Monday, 16 February 2009

Flash Fiction: On Charles Bridge

On Charles Bridge
Nathan Ryder

To Sophie Barnes' blue-grey eyes there was no more beautiful sight in the world than the view from Charles Bridge. She had visited Prague several times, both on business for Grover & Macmillan and on holiday; normally she would have to contend with several thousand other people streaming across the bridge, but it was dawn, and she was able to appreciate the beauty of the city by herself.
She pulled the coat tightly around her, warding against the chill in the wind that was tugging slightly on her pale blonde hair. Sophie tucked a stray strand away behind her ear, and checked her watch. Sunrise was in ten minutes, and already she could see the pale light creeping up from further down the river. Her flight was in two hours, but it was only a short taxi ride to collect her bags from the hotel and then on to Prague-Ruzyne International Airport. She had time, and she let her eyes gaze towards the coming sun, drinking in the colours as they started to spread.
“Hello Sophie.”
Angelo Mori's accent always surprised her; there was a slight trace of his childhood in Pisa, but this was more firmly dominated by the New England business colleges that he had attended on his way to becoming one of the biggest property developers on the East Coast.
Sophie knew every inch of him, and yet still her eyes lingered as she looked at him now, tracing every detail of his expensive coat up to his perfectly chiselled face. Once, she had fallen in love with his eyes, pools of calm that radiated warmth to the rest of his face. He had let his raven black hair grow slightly longer since she had last seen him, and there was a slight greying at his temples that hadn't been there before. She felt that old attraction surfacing again, and with it a shiver as she realised how shallow the grave of that buried feeling had been.
“Well, aren't you going to say anything?”
It was only when he spoke again that she realised that she had just been staring at him and she had no idea how long they had both stood there. Sophie struggled to keep her voice under control, as a wave of emotions passed through her: sudden delight at seeing Angelo again, surprise at how quickly she found herself falling in to those brown eyes and shock as the memory of how they had parted that last time swept back in to her mind, becoming as clear as the breaking dawn.
Finally, she spoke.
“What... What are you doing here Angelo?”
She immediately felt foolish for asking, but if any trace of it crossed her face Angelo showed no sign of having seen it.
“Sophie,” he said, stepping towards her, smiling the same tender smile that he had shown her on their first date three years earlier, “Sophie, is it not obvious? I am here for you.”
He stopped two feet from her, and she continued to just look at him, unable to find words after what she had said the last time she had seen him.
“Do you have nothing else to say?” he asked after a moment.
Sophie felt her heart racing, and she tried to get a hold of herself as she asked, “How did you find me?”
“Carter told me you were here,” he replied, smiling lightly, and Sophie swore mentally at Carter Macmillan, for revealing the information. He might be her godfather, he might be her boss, but for the longest time he had been the most insufferable wannabe Cupid when it came to her relationships.
“Don't be angry with him, Sophie, he only wants the best for you – as I do. I should have known where you would be when I heard you had taken a short leave of absence,” Angelo continued, stepping closer and raising a hand to touch her arm, “You always said that Prague was your favourite city in the whole world.”
“And I suppose you just flew here in your private jet when you found out where I was?” she said, feeling a small flush of anger hit her cheeks.
Angelo did not respond to her tone of voice, saying simply, “I had to Sophie. Had you been in London at work I would have gone there; had you been on business in Melbourne I would have followed. I had to see you, I had to tell you - ”
“Tell me what?” she asked, her heart fluttering wildly. All of the control that she had had just moments earlier had evaporated, and she felt her heart and her head struggling for ownership of her body.
“Sophie, you must know. I could not say those words before. I am so sorry... I was a fool; we had both been hurt, but I failed to see – no, I failed you. I should have been a greater man than I was for you. I think... I think I can be that man now. If you will let me.”
“Angelo,” she said, after a moment's pause, shaking his hand from her arm, “Angelo, I can't... I can't - ”
“Yes, yes you can Sophie!” he said, taking hold of her with both hands and drawing her close to him, his accent breaking down as he became more animated. “Us together... It is what we have both been looking for all of our lives! You know it, I know you do. I let my past get in the way, and you let yours trap you, unable to feel that which you know you want to feel, that you long to feel.”
“Please, let me go - ”
“Sophie, I lo-”
“No Angelo!” she sobbed, “Don't! Don't say it!”
“Sophie,” he said, composing himself and fixing her with his large brown eyes, “Sophie, I love you.”
Her head was awash with thoughts as he continued, “I know you love me Sophie, I know you don't think that you deserve happiness – but you do! You're beautiful, and you're brilliant and you could be happy if you would just let yourself!”
She struggled for a second to escape his hold, but then he pulled her closer and kissed her. Her lips responded to his kiss, gentle at first, and then stronger. Her hands snaked around his muscular body and embraced this wild, passionate man who she has loved since the moment she first saw him.
A few minutes later they stand there holding each other. Sophie felt more secure than she had felt in her whole life, her head resting on the chest of the man she loved, together as the sun's first rays hit Charles Bridge.

Creative Commons License
This short story is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works License. Feel free to repost and share it with others, so long as you credit me (Nathan Ryder, 2009) as the original author and link back to this page. It would also be nice if you dropped me a comment!


zero_zero_one said...

This is one of my 101 pieces of flash fiction, but it was written as part of a challenge for the writer's group that I belong to. For our first monthly challenge we were all tasked with writing a piece of romantic fiction of about 1000 words in length (we were tasked with this since Valentine's Day was on the way).

Not the kind of thing that I would normally write, but it was quite enjoyable to write actually.

Matt_Evans said...

Yeah, not the sort of story I would read ordinarily, but it's good for what it is. It's also good to step out of your comfort zone (as both a writer and a reader)

Sarah Monteith said...

Scene setting magnificent, background information intriguing without over complicating the story, unfolding events very romantic and dramatic. Sophie is a classic M and B heroine, all fluttery and misunderstanding, and Angelo the perfect hero. Nice happy ending too!
This is fantastic, Nathan, I totally loved it. I love how you've captured the spirit of the genre and managed to cram a whole book into a short pageful. The setting and characters were great! It's totally over the top, but with a bit of toning down, I think you could really do this, write one from start to finish. I really enjoyed reading it!! We need to think of a pen name for you... haha.... seriously... :-) x

zero_zero_one said...

Thanks guys; it was an interesting challenge to write it, and now I'm starting to wonder whether or not I could spin it out into a larger story... :) Something to think about.