Writing 101: Dark Clouds on the (Virtual) Horizon

Write a post inspired by a real-world conversation.

Today’s twist: include an element of foreshadowing in the beginning of your post.

This is it.  Jillian thought.  There’s no way earth I will ever see this man again.

It had been almost a month since Jack waltzed – or Samba’d, rather – into Jillian’s life. She hadn’t come here looking for a man to date, but Jack Shepherd was beyond unexpected.  He was amazing.  If she could paint a picture of a man who was perfect for her, it was the man standing outside the glass doors of the room where she was packing.  The only thing that wasn’t perfect was the timing.  She had made up her mind that she didn’t have time for a relationship, and he had agreed.  At least he had in the beginning.

Now that it was their last day together, Jack had become quietly distant.  As the day wore on, his mood had burned with anger with her decision to cut him out of her life. His words from earlier that afternoon came to her mind.  

“How can you throw this away?  You know we are good together.”  Eyes blazing, he stood inches from her, daring her to answer.  “Is it my deployment?  Do you think I won’t be faithful to you?  Because I have enough faith in us.  Hell, I’ll put a ring on it if that’s wh…”

Jillian put her finger up to his lips to stop him mid-sentence.  With her soft, sad gaze on his lovely face, she gently reminded him of what they’d agreed on together.  “Jack it’s not that, and you know it.  How many times do we need to have this conversation? We’ve barely just met, we both have big changes and commitments in front of us.  It’s just not the right time.”

In his eyes and in the set of his jaw, Jillian saw Jack’s demeanor chill.  He took a step back and let her hand fall.  He appeared every inch the soldier as his stood rigidly before her with his hands at his sides.  The atmosphere between them cooled.  After some time, Jack broke the silence with four words that would replay in Jillian’s mind for years to come and make her question the decision she had made.  

“Have a nice life.”

She stared out the window.  She could see him leaning against the far railing of the deck.  His face was toward the ocean.  His dear face had become so familiar to her in these past few weeks that she could almost imagine the stoic expression he wore.  She wanted to reach out to him.  She wanted to call him back.  She didn’t want to part like this knowing they may never see each other again.  

Twelve years later, Jillian found herself on board the Daedalus, a deep space carrier bound for another galaxy.  She hadn’t been able to make the orientation meeting with the entire senior staff, but Rodney assured her there would be plenty of time during travel to Atlantis.  Nothing could have prepared her for her first meeting with the commander of the expedition, Dr Weir and the military commander, Lieutenant Colonel John Shepherd.

**AUTHOR’S NOTE: The prompt for today’s post suggested that I reminisce about an important conversation that will always stick with me.  Once upon a time I ended a relationship.  The guy in the equation told me to “have a nice life.”  The finality of my decision struck me right away, but I didn’t feel like I was able to change my mind.  Many times over the years, that phrase has come to mind.  It has come to represent many of the choices I made, and later questioned, around that time in my life.  I wanted to give Jillian the chance to rethink her choices as well.

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Writing 101: Day Nine – Point of View

A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.

Today’s twist: write the scene from three different points of view: from the perspective of the man, then the woman, and finally the old woman.

As with many other prompts, I will be adapting this assignment to one of my stories instead of writing about the man, woman and old woman in the park.  The following is present day Jillian & John, set in Atlantis.

JOHN

The day had been a miserable combination of lecture and negotiation.  Rodney started the day as only Rodney can with a forty-five minute dissertation on the importance of the scientific discoveries on Vollan.  It wasn’t enough that his breakfast was ruined by the intrusion, but Rodney had continued to talk all the way to the scheduled meeting being held in the conference room.  The next two hours were taken up with the complete review of the Vollanese culture.  The only bright spot of that meeting was the fact that Jillian led the discussion.  As the lead anthropologist, she had spent time with the leaders from Vollan and had studied their history and culture.  There would be very specific customs to be observed while meeting with these people.  The problem was that John couldn’t concentrate on anything she was saying.  So when the actual negotiations began between the leaders of Atlantis and Vollan John did his best to blend in and be quiet.

