Runaway Wife Romance Part 4

runaway wife romance

If you missed them, here are Part 1Part 2, and Part 3 of this short story romance.

Countryside and Docks: Devrim

I still didn’t know what to think. My romance had ended before it began, and my wife disappeared without a trace. Although I had harbored worries that her family had taken her from me, their attitudes convinced me they shared my ignorance of her disappearance. 
“What if bandits took her into the wilderness?” Jennifer’s mother wailed into my shoulder. “We may never find her broken body!”
I patted her back awkwardly. A week after the wedding, we still stayed at the estate as our base of operations. I would hate to continue renting, but Franklin Fronth was a Lord and had seemingly unlimited resources. Which made his refusal to pay the dowry all the more infuriating. Of the family, only he might have had the motivation to take her away, but it seemed a trivial reason to do so. In fact, I’m sure he suspects me of foul play, so that I could have the dowry and then marry the mistress I’m sure he’s heard about. 
The sun shone down on us. The darkness inside the building was just too oppressing. 
“Devrim!” someone yelled out from across the yard, so I looked up. I saw Rene Fronth, Jennifer’s brother. He dressed with a feathered cap and colorful short cape, which made my own clothing seem drab in comparison. He beckoned me over, so I disengaged from his mother and ran over.
“Any word?” I asked when I reached him.
“No, no news. But I was talking to a friend and he mentioned that he had some goods imported from Felaronia coming in today and it got me thinking. What if, for whatever possible reason, she took a ship to Felaronia? I asked what day that ship would have gone to Octgard and he told me it was the day after the wedding. It’s not a real lead, but I think it is worth investigating, as we don’t have anything else to go on.”
I almost laughed out loud. Why in the world would shy Jennifer run off to Felaronia? It made no sense. Rene was looking in all the wrong places. I was about to reject his offer, but thought that it might instill resentment. In truth, I had nothing better to do and didn’t want his mother clinging to me. “Should we go down to the docks?” I asked, humoring him. 
Rene gave a nervous smile, unsure whether I approved or not. Let him guess.
We made our way over to the docks, a trip that took some time while winding our way through crowded, stinking streets. That’s why I hated Capital Mith. The ever present sun shining in my window of the carriage burned my skin in spite of the flimsy curtain I used to block it. My eye began to twitch and my mouth felt dry.
I didn’t feel like talking much during the ride. My thoughts wandered to Jennifer. Would I ever see her again? Was someone holding her captive? Was she waiting for me to come rescue her? What if she had been defiled? Then what would I do? So many scenarios floated through my mind, but none of them allowed the possibility that she was out of my reach forever.
I put on my hat when we stepped out of the carriage and onto the docks. Boats of all sizes filled the coast. I didn’t come from a coastal city, so I admit I didn’t know the difference between any of them, but Rene seemed to know where to go, so I followed him. The waves made a constant swooshing sound so annoying that I had to keep from shouting out in frustration.
He chose a large ship, random in my mind, and walked up the planks onto the ship. I followed him up but nearly toppled over when the ship shifted. Even on the deck, I felt a little dizzy. In the corner of my eye, I saw some people sniggering, but when I faced them, they looked away innocently. 
Rene found the captain, a wrinkled man who looked tired of life, and then started talking. I stayed back, observing. “Captain James, I have a few questions for you.”
“If you’re mad at me for taking away your wife, girlfriend, or sister, that’s not my problem. These women are adults and can make their own decisions. Several come back on their own accord.”
Never mind my first analysis. This man was just tired of answering the same question over and over again, always on the defensive. “Come, Rene, this is a waste of time.” I placed my hand on his shoulder, but he shrugged it off and continued talking to the captain.
“We just want to know if someone was on your most recent trip to Felaronia.”
“I don’t take names. Just coins. Easier for everyone that way.”
Rene looked flustered so I spoke up. “Jennifer Fronth. She’s tall, blond.” I wracked my mind for other descriptions of her, but failed to come up with anything. 
“She might have come with her friend, Mia, who’s shorter, darker hair, plump,” Rene added.
Captain James stood in a thoughtful pose, unfocused eyes looking back in time. “Yes, I think I might remember the pair. Didn’t talk too much with the other guests. Just kept to themselves.”
Because she was shy? But no, this couldn’t be them. Jennifer would never leave me to go to Felaronia, would she? 
“It must be them! Jenny’s safe!” Rene told me excitedly. He turned to the captain. “You did get there without any casualties, right?”
The captain rolled his eyes. “Of course, young lordling. So if you don’t mind, I have some work to get done.”
“I’m staying here,” I announced. 
“What?” both men asked me.
“Take me to Felaronia. I must find her and bring her back. I’ll wait here until the ship sets sail.”
“Are you sure?” Rene asked. “If she went to Felaronia, it was of her own will, and she won’t want to come back.”
“No, that can’t be it. Why would she flee from me if she doesn’t even know me? She wouldn’t reject a romance that hasn’t even started. Something else must be going on.” I wiped sweat from my forehead. The sun was turning my face red. 
The captain grinned. “Well, I would advise against this, but I can’t wait to see your face when you get back on my ship.”
I sneered. Who was he to judge me? I took out my purse and grabbed a few coins. “Just get me to Felaronia.”
Rene looked at me. “Are you sure about this?”
“Yes!” I snapped, because I knew I would get my romance back. He shook his head and started walking away.
The next day I set sail.

