I’m going to try a new theme on my blog. Wacky Wednesday is hard to keep up with so I’m swapping it for Writing Prompt Wednesday. It’s not really a thing. It just is in my head.
I took a creative writing class in college. We were sometimes given newspaper headings and told to write a story. No pressure or anything. Geez! It was hard! However, I hadn’t really written before then. I just thought I might some day kind of sort of like to try it.
Now, a lot of my stories start off with prompts. I have a list of prompts I came up with and will look at it when I need to start a new story. It will (hopefully) trigger a flood of ideas.
I also like to write flash fiction when I’m practicing new things. It seems less intimidating in a way because it’s shorter. It still hones the craft because you have to be very precise with your word choice and what you are putting into the story. If you have a bloated manuscript, I suggest trying some flash fiction. Take one element, focus on that for 500 words. Repeat doing that until you feel confident with it. Then go back to your manuscript and be merciless.
I found this prompt from Pinterest. I’ll probably keep going there for other inspiration rather than using my long story list. My goal with these is to write flash fiction of Regency Romance so maybe not every character will start in my head as Darcy and Elizabeth. I’m trying to retrain my brain!
Here goes nothing!
Octavia attempted to blend into the mass of passersby on the busy London street. If she were bolting down it, then it would appear unusual and her father would more easily find her. She would not be another woman that he sacrificed on his quest for wealth and status.
As the eighth daughter, there had been seven others before her, and then her mother paid the biggest price of all. However, with any luck, Octavia would not be another casualty of his schemes. She had slipped out the door during a shopping trip to the milliner. The busy Cheapside area provided the perfect area for her to disappear.
With heart pounding, she ducked out while someone else had opened the door so there would not be an extra ring of the bell. Octavia had no further plan than to escape her father.
A gentleman was just emerging from a hack and she ran over to it. “Stop him! I will take your carriage.”
The young man obliged but his shock was obvious on his face. He glanced around her, undoubtedly looking for an escort. “Are you riding alone?”
“Yes, and I have not a moment to lose.” She climbed inside.
“What is your destination, madam?” He climbed in as well.
“As far as six pence can take me. Pardon me, I thought you had completed your journey.”
He frowned at her words. “That will not carry you very far.”
“It is all I have. Might I ride with you as far as you deem that a fair exchange?”
The gentleman looked at her for a moment before leaving the carriage and speaking with the driver. Octavia feared he was telling the driver to remove her, but just as quickly as he left, he returned. He sat across from her and then beat his walking stick on the ceiling of the coach to signal the driver.
At first, they remained silent as the carriage jostled them over the cobbled streets of London. Eventually, they seemed to be leaving the city behind.
“Where are we going?” Octavia asked the stranger. He had said nothing but had not ceased to stare at her.
He flushed. “You said you needed to leave London but had no destination. We can change carriages and continue North all night if need be. In fact, I can convey you all the way to Scotland.”
Octavia felt her eyes widen and she gulped. “Scotland!”
“Only if you wish it,” he rushed to say. “I could find you employment or assist you in other ways much easier once we reach there.”
“Why were you in London? Why would you turn and leave just as quickly as you came?” She ought to view the man with skepticism, but the fluttering in her heart had not ceased since meeting him.
“I am returning to Scotland because I cannot bear to finish the task laid before me and the reason I came to London.”
“May I know your name, at least?”
“Cripsin Harrington,” he reached for Octavia’s hand and bent forward as though in a bow. “A pleasure to meet you, Miss…?”
“Octavia Lamb.” She smiled as he bowed once more. “Why are you helping, Mr. Harrington?”
“Call me Crispin.”
Octavia nodded her acquiescence. “Very well, Crispin. You may call me Octavia. Why are you helping me?”
He looked at her for a long moment before replying. “Do you want the truth?”
“I think that is generally preferable,” she smiled to encourage him. Something about him was utterly endearing.
“A gentleman always wishes to help a damsel in distress. It is most curious because I have lived a very orderly life and have never done something so spontaneous before. There was something about you, the moment I saw you…”
Taking a shaky breath, Octavia nodded. She had felt it too. There were any number of hacks she could have hired or people she could have approached and yet, she went directly to him. “Thank you for helping me,” she murmured.
