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 write a story with an unreliable narrator, so here is my 594-worder following on from my Tuesday Tales story, The photo that no-one else can get.
The photographer that no-one else can get
The old man nodded.
The journalism student noted it down. “When was that?”
“August 19th 1997, my birthday.”
“I know. A couple of weeks before…”
“Where were you?”
“Paris. She came here a lot.”
The old man nodded again. “She said she was going to leave him but…”
“Why couldn’t she?”
“I can’t tell you, I promised.”
“It won’t do anyone any harm now, not after all these years.”
“She has family. Grand children… great grand children soon. No, it’ll never come out.”
“But you’re telling me now.”
“You won’t believe me and you won’t say anything, or print it. It’s too big a risk from an old fool.”
“I do believe you, Mr…”
“James. Call me, James.”
“But I… oh. I’m Naomi. I do believe you, Mr James, that’s why I’m here.”
“Not Mr, just James. Then you’ll know about the photographs, and the car.”
“My old white Fiat. Long gone. A square cube of metal used as someone’s coffee table no doubt.”
“So there was…”
“I read about it in the papers of course, so someone must have seen me but nothing ever happened. I waited, hid the car in a deserted barn until I knew the coast was clear then gave it to a scrap dealer on the condition he’d strip it for parts then crush it. He was a friend of a friend so I believed him. Never heard anything so…”
“And you have photographs?”
“Of course. Loads. Not printed, couldn’t have evidence lying around so I left them on the stick. I didn’t need to print them anyway, or ever look at them again. I have them all… up here,” he said, tapping his forehead.
“Where is it now, the stick?”
“In the car.”
Staring out to the car park, Naomi asked, “You still drive?”
The old man laughed. “No! Don’t be silly, dear. I’m knocking on 100. In the Fiat. The stick never came to light either so it’s probably underneath someone’s News of the World or remote control.”
“They don’t make the News of…” She looked up when the Manager, a tall plump woman with a red face, blocked the light from the window.
“Sorry folks, but it’s meal time.”
Naomi was about to ask another question, expecting to have a few minutes’ grace, when the Manager coughed overdramatically.
Closing her notebook, Naomi tucked it, along with her royal blue fountain pen, into her messenger bag. “Thank you, James. Do you mind if I come back another time?”
“Certainly dear, but don’t leave it too long. As I said I’m knocking…”
“I’ll see you out,” the Manager butted in and the two women walked towards the building’s exit.
“Get everything you wanted?”
“Which name did he give you?”
“Ah, it’s 007 is it today? Ms Windsor, we’ve had a stream of people here to see him over the years. Since he started saying… well, everything he’s just told you. Don’t believe a word of it. We let them in, let you in, to keep him amused so I’m sorry that you’ve wasted your time but he just loves to make things up, bordering on cruel if you ask me, trying to make people believe his lies.”
But of course the man wasn’t lying. He just had a bad memory. He’d been going by different names all his life. Never knew what his real one was, having been left in a handbag in a cloakroom in Victoria Railway Station.
If you like working from prompts you might be interested in my 365-Day Writer’s Block Workbook (Vol 1).
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 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. 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.