Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not; practising flash fiction.

Archive for the ‘OLWG’ Category

OLWG#68 – Late Night Phone Call

with 6 comments

My creative brain is taking a holiday as practical matters take over my waking hours. I have struggled with all writing challenges this week. Thank you to Thom at the New Unofficial On-line Writer’s Guild for another great set of prompts, and apologies for such a contrived drabble in response.

 

Late Night Phone Call

‘Hello?’

‘Hello Mr. Charles?’

‘Who’s that?’

‘Billy Summers.’

‘Who?’

‘We think you know someone who can help us?’

‘What?’

‘Mom told us to call you.’

‘Who?’

‘Mary Summers.’

‘Oh. Why?’

‘Claire left.’

‘Right. I understand. So what do you need?’

‘Mom needs more sugar.’

‘Sugar? Sorry kid, you’ve lost me again.’

‘Mom said to call you. She needs more icing sugar.’

‘Icing sugar?’

‘The stuff you can’t get in the shops. The stuff that gives her energy; helps her sleep. The stuff she wipes around her gums. She ain’t moving, Mr. Charles.’

‘You sit tight kid. I’ll make the call.’

 


This week’s prompts are:

  1. Mom needs more sugar
  2. we think you know someone
  3. Claire left

 

Go ahead and dive in, set your imagination free!
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.

Have fun

 

 

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Written by Sarah Ann

September 24, 2018 at 12:09 pm

OLWG#67 – Folding Syndrome

with 7 comments

Thom created a word cloud for last week’s New Unofficial On-Line Writer’s Guild prompts and I tried to include all of them in my fantasy that follows. I think I’ve only missed out one. Thank you Thom for another great challenge this week.

 

 

Folding Syndrome

It is hard to conceive of the silence that followed the Folding Syndrome epidemic. After all the voices that rang out, the choirs that formed and lifted the roofs off churches. After all the richness and resonance that united the world, the quiet was startling. The development of a collective activity where people worked and sang together instead of taking to war should probably have sounded alarm bells. It was the opposite of usual human behaviour after all. But the harmonies and spontaneous a cappella movements were soothing, enjoyable, and lulled all into a semi-conscious state. When it stopped no one could have imagined that singing would finish forever.

The end began with a singer on a television talent show. She faltered on stage, restarted, couldn’t find her voice, and stumbled crying into the wings. It was no great shakes, nothing to worry about; amateurs overstretch themselves. When the whole series’ cohort lost their crooning abilities questions were asked, investigations made. What could be causing the sickness? Initially throats swelled up and some thought it could be anaphylactic shock. Had someone poisoned the coffee? It had tasted off, a bit sour. When the symptoms spread to the church choirs, so too did the scope of enquiry.

In most cases the problems started with a change in pitch – a minor tonal variation up or down before the voice was all over the place. It was almost like being tone deaf, only the singer could hear they were going wrong, and no amount of repetition straightened them out. For those with newly acquired voices, it was easy come, easy go. For more established songbirds, and those whose voices were their careers, a dose of Folding Syndrome was an arrow to the heart. They began to avoid public appearances in case it was catching, but no regular activity was ever isolated as causal.

With other observed epidemics there was a recognised cycle, a flow followed by an ebb as infection peaks were reached and medicines introduced to alleviate symptoms. But not this time. Standard over the counter pills, herbal remedies, electric shock treatments direct to the vocal chords, all were tried. None could stop the folding of the chords, the minute rippling that gave the syndrome its name. Six months into the crisis the minsters of health of the world made a joint statement: ‘You will all know someone who has been touched by this. To date it is only singing that is affected. No one has lost their voice completely. That said, our scientists are at a loss. Research is ongoing but there are no grounds for optimism a cure will be found. We haven’t worked out the cause yet.’ It was a sad indictment albeit an honest one.

Years later there is no known cause and no cure, or at least none spoken of. And there is no singing. There may be people in the world who still sing, in the bath maybe, but no one attempts it in public. There’s a belief that if one is not heard singing then the sickness cannot fall upon them. There are conspiracy theories that it was an untraceable disease put about by AI because it is incapable of the human trait of singing. There are seeds of an idea that it was a superfast evolutionary process – after all what use is singing other than entertainment and who needs entertaining with so much work to be done. Folding Syndrome remains one of life’s inexplicables, left for great scientists of the future to solve.

 

OLWG#66 – Let’s Party

with 5 comments

Sometimes I look at the New Unofficial On-Line Writer’s Guild prompts and think they belong together. They could almost tell a story all by themselves. Hence my short and sweet offering of 100-words this week. Thank you Thom.

 

Let’s Party

‘I’m having a party and I’m inviting all my favourite people: You, of course, and Melissa and Josh and Pippa and Freddie and Lena and Charles and George and Dominque and Isabelle and Pete and –

‘When’s this party?’

‘Next Saturday. I’ve hired the bowling alley.’

‘You want us all to shoot pins all day?’

‘Well, that was the idea. Me and my bestest friends.’

‘You booked the venue already?’

‘Yep.’

‘You gonna phone or email everyone to invite them in time?’

