FF – 13 November 2015

It can be no coincidence that the prompt on 11/11 should be a cemetery, but what struck me in this week’s prompt from J Hardy Carroll were the white figures, and for some reason they reminded me of Melanie. This story is not reliant on you having met her before, but if you want to meet her again, check out the rest of the Melanie tagged posts.

Last week’s concrit subgroup was great – I look forward to your stories and critiques again this week.

And, after reading, if you’re wondering what happened on 14 November 1940, click here.

jhc5 (1)

13 November 2015

After the ceremony, Sophia and Mel ran into the graveyard and threw spare confetti onto a headstone.

“They should have more respect,” I heard an elderly guest mutter.

“Where are the parents?” her husband agreed.

Here I am, I replied silently, picking up our coats and wishing my wife were here. I’ve always thought the dead would enjoy the proximity of children, but for appearance’s sake, I approached the girls.

“Look, Daddy,” Mel pointed to the petal-strewn grave. “It’s their wedding day too!”

Married 13 November 1940. Died 14 November 1940. For the briefest time in life, and for eternity.


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

40 responses to “FF – 13 November 2015

  1. C- It’s a beautiful story. I think that the dead would enjoy the proximity of children if they are capable of enjoying anything in that state .

    Just a typo: “grabbing two their coats” …should it be “grabbing their two coats”?

    The last line is beautiful.

    • Ooh, good spot on the typo. I shall fix it, thank you. And yes, I’m not sure the dead are actually in a position to care what happens to their graves, but if they do, children running around them is probably not their biggest concern.

  2. Dear Jen,

    I love the sentiment of the throwing of confetti on what should have been a joyful wedding anniversary.

    C-I was a little confused though about who is with whom. I’m guessing that Mel and Sophia’s mother is dead and it would have been their parents’ anniversary? The tie between them and the couple who perished in 1940 seems tenuous. I read the link and, as you might guess, love the connection to history. How sad to have married one day and die the next.

    I agree with Ansumani. The last line is beautiful.



    • I’m glad you both liked the last line; I almost cut it out to get more room for explanation, but Iiked it too much, so saved on explanation, possibly contributing to your confusion.

      The long explanation is this – it’s a wedding on 13 Nov, at which Sophia and Mel, the narrator (father) and the grumpy elderly couple were guests. Excited by the whole event, and itchy from sitting still, the girls run into the graveyard. They look like they are just messing about, but actually they are putting the confetti on that grave for a reason. Not sure how much of that is obvious from the story though.

      As for the history, I actually had the idea of the story first and was going to put a random date, but then I thought I’d put in a wartime link and in looking for blitz stories the date of the big Coventry bombing (which my Gran lived through) was too much of a coincidence not to use.

  3. I think this is sweet and beautiful. I would agree that the dead might love the presence of children. This story made me smile. C – When he took the coats I thought he was taking the coats of the kibbitzing couple. He was getting the girls’ coats right? It’s not clear to me. That tripped me up a bit. Otherwise, I enjoyed this a lot.

    • I hadn’t realised that line was going to be such a challenge. I’ve changed it again – to “the girls’ coats”.Yes, indeed, that’s what I’d intended. Thanks for forcing me to keep polishing!

  4. I love this story. I feel the dad’s sadness and you’ve also conveyed the child-like optimism beautifully. C- I read “approached” as “reproached”. Not sure it was meant to be reproached, but if the girls are wearing the coats reproached works better; if he grabs them off the chair, approaches does. Not that it matters or detracts – lovely story. Sarah x

  5. Like others, I love the confetti on the grave and the last line. I also felt like you nailed the children’s voices and the father’s inner thoughts.

    Constructive criticism:

    1. Not immediately clear what ceremony they are leaving.
    2. The father grabs the girls’ coats. A couple sentences later, he approaches the girls. It should be the other way – approach and THEN grab.

    All in all, another great story!

