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Winter Island

by Practicer 

Posted: 17 November 2020
Word Count: 845
Summary: For the winter event challenge

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Whilst the icy clouds obscured the frosted stars in the winter night sky, It was solitude within a family holiday that I remember from that first  night. Trundling along the promenade beside the wispy sails of boats and fishing trawlers bobbing gently upon the fluttering waves of the steaming sea of the port of Mahon in Menorca.  The street lamps were like crystals in rocks reflecting off the many restaurant windows. The restaurant shutters were squeezing  us to the sides of the curb. Everything was closed , there was no need for refuge from the  sun or  chance to refresh from the loss of shallow sweat. The tarpaulin canopies were rolled up tightly like stubbed out cigarettes butts, flickering their ash against the air, as far we could make out with our unshaded eyes, during that time of year. There were no notice boards displaying their caligraphic bubbles, tempting us with  Sangria or cold beer.  Chairs were stacked high, and had now decided to turn their backs on us. There were no parasols mounted in the plastic tables, instead the tables were like lids, exposed by  cold spies, about to go  underground.

It seemed that the island was merely the bedrock for sleeping agents, lucidly living their summer dreams, counting the costs.  They were most probably bunked up like gigantic mega-golithic monuments, eerie  and silent, in the pre- dawn , waiting for the dawn chorus, before the hoards of visitors.

Of course, we had insider information, just a smattering of the language, but the sounds of our covert voices charged the static in the atmosphere, as if we were only permitted intermittent speech through walkie talkies.

Would we be able to find our messenger, go between , or our undercover contact?

Would he or she be familiar with our ways? Would he or she detect the hint of the Winter get away blues, or our shock at a disappearing sun, in our grumpy mood.

I heard the echo of dogs barking , a wild cat snarled, clattering against a dustbin, down the dense alleyway in which we had  ventured. There were stone steps zig- zagging  like a row of mountainous trees with their winter leaves thawing from the friction caused by our stiff leather soles.  The wild cats eyes glinted of the dense windows from  buildings , on and off. like some sort of  morse code. My paranoia was increasing.

Suddenly, like a  chain reaction, or the debris from some excavating machine, a tunnel appeared, almost out of nowhere. Was it a flash light that I saw darting from up into the sky line and then down to street level?  There was a brief  glint of the passer by ghost in the glasses of his stare. He dropped his cigarette on to the ground, stubbing out the glowing ember with his heel. He pulled up the shutters fully from the entrance to his tunnel. He pulled out the gothic notice board.

´´You come to eat?´´ he said.

We nodded in reply.

´´Come, follow me!´´ he said.

He lead us down a spiral stair case, lit up by waxy lanterns that magnified the roja vino in the tall wine racks. Our body forms were constantly re- configuring, as if we in a room of distorting mirrors.

He gestured to a round table that was situated opposite a very thin walkway bar. We were alone now, except for our contact.

We sat down slowly, resting our palms on the table. He lit a candle that was placed in the centre of the table.

He laid out the menus as if they were maps and told us to take our time, for we will be most likely exposed later for who we really were.

He told us the food was good, that we like the food.

He headed towards the bar and returned as if the bottles and glasses were binoculars and a compass.

When his wife arrived with our hot plates, he stood beside her inspecting our faces. He told us that she would lead the way to the escape routes via the toilets.

The night was getting late and the temperature was falling just like our heavy heads.

When we had finished, his wife stood with us on the periphery of the hidden entrance. She pointed up towards a lighthouse that rotated its powerful beam in the winter fog.

We departed and began climbing the steep embankment , staying close together and hugging ourselves tightly.  Eventually at the end of  a winding road, our safe house appeared, elevated upon stilts. We shifted our feet in line with the tranquil glimmering sea tide. My father pulled the door key from his pocket and upon a smooth tiled surface, I felt the winter chill evaporate from my feet soothing my body, as the heating thermostat clicked in. Home sweet home, I thought. That night I fell asleep as soon as my head  hit the pillow. My dreams were all about floating on  particles of sand or drifting on the the waves of sea underneath the umbrellas of  sangria.

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Comments by other Members

michwo at 15:59 on 17 November 2020  Report this post
Thanks for posting this, Robert. It's a very atmospheric piece and the first paragraph actually succeeded in making me feel cold - I've just put the central heating on in my living room to help me feel warm again!
Why do you have such big gaps between your paragraphs though? I think it would help a prospective reader to see a story presented to them in a less disjointed way. Your late meal host seems to appear from nowhere like Harry Lime in "The Third Man" and you endow him with an equal share of 'film noir' glamour and mystery. Your setting of a foreign holiday resort out of season is also well realised - I liked the touch of the chairs stacked high turning their backs on you. Well observed. Mahon out of season sounds like a bit of a dump to be honest.
Overall this showed a lot of sustained imagination on your part but, apart from the gaps between the paragraphs, I also stumbled a bit over some of your spellings. It's hordes of visitors not 'hoards' (you 'hoard' food during a pandemic if you fear all the shops are going to close). I'm not entirely sure what you mean by mega-golithic. I wonder if you might mean galgolithic. The notice board is Gothic rather than gothic. There's a wild cat so The wild cat's eyes glinted off or from the dense windows. The stuff you mix orange juice with to get sangria is vino rojo not roja vino.
Apart from that, ten out of ten for effort, Robert. A good read for sure.

michwo at 16:15 on 17 November 2020  Report this post
P.S. I got it totally wrong with galgolithic  - what I was thinking of was the word Glagolitic meaning 'appertaining to Cyrillic script' or 'Slavonic' as in Janacek's "Glagolitic Mass". The word you need here has to be, quite simply, 'megalithic' or 'having to do with big stones' like those used to build Stonehenge, etc..

euclid at 19:38 on 17 November 2020  Report this post
Atmospheric, but I'm not sure what it was about.
Were these real spies or were they just imagining they were spies?



Practicer at 09:27 on 18 November 2020  Report this post
Thank you very much for your encouraging comments.
I think the reason that I have big gaps between my paragraphs is because I write my pieces using an online journal, and then paste.
I use the journal because I share my computer and our Word files would become cluttered. The person I share the computer with is also writing a lot at the moment. I think I will read through my work and try and close the gaps.  I am also a bit hesistant to re- configure my pieces, in case I delete anything

My story was inspired by a flash fiction writer called David Steward.

Bazz at 15:18 on 09 January 2021  Report this post
Great scene setting here, with very vivid descriptions from the outset. Especially love the details of a shut down summer resort, described out of season. It's an enigmatic piece, I think the narrator is remembering when he was a child, and had fantasies about his holiday being an adventure? Seeing spies in ordinary people, and seeing their late night restaurant visit as something more exotic? I might be misreading though!

Sorry for not commenting earlier. The world's been a bit odd lately. I think we've all lost sense of time...!

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