Tag Archives: prompt writing

#DearValentine Week Three: His Moment

18 Feb


Prompt: a gun, a tuxedo, an abandoned fairground.


His Moment

He’s standing next to the carousel, the gun weighing heavy in his pocket. His mouth is dry, his palms sweaty, and he wipes them on the lining of his rented tux, hoping that his nerves aren’t as obvious as he thinks they are. This is his moment. He can’t afford to screw it up.

For the longest thirty seconds of his life there is silence, and he forces himself to remain in position, eyes trained on the gaudily-painted candyfloss wagon, until footsteps alert him to their arrival. He turns, smiles, faces the newcomer.

Drawing in a quick breath, praying for his voice not to fail, he speaks.

“Hello Jack.”

His hand darts to his pocket, withdraws the gun, holds it to the other man’s head.

“Goodbye Jack.”

A shot rings out, drowning out the sound of his pounding heartbeat.

Jack crumples to the floor.

Silence falls.

But a moment later the silence is broken again, this time by thunderous applause. It continues, and he remains frozen in place until the curtain falls.

He barely registers the next few minutes; standing in line with the rest of the cast members, bowing for the delighted audience. Slipping out of that awful tux and back into his comfortable jeans and hoodie. Congratulating the others, accepting their praise with as much modesty as he can muster. It’s a blur of happiness, and he doesn’t think that it can get much better.

But the door opens and she’s there. She ignores Ben Russell, considered by most of the female population of their school (along with some of the males) to be the sexiest man alive, and walks straight past Matt Davis, who is shirtless and displaying his impressive abs to the room at large. The girl of his dreams walks right up to him, throws her arms around his neck, and kisses him passionately.

He had thought that things couldn’t get much better. Now he knows they can’t.

#Dear Valentine Challenge Week Two: Remembering

11 Feb

Prompt: a box of chocolates, plane tickets, the Eiffel Tower.


Remembering

She couldn’t believe that he’d actually remembered. It had been her dream ever since she was a little girl, something which she thought could only happen in the movies, but which she’d fantasised about anyway.

Still, it had managed to remain safely within the confines of her imagination for years, not even shared with her closest friends. Until she had had too must “champagne” (air quotes heavily in use) at the office Christmas party and had, in the space of two minutes and thirty seconds, disclosed her most carefully guarded secret. She hadn’t really expected him to remember though, at least not in such detail.

The box of chocolates in their innocent gold wrapping, a seemingly unimaginative Valentine’s Day gift. The plane tickets nestling beneath the bottom layer, discovered only when the chocolates had all been eaten. The candlelit dinner on the top level of the Eiffel Tower, with the carpet of lights stretching out below them and the string quartet playing quietly in the corner. The ring in the champagne glass (real champagne this time, no air quotes required). The promise of forever.

Her dream proposal. She hadn’t been able to believe it.

Couldn’t believe not only that he’d remembered, and after all this time, but that he’d given it to another woman.

Perhaps it was time to stop believing in fairy tales.

 

#DearValentine Challenge Week One: Office Gossip

5 Feb

Somehow, I managed to miss the beginning of ‘Timony Souler’s new writing challenge, #DearValentineBut although I’m too late to sign up properly, I only missed the posting date of the first prompt by a day, so I decided to participate anyway. This week’s prompt was: a note, a photograph, the docks.


Office Gossip

It’s all that anyone in the office can talk about, unsurprisingly really. Why on earth would Barry, who wears string vests under his suit jackets, chews with his mouth open, and seems incapable of continuing a conversation for longer than thirty seconds, why would he have a picture of a beautiful woman on his desk?

“Maybe it’s his sister?” Someone suggests, but this suggestion is quickly shot down. How could that gorgeous creature possibly be related to Barry?

“Maybe he’s stalking her.” This whisper spreads across the office, and heads nod in agreement. It can be the only explanation.

Emily, the giggly girl who was hired to be the boss’s assistant, but who seems to do nothing but gossip and dispense phony relationship advice, creeps over to the desk and studies the photograph. “There’s a note on the back!” She announces, as the assembled crowd hold their breath. “I think it’s a love letter!”

There’s a collective gasp, some quiet murmuring, and then someone speaks up. “He probably faked it.” The voice is malicious, it belongs to Roberta in Accounts, who hasn’t had a date in thirty years and probably never will again. “He just wants us to think he has an admirer. Why else would he have left it out there for everyone to see?”

More quiet murmurings. No-one likes Barry, but no-one much likes Roberta either, so they’re reluctant to pick sides.

“Well we’ll soon see.” Emily declares, with the expected giggle. “According to this note, he’s meeting her at the docks tonight. If he comes in looking like the cat that’s got the cream, then we’ll know that it wasn’t made up.”

But Barry doesn’t come into work the next day. In fact, he doesn’t come into work ever again. And when, a few weeks later, the body of a fat man in in a suit jacket and a string vest is pulled out of the water at the docks, the whispering in the office quietens guiltily. Only for a day or two, though.

#Nightgale Challenge Week 4: The Journal

26 Jan

PROMPT : Writing is Immortality

Keats – “But on the viewless wings of Poesy, Though the dull brain perplexes and retarts: Already with thee! Tender is the night, And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,”(Ode To a Nightingale)

(For the first three installments in this mini-series, see A Cure For Death, Dinnertime Conversation, and The Churchyard.)


The Journal

I stand in the doorway of the room, the room that was my sister’s. The room that bears no trace of her ever having lived there, apart from the book with the faded leather cover which rests on the crisply-folded linen sheets. Swallowing, I perch on the bed beside it, and cautiously touch the cover.

