Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February Secret Agent #47

TITLE: Keeping Clive
GENRE: Women's Fiction

I used to believe in fate, but that was before.

Before, when I was young and running, and the wind felt like it meant something great and grand coming my way. I haven't run for years, and I couldn't tell you why exactly. I just seem to have lost that piece of me somewhere in the mix of life, work, babies and too many sleepless nights.

My father has reminded me though. He’s wearing pressed, white burial clothes and lying in a shiny mahogany casket. What's curious are the shoes on my father's feet. They are the same white running shoes he wore to my college cross-country try-out so many years ago, but in his white-cushioned casket, they look completely out of place.

Old, cracked, the tread completely worn, the laces rags, the white actually more akin to death's grey skin tone. My heart softens slightly when I look over at my mother. She hates to iron and she hated those shoes, and yet she pressed my father's clothes so nicely, and put those old shoes on his feet.

The official funeral was in the middle of corn country, the Midwest, where I was raised. Crowds of people came to celebrate my father who, by any standard, was a great man. But he did not want to be buried in Omaha. We brought him home, returned to his birthplace in Cache Valley, Idaho, where he had bought two plots soon after marrying my mother. We used to laugh about that.


  1. I like this. By invoking the loss of her running in life, work, babies and sleepless nights, you have caught the attention of your target audience immediately.

    A couple things stuck out at me: white clothes for a funeral (I've never seen that) and the fact that she could see his shoes at all. I've done a lot of funerals and the caskets has always been open at the top and closed at the bottom. So maybe we're having a final private viewing? Even that I think is usually not done for the full casket. This is a minor detail but considering the importance of the shoes, it's worth discussing.

    Also, we don't have a sense of what the central conflict is--but I'm okay with that. You've hooked me sufficiently to keep reading for now.

  2. What really stuck out was the way you described the father in his casket. Never really seen a full body view in a funeral, but that sounded good.
    You caught my attention from the beginning. Liked it very much.

  3. I think you have a really strong opening line, and the scene definitely begins to play on the readers emotions.

  4. Really, really intriguing opening, not something I've ever come across before. Would read on

  5. Lots of vivid detail in this. They pull the reader into the scene. And you've set up a few "questions" (why she doesn't any longer believe in fate and why she doesn't run anymore) which taps the reader's curiosity--keeps us wanting to read. I like this, but I think you could tighten it even more to heighten the tension. For example, you could detete: "I couldn't tell you why exactly." The sentence that follows tells us what we need to know. Also, I'd delete the word "white" in the third paragraph. It weakens the impact of that last word "casket". I like the idea that we don't know he is dead until we get to that word. All in all, you've set up the characters, the setting, and enough of the situation to keep our interest. Nice.

  6. Not too keen on the first line. It seems like it could be anyone, anything, anywhere. Doesn't tell me much about the story. Same with the next paragraph. It's not really interesting until the funeral in the third paragraph. Nice details, though!

  7. Whoops. I need to correct my comment. I didn't mean to say delete the word "white". I meant that you could delete the word "burial". If you omit that word then the reader doesn't know until that last word "casket" that her father is dead. Sorry for the confusion.

  8. This is a nice opening that weaves setting, place, and elements of this character and her life pretty well. Impressive really for 250 words. I can tell this has been worked on for awhile.

    I was also curious about seeing her father's feet in the casket, but if there's a reason the casket is fully open like that, one quick line will suffice. OR maybe she doesn't see the shoes but knows they're on his feet since her mother dressed him; it's like a secret that he's wearing ratty shoes and the rest of the funeral guests can't see it.

    Nice work.