Jillian had set directly across the table from him during the discussions.  More often than not, when John looked up he met her gaze directly.  There was a certain amount of tension between them.  It wasn’t an unfriendly tension.  In fact John truly enjoyed any time they were able to spend together.  Maybe it was just the questions in his own mind. All he knew was that it had been a long day and he went to the training area in hopes of finding Teyla or another partner to spar with.

Before he got to the door, he heard the music.  Surely it was not one of the soldiers training or sparring inside.  When the room came into view, John could see Jillian inside.  Her long auburn hair was curled up into a mess of a bun atop her head.  She was clothed in her dance attire, right down to the shoes.  She was lost in the music and didn’t immediately notice him there.  John knew in that moment that he could watch her forever.  All of the summer nights from so many years ago came rushing to him.  The way her body moved against his, the passion they shared on the dance floor and off.

All of a sudden, the music swelled and Annalii turned and leaped, landing a few feet from John and facing his direction.  The glow of her flushed face and the look in her eyes were his undoing.  Dropping the Bantos rods, John crossed the distance between them with swift, long strides.  When he reached her, his hands were on either side of her face and he was kissing her, hard.  The years of missing her had been nothing compared to the months of being near her again.  Her mouth was soft and inviting, allowing his tongue access to glide across her own.

Then it was too much.  He was breathing hard, feeling so much for her.  John had to pull his lips from hers.  Immediately however, he placed one arm around her back and one around her head, crushing her to his chest.  “God, I’ve missed you.”  He could feel her labored breathing, even the beat of her heart.  He wasn’t sure if it was from the dance or their embrace, but he didn’t care.  All that mattered was that she was in his arms at last.  Her response was wordless as she slipped her arms around his waist and held him tight.

They stood like that for awhile, with the music still playing in the background.  Finally, John put his hand under her chin and gently lifted, looking into her eyes.  Her face was almost unreadable.  “Jillian, I want you back.  I need you in my life.  It’s been hell having you work so near me and yet being so far.  I know it was a long time ago, but…”

Jillian reached up and put her index finger over his lips.  “How about we take it one step at a time, fly boy?”

Amused, John lifted a single eyebrow.  “What did you have in mind?”

As the music changed to a sweet jazz melody,  Annalii smiled and took his hand.  “Dance with me.”

JILLIAN

Jillian let out a sigh of relief when she found the room empty.  This room, which was often used for training, was the largest space for her to dance in.  What truly made it her favorite though was the way the sun softly illuminated the room through the colorful windows, especially near sunset as it was now.

She placed her iPod in the dock of the music system and stepped back to begin her warm ups.  Stepping up to the barre that had been added to the room for her use, she slipped into first position to begin the plies, battements and rond de jambes to warm up the muscles in her arms and legs.  After a few minutes, she moved into stretches as the soft piano music lilted from the speakers.  It felt so good to settle into this familiar routine after the day she’d had.  In all reality, the day had been a success.

Over the past two weeks, Jillian had spent time living among the people of Vollan.  She had studied their history as well as their current culture.  She immersed herself into their society and lived as one of them for a short time.  This was important because even Teyla and Ronan were mostly unfamiliar with these very private people.  If the Atlantis expedition had any hope of sharing resources with the Vollanese, it had to be done delicately.  So today, when she was faced with leading a two hour discussion on what she had learned about their culture, she was ready.

She hadn’t been ready, however, to face John’s scrutiny.  Just knowing he was following her every move with those green gold eyes of his was enough to keep her flustered and slightly off her game.  She could no longer deny the effect he had on her.  It was the same one she had felt all those years ago in Cabo.  Seeing him again for these past few months, she had found herself slowly drawn to him again, in a low orbit that drew her slower nearer to him until she couldn’t pull away.  That afternoon, she was caught staring at him on more than one occasion as she thought back to the days and nights they had spent together.

Get a grip Reynolds! Jillian thought to herself.  A lot of time has passed since then.  Life moves on, and I’m sure he has too.  

