Friday Fictioneers – The Penitent

For several weeks now, ever since The Call for Strength, I’ve been waiting for the right photo to put Angelique in the state penitentiary. I had no idea what that photo might look like, but when I saw today’s prompt, it was only a matter of seconds before I knew this was the photo for which I had been waiting. These stairs, with the glow of light at the top, illustrate two great metaphors for the choices faced by Dan in this week’s story.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending upon how much one likes Angelique), I once again overshot the one hundred word limit.

Thanks to Jennifer Pendergrast for a beautiful photo and to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting Friday Fictioneers, a community of writers who come together every week to share a variety of stories inspired by a single photo.
copyright - Jennifer Pendergast

Photo Copyright – Jennifer Pendergast

The Penitent

(Genre: Paranormal. Word Count: I’ll never tell).

“Angelique?” Seated on the top bunk, he looked like a teen in a blanket of silver feathers. “About time you got here. He won’t listen to a word I say.”

She knelt by the bruised and bloody man, her cheek against the concrete, her eyes close to his. Recognition without bitterness met her gaze.

“The bus brat,” the man said. “Go ahead. Finish me. Sara, our baby, the business… All gone. I should be, too.”

“Shh,” Angelique said, her finger against his ice-cold lips. She remembered the fierce tenderness with which Sara had spoken of this broken man, the deliberate passion with which the Creator fashioned each piece of art. Warmth, so long desired, spread through her body into his. “You don’t get to make that decision. You’ll have to get up and walk. It won’t be easy, but Sara’s counting on you to make it to the top. One step at a time, Dan.”

* Random writer note: Even going over the word limit, I feel so much is missing from this scene. I’ll see how it plays out in the comment section before adding an explanations, though. Thanks to all who read and comment! You make me want to make these stories the very best that I can make them!

For more on Dan and Sara, see:

Impossible Salvation

Not What We Had Planned

Another Kind of Death

For Better or Worse

To read more stories and add your own, click below:



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33 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – The Penitent

    • Sorry about the confusion… This is a snippet of a larger story I’ve been writing through these weekly prompts. The preamble and comment were meant to 1) let those who have been following along know where this vignette fits, and 2) communicate my sense of not having told enough of the story. Some weeks it’s so hard to get everything in!

  1. I think for Angelique, Lisa, we could probably have a Double Drabble. I would like that. I was not going to read any stories before I wrote mine, but I could resist to look and see who the 30 were that had already posted, I could not pass your story up.
    The bus brat… I love that line. I agree that this photo has that sinister institutional look. Perfect.

    • Aw, thanks! Honestly, I didn’t get the sinister institutional thing (though looking at it now, I do!) as much as I got ” the light at the end of the tunnel” and “a hard climb ahead.” Anyhow, looking forward to your story. Trying really hard to keep up this week!

  2. I’m not sure I needed to understand the story behind this to thoroughly enjoy it. These cameos stand alone for me, though I do wonder how you will eventually get to link them all together, if that is your intention. Two things that gave me pause for consideration in this. One was the image of a ‘teen in a blanket of silver feathers’ which was so beautiful, and contrasted nicely with his opening sentence. And the second was the concept of ‘attentive love’. Can love be inattentive? Can you fashion something inattentively? Still thinking about that. But beautiful piece again – really memorable.

    • Thanks for the comment, Sandra. I try to make these stand alone, but sometimes I’m not sure how much backstory is needed for readers to get the full meaning – or for me to feel like I’ve done the story justice. To me, the story is so much richer knowing how awful he has been and how deeply Sara has loved him from the very beginning. Also, I wasn’t able to explain how he ended up bruised and bloodied… It isn’t critical to THIS story, but to the overall tying of all these stories into one, I wanted to tell it.
      Finally, THANK YOU for not letting me get away with “attentive love.” Whether or not love can be inattentive, the phrase is bland, and it was lazy of me not to find something better. I’ve changed it to “deliberate passion,” to express wild, outrageous love channeled into intelligent, purposeful creation. I hope that works better. Thank you again for pointing it out!