‘Hell no, I’m posting to Facebook. Telling the whole world.’

‘Well, you won’t be able to tell anyone else.’

 


 

This week’s prompts are:

  1. you won’t be able to tell anyone else
  2. well, that was the idea
  3. all my favourite people

 

Go ahead and dive in, set your imagination free!
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.

Have fun

 

Written by Sarah Ann

September 6, 2018 at 7:47 pm

OLWG#64&65 – Afternoon Stroll

with 4 comments

I struggled for a long time staring at last week’s New Unofficial On-Line Writer’s Guild prompts and got nowhere. Then I looked at this week’s and had a way in to the characters in the story below.

Thank you Thom for being patient with me again.

 

Afternoon Stroll

Brains and Darlene, lifelong friends and members of the local painting group, are chatting as they walk to class.

‘It’s true what they say, you never know who your friends are until it’s important.’

‘Brains, what are you muttering about?’

‘I don’t know who you are anymore, Darlene.’

‘Just because I confessed I don’t like the Beats.’

‘Just because – ’

‘It’s ancient history, Brains. They are ancient history. And weren’t they just a little bit over-rated; establishment boys with contacts?’

‘Over-rated? Establishment? I – I – ’

‘Oh stop being so melodramatic.’

‘But I’ve known you since high school and now it seems like I’ve never known you.’

‘Brains, with all your brains, I thought you would have known we are not set forever. Our brains are fluid and malleable until the age of 24. And hell, I never liked the beat poets when we were in school. I didn’t get poetry. And it isn’t something I’ve grown to love. Unlike blue cheese. I didn’t like that in school, but I can’t get enough of it now.’

‘You’re comparing Kerouac and Burroughs to cheese.’

‘Nope. But if that helps you understand, go for it.’

‘You know, Darlene, in the desert, no one can hear you scream?’

‘Who you quoting now? You know I don’t remember anything apart from telephone numbers and cake recipes. It’s the differences between us that make us interesting to each other. The differences are why we’re friends, and have been the last 30-years.’

‘Brains, will you stop staring at me like I’ve gone mad, or you have. We disagree on one thing, about some measly unimportant writing. We agree on a lot more, like Mrs. Hogan’s flapjacks are the best whatever Lavinia says. And we agree that the jumped-up director of last year’s Christmas show did nothing to promote the underdeveloped characters on the stage.’

‘Okay, I’ll give you that, but honestly, Darlene, you don’t like Ginsberg and Snyder and Corso?

‘Nope. But you and I both know Elizabeth Fratelli’s rendering of sunflowers looks like a bowl of custard, and Miriam Cole’s watercolour of the playground looks like it was done by a kid rather than being a picture of kids.’

‘She said, if she squinted, ‘just so’ you could make out every house in the village in that painting.’

‘Her ‘just so’s’ really get me down. I don’t believe a word that woman says anymore. She said if I added vanilla one drop at a time ‘just so’ to my scone mix, it would cook better than ever.’

‘Did it?’

‘Those were the biscuits you had last week, Brains.’

‘Oh.’

‘I think ‘oh’ about covers it. Damn I’ve just remembered, Mrs. Hogan is away this week.’

‘No flapjacks.’

‘Exactly.’

‘Shall we delay our arrival and pop into Munchkins?’

‘Just what I was thinking. Which just goes to show.’

‘What?’

‘That we know each other really well. And that this beat thing is just something best forgotten.’

‘Go easy with that, Darlene.’

‘I don’t mean you need to forget your poetical heroes, or whatever they are. I just mean we don’t need to talk, or argue, about them again. It’s much more fun when we agree to bitch about Lavinia’s awful taste in smock-skirt combinations.’

‘That it is. That it is.’

‘So, what you planning on getting in Munchkins? Flapjack? Cupcake? Iced bun?’

‘Cinnamon whorl.’

‘Really, Brains? I mean really.’

‘It’s true what you said earlier, Brains. Sometimes you never really do know your friends.’

 


#64 prompts were:

  1. beat poets
  2. go easy with that, Darlene
  3. in the desert

#65 prompts are:

  1. you never know who your friends are
  2. if she squinted, just so,
  3. the underdeveloped characters

 

Go ahead and dive in, set your imagination free!
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.

Have fun

 

Written by Sarah Ann

August 30, 2018 at 7:42 pm

OLWG#63 – Morning Misunderstanding

with 8 comments

Please find below a short story as my response to this weeks New Unofficial On-Line Writer’s Guild prompts. I’m not sure the title of my short story fits, and I wish I had more than 25-minutes to develop these characters. I’m intrigued to know what Spencer has done so may have to work with him again.

Thank you Thom for the prompts.

 

Morning Misunderstanding

Maisie Grainger spots a young man she hasn’t seen in the district for a while.

‘Good morning Spencer. You’re up and out early.’

‘Yeah. Got things to do.’

‘You out running before breakfast?’

‘You know me, Mrs. G. I’m always on the run. I’ve just got to pick up a few things.’

‘You’re such a good boy. I was talking to your mother just the other day and she was telling me how you’ve been away doing good things. Africa was it?’

