Friday, October 14, 2011

#RomanticFridayWriters /#FlashFriday - 'First Love!'

My story this week for #RFW and #Fridayflash is slashed from a much longer short story I wrote based on a true story. I've ended up with a little over 400 words, but I started with over 1,000. Of course it loses a lot of punch but it fits the theme for #RFW (First Love!). As the theme was so serious I found myself interspersing phrases and allusions from '60's hit songs. See how many you can find...Oh, and Full Critique Acceptable.

The River

Two friends walk toward the river. There it is – dark and deep.

They always head to the river after work. The sweltering shift in the cafe means dresses for the Rodeo Ball.

Sym dreams of a new dress. To impress Thane. He may not know she’s alive; she’s a tenth grader - he’s a senior. He’s the one that I want!

The river sounds lovely. Sym imagines the feel of liquid velvet on her skin.

They hesitate at the top of the bank.

‘Guy, lookie here! Sym and Annie!’

‘Let’s go,’ whispers Annie.

‘No,’ says Sym. ‘Why run from creepy Rueben and Guy?’

‘Babes! Finished work?’ Reuben asks.


They race to the water wrapped in towels, drop them and dive.

‘Rube, lookie here. Their bags!’

‘Get away!’ Sym screams.

‘That’s better baby. Come into my arms!’

‘Creep!’ Sym lunges, lands on Reuben’s bare chest. He crushes her against him.

‘Get Annie, Guy. Let’s teach ‘em a lesson.’ Sym sees Annie running. Go girl!

‘Let me go!’ Sym screams.

‘Not til I’m good and ready, hellcat,’ Reuben says, dragging her to the grass. ‘Now what’s under this swimsuit…’

‘In your dreams!’ She slaps him. He slaps back. Hard.

‘I’ve got you babe. Don’t tell me you haven’t done it already. I’ve seen you with that Thane Zachary, Mr Peerrfect.’ He slaps her again. ‘This’s the ‘60s after all. Make love, not war.’

Annie? You okay?

‘More like it.’ He’s gazing at her breasts. ‘Oh baby, you’re the one that I want.’ He bites and slaps.

Sym reaches out. Her fingers curl around a rock. Yes! She slams Reuben’s temple.

Pushing him aside, she runs. Annie’s on the ground. Wham! Guy drops..

‘Sym! Annie!’

They look up.

A figure looms over the river bank.


Sym stands transfixed. Has he come for me? She points to Reuben and Guy, groaning by the river.

‘My God…’

‘No Thane, leave them.’

Thane steps to where Sym stands, shivering. Gentle hands lift her swimsuit straps and cover her, flinching at the bites and bruises. Concerned eyes take in her bloody head and mouth. He holds her in his arms and rocks her gently.

‘Can we just go?’ Annie.

Sym presses Thane’s arm. ‘Why did you come?’

‘I missed you at the shop. I knew you’d be here. Wanted to ask you to the Rodeo Ball. Should’ve come earlier.’

 He came…for her!

The next hours will be doctors, police statements, explanations, but she’s glowing.

Maybe he loves her too!


FCA, 414  words (oops)


Due the amount of negative comments I'm receiving, I obviously must spell this story out for those who've only flicked through it or only read a little bit of it and not understood the story then made incorrect assumptions. 

The set up shows two young girls arriving at  the river (Aussies swam in rivers in the '60s) to swim, dreaming of buying their dresses for the Rodeo Ball (a big event on the calendar in this hick town.) The scene changes when they're met at the river by the two school bullies who actually have different names from the aforementioned Thane, the 'first love' object in this story. These bullies try to rape the two young girls, drawing them from the river by rifling through their 'bags'. This term may not be used in America, but I'm Australian so I usually use Australian English, and 'bags' are naturally 'handbags' not 'breasts'. Well, the girls were in the water, well away, so the boys could hardly be rifling through their breasts.

And then the bullies try their darndest, but they're not saved by 'a knight in shining armour' as someone expressed, disappointed, they are saved by Sym's slamming them with a rock in their temple (I could have said 'goolie' which is our term for this type of rock.) Would have been as confusing as 'bags.'

