Friday Fictioneers – La Serenissima

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, based on a photoprompt, with a beginning, middle and end, in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz (the blue frog) on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

FF - Venice - 180620

PHOTO PROMPT © Fatima Fakier Deria

La Serenissima

Venice, my home, is stone, stone on wood, wood in water. I live in a half-world of aqueous reflections, stone in water, water on stone, a confusion of images.

Nowadays I only dare walk its streets in daylight.

As I cross the square, a boatman sings of sunlight on tranquil water.

The canal smells cold as an open grave.

I take a deep breath and immerse myself in the shadows of the street. My heels clatter, my heart races.

Here, two years ago, masked and cloaked in midnight’s blackness he snatched me, and in five frantic minutes stole my serenity.

77 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – La Serenissima

    • Dear Alicia
      Thank you for reading and for your very thoughtful comments. You’re right that there’s a lot going on; I have reservations about that myself. It might be a time when “Less is more” applies!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  1. oh how clever. I like your beginning and end, your wordplay with Venice, Serenissima and serenity … and inbetween this opposite feeling caused by a bad experience … it shows how much worth our emotions have.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear anie
      Thank you for reading and for your helpful comments. You have pinpointed the heart of the story when you say ‘it shows how much worth our emotions have.’ The narrator’s traumatic experience has changed her emotional state. The city that she used to find beautiful is still beautiful, but also a half-world full of terror.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • This is very sad! On one hand I tend to say, It is not bad to be careful in our world and to also see the dark sides but then again I say no. Traumatic and fear must be treated and try to overcome, because I think that this fear is attracting situations which belongs to this fear….

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  2. Echoing the comments above about your beautiful imagery.

    That Venice is called “the serene one” I did not know, but ironically your character now seems far from serene. The city itself, with its confusion of surfaces, seems to have stolen her serenity from her.

    You bring in,of course, the Masks that venice is famous for, in the party days before lent. Your assailant–rapist?–kidnapper?–stealer of innocence?–makes me think of the phantom of the opera and his onsession with possessing a young woman against her will, and to her utter revulsion. Great job!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Andi
      Thank you very much for reading and for commenting so comprehensively and carefully. The comment that “The city itself, with its confusion of surfaces, seems to have stolen her serenity from her” is particularly helpful because I was dimly aware that something about that wasn’t quite right. It was the assault that robbed her of her serenity not the city. The city is still beautiful, but her emotional state means it seems to her to be a half-world full of terror. I’m glad you picked up on the mask. As you say, it’s a Venetian custom, and it’s associated with all sorts of licentious behaviour. I think there would be a particular horror in being attacked by a man masked in that fashion.
      So, thank you once again for your constructive criticism. It’s extremely valuable and I really appreciate it.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  3. As everyone has said, Penny, this is a splendidly wonderfully descriptive piece. No way one could still see their beloved city in the same light after a horrid experience. Where lightness was, darkness has now entered… probably never noticed before her experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Russell
      Thank you for reading and commenting. You’re right; the memory of the event will always be with her. The shock of being attacked in a place where you felt safe is very traumatic.
      “Hauntingly real” is a lovely way of describing the story; thank you so much!
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Lynn
      Thank you for reading and for your kind comments. I visited Venice for a couple of days once, and hated it. Yes, it’s beautiful, but it’s haunted; your description “a city of masks and dark corners and decay” exactly describes how I felt about it. I think that’s how the sinister nature of my tale arose.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • You capture all of that so well. Makes me think of the film Don’t look now which encapsulates the disorientating, decayed feel of the city. All mould and midges and mists! A great read Penny

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Plaridel
      Thank you for reading and commenting. It’s true there are risks all around us, but in the West these risks are mostly low. We must struggle to eliminate them but not let them make us over-fearful – a fine line to tread.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Joyful
    Thank you for reading and for your very interesting and optimistic comments. I agree that there is hope for her; the story implies that in bright sunshine she can relax. Human beings are very resilient, thank goodness!
    With best wishes
    Penny

