I was offered up a challenge by Hyperion the other day, to write a short story of 500 words or less based on a picture of his choosing. We would each write a story on the SAME picture, and trade links so that the truly curious could go to each and read 2 riffs on the same image.
(FYI - Hyperion's story is called "Unmade." Contains adult language. You can handle it. Go, read, I'll wait for you to come back)
After starting and stopping a number of times, and with a number of widely varying themes, this is my end result, and, oddly, not at all the direction in which I had suspected it might originally go:
Faeance could best be described as a gentle warm breeze that caressed the surface of the cesspool that was Inhverhaven, and from the time I was a young boy I loved her with all my heart. She was the only thing of beauty in an otherwise gray monochrome of hunger and frayed hopes, my most deep passion even before I knew what passion was. She was my everything, and, as the daughter of a rich man, she had no idea who I was.
Inverhaven was, at that time, a thriving town famous for its rendering plants and beef jerky factories; the smell of crisping flesh and salted meat hung heavy in the airless smog of prosperity that smothered the valley in which Inverhaven lay. On fair days, when the sun would break through the grease-slicked clouds, my mother would take us children up Clerehorn Hill to the wishing spring, into which we would throw nail clippings and other precious items while whispering our heart’s desires. Mine, naturally, were always to be close enough to Faeance to touch her hems, and perhaps see her delicate feet. My mother’s wishes, I later learned, were always to escape the hellish life my father afforded her. On later reflection, I realized that I never asked my several siblings what their dreams might have been; though I hope they all came true.
My father was a man of temper and intemperance, of great wit and looks, of small patience and humor. At one time he’d been considered the best catch in town, until my mother caught him, shortly after which I was born and he turned sour. He would travel the countryside from post to post, a wandering tinkerman with little skill who was eventually removed from every small job he ever had because of poor choices in entertainments. We would shudder with fear at his footsteps on the front steps, and pray for his eventual departure.
The summer of my 13th year I was walking to my apprenticeship at the rendering plant; a trip that took me throug a small copse of beech not far from our shanty home. I heard a noise of struggle in a clearing not far from my path, and then the grunting of an animal. There was an outcry, and through the beeches burst my father, clutching his pants to his waist and grinning like a madman. Knowing no good could come of that visage, I hastened to the clearing, where I found Faeance, rumpled and splayed, her skirts around her waist, a sheen of perspiration on her brow, and the play of a smile on her lips.
After the judge and barristers had committed me to prison for the murder of my father, I had the time to learn to paint, and gained a degree of fame from it. What you see in front of you, My Lord, is what I once wanted with all my heart, and what my rage took away. My waiting, always waiting, Faeance.
Silly me. I had thought there would be zombies involved, and then this came out.