I’m not always proud of my writing. Some sentences merely exist to get the reader from point A to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, there are times in every writer’s career when we want to illicit a more nuanced emotion. There are two ways this can be done.

First: slowly, the use of exact wording in precise situations, one building on top of the other like blocks, building to the emotion the author desires. This is the long game. This is dropping a hint, then another, and another, and finally the reader uncovers the buried treasure at the “X” on the map.

Second: the use of poetic or nearly-purple language. Instead of a subtle melody which ducks and weaves through the prose, only uncovered to the ear when the oboe joins in on that key measure… this method is (to continue the metaphor) the single instrument solos.

It is the latter which lends itself to sharing – they’re the quotable lines.

I consistently aspire to write beautifully and to write stories which lend themselves to poetry. Here are a few of the gems I’ve recently uncovered in a short story I wrote entitled “Black Bonny”. Perhaps, after a few revisions, the whole of this story will be made available for public consumption. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these little snippets. 

Every morning when she woke, for exactly two heartbeats, she forgot that she was surrounded by a pale, overcast, overgrown wasteland covered with twisted trees and pretentious people. She would nestle into her pillow and reach for a warmth in the bed next to her, thinking of wind and tides and when she should sail next. She would wait for a tropical breeze to stir her hair and heart.

Anne knew her edges because she had scoured away any disillusion with sand and rinsed herself clear using salt water and blood.

“Anne,” he said sternly.

She hated it when he did that, said her name firmly and hoped that she would make the leap from her position to his simply because he was looking down on her from his ivory tower. Anne jutted her jaw out.

What he didn’t know was exactly how colorless she found the world of the Carolinas after Jack had painted her horizon with every shade of the rainbow.

The weight of her prospective marriage upon her shoulders sent the butterflies in her belly spinning like they were caught in a hurricane. It was ridiculous; she hadn’t felt this nervous when she had faced her first gun battle. The trappings around her were all as gray and bleak as her outlook, dark floors, pale curtains, and a silver tea set slowly cooling on the table in front of the sofa.

Something about him seemed irrepressibly good. Not the kind of good that belonged to an optimist who, when doused with all of life’s miseries, smiles stupidly onward. Nor the good of a preacher who has only ever tended sheep and never fended wolves from his flock. Nor, for that matter, the kind of good of the missionaries – Anne had met a few in Jamaica – who sought out lemons to turn them into lemonade. No, not this fellow. If her guess was right, and it almost always was, he believed that everything turned out simply because that it always had. It always would, too… probably because the fates themselves were wooed by the strength of his conviction and the guile of his smile.

But, of course, this was Carolina – what cause had this man ever had to go up against the edge of life?

She had thought that her feelings, the storm of emotion that guided her little ship of a life, had died – sucked away by the dull spring of the Carolinas and her even duller future. She was wrong. It hadn’t died, it hadn’t faded, and it certainly hadn’t gone anywhere.

It had just been bottled up in her breast. That moment, looking into the eyes of her uncertain future, had been enough jostling that the cork pulled free and all hell broke loose within her. Prison hadn’t broken her; motherhood hadn’t tamed her. But she would be damned if she was going to be made a slave.

So she simply stood, a bonny maid caught betwixt a sea on which she could not sail and a land on which she could not walk. She stood on an abandoned beach on a gray afternoon and watched the tide come in.

The ice over the barren waste of her heart cracked as it began to thaw under the warmth of his silent affection.

In spite of the cold, in spite of the gray afternoon around them, the blue of his eyes and the red of his pain suddenly made her world feel a great deal more colorful.