Sandcastles

There is a trace of spring in the air, as we walk the same route as every day.

“We built it well, Eileen, it looks exactly like when we moved in”
“I still recall that day, how proud we were, how bright the future seemed.”
“Do you recall the parties? Chester’s first school day? The morning sun shining through lace curtains?”

Eileen smiles, her skin’s too tanned, taut, cheekbones showing. Her eyes glazed from hunger.

“I remember the notice from the bank more.”

She pushes our shopping cart brimming with recyclable bottles.

“I think we have enough for dinner now.”

I tried to build my story more from dialogues today. I realized that the sign on the gate means sandcastle, which brought me to thinking of all those people who have lost their home to foreclosure, and I wanted to tell the story mostly through dialogue. I’m curious to know if it works.

Friday Fictioneers is a group of bloggers lead by Rochelle who every Wednesday gives us the same picture to work on. There is a 100 word limit that I try to interpret that you should use exactly 100 words.



January 27, 2015

111 responses to “Sandcastles

  1. Dear Björn,

    Sad story that’s true for too many today. Not every homeless person on the street is an addict or a drunk. I particularly enjoyed your explanation of how you got from the photo to your story. That’s the idea I keep trying to get across. It’s all in what we see, isn’t it? Well done.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

  2. Your dialogue works, and your metaphor works.
    The result is that you have created another powerful piece of fiction.
    You do this so well, Bjorn.

  3. This works so well – lots of back story and tragedy in this dialogue. My only minor point is that I’m not sure people use the word ‘recall’ in dialogue. It might sound more realistic to say something like ‘Do you remember…’

  4. I rather enjoyed the dialogue and must admit I took more or less the same direction this week (less the dialogue)!

  5. You tackled the dialogue and it worked perfectly well for me. A heart-breaking story, full of backstory tragedies shining through and moving smoothly towards the twist I didn’t see coming. I imagine having lost everything and having to see it every day must be extra torture.

  6. It works extremely well. This is excellent.

    I had my comment all ready upon reading the title and opening line, expecting it to be about something nice and pleasant: I was going to say, “I too feel a touch of spring in the air today, and it’s pure bliss.” But obviously your story veered in a very different direction than I expected.

    I love what you did with “trace,” so subtly playing on kindergarten finger or marker tracing to practice letters, etc, subconsciously setting up the mention of the child and how he might have been affected by all this loss. You really can’t predict this sort of outcome. We’re all just a few steps away from homeless, really. Unforeseen circumstances can wipe us all out, without much warning at all.

  7. Ouch! This reminds me of a story I heard on NPR yesterday about an elderly gentleman who truly lost it all: well-paid job, his health, his wife. He is now living in an apartment he can no longer afford and providing a space for musical concerts in trade so he might keep a roof over his head. Well done, Bjorn.

  8. I remember telling my older children about homeless people. The words drunks, addicts, or junkies never came up but i explained that it could happen to anyone. For weeks my little girl was worried we would become homeless. Good story, very relatable.

  9. I really enjoyed the way you lead us from all those happy moments into their current predicament. I would even say that for this story dialogue works better than any other narrative would.

  10. Unfortunately, I’m sure there are numerous people that can relate to this story. Some have been able to start over and build their (sandcastle) again, but many have been unable to and may not even have time left in their life to rebuild what once was.

  11. Sad story….so well penned in so few words. Far too true these days. The shift to the shopping cart and having enough for “dinner now” is telling. Choosing the word “dinner” is telling….and “now” tells me this is what they do now, far too often.
    Well done.

  12. The dialogues work very well to unfold the story…I say “unfold” rather than “tell” because it slowly reveals layer after layer with each dialogue/word. Well done!

  13. It was quite a twist to go from do you remember our beautiful chateau and now we are pushing this shopping cart full of plastic bottles. It is wrenching but it could happen. I liked the line saying ” I think we have enough for dinner.” There are two sentences, one right after the other, where you use the word recall. So I would just suggest a different word like remember or something similar.

      • Yes, especially if the word recall is used commonly in your everyday language or the language of the characters. I think if I were speaking I would use remember but that is just the way I talk. 🙂

  14. Beautifully done, Björn. It is very difficult to recall that English is not your first language! (see how I did that? 😉 )
    Your dialogue told the whole, sad story.

  15. Sandcastle! That’s a different way of looking at it and adds to the story. I normally try and avoid ‘dialogue only stories’ but sometimes they work well in this format, as this one did.

  16. It is very well done. The dialogue worked well. As a side note: I had a friend who was homeless – he was living in the college unawares to anybody.You would never know if he didn’t tell you. I also know people who went into foreclosure due to bad loans. The banks were bailed out here in the US, but many of my friends lost their jobs and had to downsize, but fortunately did not have the fate of this couple 🙂
    Oh, just curious what happened to Chester?

  17. Poor couple. Their tragedy is nicely portrayed in your story – the contrast between their past and present lives and fortunes is touching.

  18. The dialogue works. I also like how you compound the sadness in that not only have their lost their home, but they walk by it every day.

  19. FWIW, Björn, I like dialogue-based stories, and you have executed it well, so it’s a poignant one as well. There’s something foreboding about that “castle” and the photograph, at least as many Friday fictioneers have written it! Great story.

      • Yes, great point, Bjorn. I think just the dialogue marks lend an authenticity and believability to text that the first-person narrator might not, especially when an unreliable narrator exists! So then, when we find unreliable dialogue, that’s even more interesting to me; is it intentional [dishonesty] on the character’s part or is s/he convinced of what they’re saying? It’s fun to puzzle that out; dialogue offers so many opportunities to a writer!

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