Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Write-Edit-Publish's Challenge for August - Vacation

Welcome to the Write-Edit-Publish's [formerly 'Romantic Friday Writers'] Challenge for Wednesday, 21st to Friday 23rd August 2013 - Vacation.

Here's my text:


It was an ordinary Saturday morning in the middle of August and still very hot in Central Virginia.  Olive Arbogast sat in her air-conditioned kitchen reading newspapers ads for last-minute air-trips to far off tropical islands and European capitals.

"Geoff dear, would you like to take a trip somewhere?" asked Olive.

"What kind of trip?" inquired Olive's husband sitting in the living room, hiding behind a copy of the Wall Street Journal.

"A vacation trip."

"No thanks, Olive. I'm fine right here."

"Barcelona is one of the ten most popular cities right now", replied Olive hoping to kindle some interest in travel in her tired spouse.

"I'm fine right here, dear" replied Geoffrey Arbogast, putting a lid on the topic.

But Olive continued to dream about vacations as she poured herself another cup of coffee. Vacation! What a word, thought Olive, as she let her mind drift back to childhood memories of every vacation trip that her family ever had gone on. Olive's mother came from Sweden and hated the hot Virginia summers. Her father doted on his wife by taking vacation trips during the short two weeks that he was free from his government job in D.C. They went north to escape the humid heat in a time before air-cooling in ordinary homes was available. Olive loved New England. She and her mother loved the cool summers of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. They went camping. Living in a tent, they could avoid expensive hotel bills. It was a wonderful way of being close to nature in forests that reminded her mother of Sweden.

Olive could not remember dates or exactly what year they did what. Memories of a dozen trips were all rolled into one. She remembered living in a tent in sunshine or rain. She was little enough not to have to carry much or help out with heavy chores. She had vague memories of staying at Lake Champlain in Vermont, and better memories of what it was like to camp at Baxter State Park and even bathing in the icy waters around Mount Desert Island, both in Maine. It was there, on Mount Desert Island, that her father took the whole family out for a lobster dinner at a very nice local restaurant. It was the first time she tasted steamed lobster with melted butter. Yummy. It was the one spot of luxury in days and days of damp sleeping bags and powdered soups. 

At the camping sites there were no real toilets, just dry closets. They did their business there or behind a bush when no one was looking. Olive remembered the gnats and mosquitoes. She used leaves instead of toilet paper. A small price to pay for a cool summer similar to a Swedish summer, and making her mother happy.

Vacations were not just for camping. Olive's parents took the time to visit relatives on their way to their campsites: Grandpa and Grandma White, older and younger uncles and aunts, and cousins. Cousins her age. As an only child, Olive always longed for siblings; a cousin was almost a sister or brother. But most of these people were now dead. Those who were children back then were now adults with families of their own. Olive missed her older relatives.

Olive missed her father too. She could still hear his kind, calm voice in her head: Daddy was always thinking of mother and how she suffered in the hot weather. How did I wind up staying in Central Virginia? Couldn't I have found someone in New England instead? Oh well. We do have air-conditioning now.

"Would you like to go camping in West Virginia?" asked Geoffrey from behind the Wall Street Journal, "The Northern Panhandle is supposed to be a lot cooler than here".

"Can we afford to take the time off?" called Olive from the kitchen, "And gas costs money."

"Sure, we can wing it. It's closer than driving all the way up to Northern New England, which is where I know you would really want to go. Would you like to stop by and visit your cousin who lives in Pittsburgh?"

"Yes, that would be nice. You're such a dear, Geoff."

Olive and Geoffrey Arbogast escaped the heat of Richmond, Virginia, for a time, by staying at a nice bed and breakfast in the Appalachian Mountains. Olive even got to visit her cousin, Julia. It was still searingly hot when they returned home, but Olive loved Geoffrey for his thoughtfulness.

Word count: 749 (NCCO)

This story is fictional. Any similarity to events or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Copyright 2013 Anna Christina Wigren Nordeman

Best wishes,

First Commenter:
Yolanda Renee
Defending the Pen


Yolanda Renée said...

Anna, such a lovely sweet tale of marriage, compromise, and vacations!
Loved it! A bed and breakfast in the Appalachians, wonderful getaway!

Anna, could you send me your email address. I'd love to send you something personal.


Denise Covey said...

Anna, I have always wanted to visit New England and your story whetted my appetite. Loving compromise there.

Yolanda Renée said...

I can see the changes and it does make the story flow much better! Excellent revision!

The Armchair Squid said...

I know all about running away from the south to the north to avoid the summer heat. I grew up in Maryland but now live in Vermont. Summer is when I know we made the right choice.

Sally said...

I'm so glad they managed to get away and her husband became thoughtful in the end.

Trisha said...

I can relate to that extreme dislike of hot weather that some of your characters exhibit. However, I grew up in a hot climate and that's my motivation for hating the heat. ;)

Nice story.

Michelle Wallace said...

