Author Topic: Edited down to 1,100 words: Enamoured  (Read 7488 times)

Offline 510bhan

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Edited down to 1,100 words: Enamoured
« on: April 21, 2014, 05:20:41 PM »
A bit of Ballymena for you . . . . :o

With some 'Shane' removals following Phil's comments . . . not much else changed though. ;)



Enamoured

Shane cleared his memory card and uploaded the latest batch of photos to his laptop. With his travels catalogued, he hoped his pictures would speak the thousands of words his postcard memories had captured. When this trip was over he intended to present his best pieces with a winsome, poetic documentary over the nature shots and a punchy commentary for the urban detail. He would complete his dream project, a hefty, coffee table, hardback ‘Far Out People and Far Away Places’. His mind raced at the prospects offered where the town was so close to open countryside. He hoped for something quirky, spectacular or unexpected. The cover still eluded him.

Ballymena had family links and a visit to the mountain where St Patrick had tended sheep was a ‘must do’ he had promised the folks. He had to admit he didn’t know much about the area but he was stoked when his Northern Ireland trip coincided with a hoary December. Back home he’d never ventured further south from the sun-scorched, family sheep station than Sydney. Sheep, very important.

The rugby club wasn’t too far away and a brisk walk out to Eaton Park gave him a chance to admire Slemish rising in the distance. His immediate surroundings enchanted him. The Braid had frozen – what an opportunity.  He slotted new batteries in his camera while he pussy-footed across the slippery car park to reach the riverside. It was chancy. He hoped the light would behave itself and not glare. On a sweeping curve of peninsular banks, a protrusion shadowed on three sides by dense woodland impeded the tributary’s flow. An ice platform grew in its shade.

White dominated everywhere except for a flame orange orb that relieved the monochrome. Its soft focus glow emanated ineffective rays through gaps in the branches over the river. A miniature ice floe pimpled with bird tracks formed a dance template in two large apostrophes far from the water’s edge. Evidence of a winter courtship or just a hello? In the surreal stillness, snowfall canopied the trees, frost-laced branches and ice-draped twigs silvered with marcasite sparkles reflected the light like catwalk mannequins modelling the seasonal collection. Hands steady, lens level, slow exhalation . . . and grin. He caught the scene with a few opportune close-ups of the crystalline structures tinged opalescent by the solstice sun as it sank and burned more intense in its descent. Gotcha. Time-stamp 4.10pm.

Snow had settled in the worst winter the province had seen in years. Roads were impassable and for a week he was stuck in the town. The Adair Arms hotel was pleasant but he became restless and decided to venture out to one of the pubs. He arranged to meet Liam in the Front Page Bar. Apparently it was ‘mighty craic’, a place to people watch with good beer served.

A woman strutted in from the Ladies – definitely on the pull. Her pout freshly slicked siren-red and her cleavage adjusted to best advantage, she smoothed her short skirt down over a Spandex lumped belly. Shane surreptitiously took her picture for a touch of local colour – mutton dressed as lamb. Sheep again – Ballymena, hey! Her eye twitched with a tic as she glanced about before fixing her stare. A glint flashed from her kohl-traced eyes as she sashayed on her stilettos, clipped across the tiles in unsteady staccato and ordered a WKD blue. She reeked of perfume. After leering over the rim of his lager froth, close up he saw she was a mongrel. He turned away, puckered his face and talked to Liam.

Mwah, mwah, could’ve been baa, baa. Two menthol kisses blew towards them, but her fragrant breaths were wasted and hung on the air unclaimed. She swivelled off her stool and pounced over to a solitary prospect at the jukebox. Shane watched her close in – easy prey. His camera buzzed as she gave her coif a careless flick, added a suggestive tongue-tip lick and purred, ‘What about you, big lad?’ The man cradled his pint, took a slurp and rasped back, ‘Slut.’ It must have been a coded chat up line because next  . . . the beery brute grabbed her and planted a kiss, which she returned. Shane turned to Liam, his brow arched in question. Liam sipped at his Guinness and grinned. ‘Local courtship dance – it’d be bad form if she left here tonight without some poor sod, couldn’t bear rejection . . .  not in the Front Page Bar, reputations you know.’ The bird tracks on the snow came to mind and he shook his head.

