Single-Handed – Friday Fictioneers April 2015

Copyright Dee Lovering

 

It’s over quite suddenly.

His dusty kitbag sits on the quay, before he hoists it with an awkward smile and melts into the crowded market-place.

He feels he’s worked his passage; she feels used.

After a restless night, she cruises nervously into the river lock alone. The floating bollards shriek into movement as the water surges beneath the boat. With one hand on the rope, one on the throttle and a knee steadying the tiller, she holds her breath, trembling, as the lock slowly fills.

Ten minutes later she’s chugging upstream, a grin plastered to her face.

She’s good to go.

Alone.

Negotiating a lock on your own is not easy; not impossible, but certainly not easy.  A bit like life, I guess, and I’m one who should know.   Thanks once again to Rochelle.  I say it every week, but last week I stood in awe of her diplomacy and self-control.  A truly stellar performance from the esteemed leader/moderator of Friday Fictioneers

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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.

79 Responses to Single-Handed – Friday Fictioneers April 2015

  1. Dear Sandra,

    I have to wonder what he used her for. 😉 I could feel, see and hear this piece and I have limited knowledge when it comes to boats and ships. (Doug could go into arias about my lack of knowledge.)

    As always, you’re one of the first to post and will remain at the top.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Like

  2. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Sandra,

    I too loved the first hand knowledge that you imbued this story with. The reader can tell that you know your stuff and that lends a feel of veracity to the story that is hard for a tyro to duplicate. I can see you smiling.

    I also liked your comment about Rochelle’s diplomacy. For my part, I devolved into inanities to avoid another V.B.H. incident. Would hate to see a repeat of that. My default position, though, for the future, will be as though that happened. Silver lining there.

    Ciao, Bella.

    Aloha,

    Doug

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Thank you Doug! 🙂 Good to see that you are here, in spirit if not in story. Least said, soonest forgotten I think. Looking forward to your coming back already.

      Like

  3. Great description as always, Sandra. A reader of your story can sense she seems a strong person who will get on with her life. I hope she finds someone who appreciates and doesn’t just use her. Really well done as always. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Like

  4. Horus says:

    That’s courage – both to manage a “lock” and “life” -alone…
    Only those who have experienced can vouch ! Nice one Sandra !

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Thank you! There are some lock-keepers on the French waterways who won’t entertain a single-hander in a lock. Wouldn’t like to try it myself, but the other aspect – well it was done and the experience was … interesting. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Working a lock can be be very satisfying. I do barge holidays and I reckon I’m something of an expert! I also detect an analogy within your piece. Most enjoyable.
    Rosey Pinkerton

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Locks in France are not quite so taxing as in England. Here it’s generally all done for you, though they do appreciate a helping hand opening and closing gates on the smaller waterways. Thanks for reading Rosey.

      Like

  6. wildbilbo says:

    Great story Sandra and although I had to google a few terms (being somewhat less than nautical myself) I think I got the theme of ‘moving on alone and with strength’ coming through even my ignorance :).

    Methinks I missed something last week…? Possibly for the best?

    Like

  7. Ah, it is so nice to read a story that is filled with personal experience, it makes it vivid. By personal experience, I meant nautical side of the story. 😉
    I guess I too missed something from the last week, which makes me luck…for me FF is such a nice and friendly environment.

    Like

  8. ansumani says:

    I like the Heroine of this story …..Need to learn from her how to bounce back so fast 🙂 Good one!

    Like

  9. elmowrites says:

    Like wildbilbo, I feel like I missed something. Anyway, story… although it’s not entirely clear to me what happened, you give a real feel for the place and emotions of this story and I’m glad to see she ends the story happy and confident. I’ve done locks, but never alone. I imagine it’s quite the challenge. As you say, much like life.
    Jen

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      I remember one of your boating stories Jennifer. Took me back to our narrowboating days. And no, I’d never tackle a lock alone. Not unless I grew a few extra pairs of hands. 🙂

      Like

  10. I really like this. It’s a bit different for you.

    Like

  11. paulmclem says:

    I bet there’s never a dull moment on the waterways of Europe…lol. Must be some characters out there. Can see this sort of thing happening a lot. Chucked out at one lock, back on in time for tea at the next 🙂

    Like

  12. Lovely. Your story shows a great deal of strength in your character.

    Like

  13. Riveting! And your knowledge of locks and boats is impressive! 🙂

    Like

  14. She’s seems ok so perhaps the price wasn’t too high.
    Sail on,
    Tracey

    Like

  15. Oh I have a feeling that after mastering the locks she do not feel that she has to be used anymore.. Maybe she can find a guy who can do the cooking instead… 🙂

    Like

  16. Terrific narrative, brilliantly portrayed.

    Like

  17. gahlearner says:

    Although I love the water, I know nothing about it. The strength of your character came through though, even for someone as ignorant as me. I must have missed something last week, too.