  3. Beautiful piece -instant atmosphere…really nicely written,with very touching opening scene. Hard to follow as a story though,and maybe cramming it into flash fiction doesn’t do it justice. Why not make us go to where it all is,will look for it. Am sure others would too.

    • I’m afraid that may be the problem – that the story has gone a little beyond flash fiction, which is good and bad. I have the story planned out in my mind, but there are gaps and chronological hopping due to trying to let the story out with the right photos. Argh! I’ll try to get the links to related stories up later today. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

  4. I feel like this, as a story, doesn’t need more explanation. If it DID, then you didn’t do it well enough. Ya know? So, the comment was just your insecurity speaking, I think. Be more assured that you brought the piece full circle. If you really feel it isn’t brought back to the beginning, you have to work on it more. And you COULD clean it up into 100 words, easily, I think.

    • Thanks. I know what you mean about not having done it well enough if the story needs explanation. I’ve been building this story for months, one week at a time, and I’m finding the more I write, the more backstory there is for each week’s vignette. (Funny how that works!) I do think the story stands alone – but there’s a fuller story that some people have been following since September, I think, and I want to make sure that they’re able to see things coming together. Does that make sense? That’s part of what made it so long, too. Angel Boy on the top bunk isn’t essential to this piece, but he’s a part of the bigger story, tying this story to a previous story and to a future story. Anyhow, that 100 word limit… I try to observe it, but there are weeks where it just doesn’t happen. Thankfully, the Fictioneers are forgiving! 🙂 Thanks again for the comment!

  5. Dear Lisa,
    My favorite part of this is when Angelique lays beside him, her cheek against the concrete to make eye contact. Nicely done. Word count, shmerd count.
    shalom,
    Rochelle

  6. A very nice description in the first line of the angel (presumably–I haven’t had a chance to read more than the one other Angelique story,the one with the pitchfork, so I’m not sure who all the players are). I do think that it stands alone, but there does come a time when a story demands to break free of whatever constraints we have put on it–whether those constraints are length, motivation, or even plot–and become the thing that it wants to become. You may find that that is soon (if not already) the case here. Heh, my entry this week is tugging at the leash itself, and it IS a stand alone (or was meant to be one). Yet it wants to become something larger. Probably a novel.

    • I know what you mean. Angelique showed up in my first Friday Fictioneers story, and quickly made it known that she wanted a novel. I’ve been using FF to write her whole story a week at a time, but we’re getting to the point where there isn’t much left to tell before getting to the very end of the story. Good luck expanding your story. Off to read it now…

  7. Great story. I think it hangs together well as it is, but I know you mean by your random writer comment: some stories need more room than 100 words. This is a very touching story. I’m glad she didn’t let him give up.

    • Thank you, David. I think I got enough in, though still well over 100 words, but I wish I could have given more time to the angel on the bunk, to Dan’s struggle, to the whole thing. I’m just crossing my fingers and hoping next week’s picture lets me tell you all who put Dan in this condition!

      • Well, 100 words or more, it’s still constrictive. 🙂 This week I started a story that needed way more than 100 words to do it justice, so I put it aside for later. I look forward to next week’s story from you.

  8. This is so beautiful. I particularly like: ‘She remembered the fierce tenderness with which Sara had spoken of this broken man, the deliberate passion with which the Creator fashioned each piece of art.’

  9. I too like the blanket of silver feathers, being a visual type, I love images. I think love is often inattentive actually! Too often! And I often fashion things inattentively, being an artist as well as writer. Then I’m not a deity. Ann

    • I agree – love can be inattentive, but it shouldn’t be. I don’t imagine inattentive love would be an option in this case, though, so I was glad to change it to “deliberate passion.” As artists and writers, I think there can be inattentive creation, but isn’t it usually followed with careful scrutiny to ensure that our creation is all we want it to be? Good things to ponder…

      • Yes to the careful scrutiny thing. And I think we are all ‘lovers’ all of the time, but sometimes or a little or a lot of the time, we are bad lovers, indifferent lovers, even hateful lovers.

        I enjoyed this exchange, thank you! I am sitting looking out at a snow blizzard here as I write! Ann

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