Welcome to the twenty-fourth in the 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 to write a story containing an air stewardess, factory worker, park, hayfever, bag of essentials and love, so here is my 587-worder.
Same time tomorrow
“Thank you.” Wayne looked over at the woman. Beautiful, and beyond the reach of someone like him but where better, he thought, to be while eating his sandwiches. “Do you mind if I sit?”
“Not at all, I’ll budge up. She was so slim that she took up hardly any space on the old wooden bench but had the largest handbag he’d ever seen. A bag she’d just hauled on to the floor to make room for him.
“That’s sweet,” he said, pointing to the bench.
“Not a problem,” she replied.
“No, I meant the plaque.”
The woman looked over her left shoulder. “Oh yes. In memory of Richard Denby. Beloved father of Thomas, grandfather to Jack. No women.”
“Three generations of men but no women.”
“You wanted to sit?”
“Yes, thank you.” He sat down and took out a sandwich.
“Why do you think there are no women?” the woman continued.
“Perhaps they just weren’t around?
“The grandchild being male is fair enough but no grandmother, no mother.”
“Maybe they’re dead too, something hereditary perhaps… you know, before Richard Denby.”
“That’s morbid and too sad.”
“Not enough room on the plaque?”
“They could have had a bigger one.”
“I guess, although it’s a small bench.” Wayne patted the bench’s arm to his left.
“Maybe the three of them had a special bond?”
“Like a boys club.”
Wayne nodded. “Exactly.”
“That would be nice.”
“Maybe there’s another bench with the women on.”
“Not in this park, I’ve sat on them all.”
“All? How many are there?”
“Eleven… including this one.”
“No. Only three… well, four, this one’s new. I usually sit nearer the lake but…”
“It’s silly really.”
“The schools are off and there are loads of people feeding the ducks.”
“You don’t like ducks?”
“They’re OK. It’s the geese really. They can be really nasty.”
“It would be the children for me,” Wayne said without thinking.
The woman threw her head back and laughed. Her teeth were immaculate and Wayne bit on his lip as he suddenly became conscious of his tobacco-stained ones.
“Do you have children?” Wayne asked hoping he’d not put his foot in it.
“God, no,” she replied. “I had a narrow escape once.”
Wayne waited, hoping she’d elaborate but she changed the subject.
“What are your sandwiches?”
“I have two, would you like…”
“No, you’re fine. I’ve just eaten, thank you.”
“What did you have?” Wayne asked, then blushed as he realised how small their small talk had become.
“Cheese wrap, more boring than it sounds but it’s all I had in the fridge that was still edible.”
“Again very boring.”
“It’s always looked lovely on the TV.”
“It is but not when you only see it from an aeroplane.”
The woman seeing Wayne’s puzzled expression added, “Air stewardess, all flying or hotels. The occasional stop-over but even then it’s all shop talk and well, after 20 years it gets a bit…”
Wayne didn’t think she looked old enough to have working that long but was relieved that it made them similar ages.
She held out a hand. “Rachel.”
“Wayne,” he said and blushed again.
“Lovely to meet you Wayne. I should go actually, sorry,” she said. “Nothing in the house. Same time tomorrow?”
Wayne nodded. “Look forward to it,” he said and watched her leave before finishing his sandwich and heading to the chemist to buy some stain-removing toothpaste and nicotine gum.
Photography courtesy of morguefile.com. 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, 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 fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, 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.