#fridayfictioneers via rochelle – 2/15

Every Wednesday RenShui Wisoff-Fields posts a picture prompt challenging writers to create a 100-word story, poem, or whatever works for you.  After posting your work on your blog,  go back to her site and add your link on her Friday Fictioneers post.  Place.  Page.

I’m going to try to keep up with this, as should you.  Give it a shot.  I prefer to stick to 100 words, but she doesn’t mind either way.  Not everyone has the time to sit and write, revise, edit, revise, edit, etc. until getting it down to 100 and telling everything you want to tell.

As has happened before, I forgot to keep my original version and edits, and I’m kicking myself because of what – I think – would have been educational.  Yeah, but that’s patting myself on the back.

________________________

 dsc04876

11 A.M.

Xi, about half the elderly man’s 80 years, approached slowly.

“Pardon, Sir.  You seem lost.  Can I help?”

“I come each Sunday to remember my son.  Gone 29 years today.  We sailed boats in the fountain, here, especially Sundays.”  Exhale.  “Now –  I come for memories.”

Xi looked away, then back.  “What happened, may I ask?”

“Foolishly, I hit him for disrespect.”  Eyes distant.  “Then, one morning.  Gone.”

Xi blinked.  “Perhaps he too was wrong.”

“I must go.  My empty house waits.”  The man turned, shuffling from the fountain.

“Sir?”  Xi touched the man’s arm.  “Isn’t it this way?”

________________________

100 words

I did a little playing with words here.  The name of “Xi” was chosen very specifically but also numerically.  I was stuck with what to do about Xi.  I originally thought maybe he would learn a lesson from the elderly man and then go buy a boat for his own son, but that would be too much for only 100 words.  So instead I made him the long-lost son who had come back to find his father.  However, I was worried that it might be too easy for people to figure that out while reading.  But then I thought that there is no reason to be so “mysterious.”  And, more importantly, it felt good to write it that way.

_________________________________________

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134 Responses to #fridayfictioneers via rochelle – 2/15

  1. Perfectly crafted, as always, Rich. The last sentence just makes it. Your specific years got me doing the math. So if that is the man’s son, did he leave when he was about 11?

  2. Abraham says:

    Am I right in understanding that Xi is the lost son?
    I like the dialogue. Especially “Perhaps he too was wrong”

  3. And at 11 am, too. :-) I like this enormously, Rich. You packaged a lifetime into 100 well-chosen words.

    janet

  4. Parul says:

    Interesting take on the prompt.
    Smart to name your character Xi for that title. Was there also a connection between the number 11 and the prompt?
    Also, shouldn’t it be “may I ask?”?

  5. Iris says:

    Very touching. Beautifully written.

  6. I liked it a lot; it was best that Xi be his son.
    Scott

  7. I’m glad you explained it or else it would have never penetrated my thick skull! I re-read it with a clearer understanding and enjoyed it all the more.

    • rich says:

      thanks very much. i sometimes don’t like the “explanation” thing because it’s kind of like going beyond the 100 words, but thanks for reading and re-reading.

  8. Sandra says:

    Very subtle. Nicely done.

  9. happyzinny says:

    Very cool story- glad to see you were up to the challenge! And I did like the explanation parts before and after. It’s interesting to learn how and why a writer made various choices.

  10. vb holmes says:

    Subtle clues, subtle story, feel-good ending. Nice.

  11. tedstrutz says:

    I didn’t figure it out till the last line, Rich. Lovely story… and nice for Valentine’s day I think.

  12. Baxterwrites says:

    Literally, your short story gave me goose-bumps, especially when I realized Xi was his son! Yes, it took me reading it then thinking about it before I realized. I am sharing this. I hope that is OK.

  13. JackieP says:

    Interesting. As others say, subtle. I didn’t get it either till the end. I’m kind of slow sometimes. Makes one believe one can go home again, except sometimes one can’t. Hope they reunite and stay happy. See there I’m writing the ending.

    • rich says:

      You feel free to write any ending you wish. As for going home again, It is always possible unless the home is no longer there.

      As for the ending, the only way to know that it was his son was that he knew the old man was walking in the wrong direction. Thanks very much for reading.

  14. Jan Brown says:

    I love that he turns out to be the son. Beautifully done!

  15. powerful emotions here and true to life. so often we return to the place where good or bad things happen to us. Hope these two find the redemption they are seeking.

  16. This was good. I must be dense or something, because I didn’t realize Xi was the elderly man’s son until you explained it after the story. Instead I thought Xi had seen the direction from which the man approached and realized that the man must live in that direction.

    Yeah, I have a weird brain that infers a more complicated meaning and completely misses the somewhat obvious one. Ultmately, the ending is touching.

