Alchemy (Five Sentence Fiction, September 2012)

The one word prompt from Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction this week was the word Devotion.  I thought I’d turn the prompt around a little.

Nobody noticed that night when Alchemy slipped her mooring ropes and nosed gently away from the port out onto the river, though there were those who later imagined they’d heard the creak of a mast, and the gentle putter of an engine fading into the distance.

Later they’d say that her new owner, some city slicker from the south who didn’t know his ass from his elbow when it came to tying a mooring hitch, pretty much deserved to lose her; but then they were resentful that old Finnigan had sold her out of the blue like that, without giving any one of them first refusal on the fine old craft.

But Finnigan hadn’t been in any condition to think straight, half-crazed with pain, lacking the strength to handle his beloved boat and with an over-riding need to pay for drugs and a place to rest his bones for his final weeks.

Several miles upstream that night, Finnigan stirred restlessly in his hospice bed, struggling through the veil of morphine that had blanketed his awareness for days, before lifting his grizzled head to catch the unmistakable sound of Alchemy’s approaching engine.

A short while later, after circling slowly in the river, the craft headed gracefully back downstream towards the sea, navigation lights fading into the gathering mist as Alchemy took her precious cargo on one last voyage.

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.
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32 Responses to Alchemy (Five Sentence Fiction, September 2012)

  1. Sharry says:

    I really liked this story, and your depictions of Alchemy were wonderful. I was a bit confused, though, in the last paragraph, about the “precious cargo.” I’d have assumed it was Finnigan, but you’d said he was in his hospice bed.


    • Sandra says:

      Hi Sharry, thanks for reading and commenting. It was Finnigan’s soul that Alchemy was taking away. Sorry if it wasn’t clear. 😦


      • I was a bit confused by that. Maybe a tiny addition to that fourth sentence to the effect of “… and letting go his last breath as his soul slipped away toward the sound.” Or something like that, because when you said in the last reply that it was his soul that Alchemy was taking away I went, “Yeah!” That’s perfect. It’s a lovely piece, Sandra. I completely love the whimsy of the boat being the devoted one.


  2. Donna B. McNicol [@donnabmcnicol] says:

    Oh Sandra, what a wonderful piece of fiction…gave me chills. Amazing imagery too!


  3. Mayumi-H says:

    Lovely use of the prompt,Sandra. I especially liked the way the descriptions flowed so easily from paragraph to paragraph, without feeling overwrought by details…of which there are plenty, to tell such a charming story.


  4. 4joy says:

    oh that was so beautiful! This week was my first try, and I feel I am out of my league!


  5. Paul says:

    Beautiful and very evocative. I usually don’t like long sentences. But you handled them nicely with an easy flow.


  6. Sandra says:

    Thanks Paul. I keep saying I’ll try to write something concise but I never can resist the urge… 😦


  7. JazzBumpa says:

    You get a WOW! for this.
    A friend of mine had to sell his boat, off season, to pay medical expenses, and took a bath.
    Very touching.


    • Sandra says:

      That’s every boater’s nightmare. We’ve got several friends who aren’t ready to give up sailing yet but have put their boats on the market in readiness for when they have to. It’s so sad. Thanks for commenting.


  8. McGuffyAnn says:

    I absolutely loved this…and I loved the ending, which I knew was Finnigan’s soul. Excellent.


  9. Just wonderful! Such a tender, beautiful story! So very well done!


  10. Sandra says:

    Thanks Josie, glad you liked it.


  11. helenamallett says:

    Lovely story.


  12. like helenamallett, a very lovely story. Wonderfully written.
    From the opening lines where the ship had slipped its mooring ropes to the end when the craft carried its precious cargo out to sea, suspending one’s need for the absolute, the story became a watercolor or a French pointillist painting, where the abstract beauty carries the whole. Very nice. Randy


  13. Oh Sandra, this is simply wonderful. Your sentence structure and flow is always spot on and this is no exception. Alchemy – a perfectly chosen name for the boat that will sail with Finnegan’s soul. I always enjoy your beautiful story telling!


  14. Kate says:

    I thought it was beautiful.


  15. ahblack57 says:

    Not a thing wrong with this one. Great images, wonderful words, heartfelt emotion, beautiful story–all there in five luscious sentences. Thank you!


  16. TheOthers1 says:

    Whoa. Love your take on the prompt. Touching.


  17. Andrew says:

    I was having a conversation with a writer friend the other day about the possibility of inanimate objects having personalities. For sure, Alchemy had a personality all of its own. Great reading Sandra.


    • Sandra says:

      That’s a thought that I’ve toyed with quite a lot Andrew. There has been the odd car I’ve felt sad about selling on, but if we had to part with the boat I’m not sure how I could deal with that.


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