Friday Fiction – The Memory Sense

UPDATE:

This morning, I posted my story with a mea culpa and an admission of guilt at both hubris and exceeding the word limit. Now, I think I should add a different crime to the list – posting too early.

I have said it before – if it’s too long, it’s either the wrong story or you aren’t trying hard enough. The original version of this story was probably the latter. Some redrafting in the shower has given me the version immediately below the picture. 100 words exactly. The original (99 words with an overlong title) follows for the sake of posterity and to remind me to try harder next time!

Photo credit is Bjorn Brudberg’s, FF HQ is here.

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Sense Memory

If smell is memory’s sense, music belongs to the heart. Sweet figs in bacon and a Spanish guitar onstage carry me a thousand miles and three decades back, to a ranch beneath the Pyrenees and the unrepentant sun.

To a girl among men, determined to prove herself. To Alvino – the Andalusian colt who spent days clamped between aching thighs, my fingers lost in his mane. To Romeo – so well-named – whose hair, too, swallowed my hands.

I’m back there, enjoying a hot siesta; and the bar, the musician, the figs, and my husband are miles away in a future still unimagined.

****

ORIGINAL VERSION:

If smell is the memory sense, music is the sense of the heart.

Sweet figs and bacon from the kitchen and a Spanish guitar onstage carry me a thousand miles and three decades back, to the foothills of the Pyrenees.

My legs ache again from the saddle, my arms from the unrepentant sun. I remember Alvino – burying my fingers in his thick mane, his body strong between my thighs. And I remember Romeo. So well-named: born to woo. His hair, too, swallowed my hands.

I’m back there, at the end of a hot siesta; and the bar, the musician, the figs, and my husband are miles away in a future still unimagined.

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56 Comments

Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

56 responses to “Friday Fiction – The Memory Sense

  1. To me your “cheating” is ingenious, and cutting it back does not make sense it would be hubris of me to suggest any. The last sentence nail it together to a completely other story and not the Andalusian story (though in reality it’s a Portuguese guitar in the picture)…

  2. Very nice reminiscing of the days gone by. I liked it though I had to read it twice. I think you could still trim a few words and not lose any of your story 🙂

  3. Cheating is sometimes fair. Beautiful story of days gone by and looking into the future.

  4. I hardly ever write 100 words. I still manage to sleep at night 🙂

  5. Lovely story, I liked the new version better, if only for this part: “To a girl among men”…It gives more strenght to the story.

    • Yes, that was a line I’d wanted to put in the original version, but lost in the editing. By flipping it all around, I saved enough space to put it back in. Thanks.

  6. This has a lovely feel to it, Jen, and I like your parallel between the mane and Romeo’s hair. I like that the memory seems a good one and not something she longs to get back to because her present life isn’t enough. Wonderful things in the past are best left as great memories (as far as I’m concerned). As far as the word length, do you count your title? I never do. It’s an important part but not part of the story proper in my mind. “Whatever”…it worked.

    janet

    • I’m glad you felt the memory was happy without being wistful. I don’t count titles in my word counts, but with the original version the title was really a part of the story, moved entirely for word count purposes, and that felt a bit like cheating. As I said above, I often find time editing to be rewarded with a better story, not just a shorter one.

  7. Jen, Round two is spectacular. One of my all time favorites. You, like Bjorn, have managed to make me want to run away and fall in love. An impossibly tricky thing to do.

  8. Beautiful! I love the rewrite. Also enjoyed the double-meaning of those Andalusian colts 😉

  9. Yep, No. 1 is way better with a great last line. But why aren’t there any navels?

  10. I loved the suggestiveness of the piece, beautifully done. I’m a bit less enamoured of sweet figs in bacon image but that’s a personal (dis)taste. 🙂

  11. Isn’t it amazing how some sensory inputs – a smell – a tune, triggers the memories to rush back? Am choosing not to focus on the cheating and re-writing part as the both the versions were equally evocative to me !

