Armed with a 300-word maximum and the picture prompt (right), the twenty-third prompt by online writing group Tuesday Tales, I headed out for a dog walk and below (after a little tweaking) is the result, my seventeenth story for TT.
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 300-worder (excl. title).
A Bad Feeling
He had a bad feeling about this one. ‘Body under bridge’ never brought about a good one but tonight…
Tonight followed afternoon, the afternoon’s argument with his daughter, Charlotte, and a back-and-forth over the length of her skirt. Every parent / daughter does it and neither side wins; resentment, looks of hurt, mistrust, regardless of which side gets their way.
He’d phoned her mobile later, left a message, said he was sorry, that he had to go into work, for her to be careful. He knew she’d shake her head, feel stifled, like a child.
Elizabeth often told him he was too soft, that Charlotte took advantage, that she was a Daddy’s girl, and she was usually right. He’d known Elizabeth half his life and it had taken half of that to have their daughter, their only child, so it was his job, like it was his job to go and see dead bodies under bridges. No other detail than that; no age, no gender, but he didn’t want to know. Know too much and you start thinking, give them a family, a life.
If he was lucky tonight it would still be clothed, intact, simple. A mugging gone wrong, gunshot wound, knife through the heart. He was nearing retirement and that didn’t suit complicated.
Slipping down the wet steps he growled and went to put his hands out but steadied. He hated that; lack of balance, of control.
Those already there, his colleagues, looked particularly grim. “Crap. It’s a bad one,” he said to himself.
No-one spoke as he walked to the bridge, to the body.
He felt the tears come and he didn’t care who saw them, then felt his phone vibrate, looked at the name on the screen. He pressed the green button hesitantly. “Charlotte. Your mother.”
The links to the earlier prompts, and resulting stories, and the forthcoming prompts can be found on this blog’s Tuesday Tales page. Do go and check out the Tuesday Tales blog – it’s a wonderful idea supported by talented writers and you can read the other stories from this picture prompt here.
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.
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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.