Friday, July 30, 2010

On a Walk by the Ocean

And now for yours truly--

On a Walk by the Ocean
by Jason Evans

She lifted the water pitcher, but the cup by the hospital bed was still full.

"Are pain?" she said.

The machines blinked. He didn't answer. The question finally drifted away.

She began smoothing the sheets.

"I need to tell you something," he said.

His voice was so thin.


"You know the story of the Fates?" he said. "Greek mythology? When you're born, three women spin, measure, and cut the thread of your life. Your fate."

He was her closest friend. Her only friend.

Why didn't she ever tell him how much more she felt?

"But it's not true," he said, leaning forward. "They string necklaces."

She froze.

He nodded. "Gems, all colors and sizes. They determine everything you are."

She wiped sweat from her palms.

"I'm serious," he said.

Maybe she should go.

Intensity returned to his eyes. "I know you see them now."

He needed rest.

"Because I saw them."

Yes, go.

"Until yesterday."

His strength withered again.

Yesterday, they were walking on the beach. He stopped, so upset. He reached down, and....

"Wait!" she said, horrified.

His words, so simple. "Yours. Broke."

She never told him about her headaches. Avoiding the doctor.

Now, he had the aneurysm.

"What did you do?!" she said.

He looked so tired.

"I couldn't...."

She clutched at the strange jewels around her throat, but her fingers passed through.

His neck was bare.

She shook her head. No, no, no.

But he just smiled, almost asleep. "I gave mine. To you."


Loren Eaton said...

This reminds me of Neil Gaiman's "The Wedding Present" in Smoke and Mirrors. Which is intended very much as a compliment.

Precie said...

So much heartbreaking stuff this round. And to realize such love just in time to lose it...

bekbek said...

This is so sweet, Jason. Magical/mystical without getting anywhere near the cliches. I loved it.

JRVogt said...

Gorgeous. Always love the mythological intersecting with life.

Jean said...

Oh my. *shivers* Superb.

Anonymous said...

*sigh* Adding one to the body count.

Dr. Cheryl Carvajal said...

Fantastic stuff! Really fantastic!

Laurel said...

Oh. Wow. Startling and really pretty.

Deb Smythe said...

Beautiful, clean prose. My heart aches. 'Nuff said.

Joni said...

Gorgeous, Jason! I bow to you once more.

Vincent Kale said...

Liked the turn on the Greek myth here. A great tragedy.

Anonymous said...

Loren, a high compliment indeed. Thanks!

Precie, I definitely wanted to convey duality through this piece. A great thing was expressed, but you're right, it has come at the end.

Bekbek, ...without getting anywhere near the cliches.... Thanks so much for saying that! That was my #1 goal in choising this story to give life to the fate/necklace idea. I wanted it to be potent without any of the overdone love themes.

Josh, weird how you can look at that picture (or even take it), and then, wham, a story vision cracks you in the head.

Jean, thank you. :)

Aerin, he's not dead yet, so it doesn't count. I figure he'll linger in a coma for 3-5 days.

Shakespeare, much appreciated!

Laurel, I wanted to push right up to the boundaries of how much scene you can unroll in 250 words.

Deb, thank you! I learned the hard way that the cleanest prose is often the most powerful. It lets the reader's brain have lots of room to create.

Joni, it's always, always a treasure to be able to create and have people want to share in it. :)

Vincent, I always thought that the image of the Fates was very potent. For some reason, the photo suddenly looked to me like a necklace fallen into the sand. Others got that too, but this was my addition to it.

JaneyV said...

One of the things that I admire about your writing is that you always have lines in them which when read out of context might be simple and nothing special but when in context they are so beautiful and powerful, they are breathtaking. The sentence in this one is

The question finally drifted away.

I can feel the silence in the room as her question goes unanswered. It's intense.

Such incredible love to give your life for another. Such incredible waste never to have shared those feelings before.

As always Jason a wonderful read.

Sandra Cormier said...

Twoo Wuuuuuv. How bittersweet. That was wonderful, Jason.

February Grace said...

Oh my...

I can't see the screen anymore for the tears.

Heartbreaking- beautiful.


Aniket Thakkar said...

Wow! I love it when mythology is rightly induced into a good piece and when things just work. It works amazingly well here. Janey's sentiments are echoed here too. These are simple lines compiled into one great piece. Thank you for this.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Double wow! It's as if she has a second chance to make things right, to become a better person, as if in his dying he's given her that gift. Damn fine piece of writing!

Anonymous said...

JaneyV, wow, I should save your comment. It spells out a truly huge point so well. (Not just the compliment, BTW :) ). The biggest jolts of power come from the scene itself, not the high octane, literary words we use. Believe me, I can shoot purple prose out with the best (my first influence was Edgar Allan Poe), but the true intensity is the story, and my job is to make it breathe, no more and no less.

Sandra, sharply bittersweet.

Bru, that's the highest compliment of all. Thanks so much for letting me know that it struck you that hard.

Aniket, thanks, my friend. As for your piece, I'm not going to let you just revert to dialogue. ;) I'm not going to let you off that easily.

JR, I truly appreciate that. You're a skilled wordsmith. I like knowing when something as hard as a short piece really did its job.

Chris Eldin said...

Endearing and lovely. I read this with pleasure.

J. Elis Morgan said...

Simple. Beautiful. Deeply moving.

McKoala said...

Lovely story, Jason, thank you. I like the simple language.

Michelle D. Argyle said...

Oh, I love this! Such a great twist at the end, and the rest is packed with tension.

Raj said...

i didnt quite get it but something tells me i am supposed to be numb.

Erratic Thoughts said...

I liked that Conversation between them, you and only you can brew it so naturally.
There was a prolonged Ahh moment when I read it, too good Jason :)

Rachel Green said...

So powerful you can almost hear the ventialtor.

Catherine Vibert said...

Poignant and powerful. And sad..., no bittersweet. Lovely.

Unknown said...

Hi Jason

Looks like blogger ate this comment too.

I'm glad I don't have to compete with your entry, damn, it's really good. He gives she life for hers... excellently done.

Dottie :)

Anonymous said...

Chris, I'm happy to see you, you know. :) Thanks!

J. Elis, I appreciate that!

McKoala, I also like how direct sentences give more weight to the verbs.

Michelle, I'm glad that came across for you! I very much wanted to convey that build.

Raj, no worries. It's always a struggle with the word count. If I explained more, I would have to leave out more scene.

Erratic Thoughts, that's the second smile you put on my face. First, when I read your comment, and now when I'm reading it again to respond. Thank you!! :D

Leatherdykeuk, not the most pleasant sound, I'm sure you'd agree. It does make an impression.

Catherine, I probably agree with that. More sad than anything. It's too late.

Dottie, I'm sorry about Blogger eating comments. It seems to happen during these contests. Maybe when people are commenting close in time, things get lost. But thank you posting again! Hearing your words is not something I want to miss. :)

PJD said...

The poet Jason is definitely coming out in the pacing here. The story itself is sweet and gentle. I really like the way her reaction is spread through and grows appropriately. And I'm a sucker for mythological references, too.

Anonymous said...

Peter, you've given a great list of the technical points I was trying to achieve here. Always great to hear that! It's the only way to know if you've been successful. Many thanks!!

Wendy said...

I know I'm coming to this very late (a year!), but I just now read this because I only recently found the blog and I'm looking back at old stuff.

Wow, I love this piece. So captivating and intense.