Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Favorites: Flash Fiction: Home

Today's favorite is one of those sparkling moments of clarity that fully encompass why I blog. Had I not created this space, befriended a circle of dedicated bloggers and committed to fresh content, I wouldn't have written this piece of flash fiction that eventually won second place in the Western Pennsylvania Romance Writer's Bump In the Night contest. I've learned much about writing since this piece, am tempted to fix what is wrong, but for now am content to celebrate it as it was in October 2008... 

Flash Fiction: Home

If we were to pull out a technical card, this is my first piece of flash fiction ever.  Most people know my rambling prose would put Faulkner to shame.  So, I seized the challenge and had a great time.  Thanks to Charles for the idea and the invitation to join him in the spirit of Halloween.  Be sure to head over to his blog to read the stories of others who felt inspired, too.
The sailor maneuvered dress whites, the yards of make-do-and-mend-war-dresses circling curved, lithe bodies, patriotic banners plunging like paratroopers from the warehouse rafters. A saxophone’s low C-note stretched around the crowd like a seductive yawn, the perfect overture to slow bodies in motion. The need for touch, a soft spot to cradle frayed nerves and sear in the mind a warm, liquid path of home, imposed on the July night.

Finn ducked a USO banner, his gaze steady on a petite frame: the perfect hourglass to mark the dwindling hour, butter and cream roses sheathed against pale skin, tea-stained lights reflecting blue from her sleek, black hair. The young woman faced a second-story window, alone, staring out at the sleeping dock, her reflection more fog than substance.

He approached, cleared his throat.Her shoulders shifted, relaxed, as if he’d awakened her from a lumbering sleep.

“A prelude to a kiss.”

She turned, swept vanilla and flowers and everything exiled from a four-thousand ton battleship, into his awareness.Her brow knotted.

“The song,” said Finn.“No one should be alone during this song.”

She smiled, a warm trickle of welcome.Pinned above her heart, an anchor broach glistened.

“Say something.”

She spoke, not with her patriotic red, ample lips, but in the two steps her heels cleared the floor toward him, the uneven rise of her delicate collarbone, a gloved hand filling his palm.The plane of her body neared, a forbidden line with all the temptation of tepid water in an Atlantic winter.

Ellington’s bluesy movements dictated their own, a union of beats, a suspended orchestra of body and mind. Finn waded into a curl along her neck, his body alive in the streak of moonlight cresting the night-sea lock. Her temple teased his lips, the barrier of his warm exhale the only distance left.

He swayed past their first kiss, an impromptu pledge before boarding, love letters bulging beneath his cot mattress. In her nearness, he found years, decades; in her touch, she became a destination that penetrated every ache, every truth within.

“Been looking everywhere, Finn,” a male voice cut in.

Finn started. His gaze awakened, languid from a state more intoxicating than a furlough binge. His hand collapsed, his palm empty.

She was gone.

“Where’d she go?” Finn turned, sought every platform within fleeing distance.His body still swayed from her imprint in his arms.The music stopped. A chorus of polite claps from below rang sour in his ears, his gut.


“The girl.The one who was just here.”

“Every available girl in North Carolina is downstairs and I find you up here, dancing alone.”

“She was just—”

“Right.” His buddy pounded out a few shoulder smacks, a humoring rally of camaraderie when the weeks lengthened and the pill of loneliness no longer slid down easily. “What’s say we find you that blond at the door—she was a real looker.”

The inertia of his friend’s insistence carried Finn to the step’s threshold. The band bounced a swing through the soles of his polished shoes. Finn turned.

A tiny anchor flashed, of stars or polished silver, he couldn’t be certain. He lingered, one breath to savor vanilla, blossoms, dreams—a lifetime lived in the arms of a woman.

All as elusive to a sailor as home.

1 comment:

the walking man said...

Seconds better than third and this was, at least to me, one of the reasons I liked being at sea better than in port. No time to dream at sea.

But you know I don't know enough about Romance genre to really judge this or pick out what you say is flawed Laura. It read OK to me.