Sarah Ann Hall

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Archive for the ‘Two for Tuesday’ Category

Two for Tuesday #25 – April-Mae Joon

with 7 comments

I’ve gone a little off-piste with Andy’s Two for Tuesday Challenge again this week. I read the prompt early enough, just couldn’t see how to work the prompts, until this happened.

 

Standard Prompt:
house blend

You have lots of creative leeway. The limit is 200 words. The words can be used:

  • simply as a point of inspiration and do not have to be used directly
  • they can be included exactly as provided
  • or each word can be used independently of each other (for example if Death Row was the prompt instead of crafting a story about an inmate on the way to the gallows, you might write something like: Despite feeling like death from an excess of cheap vodka consumed the night before, Evelyn moved on to planting her next row of spinach).

Non-Standard Prompt:
For this week’s alternative prompt write a story about a girl who has been cruelly named April-Mae Joon. As per usual with the Non-Standard Prompt there is no word limit (to allow for more in depth explorations) but there is a minimum of 200 words.

–––––

April-Mae Joon (~800 words)

John and Will, feet on desks, flicking through piles of A4 job applications.

Will: Who on earth calls their child April-Mae Joon?

John: Someone with a sense of humour? I had an auntie May. I even knew a June. But April-Mae Joon? That’s pushing it.

Will: It’s child abuse.

John: Yep, but it’s fun too.

Will: You try living with it.

John: What? You think toting around the moniker John Lennon isn’t enough of a handicap? What’s she coming in for anyway?

Will: The research assistant’s job.

John: She any good?

Will: We won’t know until we interview her. That is sort of the point of this morning.

John: Oh yeah. Sorry, I was just thinking I might find it hard not to laugh.

Will: At what?

John: Her. When she says, “Hi. I’m April-Mae Joon,” I might not be able to hold back.

Will: It’s time to grow a pair, John Lennon.

 

Interview room. John and Will casual behind a desk. April-Mae Joon straight-backed, legs crossed, immaculate, appraising them.

Will: Good morning, Miss. Joon and thank you for coming to see us. We’ve been through your application and I’d like to ask about –

John: How do you cope?

April-Mae: I’m sorry?

John: No, I’m sorry. Shit, I didn’t mean. What I meant to say was, what should we call you?

April-Mae: April-Mae?

John: You don’t find it difficult?

April-Mae: Do you want to ask when I plan to have children now or later?

Will: Miss. Joon, April-Mae, you know we wouldn’t, couldn’t ask such questions.

April-Mae: Yes, and they are about as relevant to my ability to do my job as my name.

Will: Exactly. Please excuse my colleague. He’s over zealous.

April-Mae: Or maybe a little jealous. Walking round with his name can’t be fun.

John: Hey –

April-Mae: You started it.

Will: She’s right, John. You did sort of walk into that one.

John: Fine. Can we all agree we have bastards for parents and move on?

April-Mae: Sure.

Will: Thank you. Now, April-Mae, instead of a standard question and answer session, we’d like you to role-play a situation where –

April-Mae: Do you want me to dance too?

Will: I beg your pardon.

April –Mae: Dance. Apparently it’s all the rage. Terribly relevant for how well I can hunt out facts, identify discrepancies in data, précis and write copy. I suppose the role-play helps me demonstrate those skills.

Will: (Coughs.) Well, how would you suggest we continue?

April-Mae: Why not set me a task? Ask me a question? Give me a time limit and see how fully I can answer.

John: That’s a very good idea. Only –

April-Mae: I’ve got all day. Maybe you could think about it over coffee and get back to me.

Will: If you’d excuse us for one minute.

 

John and Will in a corridor.

Will: This is not going well.

John: It is for her.

Will: What are we going to do?

John: Come up with a question for her to investigate, sit her in front of a computer, give her half an hour, and see what she comes up with.

Will: You mean let her hijack this interview.

John: I think I managed to blow any credibility it might have had at the outset.

