Friday Fiction – She Waits

Better late than never. It’s taken me an unusually long time to edit this week’s FF attempt. I had the idea straight away, but wording it has proved a real challenge. Once again, the edits show how I got to where it ends up. I’d love to read your thoughts on the various decisions I took, and/or how well the piece works as a whole.

Other stories can be found on Rochelle’s site. The picture is from Renee Homan Heath.

copyright-renee-homan-heath

She waits

She waits for me at the end of the path. Her toes curl into the sand and the sea whispers at her back like a thousand angels. She waits, neither impatient for me to hurry nor lacking eagerness to be with me.

I journey alone now. Eager too, and perhaps more impatient than she. The path is beautiful and cannot be hurried. But sunlight drenches the beach and the sea is more refreshing than shade. Many feet have trod this path before me, and yet today it is all my own.

And at the end of the path, she waits.

V3 [Almost the same as the final version, barring some edits thanks to Sandra and Ted]

[This was a difficult edit. I like the story as it stands at the end of v2. I’m in two minds about swapping the genders, but somehow this seems to work better in my head as a woman waiting for a man. This edit was about “kill the puppies” – in other words, cutting out lines which I like, but know don’t belong.]

She waits for me at the end of the path [I never liked wooden anyway, so I’m happy to let it go]. Her toes curl into the sand [shame to lose her smile, but the toes are more unusual than a smile, which I think is important to aid the implication that this is his wife, not just an angel] and the sea whispers at her back like a thousand angels. She waits, neither impatient for me to hurry nor lacking eagerness to be with me.

I walk alone now [Slightly uncomfortable with this change as it approaches cliché. It cuts words though, so ultimately I’ve kept it. The addition of “now” hopefully another hint that they used to walk together]. Eager too, and perhaps more impatient than she. The path is beautiful and cannot be hurried. But sunlight drenches the beach and the sea is more refreshing than shade. [Bringing this line up allowed me to ditch the attempts to describe the path again] A thousand feet have trod these steps before me, and yet they are all my own. [They instead of It for noun agreement. I thought about losing this line, but even when I’m killing puppies, there is the occasional one I can’t drown!]

And at the end of the path, she waits. [I liked the echo in this version. I also wasn’t happy with “soon” in the previous version]

V2

[The first batch of edits was relatively easy. I took out anything that seemed superfluous or repetitive]

She waits for me at the end of the wooden path. Her toes curl into the sand as she smiles and the sea whispers at her back like a thousand angels. [The palm trees and coconut juice felt like over-doing it even as I wrote it, so that was an easy cut] She waits, neither impatient for me to hurry nor lacking in eagerness to be with me.

I tread the path alone [his weariness didn’t seem to fit with the path. The narrator still has some way to go, and I didn’t want it to be an unhappy path for him] . I too am eager, perhaps a little more impatient than she is. The path is beautiful and cannot be hurried. A thousand feet have trod these steps before me, and yet it is all my own.

The path is a varied mix of light and dark. But sunlight drenches the beach and the sea will refresh me in ways  the shade cannot. [This paragraph felt like the weakest as it was originally written. The shade / sun thing felt over-done, and repeated by the description of the beach, hence I cut it and punched up the beach bit]

She waits, and soon I will join her.

V1

She waits for me at the end of the wooden path. Her toes curl into the sand as she smiles and the sea whispers at her back like a thousand angels. Palm trees sway above her, a cool glass of fresh coconut juice in her hand tells me that all is alive and fertile in the brightness.

She waits, neither impatient for me to hurry nor lacking in eagerness to be with me.

And I tread the path slowly, step by weary step. I too am eager, perhaps, a little more impatient than she is. The path is beautiful and cannot be hurried. A thousand feet have trod these steps before me, and yet it is all my own.

The path is fascinating – a varied mix of light and dark: the warmth of the sun and the cool of the shade. But the beach of drenched in sunlight and the sea is refreshing in a way that the shade cannot be. She waits, and soon I will join her.