Runaway Wife Romance Part 3

runaway wife romance
If you missed them, here are Part 1 and Part 2 of this short story romance.

Felaronia: Jennifer

“We’re here!” I yelled behind Mia’s back. She actually jumped a few inches into the air, threatening to tumble off the starboard side of our elegant ship. The sails whipped back and forth so that, combined with the waves, muted all sound. I was proud of myself for managing that to overcome that and still scare Mia.
“Jenny!” she whined. “I can see we’re here.”
“Well, let’s go!”
Felaronia’s port town of Octgard greeted us with colorful banners flapping to the screaming wind. The wetlands made it hard to create a permanent settlement along this part of the coast, so most of Felaronia was inland along the River Nesco. But Octgard held out strong and looked beautiful to me right now. Wooden buildings with a variety of designs, colors, and textures were visible from the docks where we had landed. One in particular caught my eye, a tower that gently curved from wide to narrow as it went up, reminding me a little of a woman’s form. Surrounding buildings didn’t compete with it, but accented its beauty like it had all been planned out beforehand. Nothing like the haphazard stone walls back home.
We got off the ship, filing onto the wooden roads of the docks. I felt a little uneasy, as the ground didn’t wobble as much as I had gotten used to in the last few days. It seemed there were two groups, divided almost by gender. The first were the merchants, mostly men who came on business and knew what they wanted, wasting no time as they went toward the city. The second group consisted of women like us, the immigrants, fleeing the effects of misogyny, false romance, and general injustice. We didn’t know where to go and still marveled at the sight of the mythical city. Sure, there were female merchants and male immigrants, but they were minorities. 
As the most noble among our group, I felt it my responsibility to lead them to the shore. So I told them to follow me and mimicked the merchants even as I followed them. Mia caught up to me, looking worried. At first, few wanted to venture out, but the submission that had been beaten into them for so long won out and they lined up behind me. We marched to shore, leaving the vessel of our deliverance behind as we faced our new lives. 
A trio of older women greeted us at the end of the docks. One wore her black hair in a bun, another let her long curly hair loose, and another had her gray hair cut short. All three wore robes, black, purple, and white. They folded their arms with amused looks on their faces. 
The one with the short hair spoke first. “Welcome to Felaronia. My name is Saphira. This is a place where you find what was lacking in your homelands: value and respect. But to obtain that, you must be willing to work hard for the good of everyone. This is not for the weak, lazy, or spoiled.” Did she cast her eyes on me? “We don’t enslave the men like they enslaved us. They are, however, subservient to us out of necessity. There are those whose ambitions would overthrow our society. If you find any, report them to us and they will be escorted to a country more to their liking.”
The one in purple spoke next. “I am Ynette. We realize that many of you are coming from situations of abuse and at the risk of your own lives. Because of this, you will all be assigned a mentor to help you gradually understand our culture, our laws, and our jobs. Any questions you have, you can ask her.
“If you want to pursue a career, but don’t have the skill, we can set you on the path of education. Also, do not despair because of lack of money. You will live first in the commons houses until your mentor transitions you to a full citizen. Like Saphira said, there is little tolerance for women who will not work.” Again, the look at me. Did they think I was just some foolish damsel? “Some of you might have even had easier lives in your homeland. But hard work will allow you to feel like part of our community. Come along and we’ll give you a tour of your new home.”
Mia clapped. “Isn’t this exciting?”
My mood had dropped a bit, but I still mustered up enthusiasm. I would prove these women wrong. Wiping the hair from my face, blown there by the wind, I nodded. 
This had to be better than a forced romance or marriage, after all.
 

