A little story (and some regulation trivia).

Continuing on with my short piece, The Appointment, because I am too lazy to think of another blog topic and also because I like stories and wanted to see where this writing prompt would go.

Image credit.

All credit to: Urban Circus.

The Appointment – Part 2

Although feeling a little adolescent, Miranda silently chanted her mantra as she stepped onto the train: ‘You’re okay’. She’d had a few mantras over the past three years since “that awful business”, as her mother had put it. Kathleen O’Sullivan had only censured her daughter once but her bewildered expression stung more than any curt retort. Her father hadn’t said a word, but the look on his face spoke volumes – tomes. He’d already had his piece when she’d moved out and in with Jimmy: “’Shacked up’ with more like! You’re a fool, my girl, if you can’t see the real Jimmy…the man beneath that smooth front.”  Patrick O’Sullivan was proud of his only child. She was the first, the only, member of his family to go to university, but somehow that made the shock of her decision to live with Jimmy worse. It was 1963 and not yet commonplace to live in sin, at least not for good Irish Catholic families newly arrived on these vagabond shores.

Jimmy was everything that her father wasn’t. At times (not often, for she’d tried to expel him from her mind during the past two years), she’d wondered if that had been the attraction. Where Patrick O’Sullivan was dour and economic with his words – joking rarely and only in a grim, scathing fashion – James Nelson was warm and loquacious. Charming. There was no avoiding the fact that Jimmy was charismatic, despite the pain it cost Miranda to acknowledge it. He laughed a lot and had a way of looking into her face with a peering intensity that made her feel as though she were fascinating. No one before or since had ever made her feel that special.

Her mother was less critical and inclined to hope that Jimmy would do the right thing. She hinted about an engagement and Miranda’s heart ached that she couldn’t produce one just to satisfy her mother’s dogged sense of convention. She herself didn’t mind, so heady was her adulation of Jimmy. “Mum, I don’t care about the ring…it isn’t important. He loves me!”

Miranda blushed to think of it now. Enough! She swept the rogue thoughts from her head and opened her briefcase, withdrawing the contract and smoothing it over her knees. Is this skirt too short? She’d been a bit daring but then it was an informal kind of affair. Affair…what a faux par – a Freudian slip! It was an interview, an appointment, that was all. Miranda couldn’t work out which was the more daunting word for her meeting. She felt a bit like a schoolgirl, not a junior partner at Bradley, Stein and Parker.

Her heart began to pump at an eager staccato pace and to deflect her nerves, she at once began scanning the document. She knew just how much reading she could accomplish on the forty minute commute.

….to be continued.

Image Credit

All credit to: My Darling Darlinghurst.

Regulation Trivia.

On writing.  Apparently adverbs are the enemy. Experts of a high calibre have warned writers and would-be writers (who are writers anyway as they write), to avoid using adverbs because they’re clumsy and bad writing. My friend Pinky is working on a novel and she’s been advised not to go down the adverb-path-of-ruination, however, I am sceptical. J.K. Rowling got away with an abundance (but then she was J.K. Rowling) yet Stephen King hates them. Jane Austen rarely used them but ‘Adverb’ was Charles Dickens’ middle name. That probably gives us modern wordsmiths scribblers carte-blanche. 🙂

I’ve only included ONE adverb in the above little piece and feel very virtuous. But before I become overly pompous, I’ve used twenty four adjectives! 😦

Food Selfie. I frequent a lot of cafes because I am a decadent and self-confessed cafe whore. Also, it’s easier to meet friends in cafes rather than subject them to my inferior coffee and cake. I recently blamed Poppet for taking ‘food selfies’ and posting them on Instagram but if I’m honest, snapping pics of nice food is a teensy bit addictive.

I simply had to take a photo of this when I caught up with some friends in the school holidays (that was 2 weeks ago, but we all know I’m a bit slow with posts). This gastronomical experience was a first for me – a Scone in a Pot. BizarreA purist would be appalled as I don’t think it’s etiquette to dig scones out of earthenware pots. 🙂

Scone in a Pot (bizarre)

All credit to: ME!!

Enough about me, what do you think? 🙂

  • Do you to prefer to have friends over instead of going to cafes? It’s certainly easier when you have young children. But then you miss out on all the gossip when you’re stuck in the kitchen frothing milk and opening packets serving freshly baked muffins.
  • What’s the rule on adverbs and adjectives? Do you like your prose richly descriptive or spare and economic? Seriously, life is too short to stress about parts of speech – even in the interests of your epic masterpiece!

