Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: The Blitz (short story)

Hello, blogsphere! Again, I apologize for my failure to post anything on Thursday... it's been a bit rough here in college-land.

Also, it's March already?! How'd that happen??

Today's teaser isn't from my lovely werewolf novel (even though I've been itching to get back to that, I haven't had any time to write for myself recently. I know I should make time, but any free time I've had lately has been devoted to sending emails and trying desperately to sleep), but from a short story I'm working on for class. The prompt was that the action has to come from the protagonist's relationship to the setting, so, naturally, being the dork I am, I set it during the London Blitz.

Now, I'm four pages into this 7-12 page assignment, and honestly I have no sense of an actual plot for this thing yet, but I kind of like the descriptions in this opening so... bear with me. Let me know if this is horribly cliched / horrible in general? Thanks. :)


Sophie didn’t want to stay inside anymore. It was cold outside, to be sure, but she’d thrown open all the windows in the flat and even that didn’t lessen the smell of smoke that burnt her nose. She pulled her wool coat over her dress and tucked the letters for her dad into her pocket; if she was going to disobey her mum and leave the flat, she might as well post the letters while she was at it.

Outside, the smell of smoke was still strong, but there was a bit of a breeze. Sophie was grateful; the entire city smelt of smoke, ash, and dust, of petrol and charred metal. But that little bit of a breeze helped. It lifted some of the dust away, breaking through the smoky air like hope.

By rights she should have been in school – the Christmas holidays had ended a few days ago. But today was the first calm day in nearly a week, even if it did smell like London was still burning.

She turned up her collar and headed down the street to the post box. It was a longer walk than it would usually have been; the street corner with the post box closest to her was roped off, and signs that read DANGER UNEXPLODED BOMB were propped everywhere. Sophie peeked over the rope as she passed, but she couldn’t see the bomb; either it had already been cleared off, or it was somewhere in the pile of rubble that had once been the florist’s shop. The street looked very grey indeed without the florist’s bright displays of lilies and roses. All of London looked grey, felt grey, smelled grey – but everyone seemed just a little bit on edge now, like they were all waiting for the next time the city would be colored with flames.

Three blocks from her flat she found a post box that was not roped off. Pulling the letters from her pocket, she counted them again, afraid for a moment that she might have dropped one. She carefully checked the number of stamps, the still unfamiliar spelling of her father’s rank and regiment. It had been almost two years now, but even so, seeing the word “Lieutenant” in front of the familiar “Frederick Miller” just did not sit well in her mind. Frederick Miller was not a lieutenant – he was her father.

Of course, she hadn’t written about that in her letters. There were two from her this time; she had had to beg her mum for the extra postage. Two letters from Sophie, one from mum. In Sophie’s first letter, she had told him much of the things she usually did – about school, the Christmas holiday, about her friends, about how much she missed him. She had not told him that she had forgotten, Christmas morning, and when she had hurried out to the tree in her nightgown and stocking feet, she had expected to see him sitting there by the fire with her mum, in his silly St. Nicholas hat. She did not know how to say that none of the presents she knew her mum had worked very hard to get made up for the lack of him in that ridiculous hat.


  1. I was reminded of that Dr. Who episode with the Blitz while reading this. Loved it.

    Just one crit since this is for school (i usually don't crit teasers unless asked).

    All of London looked grey, felt grey, smelled grey – but everyone seemed just a little bit on edge now, like they were all waiting for the next time the city would be colored with flames.

    I would shorten the part in bold somehow, so the vision of a gray city soon to be colored with flames is stronger. And the last sentence's impact was lost when it got too wordy.

    Hope that was OK. It definitely sounds like a short I would love to read.

  2. This is really nicely done. You write historical stuff so well--the diction is perfect, and the use of UK terminology subtle.

    (PS: I ended up randomly clicking through to your youtube from AW the other day and your vlogs are so adorable! Makes me wish I could be back in college again. :) )

  3. Cuppa: Are you my mummy? :P I loved that episode!

    Thank you for the critique! I appreciate it. Just for the record, if you (or anyone) ever feels so inclined, you may constructively criticize my teases at any time. :)

    Phoebe: Thank you! I'm glad you liked the tease - and the vlogs! (I should get on that...)