Thursday, May 17, 2012

On the Dock

Lindsey stepped off the ferry, hefting a bag on her shoulder. The cold wind whipped her long, dark hair around her face. Pulling the strands away from her eyes, she studied the familiar dock. The salty tang of the sea mixed with the smell of fish and diesel. Gulls swooped and swirled in the gray sky, their sharp cries stabbing her heart.

Walking along the uneven boards, she approached a wind beaten shack. The salt crusted window was half open. A woman sat inside, the radio reporting a storm while she flipped through cash and cards with hands as tough and weathered as her surroundings.

"Can I help you?" she asked without looking up.

"I need to find the Dora Mae." Lindsey set down the heavy bag, stomach churning.

The woman looked up sharply, narrowing her eyes. Lindsey could see her note and reject her cream cashmere sweater, her Burberry trench, her manicured nails, the lipstick that hadn't been quite chewed off. She stared back steadily.

"Slip five."

"Thank you." She picked up her bag and began to walk. Boats floated on either side, their hulls butting and scraping the wood. Ropes creaked and pulled. Halfway down, she saw him come out of the cabin. She froze, her eyes drinking in the changes. His shoulders filled out the flannel jacket, scruff darkened his jawline. The wind played with a tangle of curls peeking out from his knit cap.

She forced herself to move forward on numb limbs. Closer, she could see the web of lines around his chocolate colored eyes. His hands pulled at the ropes on deck. Tears blurred her vision as she remembered those hands gentle on her body.

She came to a stop next to his boat. Sensing her, his head jerked up. Years melted as she stared into his eyes.

"Per-" she swallowed, her mouth suddenly dry. "Permission to come aboard."

Pain, hurt, love, regret, hate, betrayal all crossed his face in a kaleidoscope of emotion. His jaw hardened. “Permission denied.”

“Michael,” she whispered achingly, reaching out a hand. He flinched as if she’d struck him.

His eyes studied her coldly, noticing the changes in her body. “Is it his?”

“Of course. He is – was my husband.”


“I left.”

“And thought you could come back here?”

“I hoped.”

“You shouldn’t have. I’m not the same guy.” He turned from her, releasing the ropes. He climbed inside the cabin, starting the engine. Holding her gaze, he began to back out of the slip.

She swung her arm back and threw her bag forward. His eyes widened in surprise and then alarm when she took a step and leaped across the widening gap. She stumbled on the deck, catching herself on a pile of nets.

He stopped the boat, running out of the cabin. “Are you insane?”

“I’m not the same woman.”

This post was inspired by the Write on Edge prompt: Write a story or memoir which relates to choices and/or consequences.
I decided to challenge myself. Most of my fictional posts are pieces and parts to larger works. I decided to make this a single, short story. I'm not very good at curbing my verbosity (shocker) which means short stories are tough for me. I tried to evoke an image, per Angela and not delve too deeply into their history.
So...did I do it? I mean, there are lose ends, but like Cam said, short stories allow us to explore a slice of a life and we don't technically need full resolution to the conflict.
As always, concrit is welcome and appreciated.


Shelton Keys Dunning said...

You succeeded. This is a perfect snapshot.I'm verbose as well so we're in the same boat!

My critique would be to change the focus at the shack. Placing yourself in the situation, would you notice and assume that another woman was judging specific articles you were wearing in the short exchange? I think perhaps a simple "Lindsey felt as if measured and dismissed by the woman's disapproving frown." The protag's attire/appearance doesn't advance the plot necessarily and so isn't particularly needed here. (Does that make sense?"

I love the details of the dock smells, particularly that you added the diesel. Overall, very well done!

pasojen said...

Yes, you succeeded.  But I want more!

Kir said...

OH Mandy!!! Write with me please? I love your stories, your characters. Can we try just ONE together? Listen I'm not even in you league, but it could be so much fun.

I can't even cut and paste how much I loved about this, this would be a very long comment. It also wouldn't tell you how much I felt all the emotions with her as she stood in front of him.

the part about his emotions on his face, ending with "permission denied" my own heart sank, literally. That is when GOOD writing happens, when you think to yourself I wish I could say it like that.

"I'm not the same woman" ...BRILLIANT, FRICKIN Brilliant.

*think about my offer and don't laugh too hard ok? *xo

Mad Woman said...

Here's the problem I have with your writing: you're so descriptive and you paint just enough of a picture that leaves the reader hungry for more. 
Your stories are so full, so rich, ALMOST fulfilling for a reader until we get to that last line and feel like you've pulled up short. WE WANT MORE!

These are all compliments, if you didn't catch my tone here. LOVED THIS! 

jeanelaine said...

There is little to say that hasn't been said by the other comments. This is a great story! What a romance and mystery!

Brianna Soloski said...

You did it. There are loose ends, but you've left things at a good point. It leaves a lot to the imagination, but you also say a lot.

Angie Kinghorn said...

Hell yes, you did it. A complete short story in 400 words. WOW. You deserve a Hemingway award for this. I absolutely love it. All of it. I'm sorry, but I can't think of anything to criticize! 

Except...that I want more. But that's how you want to leave a reader and you did a brilliant job doing exactly that.

Wisper said...

Nicely done!  You've told a great story in this one scene.  I can just imagine what happened between them and what brought them back to this point.  I also agree with the others, I'd love to know what happens next!

Carrie said...

I really enjoyed this short snippet. I would be more than happy if you continued  :) There is SO MUCH that could be told here.

Victoria KP said...

Oh you did it! And I loved it. Of course, I'd love to see it as part of a larger work. I'm a greedy reader :-)

MarcyTooTimid said...

Love it! What a great ending! I agree with the others. I would like to hear more about their backstory and their future. Maybe this will end up being part of a longer work?

Cameron (CDG) said...

I wish I'd written this. Just saying.

Christine E-E said...

amazing... awesome... but the anticipation of another chapter is killing me!
I don't want to read between the lines & guess what happened to the father... of the ??? {dog, kitty, hamster} teasing, of course.

Mandy Dawson said...

Thank you!

I struggled with that paragraph. I wanted to show that she had money. That maybe the reason she left a humble fisherman was for the lure of wealth. But I couldn't figure out how to do it. But you're right, she's making assumption about what the woman in the shack is thinking, which isn't want we usually do. I like the "Lindsey felt as if measured and dismissed by the woman's disapproving frown." It sums it all up so nicely.

Mandy Dawson said...

But I'm trying to do a short story with nothing else! ;)

Mandy Dawson said...

That would be so.!

Mandy Dawson said...

Muah! I adore you, lady.

Mandy Dawson said...

Thank you!

Mandy Dawson said...

Thank you!

Mandy Dawson said...

HA! A Hemingway. As long as it's whiskey, I'm good. ;)

Thank you.

Mandy Dawson said...

That's my short story kryptonite. I write something as a stand alone and then say, "What next" and the next thing you know...

Mandy Dawson said...

Thank you! And yes. There is.

Mandy Dawson said...

I adore greedy readers. :)

Mandy Dawson said...


Mandy Dawson said...

You're awesome. Just saying.

Mandy Dawson said...

LOL...I tried to leave it open, but am not sure I have anything else for them.