Wednesday Write-in #28


Welcome to the Wednesday Write-in!

CAKE.shortandsweet runs a write-in every week to writers to practise their skills, and get chatting to each other about their work. Everyone is welcome to join in, and the more people you tell, the more everyone will get out of it.

 

Prompts

farewell  ::  pocketful  ::  feeding  ::  thief  ::  maroon

Guidelines

There are no hard and fast rules, but here are some brief guidelines:

  • You can use the prompts as inspiration or try to work them into your story somehow. Use as many as you want.
  • When your story is done, post it online (your blog/twitter/in a comment here), tag with #wednesdaywritein and comment with a link so we can read it. You can write as many stories as you like.
  • Please take the time to read and comment on as many other stories as you can.

Featured Story

We’ll feature our favourite story on the blog with a review of it and links to the author’s blog/twitter/facebook if relevant.

Posts will generally go up at 12am(ish) on Wednesday – stories are due by 10am Thursday (UK) to be considered for the featured story. You can keep posting your work after this, it just won’t be featured.

The winner will also be eligible to publish on our special CAKE.shortandsweet genre through Ether Books.

Get Involved

Look for us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with the write-ins, or click the follow button to get blog updates!

Join our CAKE.writers group on Scribophile, an online community for writers to give and receive constructive criticism.

Read our Previous Issues and check out the Submissions page if you’d like to be a CAKE.author!

 

Any questions? Otherwise, have fun writing!

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98 thoughts on “Wednesday Write-in #28

  1. “This has been such a wonderful experience Mo, thanks for arranging everything for me.”

    “My pleasure Susan, I am just glad you’ve enjoyed Ho Chi Mihn City. I have loved having you here.”

    Their eyes lingered on each other until Susan broke the awkward stare.

    “Well, I need to say farewell, the flight is in ninety minutes. Oh and also thanks for feeding me; those restaurants along the river were unforgettable, even romantic!”

    They laughed and then shook hands as the hotel porter intervened and took Susan’s bag.

    Right on schedule the maroon hotel car pulled up. The two friends shared a final awkward hug. Susan slipped into the rear of the luxurious German saloon.

    Mo waved her fingers caressing the air as her long-time friend reciprocated from the rear window.

    Susan wondered if she had done the right thing, her heart was racing thumping hard against her breast. She slipped her left hand into the pocket on the leg of her cargo pants. She had a pocketful of mints she had grabbed from the concierge. She loved them and had become addicted to the handmade candy over the long weekend.

    Her right hand reached into the pocket on the right leg; she panicked where was it? She rummaged through her small carry-on bag.

    Mo decided to stay at the poolside lounge her boss wouldn’t be chasing her till after lunch. She had three hours now to chill before getting back onto the treadmill of ‘business development’.

    The waiter brought the long iced coffee and suddenly bent down to pick something up from under the round glass table.

    “Is this yours Maam?”

    He waved an off white envelope at her.

    She wasn’t expecting anything; it read “Dearest Maureen”, it had to be for her.

    In air conditioned comfort gliding towards Tan Son Nhat International Airport.

    Susan glanced for a last time at the colonial French mansions. Her head though was spinning, she must have left it on the desk this morning, yes that was it, it would still be there in her room. The cleaners would throw it away.

    Mo slipped her index finger under the edge of the envelope. She sucked in a cool mouthful of Vietnamese blend, she began to read.

    ‘I have always loved you Mo, I have always wanted to tell you but I know our friendship will end when I tell you this. When I looked into your eyes on Sunday night I wanted you. I wanted to tell you then that I wanted you. Like a coward I am writing this now on Monday morning, I slept on things but I feel the same in fact even more so. I so want to stay here and live with you hold you close but…….”

    The note abruptly ended. Maureen gulped, her pulse rose and a sweat broke out across her forehead. She felt the same if not more passionately about her long standing friend.

    The ramp to the waiting Air France aircraft felt like a thief stealing her away from the person she so deeply cared about.

    “Ladies and gentleman welcome aboard your flight to Paris”

    A voice ran through the cabin, Susan didn’t really care. She looked out at the palm trees swaying on the edge of the airfield and sighed. She had chosen a lacquer ware box she knew her mother would be delighted with and looked at it one more time.

