Friday, 18 January 2013

New Year! New Love! RFW Challenge for January 2013




Welcome to Romantic Friday Writers' a monthly writing challenge founded by Denise Covey and hosted by Denise Covey and Donna Hole. REWers' flash fiction writing challenge for January 2013 is "New Year! New Love!" Our texts should be less than 1000 words. Here is my story:

Title: "New Year, New Love", or "Shyness is a burden"


Is this a dream? thought Sanna Stark as she found herself walking along a high stone wall. It was a snowy January afternoon and she had been out riding her horse, Blixten, when something happened. What exactly, she did not know. Now she stood in her riding boots in front of a pair of huge, mother-of-pearl-embellished wooden doors that had lots of bell-buttons and signs saying 'Welcome to the Pearly Gates; Please ring bell!' in about 70 different languages. Sanna found one in Swedish, but it had a post-it note with Ur funktion on it, so she rang the bell by the sign in English. One of the giant doors opened and a wisp of a woman dressed in white asked her to come in.

'My name is Agnes, what's your name?' asked the angel while looking through a long list on a clipboard.

'Sanna Stark'.

'Oh yes, here you are, Sanna. We've been expecting you. We're helping the Swedish-speaking angels while they are out on assignment.'

'What's going on? Am I in Heaven now?'

'No, not really. Not yet. All I know is that you fell off a horse and hit your head. Maybe it's just a mild concussion. Would you like to have a cup of tea?' asked Agnes as she led Sanna to a small sitting room with Roccoco-style furniture and pastel-coloured silk curtains. A tea-tray appeared out of nowhere.  'Milk or lemon?'

Milk and sugar please', replied Sanna taking a seat. She decided not to comment on the tea-tray.

'Welcome to 'The Pearly Gates'! This is a place where all who deserve to go to Heaven arrive first before continuing to Paradise.'

'Does this mean that I am not dead yet?' asked Sanna, eager to return to life, but not wanting to show it.

'You are still breathing, as far as I know. Why don't you wait in the main hall while I check on some things? Take your tea with you!' said Agnes and escorted Sanna out to a  cathedral-like room with rows of cushioned benches that reminded Sanna of Washington-Dulles Airport's departure terminal - except it was cleaner and whiter. Most seats were taken. There were all kinds of people waiting; even tiny premature babies held in the arms of angels like Agnes. No one looked  ill or damaged in any way. As if Agnes could read her thoughts, she explained: 'They all look healthy because they are good souls ready for Heaven or a new life on Earth. I'll be back with you soon.'

Sanna stopped to watch as a handsome woman in her sixties, called out to one of the children. 'Grandma!' the eight-year-old child cried, running toward and then hugging the white-clad woman, who was not an angel, but a resident of Heaven. The two figures walked away together and disappeared into a white mist.

Sanna then looked down and saw that she happened to be standing in front of a pleasant-looking man who was about her age. He smiled and removed a briefcase from the seat next to him: 'Would you like to sit down?' 


Sanna thought he looked Swedish, but kept on speaking English.

'Thank you wery much, she replied, proud of how well she had been speaking English with Agnes. She had got the th-sound alright, but over-compensated and pronounced the 'v' in 'very' like a 'w' -  a dead give-away. He continued the conversation in Swedish, without commenting on her faulty English.

'Jag heter Nils Frej. The Swedish angels were already on assignment when I arrived.'


'I'm Sanna Stark. It's nice to meet you. Agnes says that I may be able to return to my life on Earth.'


'Oh really?' said Nils with interest.

'Excuse me for asking, but how can you have a briefcase with you? I thought we couldn't take anything with us.'

'Oh, it's just my novel, my manuscript.'

'Your manuscript?'

'Agnes is trying to help me. If I survive, I will send it off to a publisher. But if I don't, I'd like my brother to do it for me. We've always been close. It's dedicated to him.'

What an unusual fellow, thought Sanna, but he is kinda cute. Nice that he gets along with his brother. Sanna thought of her sister.


'Perhaps you can help me,' suggested Nils. 'If you go back, would you give it to my brother?'

'Yes, I guess I could, if you give me his address.'

'You would be doing me a great favour. My brother is going to miss me. Please be kind to him. You'll find the briefcase in your hospital room. Tell him that there was a mix-up at the airport and that he has your bag. Agnes will arrange so that he will have an idential case with things that a woman might want to have along on a trip. Please pretend that it is yours. That way there'll be no need to talk about how we really met.

'Alright.'

Then Nils rose from his seat, took the briefcase and headed for angel Agnes' room. He came out empty-handed and waved good-bye to Sanna. Then he continued walking away from the waiting-area and disappeared in a mist.

Oh my, thought Sanna, he did not survive. What a pity.

Sanna awoke in hospital.
 
'You gave us quite a scare!' said Sanna's mother, 'But you are coming home with us today.'

'Is this yours Sanna? asked Karin, Sanna's syster, holding the leather bag that Nils Frej had shown her at the Pearly Gates.

'Yes, it is', said Sanna and quickly peeked at the manuscript's title page: Shyness is a Burden, a novel by Nils Frej. Health permitting, Sanna did exactly as Nils had requested and met his brother Lars, who was Nils' identical twin.


[Text copyright 2013 Christina Wigren]


Word count according to WordCalc: 983; FCA - Full Critique Acceptable.

Best wishes,
Anna











First Commenter:

Yolanda Renee
of
Defending the pen 
 















P.S.
For this story, I have reworked and expanded a text called "Being the Perfect Ex" from June 15th, 2012.

I've thrown in a few Swedish words and phrases:  
'Ur funktion' - means 'Out of order' or 'Not working
'Blixten' - Sanna's horse's name means 'Lightning'
'Jag heter Nils Frej.' - means 'My name is Nils Frej.' 'Nils' is derived from 'Nicholas'. My own brother's first name is Nils. According to Wikipedia, 'Frej' is the Norse pagan god 'associated with sacral kingship, virility and prosperity, with sunshine and fair weather'. I don't know if anyone has it as a surname. I was going to check the phone book. 
An allusion to a sunny personality is the character in Alfred Hitchcock's film The Lady Vanishes. The name of the lady who vanishes is 'Miss Froy' (that rhymes with 'joy').
 
My protagonist's name,  Sanna Stark, means three things. 'Sanna' is a nickname for 'Susanna', but also the plural form of the adjective 'true'. Her surname, 'stark' means 'strong'. It is a real name that some people actually have. I have an ancestor whose name was Eva Stark.


P.P.S.
The inspiration for the setting is partly taken from all of these air trips to Dulles Airport and one of the scenes from the last and final Harry Potter film, where Harry Potter meets Professor Dumbledore in a dreamlike place that resembles King's Cross Station in London. Dulles Airport is to me something similar to what King's Cross Station is to J.K. Rowling.
 
It might interest you folks to know that I am trying to teach my children English. My daughter Elisabet has decided that she hates the English language; she thinks it is ugly and refuses to go to her extra lessons. When I try speaking English with her she shouts at me 'Jag hatar dig' (='I hate you!'). So I have lots of material for dramatic stories, but nothing very romantic. For the moment, I've given up the struggle with her. But I have a secret ally: her brother Erik; he likes the lessons and wants to learn English

I am inspired by blogging friend, Adura Ojo, who has sometimes used Nigerian words to spice up her stories/WIP. I thought I would put a few Swedish words in, to remind you all that my characters live in a bilingual, multilingual world. But it is experimental. I am still trying to learn how to do this. For the sake of making it technically easy, I have only chosen words that don't have special letters. 

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