Late April 2011 I discovered http://StoryADay.org and the project that is to write 31 stories in 31 days. Anyone who knows me or follows this blog, knows how passionate I am about short stories so my clichéd eyes lit up at this new marvel. And just a few days later there I was, breathing life into new characters. This went on to become (with some editing of course) my 31-story collection eBook Story A Day May 2011.
And here we are a year later doing it all over again. Today’s prompt was simple; write a story in no more than 1,200 words. It’s only day one and I’m already cheating… I had homework to do for tonight’s Northampton Literature Group’s Writing Circle, a c.500-word story with the prompt ‘One Summer’s Day’. Having rained all day there hasn’t been much inspiration but I used this to my advantage… oh, and I cheated further and one of the forthcoming prompts for Tuesday Tales is ‘trees’ so I went with that theme… and at 18:21 this evening, yes, nothing like leaving it to the last minute, got writing… here is my 497-worder (or 500 if you include the title ).
An English summer
Sheltering from the storm under the old oak tree, you look up and try to find a break in the grey cloud. The harder you look the more you realise there’s no shading; it’s all one colour, like photocopy paper for bland posters about bland events.
And that reminds you of Eric. And why you left him. He’d been the fun one at the beginning, pulling you to places you hadn’t wanted to go until he’d stopped pulling and settled in Hull. Dull Hull. He’d laughed and said it could have been worse, that it could have been Corby, but at least you knew people in Corby.
You’d weathered each other these past ten years, outgrowing him as you’d become outgoing, going out with friends from the gym and the writing group. He’d had his bowling club but then they’d laughed at him, an innocent laugh, and he vowed never to return. With no interest in writing or getting fit, he’d refused your invitations so stayed at home and vegetated.
And it had been like that until you woke up one morning, looked at him and realised that there was nothing. No passion. No laughter. No happy ever after. And you’d wanted more.
So you’d packed and gone to live with one of the poets; Sally. And you’d begun to laugh again. And so had your writing. Dark tales turned to humour and you’d watched the glint in Sally’s eyes as you read them to her.
Until last week, when Eric had turned up. Full of fury, full of the passion that had been missing, but he’d got it all wrong… she was just a friend, a colleague of the arts. He’d pushed you aside, into the bannister, winded you and you’d sat down… just for a moment to catch your breath.
Sally and Eric had argued, about you, but you hadn’t wanted that attention. So you went through to the kitchen where Sally was making the dinner and watched, in slow motion, as Eric grabbed the knife from her hand and plunged it into her heart. The heart that had been full of compassion for a stray. For you.
He’d been full of remorse. After the event but it was too late. Too late to explain.
And now as the rain falls, you watch them lower the coffin, look over at Sally’s husband Tom and their two children, and you want to say “sorry” again. For the hundredth time. But all you can think of is that it’s summer, that it should be warm, that you should be wearing a skimpy dress, with Sally reading poetry to you, clinking glasses of Pimms.
As Tom throws earth into the hole, you feel a tug at your wrist and look round. The man in the navy uniform tells you it’s time to go, and you look back at Tom. He nods as you’re led away to start the life sentence for killing the man who killed his wife.
If you like working from prompts you might be interested in my 365-Day Writer’s Block Workbook (Vol 1).
You can also read / download my eBooks (including Story A Day May 2011) and free eShorts at Smashwords, Sony Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Bookstore, Kobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum and you can follow me on Twitter, 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.
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