Monday, 23 June 2014

WEP-Challenge for June - ROMANCE - Wednesday 24th - Friday 26th June 2014

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Welcome to WEP's Blogfest for June [=Write-Edit-Publish, formerly 'Romantic Friday Writers'] WEP's Challenge for 24th-2th June 2014 is 'Romance':

Romance: On the Sea of Litorina

Klara Nilsson lay in the inflatable row boat that she had purchased before the flooding began. The sky was blue with puffy white clouds. She was exhausted from a whole day of rowing and all the preparations in the days before. The water seemed calm now; maybe she could sleep an hour or two. But instead of resting, she thought of the events that made her leave home in a rubber boat made for play in a swimming pool rather than escape from a flood.

It was June when the nights are short. Since there seemed not to be a change in this, Klara concluded that the earth had not been knocked off its axis. The floods must have some other cause. But she had no idea where all the water came from. Where, if not from the melting polar caps? There was no way to find out. All electronic communication was down. Her battery-operated radio did not pick up anything other than static. Her mobile phone was useless. If Klara's theory was correct, the plains of Östergötland, her province, would be under water in the same places as the prehistoric sea of Litorina. In case she was right about this, she took a modern map and drew a new coastline after maps she had found in a book about Swedish archeology. She hoped to find higher ground before her boat hit something sharp that would pierce it and sink it. For the moment, there was nothing but water in all directions; no landmarks to direct her. Using a makeshift sextant and her compass, she could almost exactly pin point where she was on her map.

Unable to sleep, Klara checked her bearings and continued rowing. In the twilight that is the short northern summer night, a small object caught her eye. It was a floating wooden crate with a wet blanket in it. She came closer to the crate and saw that the blanket lifted its head with pointed ears. It was a cat. Klara rowed slowly closer trying not to scare the feline castaway.

'Would you like to sail with me?' she asked the cat as a way of calming it while she reached over and picked it up and wrapped it in a towel.

'Thank you,' said the grey tabby laying her cheek on Klara's shoulder. 

Am I loosing my mind? Did that cat actually say something? Klara thought, holding the cat like a baby. Was this the next step after loosing her home and everything she owned? One way to find out was to keep talking with her foundling. 'You remind me of my cat, Mathilda. Your face is like hers, with the little tuffs of fur on the tips of your ears like the Norwegian Forest Cats.

'I don't just look like your cat, I AM your cat. I'm Mathilda. Thanks for finding me! It's not been easy since water came and covered everything. I've been soaked to the skin for days.'

The joy of finding her cat, Mathilda alive again, made Klara forget about her losses for a time. She and her cat lay in the boat under a blanket and actually slept for a few hours. When Klara awoke the sky was overcast and it smelled like rain. They must have drifted closer to land, as the tops of trees were now visible above the water-line, as well as a few roof tops. It was exciting, but also dangerous. They were getting closer to their goal, but any sharp object in the water could sink their boat. Through the forest of tree tops Klara could see a man rowing a boat - a wooden one. Should she wave or say 'Hello'?

'Hello!' shouted the man in the wooden boat, beating her to the punch, ' Do you need any help?'

'No, not yet. But my boat may not hold up the closer we get to land. How far is it to the new shoreline?'

'About twenty minutes from here. Here, let me take your boat in tow and row the rest of the way.' the man offered. He looked a bit like a prehistoric man, unwashed, uncombed and unshaven. But when Klara rowed closer, she saw that he was handsome with kindly blue eyes. He probably wore just a mustache to begin with, but now had almost a full beard. 'My name is Jakob Lundin, and you are?'

'Klara Nilsson, and this is Mathilda,' she said holding up the blanket bundle with the sleeping cat.

'Oh my. Do you have an infant with you?' Jakob said with surprise and alarm.

'Oh no, it's my cat, Mathilda', she said revealing Mathilda's furry face. 

Klara half expected Mathilda to speak to the strange man. But the cat said nothing, much to Klara's relief. Maybe the cat's ability to talk was an hallucination.

But then, Mathilda put her face close to Klara's ear and said, 'I will not embarrass you by speaking in front of strangers. Let him think that I am an ordinary cat.'

Jakob Lundin tied Klara's boat to his and rowed quickly toward the new coast, which had been a car park earlier before being transformed into a boat dock. When they arrived, it was crowded with wet refugees and their boats or vessels of every description, inflatable row boats like Klara's, children's plastic pools, as well as traditional boats like Jakob's. 

'What do we do now?' asked Klara.

'We pull our boats up on land and start making supper. I have a camping stove, what do you have?' asked Jakob, obviously hoping that Klara could contribute something.

'I cleaned out my pantry, refrigerator and freezer, before leaving home, but I don't have any cooking utensils or stove. So, I'm all for sharing, if you would like to do that.'

'Yes please. Let's do that,' said Jacob and smiled.

