Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Entry #130

Presage
by Aerin Rose


Twenty-two hours from San Francisco to Kathmandu. Four hours until the layover in Hong Kong. Caelin will have finished grading papers by then. She arches her back, stretching, then wiggles her toes, and catches the eye of the flight attendant.

“More, please.” She indicates the travel-sized wineglass. The remaining ruby droplets glisten in the spotlight of her reading lamp. The attendant nods from the galley.

“You realize that’s basically grape juice?” Chloe peers around the headrest as her business class bed reverts to its upright position.

“It’s a second growth Bordeaux and you know it, O Queen Food Critic,” Caelin retorts. “How’d you sleep?”

“Not well. Looks like fourteen bottles of questionable Bordeaux didn’t help you sleep, either.”

“Excited?”

“And nervous. What if she hates us?”

“Sweetheart.” Caelin strokes her wife’s cheek as Chloe unfolds the passport she’s been clutching. A little girl with dark eyes and copper skin gazes at them, unsmiling and unafraid. “She liked us well enough before. Any kid will hate her parents at some point. Let’s just focus on getting her home.”

The flight attendant materializes with the bottle of Ch√Ęteau Cos-d'Estournel 1989, which streams like scarlet silk into the stemware.

“Like the orphanage is going to let her come home when you show up drunk,” Chloe teases, leaning close. Caelin smiles into her spouse’s black curls. Points of light play on the surface of her wine, casting images against the back of the seat in a rosy haze.

42 comments:

JR's Thumbprints said...

Some actions are deliberate. Very deliberate.

Laurel said...

Great setting...on the plane to go pick up their newly adopted daughter. Sweet.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Aw. Thanks for this one, Aerin. It's wonderful.

Aniket said...

You made it just in time didn't you? I knew you would read everyone's entry and then come-up with one better. :D

Great set up. They make a lovely couple both of them... and now am sure they'll make a very happy family.

Loved everything about it.... but then again,in your own words, when it comes to you I might be biased. :D :D

Honestly, loved it to the core.

Rohan said...

i loved it...YOu have a new fan!

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Rich, subtle and intriguing, Aerin! Loved this line: "streams like scarlet silk into the stemware" Good job, sistah! xxx

Catvibe said...

Very refreshing in its original take (a long sigh of thanks). I loved the details. That must have been some kind of expensive flight to take on business class! ;-) Having made that trip on coach a couple of times, I'm jealous. Nepali children are extremely gorgeous, and theirs will be very lucky indeed.

laughingwolf said...

you have a winner, aerin :)

Precie said...

So lovely. Everything about it...beautiful.

Stephen Parrish said...

Nice.

Loren Eaton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tessa said...

Wonderfully well paced and so original. Congratulations - I'm in awe!

strugglingwriter said...

Great descriptions in this one and a nice original take on it, Aerin.

I don't know much about wine, though. Could we switch those references with beer or better yet Kool Aid? :)

Ranee Kaur Banerjee said...

I like the sweetness and light and the very feminine sensibility. A very refreshing story. Thanks.

Ello said...

Aerin that was simply lovely!

Loren Eaton said...

Nicely written, Aerin.

Beth Harar said...

In such a short time we feel the love between them. Nice writing.

Amanda F. said...

A little part of me went "Squee!" when it became all squishy. I may write from the dark-side but I love me some squishy. Well done.

Dottie said...

I agree with the others, Aerin. Great piece.

moonrat said...

:)

Shadows said...

Great voice here. I think I'd read your novel.

Karen said...

Aerin, this has a strong voice and a sweet story -- a nice take on the prompt.

Liz said...

Excellent descriptive words! Very sophisticated story.

September said...

Just precious. Thank you. :)

J. M. said...

I agree with all the above. Excellent writing, beautiful descriptions. very powerful stuff.

Ryan said...

Really cool story. Long plane flights are always better with wine. Sadly, I was always stuck in economy and that's when you get whiskey from duty free!

Anywho, well written, great images, light bouncing feel. Really enjoyed it!

JaneyV said...

And you were worried??? Aerin this piece is so touching and genuine. I am always in awe of how you manage such emotive vignettes with such an incredibly light touch. I loved this xxx

Nothingman said...

