Sunday, January 20, 2008

January FFC: Spirit Twins by Gayle Hedrington

Spirit Twins
© Gayle Hedrington

Joyce jumped out of the water giving a shriek. "Did a fish bit you?" The handsome Beach Man asked.

"Something did." She hoped he did not notice her blushing. Whatever bit her did so, right on her crotch. She wondered if the creature sensed her sexual excitement, brought on by Mr. Beach Man. He had that affect on her.

"Where did he bite you?" His voice echoing genuine concern. However, Joyce's hesitation caused him to say "Never mind, I don't need to know."

Joyce was about to ask his name, when the fish returned for another nibble. Again she vaulted out of the water with a shout.

"Did he bite you again?"

"Yes" She gave out a slight laugh.

"Let me see... if I can see him" as he moved towards her.

At that moment, the fish tasted her crotch again. "I saw him that time. It's a small perch, come over here and I'll show you." He held out his hand.

Joyce wadded towards him and stood aside him. "See that fish there? He is the one that's biting you. He remained still and they watched as the fish neared their feet. When it maneuvered to nibble his toes , he kick his foot to disturb the fish and it swam away.

They both giggled.

"What's your name?"

"Doug" He replied and held out his hand. She took his hand and as they made their first physical contact.

"I'm Joyce."

Finally a name! Joyce had always referred to him as Mr. Beach Man to her friends. All her friends knew of him from her constant chatter. They wanted to meet the man who had locked Joyce's heart without a word being exchanged. Her friends had never seen Joyce so taken. She fell in love with Doug the instant he passed her eyes. What was not to love? Bronze skin, broad shoulders, and full bodied, sun streaked, brown hair. It was the type of hair that could never be out of place even when tossed or ruffled. Joyce possessed the ability to see beyond the physical frame of a person. She knew that he was her spirit twin, she felt it in her soul.

The second and last time she saw Doug was at the beach. It was a week or so after their first meeting and Doug joined her on the blanket. The two engaged in conversation until the inevitable came up. Doug confessed, he was married but separated. Joyce explained to Doug. about the past year in marriage counseling and that even the marriage counselor had said there was nothing more she could do. Doug told her to make her husband pay attention to her. He encouraged her to scream, cry to do whatever it was she had to do. She explained to him that she did and it didn't work. Doug confessed it didn't work for him either.

"You'll end up going back to your wife." Joyce told him.

"No, I don't think so. He said with a firm positive tone.

Doug was starting a new job on Monday and it he wouldn't be at the beach during the week. Joyce was leaving the next day for a wedding in Atlantic City. If she only knew it was the last time that she was going to see him, she would have left her number under the truck's windshield wiper. Both of them were assured they would see one another, the following weekend at the beach. Joyce mentioned the shortness of swimming days left, but Doug assured her there were still several swimming days ahead. Each of them loved the lake and swimming.

Joyce couldn't wait to get to the beach the next Saturday. She hurried there so she wouldn't be late and miss Doug again. As she pulled into the beach parking lot, her heart sunk. Signs were everywhere "Beach Closed - Until Future Notice - due to blue/green algae". Joyce stopped and asked the attendants when the beach would open again, and they said they didn't know. Joyce drove off and cursed herself under her breath, that she never asked Doug his last name.

Preparing for her new life in San Diego, Joyce wipes the last tear that she will ever shed for her defunct marriage to Frank. Although she is glad to be getting far away from Frank and the heartache, she doesn't want to leave Doug. She still believes, he is her spirit twin and they belong together. It wasn't as if she didn't try to find him. She spent two days riding around his work place looking for his truck, but never found it. He must have bought a new vehicle. Trying to reach him by calling work was impossible, she didn't know his last name. It is now up to fate, what will be will be.

Joyce droped off the rental car at the return center, her pace is fast as she walks toward the terminal. "Joyce! Is that you?"

As she turns she see Doug. "What are you doing here?" She can't believe her eyes. The site of Doug makes her feel as giddy as a teenager.

"My mom is sick. I came home to see her."

"You came home?"

"Yes, you were right I went back with my wife."

Joyce's heart sunk, and she felt sick. All she could say was "Oh."

"However I filed for divorce. I thought about you everyday."

"What are you doing?"

"Moving to San Diego."

"Really? What about Frank?"

"We're divorced."

"Give me you phone number, and address. I will see you when I get back to California. I know this sounds strange, but I feel like I belong with you."

"Really? I feel that too."

With that, the spirit twins embraced, kissed and of course exchanged phone numbers.


BIO: Gayle Hedrington lives in New Hampshire. She writes a weekly news column,and writes fiction and non fiction. In addition to writing she loves,animals, and cooking.


Gwen Mitchell said...

There seem to be a few grammar and craft issues here, with tenses and the like. Aside from that, the set-up was cute. The execution of the 'relationship' was a bit stinted. I would have liked the concept of 'spirit twins' to be shown rather than told. Good job though - good bones for an interesting plot.

Serena said...

First, it takes guts to post work for critique, so good for you!

I have to admit the spelling, grammar, and punctuation problems were quite distracting ("bit" instead of "bite," "affect" instead of "effect," just in the first couple paragraphs). You also have dialog tags set apart as if they were complete sentences but they aren't. Watch your tense changes as well.

