Monday, May 12, 2014

Fading Luxury (WoE week 20)

After a brief hiatus, Write at the Merge is back again and so am I! With 500 or fewer words, we are challenged to create a story or part of a story that explores either or both of the provided topics. First: a quote:

"Are you really sure that a floor cannot also be a ceiling?" M.C. Escher

and then the photo:

photo by Keith Misner courtesy Unsplash

I love wood floors of all varieties. Each plank has a character all its own, perhaps a memory of the tree from which it is hewed. So that's the aspect of the challenge that I've decided to focus on this week.

Now, I want to return to characters I introduced here, although I will need to warn you there is a giant chunk missing from last time we saw them. Patience is still on the path to get her sister back, but this scene comes after her time with the Natives from the last scene. Jeb Grayson is preparing for a showdown against the Lassiers.

If you're new to the story line, and you would like to start at the beginning, follow the Label: Patience.

I offer the following in response: A Fading Luxury

Patience sucked a breath of private pleasure as her feet, unhindered by house-shoes, connected with the wooden floor. She couldn’t remember when last she walked barefoot across planks polished to a shine. Her trials took her all over the wild and uncivilized territories to rescue her sister, and Boston, once a part of her very blood, seemed a distant memory.

A wooden floor, creaking beneath her weight, was pure luxury.  She appreciated it even more than she did her cavalry hosts stationed at Fort Atherton.

A light rap sounded at the door, followed by Jeb’s graveled voice. “Boston, you awake, girl?”

Patience reached for her dressing gown and opened the door just enough to converse through.  “Mr. Grayson, you’re early. I am not yet presentable.”

He averted his eyes and removed the hat she had come to believe was permanently affixed to his head. Jeb appeared nervous, anxious, coaxing concern from the pit of her heart. “Well, there’s no easy way to say this and I’ve never been one to dance about a subject. I came to tell you goodbye.”

His words stung. She tasted bile in her throat and pulled the door inward. “Goodbye? I don’t understand. Where are you going?”

He ran his fingers around the brim of his hat. “Look, I promised to help you git yer sister back, but where we’ve gotta go next…where I gotta go and what I gotta do…a lady like yerself shouldn’t be any part of.”

His tone was so earnest. Panic seized her soul. “Don’t be absurd, Mr. Grayson. I’m coming with you.”

“Now the captain said yer welcome to stay here, or there’s a stage arrivin’ tomorrow that could take you home.”

“No, I can’t go. Not without Charity.”

Her protests ignored, Jeb continued. “Now if I succeed, Miss Charity and I will be back before long.”

If you succeed. If?” Patience flung the door wide on its hinges and gripped her dressing gown tightly about her shoulders. “What do you mean if?”

“Whatjya think I meant?” he barked, fire flashing in his eyes. He took a breath and his tone softened. “Look Boston, I told you a hunnard times the Lassiers ain’t for messin' with. I kick that hornet nest and there’s a very real chance that the devil’ll be there to collect what I owe him.”

“I can help—“

“I don’t doubt that. I’ve seen you shoot. But we’ll be outnumbered thirty to one and there’s no use in gitting us both shot full of holes, or worse.” He finally met her gaze. “They take you, like they took yer sister? No. This is where we part ways. You stay safe, Boston.”

Jeb turned, leaving her alone at the doorway. “How could I ever be safe without you?” Patience whispered as he retreated, his silhouette dark against the rising sun. She held her breath until he cast a long look back from the fort gates. In one fearful beat, her porcelain heart shattered.

Some of the WoE crowd mentioned during the assessment that they aren't always sure when it's okay to leave criticism. I'll try to remember to be a better citizen and put a note at the end of my responses to the prompt, but if I don't, comments and constructive critiques are ALWAYS welcome here. Okay? Okay. so, let me have it. Give me what you've got. I can take it. 


  1. Poor Patience! A double hit--her sister and Mr. Grey son.

    I really enjoy your use of language to fill in your characters!

    1. Thanks! No school-room could contain Mr. Jeb Grayson, what he's learned about life he learned from living it. Keeping his voice organic and flawed I think keeps me honest to his character, not to mention, provides a complimenting contrast to Patience's voice.

      I'm glad you enjoyed your visit. Thank you again for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts!

  2. I really enjoyed this. I loved the flavour of it and now I am desperate to know that Jeb will come back safely with Charity. Lyssa M x

    1. Thanks! I think this scene is pretty pivotal for Jeb's character development. His involvement happened because Patience promised to pay him for his help. And his first impression of Patience is that she's spoiled and shrewish. So at this stage in the game, the fact that he's willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in attempt to keep her from harm is no small thing.

      But, Patience is nothing like her name, and I get the feeling she's not going to be fort bound for long...

      I'm pleased you enjoyed your stay. Thanks again for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts!

  3. I could hear Jeb's voice as I read along. Well done. The line "coaxing concern from the pit of her heart" particularly struck me. Something about her softness toward the hardened figure, in spite of her desire to be strong and dauntless.

    1. Thanks! Patience is a bit clueless but I think she may finally realize that Jeb is a better influence on her than she first gave him credit for. She's close to that stage in her development where she makes the decision to stop living in the past, and Jeb is really the whole driving force behind her character growth. And I think the best of her strength comes from her resilience and her need to purge herself of the guilt she feels over her sister's abduction.

      Patience is so deliciously complex, well they both are, really. I've got enough of their backstory worked out that I'm thinking this is going to be a novel by the time their story is told. That's going to be a fun write for sure.

      I hope you enjoyed your stay. Thanks again for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts!

  4. I loved how you opened this writing with Patience walking on the wood without her shoes. I live in a house with wooden floors and love the feel of them on my bare feet. I automatically smiled as I read this part.

    The conversation between Patience and Jeb is also well constructed. It reads quickly and helps me to see the characters. I'm pretty sure I've read something with these characters before and it was nice to be with them again.

    Regarding constructive feedback...I didn't stop any place with this story until the very end and it was just one word. It may be just me:~) but I struggled with the use of "porcelain" to describe the shattering of her heart. It's a minor detail, but it did stop me for a second. Unless there's a specific reason for using the word, the line reads fine without it.

    1. Thanks! I live with wood floors too, well, bamboo floors. Given my druthers I will never have carpet floors again. Of course, my cat doesn't share my enthusiasm for such things.

      Now that you bring it up, porcelain is a bit ill placed considering the flow of the piece...Hmm...Making a mental note to revisit this when I write the novel. Thanks!

      I hope you enjoyed your return trip here. Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts!