FF – Nothing / Not Even Love

Ooh, my picture today, and a recent one too, taken in the waterfront park at Penetanguishene, Ontario. My story went a different way and I would appreciate your feedback. In particular, the middle sentence in the final line was a late addition. I think it adds clarity, but I’d love to see what you think.

Edit: I always say it doesn’t matter how you read these stories – your interpretation doesn’t have to match mine. But the interpretation most people seem to have had made my last line feel incongruous to them (rather than being a clue), and that’s just a shame. I’ve taken the comments on board and rewritten somewhat. Does it help?

jp3

Not Even Love

There’s rust on the gate he walked through daily, coming and going; and the flowers in the bed beside it are wilting because he was the only one who ever remembered to water them. There’s cheese in the fridge that used to smell in a good way, but not anymore; and the box of chocolates I bought to console myself is empty but for the fudge one, even though I know he won’t be coming back for it and I’m not really saving it for him.

Nothing lasts forever, they say. Not even love, they say. Let’s hope they’re right.

***

Nothing (Previous Draft)

There’s rust on the gate he walked through daily, coming and going; and the flowers in the bed beside it are wilting because he was the only one who ever remembered to water them. There’s cheese in the fridge that used to smell in a good way, but not anymore; and the box of chocolates I bought to console myself is empty but for the fudge one – which he likes and I don’t – even though I know he won’t be coming back for it and I’m not really saving it for him.

Nothing lasts forever. Not even love. Thank goodness.

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72 Comments

Filed under Friday Fiction

72 responses to “FF – Nothing / Not Even Love

  1. This works so well. and I just realize that I saw mahogany where there is rust. What I like most is the last two words. We are not always sad that it ends are we, and I thought it added to bring sunshine into the melancholy of the story.

  2. I don’t know think -that he likes and I don’t- is necessary. It seems clear without telling us. I like it.

  3. Dear Jennifer,

    I agree with Tracey about ‘that he likes and I don’t’. I’ll take it a step farther and say that I think you could end the sentence with ‘even though I know he won’t be coming back for it.’ It’s totally implied that he’s the one who likes the fudge. There, we just bought you a whole sentence. 😉

    Aside from that, I like the story overall and the way it ends with “thank goodness.” After all that we see that this break up was a good thing.

    I hope this all made sense. There again, it’s my opinion.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    • Hmmm… as I said to Tracey, that line had a couple of purposes although you’re right it would be a way to save words. Interesting for me that my addition of “Not even love” hasn’t added the clarity I expected. All three comments so far seem to read this as a happy ending to a bad relationship, which is not how I saw it at all. For me, that last line was her telling herself it would get better and that eventually her heart would stop waiting for him to come home as her head already knows it must.

      • If you have time & interest, I’ve posted a new version taking these comments into account.

        • Dear Jennifer,

          I finally came back around for a read. Somehow your last reply went under my radar. (Lots of changes going on in my life lately, if you happened to read my blog post “That’s Life.” ) https://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/thats-life/
          At any rate, your second edition is much clearer. The image of the cheese stinking in the refrigerator is vivid. Perhaps because I’ve opened the fridge only to have my nose assaulted on more than one occasion.
          Well done.

          Shalom,

          Rochelle

          • My husband and preschooler both like proper cheese; I must say I’m more of a medium cheddar girl myself, so I don’t really sympathise with the narrator on that one.
            Thanks for coming back around – you impress me enough with one run-through let alone a second. I didn’t get through all the stories last week and I haven’t even managed to write a story this week (yet. maybe).

  4. I think the fact that this is a FF story tinges the way we look at your ending, Jen. We expect to see/read something bad, so that’s how we interpret it. “Not even love” could be seen as meaning that love ended before he died. Using the word “console” makes it sound more the way you meant it, but I don’t think it’s enough to offset the FF mindset and I think “Thank goodness” sounds a little too upbeat, even though I know what you mean. Maybe if the title were something like “Healing” or “Recovery” or something else or the “Thank goodness” were something different?
    janet

    • I laughed at your line about expectations, Janet. Such a shame that we’ve come to that, but I know what you mean.
      I’ve made some edits which perhaps clear things up. I appreciate everyone’s honesty this week

  5. Personally I don’t think that it is clear at any point that he has left rather then died although without that middle sentence I would remain convinced that he had died. That just had me reading it again to try and make sense of it. The “thank goodness” totally threw me off as the tone of the piece is missing all the things he used to do when the sentence gives the impression that she is happy that he has gone.

  6. Well, I’ve got to say that I understood it perfectly. Maybe I was in ‘man-gone’ frame of mind (not for any particular reason whatsoever, I hasten to add). And I liked the up-note at the end, which had me thinking that she knew she’d get over it. If I’m being picky though, I’d drop the ‘thank goodness’ which has quite a different feel to it from the rest of the story. ( As Irene pointed out.) I’d incline to a more understated, wry or dreamy kind of acknowledgement that she’d not be this way forever. Just sayin’ 🙂 Good one, really liked it and thought the personality of the narrator came through beautifully.

  7. I tend not to criticize other writers.
    We all have different styles, and often we aim at a particular audience.
    This maybe wasn’t your best story but it was okay.
    Can I also say, as I have done on other blogs, that I find it hard to read the light writing on the dark background.
    This may well be because I am 143 years old and colour blind, but, just saying…

    • Criticise away, my friend. I really mean it when I say Thank you for it. That’s what critique groups like this are for in my view, and why I have the scalpel icon on my blog. Point about colours noted too, although I’m not sure when I’ll have chance to play around with other options (I don’t work well with black on stark white, so it’s a search for a compromise).