Will: Be that as it may, I don’t think –

John: Let’s embrace this opportunity. We’ve been bogged down long enough trying to discover whether there’s a genetic link between stammering and dyslexia. Let’s put her to the task. See what research papers she comes up with, what hypotheses she suggests. It can’t do any harm.

Will: I need coffee.

John: So will she. And somehow, I don’t think house blend’s quite her cup of chai. I’ll get the double espressos from round the corner. You set Miss. Joon up with a terminal. We see what happens.

Will: And the other candidates?

John: We do the same.

Will: But how will we choose between them?

John: You fancied Miss. Joon for the job from the start. That’s why she was the first we saw. You never change your habits, Will. Favourite always goes first, the chaff get compared to him or her. Unless someone shines a little brighter, candidate one wins.

Will: Do I do that?

John: Always.

Will: How does that help?

John: Unless anyone produces a superior document to Miss. Joon, she gets the job.

Will: How will we know?

John: For pity’s sake, Will. Who needs to grow a pair now? How many research proposals have you read in your life? You’ll know. Besides, Miss. Joon has fought through life thus far carrying her name. She knows what she wants and how to get it. Look at the jelly you’ve turned in to. Be careful or she’ll be after your job next.

Will: Point taken. One more thing, John, would you mind telling her while I get the coffees?

 

 

 

Written by Sarah Ann

September 17, 2013 at 9:41 am

Two for Tuesday #24 – Ruby Amis

with 2 comments

I really struggled with Andy’s Two for Tuesday Challenge last week. The non-standard prompt was really difficult. It’s a long time since I sang a nursery rhyme and the ones I can recall all involve the mutilation of small mammals – Three Blind Mice, Hickory Dickory Dock. So I cheated and went with a children’s story instead. I hope it’s obvious which one. This has an awful ending because I ran out steam, so please make suggestions for improvements.

 

Standard Prompt:
cellar door

You have lots of creative leeway. The limit is 200 words.

Non-Standard Prompt:

For this week’s alternative prompt use a simple child’s rhyme as a plot device much like Agatha Christie did in works such as Ten little Indians or A Pocket Full of Rye. As per usual with the Non-Standard Prompt there is no word limit (to allow for more in depth explorations) but there is a minimum of 200 words.

–––––

Ruby Amis (~700 words)

Ruby had been waiting for this date for ages. She was so excited about finally getting to meet Jed that she’d gushed all about him to the waiter who’d shown her to the table. How she and Jed had been in touch by email and text for weeks before moving on to that all important phone call. Then they Skyped and tonight, after all those weeks of gazing lovingly through the medium of a screen, they were finally going to meet each other in the flesh. The waiter had smiled solicitously.

‘He probably thinks I’m a right fruitcake,’ Ruby said, quietly to herself after she’d ordered a glass of water to have while she waited.

But what did it matter what others thought? Jed was so delicious-looking, and his voice was like pure chocolate. In fact, it was probably hearing his voice down the phone that had sealed the deal. She’d fancied him as soon as she saw his photo, but his dulcet tones were irresistible.

She was dreaming, imagining how wonderful the evening was going to be, when she became aware of a man standing at her shoulder.

‘Ruby,’ he said, ‘it’s wonderful to meet you at last.’ He leant forward and kissed her cheek. ‘You smell divine.’

‘Jed?’ she said quizzically.

‘Oh come on, don’t say you don’t recognise me.’ He sat down opposite her and spread his arms.

Ruby thought hard. Their last Skype conversation had been only days ago.  ‘Sorry,’ she smiled, ‘your webcam must be at an odd angle. You look different.’

‘How?’

‘Just different.’

This was not going as planned. Ruby knew people exaggerated online, lied even, but she’d been watching Jed on-screen for months, and yet he looked nothing like himself.

‘Come on now. Don’t be shy. Say what’s on your mind. We know each other so well.’ He stretched out a hand across the table. ‘You can’t offend me.’