Two mommies are better than one i guess ;)

N

Stephen Parrish said...

You had me at "scarlet silk."

pjd said...

Well... you had me at "Twenty-two hours..."

Aerin said...

Dudley, Parrish isn't talking about the story....

Aerin said...

I appreciate everyone's comments. I'm not satisfied with this as a flash-fiction piece, but quite pleased with it as a writing exercise in general.

What do y'all think about how much showing v. telling there was? I was really trying to hit that; it's a hard distinction for me. Thoughts?

pjd said...

Aerin, I totally agree with your assessment of the story. Terrific moment in a larger story, but as I've seen you say elsewhere, it does not really have the full plot arc you'd ideally want. But even so, there is character development, setting, and a good setup of the relationship.

To your specific question, I don't think there's any telling at all. So much of the characterization is shown through dialog and gesture. Most people have some idea of what the inside of an airplane looks and sounds like, whether through personal experience or movies, so I think if you dwelt too much on the details, it would come across as gratuitous detail (detail for its own sake, not for the story's sake).

I already have a crush on Chloe (yes, I know she's gay) for her sense of humor and her ability to sense Caelin's anxiety and ease it with just a few light words. And her humorous wisdom that at some point all kids hate their parents, and her practical nature of focusing on the things they can do now.

I agree with your further assessment that you should be quite pleased with how it turned out as a writing exercise. The words flow quite well, the dialog runs the story, and even though there's essentially no movement in the scene, you've managed to achieve a pleasant pace where the writing does not get in the way of the communication. The only place I would focus more effort is the first three sentences--while it sets us up for her frame of mind, and it informs us of the locations (important), it felt a little flat for me. Perhaps flip it around a bit and start with the passport photo?

Anyway, it's all showing, not telling. Don't worry, you've got very strong writing here.

And I'm as authoritative an expert as you can get--a slightly-published (short stories only) bank employee with an electrical engineering degree. Yeah, them's credentials you can chew on.

Aerin said...

Hey Pete - thanks; great comments. I agree about the first three lines, although it's the /second/ three lines that bug me, so I think the whole intro piece needs refreshing. If I were going to do anything else with it. Which I'm not.

This piece is an homage to two friends who have adopted a Nepalese daughter - I have a /total/ crush on the Caelin. And on Neil Patrick Harris. Crushes do not observe sexual preference or availability, or I wouldn't be able to crush on anyone since I'm married. And then where would Aniket be?

All right, enough brain break, back to the entries for me and figuring out which of my comments Blogger ate.

pjd said...

One of my very good friends (J@na knows her too) sort of dated Neil Patrick Harris' brother for a while. I forgot to list that among my credentials in the earlier comment.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I wouldn't be concerned with "showing" versus "telling." It's definitely not a problem. With sentences such as:

“Sweetheart.” Caelin strokes her wife’s cheek as Chloe unfolds the passport she’s been clutching. A little girl with dark eyes and copper skin gazes at them, unsmiling and unafraid. “She liked us well enough before. Any kid will hate her parents at some point. Let’s just focus on getting her home.”

This is a textbook example of how to have movement in your story.

As for having a full plot arc in 250 words - it can be done; however, if you do do it, sacrifices will have to be made elsewhere. Sacrifices such as less descriptions, more movement.

I liked your story.

Aniket said...

Hey there..

I had warped to your entry before. Now I reached here in queue. I too feel it showed more than told. I like showing much more than telling. So it was all good for me.

And without going into all technical mumbo-jumbo (as my granny would call it :D)... I love it more each time I read it. It is legen-waitforit-dary!


PS: My bro. gifted me 'The Bro. Code' on my birthday.

Rabid Fox said...

Ha. I liked this one. And it got a chuckle out of me. Is that wrong? :) Nice job.

JaneyV said...

Well done Aerin. Big snuggles to you.

McKoala said...

Honorable! Congrats!

jason evans said...

Such a huge moment about to happen. Excitement. Fear. I hope the best for this couple.

Congratulations on Honorable Mention!!

Jaye Wells said...

This reads like a much longer piece. Excellent characterization and description throughout. Wonderful job.