 Mathilda yawned and went back to sleep.
 
Word count according to WordCalc: 997.


P.S.

This text is a work of fiction. Any similarity to events or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

This text is my attempt to write science fiction and it could be a part of a longer work. What has happened is that the plains of Östergötland (where I live in Sweden) are flooded because the polar caps have started to melt, due to yet unexplained forces in outer space such as meteorites hitting the earth and changing its axis. But no one knows for sure, because all electronic communication has been knocked out. The University of Linköping (where I study) is under water. Our heroine is one of the few who saw it coming, and took the precaution of purchasing an inflatable boat before they were all sold out. The name 'Litorina' is actually the name of a body of water that existed under prehistoric times in this part of Sweden. 'Litorina' is a shell fish that could be found in that sea at that time. 
I am not the first to use the Sea of Litorina in a literary connection.





















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Best wishes,
Anna










First Commenter:


Denise Covey










of 
Denise Covey 
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21 comments:

Denise Covey said...

Hello Anna. This is so interesting. I love the idea behind this science fiction flash. It adds to the intrigue that you speak of a real sea and real events, or probable events. You know, I wasn't surprised when Mathilda turned up. She's one smart cat!

Love the romantic element. Perhaps if you continue this story you would develop the romance with Klara and Jacob. So many possibilities...

Thank you for posting for WEP Anna. I hope all goes well.

Denise

Nilanjana Bose said...

Hi Anna,

Man, woman and cat adrift in a watery world. The situation hums with possibilities. I enjoy your cat characters in every setting.

Hope you are doing well.

Nilanjana.

Anna Nordeman said...

24th June 2014
Dear Denise,
Thank you for your kind words about my story. Yes, it is a story that could be developed and continued. It probably works less well as a stand alone flash fiction.
Believe me, I wrote a lot about the background to the setting with the floods and had to cut 80% away to get some balance, and still, there needs more to make the male protagonist, the hero, more alive. And I haven't given any details about who Klara Nilsson is. The best characterization is Mathilda the cat. She's a surviver.
Read my post on IWSG for June about Mathilda's real life story:
Anna's IWSG for June 2014

Best wishes,
Anna

Anna Nordeman said...

Dear Nilanjana,
Thank you for your kind words about this story and my cat stories. Mathilda the cat is a survivor in real life. Read my IWSG-post for June and find out how much this is true.
Anna's IWSG for June 2014
Best wishes,
Anna

D.G. Hudson said...

As I'm a fan of scifi, I was wondering where the story was going when the cat started talking. . .

So now this story has me wondering if there will be an interesting relationship coming from this, or will it focus on the love that comforts us in the form of our beloved animals?

An intriguing entry for the challenge, Anna. Enjoyed reading it.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Anna
Love this. The talking cat is fun and I want to learn more. Thank goodness for Jakob pulling her in. You're writing has improved so much.
Nancy

Raelene Purtill said...

HI Anna,
Interesting start to what I hope develops into a me- and -you -against the flood romance with commentary by the cat!

Sally said...

Hi Anna, an interesting concept and intriguing story line with the sci-fi elements, survival and romance all thrown in and, of course, the wonderful cat. You have many possibilities to develop your story. Well done.

Scheherazade said...

I love the story, Anna. But I kept thinking--oh no, the cat has sharp claws. Don't puncture the boat.

You have a good start. Be sure to keep the element of tension going.

Linda

Lisa said...

I agree, I thought of the cat claws right away! A good beginning to get the reader interested in what might come next!

Donna Hole said...

A cute piece Ana. I liked the way the you introduced first the watery world and single person, then slowly added the other characters. Lots of story potential with this excerpt.

Anna Nordeman said...

Thursday 26th June 2014
Dear D.G.,
Thank you for reading my post. Since you are more experienced writing sci-fi, I'm happy that you took a look at this first attempt.

Actually this story is supposed to be about a romance between Jakob, the man rowing the wooden boat, and Klara, the woman with her cat in a plastic pool-boat. But I need to either edit more to squeeze everything into a thousand words or just make it a longer story, which is probably the way for me to go.

-----
Dear Nancy,
Thanks for your kind words. Yes Jakob is a godsend, but I think I need to make things more perilous for Klara, in order to make Jakob more heroic.
-----
Dear Raelene,
Thanks for stopping by. I think you have understood my story well, with your pithy description, a 'me - and - you - against the flood romance with commentary by the cat'!
Well said.
-----
Dear Sally,
Thank you for your kind and encouraging words. I know that I've thrown a lot of different things together in this story, but I have tried to take one thing at a time, which is why I could not meet the 1000-word-limit.
-----
Dear Linda,
You are such a clever writer. It is no surprise to me that you thought about the cat's claws and the danger that goes with them.

