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Island of Dreams (revised)

by Heckyspice 

Posted: 26 January 2006
Word Count: 587
Summary: This piece originally appeared in the Flash II week 2 challenge. I have revised it in line with the comments I recieved and would like to see what you all think. (BTW I am also posting to keep my place in the group..and am stuck for ideas at the moment!!)

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“Tomorrow we are not seeing any dozy glass-blowing.” groaned Bernice as she sipped wine.

“It’s no good coming to Venice and not visiting the island of Murano,” replied Barry, “I would love to go again before we leave. There are loads more that I want see.”

“Barry! We are on holiday. I am here to relax.” Bernice finished the last drops of her Chianti and then put the empty glass on the bedside table. “Let’s have some fun, like normal people.”

“I am here to relax as well,” Barry said as he turned his back and tugged down on the pillow to make things more comfortable. Bernice reached out to touch her husband. She stroked his back, feeling only soft skin beneath her fingertips, hoping that the holiday would not always be like this.

Barry imagined that he was the only visitor to the glass factory. He removed all other tourists until he was alone. Then he saw perfection. There was Sabrina, an olive skinned avatar of heroic beauty, a naiad shaping and blending the sphere of burning glass into a rose bud. Her hands spinning the fine glass rod. Then bringing it to her lips and blowing softly down the tube. Barry breathed in. Her eyes fixed on him. She spun and blew the glass and made his heart ache. Her tongue caressed the tip of the rod, making it pulse with a cascade of sparks.

As the rosebud was bought into the world, Sabrina swayed with each turn of the glass tube. Fingers stroking and twirling the delicate shaft sweat from her brow mingling with the fireflies that flew off the molten bowl. Each breath made his pulse quicken, an echo of the feelings when Bernice called herself Bernie. A time lost to the shadow of now.

The glass cooled and the rosebud flushed with pink was lifted high. Sabrina smiled at Barry saying, “I have a rose bud that needs to open too.”

Murano was waiting for him.

Bernice listened to Barry’s erratic breathing. This holiday was not good for them. They had revisited old arguments at every hotel and every restaurant. Barry was a man crushed by his refusal to accept change. Bernice was drained of trying to raise his spirits. Each day was the same, turning so fast that no peace could be found. They collided and bounced through every day, sickened by the dizziness that had overcome them. Things had to stop.

The lapping sound of the Grand canal seemed to tap on the balcony of their hotel room. Each tap was an echo of a thousand tourists trying to mingle with new memories of Gondoliers, cappuccinos and the Bridge of Sighs. Such visions had propelled them both to Venice. Taking her fingers away from Barry, Bernice noticed a sparkle of light bounce off the clasp of her purse lying on the bedside table. It was opened slightly and the sliver of paper nestled within waited to be unfolded.

She imagined she was the only visitor to the restaurant in San Marcos Square. She removed all other tourists until she was sitting alone. Then she saw perfection. Inigo, an olive skinned avatar of heroic beauty, preparing a cappuccino as if he was illuminating a gospel. Bernice sipped her martini and watched Inigo approach her. His hands cradling a cup, gently turning it around. A finger stroking the warm china, wiping away a wisp of cream.

He smiled at Bernice and the world remade itself.

San Marcos Square was waiting for her.

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Comments by other Members

DJC at 08:53 on 26 January 2006  Report this post
I really like the ending - the two sentences on their own make you think of their lives beyond the story, and wonder what's in store for them. There are some great images here, like Inigo at the end,stroking his finger on the cappuccino.

For me, it's these more commonplace images that have more resonance than the more stylised, overtly erotic sight of Sabrina blowing glass (nice idea this, by the way). I don't know, but I think this bit is a little over done in places.

I really like the way you repeat the description - makes it seem that both of them are looking for someone entirely imaginary, but are looking for the same thing. If only they could see that in one another... But then it's always nice to dream, isn't it.

This draft does work much better, and both 'dreams' link together cleverly.


gkay at 09:47 on 26 January 2006  Report this post
This is a great piece - I enjoyed the idea of these two people alone in seperate worlds where they mean something to someone in the way they used to mean something to each other. That's an inelegant sentence, but you know what I mean.

If I had a criticism, it would be something which has been pointed out about my own writing, and that is the inclusion of an anstracted or overt statement - in this case the sentence:

Barry was a man crushed by his refusal to accept change.

In my case people have said that this kind of thing contrasts with the prose in the rest of the piece as well as being too explicit a a statement, i.e. leave the reader to join the dots.

However, this is a small thing and I'm probably oversensitive to it's occurrence. All in all, a very nice piece.


Heckyspice at 12:48 on 26 January 2006  Report this post
Hi Darren and Guy

Darren, glad you like this (again). The repeat description was an idea that John aka Prospero, kinda suggested. I thought it was worth a try to show that despite the growing distance between the couple, there was some common ground.

The finger stroking had to be there to convey some sensual meaning to balance out the erotic visions of Sabrina that Barry has.

Guy, yeah I agree with the comment about the statement of Barry being crushed. The only problem was that I wracked my brains trying to figure out a better way of showing this opinion (well Bernice's opinion) of him. You know sometimes the words just don't come. If I could think of a better sentence, it would be there and I would jettison the original faster than George Galloway accruing 20,000 text votes declaring hate for him on Radio 1.

davedave at 04:49 on 27 January 2006  Report this post
Hi David,

I read this story after Darren's one - if these stories are autobiographical, I'm glad I don't go on holiday with either of you two :)

I only got into your story at 'Barry imagined that...' Before then - you need something, obviously, to show the situation they're in, but those lines of dialogue didn't do the job for me. It may be in part due to their style of speech - I think I've mentioned this before about you not using contractions - it feels inauthentic to me.

