This month, I am taking part in the #WEP August Challenge, part of WEP’s 2018 Challenges which the IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) have joined.
The WEP team had a GUEST POST on the IWSG website on August 6. Here is the link http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/2018/08/writing-together-with-wep-and-iswg.html
So, it’s now the correct day for the AUGUST challenge, CHANGE OF HEART. I confess that I posted nine days early – https://rolandclarke.com/2018/08/06/wep-change-of-heart/ – but I have since made a few minor edits so I’m re-posting.
I was also reminded to add some background to the piece. I’m attempting to avoid deadly spoilers here as, in a way, this piece must stand-alone – for instance, the identity of ‘I’ is gradually revealed in the piece.
However, this is an incident in the backstory of a central character in my WIP – SPOILER ahead. This is when my MC in the Snowdon Shadows series of police procedurals was a teenager. I am currently using this as a flashback within a framing story (‘Fevered’) set a year before the WIP entitled ‘Fates Maelstrom’.
Change of Heart
Copyright © Roland Clarke
Shadows in the moonlight flicker like my mind churning with every bleating sheep. What does Taid want? Does he know our secret?
My morning swim in our lake was invigorating, but after breakfast, he triggered the thoughts.
“We need to talk, Meinwen – this evening when your chores are done.”
I daren’t ask Mam what he wants – even if he’s her tad. Patience would be her answer. My siblings don’t act suspicious, but Taid has rules.
Where have I strayed?
My love is forbidden in his chapel eyes. But we kept it secret. Six weeks of passion on the beach had to end. But not with punishment.
He doesn’t know. We were careful – once the school buried the incident. Tad never dug – believed we were bullied for being different – two Goths.
It’s my parents – Tad and Mam. Their time apart, after the arguments about his work, has been hard. I chose to be with him. No, by the sea in Porthmadog – to be near Esyllt. My brothers came with mam and our sister, up here to the farm.
Is there a distance in their eyes? Am I the betrayer who stood with Tad? Am I being sent away?
I love them all. I can’t choose. But my family comes before Esyllt – it must. Or can our affair become more? Or are we doomed?
What does Taid want? A grandchild that lives by the rules. I don’t.
Are my tad and mam following his advice? Have they changed their minds? Are they getting back together – as we all want?
The porch door opens and Nain Gwyneth and Taid Hywel walk out, smiling as they hand me a cup of hot chocolate.
“Another beautiful evening,” says Nain as she sits on the couch and gestures for Taid to join her. “It’s good to have you home, cariad. How was your stay with your tad?”
“Awesome – well good.” I mustn’t be too happy as I want to be at their farm now. Well, I want everyone together. “I enjoy being here at Tyn-y-llyn – in the mountains…swimming in the lake—”
Taid takes my hands in his gnarled ones. “Your mam, our Glenys wants this to be your home. You want that?”
Leave my tad. Leave the sea…my friends – Esyllt. For a new life?
“If you want me here. But school? I was changing, though—”
Taid nods at Nain and smiles. “Your mam says that you’re going to sixth-form college – in Pwllheli. Why? We’d hoped you’d do agriculture at Glynllifon – then help your Ewythr Ivor here on the farm.”
I stare across the yard at the farmhouse where my mam’s brother is sleeping with his family. Do I want that life? I love it up here – but something is missing.
Esyllt? No, she is not my future – even if I feel the passion and the excitement…and the guilt.
“I need to keep my options open. I’m sixteen and I want to do AS and A levels in different subjects. I’m not ready to commit.”
They watch me…study me. What do they see? The guilt or vague potential?
“You’ve no idea what you want to do? You can’t be like your tad – look what he’s put our Glenys through?”
The cop-option. The one that tackling the bullies triggered – Esyllt’s suggestion. My tad’s secret desire. Or did he say it was too dangerous? I must evade this.
“I like swimming—” I stare into their eyes then glance towards the land. “And running across the fields. Okay, I can do that as a farmer. But I’d like to learn about the sport and leisure industries, whilst learning more skills – like more Welsh. It’s our language.”
They smile, and Nain reaches over and pats my knee. She takes my hands.
“If you go to Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor how will you get there – you can’t live there?”
I let the conversation move on – hoping that we are past the tough grilling.
“I’ve passed my moped test and it will only take an hour – better than cycling and quicker. That means I can stay here – please.”
They embrace me, and I think they are leaving as Nain goes inside. But Taid sits back down.
“There’s something else. We’ve heard disturbing rumours from your school…” He looks up, and I shiver. “About an incident, you were involved in. What is the truth?”
As I dread. The whispers have spread into Snowdonia. It’s over. First Tad – but he didn’t tan my ass, just lectured me about vigilantes. Seems my school didn’t like the Goth Patrol standing up against bullies.
“It was a buddy system to protect kids needing friends.”
I listen to the hunting owls and Taid’s breathing. Did the family hear more? Or just about the assault in the swimming pool? I could have been drowned, but my friends rescued me – with Esyllt.
“In the eyes of the Lord,” he says, staring up into the night sky. “We can’t be the judges. But our friends talk – about our reputation in the community, and yours. Is there someone else?”
Here it is – the sin is exposed. Unless I lie.
“Not that I know – just friends.”
Lies are hard, but so is facing the truth. It won’t just be Taid and Nain. What will the family do next?
“Who is Esyllt Jernigan?”
I close my eyes and pray for guidance.
“One of my friends – another Goth like me.”
He frowns, and I realise my mistake – my other rebellion.
“Goth is darkness, isn’t it? A sin, in some eyes. You…like this other girl?”
Do I confess my sin – that I’ve slept with another woman? Or do I deny our love and perjure myself in the eyes of God? Three denials like Saint Peter is a sin.
But I want a future. Esyllt was the future but so are my family. Are the chapel rules just? Are Taid and Nain correct?
Must I change what my heart feels?
“There’s this guy – Bran. He likes me.”
Comments are welcome as usual, but for the WEP Challenge, the following applies:
Word Count 991: MPA
(FCA welcome – if you want to send one, just let me know in the comments.)
READ MORE ENTRIES BY FOLLOWING THE WEP – Write…Edit…Publish URL: