Monday, February 28, 2011

Influence of the Gods - the weather speaks!

As the saying goes “Show don’t Tell” so I long since took that editorial advice to heart. This snippet is taken from a previously published novel of mine: the female protagonist about to post a Dear John Letter to long-standing lover. Any mistakes bear with me - I copied it in hurry from the book. This is the opening chapter one!

It was absolutely foul weather but it had to be done. The letter had to be posted before the four o’clock afternoon collection, the post box merely a couple of hundred yards from the cottage.

Mercedes stepped under the porch and closed the door, the wind so strong she had to literally tug at the handle to secure it on its latch. Was it just her imagination or had the temperature plunged a degree or two? She shivered, turned up the collar of her raincoat, umbrella of no use due to unrelenting gale force wind. Driving rain had already penetrated the porch, the wind whipping at loose titian-coloured pre-Raphaelite curls and all very nearly turned to bedraggled dripping coils.

She loved Cornwall, loved her cliff-top cottage. But oh, how she hated rain. To Step out from the porch took courage, needles a better description to that which the gods had seen fit to throw down today of all days, the day she’d written the letter: the letter in pocket that she wanted winging its way to London ASAP.

It wouldn’t have been fair to leave a voicemail message on his cell-phone saying, sorry darling, have decided I’m cutting loose. Goodbye. In any case he would have picked up the call if not stuck in some blasted meeting, and would have promptly laughed and told her to stay put. That he’d come down to the cottage and they’d talk things through. No, she couldn’t let that happen because he’d talk her round, and then nothing would change.

She delved her hands in her pockets, fingers turning blue. No more than several paces from the cottage she sensed iced water trickling down the inside of her collar, but needs must when the devil rides. Though to be honest, it was a case of rat devil rather than devil woman in telling Guy she couldn’t go on as they were. She really didn’t want marriage for the moment, was that so wrong?

In his mind they were married as good as, his argument being; so why not slot the rings, say I do, and do the marriage bed as man and wife.  Worse, he’d suddenly become all protective and possessive. Basically, a downright pain at social gatherings and she constant aware of his arm about her waist, or that of her hand firmly clasped in his as though he owned her. It felt like he didn’t trust her in the company of other men, while to flirt with other women perfectly acceptable for him.

Oh hell, she was right, the barometer must have dived because the rain now more like iced beads hammering at her head and pinging off her shoulders. Feet soaked and freezing cold, she could just make out the scarlet red glow of the post box nestling in its ivy-clad wall. A few more paces and the deed would be done, the wind miraculously having eased a little.

Upon reaching the post box she stood staring at it, the letter brushing against her fingers in pocket. All the while iced water tumbled from her hair and over her face and trickled down her neck. It was a now or never situation. Post the letter and be done, or turn around, retreat to the cottage and fling letter and envelope on the fire.
She drew a deep breath, steeled her self and plucked the envelope from her pocket. Do it. She placed it in the gaping mouth of the red box, and lightning streaked through the gunmetal clouds as though a message from the gods: don’t do it, you’ll regret it.

Oh hell, she felt in two-minds. In one she was breaking free, in the other she would miss him terribly. A loud clap of thunder overhead shook the ground beneath her feet and startled by it she let slip the envelope. Irretrievable swallowed whole, it was done, and no going back and burning the letter and carrying on as if everything was all right. The words were written. It was in black and white: I don’t love you any more. Or at least, she’d as good as said that by wanting out of the relationship, yet still in love with him. She would surely be cut adrift within a day, once he'd read the letter. After all, what man would ignore the words and not take them as gospel? 

Icy coldness gripped her from within, the hail having ceased pummelling head and shoulders, beams of sunlight now casting across the sea and cliffs.  She glanced toward Bodmin Moor. It as always towering majestic, today menacing dark beneath the blue-black thunderous mass rolling on relentless over heath and bog much like waves over massive rocks. Which of the two weather systems heralded her fate? A light breeze picked up, the warmth from the sun stark in contrast to the freezing conditions moments beforehand. She turned about and strolled away from the post box. Appreciative of sun on her back she stripped off her raincoat and slung it over her arm, the sun bearing hot the breeze warm as she tossed her hair over one shoulder and leaned forward. She rung water from her tresses and shook it free feeling akin to wet dog though much sweeter smelling thank goodness.

At least she was hundreds of miles from London. And, Guy hated the four-hour plus drive to the cottage so probably enough to deter any thoughts of his tipping the letter on its head by turning up unannounced and declaring he hadn’t received it. Which was more than possible if he happened to be in one of those damned insufferably arrogant moods of his, when nothing and nobody could put him off something he wanted and wanted now. He hadn’t as yet rung on the house phone or via her cell phone, not since her arrival twenty-four hours earlier, and he must have returned from his business trip to Manchester by now. It was, to say the least, ominously quiet on the Guy front.

Half way back to the cottage and while negotiating a sharp bend she heard the sound of a powerful motorcar approaching from her rear. It was travelling far too fast along the single-track narrow country lane. As it careered around the bend she threw herself at steep grassy bank head plunged into the hedge and received a deluge of water from huge puddle. Car brakes squealed,  tyres skidded, and the vehicle came to an abrupt emergency halt not too far distant from where she remained trembling from the shock of it all. Why had the gods saved her, when before they’d castigated her for setting out letter in pocket? And, who’s that idiot in a brand spanking new BMW?


  1. Great excerpt, Francine. I could FEEL that rain while I was reading it!

  2. Vivid and poetic, Francine. Weather as metaphor.

  3. I know that weather well, living in the South West of England! Beautifully written,I felt every cold drop.

  4. Great Excerpt. I found a pattern with my own writing. On everything I’ve written that is longer than 15,000, near the end when all the conflict comes together and something major happens, it’s raining. I didn’t even plan on that, but a few weeks ago I was re-reading things I’ve written when I was a teen (found a few stories that should be rewritten and given a chance at publication) and in them all, at the point of intense conflict, it starts to rain.

  5. Hi ladies,

    Thanks so much for your kind words re excerpt!

    Hee hee, Angela: your comment "at the point of intense conflict, it starts to rain" was oh so funny (ROFL), Ms Rain. ;)


  6. I don't know why, but weather is one of my favorite characters in a novel. Yes, charachter. There is just something about it.

  7. Great excerpt, Francine. The storm became almost a character unto itself.

    The first love scene I ever wrote takes place during a thunderstorm. There is something about rain, passion, and high emotions, isn't there?

  8. Hi,

    Thanks for the compliment Margaret, I'm looking forward to reading one of yours shortly!

    Wendy, yep, weather can seem to have a life all its own in a novel.

    Debra, ooh I love sex scenes particularly if set during a thunderstorm! All that flashing and banging in rhythm to the . . . ;)