A New Future

Will they ride off into the sunset?
Will they ride off into the sunset?

Samuel Stivens rubbed the five-day-old stubble on his chin as he contemplated his options. He couldn’t see many through the whiskey buzz. After twelve hours on the docks stacking grain, his weary eyes blurred the black letters on the ivory page. Although he could hardly see straight, her words were clear:

You should know that I am to wed Bartholomew Folsom at the end of next month.

“So what’ll ya do?” Barclay asked before he chugged the last of his beer and slammed the mug on the smudged bar. Barclay had spent the last two months working beside him, so he knew all about Caroline. The first day they met, Samuel made the mistake of asking if he was from England. In three lightning-fast strides, Barclay fisted his shirt and pulled him to his face. He threatened a blinker if he ever insulted him again. Paralyzed with fear (and by the wretched smell of Barclay’s breath) Samuel apologized and promised his best behavior. Later, he discovered Barclay left Scotland two years ago to see the world. Samuel wondered if he’d seen a world beyond the docks or the pub, but he wasn’t idiot enough to ask.

Samuel cringed when Barclay let out a belch he could smell. “I don’t know.” He shook his head. “I think I sold my soul to the devil.”

Barclay laughed. “I doubt you seen the devil, mate!”

“What kind of man offers three weeks’ pay to the man his daughter is to marry, on the condition he walks away?”

His co-worker raised an unruly black eyebrow. “What kind of man takes such an offer?”

Samuel glared at his whiskey sour. He’d progressed from beer hours ago.

“When’s she marrying the bloke?”

“Next week.”

“Aye. Ain’t good.” He tapped his empty mug. “Why don’t ya just buy yer soul back, then?” He nudged Samuel. “Or, how ‘bout that broad over there? She might take yer mind off things.”

Samuel peered through the haze of cigarette smoke and working class stench. Neither the booze nor the thick air could give proper cover to her exposed cleavage. “I’m done.” He slid off the stool and dropped several coins on the bar.

Barclay shrugged and ordered another beer.

* * *      * * *      * * *

Three days later, Samuel debated whether he should go to the front door or to the east side loft window.   On the one hand, sneaking to her window might besmirch her reputation; however, he doubted he would be granted proper passage.

He scooped some pebbles and flung them one by one at her window. With each steady ping, his anticipation grew. It would only be a matter of time before curiosity drew her to the window. Sure enough, the curtains parted.

“What are you doing, you fool boy?”

Samuel gulped. “I-uh… I wanted to see Caroline, Ma’am.”

Caroline’s mother pursed her lips. “She’s not here.”

“Where is she, Ma’am? I must talk to her.”

“She married last week.”

“Oh. G’night then, Ma’am.” He tipped his hat.

Samuel pulled his coat tight to block the chilly post-dusk air. He shoved his hands in his pockets and felt the envelope. He’d intended to give the money back.

He shuffled down the dirt road. The Folsoms lived less than three miles away. An hour later, he rapped on the door. Through the crack, he recognized the hazel eye.

“Caroline!”

The door opened wide. “Samuel…. What are you doing here?”

He shifted his gaze to his feet to keep from staring at her cotton nightshirt. “I hoped you’d marry me, but I’m too late.”

She stepped onto the porch and pulled the door latched behind her. “Let’s go.”

“You’re married now.”

“Not in my heart.” She flung her arms around him. “I love you.

Tears soaked through the chest of his thread-bare coat. “I don’t even have a horse.”

“There are several in the stable. I’ll dress and meet you there in five minutes.”

Samuel waited, half expecting her to not show. He heard rustling in the hay and his heartbeat quickened. “H-hello?”

Bart rounded the corner, zipping his pants. “What are you doing here?”

Samuel gave him an obvious once-over. His unbuttoned shirt and disheveled hair were clues that led to a petite blonde peeping around the corner.

Bart lunged, hands grasping for his neck. Samuel kneed him and a right hook sent Bart stumbling backwards. His head cracked on a stall gate.

“She deserves better than you,” Samuel said through gritted teeth as he continued to pummel the unconscious man. He only stopped when he saw her skirt.

Caroline’s gaze traveled between the two men and then to something beyond them.

Samuel looked over his shoulder to see the blonde-haired woman standing in full view, gaping at them.

“Let’s go.” Caroline’s voice was firm.

