Welcome to the one hundred and thirty-ninth 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 single-word prompt: scarf, so here is my 330-worder.
A different kind of speechless
As Tom tied the scarf round his wife’s neck, he wondered if he could ever tighten his grip, pull hard, squeeze the life out of her, but instead tied it tightly enough to last the evening, easy to loosen when they got home.
He smiled weakly as she turned round, and she went to speak but no words came out.
“We’d better go,” Tom said, then followed her out through the open front door.
As Tom drove to the theatre he wanted to tell her about his day, share his mundane, but pretended to concentrate on the road instead, glancing at her occasionally only to see her steadfast gaze through the front windscreen.
He wanted his wife back, the woman whose shopping basket had overbalanced as he’d walked past, the woman who’d blushed as he’d helped her, while staring at her long black hair… a different kind of speechless.
Pulling into the kerb outside the theatre he switched off the engine and put the blue card on to the dashboard, setting the timer and pushing it in place, into the fold of plastic joining the windscreen.
As Tom and Arabella entered the foyer, they waited as a man in front of them collected his ticket. Expecting the man to walk into the theatre, Tom pushed the wheelchair forward as the man moved but then halted as he turned round. It was then that Tom recognised him, his hair a little greyer, but there was no mistaking the dark eyes. The eyes full of sorrow as they’d faced each other in court when Tom had listened to Jack Creaton recount how he’d hit the Italian woman crossing the road as she went to collect the cake she’d ordered for her tenth wedding anniversary.
Jack’s shoulders slumped as he looked at Tom, but said nothing. Tom was debating whether to speak when the woman in the ticket office called ‘next’. Jack looked at Arabella, bowed his head, coughed and left the theatre.
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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.