Two nights before, Elisabeth had been in a strange mood, methodically filling the pages of the little tome, hurried and yet oddly serene. The next morning she had been gone, leaving only the book behind. I flip open the cover, and see an inscription in her handwriting, clear and smooth but with a tendency to disregard the lines.

“To be deciphered only if I should fail in my quest.” I read, feeling a growing dread in the pit of my stomach. “For while I am still able to die, these words will live on forever, and allow anyone who wishes to continue this pursuit to do so.”

Fingers trembling, I turn the page. I do not know for certain if Elisabeth has ‘failed in her quest’, but I know my sister, and I don’t believe that she would have left the book unless she believed that failure was likely. But as my eyes fall on the next page I give a sound that is part-chuckle, part-groan. ‘Decipher’ was the correct word; the book consists entirely of diagrams and drawings, explained with a series of complicated symbols, the like of which I have never seen before in my life. This book may contain the cure for death, but to understand it one would first have to understand Elisabeth.

Sounds

20 Jan

This is a little something which I wrote in this week’s creative writing session. The prompt was “the most beautiful sound in the universe”.


Every day I am surrounded by sounds. The whistle of the kettle boiling the water for my morning coffee, the rustle of the newspaper as my husband turns its pages, the stomp of my son’s shoe-clad feet on the stairs. Outside on the street there are yet more sounds: horns blaring, doors slamming, people shouting. After a while it all turns into one indiscernable roar of noise. I cannot escape it, even if I plug my ears. It just continues, the sounds reverberating inside my brain.

Sometimes, when it’s late at night and I can’t sleep, I go downstairs and sit at the kitchen table. Even then, alone in the dark, there are sounds. My husband’s snoring, audible despite the heavy oak door between us. The slow steady beep of the smoke detector. Dripping, from the tap which we never seem to have time to fix. An occasional wailing siren, splitting the night in two.

It is at times like these that I close my eyes and remember. I remember my childhood, in a village so small that the local bus was barely more than an oversized people-carrier. I remember sitting at my bedroom window, staring in the direction of the city, where the life and the energy and the people were, and longing to be a part of it. I remember the silence of the nights there, broken only by the birds singing as daylight approached. I remember that birdsong, the only sound in an otherwise silent world. The most beautiful sound in the universe.

Nightgale Challenge Week Three: The Churchyard

19 Jan

January 19th – PROMPT To Die and become one with Nature

Keats – “Darkling I listen, for many a time, I have been half in love with easeful Death, Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme, To take into the air my quiet breath; Now more than ever seems it rich to die;”(Ode To A Nightingale)

(For the  first two installments in this mini-series, see A Cure For Death and Dinnertime Conversation).


The Churchyard 

A few weeks pass, and Elisabeth doesn’t mention her musings on death. I even start to think that she may have lost interest in it, out of character though that would be. And then I find her in the churchyard.

There is a large tree there, opposite the patch of earth where they buried Old Man Johnson just three weeks ago, and she is seated under it. There is a notebook in her lap, but she isn’t writing in it, and she flips it shut as I approach.

“Hiding your secrets?” I ask, half-teasing, half-wistful, and receive nothing but a smile in response, as she strokes the soft leather of the cover.

“What are you doing here?” I try a different line of enquiry, unsure as to whether I actually want a response, but unable to stop myself from searching for one.

“Thinking about the bodies.” She replies softly. “They become a part of the ground, and plants grow up from the ground. The same plant on every grave. Isn’t that interesting?”

It is interesting, and, I notice as I look around the graveyard, absolutely true. The same plant on every grave. What are the chances of that?

Nightgale Challenge Week One: A Cure for Death?

5 Jan


Today is the first day of  Stevie McCoy‘s #Nightgale Challenge, a four week creative writing challenge based on immortality and Romanticism. Today’s prompt was this:

Through Hemlock

Keats: “That I might drink, and leave the world unseen, And with thee fade away into the forest dim:”(Ode To A Nightingale)


A Cure for Death?

She is in the woods when I catch up to her, sitting cross-legged on the dusty ground, completely relaxed despite the scene that she has just caused. When she is in one of these moods she cares little about anything but her own disjointed thoughts.

“What are you doing?” I ask her, knowing already that the answer will be far from satisfactory but needing to ask regardless, desperate for even one small glimpse into the bizarre workings of her mind.

“Thinking.” She responds dreamily, her eyes fixed on some far off point in the distance, on something only she can see. “About death. It seems such a waste, doesn’t it? There must be some cure for it.”

“A cure…for death?” Even for her this is strange. Strange and even more unwarranted than usual.

“Yes.” She is impatient now, as she so often is when others fail to understand her. “Something right under our noses, no doubt. Probably a plant.” She pulls a leaf absently from the specimen beside her, twisting it between her slim fingers.

“Well, not that one!” I snap, impatient myself, tired of her inability to reside on the same planet as the rest of us. “That’s hemlock. It’s poisonous.”

“Oh?” She shrugs, unconcerned, and the leaf spirals to the ground. “No matter. Another one perhaps. There must be thousands of plants in here.”

And then she takes off again, a blur of dirty smock and unravelling pigtails as she disappears into the gloom. I sigh and sit on the ground in her place, picking up the discarded hemlock leaf. My sister, my wild, impulsive, untameable sister, may have a point. If there are plants in here which can kill, why should there not be some which grant eternal life?