I was so caught up in Olive's scattered memories of childhood holidays with her parents... and then Geoff interrupted with his thoughtful offer - perfect timing Anna!

Writer In Transit

Nilanjana Bose said...

Reminded me of many trips to the hills to avoid the heat in my hometown! Lovely story, glad Geoff agreed to the vacation in the end.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Anna
I love camping. The mountains in Colorado are easily 20 degrees cooler than Denver metro area. We usually don't have humidity here due to our err-id climate. I've never been to New England and Maine though on the northern tip of Minnesota where I lived years ago it was down right freezing that close to Canada.

I thought your story was well written. I will edit one thing to help you with language.

This line: "No thanks, Olive. I've fine right here." I've is the abbreviation for I have. What you meant in the sentence is, I'm. Which means I am.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Anna,

I really enjoyed your story.

We always escaped the hot,humid summers in NYC for the Jersey shore, upstate NY,or Nrw England... We didn't have AC until I was twelve .... so I know how your character felt.

Really charming story....

Unknown said...

Dear Yolanda,
Thanks for your kind words and for coming back to read my slightly edited version!
Dear Denise,
I have always loved New England, and I would recommend you visiting at some time, but it is so long since I've been there, any part of New England that I don't know what time has done to it. I was there in the 1960's! Almost any place in the world was more charming then than the way it would be now!
Dear Armchair Squid,
If you live in Vermont now, you could fill Denise in on nice places to visit. You know more than I do about what is worth seeing now. Is maple sirap still made in Vermont?


Dear Sally,
I know. I like writing stories with happy ends. It is probably a kind of wishful thinking. I would love to have a thoughtful husband like Geoffrey Arbogast! Geoffrey where are you. I was looking at a DVD of 'Rear Window' and Grace Kelly kept calling 'Jeff, Jeff!' while Raymond Burr was hitting her. So I decided to call my hero 'Geoff'.


Dear Trisha,
Thanks for stopping and reading. I grew up in a hot summer climate too, which is why I the character Olive, who stayed in a hot climate and did not make the choices that I made by moving to a cold climate.


Dear Michelle,
Thank you sooooo much for your comment about tempo. I think a lot plot and how the reader stays with a story or loses interest. I'm so glad you noticed that Geoff did an 'about-face'. These two have been married a long time and know each other well. He has probably heard Olive talk about the things that we read about in her thoughts. So it seems almost as if he is reading her mind. But he is not. He just has been a good listener earlier.
Dear Nilanjana,
My maternal grandmother had a good friend, a Swedish lady, who had been a Lutheran missionary in India for 20 years. She spoke about seven languages, Hindi was one of them. She always talked about going to the hills during the warmest time of year. So I can see you doing the same!
Wish I had learned some Hindi , but there was never time when I knew her.
Thanks for reading! I'll be making the rounds a little late.
Dear Nancy,
I must visit Colorado one day. Could I visit you?
Thank you for correcting my typo. I do know the difference been 'I've' and 'I'm'. He says this twice, so I got it right the one time. I don't know why I made this mistake - could be a sign of old age! I never used to make mistakes like that. I never do it when I am writing long hand. It could be the typing. I 'hunt and peck'! I'm a rotten typist.
Thanks for your help.
Dear Michael,
Thank you so much for visiting! I'm making the rounds late. The children have started school and the only reason that I could write these comments now is because I was waiting for a couple of carpenters who are going to install a door to the living room so I can keep the cats out and away from my books and valuables. Unfortunately it's a little late, as they have already damaged some things.
Have you ever been to Tarytown NY?
Thank you all for writing. I'll be visiting each of you between fixing up here at home.
Best wishes & hugs,

Unknown said...

Hello again!
I'm beginning to think I'm getting dyslexia! (Is it contagious?)

I need to correct my message to Trisha:

Dear Trisha,
Thanks for stopping and reading. I grew up in a hot climate too, which is why I created the character, Olive, who stays in Central Virginia, where summers are long and hot, and did not make the choices that I made, by moving to a much colder climate. I asked myself 'What would it have been like if I had not moved away from the hot Virginia-summers?'

Olive has a lot of me in her, but still, she's her own gal. I'd like to write more about the Arbogasts, but I don't have time right now.

Best wishes,

Unknown said...

Oh dear, the more I read the more mistakes I see!!!
This time to Michelle:

Dear Michelle,
Thank you sooooo much for your comment about tempo. I think a lot about plot and how the reader stays with a story or loses interest. I'm so glad you noticed that Geoff did an 'about-face'. These two have been married a long time and know each other well. He has probably heard Olive talk about the things that we read about in her thoughts many times before. So it seems almost as if he is reading her mind. But he is not. He has just been a good listener earlier.
It's time I eat something. I'm too hungry to write!

Lisa said...

This was so cute,and I loved how Geoff comes around in the end, as if he knew all along. That's what fun about marriages that last awhile, getting to know one another and still being able to surprise!

Scheherazade said...

A nice little vacation story, Anna. You don't necessarily have to go far to find a nice break from the heat and daily life.


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