Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Secret Agent #10

GENRE: Literary Fiction / short story collection


"Groot Constantia's best cabernet," Charles said, pouring us each a glass. When had he bought the wine? We couldn't afford it, especially not Groot Constantia's best, but at least we had something to celebrate Rosalyn's visit. She held my hand, squeezed it. I squeezed back.

"Cheers," Ros said. "To us."

"To happy days," Charles said.

"May they finally come," I said, refusing to raise my glass.

Charles fiddled with his napkin. "Jo, don't," he said.

Ros said nothing. She nudged the side of my ankle with hers. "The place looks good," she said brightly. "You've moved things about."

I hadn't done a thing. The kitchen was still the colour of a dead sunflower. The house was still the same sparsely furnished, tin-roofed, two-bedroomed Blairgowrie bungalow we'd lived in since before we got married. I hoped one day we'd move somewhere less suburban, someplace where the neighbours didn't give us the eye because we had no servants and our garden sprouted stinkweed instead of floribunda roses. God knows what they thought of me driving a taxi. Ros raised her glass expectantly.

"To old times," I said. I was embarrassed she'd seen what a shrew I had become, but she winked at me as if we were still at uni, at the back of the lecture hall, whispering gory details about our
latest boyfriends. It was a relief, really, that all that was over.


  1. Not a lot of comment to add, except that I like this very much and would definitely choose to read more.

  2. Well done. I'm officially depressed now :)

  3. You do an excellent job of creating tension from the very first paragraph, and keep it going. I love how Charles and Ros are trying their best to bring false cheer to Jo, who is so staunch in her bad mood. My only confusion was with the reference to servants, which makes the piece seem a historical, where the reference to taxis, pre-marital cohabitation, and uni make it seem more like modern day. But I’d still read more.

  4. Well, except for being grateful for having something to celebrate Ros' visit, and then immediately throwing a damper upon the whole thing, I liked it. It seems if she cared that much about celebrating the visit, she wouldn't have made a mess of it so quickly. Maybe she shouldn't be happy about the wine? Maybe she could think they could have celebrated just as easily with something cheaper, just to keep with the mood that follows.

    But on the other hand, I did like that she made a mess of it. It sets the tone and problem almost right away.

  5. She doesn't like what she has, she didn't like what she had/was, she's rude to her friends (or husband)... nope, not liking this. Seems whiney and angry (for no real reason - they have a house to live in, she hasn't bothered to change anything in years herself to better it!) and not interesting to me. I would hope that the next paragraph holds a reason to actually like this character so that I would keep reading!

  6. Liked it and would read more, but had a hard time getting into it at the beginning because so many names were introduced at once.

  7. I enjoyed this piece. It's quiet and elequent. I particularly enjoyed the description of the house and the neighbors. With just a few carefully placed words, I feel like I already know a lot about these characters. And I don't agree that she's whiny. We all feel this way from time to time and you've set up a situation within which your character can grow. Nicely done. Thank you.

  8. Wow, that's amazing. If I came across this in a bookstore, I would buy it without hesitation. Every detail from the dead sunflower color of the kitchen to the memory of her at the back of a lecture hall is perfect.

    I had to go back and read it again. This time, my eyes only stopped on one point: "gory details." It's one of those phrases that's almost a cliche. Would "dirty details" be better? "Intimate details"? "Secrets"?

    Geez, that is a fantastic last line. It's a last line that makes you turn the next page, even if you were supposed to be asleep an hour ago. Perfect.

  9. My writing partner read my comment and said it sounded harsh, and I explained I hadn't meant it that way - that I thought you'd painted a wonderful picture that got me emotionally. So I came back to clarify that :)

  10. i didn't know we could submit a collection of literary short stories. people other than me still like to read and write those things?

    i thought your writing was excellent down to the color of the kitchen. i would keep reading this.