“Thank you for trusting me,” Crispin said and squeezed the hand he still held. “I have a book with me. Would you care for me to read aloud?”
Octavia agreed and enjoyed hearing his baritone voice. As he read, she could not keep from stealing glances at him. She had never been so attracted to a gentleman before. After a period of time, she took a turn. Soon, it grew too dark to read. They changed carriages and horses several times and although he suggested she sleep, they talked until late in the night. Finally, she could not help yawning.
“Rest,” he urged.
She murmured a good night and attempted to find a comfortable way to lean her head against the carriage wall. Nothing seemed to suit. Additionally, the darkness had brought a chill. She pulled her pelisse closer but could not warm. Attempting to hide her shivering was no use.
“You are too cold,” Crispin said.
“I will manage.” Octavia gave him a weak smile. If it were not for him, who knew where she would be spending the night. She probably would be far colder.
“Nonsense,” he said before slipping to her bench.
He immediately radiated warmth and Octavia practically sighed at his presence.
“Here…” he wrapped an arm around her and brought her head to his shoulder. “I will keep you warm. Rest now.”
It made no sense to Octavia at all, but she was sure Crispin Harrington would hold her heart forever after that moment. She had nearly lost all faith in humans to be so selfless and caring. How did she have the fortune to stumble upon such a good man?
When she awoke with the early dawn, he was smiling down at her. “I am glad you managed to sleep.”
“You are a very comfortable pillow.”
“Are you warm enough?”
“Yes,” Octavia said as she attempted to raise her head from his shoudldr.
Crispin nudged it back down. “You do not need to sit up for my sake. I quite like this position.”
Octavia blushed but could not deny her mutual feeling. “Did you sleep at all?”
“A little,” he half-shrugged. “I confess I was mesmerized watching you. You looked so beautiful and peaceful. It was as though I had an angel in my arms.” He lowered his face to hers.
“Crispin…” she whispered. After sleeping on his shoulder all night, it did not seem strange at all that she should wish for his kiss more than she wished for her next breath.
When his lips met hers, Octavia knew there was no turning back. She would follow him to his estate in Scotland or to the ends of the Earth. By the time they arrived at Crispin’s estate beyond Gretna Green, they were blissfully in love and married.
“Welcome home, Lady Grantley,” he whispered as he scooped her into his arms and carried her over the threshold.
Octavia had marveled at the new title when her husband had told her that he was actually an heir to an earldom. The estate he went to was inherited from his mother’s side and could not be revoked by his father–who would be angry as he had not married a stranger to settle a gambling debt of his.
“Did you even know her name?” she had asked, as he held her tightly the morning after their wedding night.
“No, I never desired to know. I was determined to do my duty and have a cold, loveless union as my parents had. Knowing her name was unnecessary. However, the instant I saw you, I knew I could not do it. You looked alone in the world and I wanted to make you mine.”
“How curious. I was in the same position. My father wished for me to marry a Lord Grantley without ever seeing him or knowing anything about him. He had done similar things with all my sisters.”
Crispin gaped at her. “Darling, are you sure that was the name he said?”
“Yes,” she shuddered. “I heard it in my nightmares for weeks. I would not be bought and sold like a horse. I fled without a plan, but the moment I approached you I knew I could trust you.”
“Love, I do not know how to tell you this but…but, I am Lord Grantley.”
“We were on our way to each other even then?” she asked.
“I suppose so, but I do not think that would have suited us well. Would you have been predisposed to like me if you had forced to marry me?”
“And I was not expecting to ever love the bride my father had selected.” He kissed her. “Do you know that I was so dumbstruck by your beauty and the feelings in my heart that I could not speak to you the first hour?”
“Is that why you were so grave and silent.”
“Yes, although that is not unusual for me. I told you before that you caused my spontaneity. You also give me great joy. My heart feels lighter with you than it ever has before.”
Octavia clung to Crispin’s words in their first days of marriage and when they both received letters from their fathers condemning their actions. Crispin might have bankrupted the earldom by not marrying as he should. It was only Octavia’s pleading that since she had married him after all, her father considered the debt settled. In the years that passed during their long, happy marriage, she could only rejoice that she had met Crispin on a crowded London street.