The Spanish Autumn of Mrs Stone (Friday Fictioneers, April 2014)

Something’s dreadfully wrong, thought José, sipping the Pina Colada she’d bought him.

The woman positively gleamed with perspiration, the cotton fabric between her ample breasts slowly darkening. Humidity had frizzed her grey hair into slick curls.

He seized her swollen hands, re-valuing her rings once more. They’d need to be cut off, he thought idly.

“But what about us?” he whined.

“There is no us, dear,” sighed Mrs Stone.

“Take me back with you,” he pleaded. “We’ll marry.”

“No dear.”

“But I need you.”

She pressed a roll of banknotes into his hand.

“You need this honey, and I need to go home now.”

As the dust settles after last week’s little ‘furore’ (thanks Helena 🙂 ) Friday Fictioneers are smoothing down their feathers and returning to the bird table.  Rochelle is keeping everyone in order in her usual inimitably gracious and diplomatic manner – thanks Rochelle.  My participation this week looked less likely as the morning wore on, the story didn’t work and the muse proved stubbornly elusive, but when all else fails I rely on an age old solution: re-write it from a different POV. 

About Sandra

I cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and write fiction and poetry. 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.

82 Responses to The Spanish Autumn of Mrs Stone (Friday Fictioneers, April 2014)

  1. MrBinks says:

    LOVE this line:
    They’d need to be cut off, he thought idly.

    🙂 Nicely written (again) Sandra.

    Like

  2. Dear Sandra,

    i can’t tell you what it means to me to have you in my corner. You’re one of the reasons I will continue on.

    More than once I’ve wrestled with a story, only to realize I was writing from the wrong POV. Good decision. She certainly had his number, didn’t she?

    Vivid descriptions. I broke into a sweat just reading.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Like

  3. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Sandra,

    I have it on good authority that the Muses have a stateroom with their names on it on your barge. Not fair to the rest of us, but it does explain your consistently entertaining and thoroughly unique stories each week. Please say hello to them for me.

    Aloha,

    Doug

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      When you drop in on us you can say hello yourself Doug. I’m still watching for you! Thanks for commenting, it means a lot knowing you’re still out there keeping an eye on us all. 🙂

      Like

  4. I wonder if she escaped unscathed.

    Like

  5. Hala J. says:

    I was getting hot and sticky just reading this. The whole “they’d need to be cut off, he thought idly” phrase made me want to smack him. (Although the phrasing of it kind of made me want to chuckle too—it was so nonchalant). Good on Mrs. Stone to cut him away instead!

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  6. Good story once more, Sandra! Great that she realized what his intentions were and ended it in a hurry. That sounded dangerous. I imagine she’s leaving as soon as possible. I could feel the heat from the vivid description. Of course, it’s hot here now too. 🙂

    Like

  7. atrm61 says:

    Ooh,I totally loved this pov and I sure am glad that Mrs Stone is immovable ;-)Hopefully though,he has not managed to poison her or something- and I have this niggling suspicion about Jose giving up that easily 😛 As always,you have captured my imagination with your fabulous tale Sandra:-)

    I was absent last week-seems something happened-I am peeved now-why do things happen when I am away?Sigh!Glad whatever the impasse was,it was resolved-cheers to FF!

    Like

  8. I guess he got what he wanted … and she could keep her fingers. Quite a surprise to meet someone exactly as cynic as yourselves, in the end it was just business..

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  9. elappleby says:

    A great tale – and I think Mrs Stone is well rid!

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  10. wmqcolby says:

    Just two words here … AWE SOME! That ending line was a pip! I could see it happening. Bravo, Sandra!

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  11. I’ve got to say, this story is almost perfect. ALMOST. There was so much tension at the beginning, and I was almost reading them both as opportunistic villains. I don’t know how you felt about the ending, and I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it just feels like it lost a bit of oomph (yes, darling, it’s a word, I insist.) Although now that I’ve read it again, there is a hidden richness there to this Mrs. Stone character. I almost feel an insight into her with the last line about going home — that she’s on an adventure to reclaim her youth, only to get caught up in a less than genuine love affair. But she’s not naive girl, and so see’s through Jose’s ruse to his real need — the money.
    Okay, I take back my previous ALMOST. This is JUST ABOUT perfect. (Not the same, darling — it’s a matter of degrees).

