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Week #39: Creative Writing Challenge – A Star-Crossed Mason Romance

October 26, 2021

Write a romance where your character falls in love with the last person they expected to.

Once upon a time there was a young woman, the daughter of the most well-known stonemason in the land. She had been trained in the stonemason craft, but she was not a builder. She was an artist. It was said that she carved emotion into stone and people came from all over the land to see her additions to buildings.

Once upon a time there was a young man, the son of the most well-known brickmason in the land. He had been trained in the brickmason craft, but he also was not a builder. He was an artist of sorts. He designed beautiful buildings, looping fences, and inviting walls. People admired his work and came from all over the land to see his creations.

Our story starts during Festival week in the city of Fortuna at an event called The Sharing. The Sharing is exactly what it sounds like. Anyone can enter The Sharing to show their creations, their wares, their imaginings. There are pieces of art, food, singing, dancing, and reading aloud of pieces. Selling of wares is prohibited. People come from all over to participate in The Sharing and it happens to be where our two main characters meet.

The young woman, let’s call her Jules, is at The Sharing to show the world her latest creation, a design dear to her heart. It’s a marble sculpture about waist high of two forearms intertwining toward the sky, a smaller hand is engulfed and protected by a larger one, but both reach toward the heavens. It has personal significance to Jules and she never plans on selling the piece.

The young man, let’s call him Rahul, is at the The Sharing to show a design of a building he’s had in his mind for years. It’s a large building full of soft angles and twining balconies, like tree branches. It’s fantastical and beautiful and something that Rahul’s father would never let him build. Rahul’s father is in town during Festival week to do business, but doesn’t know that Rahul is participating in The Sharing.

One of the rules of The Sharing is that your wares must stay anonymous. Small boxes in front of each ware give an opportunity for others to leave a comment, but participants face consequences if they fail to stay anonymous. This is hard for some of the interactive wares, but they commission others to perform in their stead, the anonymity of the event so important.

And thus Jules and Rahul, having never met before, did not know each other when they met in the middle of The Sharing grounds. Both were looking at an abstract painting of a ship on the ocean, or it could have been a man in a bathtub. Neither of them could tell, and the brief interaction ended in laughter and longing. The two parted ways to continue their browsing, but by either fate or by purpose they ended up crossing paths multiple times throughout the day, finally giving in and touring the rest of the grounds together.

The couple saw both Jules’ sculpture and Rahul’s design. Both were captivated by what the other had to say about their work, although neither admitted their authorship. Jules and Rahul parted reluctantly at the end of the day, and despite looking for each other at The Sharing grounds the next day, they each left Festival week feeling like they’d lost something for not having found each other again.

The Sharing grounds are open for the middle four days of the festival. Unbeknownst to either and having been so moved by the others’ sculpture and design, Jules and Rahul had both left each other messages on subsequent days. Each message included a contact address, but no name. So the two ended up writing to each other, not as Jules and Rahul, but as anonymous art appreciators.

It took only one set of letters for the pair to notice that the return addresses matched the mailing addresses on their respective letters. And thus started a sharing of minds, an exchange of ideas, and a twining of hearts through the regular mailing of letters.

Jules was unable to attend Festival week the following year, as she was working on site with her father creating a relief commemorating a battle between the Fae and the Gallian empire. Rahul attended Festival week and spent most of it with his father commissioning new buildings and selling designs to other architects. Both felt like they had missed out on something important that year.

The following year both Jules and Rahul attended Festival week and had wares in The Sharing. In their last letter, Jules had challenged Rahul to find her piece and leave something special in the anonymous box. Rahul had challenged her to do the same.

Rahul found his way to Jules’ piece carved from soapstone, a beautiful branching tree, limbs entwining around a small child, as if protecting her. Rahul had just dropped a drawing of a building with an atrium of interwoven hands into the anonymous comment box when he heard a voice nearby.

“I was hoping you’d be here this year.” It was Jules, and Rahul was surprised, but also very happy. He forgot about his mystery sculptor and spent the day wandering with Jules on his arm. When they came to Rahul’s piece, he was unfortunately bumped into by a dancer and missed Jules sneaking a leather bracelet with a small piece of marble into the anonymous box.

