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Friday, October 22, 2010

Flash Fiction Friday 10-22-10: "....That Launched a Thousand Ships"

(Photo provided by Soren Ambrose, title and source unknown. Photographer: Petrova Julian).

“Fuck me sideways,” he growled, tossing down his brush, spraying crimson. “This isn't working.”

She stretched, rolling her head from side to side with little crackles. “You're the boss,” she said. “What do you want, then?”

No, goddammit,” he said angrily. “Have you been listening at all? I'm not the boss. You are. I want hauteur and disdain here. You're Helen of Troy, and someone's surprised you while you're getting dressed – invaded your private bedroom and dared to lay eyes on you. A ten-year war was started for less. Now, think: how would you react?”

She tilted her head, really considering for the first time. “I suppose I'd be pretty pissed, at first.”

At first? Odd. He nodded. “That's a start.” He reached for the brush and began mixing furiously as he saw her getting it, really getting it.

Her arms, clutching the satin sheets so convulsively till now, slid down. The satin slipped away, revealing more of her exquisite form. Her back arched. Her breasts came up. She tossed her head angrily and a sneer curled her lip.

“Who...dares?” she hissed slowly. Venom dripped from the words and ate smoking holes in the floor.

“Yes, that's it, baby,” he muttered, paintbrush working frantically, trying now to capture the icy arrogance that shone forth in waves.

Baby?” The scorn in her voice was palpable. “I am not, or anyone else's.” Her chin tilted imperiously. “But....then again, you are not uncomely.”

She paused, seemingly calculating, and then the sheets slid to the floor. His paintbrush fell from nerveless fingers as she stalked towards him, gaze hungry, breasts swaying, lips parted.

I may have created a monster here, he thought, and then she was on him.

Your challenge for today was to use the picture above and write a flash fiction of 100-300 words. Additionally, I provided a key phrase I wanted to see used somewhere in the submission:

"...a sneer curled her lip..."

Nobody's checking word counts, or for the key phrase, but you're only cheating yourself if you break the rules. Unless you're doing it to earn a spanking (in which case, see me after class).

Special Bonus Director's Commentary Track:

I looked at this picture for a long time before I found any inspiration at all, but once it did come, I was positively deluged with ideas.

First was the icy expression on her face. My guess is the photographer wanted her to have a sultry look on her face, but to me those lips are curling in scorn. Thus, the key phrase. I wanted to see how other people would deal with that themselves.

Next was her classical beauty. High cheekbones, large dark eyes, long hair artfully tousled. Something about the lighting, the clothing or fabric that she was holding in front of her, the coloring of the background -- all of it suggested something from a bygone age.

Then I got thinking about classically beautiful women, and suddenly decided to go with Helen of Troy. I remember Helen as kind of a cipher in Homer's original, getting only a few lines to speak of her remarkable beauty, but no development or real interest there. Likewise in the recent film; Diane Kruger was pretty enough, but she was only that -- a pretty face (okay, and body, too). But the woman shown here is more beautiful by far, and she knows it.

I decided to emphasize that arrogant look, and thought I'd see what Helen would do if she was really full of herself. Who wouldn't be, after having a war started over her body? Now, if her bedroom were invaded...yes. She'd be pissed off. But what else? If the intruder was attractive....well. Her kidnapper Paris had come to gradually disgust her. She'd left her husband behind. All the Trojans hated her. Wouldn't she be more than a little hungry for male companionship? I thought she would.

The following people are participating this week. Go check out their take on this FFF, won't you, and thank 'em for playing along.

Just a Taste:
Big Geek:
Spring Flower:

Check back here on Monday for the next challenge! And if you have any photos or artwork you'd like to see in a future challenge, please send them my way. Thanks to Soren for providing this week's photo.

-- PB


Drenchxoxo said...

I loved how to took her from indifferent to empowered to release the "monster" he created inside her.

As always, fantasic read.

Advizor54 said...

