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 ‘memories’ and here is my 376-worder.
You are a lovely lot
No child likes being told off and adults even less so. Being told off for saying you have a bad memory isn’t the worst thing in the world but it stuck, and every time Laura goes to say she has a bad memory she remembers her history teacher, Mrs Davis, shaking her head and tutting.
“Tell yourself something bad and you’ll believe it,” she’d say, but it was true, Laura had a terrible memory… for dates especially, history therefore being her worst subject, which made Mrs Davis warm to her even less.
The teachers at Fordham High had their ‘pets’; no apples were involved but the star pupils sat at the front so their hands would be the only ones the teachers saw. On the rare occasion their eyes did wander backwards it would inevitably be Laura they picked on, hand or no hand raised in the air. ‘Not remembering’ wasn’t an acceptable excuse and many a time she’d be sent to the Head for a caning on the hand.
She’s sure that if she ever had her palms read the fortune teller would frown, confused by the dominance of lines, unable to tell how long Laura’s life would be or how in love she could get.
Given the events of late 2001 it wouldn’t matter. Mid-August she’d said “goodbye” to her father, the last time they’d spoken, then just days later she’d heard the news on the radio driving back from the recycling tip. The first plane… the second… the pictures on TV when she got back to her mother’s and they turned on the news.
Laura’s father had died just three days before, in a comfortable hospital bed, unconscious for days, dementia swallowing his brain for the last time. She had had her farewell and as she saw the drama unfold and repeat, she thought of the daughters of the men in the buildings – businessmen, just like her father – unaware of what they were losing, no chance to say “goodbye”.
She imagined one man, grey, sitting at his desk, calm despite the panic around him. He was looking at a photograph; his wife, son, daughter, and he was smiling, saying just five words as the floor beneath him crumpled… “you are a lovely lot”.
Sorry about that… a happier one next time for sure.
If you like working from prompts you might be interested in my 365-Day Writer’s Block Workbook (Vol 1).
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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.