The 'first love' crush then arrives and helps the girls to the police station etc, rather than saving them from the bad guys, so girls rule, which happened in the real life situation this was drawn from. So the 'First Love' theme was not about being an 'emotionally violent' First Love, but rather a First Love felt so deeply by a spunky (that means brave) girl who once she sees her 'love' arrive, forgets her trauma momentarily...

Hope this explanation makes my story clearer.

I know the 400 word limit worked against me this time and I said this at the beginning if you read it, but I think I had the elements of the story there if the reader took the time to follow it through and not jump to conclusions. D.

Click on the link in the sidebar to read more #RFW stories.

Click on this link in the sidebar to read more #fridayflash stories

 Romantic Friday Writers is a blogfest every Friday co-ordinated by myself and Francine Howarth. It is a fun event, showcasing the work of many fine writers who write romantic flash fiction or poetry under 400 words. Click on the icon in my sidebar to check out others participating today or join the blogfest yourself. We are also found on twitter. We are @RFWER A winner is awarded the recognition of being the week's Featured Writer or the Runner Up.

#Fridayflash is a group of writers who write flash fiction under 1,000 words every Friday to no particular theme. Click on the #Fridayflash icon in my sidebar if you want to access more stories.  


John Wiswell said...

I have no 60's frame of music so that would fall on deaf ears. The thinness of the non-dialogue made it difficult for me to connect with all the actions you wanted, and I think shortchanged some of the emotion of his slaps. I couldn't tell if they were supposed to be consensual or violent at multiple points. That may just be the trouble of working in so tight a space.

L'Aussie said...

John, I accept your criticism. Sometimes the 400 words means a story a little hard to follow but I did my best. No consensual here.


Margo Benson said...

I'd love to read the longer piece. I realised that it was a violent, non consensual act and love the way you've found the space to draw in the romance to come. I found the snappy dialogue effective to the pace of the scene.

I also found the song references, clever you :-)

Madeleine said...

Gosh this seems rather a violent piece!It reflects how first love can seem so emotionally violent. I found the tense and the telling rather than showing style rather odd, though. x

N. R. Williams said...

I got so caught up in the story I forgot to look for the songs til close to the end. Lots of action. The tension is high and the dialogue punchy. I enjoyed this very much.
N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium

Ruth Madison said...

There's nothing more romantic than a guy coming to your rescue, is there? Yum.

Francine Howarth: UK said...


Being as this was cut from 1000 to fit the 400 word count, kind of left the third sentence hanging. I didn't understand it:

The sweltering shift in the cafe means dresses for the Rodeo Ball.

I get they were going to the river for a dip. I gathered their thoughts were on the rodeo ball, but it doesn't come across like that.

It would have worked if: They always head to the river after work. Today, though, Sym's thoughts less about cool waters and all about a new dress to impress Thane.

The rest. Whoa. A brutal molesting! You got my attention. I'm rooting for Sym to scrunch Reuben's balls in her fist, but a gallant knight turns up: nuff said! ;)


Kiru Taye said...

Ah, Thane is such a hero - a white knight.

I agree, it's tough to have to cut down from 1000 words but we still get the gist of the story. Well done.

I had to do a lot of cutting in my scene too. :)

Beverly Diehl said...

'Their bags!’ - Sorry, this might be something from the 60's I missed, but wasn't sure if bags was slang for breasts, or if the creep was rifling through their handbags, which then brought the girls out of the water to defend them...?

This story does feel a bit bare bones, as is, probably needs another 200 words or so added back in to really make it work. Wonderful action and conflict though.

I love that Thane's come to find her, but also, that the girls have already rescued themselves.

Andy said...

Thanks for the footnote. I did get a bit confused with some of the wording.

I thought you did well to get the storyline down from 1,000 to 414 words.

I also thought Reuben had gotten the upper hand of Sym, until I got to "Sym reaches out...", then I realized she's given him a good bashing.

Nice interaction between Thane & Sym at the end when she realizes he actually missed her & came looking for her.

I'm afraid my knowledge of 60s hit songs is quite limited, so I didn't get any. :-(

The Beauty Of Love

Francine Howarth: UK said...


Gallant Knight, as in, came looking for her!

I guess the whole scene kind of shocked me. Not what I was expecting. Third sentence was all that bugged me in that I couldn't get my head around it.

Believe it, I've had far worse critiquing from members! I didn't escape entirely this week, I posted up MPA!


Anna said...