That was something else the webcam hadn’t revealed, how hirsute he was. And what had happened to his voice? Where had the smooth luxuriousness gone?

Oh well, she thought, here goes nothing. ‘It’s just that, well, your nose seems a lot larger in reality than on-screen.’ She’d couched it as best she could. Even though he’d said she couldn’t offend, she wasn’t sure there hadn’t been a hint of challenge in the statement. And she couldn’t very well tell him his nose seemed to fill half his face.

His eyes, those cute little blue ones, were suddenly huge and dark.

Really,’ he spat and grabbed a glass of water from the table. He gulped it in one then slammed the glass down.

Ruby glanced about to see if there was anyone close by. There wasn’t.

‘Well, that’s great. I mean – You – Just great,’ he growled.

She wasn’t having this. ‘What’s happened to your voice?’

‘What?’

‘Do you use a voice modulator or something? It used to be really smooth, now it’s pure gravel.’

The eyes grew, the mouth opened, at first in shock maybe, but then anger got the better of him and he bared his teeth. They were monstrous; horse-like, and stretched his lips to pencil lines. She was surprised his mouth had been able to close over them.

Ruby stood and started to back away. ‘I think this was a mistake,’ she said. ‘I’m leaving.’

‘Oh no you – ‘ but Jed didn’t get to finish. The waiter appeared, putting himself between Ruby and Jed. The arm that had been reaching to grab Ruby was turned back on itself as the waiter propelled Jed to the edge of the restaurant and through the wine cellar door.

‘You can stay in there ‘til you calm down,’ he said, turning the key.

Ruby stood awestruck, mouth gaping as she heard Jed howling to be let out, his hands scraping at the door. She shut her mouth slowly, shrugged and smiled weakly. ‘Amazing what you can hide online,’ she said.

‘Isn’t it just.’ The waiter smiled, then looked at her more seriously. ‘Look, I don’t mean to be pushy,’ he said, ‘but I finish in ten minutes. Fancy buying me a drink?’

‘Sure,’ she looked at his name badge and frowned, ‘Nimrod, I think that’s the least I can do.’

 

Written by Sarah Ann

September 10, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Two for Tuesday #23 – A Mother’s Love

with 4 comments

I think I cheated with Andy’s Two for Tuesday Challenge this week. I brought my character to the brink, but didn’t make her go through with the non-standard prompt. You decide.

 

Standard Prompt:
blank canvas

You have lots of creative leeway. The limit is 200 words. The words can be used:

  • simply as a point of inspiration and do not have to be used directly
  • they can be included exactly as provided
  • or each word can be used independently of each other (for example if Death Row was the prompt instead of crafting a story about an inmate on the way to the gallows, you might write something like: Despite feeling like death from an excess of cheap vodka consumed the night before, Evelyn moved on to planting her next row of spinach).

Non-Standard Prompt:
For this week’s alternative prompt write a story about a mother who must make a hugely emotional decision about her physically disabled child. (courtesy of StoryPrompts app by Triple Dog Dare Media). As per usual with the Non-Standard Prompt there is no word limit (to allow for more in depth explorations) but there is a minimum of 200 words.

–––––

 

 

A Mother’s Love (270 words)

A baby is a tabula rasa: a lump of clay to be moulded, a blank canvas to be splashed with colour as it grows and absorbs from its parents and the people around it. Gemma was like any other baby. She cried and fed and shat in all the right places at all the right times. Or so we thought.

The first thing we noticed was her smile. It didn’t arrive on time. We waited a couple of weeks then spoke to the health visitor, the district nurse, and then the GP. Eventually it was suggested she had weak muscle tone, which would develop with time. Her lazy eye would tighten and her little lips would curl. We waited a while longer, and 10 years later we are still waiting for a definitive diagnosis.