Once the freeze thawed, Shane determined to fulfil his undertaking. Three and a half miles outside Ballymena, en route to the mountain, lay Broughshane. He took a grinning self-portrait beside the sign. Liam had given him the lowdown on the picturesque village. Despite efforts at community relations, competition was hot between neighbours. Every year they sweated the outcome in Rangers’ shirts or couture bought from Logans and McKillens to keep up appearances as they gardened by planters and tubs filled with begonias, petunias and aubrietia that cascaded in tendrils, all the flower heads primped to perfection. Residents vied with each other to create the most attractive display and tell each other upstairs over lunch, or a jar, in The Thatch. They fought to retain the Britain in Bloom title. All this was due to the Annual Entente Floriale that verged on fanaticism – a familiar expression, though not always ‘cordiale’ Liam added. It didn’t matter they didn’t speak much French here – anyway it was Ulster Scots spoken among the Stepford wives whose Presbyterian doorsteps were festooned with hanging baskets. Purple and bitter orange were popular colour choices along with red, white and blue the same as the pennants. It was a master class in skilful coordination to complement the summer palette so harmony reigned on the Twelfth parade.  Shane wished he’d been around in the summer to catch the spectacle. At the moment there were empty tubs, slush filled gutters and solemn looking bare trees.

Lunch time was busy on New Year’s Eve and as a stranger to the pub, he received numerous quizzical looks. His camera said ‘tourist’. After the way Liam had described the place he wasn’t sure if he should strike up conversation so he stayed quiet and observed the clientele until his meal arrived. He checked with the barman how to get to Slemish and mentioned he was a photographer. The barman rolled his eyes upward and shook his head. ‘It’s been done to death, brother – more power to you if you can see something new. Good luck.’

Late afternoon he parked his rental car and set off to climb Slemish, an ancient volcanic plug – tertiary basalt lava of the Cenozoic period according to the blurb. Okay, it wasn’t Uluru or K2, but it was accessible and there was something about it that drew him. Before the sun set Shane decided he wanted to capture his conquest. Some of the locals referred to it as ‘the big green tit’, which offended his sense of romance. The Irish just didn’t seem to appreciate their history he thought. Nature provided a gentle atmospheric light this evening, but Shane could see he wouldn’t have long if he wanted to take advantage of it.

Camera lifted, he looked through the viewfinder and wondered what aspects he should snap. He pressed zoom. It appeared Slemish was the habitat of timid, dim-witted sheep that wandered over dense, stubbly tussocks and nibbled at springy tuffets.  Pimply rocks, once boulders, since verdigrised over millennia dotted here and there. After he panned out, the mountain now appeared as an emerald cabochon, dulled sage, jaded, desolate, and ruggedly desperate with age-softened contours eroded of menace, still part of the forty shades of green though. Folk would love this.

At this distance he could see why the locals had their nickname. An ancient goddess lay in repose on pasture fields, a faceless temptress basking in the setting sun – serene and nubile, a fair Colleen waiting for her lover. For sure, that’s what it looked like. Her back arched in surrender with her breast exposed, its tor-topped nipple not quite aroused, shadowed on the underside, tilted and slightly flattened by her stretched arm thrown back to display her midriff plateau flat. Yes, this was some dame – reclined, languorous and indolent, oblivious to time and seasons. Through the lens, she was alive. Captivated by her spell he snapped several shots. She was a perfect subject and struck an impeccable pose, which she deigned to hold. Some movement caught his eye – sheep that grazed her ribs of the scruffy, olivine raiment covering her feminine form. She was divine. Shane chuckled. Man, I’m going nuts. I’m in love, he thought and patted his camera.

Close-ups were his preference, but in this instance he was overwhelmed by the far away view. The shutter on the camera opened, closed and whirred with every shot then the light began to fail. Stars freckled a backdrop for the blue moon while thin clouds stretched bleak wisps across its face.  Once every 2.7 years this afternoon moon in a skint, grey sky offered dilute illumination for the trees to reach above and scrape escape from the barren hillside.

‘Phenomenal mate, bloody phenomenal,’ he muttered, grinning all the while. He’d spent too long admiring her and the climb would be in gloom, but he felt sure there could be texture-rich stills of the ewes and frosted blades of grass. They’d make good black and whites or reverse negatives. He wasn’t sure if flash photography would scare the girls. Maybe he’d get a shot with werewolves baying at the full moon on a night like this . . . or were-sheep, perhaps, he mused.