I had to look at this picture for a long time before I could get past the fact that it reminded me of a bad Miley Cyrus photo shoot, but as you said, once the ideas hit, they came fast.

I liked the comment you left on mine, and upon reading yours, they aren't that different. Yours is more upbeat, for sure, but it's that idea of discovery, as you said, the unleashing of the monster inside.

The Panserbjørne said...

Drench: Thanks so much for saying so! I appreciate it.

Advizor: Maybe you're right. Two different sides of the same coin, perhaps. I just sense a lot more capability for violence in yours and that makes me twitchy. :)

-- PB

Advizor54 said...

i like making people twitchy.

it means i'm getting inside their head and hitting the characters just right.


Your comment ".....and more than a little disturbing" was the biggest compliment i've had in weeks.

Naughty Lexi said...

Helen always gets bad press, in both Homeric epics plus other tales of the time. I always felt kind of sorry for her; it can't have been easy, despite the constant assumption by the men of the tales that she's just a strumpet who'll go with anyone. What, she was supposed to say, "Um, fuck you Aphrodite, I'm staying with my husband." Yeah, that would have turned out well for her. As always, loved it, particularly the commentary because it let me crawl inside your head and lay my eggs in your brain... no, wait, strike that last bit ;)

The Panserbjørne said...

Lexi: That, I think, is what annoys me the most about Helen -- that no one ever seems to want to bother to develop her, talk about her motivations, what drives her, or how the hell she felt to be the cause of a war. Et cetera. I don't know that I've done much to change that here, but hey, at least I had fun writing it.

-- PB

Anonymous said...

LOL! I LIKED this a lot. Great take on the photo. I not only like the Helen theme but the artist and his subject theme. He may have created a monster but I'm sure it's one with whom he can live. ;-)

Naughty Lexi said...

Never mind the fact that she gets called "the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Illium." Let's face it; what launched a thousand ships was Menelaus' secret insecurities about his penis size, and what burned Troy was a whole bunch of guys who couldn't leave well enough alone. And then, in the Odyssey, she goes meekly home to Sparta and is all good-wife-y again. Yeah, I bet Manny made it quite plain after he "reconquered" her that if she stepped out of line again, bang, zoom, straight to Tartarus. Good to see her getting some face time here :) I think, on reflection, that one of the things I like best about this is that it's not, "Oh, Helen, she's incredibly attractive and therefore she bends men to her will," which would be the obvious choice to empower her. This is more subtle, more human.

Anonymous said...

Yes, baby!! Unleashing the beast in her - that's a pretty damn good story! :)

Soren said...

Helen! Loved the classical reference, PB! The way you added in the painter in for another layer was fantastic, well done!


Liley Brown said...

loved this one, artist do seem to have trouble caging what they create, and someone get me a new brain. completely spaced letting you know i was playing this week.sorry

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your "take" on this Panser. :) She is definitely the 'bitch in power' regardless of the words we fit to her.

Cheeky Minx said...

Grrrr... I adore the sheer primal power she finally unleashes on him.

An artfully crafted piece once again, PB...

The Panserbjørne said...

TemptingSweets99: I imagine he's going to be quite happy with the results, yes. :) Glad you liked!

Lexi: I'm happy that somebody with the right classical background to appreciate this can tell me they enjoy it. I must have hit the mark. Thanks!

Spring Flower: Yes, you would like any stories about unleashing the beast, wouldn't you? :) Thanks, I appreciate it.

Soren: I almost scrapped this one when I realized how many tales I've done with painter/artist/sculptor themes, but then said, hey, wait a minute, this is MY story, dammit. Glad you liked it.

Liley Brown: I've added you to the list. Thanks for the comments on my own tale.

Rozewolf: I think women are in power a lot more than they often think. You all have something that we just can't do without. :) Thanks for the kind words!

Minx: I work hard at these, so it's nice to see them being appreciated. Thanks for saying so!

-- PB