But the stuff that followed I liked a lot.

I agree with Darren that the glass-blowing thing was a bit overdone, but comically so and it worked for me.

I loved - 'they had revisited old arguments at every hotel and every restaurant.'

It's a nice idea - the two of them fantasising, lying next to each other - and really nicely realised. With a great last line, too.


Nell at 07:58 on 27 January 2006  Report this post
Hi David,

Good flash, sad, yet you've treated it with a light hand to show the humour.

There are a few places at the beginning where you could use contractions - eg: '...we are on holiday...' (we're) to make the dialogue flow.

Commas needed after 'shaft', and after 'rosebud' and 'pink' in '....rosebud flushed with pink....'

A few little typos:

Grand canal (Grand Canal)

olive skinned (olive-skinned)

'...as if he was illuminating...' ('as if he were illuminating', but I guess Bernice might have thought 'was' rather than 'were', and you are in her POV.)

I agree about ...Barry was a man crushed by his refusal to accept change... Perhaps if you get into Bernice's head and put that sentence into her words you'd come up with something, a telling metaphor perhaps - off the top of my head - 'Barry was stuck in a rut the size of the Grand Canyon'.

Hope the above is useful.



Although of course the Grand Canyon and the Grand Canal don't sit well together - 'twas just an example.

Xenny at 21:34 on 28 January 2006  Report this post

I liked your story. It's definitely sad - it had quite an empty feel.

Like someone else said, I wasn't quite sure I got into it properly until the end of the first bit of dialogue, but after that I did.

I thought Bernice's description in the second half of how she saw the situation was particularly effective. I liked the placing of the statements: This holiday was not good for them, and, Things had to stop.

I thought it was a really good read


Heckyspice at 08:19 on 30 January 2006  Report this post
Hi Everyone,

Dave, normally I like using contractions in dialogue, but perhaps I might be imagining them, kinda blinded by speed reading or something. A weakness to be ironed out.

Nell, maybe just stuck in a deep rut would work for Barry? Perhaps alluding to a grave being dug, that might work.

Xenny, glad you liked it.

Best wishes,


lang-lad at 10:47 on 06 February 2006  Report this post
Hecky thump! Hi, sorry I seemed to have forgotten to actually post my response after reading this a week ago. I like the actual story very much and the twisting way it has of a pair of strands bound together - like an unravelling rope - ever tried to re-twist a rope that's coming apart? Hm... a rope of glass ... I'm talking to myself. Scuse me. Should be writing this not ruminating on-line. But your whole story has that effect - which I'll get to later. Metaphors, metaphors ...

But I did have some problems reading it and had to re-read it here and there simply to work out why some of the sentences didn't gel. There was a looseness in the writing that I don't think is intended. I may be wrong but it just seemed a bit slack here and there - well not here and there, all over the place, which is why I'm puzzled. Knowing your work elsewhere I'm loathe to go on about it. I'm talking verb agreements and quibbles about tiny things like:

“It’s no good coming to Venice and not visiting the island of Murano,” replied Barry, “I would love to go again before we leave. There are loads more that I want see.”

Not knowing anything about Venice or what's on offer island-wise, or glass factory-wise or anything ... I don't know what 'loads' refers to. It reads as if it's more islands, and perhaps it is, but she's mentioned glass blowing so perhaps he just wants to see more glass. Or is it the plural of 'loads' that makes you use 'are'? Confused dot com.

That's one example. Another is "taking her fingers away from Barry" ... And, I ask myself, Barry's what? You may be being suggestive? Which is fine, but could you just as subtley be ever so slightly more specific - just a tad? Or did that merely mean she took her fingers away from his skin? I just found the phrase a bit odd.

If you do want to do any more with this, my suggestion would be to comb it for rhythms and precision of images and language. I was, for another example, unsure about why she felt 'only soft skin' and assumed that was because there was no response from him. If that's what you intend, it is subtle and probably you want the reader to work a bit harder to get these messages but, for me, in an effort to be short, it was skipping the odd fine detail here and there. I don't think it would afffect its length to fix it - assuming you agree and would like to 'fix' it. Perhaps, to you, it's fine, in which case, ignore this whole thing.

The piece is very rich and very well conceived. I could see the room and these people and feel the temperatures in it. It has a high, hot feel to it which is wonderful considering the glass blowing background to it. Glass offers you such wonderful contradictions - fragility when cold and maleability when hot - great for a story such as this and you've caught a great deal in a very short time. To my mind, it needs coaxing a bit yet, that's all, to bring out its shine which I do think is there. Do persevere with this as I think it's a potential gem.

All the best,
I hope your ideas factory is starting to spin you some lovely new material to work on as well.


scoops at 08:10 on 08 February 2006  Report this post
Hi Hecky, I enjoyed the ideas within this story and I liked the way the ending provided a symmetry with what had gone before, but I thought the writing let it down. The dialogue was a bit formal for a married couple, and there wasn't enough detail or feeling to separate one person's ennui from the other's. It's worth working on, because it's a good setting and start for a vignette on married life:-( Shyama.

Heckyspice at 15:24 on 10 February 2006  Report this post
Hi Eliza, Hi Scoops,

I think I can enlarge this story, but at the moment it is to be put on the back burner, ready for re-heating when the time is right.


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