    • Thanks! I thought it was obvious about the ceremony because the girls have confetti and he’s not grabbing the girls in the coats – he’s grabbing coats to fling around little girls who are outside coatless in November. Apparently that threw a lot of people though, so I will definitely fix it.

  6. This is an absolutely beautiful story. The questions for me are the mysteries of the story — and I love them as mysteries. Sometimes good story telling leaves unanswered questions to engage the reader — and for the reader to make connections to his or her own imagination or circumstances.

    The innocence of children in this most solemn place…..”Where are the parents? [plural]…Here I am, I replied silently…” as in singular. He has lost his wife and managed to still raise jubilant children.

    The last line is haunting, striking, jolting. I’m reminded of the Lindsey Chapel in Boston, connected to Emmanuel Church on Newbury Street. The Chapel is exquisitely beautiful – and then you read the plaque that explains its existence….built in memory of a daughter, who married and left for her honeymoon trip on the Lusitania, a ship that was .torpedoed and sunk on May 7, 1915. These are both tales of love cut down in its prime…Sorry to be so long here….but your story, for me, is quite moving.

    • Long and lovely, don’t hold back and definitely don’t apologise!

      If you know Melanie (which i don’t expect you to), you’d know that her Mum is still alive, but very ill and therefore unable to attend the wedding. Sophia is her best friend and in my head this was Sophia’s parents’ wedding (or Mum and step-dad) and hence the girls were flower girls but Sophia’s parents were too busy and the narrator was responsible for both girls. However, all that had to disappear in the edit, leaving the perfectly reasonable assumption for readers that the girls were sisters and mother was dead or gone.

      I hadn’t heard about the Lindsey Chapel, what a terrible beautiful story.

  7. Dale

    I think the story is sweet. Children have a way of bringing joy where adults insist on remaining to sombre (especially the older ones who are stuck in their ways, which always seem to be the darkest).

  8. micklively

    A tragic tale, well told.

  9. Charming, but I hope they don’t break up sometime during eternity.

  10. Some people are a little too stuffy and formal for my liking. I believe the spirits of the dead like to smile as much as the living.

    That couple sure had a short honeymoon, or perhaps one that never ended.

  11. A beautiful story. Children always know how to behave appropriately. Throwing the confetti on the grave, their explanation to their father and the fabulous last line made this a memorable piece.

  12. Beautiful and bittersweet. A lovely piece of work.

  13. I think you done a great job of tying history, the prompt, war, death & marriage and the promise of forever quit well in 100 words. Just a few suggestions based on the comments:
    After the wedding ceremony . . .
    . . . grabbing our coats and . . .
    . . . the dead would enjoy the . .
    No probably about it! 🙂 Just say’n.

    • Those flipping coats – I’m beginning to wonder if I should just cut them out altogether! And you’re right about probably, he’s a man who knows what he thinks, so the qualifier isn’t needed or in character. Thank you for the suggestions, and for making me keep thinking / polishing.

  14. I love walking around cemeteries and reading epitaphs. They don’t write them like they used to, do they? But you wrote a great one! 🙂

  15. Sarah Ann

    C – well this isn’t going to be very constructive, sorry, as I’ve got a tear in my eye. Very powerful in construction, bringing in all the characters clearly and they are so well drawn too.
    My only question would be where is dad’s wife – is she dead too? I imagined this to be the case initially but felt it wasn’t clear on subsequent reads.
    Really well written.

    • Sorry for the late reply… in my head the wife is in hospital or at home and too ill to attend, but I know that’s only clear if you know Melanie and her whole story.
      Thanks for your lovely comments

  16. It is a nice story and the innocence of the children shines through. Though it did take me a few reads and the comments to get it right. I was a bit confused by a wedding in the graveyard before I got it but hey nothing surprises me these days when people try and outdo each other in being unique.

    • Ok, so this is a location thing. In the UK many weddings still take place in churches and most churches are set in the graveyard, so that part wasn’t meant to be odd at all! Thanks for your comment and sorry for the late reply.

  17. Heartbreakingly beautiful! Everyone grieves in their own way!!

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