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 re-write a previous Story a Day story in a different point of view. I went through the stories I had written and remembered that regular reader, supporter and interviewee Yvonne Hertzberger wanted more from the mother’s point of view of May 5th story Two Out of Three so here is my 595-worder in my favourite viewpoint, second person.
One out of three
Staring at the old school photo, it scares you how much Nate looks like Adam.
Nate’s on a school trip today and you’re missing him already. It’s only been an hour but you know he’ll not be giving you a moment’s thought. His favourite place, the space museum. Typical boy, he loves anything big and shiny.
His teacher, Mrs Desmond, is your favourite. She’s the woman you’d pick out for a grandmother if you had to, the times you wish your mother was still alive. She’d have told you what to do.
You feel like you’re going wrong but you don’t know how. You want to be better than Adam’s new wife although you know she’s no threat. She’s too wrapped up in getting a family of her own to bother about the old one.
You’re willing the post to come, the phone to ring, something with news of your interview. It felt like it went well but you’re nervous all the same. It’s nearby, school hours and you know how much the extra money will help; Nate can have new clothes and maybe after a while you can buy a better car, not as big as Adam’s but something that doesn’t make you nervous every time you turn the key.
The radio’s good on a Thursday and you keep yourself busy until it’s time to collect your son. The post is only bills and the solitary call asks for the bridal shop so you tell them through gritted teeth to reverse the last two digits. They tell you how sorry they are but you just want them to hang up. There’s 1571 but you don’t want to miss the call.
Replaying the interview in your head as you drive, you realise Nate’s been talking, but you don’t want to ask him to repeat, so say, “that’s nice” and keep your eyes on the road. He’s still talking when you get home and only pauses when you check the answerphone.
At dinner he tells you all about the machines that mean nothing to you so you just smile as you serve up the Shepherd’s Pie and gooseberry fool.
The next day brings no post or calls and they say no news is good news but you’d rather know, so you’re still frustrated when Nate brings home a photograph of his trip which you put on the mantelpiece for safekeeping. Saying it’s nice, you mean to sound more genuine but he’s already reading his Doctor Who comic and the moment’s past.
Saturday morning, Nate’s waiting by the front door, ten minutes early. Adam’s notoriously late and you want to tell Nate not to get his hopes up, when the doorbell rings and he pulls it open. He throws his arms around his father’s waist and is as swiftly encompassed. It’s a sight you rarely see and you want to join them for a group hug but you know there’s a boundary and it’s ‘their’ time so you back away quietly into the kitchen.
Leaving the door open so you can see through the crack, you watch Nate drag his dad into the lounge and pull him to the mantelpiece. He removes the photograph and lifts it up.
You can’t see him clearly but you swear Adam is crying.
“You look smashing, Nate,” he says, ruffling your son’s hair, just like he used to do to his own whenever he’d had a shower. Remembering his physique, you smile then stop as you hear footsteps, and can’t help blushing as Adam walks into the kitchen.
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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.