Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Lucky Strike - Writing exercise

Writing exercise: pick up an everyday object & develop an idea for a short story in 500 words or less. I chose a scarf.

Lucky Strike

All her favourite colours; harsh dark hues, muddy greens and murky grey-blues, with a hint of yellow woven through the weft threads of a lightweight fabric. Neatly rolled to prevent any creases, stored in the middle drawer at the back of the hat stand in the vestibule. A feint hint of jasmine lingered, her much-loved perfume but too sweet for my sensitive nostrils.

I scrunched the fabric tight into a small ball as I tried to make it crumple. As the fabric unwound itself, the colours sprang back flat. I was disappointed, and as unsettled as she was the last time we had met.

She hadn’t expected my visit, ‘you’re an unwelcome presence.’

I hadn’t known how to reply, yet I patted her hand, attempting to mollify her mood and sat down beside her bed. I smiled but didn’t say anything.

Out of nowhere her instructions came thick and fast. ‘I want you to disinter him.’

I blinked. ‘Pardon?’

‘You know… dig him up.’

I pushed my back deeper into the unattractive vinyl armchair, breathed out slow as I folded my hands in my lap. A few age spots visible, I stroked my taut skin over the back of my hand. I looked at her closely, and made positive eye contact, I was unprepared. ‘I’m not sure that’s legal.’

Her spider like fingers batted away my reservations, ‘Oh I’m not bothered with legalities. I want you to gather our combined ashes and throw them into the sea, off Brighton Pier.’

‘Why Brighton Pier?’

‘It’s where we had our honeymoon. Two days and one glorious night, that was all the time he was allowed to take off from National service to marry. He hated National Service. We didn’t have a choice either, the last Saturday in December. No big bash. No money back then. We were hungry but we were happy. It was so cold. Inside the hotel it wasn't much warmer. We almost froze.’

I hadn’t known they were married. I thought John was her partner. She was candid. Lucid. Her blunt matter of fact manner left me perplexed. Her request was unequivocal. I was about to explain my reasoning, ‘I’m not sure that’s quite the right thing to do...’

‘Poppycock girl, you haven’t an ounce of romance in your soul.’

Her request marred my day, as unwanted as a thin grey scum clouding the surface of the washing up bowl filled with unwashed dirty dishes.

Strange isn’t it how the death of a loved one, a favourite aunt, is a problem rather than a solution?

Alongside the scarf I had found a packet of ‘Lucky Strike’ cigarettes. I didn’t know my aunt smoked and neither did her husband John, as far as I knew so why had she placed the packet with this scarf? Who did the cigarette packet belong too? There was one cigarette left and tucked inside a piece of card, in a stylized script a feint grey pencilled note. Unsigned. Forever Yours x.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Shoebox Letters

Exercise: Look outside your window, what do you see? In 100 words or less invent a life story.

This is what I came up with... "Shoebox Letters"

Spirited sisters, Lizzie and Mabel lived long lives at either ends of the globe. Buried in their ninetieth year, now lying side by side they’ll talk to each other for an eternity.

Mabel sheared sheep. Lillian baked bread. Both bore six sons, tall strapping lads who went to war. None came home.

Exchanging long-handwritten letters, comforting expressions in place of hugs and kisses, that breathed life and light into their never-ending devotion.

These treasured possessions. Tokens of love tied with purple ribbon. Badges of honour stored forever in shoeboxs under each metal bed frame, to be found by another.

September Reboot

As kids go back to school and college students move on up to university I’ve decided to declare this month as the start of my new year and I shall attempt to reboot my writing.

No foolish promises.

Just a bucket load of optimism that I can do this… now.

So here goes.