Wednesday, June 16, 2021

 Time for the WEP challenge. This month the prompt is, 'Great Wave.' I want to thank Denise Covey for starting this group along with the lovely ladies who assist, Laura, Nila, Yolanda, and Olga. I appreciate your hard work. And now for my submission:



René Descombes

René Descombes lifted his catch of fish and stepped from the small boat. He could see the bonfire on top of the third hill to celebrate St. John’s Day.  His friends and fellow fishermen joined him as they trudged up the beach toward the hills.

Marram grass grew along the sand dune. By the time they reached the third hill clay replaced the sand. The sun had slipped behind billowing thunder clouds. René could taste the moist air as well as the smoke from numerous contained fires.

Before him were the tall white sea cliffs of France. To his left stretched a thick forest that climbed the bluff. On his right were more hills and beyond that the vast ocean which connected to the channel where their fishing boats rested on the shore.

The people of Leblanc had gathered around their cooking fires and took the food to the tables by the bonfire. Laughter filled the air. René’s wife, Margo stood stirring one of the pots.

He dumped the fish on a nearby table and pulled her in for a kiss, rubbing her extended belly where the babe grew. “You are as beautiful as you were this morning.”   

“And you as charming.” Her hands rubbed his back before she pushed him away while smiling. She cut his fish.

Leblanc held nearly seven hundred souls, all gathered for the feast. Tomorrow, they would travel several leagues inland to their church for St. John’s Mass.  

Steam from his wife’s pot lifted over the round edge and smelled of onion and greens. She filled her hands with the prepared fish and dumped it all in, then wiped her hands on the apron.

“I don’t see Mayor Hugues,” René said.

“Nor will you.” Margot laughed. “Not until the feast is ready and there is no more work to be done.”

René looked south toward the white cliffs that jutted straight up from the village. At the top was the mayor's grand house.

Without warning, the ground rumbled and shook beneath his feet. He righted himself and took Margot’s arm to prevent her from falling.

“What is it?” Margot asked.

The rumbling stopped for a second, then started again. A great crack splintered the cliffs. The sound like thunder made him cover his ears. Lifting his eyes to the precipice he saw that the cracks in it were massive and then slabs of rock separated and fell bringing the mayor's house with it. On impact, the rumbling noise crushed those houses too close and shot out boulders toward his fellow villagers. Screams replaced the laughter, several of the people were hit and flew backward toward the channel, crushed by the boulders. 

René took a step, his intent to run and help. Margot caught his arm. “No, you can’t help.”

He remained with her and glanced at their own hut, further from the village than the rest and far from the cliff. Thank God, his hut still stood.

The cries of his fellows had become a blare of noise from screams, crying, and voices yelling making it impossible to understand the shouts. The bonfire had escaped its enclosure, setting marrow grass on fire and a few of the villagers as well. Some rolled on the ground while other villagers helped by using blankets to put out the flames. Still more ran down the hill toward the sea only to fall before reaching it and die. The fire then leapt from their bodies to spread unchecked.

The tables with food had all overturned along with the cooking pots. The pleasant aroma of fish stew was replaced by burning flesh.

The earth heaved upward, and he pulled Margot away from her pot. He took her hand and ran further up the hill. Away from the fire that soon reached the place where they’d been standing.

“René!”

He turned to see what she was pointing at. The ocean had sucked backward. He could make out fish stranded on the beach. Then terror as the water returned, the tide growing higher in seconds, overtopping the dunes. He grabbed Margot’s hand again and they ran further up the hill toward their hut. When he looked back, the ocean had swallowed the first two sets of hills and the one they had been standing on was crumpling into the tidal wave. The scent of salt swallowed the smoke from the fires, while the roar of the waves replaced the villager's cries.

He pulled Margot down and they both rested on their knees. To his horror, he witnessed hundreds falling into the surge. A great cry lifted from the women who’d had the presence of mind to run with their children to higher ground. They hugged their children close who were all screaming so that the noise was deafening.

Rene clasped Margot close as she trembled while stillness settled around them. Shocking in its quiet after so much noise. The only sound that remained was that of the waves of water receding.

“What have we done to displease God?”

To that, René had no answer. They both remained on their knees, in shock at the horrors. He became aware that Margot was shivering and put his arms around her. She wept on his shoulder.

The storm arrived and lightning lit up the black sky. The resounding thunder made him jerk. He hadn’t realized until now that dusk had become night. The clouds above opened and a downpour drenched him.  

“Come.” He pulled Margot to her feet.

Their hut was close and while the white cliffs had spared it, the earthquake had not.

“Wait here.” René entered the pitch-black building and felt for the blankets with his hands. A second rumbling made part of the roof that still stood fall and he managed to avoid being hit. Grabbing the woolen covers, he turned back toward the door.

“René!”

“Do not worry, I am well.” He emerged from the building and took her hand.

“Where will we go?”

Word Count 997

This is a deleted excerpt from my short story, The Beginning of a Legend. I changed the protagonist to that babe growing in her belly, Arnoux. If all goes well, I will be releasing this story along with Book 2 in The Chronicles of Gil-Lael, The Rise of Lord Sinon, later this summer.

