Crossing Over

Just for fun: I’ve written the same story, first in under 150 words, and then in under 300 words. I’ve entered both in different Flash Fiction competitions. Which do you think is best? Why?

Crossing Over (150 words)

We spear through the pre-dawn. As we shoot down the last hill before the pier, all wheels and high beam, the ferry is pulling out. “We missed it,” sighs Timothy.

“It’s OK. We’ll get the next one.”

Our headlights frame the diminishing ferry in a halo of light. Timothy whispers again. “I miss Mum.”

It has only been a month. We are easily bruised.

As the ferry chugs further and further away I can see the ferryman tying up ropes, checking locks, looking at his watch. There are people waiting on the other side. Depending on which pier you’re standing on, I think, a Farewell can also be a Welcome Home.

I turn to my son.

“Let’s think of it like this, Tim. She’s just gone on ahead of us. When she gets there she’ll send the ferry back for us.”

A tentative tui warbles into the silence. Morning is coming. We wait.

Crossing Over (300 words)

We spear through the pre-dawn. As we shoot down the last hill before the pier, all wheels and high beam, the ferry is just pulling out. Timothy sighs as we watch the strip of churned sea between the ferry and the pier become wider; an un-crossable chasm. “We missed it. We missed it, Dad.” There is a catch in his throat.

“It’s OK, son. We’ll get the next one.”

Our headlights frame the diminishing ferry in a halo of light.

Timothy whispers again. “I miss Mum.”

I feel my eyes prickling and I widen them, hoping the tears will balance there and not fall. It has only been a month. We are easily bruised.

As the ferry chugs further and further away I can just make out the tiny ferryman tying up ropes, checking locks, looking at his watch. There are people waiting on the other side. Depending on which pier you’re standing on, I think, a Farewell can also be a Welcome Home.

5am is swirling the darkness, watering it down.

I turn to my son. He is staring, intense, as if his line of vision might harness the ferry and force it to turn back. It has almost disappeared now, but still he strains towards it.

I touch his shoulder and his small hand reaches up to meet mine. “Let’s think of it like this, Tim. She’s just gone on ahead of us. When she gets there she’ll send the ferry back for us.”

A tentative tui warbles into the silence. Morning is coming. We wait.

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3 Comments on “Crossing Over”

  1. denniscrompton June 4, 2013 at 8:12 am #

    Sara here: Sorry, but I like them both. I needed to think a bit harder with the first (shorter) version, but it came together. I liked the substance of the second (longer) version to fill in the gaps and it was more moving for me. Hope that helps.

  2. belllettres June 4, 2013 at 8:16 am #

    That does help, and I agree. This is a great exercise in economy and trying to find the absolute right word to evoke the desired emotional response. x

  3. tinsoldiers June 11, 2013 at 1:14 am #

    I like the first one…its brevity made it all the more poignant.

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