Tim, my husband, gave up waiting. He couldn’t cope with Gemma’s lack of emotional development. His little girl didn’t love him, and he stopped loving me. I’ve struggled on for the last couple of years without him. It’s been hard coping alone with her tantrums, the head-banging, the biting, and the unpredictable days of catatonia. She’ll always be my little girl, even when she’s grown. And I will always love her, despite the lack of reciprocation. But I am alone and only I can decide what happens next.

To be honest, Gemma is too much for me and I am not enough for her. She needs constant care and I need my sleep. Even as I say I have to decide, I know there is no choice if either of us is to have a life.

 

Written by Sarah Ann

September 2, 2013 at 10:10 pm

Two for Tuesday #22 – A Friend in Need

with 4 comments

I’m a little late with last week’s Two for Tuesday challenge. I took ages to come up with anything for the standard prompt, and incorporating the non-standard one (or two) was really hard. The story below is a bit rushed and I’m not sure it works. I think it needs beefing up, with vocabulary, plot and words, but then I wouldn’t have time to work on this week’s prompts….

 

Standard Prompt:
buried details

You have lots of creative leeway. The limit is 200 words. The words can be used:

  • simply as a point of inspiration and do not have to be used directly
  • they can be included exactly as provided
  • or each word can be used independently of each other (for example if Death Row was the prompt instead of crafting a story about an inmate on the way to the gallows, you might write something like: Despite feeling like death from an excess of cheap vodka consumed the night before, Evelyn moved on to planting her next row of spinach).

 

Non-Standard Prompt:

For this week’s alternative prompt choose at least two of the four quotes (taken from different popular movies) and write a story that uses the chosen unrelated quotes:

“Are you crazy? The fall will probably kill you.” (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid)

“Any man who falls behind is left behind.” (Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl)

“I said, ‘I had a bad experience.’” (The Italian Job)

“We thought you was a toad.” (Oh, Brother Where Art Thou?) 

As per usual with the Non-Standard Prompt there is no word limit (to allow for more in depth explorations) but there is a minimum of 200 words.

–––––

 

A Friend in Need (1375 words)

Stefan looked wide-eyed as Jo slithered through the gap in the sash window.

‘Are you crazy? The fall will probably kill you?’

‘I’m not planning on falling.’

‘He’s not worth this.’

‘He’s our friend and he’s in trouble. Why else would he take our phones and lock us in? He’s trying to protect us.’

‘So why don’t you let him? Why shimmy down the drainpipe and expose yourself to god knows what?’

‘He needs our help.’

‘We don’t know that.’

‘I’m sure he said – ‘

‘You’re sure he said what?’

‘Look, can we do this later? There isn’t much room on this windowsill.’

‘Come back inside then.’

Stefan’s words fell on to the top of Jo’s head as she side-stepped, gripped with her hands, swung her left foot around slowly. He saw her bare foot flinch momentarily as it made contact with the cold iron, then both were clamped on and she was descending.

‘This is madness,’ he said through clenched teeth, and shut the window against the cold night air. There was nothing he could do. He didn’t have Jo’s agility or daring. He just had to wait.

 

Ten minutes later Stefan heard a key in the door.

‘Jo? Are you all right?’

Stefan rushed along the corridor. Jo stood in the doorway, Gilbert at her side.

‘I’m fine,’ she said.

‘Sorry,’ Gilbert shrugged. ‘I’m sorry I scared you. I over-reacted. You both deserve an explanation.’

Stefan motioned to the sitting-room then grabbed three beers from the fridge. They all sat on the floor, which Stefan thought that was odd. Not using the chairs was intimate and friendly, but there was an edge too, as if they needed to hunker down, to stay low, in case snipers were taking aim outside the window. Stefan shook his head, trying to dismiss the crazy thought.

Once they’d all taken a swig from their bottles, Gilbert took the floor.

‘When the company was taken over five years ago, I stole from work,’ he said, matter-of-fact, no prevarication. ‘That’s to say I buried details of the original company structures on my computer. Operational policies, management structure, pay scales, turnover, disciplinary procedures, contact lists. Anything I could lay my hands on, I copied, stored and, later, I smuggled out.’

