HONG AND STEPHEN [Spring Forward, Fall Back (Saturday Writing Essential)]

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on March 12, 2012 0 Comments

This Week’s Challenge:

Write a story (prose or poetry) about the first meeting between two characters who might turn out to be a love interest in your story. It can be a romance, mystery, historical fiction, science fiction, or any other kind of story you can imagine. The twist is that I want you to write it twice: once from the boy’s viewpoint and a second time from the girl’s viewpoint.




Her name was Hong. In her grandmother’s language, it meant “rose”. She had been the first granddaughter and Obachan had been honored with naming her. She thought of Obachan’s stories of girlhood in Hu? (what the tall, round-eyed invaders called Indochina) and the royal family of the Nguyen dynasty, of which Obachan was a very minor member. Obachan had been sent to Japan to study, in the ?ông Du in 1905, and had married and stayed.


Hong missed her Obachan; she missed all her family and sometimes wished she had stayed with them in Nagasaki, but her parents had sent her to Kobe, to the home of her husband-to-be. When she arrived there, the city had been badly bombed and her prospective mother-in-law was found, in hospital, dying. She had welcomed Hong with tears and the information that the bridegroom had been killed on Okinawa. When she had attempted to return home, news came that home was gone and the Emperor would surrender. Now, Hong was just another refugee, picking through bombed rice-paddies for gleanings to stay alive. She would starve before she went to one of the new brothels for work, besides, she was not pretty; they wouldn’t want her.


She adjusted the small rice bag in her sash, as she ducked, to crawl under the slab of masonry that sheltered the tiny space where she slept. Her pot was gone! Someone had found her cache. Inside the pot were all her belongings; her flint and tinder; the piece of silk she used as a blanket; the photo of her family; the carved bone ring her Obachan had given her. For a few, dazed moments, she crouched there, then, tears streaming, crawled back out. As she straightened, her eyes came up to meet the bright, round, blue ones of an occupying enemy soldier. The world seemed to stop, as she stood frozen in half crouch.


“He does not look like a devil,” she thought.





Fourteen months after his ship had left the states, the boy Stephen had been, was gone. In his place was a young man who had shot at enemy planes and watched them explode into the Pacific; a man who kept fighting and didn’t even notice when shrapnel laid open his scalp and grooved his skull, removing the blood from his face with irritated swipes of his arm. The wound had healed, leaving a streak of new white growth in his flaxen hair. His present duty, as part of the Army of Occupation, would end with his enlistment in just over three months – more specifically, three months and thirteen days, or 105 days, or… well, never mind how many hours. He was looking forward to going home.


When a small figure, ahead, stooped and appeared to disappear into a hole, by a bombed out wall, Stephen slowly withdrew his service pistol and held it ready. Carefully, he approached the hole and looked over the wall. He waited as someone emerged and began to stand up. The figure that straightened before him belonged to a very young, very tiny Japanese woman, dressed in a terribly shabby, but almost clean kimono. He had only a moment to study the homely face that turned up to his before the almond eyes caught him.


“I’ll bet she has a terrific smile,” floated through his mind as the tear-glazed, chocolate-brown depths drew him in.



  •  the ?ông Du(“Go East”) Movement started in 1905 by Phan B?i Châu. Châu’s plan was to send Vietnamese students to Japan to learn modern skills, so that in the future they could lead a successful armed revolt against the French.
  • photo uploaded from Wikipedia.
  • This photographic image was published before December 31st 1956, or photographed before 1946 and not published for 10 years thereafter, under jurisdiction of the Government of Japan. Thus this photographic image is considered to be public domain according to article 23 of old copyright law of Japan and article 2 of supplemental provision of copyright law of Japan.


About the Author ()

Chubby, old, green-eyed redhead with a warped sense of humor and a restless spirit.

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