Welcome to the fortieth 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 $1.49 31-story collection eBook Story A Day May 2011.
I was nearing completion of the 2012 project (which I’m currently compiling for a $1.49 eBook) 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 including the keywords ‘plot’, ‘super’, ‘red’, ‘path’ and ‘cottage’, so here is my 573-worder.
Weapon of choice
He’d plotted this moment all day; romantic dinner, superb wine, get her in the ‘mood’ then he’d do it.
She loved him saying what he was going to do to her – gave her something to look forward to – only there were some things she didn’t need to know. Telling her he’d kiss her neck was fine, but saying he was going to wrap it in red silk and squeeze it until she stopped breathing would only spoil the moment for them both.
He’d kiss then caress her neck, let her feel the scarf soft against her skin, stand behind her, a position of strength. She’d struggle of course, try and scratch his hands but she bit her nails so they’d have little effect. Besides, he was a foot taller, heavier.
As he walked up the path to the cottage, a bottle of Mas de Daumas Gassac in one hand, the other inside his right jacket pocket, she opened the door and smiled. He followed her inside, right hand feeling the soft material that had lain there all day, since he’d removed it from her dressing table that morning.
They went into the kitchen where she’d already started cooking, the smell of his favourite meal, beef goulash, permeating the air.
“I’ve got something to tell you,” she said but he knew what she was going to say; that she’d found someone else, that she didn’t want to be with him anymore, that this was the last meal they’d share together. He’d known for weeks, could tell she was ‘acting’, that something wasn’t right.
Placing the wine bottle on the kitchen table, he went over to the stove and stood behind her as she stirred the goulash, then watched her lean over to smell the sauce. Although he was hungry, he’d hardly touched breakfast, skipped lunch, the thought of sharing a meal with her now made him feel sick.
There’d be no last meal, no small talk, no “I’m sorry” conversation.
Pulling out the scarf he wrapped each end round his wrists and pulled it tight, then brought it over her head and in front of her neck. He saw her head lower, her gaze following the scarf.
“Oh, that’s where it went,” she said and laughed, a laugh he used to find endearing but had more recently found annoying, like a schoolgirl’s, immature, almost babyish. She stopped laughing as he brought the two ends behind her neck and crossed them tightly. “Ow,” she said, putting her free hand up to her neck, “lighten up a little, will you darling.”
But he didn’t lighten up, he squeezed, his biceps pressing against his pale blue work shirt.
He heard the clank of the spoon as she dropped it into the saucepan and starting pulling at the scarf, her fingers clawing at his, her voice no longer understandable but a rasp that eventually faded as she slumped to the floor.
That’s when he saw the envelope, on the work surface, her name in writing he didn’t recognise and he knew he’d done the right thing. He stepped over her body, lunged at the envelope and tugged out the single sheet of paper. As the photograph revealed itself he saw the scan, the human peanut surrounded by a black and white blur, and screamed as he dropped to the ground.
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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.