Between sleep and wakefulness lies a moment of possibilities. She hovers there, feelings of desire and longing rekindled by dreams of him. Should she call? Risk rejection. Refrain? Always wonder.
Daylight seeping through a gap in the curtains brings reality with it. She remembers the heartbreak. Her phone stays untouched.
As featured on the website 50-Word stories:
(To the handful of personal friends who follow this blog, I hope you’re happy to continue to do so and if I do need to delete your contacts to comply with this law please know it’s nothing personal. I hope you re-subscribe after the changes come into effect).
I’m excited to be featured in 2 of the books being published by Christopher Fielden today. They are both anthologies to raise money for charity. These books are an amusing read for non-writers, but for aspiring writers they are of even more value. The challenges run by Christopher Fielden are a great way of becoming aware of the pitfalls new writers can encounter – such as the overuse of adverbs, worn clichés, prepositions and just talking nonsense. Through being a contributor to these challenges, I’ve learned a great deal about the art of writing. I would recommend anyone wishing to improve their skills to check out the website, and to take part in the challenges themselves, because they will find that in doing so their work improves.
Nonsensically Challenged Volume 2
Tritely Challenged Volume 1
“What’s on your property wish list?”
“Large kitchen, perfect entertaining space. Period features. Local shops and restaurants. Near a beach.”
“In a bustling community then?”
“Ugh, no. Rural. Miles from neighbours. Can’t stand people.”
“Helicopter landing pad. Olympic-size swimming pool. Good skiing close by.”
“Water skiing or snow?”
“You want somewhere up a mountain, on a beach? Isn’t that geographically impossible?”
“Surely not. Balcony to relax with a gin and tonic. Somewhere to keep chickens.”
“Chickens,” the TV presenter sighed, casting a desperate glance towards the production crew.
“He can forget all of that on his budget,” the director said into the presenter’s earpiece, “Show him the flat above a chip shop.”
He nodded and turned to the camera, “Today’s house-hunt is all about compromise.”
‘Big windows and weird neighbours. Weirder the better. If the bloke next door likes to dance a naked Paso Doble in his back garden whenever there’s a full moon, that’d be ideal.’ I noted the nonplussed expression on the estate agent’s face as he stood clutching his clipboard. I continued, ‘If he could do it whilst quoting Shakespeare’s sonnets, even better.’
‘Right,’ the estate agent made a note. ‘Anything else?’
‘Yes, it’s essential that the woman at number 12 is having a kinky affair with the bloke at number 24 and clanks up the road with her whips and chains every time his wife goes to work.’ I watched as the estate agent’s clipboard slid from his hands and clattered onto the laminate floor. Recovering himself, he picked it up, walked over to his desk and pulled a set of keys from a drawer.
‘I assume you must be a writer, Sir. Come with me. We’ve the perfect place on our books. More strange characters in the neighbourhood than you could fit into an epic novel. I wonder if you’d be kind enough to give our agency a mention on the acknowledgements page please?’
The sign on the gate read, ‘No Dogs Allowed.’ Irritated beyond reason, Janet had spent the last 10 minutes scratching out the word dogs and writing husbands above it instead. It was the other sign that said, ‘Clocks and Apples For Sale,’ that’d caused him to disappear up the lavender edged path that led to the rustic cottage. “Just buy fruit,” Janet had called after him. He’d waved an acknowledgement and promised he’d only be 5 minutes. That was an hour ago. Janet was growing tired of standing there, dog poo bag in hand. Her feet ached and she longed to go back to their holiday cottage to make a cuppa.
She looked down at the golden Labrador snoozing beside her. After a minute, the dog’s ears pricked up and heavy tail began to thump the ground. She followed the dog’s gaze to where her husband was emerging from the cottage. He called a suspiciously loud and cheerful goodbye, then began singing as he weaved his way back down the path. She noted he wasn’t carrying the apples he’d gone there to buy. He was however carrying a package that looked suspiciously clock shaped.
“That bloke makes the best… the BEST scrumpy,” he said as he staggered through the rickety gate and slithered sideways into a hedge. Janet sighed, wishing that it was socially acceptable to keep husbands, rather than dogs, on leads.
Note: This piece was written from a prompt, ‘The sign on the gate read, “Old Clocks and Apples for Sale,” which was set by a member of my writers’ group.
Zumwhere in Zummerzet = Somewhere in Somerset. Somerset is an English county and this is written as spoken in the dialect.
Scrumpy = cider. An alcoholic drink made from fermented apples. Popular in the West Country, where Somerset is located.
“Do they sell those pots at our garden centre?” I listen to my husband’s directions, thank him and end the phone call, but before I have time to follow his instructions, I feel the light touch of a hand on my forearm.
“Sorry for eavesdropping. I can help. Follow me. Keep a few paces behind. Don’t let the boss find out. She’ll go berserk,” a furtive voice whispers, urgency in his tone. The speaker is a man who looks to be around 30. He’s wearing the uniform of a garden centre employee – green T-shirt with yellow logo and beige combats. Setting off past the birdbaths, he beckons me over his shoulder. Curious, and somewhat puzzled, I do as I’m told.
We go past the aquatic section, a display of greenhouses and the potted shrubs to a small, dilapidated shed at the far end of the property. I hesitate. This is weird. He opens the shed door, eyes darting watchfully, and urges me inside. Against my better judgement, I go.
The shed smells earthy. It contains a rickety wooden table strewn with plastic plant pots, seed trays and dibbers. Fascinated, I watch as he fumbles around on a high shelf at the back and brings down a battered tin that once housed biscuits. He takes out a package from underneath packets of seeds.
“How much?” he asks.
“How much what?” I reply in confusion.
He shows me the contents of the package. It’s easy to recognise cannabis from my student days. We used to call it pot back then too.
This is from an exercise in my writers’ group where we had to eavesdrop a coversation and use whatever was said as the prompt. I got a boring woman at the garden centre, who just said, “Do they sell those pots at our garden centre?” I decided to use the prompt to put the pot into potting shed.