"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Friday, July 5, 2013

Love’s New Beginning

A few months ago, I attempted a flash fiction piece for a woman's magazine. The requirements: modern day romantic fiction of 800 words with a perceived problem in the beginning to be overcome by the end. It was rejected by them and then by a second company. I'd like to share it with you and I hope you'll offer an HONEST critique.

Love’s New Beginning

This is it. The night Kevin is going to break up with me.
            It was only a matter of time. Four months ago I lost my job. Unable to find another I had to move back in with my parents. My car had been repossessed the week before, and this morning I realized I had gained twenty pounds since the holidays. As I slipped further into a depression, I couldn’t imagine how someone like Kevin would want to stay with a loser like me.

            When he picked me up, Kevin was full of meaningless chatter as we headed for town. Now, thirty minutes later the car became uncomfortably silent.
            He must be trying to figure a way to break it to me gently.

Perhaps I could forestall the inevitable or try to change his mind, but could I do that to him? I wanted him to be happy, not get drug down into my misery.

I studied his profile while he wove in and out of traffic. He’s so handsome, smart, and fun. I should break it off before he has to.

The problem is, I’m a coward and I want to hold on to him as long as possible. I sighed, shifted my weight to turn to look out the passenger window.

Realizing I had no clue where we were, I asked, “Where are we going?”

“Oh, Julie, I’m sorry. I forgot to mention I promised a friend I would stop and feed his dog while he was out of town tonight.”

“Who do you know that lives in the city?”

“I didn’t tell you Mark bought a house?”

“No,” Already failing to share part of your life with me.

We lapsed back into silence until we reached the house two miles later.

Kevin shut off the ignition, turned and stared at me.

“Julie, would you mind coming in with me?”

“You need help to feed a dog?”

“I might need help finding the food. Mark didn’t mention where he kept it.”


I turned, pulled the handle to open the door, and stopped to stare at the home.

“It would be nice to live in a place like this.”

“You think so?” he asked.

“You don’t?”

He stared at the house for a moment. “Maybe.”

My shoulders drooped. Here I was imagining a home with him one day. He obviously wasn’t in the same place.

I followed him up the path from the street to the front door. He had the key ready and turned the lock immediately. Then, he just stopped and turned to stare at me.

“What’s wrong?”

“Julie, I should have talked to you about this before…”

Oh God, he’s going to break up with me on the front porch of his friend’s house.

I stood frozen, unable to speak or move, until he motioned me to lead the way. I took three steps into the living room before stumbling to a stop again; this time in astonishment instead of terror.

In the center of the room a round table had been dressed with a white tablecloth. Two candles burned in their holders next to a bucket of ice and a champagne bottle. A plate of chocolate covered strawberries sat to one side.

I vaguely registered the sound of the front door closing. When I glanced at Kevin, he took my hand and led me to the side of the table. We stared at each other a moment, and I could feel nervousness and anticipation gathering my stomach muscles tighter and tighter.

“Julie, this house doesn’t belong to Mark. I bought it – for us. You are the most wonderful woman I’ve ever known. Your beauty is surpassed only by the kindness and love in your heart. I can’t imagine going another day without asking you to be mine.”

Tears flowed down my cheeks as he lowered himself to one knee and pulled a box from inside his coat pocket.

“Julie, will you do me the great honor of becoming my best friend, wife, and lover for as long as we both shall live?”

“Yes,” I whispered shakily sinking down next to him so I could pull him close.

He kissed me fiercely before pulling back. “You haven’t even seen the ring yet.”

“I don’t care about the ring, just you.” I laughed.

“Well, I hope you’ll like this one.”

He opened the box and I had to wipe my eyes again before I could focus on what lay inside.

I gasped as he pulled out the beautiful band. He was offering me his grandmothers’ wedding ring. An heirloom I had admired before the wonderful woman passed the year before.

“She wanted me to give it to you if I ever worked up the courage to ask. She knew how much you meant to me even before I did. I love you.”


thedangyankee.com said...

Nice story, Sylvia. Those people who rejected you have rocks in their heads, and I'm not talking diamonds.

Mark K said...

Ok, I've read through and - I hope you don't mind, but I've copied and pasted the entire thing and made some edits.

It's a good story with potential, but I think you've tried too hard in places and made the mistake I'm guilty of at times - you say too much.

Less can be far more effective.

Go to my blog, in my 'About me' section I list my email addy, email me and I'll email you the story with edits, then you can tell me what you think - again, via email :)


I think it's A FANTASTIC story, a great read and a wonderful ending.


Sylvia Ney said...

DangYankee and Yvonne - Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Mark - Thank you so much for visiting my blog and offering a critique. I haven't written much flash fiction and the editors didn't offer any comments. I really appreciate any feedback you can offer. I just sent you an email. I look forward to your comments..

Erin Kane Spock said...

Very sweet story with emotionally satisfying ending. The only negative comment is about the info dump at the beginning. I like the first line, but the list of everything else that had gone wrong detracted from the intensity of the break up. It seemed like just another crappy thing to add to the list, versus the man she could picture spending her life with leaving.
Hope this helps.

CrystalB said...

This is so much better than the stuff they usually print!

Ann said...

LOVE this!

Diana Wilder said...

Sylvia -
I enjoyed it. It worked within the 800 word limit. Could you have her shaky a little longer? The word 'laughed' shows a transformation that could be delayed a little longer. The switch from 'oh no... He's going to break up with me' to 'Hot Dang!' is a little soon. Well, I liked it, but the mood could be prolonged within the word limit. Thanks for sharing! Diana Wilder at http://dianawilder.blogspot.com/

D.G. Hudson said...

Because you asked:
I enjoyed the story until the couple are inside the house.

Up to that point, both are a bit flippant in their conversation and believable. Then once inside, the action moves fast and Kevin suddenly becomes an eloquent man. It seemed a bit discordant.

Good luck with this story!

Samantha May said...

I really liked it! The only thing I would say is what someone else already said. Basically the beginning kind of has a lot of info at once. Like maybe instead of mentioning that she's gained twenty pounds she makes the comment of how her pants are a bit tighter than they were before.

This way the reader figures it out without being told explicitly. Keep working at it :)

Sylvia Ney said...

Thank you everyone for taking the time to read this.

Erin, Diane, D.G., and Samantha - thank you so much for the feedback. You made some good points!

permaheretic said...

To be honest I thought it was dull. Very dull. Must have been great for the fictional characters, but... not for me as a reader. And there is no beauty to the writing itself, no imagery - a complete absence of 'show not tell'. It was all 'tell', and very pedestrian at that. Sorry, but you asked for honesty...