I’m a slacker, as many of you are completely familiar with. But I’ve been trying to get back into not only the habit of writing, but to get better at writing outside of my comfort level. Flash Fiction is one of those things that seem to be allowing me to get off my butt and write, but also gives me an outlet to give some styles, plots and time periods a try that I’m not necessarily comfortable in writing in.
…. And then I forgot about it. Until I saw this image for Cycle 30. And the beginning of what you will find below the cut popped into my brain. The Cycle was already done for submissions, but I felt that I needed to write this down before it left my brain as a good exercise, along with a real reminder that I need to pay a bit more attention to the due dates of some of these flash fiction pieces.
So, here’s my not-really-a-submission for Flash Fiction Friday – Cycle 30. Feel free to pick it apart, but if you’re going to critique, remember that trolls will be deleted. I follow a strict No-Feeding policy when it comes to trolls.
And when you’re done here, go on over to read the real submissions on their site.
Comes the Dawn
I awoke just before dawn, with just a few gaslights illuminating the large room through the cracks in the drapery. He was still asleep, thank god, otherwise there would be that awkward moment that neither of us wanted to go through again. His regular appearance in the public house never made this easier, did it? He was always so passionate, so sensitive here, in his rooms, and his quick nod to follow him out was all I needed to know that he would be taking care of me for the evening. Once we were back in his room, he was always so sweet and gentle, completely the opposite of the majority of my regular gentlemen, making sure that I was more than satisfied with the night as he was.
The next morning, I would wake, lying next to him, with a payment for my nightly excursion slid next to my jewelry on the night table. I leaned to the side, stretching out my back a bit, taking care not to wake him. Our rhythm was the same, though on differing ends of the scales, every time. In the night, the boisterous physicality would at times make his neighbors bang on the walls in complaint, and in the morning, the absolute silence of the room could be just as deafening.
I stole a glance at him, his unkempt appearance at war with his peaceful and almost happy face. He was always so stoic when awake, at least in the pub, and what few conversations that he’d deigned to take part in showed that to the world, he was not a man to be counter to.
In private, at least to me, he was the sweetest and most kind person, as long as the unspoken boundaries were not crossed. There will be no conversation come dawn, and I was to make my way out as quietly as possible, preferably before he awoke. While he said none of these rules aloud, I was not such a naive that I did not understand with the way that he held himself come the morning, every morning, that these things were inviolate.
Once, very early on in our relationship, I had accidentally dropped a hair comb as I was trying to make myself presentable to the outside world, and woke him from his slumber. I smiled at him, expecting the same in response, and he scowled at me, rising up from the bed and leaving me alone in his rooms. After that morning, it was weeks before he came back to the pub, leaving me to wonder if I would ever see him again.
When he did finally come back to the pub and to me, my heart rose up in my chest, thinking I had been forgiven for my transgression. His stare beckoned me to him, leaving another of my gentlemen quite put out with me for a few days, but I could not care. He had returned to me, and that thought brought me right to my knees and back into his bed without a regret.
After his return, I waited, turning down many a paying job, in the hopes that he would come every night. The other girls would chide me for attempting to rise above my place in the world, thinking that he would take me away. Even last night, they had run out of other things to talk about, and so the topic came back to him.
“D’ya really think he’ll set you up with a household, lovely? I think not.” Adele would say, as I waited. “You’re just another chippy to him. Let one of the other boys have at you tonight, as your prince don’t look to be coming this evening.”
“Leave her alone, ‘Dell, she’s young and don’t know no better. Let her pretend to have found her prince. We’ll be here to pick up the pieces like always when it finally does happen.” Another of the girls, Louisa, came to my defense.
Adele turned back tome when the bell rang above the door, showing him to me. I knew that I was fooling myself into thinking that I saw a brief flicker of something more in his eyes, but I let myself be carried away with it to wait for him to approach me. Another of the unspoken accords that we had come to was that he was only to approach me, I could never. If I tried, he would leave me to the other gentlemen for the evening, choosing to leave the pub instead of just picking one of the other girls that were here.
He sighed in his sleep, and a slight tremor came over me. She’s right, I have nothing to look forward to, except these brief moments of complete peace as I watch him sleep before the muggy dawn comes.
The open window behind the closed drapes let in the sounds of the street waking up, and I knew that it was time for me to leave my sleeping prince. I stood to find where my underclothes had gone from the night prior, finally finding them kicked under the high brass bed. I leaned over to pick them up and as I rose my eyes caught his, open and watching me. I quickly turned away from him, putting on my chemise with my back to him.
“I leave for India in a fortnight.” He said, sitting up in the bed.
My heart twinged in my chest, realizing at the same moment that he was speaking to me, with dawn well on its way, and telling me that my world was shattering at the same moment.
“I… I will miss you, m’lord.” I continued getting dressed, not daring to turn around to tempt fate that his mouth would close forever. I was attempting to clasp the stays on my corset when I felt his hands on my shoulders and his mouth touch the back of my neck.
“Stay.” He whispered, then caught the bottom of my ear in his mouth.
“Dawn is coming.” was all I could say as my body leaned into his.
“It isn’t here yet.” He turned me around slowly and kissed me, the passion in that kiss threatening to knock me senseless. He pulled me even closer to him as he walked us back to the bed, laying me down so gently after removing my underclothes, pushed under the bed yet again.
The heavy drapes hid the dawn as we made love. We shared all of our emotions with one another for the time, and my heart was again in the precarious position to be overfilled with love for him at the same time knowing that he was soon to be gone from me forever. I pushed down the sadness, wanting to only remember the joy in this brief time that we had left together.
Afterwards, we could no longer ignore that it was full daylight behind those damned drapes as we lay tangled together, our bodies slick with sweat and the bedclothes pushed down to the end of the bed. Neither of us seemed to want anything but each other to be touching us.
“Dawn has come and went, my dear.” he said, kissing the top of my head gently.
“So it seems, m’lord.” I laid my cheek against his chest, wanting to remember the sound of his heartbeat at this moment forever.