Welcome to the ninetieth in this daily series that is ‘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 originally to write a monologue from the point of view of a film character but I had a puncture (the reason why this is being posted an hour late) so I wrote this instead, sitting in the garage waiting room. So here is my 435-worder.
Cardboard box in a field
I’m sitting here staring at a glass-topped table with a circle of flowers. Pressed ones. Real ones. Dead ones. You think they’d be more… diplomatic, sensitive.
Not sure why I’m here really. Mum didn’t want any fuss. “Stick me in a cardboard box and bury me in a field,” she’d told me once and I don’t think she was joking. But I couldn’t do it, could I. Not strong enough to move her myself, even as thin as she was, and I don’t know any farmers who’d be willing… And where would I get a box big enough? Tesco don’t do free ones at the ends of the tills anymore and sticky-taping them together would be… you know, disrespectful.
My left eye’s twitching. Tired. Overly tired. Not slept properly since…
There’s lots of organising to do so it’s keeping me busy. It’s like getting married – how I imagine, anyway – you wonder if you’ve remembered everything but then that’s what these people are for, aren’t they? Make sure everything flows.
They all look so serious. Of course I don’t expect them to be laughing and joking but it doesn’t make me feel any better.
I hope they’re not much longer. Didn’t expect they’d be this busy but then I suppose it’s that time of year, when it’s gets to the old people. To mum. Six months shy of her 70th too. Thought I’d be organising that not… this.
Catalogue? Really? OK.
Cup of tea would be lovely, thank you. Oh, weak please. If you don’t mind. Dunk and out. Little bit of milk, little bit of sugar, little bit of tea. Thank you.
Half a spoonful, yes please. No hurry, I can see you’re…
She was nice.
There’s a lot of choice.
Caskets. So they call them caskets. Coffin sounds so final. Caskets does have a nicer ring. Go for a light one I think, nothing too dreary. Oak. Beech maybe or… cardboard! Oh mum, they’ve got cardboard.
Type of service. Don’t suppose they do one without religion. She wasn’t a believer in all… short and sweet. It actually says “short and sweet”. That’ll fit her to a ‘t’. 5’7 at school but shrunk since then.
They’ve even got locations. Wow. They think of every… Two cemeteries. The out of town, definitely. That one looks… third option? No! Seriously? No way. A field. A specially-apportioned field overlooking the lake. Sold.
Oh, hello. Thank you, I’ll be careful. I usually let it cool. I’m not one of these…
It’s very comprehensive this catalogue.
I have, yes. The ‘Garden Casket’, short and sweet at Lakeside View. Thank you.
After a couple of days without a ‘body’ in a story, I knew I couldn’t last… sorry about that.
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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.