    The butterfly feeling in her stomach had become so strong she sick with it. Like a teenage crush that sick feeling in her gut was gnawing. She would get a couple of small bottles of white wine and sleep it away; like she had before.

    “Please switch off your phones or other mobile devices”

    She reached down to the compartment on her bag for her iPhone to switch it to airplane mode. The message on the screen read.

    ‘Susan thank you for the note, I feel the same M’.

    • I really like this story – cleverly handled, and the characterisation is great. I had a problem at some points following the narrative because of punctuation issues, but it was nothing major. To my mind, you could have used a few more commas (but I’m always being accused of using too many, so you might want to take that with a pinch of salt!) In short, really lovely work. I hope Susan and Mo will be very happy together. 🙂

    • I love the subtlety of Susan and Mo’s relationship. It’s there right at the start which makes the story clear from the off.

      There are a few places where you could carry this delicacy on in the language. Take for example the awkward stare. With this being a common response to the situation, is there another emotion to be conveyed? How else would they feel if not awkward, and which would best fit the dichotomy between their friendship and their desires?

      The transitions between perspective need to be more distinctive to give a clearer impression as to who we’re encountering. A reshuffle of a paragraph or making these transitions shaper with linked, grounding details will achieve this.

      I found the details about the mints fascinating from a character perspective but was confused in that they didn’t appear to directly relate to driving the narrative – asides from having developed an addiction to them, what else drives Susan to eat them? Have they become a sign of nervousness? Are they something that Mo has commented on, which is why Susan subconsciously eats them in such a frantic way?

      Have a think about the function of the mints. They could serve as a platform to carry the unspoken things as the gap between the characters widen.

      On a technical level, take a look at your punctuation. Full stops and commas come within speech and quotation marks and there are places where a comma will help pace your sentences. Consider also whether a full stop will function better than a comma.

      I’ll be lingering on this story for a while. You’ve handled it deftly and fulfilled that thing which keeps a reader shaking the book, or screen in this case: WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?!?!?

      Nice work.

    • I agree with the previous comments — you have something here but the delivery is a little rough around the edges (the details of which Sam ^^ articulated quite well).

      This coming from someone who wrote “strumpets” instead of “crumpets”, eh? Ain’t this writing thing fun?

    • Lucky accident for Susan dropping her unfinished letter (did she ever mean to send it?) and finding that Mo felt the same. I didn’t feel it was natural to have such old friends shaking hands in para 5. Also I think the stare could be awkward but not the hug.

    • I found it a bit difficult to read because I couldn’t distinguish between the point of view changes. Often I had to reread when I realized I was no longer with Susan or Maureen. Some sentences need to be revised also, to give the reader some more breathing space. Overall, I love the plot and I love how there is a happy ending 🙂

  2. Hi Sarah, I’m really glad the Wednesday write in is growing from strengh to strengh. I enjoyed being a part of it and only dropped out when the entries grew in number – what with the day and night and weekend jobs, I just ran out of time to read and give feedback on all the varied and good stories. helen

    • Helen, it’s lovely to see you back around here! I completely understand, a lot of people just drop in and out of it when they have the time. If you do want to write one week, don’t feel that you can only take part if you make time to read every story. I think everyone understands that we all just read and comment when we can 🙂

    • I think I only make one every few weeks, and I rarely seem to get the time to read and comment on other people’s stuff at the moment; I don’t think you should feel obliged in any way – just do what you feel like, if you want to. The way I see it is it’s to have fun, rather than to gain an obligation.

  3. Maroon

    I had always hated the colour, even if my mother referred to it as ‘wine’. It was still yuck.
    Changing schools was a frightening enough experience, but even worse were the pleated skirts. I watched from the top deck of the bus as the bigger girls swished and sashayed with skill beyond their years as they migrated towards the boy’s fence. Hemlines shrank. Girls danced. Boys showed off.
    It was the colour of congealed blood. Some bright spark thought blue trim helped.
    My worst day began before I’d stepped on the premises. The day I opened the crumpled plastic bag.
    ‘It will save money, ’Mum said.
    Someone had cast off a hand knitted V-necked jumper. It sat limply at the bottom of the bag. It was a boy’s jumper. A woollen jumper. It sagged. It had pulls. It was too big. It smelled. It was mine. And it was maroon.