    • Thank you, Horus. I’ve heard this thing about smell being the memory sense, but to me it’s often music that invokes the greatest memories. I wanted to use that here.

  12. I enjoyed both stories as both were well written. Both painted a picture in my mind. What might have helped is that it’s hot weather where I am now, with the ceiling fan going full blast. 🙂

  13. Dear Jennifer,

    A good friend of ours often says that a good title adds another 100 words to a story. I’ve found this to be true.

    Love the idea of the husband still unimagined. A great use of the prompt and a story aptly and concisely (unlike my rambling comment) told.
    It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who edits in the shower. 😉

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    • Your friend si wise, Rochelle, but I suspect didn’t intend it to be taken literally! Anyway, I’m pleased with the effects of the rework. And yes, shower edits are often the best for me, because I am forced to mull them over repeatedly before I can write anything down. Breastfeeding is also a great time for that. I frequently look at the picture, take a shower, and come out with the story pretty much ready to go.

  14. Seems like the final version’s good, Jen. The character obviously has memories which bring forth a smile her husband will never understand! 😀

    • Yes indeed. Although he may have memories of his own. I like to think she’s not unhappy with the present, just able to look back fondly on another time. We should all be so wise.

  15. Both versions of the story are wonderful! You certainly did a great job editing for the 100-word count. Shower editing is very useful 🙂

  16. great story-telling with words carefully chosen to achieve the desired effect.

  17. You’re too hard on yourself, Jenn. The thing I like best about the polished piece is the phrase, “music belongs to the heart.” that was a huge change from the original version in my mind. Overall, I thought it was beautifully written and could see the whole thing playing out in my mind.

    • Thank you, Russell. I know it seems harsh, but I like to put my best foot forward and I felt the new version was a substantial improvement, so I think the self-criticism can be useful. I’m pleased you liked that change; I too thought it was much punchier.

  18. I absolutely love this story; my mouth is watering, and my hands are in Romeo’s hair (oops!) Some lovely phrases here, and it was good to see both versions. I do prefer the revised version.

  19. Perfectly written! And it was so great to read your intro. I had a story that failed completely this week, so ended up scrapping the whole thing and starting again..
    I always enjoyed your previous edits when you posted them, as they really showed the difference a little bit of polish can make. I hope people take note, and take a bit of time to make their stories the best they can be. It’s clear from the quality of your writing that this is what you do 🙂

    • Well done for sticking with it and going back to the drawing board, El. That’s hard to do, but so worthwhile.
      I’d forgotten about the pre-edit versions – quite a few people enjoyed them I think, so perhaps I can bring that back sometimes. As for your critique – it brings a smile to my face bigger than this one: 🙂

  20. “In a future still unimagined”…sigh….

  21. I like the first paragraph of the original version better and the second paragraph of the revised version better. I love the ending.

  22. Lovely. Sensual and grounded all the same. Well done and a nice read.

    Here’s mine: http://unexpectedpaths.com/friday-fictioneers/lift-every-voice/

  23. I liked the original version best – I thought your cheat was inspired. I feel the longer version was more sensual. The mood and tone of the shorter were more curt and sanitised. Gorgeous story either way.

  24. Dear Jenn, I love both versions, but the second is my favorite! I also think smell is the memory in the brain and there are so more triggers that take you back to another time. A song, for me, can not only bring back a memory but also the party or event it occurred in. Although, the other day I opened the medicine cabinet and smelled my sister – hey, I thought, how is this possible. I took everything out of it and there was lotion of the fragrance she wears the most. Sometimes I see shapes of heads in cars in front of me, and it looks like my Mama or Daddy, and just for such a small second, I’m happy once again. I’m not saying I’m not happy now, for I am, it’s just weird, I guess. Your story is fabulous – both versions! Nan 🙂

  25. It sounds as if Romeo was strong between your thighs too? Great atmosphere and great memories.

  26. Dee

    Great story Jen. I loved the comparison between Alvino’s mane and Romeo’s hair, great memories and a future still unimagined…
    Just lovely
    Dee

  27. Great sensory images through your words!

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