Afterwards (Friday Fictioneers)

We drive in silence, the atmosphere between us charged with emotions that neither of us dare liberate.  From time to time I catch a glimpse of his face in the oncoming headlights.  Apprehensive, tired, relieved, but unburdened.

That nebulous figure who has undulated for months on the fringe of my consciousness, and sometimes even my dreams, now has a name, a history, an identity.  And probably a future.

He stops the car in our driveway and rubs his hands wearily across his eyes.

“I’m shattered,” he says.

And so am I.

About Sandra

I used to cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and wrote fiction and poetry. Now I live on the beautiful Dorset coast, enjoying the luxury of being able to have a cat, cultivating an extensive garden and getting involved in the community. I still write fiction, but only when the spirit moves me - which isn't as often as before. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
This entry was posted in Friday Fictioneers, Just Sayin' and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

63 Responses to Afterwards (Friday Fictioneers)

  1. sue Cottrill says:

    Now you’ve got me. Who are these two? Strangers, re-discovered love, or long distance.
    Take me a while to decide I think!

    Like

  2. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Sandra,

    Your story has me trying to piece together the clues to reveal who did what to whom, when and why. Your narrator is speaking on many levels and I am going to keep my eyes on the comments section for more clues.

    Aloha,

    Doug

    http://ironwoodwind.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/look-closely/

    Like

  3. Sandra says:

    Thanks Sue and Doug – I won’t spill the beans until later. Other assumptions might be better than the one I had in mind …

    Like

  4. Sandra, I thought that was a brilliant take on the prompt and I love in particular your first paragraph, which captures the distance that remains in familiarity. I thought it like a French film, then I saw that you live in France…

    Like

  5. Me too. It is a lovely slice of life, but I can not for the life of me, figure out how this was inspired by the prompt! Nicely written, though.
    Lindaura
    http://fictionvictimtoo@blogspot.com

    Like

    • Ms Glamoura, I assumed the key word was “shattered” that connected the prompt to the story… Sandra can correct me if I’m overthinking. And welcome to the Friday Fictioneers, Sandra!

      Like

      • Sandra says:

        Thanks for commenting Carlos and Lindaura. Yup, I looked no further than ‘shattered’ when the photo was posted, I’m afraid. Thanks for the welcome, Carlos. This has been a really interesting couple of hours seeing the different takes on the prompt.
        We don’t actually live in France, Carlos, we just spend a lot of time there on our barge and you can’t help being influenced by the French and their customs.

        Like

  6. Quill Shiv says:

    I really Loved this. This figure you speak of…very intriguing and I’m thinking it is perhaps a third party of sorts. I really am interested in learning more! Well done!

    My link is here: http://quillshiv.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/let-flow-what-is-left/

    Like

  7. elmowrites says:

    I thought this was a husband and wife (for me, there was a comfortable feeling between them that suggested they were a long-term couple) returning home from some big event but I wasn’t sure what – I wondered about the trial of their son’s killer or something, but the “And probably a future” line didn’t seem to match the relief of the rest of the piece, so I’m not sure. I’ll be keeping an eye out for clues.

    Mine is here: http://elmowrites.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/friday-fiction-14/

    Like

  8. miq says:

    Oooo! I can’t wait to know what is going on. You’ve done a great job capturing my attention and still keeping everything shrouded in mystery. I’ve decided it’s woman who’s meeting her biological father for the first time, but I want to know where you’re actually taking this!

    Mine’s here:
    http://threedescriptors.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/flash-fiction-10-bones/

    Like

  9. niiko47 says:

    I have so many ideas floating around in my mind about this one. It’s incredibly ambiguous (in a good way) but the theory I like the most is how this long-suffering couple has finally conceived during a trip somewhere. The ‘nebulous figure’ felt like the child she has been seeing in her heart for a long time, finally coming into being inside her – and the future of their little family looks rosey.

    Could explain why they’re shattered, too. “Like bunnies” and all that…

    Like

  10. Judee says:

    You leave me questioning and wanting for more. This is well written and intriguing.

