Well, the votes came in, and I actually ended up winning the flash contest I mentioned in my last post. I’m really pleased, because this is the first complete (albeit short) fiction I’ve written in some time.
If you’re interested, the story I wrote is behind the cut…
The rules of the contest were:
Everyone knows that love isn’t something you find every day. Love is a union, a bond that storybooks told us that was supposed to last forever. Except it doesn’t always last. Everyone knows that, too. Love lost is something that could have been, might have been, or isn’t anymore.
If everyone knows something, then we as writers have a ready-made situation that our audience will universally identify with. We have an "in" we can use, a shortcut to endearing our characters to the audience if we can learn how to tap into that emotional memory. Plus, it grounds your story in a ‘human’ event, even if the story is about a couple of personified rocks sliding away from each other in heavy surf, and readers like human stories best.
So, conjure up your best stories of the forevers that weren’t and get in touch with your emotional side. You could become a better writer for the effort.
I challenge you to write your best tale of love lost. See the story at the end of this post for an example.
REQUIREMENTS: (1) You must have a speculative fiction lost love in your story; (2) 1,000 words or less; (3) The characters, setting, and story must be fictional and original; (4) Give your story a title and a byline; and (5) Keep it clean. PG-13.
If, in my judgment, any requirement is missed, I won’t post the story for voting. Sorry, but rules are for everyone.
And here’s what I submitted:
The Fundamental Things Apply
by Rob Wynne
"Is this it?" she asked, peering closely at the words engraved on the weathered stone. Far off in the distance, cars sped by on the busy road, darting past to unknown destinations.
I knelt, laying the flowers on the grave, a small ritual I had performed hundreds of times. The faint perfume lingered in my nostrils as I stood back up, pausing to scan the deserted cemetery. Deserted but for myself, and her, and the memories that tied me to this spot.
"You must have really loved her." She reached up to brush her dark hair from her face. I searched her eyes for a hint of her thoughts, but all I found there was tender concern.
We had met only a few months ago, in a downtown tavern near the university she attended. Despite our age difference, I found her an intriguing and intellectual conversationalist, and within a short time we were seeing each other every night. One thing led to another, as it invariably does, from dinner to long walks along the waterfront to the narrow bed in her tiny apartment. I did not hesitate for a moment when she stood bathed in the moonlight that streamed through her bedroom window and slowly let her clothes drop to the floor, her eyes alight with mischief and her impish smile inviting me to pull her down onto the soft pillows and luxuriate in her embrace.
Days led to weeks led to months led to…here.
It was just this morning when she said that she wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. I didn’t mean to hurt her when I said I wasn’t sure that was possible. There were just things she didn’t understand about me. About my past. But I didn’t know how to explain those things in a way that would make any sense to her, so I brought here. To Mary’s graveside.
"Yes, I did really love her. More, perhaps, than anyone who came after. More than you, dear as you have become to me." I paused briefly to collect my thoughts. "And that is why I wanted you to come here and see this. This is what it means to lose love. To have all that fills your heart with joy reduced to a few words carved on a stone. There’s no forever for us, Sarah. There’s just a few short years, and then…this."
"This doesn’t change anything. I love you, and I want to spend my life with you. I keep telling you that; why won’t you listen?"
"I am listening. If I wasn’t listening, we wouldn’t be standing here. But this does change things. It changes everything. I…"
"For someone who has gone out of his way to remind me how much older he is than me, you sure aren’t any smarter." She stretched up onto her tiptoes to kiss me gently on the lips. There was no anger in her voice, no reprimand. Just that patient, gentle love that led me to believe that maybe, just maybe, I could risk my heart again.
She placed a hand on my cheek, caressing it softly. "I know it’s not forever. I know the odds that our time together will be short, and that it will end here, mourning for the loss of love gone too soon. But I want this. I love you. No matter what that takes, no matter how long we have."
I stared into her dark brown eyes, finding no resistance, no hesitation. I knew this would end in sorrow, but perhaps she was right. Our past is merely a collection of days, and it is how we spend each day as we are given it that shapes our future. I kissed her deeply, feeling the warmth of her body pressed up against me.
I looked down at the gravesite and whispered "Thank you" to my long-lost love, and then I took her hand and said, "Let’s go home."
It has been six hundred years since I placed the stone on Mary’s grave. In fifty or sixty years, I will return to add yet another stone alongside it, and another measure of dark regret to my soul. But for tonight, for just this moment, there is only the light of her love.