If Rahul had seen Jules our story may have turned out very differently, but alas, it was not so. The two parted in much the same way as they had two years previously. Both returned to their lives and exchanging letters with their anonymous art appreciators.

Festival week always has some kind of exhibition from the craftspeople of the kingdom each year. The first year Jules and Rahul attended, it was an exhibit on how to move fluids with pumps and resulted in a beautiful fountain in the plaza. The year they both missed, it was a cooking competition and the year of their reunion it was a topiary carving competition. Sometimes the exhibition was just one day or one afternoon, and some years the exhibition lasted the whole week.

It was announced that the competition for the upcoming Festival week was between the stonemasons and the brickmasons. Jules’ father and Rahul’s father had both been chosen to represent their crafts. The end product was to rebuild the facade of two buildings facing each other in the plaza square of Fortuna. Jules and Rahul were both just happy to be able to attend Festival week for the chance of seeing each other again. In accordance with maintaining anonymity for The Sharing, letters between Jules and Rahul did not tell the other why they would not be displaying wares at that year.

Both the stonemasons and the brickmasons could come into the competition with ten person teams, but could not do any design work ahead of time. They had the whole week of Festival to complete the facade and then a vote would take place. Whichever facade got the most votes won the commission for a new ministry building on the Hill. It would be a huge honor to whomever won.

Jules and Rahul both arrived at Festival week ready to work for their fathers. Jules and her father had already agreed that she would create two reliefs and maybe do some of the balcony work. Rahul had a greed to work with his father to immediately draw up designs for the facade. Both would be too busy to find the other, but they still had hope.

The hope was fulfilled and also dashed on the first day of Festival week at the opening of the competition. Each team faced each other as the master of ceremonies opened the events and described the competition. Jules and Rahul stood silently looking at each other, first with looks of happiness that morphed into confusion and then finally into a tense understanding. That tense understanding encompassed both their positions on competing teams, but also their identities, for each had heard of the other and even perused the other’s works when the opportunity arose.

This understanding also encompassed the fact that there was no hope for a future between the daughter of a stonemason and the son of a brickmason. Both Jules and Rahul, although disappointed in this revelation, weren’t too heartbroken. They’d only spent two days with each other after all. Besides there were still the anonymous art appreciators whom they’d gotten to know, to trust, and to love.

The facades came together as the week progressed. Jules and Rahul avoided each other, although Rahul frequently sat on the fountain to watch all the work being done by both teams. As he sat, he studied Jules and she seemed so familiar, which confused him because he barely knew her.

On the fourth day Jules was taking a break by the fountain when Rahul came to join her.

“Your work is lovely. What will the reliefs end up being?” Rahul asked. Jules, having been lost in thought, was startled by Rahul and dropped her chisel. Rahul bent to pick it up and hand it back to her, exposing his wrist with the leather bracelet.

“Where did you get that?” Jules asked quickly.

“A friend.” Rahul replied.

They stared at each other with the gentle splashing sound of the fountain behind them and the bustle of workers in the background.

Jules broke the silence by answering his original question. “Hands like your bracelet. And then the balconies will be decorated with intertwining branches. I saw it in a drawing once and thought it was lovely.”

The smile was slowly growing on Rahul’s face as she spoke.

“Jules.” Came a shout from her father. Rahul’s face fell. Jules got up and left Rahul at the fountain without another word.

That was the last time that Jules and Rahul spoke to each other.

Oh reader, do not despair, for even though this is a “once upon a time” story, the ending isn’t. Not all stories end in a “happily ever after” and that’s okay. Jules and Rahul continued on with their lives creating beautiful masterpieces that brought joy to countless others. Their creations can be seen twining together in the new ministry building in Fortuna, for the competition that Festival week was a tie and Jules and Rahul poured both their hearts into the new building as a memento of their love.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Yael Kisel permalink
    December 2, 2021 6:24 am

    Oh no, I wanted them to get together! Maybe that’s just me having silly narrow ideas about love, though. Did they keep writing letters to each other?
    Also, I like the narration style of this story, with the narrator directly addressing the reader! Feels friendly 🙂

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