Welcome to the two hundred and fifty-fourth in the series that is ‘5pm Fiction’.
Late April 2011 I discovered 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 have since published (as eBooks) the 2012 and 2013 collections, detailed on http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories/story-a-day-may.
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 but I thought I’d put up my homework from one of my writing groups this week. Last month we’d played a consequences game where we’d filled in a prompt folded it over and passed it on to our neighbour, filled in the next one and so on. When I got the next sheet back, I had to write a 444-word crime story about Mable and Rusty (a beige impala), one of whom is vain, and set in St Ives (Cambridgeshire, UK). So here is my 444-worder.
Rusty had to be the weirdest
“Look at me!”
Mable took no notice.
Mable gritted her teeth and looked up. Rusty was staring in the mirror again, preening his shiny coat.
Mable’s son, John, an airline pilot, had brought back an array of presents over the years, but Rusty had to be the weirdest.
Mable recalled the gifts: the handy airer (a foot-high tower from Pisa), the miniature multi-limbed Hindu goddess Lakshmi which housed Mable’s jewellery, and the Grand Canyon fish pond.
When he’d brought the latest addition, Mable questioned her first-born’s sanity.
Mable went to ask why, but Daisy pre-empted the question. “Because he’s beige. Daddy said he can keep your garden tidy.”
When Mable had mentioned to John of her trouble with her lawn mower, she’d expected him to fix it, loan her his, or even buy her a new one for her birthday the following month, Rusty had not been an option on her list. But there he was.
“Be good company,” John had said, strapping Daisy into the car. “Oh, but…” John paused, buckling himself in and starting the Jaguar’s engine.
“Just don’t broadcast the fact that he’s here. Don’t take him for walks or anything. I’m not sure St. Ives would be able to handle it. A quarter of an acre should keep him busy enough.”
And, as it turned out, it was plenty. He’d started with one of the borders for breakfast then come back in the house when he’d heard people speaking. Mable had been doing the washing up, listening to Woman’s Hour, and had watched Rusty stare at the radio, his top lip curling into a smile. The smile had turned into a grin when she’d turned on the television and This Morning’s presenters had been interviewing one of Mable’s favourite celebrities, Jack Tyler. She knew he loved himself but he could take on any role with an Errol Flynn finesse, lacking in recent years.
Rusty stared at Jack, tilted his head, then clopped into the hallway to look into the mirror. The rest of the day had been spent between the television and the mirror, only venturing outside when his stomach rumbled.
Rusty had then started mimicking the television. Words had turned into conversations and Mable had enjoyed it, but then Rusty had grown more arrogant, and the novelty had worn off.
Mable went to the kitchen, stared in the fridge to decide what to cook for dinner, looked back at the hall, then opened the cutlery drawer and took out the largest, sharpest knife she could find.
Photograph above courtesy of morguefile.com.
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