      • I like that his perspective changes and that he searches for what the image has taken from him as a result. Lovely description as he is forced closer, when he feels he might dip into the paint. I am not sure about the veils …sipping or human air, but I’m sold on how vibrant you make the art sound.

    • There are some interesting themes going around this week about the theft of something internal, something ethereal, that I’m really liking. I like the commentary in this piece, from the anonymous art lover in the gallery. The way you’ve transposed the sensations people describe from looking at Rothko into the physical manifestation of the gallery is really well done.

    • So vivid and enchanting.
      I like the idea of the painting stealing a part of him.

      This sentence in the 2nd to last paragraph: ‘It was enough to lure me, after staring at the King’s nose for half an hour in silence, to the gift shop and buy a facsimile.’
      Your words had me floating in a kind of dreamland, and this sentence brought me back to reality, which I didn’t quite like because I was so enchanted by the story before it.

      The last paragraph is great, and I particularly love ‘search its borders for the part of me it, the painting, took without my consent.’ It wrapped the story up brilliantly.

      • Thanks for your comments. It’s good to know that sentence is a problem as I’m inclined to agree – it’s so sudden. Then again, it’s what the painting does.

        I have an A3 version of it on my wall and it constantly disrupts me. It’s a sublime thing to look at, in the traditional sense of the word, and I’m glad I didn’t get to see it in the flesh.

  4. If you are lucky, there is someone special in your life. Your oldest and very best friend who has known you since you were both in diapers. The one who gave you the other half of the caterpillar she’d eaten when you were toddlers. The one you gave your favourite pencil to when you were six, because she liked it.
    Shared memories build year by year: toys, books, pets, homework, film star crushes, boyfriends, holidays, apartments. There are little breaks along the way. Schoolgirl squabbles when you don’t speak for a week, later her job takes her abroad and communication is by satellite, your husband and children claim your time so visits are few. But every reunion is like there has never been a parting. You reconnect instantly.
    Your partners comment that you are both like over-grown children again, and it’s true, You are part of each other, part of each other’s history. You never have to explain who you are or what you are thinking or feeling. And you cannot imagine a time when it will not be like this.
    But there comes the final farewell. After her funeral there is an empty space that no one else can fill. You have something to share, maybe a memory or a silly joke, but there is no one else who would get it quite like she would. You have other friends and family you love, but none of them will ever fill that gap. Part of you is missing, part of you has died.

    • You certainly describe one of those tough parts of life here. It made me think about my own friends, alive or dead. Are they the kind that you describe? I wonder.

      I think you could definitely write this in fictional terms, should you so choose — communicate this via characters and movement.

    • Just visited my sister so this struck home! Terribly sad. I love the caterpillar detail. Those idiosyncrasies that make up that teasing, serious relationship between two people. x

    • This is so lovely, and I can really relate to it. It touched me very deeply as I read – I have so many friends who I’m close to in this way, and I can’t imagine how I’d react if one of them was taken away suddenly like you describe. Really moving. I think the language is really controlled, which adds so much to the depth of feeling.

    • I love the caterpillar bit, it captures a shared innocence. You did a great job of building detail and then very unexpectedly- there’s the funeral; it evokes the suddeness of unexpected loss. Your description of the void left after is also well described. Well done.

    • I would love to read more detailed accounts of their time together. Form a relationship with each character so it’s a breath-taking wallop when the friend dies. This could make quite a good premise for a longer short story, or novella 😉

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  7. #wednesdaywritein

    Here is my attempt this week

    Two people sit near us in the coffee shop.
    “Did you see that?” I hear one of them say.
    “Shh!” says the other.”Keep your voice down…yes.”
    I immediately do my checks: look to Martha (she sips her tea), my shoes are on, outdoor clothing, pocketful of change still in handkerchief, wipe mouth,fingers through hair.
    I look to Martha again and this time she’s watching me: she reads me. “You’re fine,” she says.
    I relax again. It couldn’t have been me the other diners were referring to.

