Armed with the prompt ‘Love’ I headed to the park this morning (Sunday) to write my second short story for online writing group Tuesday Tales and below is the result. Last week I wrote a third-person story called Two Backwards One Forwards and in it was a small amount of second person. It’s my favourite point of view so I chose it for this week’s story. I hope you enjoy it… oh, and apologies in advance but a lot of my writing is quite morose and this is no exception.
Tuesday Tales provides a new prompt each week, the members write a story inspired by it and post it on our blogs / websites. Then we email the link and first two or three sentences to Jean Joachim. She then posts them on the Tuesday Tales blog (on a Tuesday ), gives us the link then we go out and shout about it. So, without further ado, here is my 467-worder.
You wonder if she’s married. She talks in first person. Always I, never we. Singular. No ring. Like you. You’ve never spoken to her, of course, just heard snippets of conversation from two rows ahead.
You think you love her – you’ve seen her every morning for the past three years. Evenings too sometimes. Strokes of luck that have you both finishing at the same time. You don’t know where she works as she turns left as she gets off the bus, you right. You’ve thought about turning left, following her, but that would be creepy and you don’t want to do anything that would put her off. Not that you’ve done anything to encourage her.
She knows you exist but not how much of an existence it is: work, sleep, little ‘play’ in between.
She’s always smiling, chatting to fellow passengers… on the phone. Never to you. But then you don’t let her get that close. Closeness is something you struggle with. Have done since…
You don’t like to think of back then. You’d rather it be a blank canvas on which to paint happy thoughts, fondly-remembered places, warm embraces.
She’s late this morning. You only remember her being late twice before – other than being on holiday. But then she didn’t turn up at all. You’d known she was going away – Mrs Davis had told you. Because the two ladies talk. A lot. Just day-to-day stuff, nothing too personal, more mother : daughter conversations.
Then you notice Mrs Davis is crying. You’ve never seen her cry before and you’ve known her longer than Beth. Just the thought of her name makes you smile but then you see Mrs Davis look at you and she bursts into tears.
You leave your seat and sit in the empty one beside her – Beth’s seat. You’ll keep it warm until she arrives. There are still plenty of people getting on so she has time.
You want to put your arm around her. Mrs Davis. Tell her it can’t be that bad and you’re still debating when she takes your hands in hers and starts speaking, between sobs.
You wonder if her tears are because of Mr Davis but you don’t think he’s ever done something to warrant something like this. She doesn’t say any more and you wonder if she’s waiting for you to speak but she lets go of your hand and picks up a paper from her lap. She unfolds it, revealing the front page. You recognise the photograph. The smile.
You feel sick as you read the text. ‘Local secretary, Beth Robinson, killed in freak accident.’
The bus lurches and starts its journey. To the town centre. To the bus stop where you’ll be getting off. Turning right, as you make your way to the bank.
Smoky Zeidel, (currently challenging everyone to write 100-word stories including grasshopper, jackhammer and peppermint!) challenged me to pare this story down to 100-words so, always being up for a writing challenge (too many ‘challenge’s, get the red pen out!) I did it and you can read it below, within the comments section.
The links to the first seven prompts, and resulting stories, and the forthcoming prompts can be found on my new Tuesday Tales page here on this blog. Do go and check out the Tuesday Tales site – it’s a wonderful idea supported by talented writers and this story was listed, with 19 other writers, on the site on 7th February.
So, not only can you read these stories but you could also write your own using the prompts given each week. There’s no word count limit. Single-word prompts are something I regularly give my Monday night workshop and it’s amazing how different our stories can be.
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords, Sony Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Bookstore, Kobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me. I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.
Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called Short Story Saturdays where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.