Red Writing Hood: Right on the Edge

***A continuation of the last story with Tom and Shelley here***

The Beach

The Beach

“Oh Tom, it’s not you, really.”  Shelley said.

Then she heaved a sigh.  An ominous, brace-yourself-buddy-for-what-I’m-going-to-lay-down kind of sigh.  A sigh indicating a wish that this beach had a convenient swim-up bar at which to purchase some Dutch Courage.

“I don’t even know how to explain this.” she went on, and then more hurriedly, “God talking about this makes it all so much more real, and that’s so damn scary!”

Tom resisted the urge to ask “What?” and instead tried his best to look supportive.  What did she need right now?  Did she need a strong male figure, a protector?  Did she need a nurturer, a benevolent listener?  After a moment’s thought, Tom decided Shelley needed all of that.  He sat up a little straighter, hoping to project confidence, and raised his hands in front of him, palms facing Shelley in the classic gesture of “I come in peace.”

As if a reset button had been pushed inside her, Shelley giggled at him, took his hands, and said, “What, nothing up your sleeve?”

“Oh! No, that’s not what I meant…”

“It’s OK.  Whatever you meant, you made me smile, and that’s exactly what I needed just now.  I don’t know how you make me feel safe, but you do.”

At this, Tom blushed, and Shelley wished she were less distracted and could really enjoy that blush and give Tom some good-natured ribbing.  But this wasn’t the time.  She’d already put the ball in play, and having crossed that line she was going to have to follow through.

“OK.” she said, with another sigh.  “That dream last night?  I have it a lot.  I.. can’t remember most of it.  There’s sand, and kelp, and sun.  There’s happiness.  And then there isn’t.”  she stopped, and her hands gripped Tom’s a little tighter.

“Something horrible happens.  Something so horrible it almost makes me sick with it.  For years I’ve dismissed it as just a dream… just a really. unpleasant. dream.  But Tom,” and she looked straight into his eyes, “I’ve been fooling myself.  It’s too real.  I’m pretty sure it’s a memory.”

“From when you were a kid?” Tom asked, too curious not to speak.

“I think so,” Shelley answered, her eyes wandering over the ocean.  “I don’t remember much about my childhood.  It’s never really struck me as odd, until recently when I began to realize that most people I know remember so much more than I do.”

“Oh — is that why we had that conversation about my hometown the other day?”

“Yup.  Exactly.  I… I think I must have seen something wrong happen.  Oh god, Tom, I’m so so scared that I may have done something wrong, and I can’t remember!”

This fiction piece was brought to you by Red Writing Hood at Write on Edge. The prompt requested a 450-word piece about crossing a line.  I decided, after getting lots of positive feedback on my initial Tom and Shelley story, to attempt a serialization.  Incidentally, I don’t actually like the names Tom and Shelley.  They were working names for the first piece that I simply hadn’t managed to find good replacements for.  If you’d like to suggest names for these characters, don’t hesitate to do so.  Concrit is very much appreciated, have at it!  And thanks as always for visiting and reading.

** Also, I’ve just noticed after re-reading the prompt that I actually didn’t write to it… at least, not really in the spirit it was intended.  Though I think the line that Shelley is crossing as she strives to find the truth about something potentially horrible in her past is very much about ethics.  Please forgive me!

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

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12 Comments on “Red Writing Hood: Right on the Edge”

  1. Lance Says:

    Now I want to know what Dutch Courage tastes like. I’m enjoying Tom and Shelley. There’s chemistry. I like how you started and stopped with dialogue. Bravo.


    • Venus Says:

      “Dutch courage” was originally a euphemism for gin in the 17th century, but has since grown to include any liquor used in the service of making one’s self brave. Glad you’re enjoying the story, that means a lot coming from you! 🙂


  2. betsy Says:

    I love the story, so all’s forgiven! I like her description of the dream… it fits how disjointed and confusing a dream can be.


  3. jackiepcross Says:

    Even if the line wasn’t well defined in what you wrote I thought that it was great! And I’m glad that you decided to continue the story line.


  4. shelton keys dunning Says:

    The recounting of the dream was perfect. Well done!

    My only concrit is we seem to have two points of view merging. We are in Tom’s head emotionally and then we are in hers. I think if you concentrate on the scene from entirely her POV, you’ll have a tighter story and more of an opportunity to build suspense.

    Love that last line. Way to knock it out of the ballpark!


    • Venus Says:

      That’s excellent feedback Shelton, thanks!! It can be so tempting to be in everyone’s head at once (assuming we actually *know* what our characters are thinking, which isn’t always guaranteed). But I agree that it would scan better if I could settle on just one of the characters.


  5. Stacey Says:

    Intriguing! I definitely want to know what she is remembering. The first part was a little confusing, but that’s probably because I haven’t read the other parts. That last line really clinches it though.


    • Venus Says:

      Yes, I think if I continue this serialization thing I’ll have to work on making each episode stand on its own a little better. Thanks for the kind words!


  6. Cameron Says:

    Okay, so I’m new to Tom and Shelley, but I want them to have different names, too!

    I love the tension you establish right off the bat. No one likes to hear that “It’s not you,” opening. The dream keeps the tension and personalizes it, even as we relax a little because Tom’s not going to be left or rejected.

    And I think you’ve exploring crossing an ethical or moral line for certain, she’s concerned she may have done something awful, after all.


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