    Like

  11. susielindau says:

    Bummer! The affair has been revealed….Great post! Are those her bones that lay in the future? Hahaha!

    http://susielindau.com/2012/02/24/100-word-flash-fiction-jagged-edge/

    Like

  12. Robin Hawke says:

    I read three characters, but by the end I wondered if I was wrong and there were only two. Robin

    Like

  13. Steven E.A. says:

    I get tension from this piece. It reminded me of the stress of having a loved one in the hospital, though I’m unsure if that was your intent.
    http://wp.me/pVRF7-r2

    Like

  14. Janet says:

    This one is a mystery. I’ll be thinking about this for a while.

    Here’s mine; http://postcardfiction.com/2012/02/24/forgotten/

    Like

  15. Hi Sandra,
    I was completely captured by that great first sentence and then spent time trying to interpret the clues to what is happening. I thought reading the comments might help, but I’m still unsure, though I agree with Carlos that the word shattered is key. I think this is a great intro to a larger story.
    Here’s mine: http://bridgesareforburning.wordpress.com/

    Like

  16. This is really well written and you maintain the sense of ambiguity really well. My gut reaction to this was picturing a couple returning from an ultrasound and yet analysis of the second paragraph suggests to me the discovery of a bilogical parent or similar. Very intriguing and atmospheric 🙂

    Like

  17. I agree with the comments that have gone before–the story has sooooooo many possibilities. The mystery remains and I’m eager to see where you take it. Mine: http://vsta.pr/zxAJ1y.

    Like

  18. Sandra says:

    Hi there, thanks for commenting. Yes ‘shattered’ was the key word for the flash. I think some great stories are emerging in my mind from the suggestions I’ve read here.

    Like

  19. Yes…you too left me wondering about the text and its relationship to the picture. Thank you for sharing…and now I wait.

    ~Susan (Here’s mine: http://www.susanwenzel.com/)

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Thanks for commenting Susan; the unveiling is in the post below. The woman’s world has been shattered by the confirmation of fears she’d been trying to ignore.

      Like

  20. Madison Woods says:

    What I see is a shattered marriage or relationship. She’d already known he was cheating and chose to remain in denial, which could no longer be supported when he confessed. Or perhaps she hadn’t been in denial but hadn’t fully delved deep enough to confirm her suspicions. I loved how you said all that without saying it. LOL. Of course, that’s only *my* interpretation, which could be all wrong. But I loved the story.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      You and an earlier poster got it in one, Madison. But now that I’ve read all the other interpretations of my piece, I think I could have done so much better. This exercise has helped me one of my recurring issues, my inability to see my work through other peoples’ eyes. I really felt that this was so obvious. Much food for thought here.

      Like

      • Madison Woods says:

        It’s a fine line to know how much reveal you want to give, but sometimes it also depends on the audience how much is appropriate. I find for scifi/fantasy readers, they like the mystery and innuendos more.

        Like

  21. TheOthers1 says:

    What’s the figure? Oh, you’re flash leave me hanging. Definitely makes me want to know what’s going on.

    http://unduecreativity.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/bare-bones/

    Like

  22. Nebulous is the part which best describes the whole. Perhaps because I was fixated on the image, I had difficulty tying the clues together. It is wonderful how careful use of innuendo can create a dozen different stories for a dozen different readers. Very nice work!

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Thank you for commenting. I thought I’d posted a reply to you here, but I see it’s not here. (It will probably appear twice now :() I was surprised too at how many different interpretations were made here.

      Like

  23. Jake Kale says:

    I must admit, you got me. I broke out into a big grin when I read the second-to-last line! Even then the subtext escaped me until I read Madison’s comment. That’s such a unique way of taking the prompt. Very well played!