‘But why?’ Stefan interrupted. This wasn’t the sort of behaviour that should have resulted in the fear and panic he and Jo had been subject to earlier.

‘I saw due process wasn’t being followed. Members of staff who had protected-contract status were made redundant, pension calculations were adjusted downwards. All sorts of shenanigans went on. Others noticed, but anyone who made a fuss was sacked, side-tracked. I don’t know why or how, but none of the dodgy dismissals ever reached the tribunal stage. Many should have.’ Gilbert paused, took a swig of beer. ‘Any man who falls behind is left behind,’ he said wistfully.

‘What?’ Stefan said.

‘It was something the new CEO said, as if by explanation. The new company, his company, was going to be leaner, tighter. We had to grow our market share, increase profits for shareholders, and any way was the right way. He didn’t care about long-service and loyalty. All the pre-take-over union negotiations and contracts were effectively ignored. New lawyers replaced the old and re-interpreted or argued out protective clauses. I saw this happening and did nothing. I kept my head down, kept my mouth shut and kept my job. I’m not proud. I was a coward and looked after number one. Some of my friends got the boot, some of them have never recovered.’ Again he paused, as if remembering.

‘I’d started storing data and paperwork prior to the take-over. I didn’t know what I’d do with it. I was one person against a phalanx of lawyers and a new management structure. I couldn’t do anything. And no one knew I had the stuff. In the end I figured, if no one knew I had the information, and I was too scared to do anything with it, there was no real point in me keeping it. And then I noticed some of my emails had disappeared. At first I thought I was imagining it. I was consulted on salary packages for appraisal promotions. I don’t know why: it was the first time I’d been included in the loop for a while. Some of the packages were quite complex and I filed the email as I wanted to be able to refer to it if I were ever to discuss the options. It’s gone. I’ve searched through all my email folders, checked my desktop at work. The email and any copies of it no longer exist.’

‘Are you sure it was an email? That you didn’t receive the information as a hardcopy memo?’ Jo asked.

‘I’ve taken to forwarding important emails to my personal account,’ Gilbert answered, his voice flat. ‘That copy still exists.’

‘Maybe you deleted the original from the work account when you sent it home?’ Stefan suggested.

Gilbert didn’t answer. There was no need. They all knew that people backed-up to home rather than using it a sole source of storage. Three copies of everything was the rule if you didn’t want to lose anything.

‘I still don’t see why everything you’ve told us would result in you locking us into our flat,’ Stefan said.

‘I’m sorry. I over-reacted. I thought I saw,’ he paused. ‘Hell, I don’t know what I thought I saw. There have been a lot of new security personnel wandering around the office of late. And I thought I saw one of them outside earlier. If they’re coming for me, then fine, but I didn’t want you to come to my rescue. Didn’t want you to see anything that could put you in danger.’

‘This isn’t the Wild West,’ Stefan said. ‘People don’t just disappear. Institutions don’t bump off their employees willy-nilly.’

‘Don’t they?’

‘Oh come on, Gilbert.’

‘The company didn’t ignore a whole swathe of employment rights and suffer no punitive action without resorting to some form of threat,’ Gilbert retorted.

‘Issuing threats is one thing. Silencing people quite another. And I thought they didn’t know you had the stuff.’

‘Now, with the emails disappearing, I’m not so sure. It means they’ve had access to my computer. They could have looked around, followed the trail.’

‘Where’s the stuff now. At work?’

‘No. It’s on hard disk here, and in cloud storage in a couple of places’

‘So they’d have to torture you to get access to all your passwords to retrieve every copy,’ Stefan said, his eyes smiling

‘Yes.’

‘And you think they would?’

‘Yes.’

‘You only have one choice then,’ Jo said quietly.

‘I don’t understand.’

‘If you ever want to be safe again, if you think they’re after you for the information you have, then you can give it back, or publish.’