Finished with her warm ups, Jillian scrolled through the music on her iPod and selected the perfect song.  As the music came on she found herself mixing classic ballet moves with modern jazz and interpretive moves.  As always, she found freedom and confidence in the dance.  When she was performing, the rest of the world fell away and she could lose herself in the music.  It seemed to carry her without thought through the steps, turns and jumps.

During her third song, she found herself crossing the room with a sudden leap into a turn. When she looked up, Jillian’s feet stopped, seemingly glued to the floor.  She was staring straight at the very same man she was dancing to forget.  Before she had a chance to react, he crossed the floor in long, graceful strides and stopped inches in front of her.  Her breathing was labored as she looked into his eyes.  She no longer could tell if it was caused by the dance or his proximity.  Suddenly his hands were framing her face, drawing her lips up to meet his in a frenzied kiss.

Just as quickly, he pulled away, but not completely.  Jillian found herself crushed into John’s chest as his arms held her tightly.  “God, I’ve missed you.”  She could feel his breath as his words came out in a rush near her ear.  Dazed as she was, she could only return his embrace and revel in the moment.  She had dared not hope he could still feel anything for her.  She had been so wrong to let him go then.  She never wanted to let him go now.

When he pulled back again, it was to lift her face and gaze into her eyes.  She was so stunned she couldn’t even think how to feel or react.  Then he spoke.  “Jillian, I want you back.  I need you in my life.  It’s been hell having you work so near me and yet being so far.  I know it was a long time ago, but…”

Jillian reached up and put her index finger over his lips.  “How about we take it one step at a time, fly boy?”

Amused, John lifted a single eyebrow.  “What did you have in mind?”

As the music changed to a sweet jazz melody,  Annalii smiled and took his hand.  “Dance with me.”

RODNEY

Rodney could barely contain his joy.  He could almost be considered giddy.  If Rodney ever got giddy that is.  Today had been a huge success.  Not only had he played a key role in the negotiations with the Vollanese, if I do say so myself, he thought, but he had procured their cooperation with all of the technology he had been looking to acquire.  Yes, he was practically bouncing on his toes.

The only thing that had marred an otherwise remarkable day was Jillian.  She seemed so… average in her role of facilitator today. Jillian didn’t do average, Rodney knew.  He decided he needed to talk to her to see what was going on.  Not wanting to give her a a chance to brush him off, Rodney decided to use the cameras set throughout Atlantis to determine her location.  After a few moments, he found her alone in the training room she sometimes used as a dance studio.

Quickly, he made his way to the closest transport and made his way to where he had found her.  As he rounded the corner, he found Shepherd standing in the doorway, Bantos sticks in hand.  As quickly as he saw them though, they were thrown to the floor as John disappeared inside.  Hesitantly, Rodney followed to the doorway and looked inside.

What he saw made his heart drop.  There were his friends, Jillian and John, locked in a passionate embrace.  He knew he should walk away, but he couldn’t make himself do it.   Of course, he knew they had been an item years ago when the met by chance in Cabo.  Yet she had been here for eight months and neither of them had made a move to be together.  He had grown to believe, as he had always hoped, that there was a chance that this girl he’s known since grade school could possibly love him.  Yet here was the proof before him.  He could not deny the desire he saw.  But would it last?

He stayed in the doorway a bit longer, still unseen.  As Rodney watched, he saw John gently lift Jillian’s face to meet his gaze.  Althought he couldn’t hear what was said, he could read the love on the other man’s face.  Within moments, the music changed to an old American standard that Rodney recognized.  As Jillian placed her hands in John’s hold, Rodney watched what seemed to be the girl of his dreams dancing away from him forever.

Writing 101, Day Seven: Give and Take

Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else.

Today’s twist: write your post in the form of a dialogue. You can create a strong opposition between the two speakers — a lovers’ quarrel or a fierce political debate, for example. Or you could aim to highlight the difference in tone and style between the two different speakers — your call!