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      If you thought this ending lacked ‘oomph’ Helena, I’m just glad I didn’t post the first version I did. 🙂 I think that one ended ‘Paid in full. Account closed.’ Thanks for giving it some thought. I quite liked Mrs Stone myself, having had her Roman spring and Spanish autumn, she’s now ready to put her feet up. I’ll keep on ruminating on the ending… they can’t touch you for it these days. 😉

      Like

  12. She is smart to get out now!

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  13. Oh, yes, Mrs. Stone is definitely in charge.

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  14. K.Z. says:

    “They’d need to be cut off” wow. sometimes a single phrase can take the story to an entirely different level. 🙂
    i can imagine it all.. because you’ve created characters that were so intriguing and believable. i like Mrs Stone. she’s no fool. she knows what it’s about.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      I liked her myself KZ. Today’s submission really underlined how difficult it is to get a story out in 100 words. There was so much more I wanted to say.

      Like

  15. Judah First says:

    I love the disparity between his thoughts and the actual conversation. At the end I wasn’t sure if Mrs. Stone was onto him or if something more sinister was coming along… I’d like to believe the former.

    Like

  16. What a vivid picture you’ve painted this week! I can relate in an odd way, whenever I’ve tried to wear rings my fingers swell and I worry that they will have to be cut off! Obviously, not the same thing going on here, but it hit that personal level 🙂

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      I know what you mean. I’ve had one cut off and it’s not a pleasant experience when your finger is already sore and swollen. 😦 Thanks for reading.

      Like

  17. Sandra, I’m so glad your first one didn’t work as this one certainly did, all the way from feeling the heat (literally and otherwise), to thinking he was scheming to kill her and cut the rings off, to being glad she’d had her fun, seen through him, and was moving on. Loved the title, too. But I was of course sad that no one was gruesomely murdered. Ahh, well. There’s always next week.
    janet

    Like

  18. elmowrites says:

    Has Mrs Stone been seen before, Sandra? I think I missed her. Anyway, this story intrigues me – I love how you feed character into them both through subtle cues like the rings line and that final one. I wonder if you want a comma before ‘honey’ – to make it a nickname rather than a description of the money – though.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      I’m not sure how many people have made the link between this and the Tennessee Williams novel ‘The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone’. This was a film production twice, once with Vivien Leigh and Warren Beatty (who else) and later with Helen Mirren I believe. In that novel the newly widowed Mrs Stone stays on in Italy and succumbs to the mercenary attentions of a gigolo. A sadder ending in that cruelly depressing piece though. I do like to see a winner in my stories. 🙂 I think you’re right about that comma, Jen. I debated it but I do have a tendency to overpunctuate my work so I decided to go without it. I should know better than to second-guess myself in that way.

      Like

  19. Indira says:

    At first I was scared for Mrs Stone , it seems she is clever and considerate also. Very nicely written. I enjoy your stories very much.

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  20. I know everyone’s already said this, but I have to agree – I love the line about the fingers and the rings. So wicked without even realizing he’s being wicked. Wonderful.

    Like

  21. Sandra says:

    That’s a mercenary for you Claire. 🙂 Thanks for reading.

    Like

  22. I am so thankful Mrs. Stone got what she needed then dropped him like a rock. “It’s the stuff of fantasies.

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  23. Nan Falkner says:

    Sandra – this is stunning! How wonderful and believable! I’m sure this could or HAS happened to some damsel with a good, but lonely heart. What a gigolo! And, the best part – is his ‘fencing’ techniques at appraising jewelry and he is actually thinking about chopping off her fingers? Never mind, he’s not a gigolo, hes a sadist! Great, great story Sandra – just awesome! Nan 🙂

    Like

  24. Sandra says:

    Well it’s either the rings or the fingers that might be cut off. 🙂 Thanks for reading Nan.

