Late April 2011 I discovered
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 about a best friend (“and make us love the hero”) and give it a kick-ass ending. Not sure about the latter but here goes my 609-worder.
A hero doesn’t have to rescue people from a burning building. He, or she, doesn’t have to develop a miracle cure. Anyone can be a hero and sometimes it takes something very small to been seen as one; a small gesture, small talk, a small step.
Being told she’d never walk again made Abbie all the more determined. She’d known the risks when she signed up, headed out to a country she could barely spell, in heat she’d not been prepared for. Sun bathing was nothing compared to this. No sun cream manufacturer made a factor that would go this high but she loved every second, the camaraderie she’d never known, even being one of seven siblings and it was their strength she found when she got home, badly injured with months of physio training ahead of her.
The two metal poles stretching out reminded her of the parallel bars she’d used at school, only then she’d bounded up to them, performing twists and somersaults like she’d later do in diving competitions.
“Twenty minutes today,” Jack told her nonchalantly as if that would be easy. It had been fifteen minutes yesterday, ten the day before. She’d wanted to give up at five.
He’d let go once she’d grabbed the poles, them supporting her thin frame, then he’d stood back, waiting for her to move. She wanted to cheat, pull her legs along with her hands but she’d tried that, alone in her specially-adapted bedroom and with nothing to support her had collapsed in a heap.
Now, she wanted to look around the room at her friends, some newer than others, do anything but walk. Except that’s all she wanted to do, just a simple action that so many take for granted, that she had.
“Any time you like,” Jack said winking. “We’ve got all day.”
Abbie knew that wasn’t true, that his time was precious, that there were others booked in after her. So she breathed in, until her lungs felt they had no more space, and grunted her way to a slow, arduous, painful first step.
“Good,” Jack said and moved to the end of the beams so unless she looked down or away, he’d been in her line of sight, like an enemy in the warzone. “Don’t stop,” he said when she’d paused too long.
She took another lungful of air and twisted her body to guide her left foot forward. Her arms were already beginning to ache so she slacked off her grip and felt herself falling.
“Grab, Abbie!” Jack shouted and she grabbed the bars, keeping herself upright.
“Keep going,” he said and she repeated her method, putting out her right foot. “Now that wasn’t so difficult was it,” Jack said, smiling at her.
“Easy for you to say,” she growled.
“Yes, it is. But you keep doing that and I won’t need to.”
Abbie gritted her teeth and took another step, swinging her hips to aid her momentum. As she edged closer, Jack backed away. “I’m not going off the end,” she said, when he’d stopped a few feet away.
“I know but with hips like that you’ll need some room to turn round.”
“You cheeky git!”
“Gets you moving.”
It was then Abbie realised she was at the end of the bars. Remembering her technique from the previous days she swung herself round, ignoring the pain that shot up her body, and grabbed the bars as her knees started to buckle.
As he walked back to the other end, Jack started clapping. Abbie blushed and concentrated on gripping the bars for the return journey… to Jack, her best friend, former comrade and husband-to-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.