He saddled the horses, but before he mounted, he pulled the envelope from his pocket and dropped it by Bart’s body.

“What’s that?”

“I’m not a horse thief.”

~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-

Since I posted my Speakeasy story yesterday, I changed the ending on that story a little.  I also wrote this as a sort of continuation to it, although I think either one can be read stand-alone.  If you want to read what led up to this, click here to read the prior segment.

Thanks for stopping by!

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34 thoughts on “A New Future

  1. clarbojahn June 24, 2014 / 10:58 AM

    Great flash story, Janna!

    I’m on vacation, clicked on it and couldn’t stop reading. 🙂

    • jannatwrites June 24, 2014 / 7:11 PM

      I’m glad it caught your interest, Clar (I like it when that happens 🙂 ) Hope you are enjoying your time away!

  2. diannegray June 24, 2014 / 1:36 PM

    I love this, Janna. It’s so descriptive – “he let out a belch he could smell” – fantastic (I could smell it too!) lol 😀

    • jannatwrites June 24, 2014 / 7:14 PM

      Hahaha! I got the inspiration from my older son… he’s got a habit of doing burps like that around me (aaaaand he gets in trouble every time!) I appreciate you reading, Dianne 🙂

      • Creative Brevity June 24, 2014 / 11:21 PM

        Lol…that made me laugh. 😆

        • jannatwrites June 24, 2014 / 11:57 PM

          It really is gross – but I’m glad you got a laugh from it, CB 🙂

  3. thepaperbutterfly June 24, 2014 / 4:44 PM

    This is turning into an awesome story 😀 You set the scene with the bleak descriptions of Samuel, and as a reader I got the feeling he couldn’t sleep or focus on anything else since he got that letter. I think we have all had that painful breakup where life becomes a chore because you can’t get over the other person. I could feel his pain 😦 The descriptions of Barclay were very good as well, the town-drunk talking mostly nonsense, but offering up some wisdom every now and then. I’m rooting for Caroline and Samuel. The ending was spot-on this time. And the fight scene was not long, which is good because I don’t like fight scenes, even if they are written well. If it’s long I skim over it :/ I don’t like watching fight scenes in movies either. Are you going to continue this?

    • jannatwrites June 24, 2014 / 7:24 PM

      Thanks, Paperbutterfly – I’m happy you’ve enjoyed this story! You’ve read him exactly how I imagined – just beside himself with grief. I wanted to leave the ending ironic (he will leave money to pay for the horses, but he possibly killed a man and plans to run away with his wife 🙂 ) so I’m glad that seemed to work okay. I really don’t know where I’m going to go with this… I tend to be a bit ADD when it comes to stories- I’m easily distracted by the shiny new ideas (and that is utterly frustrating to me!)

  4. nrhatch June 24, 2014 / 7:24 PM

    Somehow I suspect that their difficulties are just starting ~ Bart’s apt to come after his horse or his wife.

    • jannatwrites June 24, 2014 / 7:27 PM

      Maybe so, Nancy… unless he’s dead 🙂

  5. Creative Brevity June 24, 2014 / 11:24 PM

    I really liked this one, liked Part Two even better than Part One…Really liked this story. Will there be a Part Three? Want to know more, wanna know what happens next. Part Two really drew me in. When something draws you in its good.

    Good story Janna.

    • jannatwrites June 25, 2014 / 12:09 AM

      I’m glad you liked this part better, CB. Without the restrictions of prompts, this one could take shape naturally. I’m not sure about a continuation… I’m kind of afraid I’ll mess their story up 🙂

  6. Eric Alagan June 25, 2014 / 5:35 AM

    “I’m not a horse thief” – Okay, but did he just run away with another man’s wife?

    I loved the first part, Janna – totally.

    This part – well written, as I’ve come to expect from you 🙂

    Peace,
    Eric

    • jannatwrites June 25, 2014 / 11:58 PM

      Hehe, yeah, it is rather ironic. At least he has a line he won’t cross 😛 Thanks so much for reading, Eric… I always enjoy your comments.

