Friday Fiction – Sheffield Should Never Be Thrown

This week’s FF prompt comes from Jan Wayne Fields. My story is inspired rather than illustrated by the pic, so don’t be confused by the fact that it clearly doesn’t fit in the details. To be honest, there’s a lot about this story I’m not sure about, but time is not on my side this week, so I post it and anticipate your comments and critique. More (and less) polished responses can be found via FF HQ.

dining-room

Sheffield Should Never Be Thrown (VERSION 2 – old version follows)

Tarquin has set the table immaculately: my Waterford glasses, porcelain dishes, Sheffield cutlery perfectly straight beside.

But the settings are wrong. Just two after our wedding, his birth added a third – plastic initially, then metal. Sheffield only when I was confident it wouldn’t be thrown. Then he grew and left us and we stared across the table again – conscious of the empty space on my left; his father’s right.

Two places again today: his own opposite mine. The Prince ready to accede. I cannot challenge him, so I remove the Sheffield from my own setting. Sheffield should never be thrown.

OLD VERSION:

Tarquin’s set the table immaculately: my Waterford glasses, porcelain dishes, Sheffield cutlery perfectly straight beside.

But the settings are wrong. Just two before he was born, his arrival added a third – plastic initially, then metal. Sheffield only when I was confident it wouldn’t be thrown. Then he grew and left us and we stared across the table again – conscious of the empty space on my left; his father’s right.

Two places again today: his own opposite mine. The Prince ready to accede. I cannot challenge him, so I remove the Sheffield from my own setting. Sheffield should never be thrown.

33 Comments

Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

33 responses to “Friday Fiction – Sheffield Should Never Be Thrown

  1. Dear Jen,
    You packed a lot into this story today, and the connection to the photo is far beyond tenuous (in a good way). Neatly handled.

    All my best,
    Marie Gail

  2. Ah.. the strength of fatal steel should not be wielded at a dinner table… I think the connection with the picture worked well.

  3. I thought this was a great take on the prompt and well handled though one thing kept throwing me at first and on subsequent readings. It was the line ‘just two before he was born’. Even when I’d realised you were referring to the number of place settings, I funked it again on the second reading. But the idea is excellent; the life-cycle of events and behaviour. Lovely.

    • That paragraph was probably twice as long when I first wrote it – I struggled to get it down to 100 words without losing the fact that she was on about the place settings and what upset her was her son choosing to sit in his father’s chair (opposite) instead of leaving it free and sitting in his ‘own’ seat.
      … so I’m not surprised that’s where you tripped up. I’ll perhaps play around with it and see if I can make things clearer, although when is another question. 2017 sound OK to you?!

  4. Jen, a nicely cyclical story that covers so much of several lifetimes in so few words. Well penned.

    janet

  5. There’s so much packed into this – it’s dense with meaning, and beautifully written, although it made me work. I love the title too. The only line I had to read a few times was, like Sandra ‘just two before he was born’. At first I thought that was referring to another child.
    Claire

  6. Helena Hann-Basquiat

    The ending almost seems to have a bit of viciousness to it — and surrender. It’s a great, complicated paragraph, that last one. I just wonder where that comes from — not that it seems entirely out of place, I’m just intrigued about he dynamic of the relationship.

    • Viciousness and surrender are exactly the combination I was going for, Helena, and I agree that there’s a lot more beneath this story than just the dowager’s feelings of displacement. The piece started off twice this length; given time I feel like I could right ten times as much again about this family!

  7. There is already so much in so few words, but it leaves me wanting to know much more about this Prince! Nice use of the prompt.

    Chris

  8. I didn’t realize her son had sat at his father’s place setting. Very nice!

  9. I get it, I get it – after three readings and the comments. Great story. Will she be using plastic from now on? Or maybe break the rules and throw Sheffield.

    • I suspect she’ll have to find a way to use Sheffield again without throwing it, Patrick. Thank yo for sticking with the story, and the comments. Not an easy one to wrestle into 100 words this week.

  10. No issue with the photo connection here. Is she resigned to defenseless assault here? Is this Cersei speaking of Joffrey?

  11. As others have said, there’s a lot packed into this story, and I’d love to read more.

  12. Dear Jennifer,

    Multi-faceted and polished (second version is clearer), your story this week sets the bar high. I knew you were on about place settings and rites of passage but didn’t grasp the significance of who sat where, and when. Reading the comments helped me to see between he lines. Still and all, i find your writing a pleasure to read for many reasons, not the least of which is the way you infuse your stories with life. They feel ‘real’ and transport us to your worlds.

    Aloha,

    Doug

    • Cheers, Doug. It was a tough one this week and I suspect the edit doesn’t do enough; or at least could do more. But I’m glad you enjoyed what you read – and this week imperfections haven’t put you off.

  13. I’m so glad we lesser mortals don’t have to deal with such machinations. The mother’s voice is clear and touching. I can understand why she might want to throw the Sheffield.

  14. Caerlynn Nash

    I’m reading her anger and perhaps lack of assertiveness (or control). Perhaps she should throw the Sheffield!
    Once again, you say a lot in few words. Nice.

  15. This is such an enticing story. Pity you only had 100-words so we’ll just have to imagine what has gone wrong between Tarquin and his mother.

  16. A fascinating story, which I had to read a couple of times to understand the meaning. It’s beautifully written, and I love the reference to good old Sheffield steel! I also love the phrase ‘The Prince ready to accede’. All very intriiguing, leaving me wondering how it would all develop.

  17. Dear Jennifer,

    I saw the passage of time and a family ad odds, but I suspect I’m missing something. I’ve gone away and come back more than once, read all the comments and I’m still a bit flummoxed. :/

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    • Sorry to confuse and thank you for persevering with it so long. My intention was something like this: Tarquin (the son) set the table and put himself in his (recent deceased) father’s chair. Mother’s grief (and some unexplained latent history or anguish against Tarquin) means she resents him for slotting himself into Dad’s chair so easily when she is still missing the ‘rightful’ owner of that second place setting.

  18. Dee

    Like a couple of others, I had to read a couple of times before everything slotted into place. I am chuckling as I read your reply to Rochelle above and wondering, given your 50-word precis, what sort of story I would have written.
    You have a deft touch and I could see the mother and son at the table. Well done.

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