‘You don’t understand –‘

‘Yes I do. You’re scared and frightened. And no one can live like that long term. You will become ill. They will get what they want and all your secrecy will have been for nothing. Or you can bring them down. True, all the legal suits that follow your revelations will probably destroy the company. True, the execs will talk or buy their way out. But you have to live with yourself.’

‘It’s not that simple.’

‘It never is,’ Stefan said dryly, ‘but Jo’s right.’

 

They argued long into the night, discussing the whys and wherefores of every scenario to both logical and fanciful conclusions. Talked out, they each fell asleep where they were, curled on the floor, and that’s what saved them. At four o’clock the following morning when a stray fag end thrown from the street made contact with the gas leaking from the mains supply to Gilbert’s kitchen, the subsequent explosion caused the bedrooms, in the bay-end of the converted house, to collapse. The central stairway and rooms immediately radiating from it remained intact. Jo, Stefan and Gilbert, deafened and dazed, were able to make their way out before the fire took hold. And neighbours, first on the scene, took the three into their houses for a strong cup of tea before the ambulances arrived, or the men in grey suits could make their less-felicitous approaches.

 

Two for Tuesday #21 – Inexplicable

with 2 comments

This week’s Two for Tuesday prompts from Andy Black are:

 

‘Standard Prompt:
wax museum

You have lots of creative leeway. The limit is 200 words. The words can be used:

  • simply as a point of inspiration and do not have to be used directly
  • they can be included exactly as provided
  • or each word can be used independently of each other (for example if Death Row was the prompt instead of crafting a story about an inmate on the way to the gallows, you might write something like: Despite feeling like death from an excess of cheap vodka consumed the night before, Evelyn moved on to planting her next row of spinach).

Non-Standard Prompt:
For this week’s alternative prompt I’m suggesting that you begin a story with the climax and use flashbacks to lead the reader through how the story got there.

As per usual with the Non-Standard Prompt there is no word limit (to allow for more in depth explorations) but there is a minimum of 200 words.’

–––––

I don’t think I fulfilled the flashback aspect of the non-standard prompt adequately, and my title is useless. Suggestions for a better one will be received gratefully (and adopted!).

–––––

Inexplicable (512 words)

Harry looked at the sprinkling of mourners. It wasn’t much of a turnout, one black jacket for each dead body. A family of five wiped out and no one to see them off.  Standing in the graveyard, the sun was bright, the birds chattering. The weather reminded Harry of the day six weeks earlier when he had seen them for the first time. None of it made any sense. Early summer had been warm and no one could say why they’d had the fire lit.

Harry ran his finger around his collar, pulling at the tie that trapped his throat. As he listened to the priest he wondered if he should buy another black tie, his was looking a little tatty. Police work had turned out to be less about car chases and catching criminals and more about looking presentable, thumping keyboards, and searching for the inexplicable. Harry hated the unsolved, the insolvable. And this case could only ever be subject to conjecture; the witnesses were all dead. The neighbours had seen and heard nothing. Through all the interviews no one had come up with anything controversial, less so anything enlightening.

Sheila had been missed first by work colleagues. A couple had phoned the police station after not being able to raise her at home or on her mobile. The desk constable had said the family were probably on holiday and had forgotten to tell anyone. The school was of the same opinion and a letter was drafted to call in the parents for a discussion about unapproved absences. The benefits office made a note that Trevor hadn’t signed on and to find out why when he next appeared. It was the sun shining through windows, onto already over-heated bodies, that had the neighbours rushing to their phones as the taste of death seeped onto the landing.

A family plot was a rare and expensive thing these days, Harry mused, but someone had manoeuvred so they would lie all together, from the shortest to the tallest, the youngest to the oldest. He wondered if it would have been more fitting to leave them as they’d been found, the three children between and protected by their parents. Mum and Dad had been in easy chairs, the three kids on the sofa. The eldest two were halfway through a game of Connect Four, while the five-year-old played with her coloured bricks. They’d lain on her lap, longest to shortest, just as she was being laid to rest now.