Comments are welcome.

Nancy

To read what others have submitted for this June challenge, go here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

WEP April Challenge When Love Takes Your Freedom Away

Greetings. It's April 2021. How is your year going? I trust it's better than last year. 

It's time once again to post for the Write, Edit, Publish Challenge. Thank you to the host, Olga, Renee, Laura, and Nila, and a special thanks to Denise for starting this fun group. 

Today's theme: Freedom Morning. I struggled with this challenge. I'm American. Freedom is part of our identity. We are the home of the brave, land of the free. We sing about freedom, march for our freedoms, argue policy based on freedom, and refuse to comply with mandates which some perceive as taking away their freedom. Every war we have ever fought in is to preserve our freedom. Or, so we are told.

I'm also white. No one has denied me service based on my skin color. No one has ever charged me with a crime based on my skin color. So while these things sadly happen to minorities in America, they have never happened to me. How could I possibly write anything about Freedom Morning? 

With this frame of mind, I talked to a friend about this challenge and she reminded me that freedom was also about things that you overcome in your life, like her story. And so, dear friends, for the first time ever I'm going to tell you a true story. The story of Akina. The names have been changed.



When Love Takes Your Freedom Away

I went back.

          Akina studied her image in the mirror. There was nothing about her auburn locks or hazel eyes to indicate that she was lost. Nothing. But she was…lost.

          From the moment she saw Pete and heard his voice she’d been lost. Her need to be loved coursed through her veins to this day. Her memory of the events, hazy even now.

          She had woke on the floor of her apartment. Pete was tuned into the football game, ignoring her. Her four-year-old son, Rob, sat on the floor beside her, holding her hand and patting it. His large dark brown eyes studied her face.

          “Mommy,” he said when she looked at him.

          “I’m okay,” she said to reassure him even though she couldn’t remember what happened.

          She sat, and then stood. A little light-headed. Pete continued to ignore her, guzzling the last of his 18-pack of beer. The carton lay empty at his feet.

          Akina went to the bathroom, did her business, and glanced at her reflection to see one eye swollen, and the bruise extending down to her cheek. And her lip was cut.

          Then it all came to her. She’d been working a crossword puzzle while Pete cheered or bellowed at the football team on the television.

          The crowd roared, she looked up, the home team made a touchdown. Pete hated the home team. He stood, grabbed her arm, and yanked her up before punching her in the breast and on her face. Her body twisted away and turned to fall, landing on their son. Everything went black.

          How long had she been out? What should she do? She didn’t know and so she went to bed.

          In the morning after Pete left for work, she called her mom. Rob was too young for school, and so her mom came and they all went to the hospital. From there, the police arrested Pete and he went to jail for domestic abuse.

          Now, close to a year later, as she stared at her own reflection in the mirror, she argued with herself. Follow your heart.

She’d let Pete move back in. She loved him. She needed him. She did it all for her son. He needed his father in his life. Right?

Her mother had spent an hour on the phone trying to dissuade her from this course. But, Akina knew what she wanted. What she needed. And that was Pete.

Her happiness didn’t even last a month. Pete quit his job, refused to do any housework, drank beer continuously, spending her money on it. He didn’t even babysit Rob, her mother did. Pete slept all day and drank all night and wouldn’t let  Akina sleep. Instead, needling her to stay up with him. Exhausted, she started making stupid mistakes at her job.

But she needed him, right? She loved him and he loved her. They had a son together. He’s changed!

Football season started. Pete stood and threw a beer at the TV and then turned on Akina sitting on the sofa next to him.

In the morning, she stared at her bruised and battered face.

But I need him. He will change.

She was trapped. She couldn’t feel anything anymore. And she knew, her love had robbed her of her freedom to choose. Her love had taken her freedom away.

 

Word Count: 563

As of this writing, Akina has turned her life around. With her mother’s help, she returned to school and is now a nurse living her best self and supporting her son, now 14, without Pete. 

Let me know what you think.

I'm pleased to announce that my epic fantasy, the Treasures of Carmelidrium is now available everywhere. 



Link to my website: authornrwilliams.com



Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Kiss, WEP blog hop

It's February, and that means love is in the air and on your lips. Write, Edit, Publish has an inspiring blog hop challenge this year. The Kiss. Inspired by the artwork of  Gustav Klimt’s, entitled the same, The Kiss. My thanks go out to Denise Covey, the original creator of Write, Edit, Publish, and to the other host, Laura, Renee, Nila, and Olga. All gifted and talented writers. The good news is, you still have time to post something for the challenge. From poems to photos, stories true or fiction, share your talents with all of us. 

To read what others have written for this challenge, go here

Now for my story and more exciting news below that. Enjoy.



The Kiss

Jessica put the garlic bread into the oven, the spaghetti sauce was simmering, the cheese ready to grate, the noodles in the pot after going through the press, and the salad already on the table. The kitchen was a complete mess, but it was worth it, Todd was coming over.

            The door ringer chimed. She went to the speaker and pressed down.

            “Hello.”

            “Hi,” Todd said.

