WEP: My First Flash Fiction for WEP!

Summertime!


I haven't been quite working on my ROW80 goals, as it's very hot around here at the moment, but I have been writing, so not entirely prostrate and lazy with the heat.

I've just written a short story that evolved from the August Writer's Exercise on the Forum, and it happens to fit the parameters of this month's Write...Edit...Publish challenge!

Here are the details of both:

Forum exercise:
This month "we will write a travel-account, either based on a diary, an essay, a travel journal or a letter or a series of postcards. This is meant to be a fun exercise, so there are two options to choose from.

A fictional type of travel-writing.
Here I will give those who choose this option the name of a character. You'll take this character, imagine who he/she is and what they are like, and then you will send them on holiday.
You can pick any style of travel writing you like: letters, essay, postcards, a literary account of the travel.
It can be factual, funny/humorous, serious..... whatever you like

or you can pick Non-Fiction
Here you can write about your own holiday/travel experiences.
Again, pick any style of writing you like. Diaries, letters, exposition, you name it."

The name I received was Valentina Bernardes. Snip to follow...


Write...Edit...Publish is now teamed up with the Insecure Writer's Support Group!



This month's flash fiction challenge is on the theme Change of Heart



"Follow this process if you wish to participate:

The InLinkz sign up is on the WEP blog on the first of the month, or you may see it on other blogs who've copied the code. Add your intention to post here.

We post entries on the third Wednesday of the month or according to the badge. Post your entry onto your website or facebook page. (The TimeZone clock is on the WEP site - follow this timezone as we're from all over the world). Please add 'WEP' to your TITLE so we can easily pick it up.

Leave a comment on the WEP website when you post, so we can add your Direct Link (DL) to the list. This way you retain your position.

We ask that you do the rounds, leaving comments and feedback as requested.

You can post flash fiction, non-fiction, poetry, an artwork with an explanation, photo essay or a playscript. 1,000-word limit. Any more, and reading becomes a challenge in itself!

There is a $10 Amazon Gift Card for first prize. Who decides who wins? A shortlist is compiled by the WEP team, sent to the judge (Nick Wilford) and he places them into first, second and third. Second and third receive a winners’ badge for their website or facebook page. And there is a Commenter Badge for participants who read most/all entries."


The story I wrote last week is over 3,000 words, so I've created a truncated version for this challenge, at 996 words. I'm not looking for a detailed critique, just overall impressions. I hope you like it!

When Amelie asked if I wanted to join her and a bunch of her friends on holiday in Turkey, I was all for it.

The starting year of uni was tough. I was proud to be the first in my family to go to university, and really proud that I'd got into Oxford. But the work was hard, my English wasn't always good enough, and the Portuguese-speaking community was small. And there was no one else from Brazil in my year.

Then I met Amelie at a salsa class, and things got better. She was friends with everyone! And the Turkey trip was going to be excellent.

Then I found out that her boyfriend was coming along.

He's a great guy, Angus. He's visited Amelie twice already, coming down from Scotland, and I hung out with them on both weekends. In the beginning, his accent was hard to make out. But he was friendly, and told funny stories, and I got used to it. He's not like any of the caras back home. Not all into cars and designer jeans and showing off. But he does have a motorbike. He rode down on his second visit, and on the Sunday a group of us went out to a riverside pub. I was in the car with everyone else, and could see Amelie on the bike up ahead, her arms around Angus' waist. The ends of his hair stuck out from under his helmet and fluttered in the wind of the bike's speed.

And now we're here at our hotel in Kuşadası, and their room is down one floor and across from mine, and if I sit by the balcony railing I can watch the sun set into the water, as the beach and the sea are ten steps down the road. I can also see onto their balcony, where Angus is hanging their towels, dressed in nothing but shorts. Amelie comes out and wraps her arms about his shoulders and kisses his cheek. He hugs her back, and they watch the sunset with their heads together.

I go inside to tell my roommate, Maya, that she's missing out on a romantic sunset. Maya smiles knowingly; she's only got one aim on this trip and that's to have a wild affair -- with anyone, whether a Turkish waiter, expat bartender, or fellow tourist.