The briefing room was charged with energy.  No one spoke as Elizabeth read over the scouting report.  Around the table sat members of the off-world team as well as leaders of Atlantis.  Jillian and the three soldiers that made up her team stood quietly inside the door as the results of their latest experience were discussed. 

“Dr Weir,” Teyla began, “we must take swift action against these traitorous people.”

Still Elizabeth sat.  Her controlled breathing evident in the rise and fall of her chest.  Jillian locked eyes with John for a moment in an effort to gage the situation. 

“Dr Weir!” Teyla spoke with more volume, demanding to be heard.

With one final calming breath, Elizabeth closed the report before her.  “Teyla, I understand your anger.”

“Of course I am angry.  These people are selling out the people of my planet and those of the entire galaxy.  They are handing the Wraith their meals on a platter.”

“Major Corvin.”  Elizabeth turned her attention to the leader of Jillian’s team.  “What threat to Atlantis did you find among these people?”

Every eye turned to the young soldier for an explanation.  “They are an advanced civilization, but they made no indication of wishing to betray Atlantis.”

Teyla stood from her seat at the table.  She walked up to Corvin and stopped with her face inches from his.  “How can you know that?  Did they swear fealty to you?  These people are willing to betray anyone in order to give the Wraith what they want.  It is how they have remained safe for many generations.”  Receiving no answer, Teyla turned and glanced at everyone in the team.  When her eyes fell on Jillian, she must have perceived some unspoken understanding.  “What aren’t you saying?”

Once again, Jillian looked around the room.  “It’s nothing.  Just some observations about the people we encountered and thoughts on their reasons for not turning against us.”

“What observations could you have made?  You have known these people for so little time.  Yet they have been known to my people for generations.”  Teyla was pacing the floor now.  The color had risen in her cheeks as her argument picked up steam.  “We have always known of the spies among us but never have we been able to determine their native race or their home.  They are now within our reach!”

With her hands folded before her on the table, Elizabeth watched Teyla progress up and down the room.  “Please Teyla, have a seat.  Let’s hear what Jillian has to say.”

With that, every eye in the room turned to Jillian for answers.  She met John’s eyes and he gave a smalll nod of encouragement.  In Rodney’s eyes, she found more of the same, so she began.  “This civilization is ruled by hierarchy.  They belive themselves to be above the rest of those here in the Pegasus Galaxy. This allows them to believe it is their right to surviive while sacrificing the lives of those beneath them.”  Out of the corner of her eye, Jillian saw Teyla’s eyes narrow and fists clench. 

“Doesn’t that put us in danger?”  The question came from Elizabeth. 

“That same idea of a hierarchy of humans actually works for us.  Once we let it be known that we reside on in Atlantis, they seemed to assume we were natives.  It caused them to look at us with a different kind of respect.  We didn’t realize the special treatment until we had learned of its advantage to us.  y that time, we didn’t see a reason to correct them.”

Teyla could take it no longer.  “You gave away our position and trusted these people with information about this world?”

“Teyla, calm down,”said Elizabeth.  “We are protected here.”

“Yes, we are.  But what of those on the mainland?  We must strike against these people before they put the lives of my people in danger!”

Elizabeth fixed a calm look on Teyla until she had her say.  Turning back to Jillian, she said, “I read in the mission report that you feel there is a possibility of working with these people.  What would you hope to gain?”

“It is our belief, based on the negotiations we have already conducted, that these people would be willing to help us locate Wraith Hive ships…”

“Allowing us to hit them where it counts,.”  John finished the thought on everyone’s minds. 

“You cannot be serious.  These people are not to be trusted!”  Teyla was standing again.  “What will keep them from betraying us?”

“Dr Weir, their belief of us as Atlanteans will force them into a place of submission to us.  It would be against the laws of their society to harm us or even wish to do so.” 

Elizabeth stood and placed her palms on the table before her, “I will allow the delegation to meet with us.  But it will be off world on a nuetral planet.   They may be able to help us, and we can use all we can get.  That is all.”

As Elizabeth turned to leave, Teyla made a move to stop her.  “Teyla, that’s my decision.”