Shane took the ‘easy’ way up and clambered through sheep pebbles and rabbit raisins, slid on lichened stones but reached the top unscathed, oblivious to the cold. Satisfied with his progress, he stood on the summit to survey the mid-Antrim landscape but it had darkened so much he could see little. Moonstruck, he sighed, closed his eyes and decided to rest a while before making his descent. The mountain wasn’t high enough to bring on altitude sickness but Shane felt dizzy.

A couple of nonchalant sheep mooched nearby and he took a close-up of their long, sad faces. He was beginning to develop an affinity toward them and snapped away, pleased that they were unperturbed by the flickers of light. The camera stuck on automatic flash and transfixed him with its strobe effect.

The earth beneath him rumbled and his body shuddered. Though he tried to stand, some preternatural force kept him pinned to the ground. He grasped at the scrubby grass while the mountain rose and the goddess stood up to kiss the moon. Sheep flocked together and smiled at him. This was crazy. His frantic hands tried to reset the camera and he clicked button continuously, hoping to record the bizarre event. Flash – flash – flash . . .

Stuck to the mountainside, Shane clung spellbound and gasped as the goddess strode over to the lough, where she bent and sipped from its waters before she returned to her usual repose. A cloud of bats crossed the blue moon. It blinked. Sheet-lightning illuminated the sky. Trees curtseyed and cows in far off fields danced. His camera continued its strobe flicker.

Once the disorder returned to a placid winter scene, he scrambled to his hunkers, skidded rump-side down the mountain and dashed to his car. For a moment he sat in silence and puffed short, rapid breaths. He jiggled to get his battered rear comfortable and rubbed his scrapes and bruises while he scanned through the pictures. The fabulous disturbance shots were blurred but there was one in the middle of the series with a sheep in three-quarter profile, posing with a distorted goofy grin and a definite wink. Cover shot.





« Last Edit: May 06, 2014, 06:35:20 PM by 510bhan »

hillwalker3000

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Re: Enamoured 1,994 words
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2014, 06:00:52 PM »
Some nice writing here. Obviously close to home - the detail suggesting it's an area you know well.

No quibbles - but a lot of sentences seemed to start 'Shane . . . did something'. Or maybe it's the number of times you mention his name that stood out.

H3K

Offline 510bhan

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Re: Enamoured 1,994 words
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2014, 06:02:44 PM »
Thanks, Phil -- shall take a look at that. Cheers. ;)

Offline 510bhan

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Re: Enamoured 1,994 words
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2014, 06:28:00 PM »
Lost 15 of them . . . down to 13/28 with some tweaks and rephrasing and a couple of cuts.

Thanks, Phil. ;)

Pale Writer

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Re: Enamoured 1,994 words
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2014, 06:53:28 PM »
I want to read this in the morning, Sio. But just wanted you to know it's always nice to see your writings.

See ya then. :)


Offline 510bhan

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Re: Enamoured 1,994 words
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2014, 06:55:08 PM »
Cheers, Pale-y. ;)

Offline Dawn

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Re: Enamoured 1,994 words
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2014, 07:02:17 PM »
I'm the same as, Paley. Want to give it my attention but my heads going now. Will look in the morning if that's okay?
Time to take it serious and get the job done

Offline 510bhan

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Re: Enamoured 1,994 words
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2014, 07:04:43 PM »
That'd be grand, thank you. :)

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Enamoured 1,994 words
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2014, 08:02:17 PM »
I'm not doing 'technical', but I love the imagination - and the mental imagery - behind the goddess getting up and going for a drink.
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline 510bhan

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Re: Enamoured 1,994 words
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2014, 08:03:18 PM »
Cheers, Gyppo. It happens when you climb Slemish -- honestly! ;D

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Enamoured 1,994 words
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2014, 08:06:39 PM »
Accompanied by a bottle of the mountain dew?

And why not?  The poor goddess must have a powerful thirst on her after lying there doing nothing all day.
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline 510bhan

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Re: Enamoured 1,994 words
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2014, 08:10:20 PM »
They say there's magic mushrooms grow there! :o


She misses her love -- another story, myths and legends . . . or maybe I'm making them up now. ::)

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Enamoured 1,994 words
« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2014, 08:15:47 PM »
That's how legends grow.
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline 510bhan

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Re: Enamoured 1,994 words
« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2014, 08:22:52 PM »
I might work on that and meld some bits together to create a new myth. :o Bound to be something I can misreport. ;D

Offline 2par

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Re: Enamoured 1,994 words
« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2014, 08:35:50 PM »
Okay, sooooo jealous here. Your use of the language is too outstanding, beautiful, envy making.