Harry shivered and took a step backwards. It was too much. Five needless deaths. Five pointless deaths. Five deaths because the family couldn’t afford to have the gas fire serviced this year on top of everything else. And still no explanation as to why the fire had been on.

As the last coffin was lowered, Harry saw himself walking in to their sitting room, mask clamped to his face. Carbon monoxide was a merciless killer. If it hadn’t been for the stench, the scene would have made for the perfect family tableau in a wax museum.

 

 

 

 

Written by Sarah Ann

August 18, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Two For Tuesday 18-20 – Dark Kisses and French Chocolate

with 5 comments

Before I went away I set myself a daft challenge for my return – write a story using all of Andy Black’s Two For Tuesday prompts that I missed. Here’s goes nothing….

 

 

The standard prompts:

23-29 July – dead batteries

30 July – 5 August – close shave

6-12 August – black velvet

The non-standard prompts:

23-29 July – write a story using one of the following invented titles as inspiration: 

Misplaced Memories

The Archive

Dark Kisses & French Chocolate

Piling On

30 July – 5 August –  write a story about a married man looking for an extramarital relationship through an online dating service. 

6-12 August – write a story that ends with the words: “…your taste is all in your mouth.”

The rules:

Standard prompts: The limit is 200 words. The words can be used:

  • simply as a point of inspiration and do not have to be used directly
  • they can be included exactly as provided
  • or each word can be used independently of each other (for example if Death Row was the prompt instead of crafting a story about an inmate on the way to the gallows, you might write something like: Despite feeling like death from an excess of cheap vodka consumed the night before, Evelyn moved on to planting her next row of spinach).

Non-standard prompts: there is no word limit (to allow for more in depth explorations) but there is a minimum of 200 words.

 

–––––

 

 

Dark Kisses and French Chocolate (500 words)

Shaun grabbed the Guinness from the bar and gulped down the first half.

Putting down the glass, he saw his hand was shaking.  He tried to slow his breathing.

God, that was a close shave.

He should have guessed, what with all that talk about Bernachon chocolates in her profile. He hadn’t heard of them until Nancy had brought some round to dinner. And there she was. Why hadn’t she used her real name? Who was she hiding from, or trying to catch out?

Shit. What was he doing? Why was he blaming Nancy for his narrow escape? It wasn’t as if he and Claire weren’t happy, or that he didn’t love her. It was his pathetic insecurity that had sent him online and brought him here, to see if he still had it. Grey was galloping across his head. Soon it would be too late, he’d be an old man, or at least well into middle age.

He felt like a dirty old man every time he noticed girls on their way to school and looked at the growing gap between the tops of their socks and the bottoms of their skirts. But could an age-appropriate leg be as shapely? Claire’s were, he admitted. She exfoliated and moisturised. He didn’t know how she managed to stay so smooth and desirable while looking after him, the house, their boys, and working full-time. Suddenly he felt wretched. He stole a glance across the pub. There was Nancy, his best mate’s ex, in red dress with pink rose at her collar as arranged. In fact, Nancy was ex to half the village, but that didn’t excuse his behaviour.

Shaun had married the perfect woman. He was an extremely lucky man and yet here he was attempting to have an affair. True, this first avoided encounter had put him off the whole idea. He would be removing his profile as soon as he got home. In fact, why wait? He reached into his jacket pocket for his phone. Nothing. It wouldn’t switch on. He couldn’t go online. He couldn’t phone home to tell Claire his meeting had been cancelled and he’d be home early. He pulled the new pay-as-you-go from his jeans. His duplicity and conniving brain sickened him. It, too, stared back at him blackly. Two phones. Two dead batteries. He’d better not break down on the way home. Regardless that he had no way of contacting anyone, he was on the wrong side of town.