Runaway Wife Romance Part 2

runaway wife romance

Wedding-Devrim

Read part 1 here

“Jennifer, you ready for me?” I asked as I pushed open the doors to the honeymoon chamber. Let the romance begin.
I had waited for this moment ever since the betrothal became official. She was a beautiful girl, with long blonde hair, a round face, big eyes, and a great figure. While other men might see her height as off-putting, not me. Our eyes could meet straight on, although for some reason she decided high heels at our wedding, elevating her above me. She might have intimidated me if not for her shyness. Avoiding our kiss in public? Fear of talking to me? How cute. I couldn’t wait to explore her mind and her body, having her open up to me and me only. We would create a true romance.
“Jennifer?” I asked again, stepping into the room. A servant had lit the fireplace and the air smelled of flowers, incense, and a little ash. The flames, even from the other side of the room, washed over me with waves of warmth. The bed was across from the fire with a canopy of transparent red drapery and silky white sheets. A side room had a bath filled with bubbling water. The view from the window pointed away from the ugly capital and toward the forested mountains, where the sun crested the peaks. Even the rugs on the floor made me want to fling off my boots and let them tickle my toes.
I imagined my bride hiding in a corner, thinking herself not pretty enough, but the look on her face changing when she saw me marveling at her. I was truly lucky to have her as mine. Well, lucky and willing to take advantage of the major debt the Fronths owed my deceased father.
Now, where was she? I walked over to the bed but didn’t see anyone on it. She wasn’t on the other side, either. Under? I took a peek, feeling silly. No, not there. No one in the bathroom, either. I went to the window, but she wasn’t on the balcony. I didn’t know where else she could be.
“Is she still getting ready?” I asked myself. How long could that take? She left the dinner an hour ago.
Starting to get worried, I left the room and started looking through others, throwing open doors and shouting her name. I even found a few people in compromising positions, affected by the wine. But I didn’t care. I was the one who was supposed to be in a compromising position right now.
Should I worry? Should I be angry? I didn’t know what to think. Going back to the banquet hall, I found her father, Franklin Fronth Sr. Sitting down at the empty table with him, I asked, “Where is your daughter?”
“She’s not with you?” the older man asked. “She must be with her maid.”
“Well, help me find her!” I said, raising my voice. When people started looking at us, I lowered it again. What would they think of me if they knew I lost my wife on our first day of marriage? “Can you get some people to look for her? I don’t know where else to look. But keep it discreet.”
Try as I might, the news ended up leaking as search party after the search party was formed. If Jennifer was in the estate, she hid as well as a ghost. And unless she was violently abducted, of which there was no evidence, it became clear she had abandoned me completely.
I slept alone on the silky bed meant for two.
 

Strong Female Character: Where They Go Wrong

Dance

I’m a man. I’ve never been a woman. But I like to write (hence this site). And my writing just happens to be set in a world where there are two sexes, men and women. In an effort to represent one half of the population, I have some female characters, several of whom I want to portray as a strong female character. Now the trick is, how do I write them well, not being a woman and unable to read minds?

I’m not the only one who struggles with this. Part of it is from a shift in society, where women have taken a larger role in the workforce, leadership, and getting an education. So the clamor is for a strong female character to be portrayed realistically, or at least how people want to see them portrayed.

