Welcome to the ninety-third 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 to write a story from a one-word prompt: ‘nostalgia’, so here is my 459-worder (carrying on yesterday’s bus stop theme).
Waiting for the number 12
The man smiled.
“Not so hot today.”
The man nodded.
Sylvia wasn’t used to people not talking to her, so she tried again. “Are you waiting for the number 12?”
“I am,” he said. “You?”
Sylvia shook her head.
“Oh?” The man raised his bushy eyebrows.
He reminded her of Denis Healey except this man, her man until the number 12 arrived, was thinner. Just as young but blue, Sylvia thought, his eyes are bluer. She couldn’t remember what colour Denis’ eyes actually were, there was a lot she couldn’t remember these days, but she didn’t think they were ever like his… her man.
He sneezed and pulled out a not-quite-eye-blue cotton handkerchief, more royal, like King George wears.
“Bless you,” Sylvia said timidly but unsure why. Suddenly she couldn’t remember how old she was and began to panic.
“Are you alright?” her man asked.
“Oh,” she said, flustered, but his voice was so soothing that she already relaxing. “37.”
“I don’t know.”
“It’s OK,” he said, and put a hand on her arm.
“I think I’m waiting for the 37.” Or was she 37?
“Oh,” he said.
Sylvia thought he looked like a John. She had a John once but she knew she didn’t have him anymore. Someone had told her that once and it stuck. So ‘her man’ became John. “Where does the number 12 go?”
“Your bus. Where does it go?”
“Erm,” John hesitated. “The town centre.”
“Oh, that’s a shame.”
“I thought it might go somewhere nice, like the beach or…”
The man laughed.
Sylvia screwed up her nose and felt like the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, or Tabitha in Bewitched. She wanted to twitch it to see if anything magical happened but she knew from life that it didn’t work like that.
“Are you going to work?” she asked the man.
“You look very smart.”
She liked his uniform, green instead blue like her first John’s, more hospital than navy. It was reassuring.
Sylvia winced as a drop of rain hit her nose. “It’s raining.”
“Oh dear,” the man said, holding out his right hand, palm side upwards.
“I didn’t bring an umbrella,” Sylvia continued. “I hope the bus won’t be long.”
“Maybe we should find somewhere to shelter.”
“That’s a good idea.”
“Shall we?” the man said, looping his left arm into her right.
Sylvia looked at his arm, then up at him and smiled.
As Jason Evans lead his oldest resident back into the nursing home foyer, he smiled, knowing that tomorrow, he’d be sitting on the garden bench next to Sylvia Tyler, pretending to wait for the number 12 bus.
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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.