42 Comments

Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

42 responses to “Friday Fiction – She Waits

  1. This was a beautifully descriptive piece Jennifer, one that encourged the reader to enjoy the words and sensations rather than draw a meaning from it. I guess it’s a bereaved person approaching death for himself but I had to re-read for that conclusion. One thing that did distract me in a piece this short was the repetition of ‘thousand’. A thousand angels and a thousand feet led my mind down a path of wondering whether there was a link between the two, (dallying briefly with the concept of one-legged angels along the way. 🙂 ) Enjoyed your thought processes here. Very nicely done.

    • Thanks for your kind and insightful comments, Sandra. I hadn’t even noticed the repetition of “thousand” and have fixed that now – better, do you think? Hopefully now the angels are not millipedes! The bereavement interpretation is supposed to be hidden behind the straight one, so I’m happy you found on the second read.

  2. Wow, remind me not to cross you… killing puppies… that’s a great term, and really fits. I know just what you mean, but always think that when I think I am so clever, maybe I’m not.

    I thought ‘I walk alone now’ was awkward. I’m not really sure what it meant, and thought she might be dead and he is missing her and doing a nostalgic thing. Also, ‘thousand feet and yet they are all my own’ reinforced that thought. After reading your notes, I assume they are getting back together somehow?

    Thank you for the thought process, Jen, I learn something every time. I loved the second line.

    • “Killing puppies” isn’t my phrase, Ted, but I agree it seems to fit the authorial agonies of cutting favourite lines. The second was one of my favourites too – hence it didn’t get drowned with the puppies even though I did wonder if the angels could be classed as overkill!
      Thanks for your thoughts on the wording – you hit two places I wasn’t entirely content with and have motivated me to go back and reedit. Let me know if you think it’s better now.

      • Much better. It is a love story now.

        p.s. I was writing my comment as Sandra was, and about died when I saw she beat me too it, and also mentioned the ‘thought process’ thing. Guess great minds think alike… I really enjoy your lessons.

  3. My favorite line the whispers at her back like a thousand angels. I want to be on that beach while the wind whips the tendrils of my hair into the corner of my mouth.

  4. this line here: “She waits, neither impatient for me to hurry nor lacking eagerness to be with me.” i’m trying to figure out the difference between the two, but i keep losing my train of thought as i’m reading them (allegedly) carefully. this is to show that she has kind of a wait and see attitude? take it or leave it? nothing special going on attitude?

    • Hmm… it’s a hard one to describe and I’m not convinced I’ve done it justice. They are opposites. She’s waiting and she can’t wait to be with him, but at the same time, she doesn’t want him to hurry his journey along the “path” just to be with her.
      It works best with the death analogy. She’s in heaven, and she is eager to see him again but on the other hand she wants him to have a full and ahppy life before he joins her.

      • aha! i was thinking something like that but wasn’t sure. i knew there was something sort of mystical going on but i couldn’t perfectly place it. thanks.

  5. Such a tight, well told story. I admire what your talent.

  6. I like the way you edited the story, even though the coconut juice sounded so good! 🙂 I also liked the last line, tying in with the first. I’m glad you took the “weary” out, too.

    Very nice!

    janet

  7. Your writing inspires me. Your use of language and imagery teach all of us about the creation of a story which touches the reader.

  8. Dear Jen,
    Thanks for sharing your process. Well written as always. I hadn’t heard “killing puppies”. I use the term “slaughtering darlings.” I loved the final edition. “The path is all my own.” Says it all. Another winner!
    Shalom,
    Rochelle

  9. I really like the end result, and the curling toes is the best part in my view. I think mine curled at the same time.

  10. Hi Jen,
    Guess it’s true that opposites attract. Good contrast between the waiting one and the one coming. Ron

  11. I can tell you spent a long time polishing this piece. It is lovely.

  12. At first, I thought this was about a wedding. I like it as a story of death. I enjoy the feeling of peace and the simultaneous connection and separation of the couple.

  13. oscarjamieson

    Both beautiful and crushingly sad – well done!

  14. Haunting in some ways, she seems to be drifting, but wanting at the same time.

  15. gailkav

    Thank you – I love the story but most of all I relish the chance to see the personal editing process at work.

  16. t

    I’m so glad you didn’t kill that one puppy – it was my favorite of the bunch.

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  18. Pingback: Friday Fiction – The Drifters | elmowrites

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