Pre-Scene: Hills Like White Elephants

The girl leaned into his back, her arms wrapped around his waist as the American slowed the motorcycle to a purr. On the southernmost tip of Gibraltar, the Europa Point Lighthouse stood in the distance, casting a light as if to direct all who needed its guidance. He turned the key, pulling it from the ignition, and stepped off the bike offering her his hand.

“You’ll love the sunrise over the ocean. It’s as if the sun is eating up the darkness.”
“Sounds lovely,” she giggled.

With their fingers interlocked, he led her along the pebbled path toward the sound of crashing waves.

“I’ve enjoyed everything you’ve shown me these past few months,” she stated. “Absolutely everything.”
“Have you had a favorite?”
“Oh, I’m not sure. The gondola rides in Venice. No, the Eiffel Tower. Oh, I don’t know; it’s all been truly lovely. Like a dream. What about you?”
“Right here, right now. You’re perfect Jig.”
“Think so?”

He leaned in and softly kissed her lips.

“I’m so glad Charlie threw that shindig when I got into town,” she remarked.
“He throws quite the party. Good man, your cousin.”

He ran his hand across the small of her back and she flinched.

“Something wrong?”
“No, no. I’m fine.” She leaned into him. “A tad chilly, I suppose.”

As they continued walking, he whipped his jacket off and draped it over her shoulders. “Better?”

“Yes, thank you.” She tilted her head, giving him a coy smile. “I’ll be going back soon. For the wedding.”
“Must you? There’s so much you have yet to see. You could stay.”
“I can’t.”
“She’d understand.”
“She’s my sister. I must be there.”
“Is this just an excuse?” he inquired. “Are you bored with me already?”
“Of course not. I just…”
“All I need is you Jig. Say you’ll stay.”
“You’d really want that?”
“I’d love that. Just you and me. Sailing the Grecian Isles, we’ll visit Rome. But Madrid must be next. This the perfect time of year for…” He stopped. “Dagnabbit.”

He studied the terrain and then broadly leaped over the creek formed by the recent rains. “Take my hand. I’ve got you.” She grasped his hand and jumped across what first appeared to be a large and dangerous divide. Stumbling on the landing, he caught her in his arms.

“Oh, my two left feet.”
“Well, better than none.”
She relaxed. “Why don’t you come with me? You could meet my family.”
“There’s no rush for that, Jig. Let’s just take things nice and slow.”
“I think we’re past that,” she said flirtatiously.
He smiled back in agreement.
“You must stay here,” he encouraged.
“Here—with you?”
“Of course.”
“Are you proposing?”
He choked back a laugh. “Seriously, sweet Jig, you’re adorable.”

He pointed to a low hanging branch. “Look, over there.” A momma bird feeding her three baby birds, mouths gaping.
“Oh, they’re precious,” she stated. They both stared and after a moment she told him, “I bet you’ll be a great father.”

He interrupted her with a kiss.

“Just you—and me,” he professed.
“Carpe diem?”
“I don’t know if I agree.”
“We only have today, sweet Jig.”

He spun her around and wrapped his arms around her waist. “Look at that sunrise. Carpe Diem, my love.” He leaned his chin over her shoulder, swaying with her in his arms, the sound of waves in the background crashing against the rocky cliffs. She placed her hands on his and pressed them into her stomach.

They stared silently toward the rose-colored, rising sun. When he pulled back she held his hands tight against her stomach and started rhythmically tapping her fingers against the back of his hands.

He let out a long breath. She turned and faced him.
“Are you certain?”

Holding her gaze, he took a step back, and then dropped his face toward the ground. The sun, in partial view, rested gently just above the horizon. The lighthouse light faded into the day as nimbostratus clouds turned the sky grey.

“Feels like rain,” she said.


The above was an in-class exercise from Gotham Writers. After reading and discussing Hemingway’s short story “Hills Like White Elephants” we were tasked with writing the scene leading up to his story, while keeping with his characters, style and voice of writing. You can read “Hills Like White Elephants” by clicking here.

©2020 Angel K Will
Photo by Anand Dandekar from Pexels

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