I’ll leave you with a meme my Pinterest addict expert sent me. It highlights the perils of online dating superbly (another adverb – why oh why are they so bad?)

pinterest - pitbull

 

Next time, I am moving out of my comfort zone with a post entitled ‘My Friendly Stalker’, on flirting – a true story. However, on reflection, I may not as it shows my character in a very poor light…

Linking up today with Jess and IBOT because, well, it’s Tuesday. Joining Grace’s FYBF  for her bevy of blogging brilliancy. 🙂

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The Appointment.

 

It’s been months since I wrote any fiction in response to a writing prompt, but inspired by Lydia (Where the Wild Things Were) and her ‘first of the month’ writing prompt (and as a nice foil to my current regime of editing), I embraced this creative little project and wrote a short piece of 100 words entitled ‘The Appointment’.

 

As Miranda stepped outside, a blast of air tussled her carefully blow-dried hair. Buttoning her jacket, she wound the scarf twice around her slender neck.

Winter had arrived. Breathing in deeply, she lifted her chin and strode the well-worn path to the train station. Her calm gait was at odds with the thoughts in her head, which ricocheted like the remnant gold leaves flung high by the helter-skelter wind.

The appointment. A fifty minute slot (they were precise), could make such a difference to her, to everyone. Its power loomed and Miranda dipped her head and repeated her newest mantra.

 

Some clever person once said something like, “It’s not about originality, it’s what you do with it that counts.” What prompts you? External stimulus or do you have a fertile imagination, just bursting with original ideas? 🙂

Flogging today With Some Grace and FYBF.

Walking on leaves, rustling…

Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org

Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org

For the second time I’m joining in with Anna Spargo-Ryan’s Flash Fiction, writing prompt.

Walking on dry leaves, she veered away a little and the rustling deepened, as though a new stridence had entered her step. But it wasn’t enough to drown the whispers, the sporadic peels of laughter. There was no joy in the squeals, only malice and a quite deliberate intent to wound.

Samantha quickened her pace, separating herself from her friends, though to deem them friends was to attribute a virtue to the epithet that reality lacked.

“Sammy, you’re out of bounds, you’ll get sprung!” cried Georgina. “Come back, you don’t want a detention, Sammy!” Feigned concern at her welfare abounded in Georgina’s tone but Samantha recognised it for what it was. They knew she hated Sammy, that she only liked to be called Sam. Sammy set off a train of memories she wanted to forget.

Ignoring them, she continued wending her way down towards the large piece of land that dipped into a kind of field, adjacent to the sports oval. Trees lined the path, old trees, and Samantha gazed up, allowing the shards of sunlight through the thick leafless branches to warm her face.

*****

Her mother had taken on an extra job to pay the fees at St. Clare’s Senior College, making it a total of three jobs. She barely saw her mother now. She was either cleaning houses a few suburbs away, at the office in the car-yard or in the seedy bar, where she was the perfect employee because she was cheap – a cash-in-hand, no-questions-asked member of staff.

Her mother announced the school switch, presenting it as a fait accompli. “It’ll be good for you…get you away from that nasty crowd, now that Bianca’s gone.”

“I can cope. I’m not going to a new school. Again. It’s not the school, Mum, it’s me.” Her voice had a steely quietness, belying her certainty that her mother had already won the fight.

Ignoring her daughter, she continued, “I want you to focus on your school work…the academic standard is much higher at St. Clare’s. And I want you to do well in your final year Sam, unlike me…” She trailed off.

There were some further arguments but her mother had already paid the fees and starting mid-term, almost inviting stress and misery,  Samantha walked through the school gates. The elegant tunic had a matching blazer, which in spite of her misgivings she rather liked, but the hat made her feel slightly ridiculous.

*****

“Sa-man-tha!” shouted Elissa, “Mr Sante is coming now…you’re in major trouble. So don’t blame us!”

The girl’s voice suddenly changed, becoming a sychophantic whine as she directed her attention to a tall athletic man, wearing John Lennon glasses.

“We tried, Sir.”

“Back to the in-bounds area, girls. Seniors have a few privileges but you’re pushing it.”

“Sammy wouldn’t listen,” simpered Georgina, with a hint of the coquette.

Samantha’s feet were weighted to a spot on the path. She wasn’t scared of detentions. In fact, few things frightened her.

“Samantha…or do you prefer Sammy?”

“I hate Sammy.” She couldn’t keep the petulance from her voice.

“Well, Sam then…” He smiled, cool and business-like, “I have a proposition for you. Our debating team is short one member and we have a comp at the end of…”

“I haven’t been on a debating team before,” Samantha cut him off.

“It’s settled then. I think you’ll like the topic: “School days are the best years of our lives.” He smirked a little but there was no meanness in the grin, more an ironic arching of an eyebrow under the small round spectacles and a tilting at the corners of his mouth. “We’re the affirmative.”

