The twenty-ninth prompt from online writing group Tuesday Tales (my twenty-third story for them) was ‘red’ and below is the result.
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 536-worder.
She’d imagined it was her mother, she’d have been about the right age. She didn’t speak German, never had an interest in going there, and certainly wouldn’t watch any war movies, favouring comedies and the lightest of family dramas.
“Life is hard enough than to be reminded of it,” she’d say and Eileen knew she’d had her ups and downs but couldn’t imagine anything would have been as bad as that but understood living that era had been close enough, so didn’t press the matter.
It was too late to ask her now. Eileen wished she could turn the clock back a few months, to when they had their long conversations every other month when Eileen visited from her Scottish home. She should have persevered with the idea of Hilda writing her autobiography, recall those missing years hushed into the corners of her mind. Like an old house, the dust was swept aside, different memories uncovered during each visit. It was only in the last few months of her mother’s life that Eileen started to write things down, the last few weeks recorded on her dictaphone. She would recount previous conversations, to check her facts, only to be met by blank stares as if the events had happened to someone else. Even mention of Frank, who Eileen had been too young to remember, would merit a tilt of the head and the offer of another cup of tea.
Then a few weeks later Eileen had received the call she’d been dreading, travelled the journey long enough to dictate earlier conversations and the jobs ahead.
There followed the paperwork, the funeral, distant relatives giving their condolences to a woman they barely knew. Eileen had put her mother’s house on the market and set to the task of dividing her possessions between charity shop, skip and sentimental keepsakes.
In one of the drawers in the bedroom’s dresser, Eileen found an envelope containing a small silver key, with it a note of the bank and box number. Having lived frugal lives it was the last thing Eileen had expected so drove straight there and asked to see the box. She’d taken her mother’s death certificate and probate documentation and after a phone call and hushed conversation, the bank manager had introduced Eileen to his colleague who would show her the vault.
The man shut the door behind him, leaving Eileen alone surrounded by what felt like her school’s changing room, only the lockers would have held much poorer contents.
Eileen stared at the metal box and turned over the key in her hand. Like the room, it felt alien. Her box was one of the biggest and yet, she guessed, one of the lightest; not light enough to be empty but not containing weighty jewels, bonds or cash that she suspected the others housed.
The key glided into its hole and turned easily. Lifting the lid slowly, it made no noise but as Eileen let it fall backwards she leapt back as it clanked onto the hard counter top and exposed the contents within. Just one item: a child’s red woollen jacket.
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.
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.
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 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.