    Like

  18. Your expertise shows in the writing. You took us through that lock with skill and we knew that it was the truth of what it is like to go through one and as you say you have been through plenty. What also rang true was the ending of the relationship and the two different perspectives in viewing it; one having worked for his passage, the other feeling used. I loved ” a grin plastered to her face.” Great piece of writing.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      I’ve never found the words to describe the sound of the heavy machinery as it creaks into motion under the force of the water. It’s a bit like an elephant-call, or a banshee wail, very eerie especially in the bottom of a 20 metre lock with the sound echoing off the sides. Thanks for reading Irene.

      Like

  19. Danny James says:

    Has her hands quite full, doesn’t she?

    DJ

    Like

  20. What a great story of self-reliance, Sandra. I can tell that this is gleaned from personal experience, although hopefully you never had to do it alone at night. Great ending too.
    -David

    Like

  21. IB Arora says:

    everyone has his/her own view of the world and relations, difficult to judge right and wrong, everyone has to bear his own cross

    Like

  22. A painful moment in time…felt… pushed down and somehow I feel she’s going into the night to embrace it again. Well done.

    Like

  23. micklively says:

    I can “feel” the past and the future that this piece sits between. Well done.

    Like

  24. Nan Falkner says:

    Dear Sandra, Great story as usual. You have so much experience living on your boat! Mike and I and another FFF couple cruised the mighty Mississippi River several years ago and it was so much fun – we went through several locks during our trip and that is so interesting! Thanks for being such an interesting person – you really are! Nan

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Aww, that’s a lovely comment Nan. And I envy you the experience of cruising the Mississippi. We once visited New Orleans and I was impressed with the might of the river. In Europe the Rhone comes closest, I think. Thanks for reading.

      Like

  25. Good for her. That first time managing the locks is always a bit nerve wracking.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      I’ve never had to do it alone thus far. I’d hate it. Though on the Rhone it wouldn’t be such a bad thing, but some of the canal locks…. forget it!

      Like

  26. draliman says:

    It sounds like she’ll be okay on her own, until she needs another willing crew member to… help out 🙂

    Like

  27. plaridel says:

    the story ended with a single word. alone. it spoke volumes. it could have been the appropriate title of the story.

    Like

  28. Without knowing what the heck you’re talking about, I understood and appreciated the story. That’s kind of, sort of what they call “writing!” Stellar as always, Sandra.

    Like

  29. storydivamg says:

    Nice work, Sandra. I don’t have much experience with bodies of water, having lived most of my life in Kansas and Missouri, but I thoroughly enjoyed your description of this process.

    All my best,
    MG

    Like

  30. Jan Brown says:

    I have to admit, I didn’t understand the characters’ relationship (such as it is) until I read your reply to Rochelle. Nice to see that, by the end of the story, she had a big grin on her face!

    Another great story!

    Like

  31. rgayer55 says:

    Connie and I were on a houseboat on the upper Mississippi with Nan, her husband, and two other couples a few years back. It was my first experience with locks, but after going through seven of them I felt we’d mastered the process. I loved the analogy and moving on. Well done, as always.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      River locks can be challenging, but they’re also generally safer than canal locks. It’s amazing what the commercial aspect brings to safety observance. 🙂 Thanks for reading Russell – watch out for those pigeons.

      Like

  32. This was particularly evocative, Sandra. The movement of the boat and her emotional letting go, and building independence. I first thought there was something more sinister there, but think it was simpler and more impactful for that. Knowing your life with barges, this was particularly interesting to read… great use of that knowledge.

    I missed something too… hmm, now I’m curious! 😉

    Like

  33. Amy Reese says:

    Sandra, I’m not familiar with a negotiating a lock, but I’ll take your word for it. It feels very authentic and described with what can only be first-hand knowledge. After reading this, I hope I never have to do this alone. And she manages an exit! Tight and suspenseful story.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      I’ve not had to do it alone Amy, and I haven’t seen many who do, but I did once meet an 80 year old woman on the Midi who was single-handing the full length. Frightening….

      Liked by 1 person

  34. Dale says:

    Good for her and well done!

    Like

  35. Ellespeth says:

    I’ve been through some locks on the Mississippi River and a few on lakes. They seemed to be automatic. It was never an enjoyable experience for me.
    That third paragraph really opens up the entire story nicely, Sandra. He’ll probably hop another boat – she’s cruising on alone, for the moment. Seems she manages, though.
    Hope all is well…
    Ellespeth

    Like

  36. afairymind says:

    I love your strong, capable heroine and hope she manages to handle both locks and life with the same steadfast nature she displays in your story. 🙂

    Like

  37. Margaret says:

    Lovely details and great mood. Interesting how you give the contrasting perspectives of ‘he’ and ‘she’. I like how she’s grinning and ‘good to go’ at the end. Greaat character.

    Like

  38. Sonya says:

    I’ve never gone through a lock alone – even with two people, it’s nerve-racking. Your story took me right back to being out on a boat 🙂

    Like

  39. subroto says:

    Wonderful writing as always. Relationships/boats/life are all covered so well by this piece.

    Like

  40. Oliana says:

    Oh I enjoyed this story…as the water was filling in the locks, I felt an energy surge…bravo!!

    Like

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