  8. I’m among those readers who thought that the “thank goodness” implied relief at his passing, thus it worked as a twist to the story. But maybe the twist to the story is that you didn’t mean people to read it that way at all!

  9. Jennifer, Thanks for the crisp and cool picture this week. I think the original piece works well…..because i guess it’s “original”. The “thank goodness” at the end threw me off too…but sometimes a thought comes in my mind when I ruminate that throws me off and I wonder where that came from. Since I have had such moments , I guess the first one works for me.

  10. Hi Jennifer

    I really liked your second version, and it was crystal clear to me at first glance that he had left. The phrase, “but for the fudge one,” while making its meaning clear, doesn’t seem to possess the finely carved feeling that the other sentences possess. Not sure that I have suggestions, but thought I would just add my bit here.
    All in all, a moving story. I really, really liked the narrator’s voice.

  11. Hi Jennifer, I think the original depicted the picture of a young lady who misses someone she loved but at the same time is relieved his gone because she was enduring rather than enjoying the relationship. It captures that state of confused limbo filled with highs and sudden lows. The second in my opinion seems more finite, both however are well written. Lovely picture too.

  12. I like this story (and I much prefer the second draft over the original.) (Oddly, my story took me on a broken-down relationship as well. How odd!)

  13. It does make it clearer although I’m not sure that it really matters. The change I would probably make is your chocolate sentence. I would put a full stop after the fudge one. Start a new sentence I’m not saving it for him. If you want the really in there put it at the beginning of the sentence as emphasis with a comma after it. Then a third sentence I know he won’t be coming back for it. I found your sentence too long and unwieldy and shorter sentences would make the reader feel the pain as well. But those are purely my thoughts on your good piece.

  14. I like the revision! I really love the complicated rhythm of the piece and it ends in such a lovely melancholy note. BTW, this has to be my favorite picture ever! I want to hop in and row off.

    • I wouldn’t if I were you; the iron’s rusting! But thank you for such lovely praise of both words and picture. My husband is trying to claim he took it because he’s the artistic one, but he’s wrong!

  15. Maybe I’m strange but I prefer the original. The revision isn’t bad. It just isn’t as good to me as the first. I’m glad you left both up. I particularly like the last part where “Thank goodness” reads more like she’s gotten past the more painful part where as in the revision she’s still only hoping it is true.

  16. Dear Jennifer, I find each version perfect in different ways. You are certainly a grand word-smith with a heart! Great job! Nan

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  18. Oh fudge to love. Which is, at best, bittersweet.
    Nice one. Randy

  19. Lovely wee tragedy.
    I prefer the revised lines – less direct, more poetic.

  20. I prefer the previous/original draft. With the revised draft I thought she had died and then when the pronoun switched to I, then I realized the narrator was speaking about he and maybe he had died. I had to read it over and realize he had left or they broke up and she was consoling herself and getting over it. The original draft, for me, is more clear and humorous. I agree you don’t really need the line “which he likes and I don’t” I would also probably edit for short sentences rather than semi-colons to reinforce how things change and stop. But that is me and my writing. This is your story and will be interpreted in many different ways by many different readers who will bring their own unique perspective to the piece. But you already know that 🙂
    Great photo btw.

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  22. Dee

    I liked the original one Jen and understood from ..’which he likes and I don’t’ that ‘he’ had left. Good of you to leave both up there – the second had a completely different feel to it for me – we had two for the price of one this week.

  23. I’ve really enjoyed reading all the comments and considering how every choice of wording and structure can make such a difference to the meaning and feel of a story. I love your long sentences – they represent to me the narrator’s melancholy, wandering thoughts, and contrast nicely with the final line. I like the uncertainty of the revised ending – it leaves me with more to ponder. You’ve provided us with a mini-workshop as well as a great prompt and a most engaging story.

  24. Both are strong stories, Jennifer. I like them both, but probably prefer the first. Isn’t that funny when that happens. I think the bit about the fudge candy doesn’t seem to be too important for the meaning of your story. I don’t think you need it either. The more important detail is that she isn’t saving it for him. Great story. Thanks for the beautiful photo!

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  26. I read it as her husband or partner is gone and not coming back, perhaps because of something she did to make that so. And she’s relieved about it. I got that from both versions, reading your original first.

  27. I think the story works great. She’s still suffering from the loss but hopes that someday she won’t. I think her feelings are based on a sense of reality that most “love,” no matter how powerful it seems, does not last. Good luck to her.

  28. Guess I am weird. I read it just as you, apparently, meant it. Not dead, but someone you would have to get over. Well done.

  29. I don’t know if it adds clarity, but I like the revised version better.

  30. I never thought he was dead but I am not sure why I didn’t think that. I’m curious, though why she is glad love doesn’t last forever? Because she is glad he is gone?

  31. I agree that some things could have been left for the reader to figure out, but it didn’t hurt to include them. The last two words gave hope she’s healing. Thanks for the picture, Jennifer. Well done. 🙂 — Suzanne

  32. I certainly didnt read this as a happy ending – I actually wondered if he died (he wasnt coming back)! Perhaps more a extreme absence than you intended 🙂

    Nicely written with a great build up (going through the things he did that now he doesnt and the food items he left behind etc). Well done.

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