            “I’m on the third floor.” She pressed the buzzer to let him enter. She grabbed the mask from the table below the speaker and turned, surveying the table. Her dinnerware was out flatware, glasses, and napkins.

            A knock at the door. She put on the mask and opened it. Todd gave her a bow, stood again, and held out the wine and some flowers. She could tell by the crinkles around his eyes that he was smiling despite the mask he wore.

            “Come in.” She took the flowers.

            “Thanks. How was the drive?” She led the way to the kitchen to retrieve the corkscrew and he followed.

            “Uneventful.” He glanced at the kitchen. “Smells wonderful.” Then, he uncorked the Merlot, while she filled a vase with water. They both returned to her small table and he poured the wine while Jessica put the flowers on a side table.

            “Happy Anniversary,” Todd said handing her the glass of wine.

            They separated,  standing six feet apart, lowered their mask and took a sip.

            “Five weeks ago, you stumbled into my life,” she said.

            He grinned. “Literally, I almost knocked you down when you turned with your coffee in hand.”

            She laughed. “Then that old woman scolded us for not being six feet apart. And me, with my mask down sipping my coffee.”

            “Here’s to coffee.” He raised the wine glass again. They took a sip.

            Jessica went into the kitchen, drained the noodles, and put them in the sauce. Pulling the garlic bread out she used a spatula to put them in a basket. Todd took both from her and went to the table. He sat while she grated parmesan cheese over the sauce.

            “It pays to fall in love with an Italian,” he said.

            She laughed. “No Italian is named O’Leary. I just like to cook.”

            “No, you and your red hair are Irish?” He grinned.

            They ate and he told her all about his new job as a computer programmer. “There’s a greater need,” he continued. “With so many working from home on their computers these days custom software is required.”

            She nodded. “Things are getting better.”

            “Yeah.” He wiped his mouth with the napkin. “This was delicious.”

“Glad you like it.”

She stood and cleared the table but didn’t do the dishes. He leaned on the kitchen door frame watching as she put the remnants of their meal in the trash.

“Did you get your second vaccine shot.”

Jessica paused to look at him. “Yeah, yesterday.”

“That’s a relief. I’ve worried about you these last few months with your patients all COVID positive.”

She nodded and put the plate in the sink then grabbed the towel to wipe her hands.

“I got my second one today.”

Jessica’s eyes got a little bigger. “Really?”

“You know what that means don’t you?” He stood straight away from the wall.

“Neither of us will die.”

“That, and…” He took the three steps between them, grabbed her, and pulled her against his body and then…the very thing she’d longed for all this time. The kiss!

Her arms slid around his strong shoulders. He pulled back only to kiss her again.

Jessica had been kissed many times in the past. But never had she experienced the electric rush that spread along every nerve from Todd’s kiss.

He pulled away from her and she looked up into his handsome face. Brown hair touched his forehead and he pushed it back with one hand.

“I have something else for you,” Todd said.

“What?”

He reached in his pocket and pulled out a ring box. Opening it he showed her a diamond ring.

“It’s not as big as I want but I’ll get you another on our fifth anniversary.”

“It is our fifth anniversary.”

“I mean, let’s get hitched.” He grinned.

She slugged his arm. “So romantic.”

“Will you?”

“Of course.”

*

The next morning Jessica glared at the messy kitchen while in her bathrobe. She put the coffee on and started doing dishes. Todd joined her, dressed with wet hair from his shower. She handed him the first clean dish and he dried it.

            “Where does it go?”

            “Right there.” She pointed.

            “I want to marry you right now.”

            She smiled. “Tempting, but no. I have a big family. We have to wait for everyone to get their vaccine. No reason you can’t move in, though.”

            “My place is bigger.”

            “I can walk to work from here.”

            “I’ll give notice, put my stuff in storage, take about a month or so.”

            She stopped washing, turned, and went to him. “I need a kiss.”

            He put the towel down and pulled her close. The pressure of his mouth wanted her to return to bed.

            “I’ll never get tired of your kisses. They’re the best,” she said when he pulled back.

            Todd ran his hand in her brilliant red hair and gave her the kiss again.

Word count 887

What did you think? Let me know. 

In other news, I have a website. authornrwilliams.com  Take a peek. The monster is called symberveen. 

And, my short story, Loren's Choice is included in Sci/fi & Fantasy's new Anthology, The Depths of Love, available as soon as Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Paperback: $12.99, e-book: Amazon Prime free and $3.95 after that expires. Here's the link: The Depths of Love.

Plus, I updated and re-released my first book in the series, The Chronicles of Gil-Lael, The Treasures of Carmelidrium. Book 1. Will be everywhere and soon in paperback! Links aren't live yet.



Coming this year is:

The Beginning of a Legend, A Gillael Book, this summer.

The Riise of Lord Sinon, Book 2 in The Chronicles of Gil-Lael, this autumn.

The Emperor of the Moon and Stars, Book 3 in The Chronicles of Gil-Lael, winter 2022.

All currently with my editor or soon will be. 

You might say, I've been working hard. 

Cheers!

If you'd like to join my Facebook page, here's the link.