Welcome to the second in the new series: 5pm Fiction.
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.
I was nearing completion of the 2012 project when I decided that I didn’t want to stop at the end of May so 5PM Fiction was born. I put a load of prompts on the 5PM Fiction page and today’s was ‘weird’, so here is my 425-worder, the title of which is one of my favourite Stranglers songs.
Strange Little Girl
It wasn’t until she overheard a conversation that Lollie had ever considered herself weird. That was the word they’d used. She wasn’t very good at long words but she knew the funny ones, the weird ones.
“Weird, strange, per-cue-lee-er,” she said, thinking it great to be called any of those. Nice is boring. Sweet is what an old aunt calls you. And in half an hour hers would be looking after her while her mum and dad went out. To the cinema. Lollie wanted to go with them but they said she was too young. She was always too young, unless her mother wanted her to do something, like go to the corner shop to fetch Auntie Mildred’s favourite sweets, barley sugar. Lollie had tried one once and thought it tasted like medicine so had spat it onto her hand, and Auntie Mildred had told her off. “Lauren!” she’d said, never calling her Lollie. “You’re named after a famous actress,” she’d said once, “not an ice cream.”
But Lollie loved ice creams, especially cherry, apricot or mint, or all three.
It was while she was waiting in the queue for 100 grams from one of the jars behind the counter that she’d heard the boys talking about her. She’d turned round and realised they went to the same school. Adrian something, Peter Smith, and a third she didn’t recognise. “That Lollie’s weird,” the third said and she wondered how he knew if she didn’t know him. The other two had laughed and agreed.
She should be getting back home before her aunt arrived, but waited outside the shop until the boys came out. Feeling brave, she wanted to speak to them, ask them what they had meant.
Adrian came out first eating a packet of crisps, then Peter pouring out some Smarties on to his palm and throwing them into his mouth, tipping his head back.
Despite it being cold and almost dark, the third boy came out unwrapping an ice cream.
“I thought you didn’t like those,” Adrian said.
“Weird, you called it,” Peter added.
The other boy nodded. “I know but it’s like Marmite. Sometimes you hate it and sometimes…”
So they hadn’t meant her. She felt a little disappointed but it had made her think about herself and she liked being weird, even if for only a few minutes, so she decided she would stay weird and if her Aunt didn’t like it then that was too bad. Maybe if the boy Lollie didn’t know liked weird, they could be weird together.
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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.