Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Forties Club Finalist #11

Useless
by Michael Morse


“What good are they if you can’t eat ‘em?”
“They’re pretty.”
“Pretty useless.”

Gallant tossed the stones into the water, picked up the seaweed, shook off the sand and ate it. All of it. He didn’t offer Beatrice a thing. Ever.

The stones sank to the bottom of the pond, nestling into the mud. Beatrice stripped off her clothing and dove after them. Gallant watched from the shore. After a few minutes he dove after her, grasped her hair and fought for the water’s surface. Beatrice didn’t offer any help; she never did. Eventually, he broke through, inhaled sharply and pulled his wife’s head above the water. She didn’t take advantage of the air, having made her decision the moment she saw the stones.

Gallant waited a moment, found treading water increasingly difficult, then let her go. She sank, and covered the pretty stones with her dead body.

Back on shore he shook the sand and fleas from his tenth wife’s wedding dress and stuffed it into his pack.

There will be other wives.

20 comments:

Aimee Laine said...

So "They're pretty." has a double meaning? :)

JR's Thumbprints said...

Ten wives? This dude's insane. I'm not so sure about his motive.

Peter Dudley said...

Too bad. They were perfect for each other.

Jade L Blackwater said...

I like the resonance between the casting out of pretty stones and casting off of pretty women as equally useless. You paint a complete and disturbing picture of Gallant.

Precie said...

Again, I'm drawn by the comments. To me, this seems like his test of his wives. If they can't be self-sustaining, they're of no use to him. And the commentary on usefulness is interesting.

Oddyoddyo13 said...

That's never good....especially with his attitude toward people.

Michael Morse said...

Thanks for the input, folks! I had envisioned a post apocalyptic world when I wrote this, and a man named Gallant who travels and uses people and then moves on when they are no more use to him.

I wish I had let it sit for a day then used the 100 words I had left, but heck, it IS Flash Fiction, right?

Jade L Blackwater said...

Indeed - less is more.

Sarah Laurenson said...

It's a great character study of a complete jerk. He's very 3-D and not very likeable. Also hints at things about the time and place they live in. I can sense the post-apocalyptic in that the gems have no value, but it could also be a commentary on his ignorance.

Deb Smythe said...

I echo the other comments. Hubby dearest is a good, I mean, bad character. Well drawn.

Dottie (Tink's Place) said...

Hi Michael!

Man, he's one cold cucumber... I wonder if all of his wives took the big dive? Maybe he's searching for the one have won't?

Dottie :)

Michael Morse said...

Thanks again for the input! I must have been hungry when I wrote this, the seaweed, or whatever it is, looked more valuable than the precious gems. I often wonder why we put such value on unnecessary things. (Guilty as charged, by the way)

I'm randomly clicking on entries and leaving some commentary there. I am no critic,I'll leave that for people with a more solid writing background, a little positive feedback never hurts though.

*~*{Sameera}*~* said...

Poor Beatrice :(

Can't imagine such a good husband writing such a nasty story though :)

Good one!

Vincent Kale said...

It's interesting that you wrote this with Gallant (good wordplay with his name btw) in a post-apocalyptic world. I saw the couple as primitives when I read through it.

Pre-materialistic or post-apocalyptic, some women just like shiny things and some guys are just jerks.

J. Elis Morgan said...

Chilling end, and I wanted to know more!

JaneyV said...

Gallant wasn't very gallant at all was he? But then Beatrice was just as bad... I like Precie's take in it, that it was a test to find a worthy wife, one that would put practicalities like survival above 'pretty'.

I think you said an enormous amount is so very few words.

Laurel said...

I love the name Gallant for this character. He doesn't seem like a real prize but she's none too bright, either. They are indeed perfect for each other, as Pete said.

Odd that he keeps going for the pretty ones and thinks so little of them for being attracted to beauty.

bekbek said...

I really like the simplicity. I'm glad you didn't use more words--this was just right.

Michael Morse said...

Thanks again, nothing beats feedback! Writing gets a bit lonely, and getting people to read your stories increasingly difficult as more and more choices become available. Having other writers, all equally or far superior in writing ability take the time to read, and drop a line about your work is just incredible. I'm trying to read as many as I can, and hope to vote for my favorites.

desiderata said...

Hi MM: I now must learn to add some "gallantry" to my mundane life -- and hopefoolly, survive till post Apocalipstick second wife?:) A different hence original take is always entertaining matey! YL, Desi