‘Something like that. Look I –’

‘Oh don’t let me keep you. Me and my gassing. I just wanted to let you know how much we all think of you. Keep up the good work.’

 

Spencer watches Mrs. G toddle towards the newsagents. His energies drain, shoulders relax. He looks at Mrs. G’s house, full of riches he knows having been spoiled there as a child with ginger cake and home made strawberry ice-cream. He looks at her retreating back and knows he can’t do it.

He was only supposed fly in, say hello Mum, and be off again before they started looking for him. But Mum had insisted he stop the night. ‘It’s years since I’ve had you under my roof. You know how much I love to watch the way you sleep.’

And he had given in, because that’s what good boys do. But she hadn’t had any money to give him so he’d scoured his memory banks wondering where he might gain enough funds for the next leg of his adventure. If only Mrs. G. had still been in bed, he’d have been able to creep in and take the silver tazza her husband got as a retirement gift. But she’d been up and she’d treated him nicely, dammit.

Time to say goodbye to Mum and head-off before the wooden-tops arrived and carted him away yet again.

 


This week’s prompts are:

  1. you’re early
  2. always on the run
  3. the way you sleep

Go ahead and dive in, set your imagination free!
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.

Have fun

Written by Sarah Ann

August 16, 2018 at 6:49 pm

OLWG#62 – 100-word stories

with 5 comments

For this week’s New Unofficial On-Line Writer’s Guild prompts I’ve gone with the tried and tested and written 100-word stories to each prompt.

Thank you Thom for the fun 🙂

 

Mad Jack

Sylvia arrived at her brother’s house expecting to go to lunch to celebrate his birthday. The door was opened by his flatmate.

‘Jack’s gone to Brighton to play Jacks.’

‘What?’

‘There’s currently an international Jacks’ competition on there.’

‘And?’

‘He’s a champion.’

‘Jack told you that?’

‘Yeah.’

‘Do you believe everything he tells you?’

The flatmate shrugged. ‘Don’t you?’

‘I’m his sister. What do you think?’

‘He said they used to play Jacks in Egypt with a wooden ball and the toe bones of sheep.’

‘Yeah, I read that online too. But then I was expecting a good lunch today.’

 

Conversation In the Piazza

‘What’re you lookin’ at?’

‘You.’

‘Why?’

‘Can’t I?’

‘You’re obviously physically able to. I asked why?’

‘I don’t suppose saying you’re an attractive woman is the right answer.’

‘Is there a right answer?’

‘There must be something you want to hear.’

‘Only ever the truth. I am tired of people second-guessing what they should say. What happened to answering a straight question with an honest answer?’

‘People got hurt.’

‘Lies hurt more.’

‘You’ve been hurt before?’

‘You have to ask?’

‘I’m looking at you because you’ve a very attractive female figure.’

‘You’re a very perceptive and gracious pigeon. Thank you.’

 

Childhood Reflections

Grandpa and grandma were the best. Most kids say that I’m sure, but mine truly were wonderful. Gran baked constantly. I would wake or go abed to the smells of scorching butter and sugar. I use her recipes daily. Grandpa taught my sister and I how to turn wood, to work with the beauty of grain. I learnt everything from him and so became the cabinetmaker I am.

But every perfect carpet has a flaw. They taught us to fear the dark, with vivid, arresting stories of bogeymen, phantoms and ghouls.

I’m 47 and still sleep with the light on.

 


This week’s prompts are:

  1. Jacks
  2. what’re you lookin’ at?
  3. they taught us to fear the dark

Go ahead and dive in, set your imagination free!
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.

Have fun

 

Written by Sarah Ann

August 9, 2018 at 10:20 pm

OLWG #60&61 – micropoetry – #amwriting

with 4 comments

I struggled during July to keep up with my writing commitments, and my responses to the New Unofficial On-Line Writer’s Guild prompts have been slow in coming. There is a way of combining the last two sets of prompts into a story, but I’m not up to the challenge, and have opted for ease and brevity with micropoetry. As I write that, I realised I am not prepared to reveal the number of agonised minutes spent to come up with these.

Thank you to Thom for putting up with my tardiness.

 

 

Broken

When delivered.

Phone customer services.

‘You’re call is important to us.’

Liar.

 

‘Switch off

And on again.’

‘I’ve done that already.’

‘Jiggle it a little bit more.’

Useless.

 

 

Well damn.

He didn’t know

She loved him all that much.

They both enjoyed their week away.

Surprised.

 

 

Fast for health reasons.

Made weak by summer’s wild heat

Hunger pangs abound.

I just want something to eat.

Reconsider decision.

 

 

Getting old,

Losing his senses.

‘Speak up, boy

Shout louder.

It’s important what you say.’

Learn from each other.

 

 

You are never going to believe this. I won last night’s lottery.

 


 

This week’s prompts are:

  1. you are never going to believe this
  2. well damn
  3. jiggle it a little bit

 

Last week’s prompts were:

  1. I just want something to eat
  2. Speak up, boy
  3. your call is important to us

 

Go ahead and dive in, set your imagination free!
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.

Have fun

 

Written by Sarah Ann

August 2, 2018 at 6:10 pm

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