saw your husband?” he replies with a snicker.

She doesn’t laugh, though.

“Let’s not talk about that,” she says, just before she kisses him.


Don’t ask me why I went there….

Excerpt: Fearless, Chapter 12 (draft)

Sometimes, characters are clever enough to come to realisations all on their own:

“I was young,” he began at last, with a short but resigned shrug of one shoulder. “And she was sophisticated, and attractive, and so…confident about everything. Not to say that I was so naïve; I’d had my share of my totty. But this was different,” he said. “It was flattering. I mean, this wealthy, worldly woman said I was handsome, and exciting. Who wouldn’t want to hear that?” And here he did feel a dull pang of something like remorse. Not for Susanna, not for the woman who’d used him. But for the smitten, credulous man-boy he’d been. It had been so pulse-pounding and fantastic to know he could please a woman so, that he couldn’t quite bring himself to hate those memories, even now.

“Every moment with her was full of passion,” he said. “Part of that was because we were trying to keep it a secret, of course,” he admitted, and then he sighed a bit to himself, to recall the stolen kisses and clandestine trysts that had made him feel so virile and powerful and bold. “But I’d still thought that I could be what she wanted. I’d thought I could save her.”

I really like seeing characters face and admit to the ugly parts of themselves. I think that we all have those parts to us; there’s no avoiding them. But knowing our own faults can help us to overcome them – and not make those same mistakes – in the future.

Rodin's Lovers

Lovers, by Auguste Rodin [Public domain]

Ross’s prior indiscretion has a lot to do with the person he is. And I’d originally written this confession differently. But his own voice seemed to come through, and I came around to the idea that he didn’t need to be sorry for what he did. He just needed to get over it.

“She’s a Woman”

The product of a ten-minute writing challenge issued to our Art Night group, which theme was “First Kiss.” Because I can’t draw even a stick figure in ten minutes, I stuck with writing. Not surprisingly, mine was the darkest of the group’s pieces. This little drabble is actually one of the earliest attempts at (and inspirations for) what eventually became Fearless.

It’s the aerosol feel of splashing, salty waves against rocks that reminds her of another time like this one, where her husband once sat beside her beneath a shimmering moon and asked if she would always be his. That’s what makes her turn to the boy beside her now.

He’s so very young and so very strong, like her husband was, so long ago. He’s a different kind of handsome, this boy, though it’s a different era, now, isn’t it? Her husband had a gentleman’s part in his already-greying hair, and it was soft and silken, a controlled coif atop chiseled features. The boy’s blond locks – made coarse and dry by too many mornings spent in this salty sea – fall loose around still-full cheeks; he’s got no crow’s feet or laugh lines. He can barely grow a semblance of a beard over his chin.

But the boy is here, where her husband is not. The boy is beside her, and that is perhaps the reason most of all that she speaks to him, now.

“You’re quite cute, you know,” she says with a tickling smile.

He laughs, looking embarrassed as he glances away. But then he turns back again, and that boyish abashment is replaced by a more manly boldness. “You think?” he asks…though it is much more a goad than a mere question.

He isn’t very good at fishing, but she bites anyway – the hunter playing prey – and inclines her head. “I do.”

She lifts her chin again, stretching her neck. Will he bite, this time, she wonders? She thinks he will; he’s that right blend of curious and bashful: a boy looking for…not quite love, but perhaps a boastful notch on his belt (or on that board sitting forgotten beside him).

“It’s been a long time since I was with a man,” she tells him, and that’s truthful enough. “Would you mind very much if I kissed you?”

He blinks, but he doesn’t look away. “Not at all,” he murmurs, his eyes never leaving hers.

She smiles at his answer; she’s still very much a woman, no matter what any of the crones around this small-minded village say. This boy’s needy kiss is proof enough.

Of course, it’s not just one kiss, and it’s not just two. It’s not even just five or ten or twenty, but a brief misjudgment of propriety that becomes sojourns behind the rocks, and made-up excuses, and a shouting match behind tightly-shuttered windows.

And the tears of a grey-haired man.

And a boy’s broken heart.

But she’s still a woman. She’s proven that much, if nothing else. And that’s what matters.

The Graduate still

One of the more (in)famous May-December seduction scenes, from "The Graduate"

There’s a lot of taboo around May-December romances, though more often when it’s the woman who’s older. She’s seen as a temptress, a cougar, a sexual predator. This character – who would become the prickly Susanna Braden in the final story – is really not that different, at least from Ross’s point of view. Still, it was interesting to get her perspective on things.