  7. Imelda June 25, 2014 / 12:11 PM

    The atmosphere in the first one is pitch perfect. I love how you described Barclay. The second part is well-written, too. My ambivalence comes from Samuel and Caroline running away even though Caroline is already married. However, this sort of conflict is what makes a story rich and interesting. I hope you continue with this story to see what unfolds next. I think that you are just beginning. 🙂

    • jannatwrites June 26, 2014 / 12:01 AM

      Thanks for reading and explaining your reaction, Imelda! Running away together was her immediate reaction, but there are sure to be more emotions/complications involved 🙂

  8. Debbie June 25, 2014 / 12:31 PM

    I’m a sucker for a happy ending, Janna, and this one doesn’t disappoint! Glad to read that Caroline and Samuel will be together (true love triumphs and all that). Oh, I imagine they’ll have plenty of challenges (and perhaps a heartache or two), but this part makes the first segment feel complete. Well done!

    • jannatwrites June 26, 2014 / 12:02 AM

      Well, it’s not so happy for Bart 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed this portion of the story, Debbie. Oh, and I’m sure it won’t be smooth sailing for them (it never really is, is it? 🙂 )

  9. Kathy Combs (@Kathy29156) June 25, 2014 / 1:22 PM

    Just loved this and how it progressed!! I love the way these magical stories just tumble from you so effortlessly! Words tumble from me too but they never come out quite as well! You rock Janna! ♥

    • jannatwrites June 26, 2014 / 12:06 AM

      Thanks for reading, Kathy! I wouldn’t say the stories flow effortlessly, but I’m glad they sometimes come together where it appears that way 🙂 You’re too hard on yourself – I enjoy reading your stories!

  10. pattisj June 25, 2014 / 7:22 PM

    It looks like your inspiration and creativity are intact! You tell the best stories.

    • jannatwrites June 26, 2014 / 12:11 AM

      Thanks, Patti! I’m glad you enjoyed the story 🙂

  11. Sean June 26, 2014 / 5:19 AM

    This was a good addition to the previous story. I can see this story line progressing over time. May not post the other parts but for some reason I think there will be additions to this in the future. Probably something that will be tucked away for a time until it is ready to be put out. Although Samuel may have his faults, he loved Caroline completely and he finally realized that is what was missing within him. The added part about Bart in the hay put a nice spin of how retched he really was. Thanks for the read.

    • jannatwrites June 27, 2014 / 7:42 AM

      You are pretty right-on with your opinion, Sean! I MAY do something with this at some point, but have no immediate plans to jump into another project I can’t finish (though it seems to be habit of mine, haha.) I’m glad you liked the way I depicted Bart. Situations like that are tough for me because I’m not into graphic detail… I prefer to leave enough (tasteful) clues for the reader to draw conclusions. He’s such a catch, I can’t imagine why she’d be eager to leave 🙂

  12. Kir Piccini June 26, 2014 / 7:54 AM

    it’s a great sequel to the first part, a nice ease into the story of Samuel and Caroline. How will the divorce go, I’m presuming back them divorce wouldn’t be as easy as it is now or as accepted.

    But yes, written so well that you race to the end, wishing there was more.

    • jannatwrites June 27, 2014 / 7:43 AM

      Thanks for reading and for your kind comment, Kir! The divorce is only a problem if Bart’s alive 🙂 (Though if he’s dead, there’s a whole ‘nother set of problems!)

  13. mbarkersimpson June 27, 2014 / 2:36 PM

    I love that you continued their story. It was great to see things from Samuel’s perspective, and learn more about their history. I do love a happy ending 🙂

    • jannatwrites June 30, 2014 / 10:47 PM

      Thanks, Mel! I’m not sure if they are meant to have a truly happy ending or not, but at least now, it’s more of a hopeful place than at the end of the first part 🙂

  14. Sarah Ann June 30, 2014 / 12:04 PM

    Thank you for this continuation. I love a (nearly) happy ending. You have left this open for there to be consequences but at least they are together now and can face the world that way.

    • jannatwrites June 30, 2014 / 10:48 PM

      Exactly, they are together, but life may not be easy. I had thought of a few scenarios for them… some of them had more misery than others 🙂

  15. mbarkersimpson July 2, 2014 / 11:43 AM

    Great twist – I sensed something ominous about her, but completely missed his tell (I thought he wanted something else entirely!). The scene came to life for me, thanks to your beautiful descriptions and great dialogue. I was hooked from the start 🙂

    • jannatwrites July 4, 2014 / 4:52 PM

      Thanks, Mel. I love to hear that it captured your attention!

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