In my first draft, I wrote a long passage of dialogue between Klara and the cat Mathilda, before Klara even took her into the boat. Klara warns Mathilda to control her urge to stretch her 'fingers' and extend her sharp claws, because of what they might do to the plastic inflatable boat.

If I make this a longer story, there will be time to include this conversation. Then my two first main characters can chat about what they have been through and sneak in some back story. Then Mathilda will forget herself; forget her promise, or just get startled by something that makes her dig her claws into the plastic boat. Which then makes the meeting with Jacob truly a romantic rescue.

I have also toyed with different kinds of floating vessels for Klara. I my very first version, Klara does not have the time or money to go to the Claes Ohlson store to buy a boat. She simply takes her children's summer pool that she has at home (which I have at home, tucked away in a bathroom cabinet), blows it up, and makes a paddle out of a broomstick and two ping-pong-paddles. But then I looked at the summer specials from Claes Ohlson and fell in love with this blue boat that I have pictured on this post. I may return to the silly children's pool. I haven't decided. I think Klara will be able to make a longer journey in the blue boat.

But if I choose the kid's pool, I will have to explain where her children are. Their father, her ex., has already taken them to higher ground leaving Klara in the lurch, that scumbag.

-----

Anna Nordeman said...

Dear Lisa,
I'm glad that you also thought of the cats claws. This gives me more reason to use this in the story.
Since Mathilda can talk, Klara becomes less worried about Mathilda doing any damage. She assumes that the ability to speak means that the cat is also a thinking, reasonable and wise person. But Mathilda is still a cat, even if she can talk!
-----
Need to take a break here. Elisabet needs some breakfast.

Anna Nordeman said...

Dear Donna,
Thank you for your kind words about my story. I'm glad that you see that I start with the main character, Klara, alone in her boat. Then I introduce the watery world, that is the setting. After that, the cat Mathilda appears and becomes Klara's conversational partner. Now there can be dialogue, where there was only Klara's inner thoughts. Finally, it is the hero, Jakob's turn to play a part.

Ever since Denise had that post about the most common mistakes that beginning writers make, I have been careful not to pack every character into the beginning of a story. If this were a novel, Jakob would not come on the scene until chapter four, five or six. Mathilda, the cat, would not appear until chapter two or three.

Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I know you have a sharp eye, so I appreciate that you take the time to look at my texts.
-----
Thanks to everyone for taking the time to read and leave comment.

Best wishes,
Ann

Laura Clipson said...

I love the talking cat in this scene, that was an interesting idea. Great job with the imagery, I could almost imagine being there amongst all that water, especially when she's going past those tree tops.

Trisha F said...

This is a cute story - love the kitty cat. :) This definitely feels like an intriguing beginning to a longer story!

Denise Covey said...

Hi Anna. I've come by and read your story several times, which I often do, but especially do when there is a prize involved (which doesn't happen very often!)

I'm pleased with the comments you've attracted. Everyone likes what you're doing here and hopes you will continue with the story.

I understand your comment about trying to fit everything into 1,000 words--remember when it was only 400 words and we got the same complaints. However, everyone understands the constraints of the word limit so just relax and work with it. You could always give a little overview at the top if you think your readers need it to understand the excerpt.

Thank you for extending yourself. It is good to experiment with other genres, whereby you may find your clear focus. It takes a lot of writing to find your strongest voice.

As always, thanks for finding time in your busy and at times, turbulent life to post to WEP. You have friends here who wish the best for you.

There will be a wrap up post on WEP probably Wednesday morning Oz time...

Denise

Denise Covey said...

Ah, I just wrote a long comment and it's not showing up. I will wait before re writing it...

Denise Covey said...

My third attempt to leave a comment and tell you I've just had a re read for judging!

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

"Adornments for Dreams" has been included in the first edition of our Thinking of Christmas Gifts in July 2014. Be assured that we hope this help to point many new customers in your direction.

http://asthecrackerheadcrumbles.blogspot.com/2014/07/thinking-of-christmas-gifts-in-july-2014.html

Anna Nordeman said...

Dear Denise,
I'm sorry that you had trouble seeing your comments. After two or three days comment-moderation kicks in, and with the difference in time, I must have been sleeping when you wrote your comments.
Sorry I missed the word count. I'll be more careful next time.

This story may have the potential to be extended. But I have to put it on the back-burner for a while because I need to look for work.

I really appreciate all the comments left on this post. It will be helpful when I open my folder for this flood-story and try make it a novel. I wrote a story about a flood many years ago before I started going on the Internet. Before the Tsunami too.

Thanks to these comments, I know that it was a good thing to let Mathilda, the cat, climb on board. I had no cat in my original story. Mathilda has potential.

Did you know that there was a cat in the original story of Robinson Crusoe? But for some unknown reason, the ways of literature have wipe that cat away. There is no cat in the translation/adaptation of Robinson Crusoe that Swedish children read.

Best wishes,
Anna

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