  17. Very well done, Rich. I enjoyed this piece. I like that the old man expressed his regret to a stranger. … I think I’m going to like it here.

    • rich says:

      here? you mean China?

      • I mean your blog. I’m new in your house, and I’m pleasantly surprised.

      • rich says:

        my house is your house. please feel free to open cabinets, peek under beds and in closets, and search the back of the sock drawer. i hope you find interesting things that keep you here. the duct tape? oh, never mind that. not important.

      • Rich, I will look around. I suspect I haven’t stopped by sooner because I’m following so many blogs and trying to read them all, and I couldn’t see adding another humor blog to my list. Imagine my surprise when I got here. (Not that there isn’t humor! Duct tape?) But I definitely want to see your grammar lists and read some of what you’ve written. I’ll kick some tires when I’m here, too.

      • rich says:

        i almost wrote “kick the tires,” but it didn’t fit with the house analogy, but i’m glad you thought of it. i know what you mean about too many blogs to read. it’s overwhelming how much good stuff is out there and then trying to write your own stuff. if you want something other than humor, you can check out the menu bar page thing that says “rise and fall,” it’s a (so far) 16-part memoir series that uses a leeeetle humor while telling angry but true stories about my many years in education, starting from childhood up until right – about – now. almost. also – i take requests. but i don’t eat strawberries. that about covers it.

      • I took a quick look at your memoir, and I am definitely in! I don’t discuss my age, but our son will be 26 this weekend, so you are writing about a time I can relate to. You do know I write silly, fluffy chick lit/mystery? It has its place, and it’s a lot of fun for me. I’m currently working on the next book, so my time is more limited right now, but I’m going to try to read your memoir soon. Thanks for being so welcoming!

      • rich says:

        how can i be anything BUT welcoming? isn’t that why we write stuff? to hope that others will come read it? yes, i know what you write, but i haven’t carefully checked out more than the covers and titles yet. and it’s not silly. anyone who can complete that much work should be commended. or at least have the duct tape loosened so you can work on the next one.

      • Rich, I won’t go into details, but there are some other writers here who have chosen to ignore me, and I suspect they feel I haven’t suffered enough and paid my dues – or that I’m too cheeky by cranking out a book quickly and self-publishing. But that’s for another day.

        LOL Jackie!!

      • rich says:

        that sounds like petty jealousy. dues? where is the rule that someone needs to struggle or deal with no success for a certain amount of time before it’s “acceptable” to do well? self-publishing is gaining respect and continues to grow. whether cranked or slowly molded, a book just needs to be good. it doesn’t need to ferment. i hope they continue to ignore you because it can only mean you’re doing something better than they are.

      • Well, I’m certainly having fun, and thank you for the good words. :-) Ok, you night owls (assuming Jackie has not yet gone back to the dungeon), I’m calling it a night. See you both tomorrow!

      • rich says:

        ok, but leave a nightlight on. otherwise the room is too dark for the cameras to pick up anything. thanks. see you in the morning. i’ll make coffee.

      • JackieP says:

        Maddie my Friend! Beware the duct tape! ;-)

      • rich says:

        too late. now back in the dungeon with you.

      • JackieP says:

        damn it, I knew I should have stayed quiet. sigh

      • rich says:

        just need something to gag you with. “snap” i know!

      • JackieP says:

        yeah yeah, got to catch me first.

      • rich says:

        as if you don’t really wanna be caught.

  18. nightlake says:

    this was very well done. sentimental and moving. glad you chose this ending..

  19. [...] (this prompt was so good I’ve included 3 responses in the manner of brainsnorts) [...]

  20. Dear Niche,
    What a lovely tale you’ve crafted this week. Numerically and emotionally impeccable, beautiful in its subtlety.
    shalom,
    RenShui

  21. The story was great. Would have to admit to enjoying the comments a lot more. Lot of story there!

  22. kz says:

    beautifully written, Rich. a wonderful reconciliation.

  23. Perfectly crafted. You do this so well, would have loved to have seen the edits.

  24. Well done. The way you wrote it is perfect. It is not too obvious while reading & has more impact than your first concept.

  25. annisik51 says:

    XIth hour of the day to represent the XIth year of the son’s life. It’s a ritual I feel might well express ‘the oriental mindset’ and thus, characterises your older character. Clever. I like the surprise shift at the end, where the son is not dead (as it seems at the beginning) and has come home. Is there an ‘I’ missing between ‘May and ask?’ I believe the photo’s location is Korea. Thank you for entertaining me. Ann

    • rich says:

      Ok crap, I better check that. I do remember fiddling around in that sentence towards the end. Thanks, and thanks for reading.

      • annisik51 says:

        You would do the same for me. I have learned something from your writing every week so far, so will certainly keep reading you. Ann

      • rich says:

        I certainly would do the same for you and have done the same for others each week. It is the results of reading carefully and paying attention. I do appreciate it, and thank you very much again.