What do I want?

***
The next morning an expat friend of Angus’, Justin, takes us out on a chartered boat. There’s a crew, and even a cook to make lunch, so we don’t have to do anything but point at the coves we want to stop at, then dive into the turquoise waters to swim. It’s hot and quiet and peaceful.

Until I realise Justin’s flirting with me. But he seems to be pitying me as I’m not already coupled, and I don’t need his pity. I make like I’m into snorkelling in a big way and go off on my own. It turns out to be cool, because I see lots of coloured fish, and an octopus, and even a seal in the distance, who gives me a cheeky look and swims away before I can get my camera sorted.

***
The next evening, Justin’s there again, and drives us into town for a night at the kervansaray. It begins with a big feast and traditional music on an instrument called a saz, which echoes up the stone walls and out to the sky, as the inn is roofless and open to the stars. Then the music amps up, and the belly dancing starts.

There's no kind of dancing I don't enjoy, so when the audience is invited up to learn the moves, I’m first on the floor, and Amelie comes with me. I focus on mastering the basic routine, then begin to improvise. Amelie and I are really getting into it, and when I notice we’re putting on a show, I glance up to gauge the effect we’re having, but before I can spot anyone else's reaction, I catch Justin's eye.

His expression is startling. The lust is there, but there’s also a sort of longing, a visual representation of saudade, that intense nostalgia and melancholy that comes in waves.

It makes me want to dance away that feeling for him, to help him forget whatever it is he's lost and can't regain. I’m not pitying him. Call it a professional dancer's intent, if you like, though I'm still an amateur.

I suppose I succeed, because after he's dropped everyone else off, I go home with Justin.

***
The next day we’re up early to fetch the others and drive to the ruins of Ephesus. I get separated from the group, but Justin finds me, and we drive into the nearby town of Selçuk for lunch. We have some Turkish beer, and some ayran, which is yogurt, water, and salt. I would never have imagined that such a combination could be a drink, and a flavourful, thirst-quenching one at that.

But then, I never would have imagined a lot of things before this trip.

That my hopeless crush would be apparent to anyone else.

That I'd meet someone who'd make me forget my crush.

That I'd come home with something else in common with my best friend – a long-distance relationship.

***
On the last morning, waiting for the airport bus, Justin asks when he can see me again. Direct, as he always is.

Just like on the first night we spent together, when he caught my hesitation and broke off kissing me to ask point blank what I wanted: to linger on an unrequited attraction, or explore a new relationship.

I chose adventure. I told him he could see me as often as he came to visit, and promised to fly out again as soon as I could. Yet his saudade was for home, and before the year was out, he was back in England. I have never been more happy.

I think this is my first entry for WEP, even though I've been following from the sidelines for years.
Happy to participate!

Comments

Denise Covey said…
Hi Deniz!

Glad to have you join us this month! And what good timing that you could share your fictional travel story with us -- love travel stories of any kind!

This story of friends travelling in an exotic land captivated me. Sounds to me like there is more to the story. Perhaps you can continue it for future WEP/IWSG challenges. A lot of people do that. In the end you might have another book!

So thanks for participating! Loved your entry!

Denise
Pat Garcia said…
I have to admit that I like traveling to European countries but have no desire to travel to exotic countries. So, your presentation was indeed interesting to me. And enjoyable read. I look forward to more in the next WEPs.

Shalom aleichem,
Pat G
As an armchair traveller I loved this. And am very glad that her trip gave her more than she expected. Echoing Denise about thinking there is more to learn.
I have always found WEP to be an incredibly supportive group. I am so glad you joined the fun.
Yolanda Renée said…
Great first entry! Welcome to the WEP!

I'm so glad she chose adventure and new love to the unrequited love. It's amazing that you could cut it from 3000 words to meet the challenge, but job well done!
Hi Deniz - good to see you join us - well the WEP lot! But I loved my time in that part of the world ... but wondered how her time at Oxford would turn out with Justin around, now he's returned to England.


However the theme you were given from the Forum is interesting .. and it's great you were able to combine it with a Change of Heart here for the WEP ... Adventure is good ... love reading about Turkey ...