“Affirmative..? It’s not possible then.”

“Oh, I don’t know. It’s a jungle – we all know this – but I think you’ll be up for the challenge. I marked your essay from last week’s exam…I’m confident you’ll rustle up some strong arguments. We meet most lunch times – Room 43. You can bring your lunch,” he added, as though the matter were settled.

As they walked back up the leafy path towards the quadrangle, Samantha was already thinking of things to say, constructing sentences about the quality of friendships forged in the classroom and playground; respect and kindnesses initiated and lasting; life lessons and challenges. Perhaps she might fudge it.

“They’re up there now, if you want to join them. We still have some time left…nice group of girls.”

Samantha nodded, not noticing the expressions on the faces of her friends, Georgina and Elissa. The spite remained but some of their triumph had dissipated.

Flash Fiction: As she fell…

 


cinnamon buns

Linking up this week to Anna Spargo-Ryan’s Flash Fiction prompt. The prompt: And as she fell, she remembered the tea cakes with their cinnamon clouds.

And as she fell, she remembered the tea cakes with their cinnamon clouds, shooting out of her hand, plunging down the escalator behind her, spraying a sweet fragrant film over the stunned commuters below. And when her head hit the sharp metal, a white light exploded and for a second there was no pain.

She watched the sunlight weaving a mosaic high on the wall. Her tongue felt thick but she could still taste the sugary icing where she’d nibbled the corner of a bun. Morning sunlight, yet it was evening. She closed her eyes once more then remembering, sprang up as her head ricocheted and a dull throb made her cease all movement. Gingerly, she touched the lump on the side of her brow. She glanced around the room – a pretty room with floral wallpaper and matching curtains, but nonetheless a strange one. For the first time, a sliver of fear swelled in her breast.

The door opened. “Good morning, I hope you’ve slept well?” A youngish, bland- featured man held a tray before him on which stood a tea pot, cup and buttered toast. He was tall and slim, yet solid.

Agog, she stared, instinctively wrapping her arms around her chest and hunching a little, as though to ward off something, she didn’t know what.

“Who are you? Where am I? Why am I here?” The staccato questions were rude but she didn’t care. She swung her legs out from the covers and onto the floor, suddenly aware that she wore only her underwear.

“You suffered a nasty shock. I wouldn’t get up if I were you.” He averted his eyes. “Rest. That’s what’s needed. There is no concussion.”

Gwendolyn continued to look at him, the surrealness of the situation, of their conversation weighting her body like a drug. His pleasant features curved into a smile and she thought absently that he had a nice face. In another context he might be handsome, though jowly and likely to turn pudgy in middle age.

“Where are my clothes…and my phone, I need my phone?” Her memory crashed through the haze and she recalled the rush to jump onto the escalator, the brushing past her of someone – a careless commuter who bumped her, toppled her and propelled her against the cold sharp metal. “My bag? Where is my bag?”

The memory was clear. She was on her way to Suzi’s, running late but determined to go anyway. She’d bought cinnamon buns especially, to complement the new coffee machine. Suzi had been effusive. I’ll make your fav…what is it again, soy caffe macchiato or some such wank? My amazing machine does it all! Her wide grin had diffused the exasperation as she looked indulgently at her fussy precious friend. Her fad-crazed, allergy-prone bestie.

“Luckily I was there to catch you!” He smiled with cheery good-nature and as she stared at his straight white teeth, his vacant blue eyes, she turned cold.

“Where…please…is my stuff?” Fear bloomed in her stomach and a wheedling, whining note crept into her voice. She wrapped the sheet tightly around her body and upper thighs, eyes wildly scanning the room. She bent and peeped under the bed.

“Sit down and have some tea, you’ll feel much better.” He poured the tea primly, like a maiden aunt. “And toast. You need nourishment.” He smiled condescendingly, head tilted slightly to the side as one would to a wayward school girl.

Fear gave way to anger and she ran to the door, yanking it. “Where the fuck is my stuff?” She noticed for the first time the padlock. The deadlock. She leapt to the window but it too was bolted and bars lined the pane like straight soldiers standing to attention.

“There’s no need for vulgarity, Gwendolyn. Manners are always paramount, as my dear old mother used to say.”

Her scream split the air and when she stopped his smile had gone. A deep frown creased his seamless face.

“They can’t hear you.” He said softly, lifting his leg swiftly and knocking the wall with the bottom of his shoe. Gwendolyn heard the soft dull thud of metal break the silence. A sharp memory shot into her head, crystallising: someone pushing her – a man, a large man – as she stepped onto the escalator.

“It was you!” She continued to scream as he walked slowly across the room towards her, his eyes perfectly still, perfectly mad.