    Like

  24. will keep a tab on this for more updates….as of now, i can’t make a head way with it. I can see the link to the prompt coming Afterwards as the title suggests…Welcome to FridayFictioneers!

    here’s mine:
    http://seewilliams.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/moriah/

    Like

  25. This is a delicious mystery of who’s who. I think the beauty of this writing lies not in knowing how these shattered pieces of reality and dreams fit together, but that they just do.
    Here’s mine: http://wp.me/s1Tjpv-fragile

    Like

  26. As much as this leaves the story open to interpretation, I think this one does too much. I didn’t know that was possible, but I suppose it is, because this one is completely scarce of a tie-in, and isn’t that the point of responding to a prompt?

    I can imagine being inspired to write a completely separate story based on a prompt. But I can see this one’s not.

    Don’t get me wrong; I love this piece. It’s so well felt, and I’m sure “I’m shattered” has some hidden double entendre to it that I can’t figure out. I just don’t know what’s behind this story. I believe in a subtle yet clear style, but clarity is just as important, I think.

    Mine’s here, though, in case you’re interested:
    http://littlewonder2.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/100-words-flash-fictioneers/

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      I think perhaps there’s a problem in the language here. I was using two interpretations of the same word, and the word came from the prompt.

      When I looked at the photo, I didn’t see bones. I saw ‘shattered’ rock. In England, we use the term ‘shattered’ colloquially to mean exhausted, spent, so one might say ‘I’m shattered’ meaning (in other vernacular) ‘I’m bushed’ or ‘I’m knackered’ (not polite!). So (because the man has confirmed her worst fears – ie there is another woman) the relationship is shattered, the man is tired from the strain of confession, and the woman as a wife is shattered. Sorry it was obscure.

      Like

  27. Lora Mitchell says:

    The relationship between your text and Madison’s photo left me confused. At first, I thought she was being kidnapped…then I realized the clue to the piece is in the word “shattered”.. I believe it’s at the end of this ride when she realizes it’s the end and the marriage is “over.” Am I right? Or way off base? Here’s mine:
    http://www.triplemoonstar.blogspot.com

    Like

  28. Sandra says:

    Thanks for commenting. Yes, it was a surprise to me that it wasn’t more obvious.

    Like

  29. Jeannie says:

    there’s a lot of hidden meaning in this piece! Ack! I need more clues to figure it out but what you have is very intriguing. Nice how you worked in shattered. Well done!

    Like

  30. Sandra says:

    Hi Jeannie, the ‘reveal’ as they say, is in my responses above. I promise to look more carefully at next week’s prompt. 🙂

    Like

  31. Siobhan Muir says:

    Wow. Powerful writing and subtle, Sandra. It took me a long time to realize the “nebulous figure” at the fringe of her consciousness was the “other woman”, so-to-speak (could have been a man, I suppose). I thought it might be a real ghost from the past, a person who affected their lives with revelations of a murder or a usurped inheritance (it must be the paranormal side of me). Either way it can be a great start to a larger story.

    Siobhan

    Like

  32. Sandra says:

    Actually Siobhan, that’s a good idea – the other person being a man. Hmmm! Thanks for commenting. 🙂

    Like

  33. teschoenborn says:

    Very cryptic, yet drew me in.

    Like

  34. Sandra says:

    Thanks for commenting. 🙂

    Like

  35. The Lime says:

    It seems as though the comments have really covered the options here, and I just want to say that I didn’t mind not knowing exactly what the scenario was. It seemed to me that building emotion was the key here — building tension and then relief. The potentialities are lovely, and impressively established in so little space.

    Thanks for sharing! Here’s mine: http://thecolorlime.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/to-starve-98/

    Like

  36. Sandra says:

    Thanks for commenting. I enjoyed participating this week, and I particularly enjoyed your submission which is very topical. Good one.

    Like

  37. Pingback: A Betting Man – Friday Fictioneers February 2015 | castelsarrasin

  38. Taygibay says:

    I’ll admit to not getting the point, Sandra but then again, it is much harder without the image, isn’t it?

    😉 Tay.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      I don’t know why the photos sometimes disappear on historical posts. I’ve noticed that before. It was actually some fossilised bones as I recall, but to me it looked like something that had shattered.

      Liked by 1 person

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