He drained his glass and stood. He needed a walk to clear his head and make sure he was under the limit. He tipped the glass at the barman. ‘Thanks, a throat-full of black velvet was just what I needed.’

The barman walked towards him, scowling. Recognition flickered and the creamy sheen of Shaun’s mouth turned metallic and weighted his tongue. The barman looked towards Nancy, who sat checking her watch, picked up the glass, and nodded to Shaun, ‘Mate, your taste is all in your mouth.’

 

 

 

Written by Sarah Ann

August 15, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Two for Tuesday 16 & 17 – Double D

with 5 comments

I missed posting for Andy’s Two Tuesday Challenge last week as I hadn’t finished my story. I have now, and incorporated this week’s prompts as well.

 

Prompts 9th-15th July:

Standard Prompt:
permanent marker

Non-Standard Prompt:
For this week’s alternative prompt write a story without using the letter “J.”

Prompts 16th – 22nd July

Standard Prompt:
see through

Non-Standard Prompt:
For this week’s alternative prompt write a story that begins with the words: “Anyone home?”

The rules:

The Standard Prompt will always consist of a two-word prompt to be used as inspiration. The Non-Standard Prompt will change from week to week. Sometimes it will be a visual prompt, sometimes a first sentence or phrase, sometimes a scenario, etc.  The limit for the Two for Tuesday Standard Prompts is 200 words and the Non Standard Prompt has a minimum of 200 words but no limit allowing for more in depth explorations.

_____

 

Double D (510 words)

‘Anyone home?’

Hamish scowled at the retreating feet and sniggers reverberating along the corridor as his friends and tormentors headed towards fun.

He looked around the classroom, dropped his bag on the floor, and collapsed into a chair. He leant forward, spread his arms across the nearest desk and laid his head on them, rocking it slowly from side to side. This wasn’t fair. It really wasn’t fair. Yes, he had blocked the sinks with paper and left the taps running. Yes, he was responsible for the toilets being out of order while the cleaners were called in with mops and buckets. But, it wasn’t his fault that Ian Pattison has pissed in the water fountain. That had been Ian’s own inimitable idea, and he would suffer for it later. At least Hamish hoped he would.

Hamish admitted he had done wrong and it was right he should be punished. By all means the staff was entitled to put Hamish in detention at lunchtime for three days. He’d accept the whole week if the head wanted, and even stay behind after school if that would make everyone feel better, but not today. From tomorrow he’d stay in every day for a fortnight, but please not today.

He raised his head and leant back to enable him to see through the high windows. The day was perfect. The sun was shining, fluffy white clouds shuffled slowly across the blue. It was warm and everyone was stripping off. Today was the first day, the only day, the school was having its swimming lesson at the local lido. Katy Smith would be there, legs up to heaven, bum curvy like a perfect apple you want to paint rather than bite into. And her breasts. Well, that was the point, he had no idea what stage they were at and now he wouldn’t get to see. It was so unfair.

Hamish stood and walked around the room. He was supposed to sit and do work, but with no teacher there yet to monitor him, he couldn’t settle. He walked up one side of the room and down the other. He sauntered up the central aisle, around Mr. Braithewaite’s desk. The top drawer was open slightly. He peered inside at the array of pens and paper clips. It was then that another idea struck him. He might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. Glancing towards the door, listening for footsteps approaching down the corridor, Hamish’s fingers flicked into the drawer and withdrew a permanent marker.

Hamish was at his seat, working through exercises from his Maths textbook when Mr. Braithwaite arrived to supervise him.

‘Keep up this good behaviour and I’m sure the head will reduce your sentence,’ Mr. Braithwaite said when he let Hamish leave an hour later.

The following morning the school was agog at the latest graffiti scrawled across the head’s office window, wondering who and how. Hamish kept his head down and his mouth shut. How was he to know he’d guessed Katy’s bra size so perfectly?

 

 

Written by Sarah Ann

July 18, 2013 at 1:38 pm

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