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 to take inspiration from Wikipedia’s home page. I only reached the second item and immediately had my story… and below, in first person viewpoint, is my 574-worder…
What He Saw
Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight,
Red sky in morning, fisherman’s warning.
I had a dream. That’s what Martin Luther King said, wasn’t it. Oh no, present tense, “have a dream”.
I had one too, the other night, only it wasn’t half as nice as his. I was stuck in traffic… on a motorway, I think it was. Stationary, in the fast lane, silver barriers dented and bruised. I remember there was a lorry in the lane to my left. Never liked lorries much… big, cumbersome things, but we have to have food, don’t we. So there I was, waiting for some kind of life from the cars in front, when it got dark. I looked out my side window expecting to see rain but the sky was cloudless. Bluer, than I’d seen in a while too, or maybe it was only because I was paying attention for once. No, I do pay attention. I’m a painter so I take note. Up here, the old brain cells.
Anyway, with nothing happening in that direction I looked back ahead and that’s when I saw it, the lorry… tipping over… to its right, with me in its middle. Of course I couldn’t go forwards, car blocking my way, so I swung round to look over my left shoulder, through my car, to see if I could reverse. Stupid. Of course I couldn’t, I was in a traffic jam. What I should have done was to get out, run like hell, but in dreams you don’t think of things like that, do you. You have no control. You could be screaming at yourself but it would make no difference, you do what your sub-sub-conscious does, not your sub-conscious. Two layers of you like a sponge cake. I had to laugh when I thought of that, what with the red raspberry jam they usually use. No, I know, not tasteful. Sorry about that.
Anyway, it shook me up. Still had it in my brain when I left the house. Not sure why because I don’t even have a car.
Wasn’t really awake anyway, being that early, but had to catch the light. Tomas was a sport too but he said he didn’t mind, that he was often up at that time to go fishing.
I’d picked the perfect spot, just off the main road, by the fence over the river, beautiful even without the sky. I reckon he thinks I’m a bit mad, that it would be too ordinary when there are plenty of other things to paint. But I wanted to paint him, he’s quirky-looking, since he lost his hair.
And he was there already, in that long navy top he’s addicted to. His wife must be sick of washing it.
I settled on him standing near the end of the bridge so I could get the river in, a nice swirl of blue, trailing off behind him, the banks either side. I set up my easel and was about to start when I spotted a couple in the distance. At first I wasn’t best pleased but then I thought “hey, why not”.
Then I spotted Tom’s expression, wide-eyed like he was trying to stretch the sleep out of his eyes. The easel slipped a little, so I grabbed it, instinct, losing my focus on Tom. Sound without the vision. The sound of him calling my name, “Edvard! Edvard!”, before I could look up or turn round.
# # #
Historically of course my story couldn’t have happened*, plus I had it set in the morning rather than the evening, but fun to write nonetheless.
*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edvard_Munch (12 December 1863 – 23 January 1944)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King,_Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)
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.