Dear Denise,
Thanks to your postscript. I understand now, that this is a story about a very brave girl and it does fit into the 'First Love'-theme because it is about discovering that someone really cares.
Nice story.

It is interesting to learn that there are so many different uses of words in Australian English compared to other kinds of English. This sounds a little like the discussion that Beverly Diehl and I had about the use of foreign words in an English text. How many words and what language is acceptable? She thought she could get away with using Spanish words, while I could not throw in a Swedish word or two without it bogging down my text, because Spanish is more widely known than this teeny-weeny language spoken in the north.

The problem with different geographical kinds of English is that the reader (if he/she is not from Australia) may not be aware of the fact that there is a different usage.

In a longer text, where you could have had time and room for synonyms, it may be clearer to the reader what is meant.

Maybe it is not such a good idea to condense your texts that much from 1000 to 400 words. It is a dilemma, because this particular story fit the theme.

Personally, I don't care how many words a story has, as long as it is a good story. On the other hand, I usually try to stay within the word limit, but that is because I write new stories all the time. I wrote about 50 stories for Saturday Centus for Jenny Matlock before I joined your group. These were only 100 words or less. Almost no one used texts that they had written earlier. (And most of us are amateurs. Only someone like Brenda Bryant is a published author.) Part of the sport is to write something new and get it to work with only 100 words. I think it feels like a great luxury to have as many as 400 words to tell my story!

It is not easy being one of the organisers of an event as well as a participant. We can just drop out and rest a week if our texts don't work. Either You or Francine have to be there.

Thank you so much for your kind words on my post. I've written a comment about my text and your comment there.

Best wishes,
For the benefit of other readers:

Anna's RFWers' Challenge No. 23-'First Love'

Scheherazade said...

I have to say I like this story because it's different--and yes, there is so much going on here, that it's next to impossible to deal with it in 400 words. As a reader, I'm interested in these characters, even if the action is a little jarring. I think we are jarred because all the transitions and buildup have been removed. I give this a thumbs up for drama and first love.

Anna said...

Hello again, Denise,
Thanks for your extra comment.
If you want to illustrate your collection of stories yourself, my one advice is: start NOW!
Get paper and pencil out and start sketching! Start drawing! Draw anything first just to get started and then do lots and lots of thumbnails (tiny idea-sketches/drawings) of what you think might work for the different stories.

Drawings can be scanned or photographed and then used. You don't have to have a computer program like Illustrator to do it.

I am telling you to get started immediately with drawings (or assign someone else start sketching) NOW because I know how fast times flies, especially if you are not a routined, working illustrator today and know your pace.

Either you illustrate everything yourself or you have different illustrators for variety.

Photography could also be a way of illustrating some stories.

Whatever you decide to do, start working with it NOW!

The best of luck to you in this venture!


L'Aussie said...

Anna: Thank you as always for your positive comments and for your helpful hints on illustrating.

Scheherazade: You're a darling for your positives. I needed them this week.


Adura Ojo said...

It's not easy cutting down established stories. I certainly got the story even without the explanation. The way you brought it all together was really good. And I'm particularly struck by the fact that her 'first experience' could have been a ghastly one indeed; but the day was saved by the one who would be her first love.

L'Aussie said...

Adura: Thank you for getting it!


Kerrin said...

Wow Denise, my heart was hammering! I got all the transitions, and they felt good, matching the pace which to me felt sharp and punchy furthering the tension.
I kept wondering if they were going to get out of it, or if Thane was going to arrive. I loved how Sym fought and rescue them herself!

L'Aussie said...

Kerrin: I'm glad you stopped by and liked the story. Means a lot to me as do your comments on the RFWer site.


Kiru Taye said...

Hi Denise,

Thanks for stopping by my blog a second time.
I understand your frustration as a writer when readers don't understand all you're trying to convey in a story. In truth we all read stories through different life-filters and will interpret the same story differently. So don't feel too bad.

Even with all the cutting down to bare-bones, the crux of your story is still evident without the contextual summary.

Take care,


Okay, I thought this was great. And I was not confused at all. And I love, love, LOVE that her friend rescues her. It is always challenging to write within the word limit - and I rarely do- but I thought the short sentences and quick paragraphs worked well with the pace of what was happening. It seemed to mimic their panic and fear. Bravo!