  26. Tom Poet says:

    Rich,
    A great story as always…If that old man would have just looked up sooner…Save the edits Rich! I may start a petition soon if you don’t get it into your head…LOL

    Tom

    • rich says:

      thanks very much for reading. when i first looked at the picture, i felt stuck and kicked a few things around. but then it rushed up on me quickly, and by the time i remembered about the edits, it was much too late. but i’m glad that you’re annoyed that i didn’t keep them. thanks.

  27. Beautiful story, Rich. I got it the first read that he was the lost son when he said “Sir, isn’t it that way?” That was a brilliant line. :-)

  28. unspywriter says:

    I didn’t see your note until after I read the story. I got the twist on the last line, and I think it was just un-obvious enough. I liked the lyrical arrangements of the sentences, their lengths, and the paragraph divisions. Almost poetic.

    Here’s mine–and don’t critique this week; I’ve had a miserable cold and already know it’s not my best: http://unexpectedpaths.com/friday-fictioneers/suzuki-method/

  29. Your story is sweet the way it turned out. I enjoyed it that way too.

  30. elappleby says:

    Great story – I love the use of the number eleven- I’m a big fan of numbers. I really enjoyed this.

    • rich says:

      thanks very much. the number thing came after i was almost finished and noticed the years and wondered what i could do with them. the name “Xi” however was there from the start. i don’t even know if that’s a name, but it looked good enough to me. thanks for reading.

  31. k~ says:

    Xi is a clever choice for a name.This was a well done story Rich, but I would not have known it was his son that he was talking to without your explanation.

    • rich says:

      thanks very much. i was hoping that when Xi corrected the old man on which way the old man’s house was, that would have been a strong enough clue. but maybe not. thanks for reading.

  32. Sarah Ann says:

    Poignant and touching. The son correcting his father on the way to go home is a great tell.

  33. Sheila says:

    I love this, especially the ending. Very subtle, but it did make me realize it was his son. Then the “perhaps he too was wrong” and the story takes on a whole new meaning. Very nice.

  34. Great short story. :)
    The prompt is not easy to use….

  35. Poignant, touching, and well-crafted story, Rich. I enjoyed it very much. Good work with the numbers. It’s as though it was destiny for them to find each other again.

  36. Wonderfully executed. I have to admit I didn’t quite catch on to the full meaning, then I read your synopsis of it below the story, which I found equally as insightful.

  37. This is one of the best stories I have read here. Perfect sentimentality and the perfect bittersweet ending that would make a perfect film.

  38. 40again says:

    So many great comments. They’ve left nothing for me to say, except it’s up to your usual high standard and i enjoyed reading ♦

  39. denmother says:

    Nice one, Rich. I try to imagine the father’s reaction when he realizes this is his son.
    Denmother

  40. Anne Orchard says:

    Very well crafted Rich. I like that they both took responsibility for their own mistakes, a shame they could not have resolved the issue sooner, but then where would the story be? (It is interesting how much you can relate to the characters as real people after only a few words.)

    • rich says:

      this is an extremely important comment. the most important thing a writer can do is get a reader to “relate” to a character because that’s what will drive you to keep reading. so for you to feel that after only a few words tells me that i’m doing good things. thanks very much.

  41. Lovely piece. I had to reread it a few times, but I have quite a thick skull to penetrate! I loved all the little clues and repetition of the number 11.

  42. sandraconner says:

    Well, in spite of the fact that you seem to have struggled a little with “why” you wrote it this way, I’m glad you did. I liked it.

  43. muZer says:

    Lovely story, well told. What a wonderful reunion for a father and son after all those lost years. Great take on the prompt.

  44. Well, I must say.. this is very good. While I always love discovering a talented writter, I am also very distracted by your Picture.. is that really you..? You are very handsome.. ~Jen
    (I am honored to have you at Tryst.. Really, My work is nothing compared to what I’ve seen here..)

    • rich says:

      oh, i sure wish i could say that was my picture, but it’s really the cover of my favorite CD of my favorite artist. but you’re probably too young to recognize an album that was released about 40 years ago. that’s a young bruce springsteen there.

      as for “talented writer,” thanks very much. i like to think so too, but it means more when someone else actually says so. thanks.

      • Ha! I’m not that young!! I’m 31 years young!! I know Springsteen, but I don’t know as much about him to say I’m a huge fan. I have a huge love for music though, I wouldn’t survive without it!! Music says exactly what you need to hear sometimes, when you can’t find the words yourself.

        I love finding a talented writter… such insperation for me!! ~ Jen

      • rich says:

        well then i’m proud to have been found, especially by you. thanks miss.

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