    Like

    • Dear Rochelle
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I fear too many women suffer this experience and are scarred emotionally. We need to keep educating men to respect women.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  5. Hi Penny,
    I really liked this piece. Yet, after reading the comments and going back to it a few times, I started pulling it apart further and being more critical instead of being attracted to the words and images. Now I question whether your first paragraph conveys her horrors or sets a more general scene. “Venice, my home, is stone, stone on wood, wood in water. I live in a half-world of aqueous reflections, stone in water, water on stone, a confusion of images.”
    I should’ve picked up on the reference to the mask, but didn’t until I read the comments.
    You’ve hinted at the contrast between the happy touristy Venice and her sinister, dark Venice and I’m not sure whether that could’ve been tightened up a bit.
    These are just a few ideas, but I really liked it as it is too and wonder how it would go as a longer piece where you could tease a few of these contrasts out.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Rowena
      Thank you for reading so carefully and commenting so helpfully. I agree completely about the first paragraph. I have muddled the factual Venice, the solid Venice, with the nightmare world it’s become for her.
      You’ve given me some really useful constructive criticism; thank you so much!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Ellie
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m pleased that you found the story moving. You’re right – it would be very difficult to live in a place with such awful associations, but the alternative is exile. Dreadful.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Sarah Ann
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad the contrast between the description and the reveal enhanced the shock and sadness of the reveal.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  6. Excellent story, Penny, beautifully written. I enjoy a cool, almost detached opening which gives no clue about what is to come. Impressive, the way you confidently go from a calm description of an apparently safe place to a life-changing attack – in one hundred words. That’s skilled writing. And the contrast of the sunshine song and the odour of the canal – brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A wonderfully written account of the day the world for one person changed.
    I could feel the change in your very descriptive account from before to after.
    We forget that even in paradise dreadful things can happen. My favorite of all the stories I’ve
    read this week, Penny. Have a super weekend.
    Isadora 😎

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Laurie
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad you liked those lines; I was trying to use a technique that Kelvin often uses where he says something then immediately turns the phrase around to give a different emotional impact.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  8. She is reeling, that wood, that stone, so haunting, anything, everything she saw while trying to ignore that horrendous deed. She is struggling, she is still in shock, but she is a survivor. The sweet music tells me so. Now all she needs do is talk to someone about how she really feels…

    Loved this, Penny, your best yet?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Kelvin
      Thank you for reading and commenting so thoughtfully. You’ve seen to the heart of the story; she is indeed a survivor. And I agree that she would benefit from talking to someone about how she really feels, preferably a good psychotherapist.
      I’m delighted you loved the story. As to whether it’s my best yet – I’ll leave that for you and other readers to judge!
      With very best wishes
      Penny
      BTW The opening paragraph was very much inspired by your descriptive style – many thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Brenda
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, she has been irreversibly changed by the assault. However, I see her as a survivor. I would hope she will still find peace, but maybe it won’t be in Venice.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Excellent writing, Penny. Loved the opening lines and the closing line hit hard. I did walk those Venetian streets alone at night, and it is creepy. Totally could happen just like your story, though the locals claim it is totally safe. The goosebumps on my skin said otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Fatima
      Thank you for reading and commenting – and for the photoprompt, which is great! You’re braver than me – I wouldn’t care to walk those streets alone in the dark. I’m glad you felt that the closing line hit hard.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  10. Your story began as a poetic travelogue, but descended into a nightmare. So well done, with so few words. Have a wonderful time in Greece! I was there once and loved it. I only wish I’d done my own travelogue then to relive it over and over.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I wish you also a beautiful vacation enjoy and have a rest… travelogue can be a very beautiful memory but just having important times in mind is also beautiful… I love for example taking pictures but in fact I enjoy directly watching ( not through the iPad or camera) more. This story will stay in my mind to ponder if this story belongs to me or not… horrible moments and beautiful moments can change life and our behaving for ever that is right. But in fact every single moment life changes and in fact our assessment is what makes us and our world around change… much more than the situations which for itself have no power… god bless you and bring you back home healthy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear anie
        Thank you for reading, and for your thoughtful and loving reply. I agree that many really important changes are the result of conscious choice – we can choose happiness rather than misery, for example – but I would still say that events over which we have no control can have great power over us. An extreme example would be that we could be killed in a traffic accident where the other party was wholly to blame. And I think my story describes another such example; the narrator suffered a violent attack under terrifying circumstances. Yes I believe she can recover if she makes the right choices – but if she hadn’t been attacked she would not need to make those choices.
        God bless you too, anie, and may you find happiness in your life.
        Penny

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Jan
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad you felt it was well done.
      I love Greece, and have visited many times. I have many pictures and a few stories inspired by the place. I hope you have another chance to visit – it’s well worth it!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

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