I'm not sure exactly what "spirit twins" means in this context; it makes me think of brother-sister rather than what you intended.

A little cleaning up, and it would be a very cute story!

williamfromkc said...

I didn't quite understand why they were spirit twins other than the fact that they both were going through rough/ending marriages. Maybe you could add a short exchange about some quirky shared interest that would make the match-up seem more like an act of fate.

I did think you captured the anxiety and insecurity of people in mid-life searching for new love.

R. Jill Fink said...

I've never heard the term, but I got the fact that "spirit twins" must be another name for "soul mates", so that wasn't a problem for me. I liked the story concept, but wanted to know a little more about the main character. It was quite funny that the fish was biting her in such an awkward spot; that gave her an embarrassing plight from which to be rescued instead of something cliche like the two of them bumping into each other and spilling drinks. I mirror the other comments on the small issues of grammar, punctuation, tenses, etc. and think that with a small amount of tweaking, it could be very entertaining. Good job!

Anonymous said...

First, good for you for participating in FFC 2008 -- confidence and bravery are hugely important. Second, I echo the previous comments about typos and grammer; you need to watch out for spelling and grammar mistakes when you post your fiction. Readers notice errors.

Substantively, I liked your set up at the beginning. You got the main characters talking earlier with a believable situation, and set up the conflict (the inability of your MC to find Doug) very nicely.

I was much less impressed by the coincidental meeting at the airport, and the references to "spirit twins." I didn't think the sudden reference to the special powers of perception of your MC was particularly persuasive, and the development of their relationship was too sudden to be believable.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about that - I posted before I was finished. I would say that I thought that overall there were several neat elements to the story you put together, and that with another pass through it you would really have something. Again, as I said at the beginning, I'm impressed with all of the participants this round. I hope to join you in February.

Caleb said...

I don't see how you could leave in those errors. You seem to have a good handle on your grammer, spelling and punctuation. I didn't get the spirit twins either, but great story. I stayed interested all the way to the end.

Anonymous said...

As several wrote, a few grammar and craft issues. Keep writing.
I thought it was really two stories, blended into one. That's an observation, not a criticism. The “first half” seems more cohesive than the “second half.” Frankly, I want to know what happened to the fish!

William Skye

AlannahJoy said...

Grammar/tense/spelling issues were very distracting for me, and I would have liked to see more of the personality of each character be more apparent. What is it that draws each of them to the other?

I also had a question about the fish biting Joyce in the crotch. This seemed to me to be a device set towards erotica, although this story was about romance rather than the erotic. My mom was a writer of erotica and I wrote G-rated fare up until Mom's death in 2003, after which I experimented and found that I (ta-da!) seemed to have inherited her flare for the erotic. So, IMO, the fish seeking Joyce in an erotic place sends out a promise to the reader that is not delivered. Be careful about that. If you are writing for a broad audience but seem to be pinpointing a more specific one, there will be more confusion than satisfaction with your readers.

This being said, I found both characters to be very likeable and I was rooting for them. :) I look forward to reading more from you!

Anonymous said...

Sorry for this off-topic post but I have exhausted all other avenues of contact with Ms. Hedrington.

Harry H. Dillon - artist - Berks County, PA,270014



Slake said...

Thanks to everyone for their comments and critque.

I appologize for the grammar errors. This was the fourth attempt at this particular story for flash fiction.

My main interest is non fiction and novels. This was my first "Short Story" attempt and honing it down was a problem.

I did not finish it until 2:56 EST 4 minutes before the contest was to close. At that point I wanted to get it submitted because I knew if I put it off, I would not follow through again.

Spirit twins was term I came up with, since the term soul-mate is so over used.

Again thanks to all of you.

Ray M. Solberg said...

If I'm tired my typo quotient raises very high, I completely understand your situation. With tweaking the grammar issues can be fixed.

Among your theme of new romance and destiny, I thought this illustrated a view of people on the verge of new beginnings and how they react (Doug fled back to the familiar even though he was unhappy, Joyce dared for promise of new love to try a new life).

I'm alright with fate or coincidence making things happen now and then. Though Doug in the end recognizes they are spirit twins I have to say as he is written, I'm not convinced he'll follow through. It was the way there was no communication to her that he wouldn't make it to the beach knowing she would be waiting (leave a note with the attendant?). The fact that I feel this way, means you've written the characters and story so well I care - good work!

I enjoyed reading this and hope to read more of your writing in the future.

Kate Boddie said...

Aside from the grammar and tense issues, as others have stated, it was a cute story. Not typically my type of read but cute nonetheless.

I would have liked to have seen their attraction as opposed to being told what their attraction was. The ending was a little too cookie cutter for me. Take out my inherent sadism for my characters, I would have liked to have seen a little more strife, a little more want and a little more struggle. More often than not I find endings where everything seems to fall into place unbelieveable since, really, that's not how life works. Fate can have a strange way of working but I think the struggle needs to be there in order for it to be believeable.

It also seems like you're trying to wedge a much bigger story into such a short piece. I think the very end could be its own story and it would give a bit more room to delve into the intricasies of the relationship without so much backstory.