Once upon a time, women were designated to roles such as damsel in distress, loving mother, or spiteful stepmother. Now that was pretty limiting, as they were all pretty passive. Even the fairy tales about women didn’t have them actually do anything. In Disney’s Cinderella, the mice did more for her than she did for herself. She was valued for her kindness, hard work, etc, but above all, for her beauty, something she was born with and didn’t earn. And of course, her stepmother was jealous of her, because of her old age and loss of beauty, and Cinderella’s beauty in contrast to her own daughters’, whose ugly faces resembled their personalities. Now we can look at that and see so many subtle but demeaning messages.

Today there is a hunger to see women in a much more active role, like Katniss in the Hunger Games or Rey in Star Wars. Instead of constantly being saved by a man, they can save others. Seems like a good thing, especially for girls who look to them as role models, right? For the most part, yes. But there are some scenarios where the strong female character isn’t done well. Here are a few categories:

The Sex Symbol

More used for the love interest of the male hero, but still can apply to protagonists. This is where the woman’s primary value comes from being beautiful, sexy, etc. Romance stories might have this, and female villains are often sexually manipulative. Video games, if they choose to have a girl as the playable character, will often do so just for the eye candy effect, not because having her as a woman changes the story in any way. But this doesn’t help the cause of women anywhere. Both boys and girls need to see that women are valuable for more than just their bodies. We, both men and women, can get so judgmental of someone for something they were born with and can’t completely control.

Male in a Female Body

This can overlap with the first point, especially in video games. But it is seen in other media as well. Basically, the protagonist acts, speaks, and thinks like a man, but has a woman’s body and is attracted to men. This caters to men again, giving them eye candy and someone they can easily understand as well. She’s usually a kick butt warrior, somewhat silent, and a loner, or at least pushes everyone away. She’s no nonsense, what men tend to value in other men, and skilled in some type of ‘masculine’ skill, usually fighting, sometimes mechanics or other similar fields. Pornography does this all the time, basically making a woman as lusty as the men who watch her. The problem with this portrayal is that the woman is only a woman superficially, with the outside body parts matching but the inside thinking and feeling completely divorced from how real woman think and feel. This sends the message that women can only be valuable if they imitate men and not for what makes them uniquely feminine.

The Mary Sue

The Mary Sue is perfect in everything. Rey from Star Wars gets accused of this, because she can suddenly wield a lightsaber and use the force as powerfully as Kylo Ren. The problem with this is that stories are inherently about growth, and if the protagonist is already perfect, then how can she grow? This portrayal is used because the writer is afraid that if the female protagonist has weaknesses, the writer will be accused of sexism. Or the writer just doesn’t know how to make a good protagonist. It’s all right for a hero to have some preexisting skills, otherwise they might be uninteresting, but they should still learn new things and struggle through difficult situations.

The Strong Female Character who doesn’t do anything

Sometimes an actual strong female character is put into a story. But if she’s a secondary character, she might not actually do anything to drive the plot. She’s just…there. Hiccup’s mom in How to Train Your Dragon, Trinity in the Matrix, Hope in Ant-Man, and others, they all have the skills to do whatever the hero does, but they have to sit back and do nothing, except maybe train the hero, because he’s the ‘Chosen One’ and she isn’t.

For more reading on this, check out this article.

The Enlightened Woman

This woman is ahead of her time, standing up against oppressive men because she was born for this century, not the 1800s. Unfortunately, while there have been women who have stood up to men in history, it is rare and was never as much as feminists these days would have liked. We are all products of our culture and can’t completely escape that. So those women in stories feel out of place. In a hundred years, people will look back at us and our culture and call us unenlightened and ignorant in how we treat and portray women.

Strong Female Character is now becoming a derisive term because it no better represents women than the old stories who dismissed them did. A truly strong female character has all the aspects of a real women, both the good  aspects like nurturing, communication, and intelligence, as well as the bad, like self doubt, not as physically strong as her male counterparts, and falling prey to her emotions. She doesn’t have all the answers, just like the rest of us in this world, nor is she born with all the skills she needs. She is, above all, a human being, with some facets of her personality influenced by her biology and the cultural expectations of whatever era she lives in. What makes a woman strong is refusing to let her weaknesses keep her from fulfilling her objective. In that aspect, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz is a strong female. She may not be a butt kicking warrior, but she unites people, defeats two witches, unmasks a phony, and leaves Oz just a little bit better.

Shouldn’t that be a good role model for girls?