    Like

  25. I love the point of view, Sandra. So much happening under the surface.

    Like

  26. subroto says:

    “They’d need to be cut off, he thought idly.”
    I know they’ve said it before but I too just love this line. It’s that little touch at the end “he thought idly” that just raises the bar. Loved it.

    Like

  27. I like it this way, Sandra, with the “victim” in control and using her brain. It turns the usual conman story on its head. Hopefully he can leave her alone now, although maybe not.

    Like

  28. El Guapo says:

    Sounds like she understands him perfectly!

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  29. She got it right. Wonderwoman. Except she should have cut his hand off. What a well structured story!

    Like

  30. I rather like your Mrs. Stone. Looks like she cut him off, so to speak. Well done, Sandra!

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  31. I always enjoy a story in which a woman isn’t taken advantage of! Sometimes when we write from a particular point of view, the other characters tend to blend in and be somewhat submissive in the overall plot. However Mrs. Stone really held her own! I especially enjoyed the last line, as it showed she was content with closing the relationship, and the concept of “going home,” can be taken several ways. Well done!

    Like

  32. Sandra, if this is your fallback, wow! POV comes through every time, if a writer takes the time to consider it. The problem with being late to the feedback, is having all the good observations taken! I’ll just have to go with late but sincere. “They’d need to be cut off, he thought idly–” brilliant! I love her blasé, deadpan approach. As always, well done!

    Like

  33. plaridel says:

    he sounded like a con man. i’m glad she figured it out early enough.

    Like

  34. I loved the way you turned the story around and left Mrs. Stone in control.

    Like

  35. I am with you about the muses, very temperamental lot 😦 But a great joy when they are cooperative 🙂 Nice little slice of life, serves the gigolo right 🙂

    Like

  36. brainsnorts says:

    i like the saying one thing but thinking another. that’s always interesting because it creates ulterior motive.

    about this, “re-valuing her rings once more.” that seems redundant, the “re” and “once more.” cut once more and you free up two more words.

    also, in the beginning, Something’s dreadfully wrong, thought José, think about putting his thoughts in italics, giving us more of a visual that it’s not narration but what he’s thinking.

    Like

  37. AnnIsikArts says:

    I liked the title before I hit the story. It was appropriate to the tale. And now I wonder what is going to happen next between these two. It seems over, the boy paid-off, but what of those fat fingers and rings? A sinister twist. Very enjoyable. Ann

    Like

  38. unspywriter says:

    What? I missed furore by taking a break? 😉

    Loved all the tension in the story, and the POV was perfect.

    Here’s mine: http://unexpectedpaths.com/friday-fictioneers/memento-mori/

    Like

  39. jwdwrites says:

    Somehow your stories never feel like they are only 100 words. I put that down to your skill as a story teller and your ability to leave just the right spaces for our imaginations to fill in the gaps. It certainly didn’t read like you struggled. 🙂

    Like

  40. rgayer55 says:

    I’d say that Mrs. Stone was a hard rock to crack.

    Like

  41. draliman says:

    She got in there first – she certainly had him sussed 🙂

    Like

  42. Sarah Ann says:

    Wonderful descriptions. What a lovey toy boy she’d found herself. The line about cutting off her fingers, sorry rings, really brought the temperature down.

    Like

  43. storydivamg says:

    Sandra,
    You got your entry written and posted long before I did this week, so kudos! 🙂

    Looks like your muse finally got on board. I enjoyed your flash. The title drew me in immediately. I especially love the ending.

    All my best,
    Marie Gail

    Like

  44. I felt relief that she had escaped in time but also felt very sad for her – she survived the experience physically but perhaps not emotionally.

    Like

  45. Dee says:

    I was hoping Mrs Stone got the upper hand and she did!! Great piece Sandra.

    Like

  46. Bastet says:

    I do so love how you revealed the inner thoughts behind the man’s conversation…shivers up the spine as he contemplates how to remove her rings and then, Mrs. Stone trumps his whining play, letting him know she’s understood his true interests…and sends him on his way…A great story, with or without a dead body!

    Like

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