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 second person viewpoint story starting ‘As you step up to ring the bell…’, so here is my 454-worder.
Dowdy is a let-down
John thinks you’re swimming and he’s supposed to be at work but you followed him here then waited until he went inside… then waited a while longer until it was touch and go whether he’d resurface.
You’ve not seen the woman but expect her to be young. And pretty, like you were when you and John first met, before the four children distorted your figure from model to mother, career woman to housewife, for almost fifteen years.
And now the man you love… loved… is separated by a brown wooden door and panes of glass which betray your form.
Dipping into your handbag, you pull out the mirror and wipe away the smudged mascara with the side of your finger. Make-up went years ago but it’s returned today, for the showdown.
Noticing the door is slightly open, you push it a fraction and wait, listening for voices, footsteps, but none are forthcoming. You push the door a little more, then hear the noise; heavy breathing and his voice.
“That was fun,” he says, out of breath. “Let’s do it again.”
You thrust the front door backwards and it hits something. You don’t look at what but stomp through the hallway and into the lounge.
The picture that greets you isn’t quite what you expected; fully-clothed not naked, vertical not horizontal but John is out of breath and red-faced.
“What the hell?” the woman says as she looks at you.
She is younger but plain and that feels worse. You’d expect him to leave you for someone her age but dowdy, even in such a stunning dress, is a let-down.
“Susan!” John puffs, half-bent, palms on his knees, but looking up at you. He straightens and steps forward, but you back away.
“It’s not what you think,” the woman says. That’s what they always say, you’ve watched enough TV.
“She’s… she’s…” John tries.
You can’t say anything but just stand there shaking your head.
“She’s teaching me,” he blurts.
“I bet she is,” you hiss and can’t remember ever being this angry at him, this hurt.
“The tango,” the woman says coolly. “It was supposed to be a surprise.”
You look from her to him and back to her. “What?”
“He’s bought you a cruise for your wedding anniversary. Doesn’t want to be an embarrassment on the dance floor. He’s very good actually. You’re a lucky woman.”
And as you look back at his big blue eyes, he reminds you of the first dog you had as a child and you whimper, “Yes, very lucky.”
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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 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.