Cheers Hilary
Olga Godim said…
An interesting travel story. A new place sometimes inspires a new relationship, or at least a new perspective. I'm glad she found Justin.
Deniz Bevan said…
Thanks, everyone! I have to admit, the timing on this worked out great. I'm still expanding the story -- it's at 9k already!
Diane Burton said…
Fascinating story. I'm glad you shared it on WEP--my first time, too. Despite cutting it from 3k to 1k, you retained the emotions of the main character. I could feel her longing for someone to take away her heartbreak. I'm glad you're expanding the story. It's definitely good enough.
Tanya Miranda said…
I love reading stories with specific cultural details. I googled quite a bit while reading your piece. There's always something refreshing about a vacation romance...
Nilanjana Bose said…
Great first entry for WEP, thanks for posting. I love travelling and travel writing of any kind. And a romance is a bonus. Enjoyed the story. Saudade reminded me of the song by Cesaria Evora...
She got a lot more than she expected on that trip. Probably got what she really needed.
Deborah Drucker said…
Sounds like she made the right decision with her change of heart.
cleemckenzie said…
Turkey! My favorite place to travel,and you can't find a more romantic country--well, you can, but I'd pick Turkey. I could feel the excitement in your story. So glad you jumped into the August WEP!
Deniz Bevan said…
Aww, thanks, everyone!
I made a playlist for the story, and Cesaria Evora is on it!
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLawUsUAmxoIOyTt_a3kLOp2KvhmyweJe6
desk49 said…
A Letter of love
and Adventure it seems
Will it work out into
a lifetime of Dreams

Was it to family
or a best friend
Will they keep it forever
reading it over again

You'll keep writing on it
with more things to do
For letting me read it
I say thank you
A cute love story, where the journey is more important than the destination. Well done, Deniz.

Pat Hatt said…
New places and surroundings can sure bring about new people, and when two go to play, you never know what may stray. Makes one being single wants to travel.
Roland Clarke said…
I love this story and case see how it worked as a longer piece, so well done trimming it for WEP. If you ever expand it further, you have some interesting characters.
Denise Covey said…
And Deniz, congrats on your 901st post! Awesome! Makes me wonder how many times I've posted, but I'm too lazy to look, LOL!
A new travel adventure to a new exotic location PLUS a newfound love interest? What's not to like?
I'm looking forward to the unfolding of the Valentina Bernardes story.
Oooh, love the name too!
L.G. Keltner said…
I love travel stories like this, and I'm glad she took a chance and embraced the possibility of love. It may not be what she anticipated when she set out, but hey, that's half the fun of setting out on an adventure. New possibilities abound. Thanks for sharing!
Travel and romance, a heady combination! I'm glad she made the choice to reciprocate and take that chance.
Toi Thomas said…
Hellow Deniz. I'm glad you joined this month. I really liked your story. Travel stories are always interesting, the destinations are always only part of the greater story. I really liked this change of heart. Well done.
J Lenni Dorner said…
Wow! That's really something. Good twist, and a nice take on the prompt. Bravo.
Traveling is such a great way to invite change into your life, even when things don't go as planned. Loved that she embraced every opportunity here.
Deniz Bevan said…
Thank so much, everyone, for your support!
Sally said…
It sounds as if this holiday romance might turn in to something more - I do hope so.
Nice! I liked the feelings we got both of the narrator's loneliness and of the country. Made me want to go dive into those waters (in a literal sense :) ). But I also liked the way the romance worked, with her reluctance or fear of Justin's pity being removed when she finds that he has something he's lost or regrets as well, so that they each can give something to the other.

I think I'd enjoy reading the longer version.
D.G. Hudson said…
Sorry that I couldn't get here to your story sooner. It's a lovely story about young love. I like the setting, it seems as if Europe in general amps up any romance there. Welcome to WEP! A few pix of Turkey would have given this story extra oomph to stoke our imaginations. . .
Elizabeth said…
I love traveling, so I really enjoyed reading this. I like how she was trying to distract herself at first, but then she opened herself up to finding something new.

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