    I have moments of absent mindedness. I have only recently added the handkerchief to my checks. I had been throwing coins at the ducks in the park. If I keep my change tightly bound, I know I haven’t launched it. It saves trouble and I can afford the bus ride home.
    The check list has grown over the months. I don’t want it to grow anymore. I do the checks on a minute to minute basis, it seems. They keep me right, so does Martha.

    “You want another cuppa?” she says.
    “No, thanks, Dear,” I say. “We should get going. Bus is due in 10 minutes.”
    “You and your timetables,” she smiles. “You’ll never change.” She goes and pays the bill.I never remember the PIN number these days.
    When she returns,I help her with her coat.She looks lovely in maroon, always did.
    We make our way to the door.

    “Sir! Sir….”

    I stop and instinctively do a fast run through….

    He reaches me,”…Sir, you’ve forgotten to pay the bill,Sir.”

    …shoes, clothing, handkerchief, mouth, hair, Martha?

    “Sorry, I say. I thought Martha paid…But I’d forgotten our farewell. I am so sorry.”

    He leads me gently to the till.
    I unravel the handkerchief.
    I’ll walk home.

    • Very sad and frightening to think of losing your marbles, and worst of all knowing that you are. Check-lists and post-it notes all around the house. I hope he finds Martha waiting at the bus stop and doesn’t have to walk.

    • This was so touching. I’ve had a relative who went through a mental decline like this and the story captures so well the sense of confusion and disorientation that accompanies it. Like everyone else, I *loved* the detail about throwing the coins at the ducks – I can just see it happening. Lovely stuff.

    • I’m not sure if the confusion over the bill at the end is the character’s or mine, because I also thought she paid…maybe that’s the point? but really interesting piece about slowly falling apart. Nicely done.

    • Maybe it’s just me, but I read the ending as incredibly sinister. Of course, Martha could have gone anywhere; to the bathroom for example, but I think because we’re told she pays I assume she’s seen to pay. So when the man comes over about the bill, it seems like he’s taking advantage by getting them to pay twice! I like that he could be, or that it could just be the narrator not realising what’s going on. Nicely done.

      • Thanks, Sarah. Yes, I was trying to keep it as ambiguous as possible. I am not really sure that Martha is actually there.

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    • I really enjoyed your piece. It evokes such a sense of quietly controlled despair. I thought the line about envying the pigeons their lack of awareness was brilliant – I’ve often thought the same myself! The image of ripping off a part of yourself along with the bread is really emotive.

    • dirty grey tide … Is a great image. I felt quite shocked when I realised exactly what was happening. Well done.

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  12. Here’s my one for this week.
    Waited
    I waited for her, my boots sinking into snow that was already several centimetres thick. I needed to tell her that I had to go and that I didn’t want to. I still waited even when the sun had dropped below the pine trees and I knew she was not coming. I needed to see her one last time before I left.
    We lived in a remote place. The world beyond was alien to us. We courted its outskirts and rendezvoused in the forest to evade the gossip of ladies behind lace curtains. While we were satisfied to go on as we were, we waited impatiently for the time when we’d be old enough to display our affection.
    This place where everyone knew everyone’s business seemed to always have been there and we thought we always would too.
    That was until Mother collapsed and the doctor was called. When he left she started packing our things. We had to leave before the winter took full grip and marooned us. Soon the train would stop running and there would be no way in or out.
    She urgently needed an operation. The gastric feeding tube she’d need after meant we needed to be near a hospital so we went to live with my aunt in the city.
    With only a pocketful of pebbles for my sweetheart to remember me by, I waited. But there was to be no final farewell. As the sky darkened I trudged home in time for the train. A thief, it stole me away in a blur as it rushed past everything I knew, melting it all together in a blizzard of tears and snow.
    We were fourteen. I never went back. I often wonder about her and how her life turned out.

    • This is lovely – some of the images are so striking. Particularly ‘we courted its outskirts and rendezvoused in the forest to evade the gossip of ladies behind lace curtains.’ I also like the fact that you’re one of the few of us to use ‘maroon’ in the other sense – i.e. not the colour! I really love the idea of the train as a thief, stealing a person away. This was a beautiful piece.

    • Ah, nostalgia, young love lost. Maybe they can meet again as pensioners. I particularly like the ‘blizzard of tears and snow’.

      • Thanks for the feedback. The idea of them meeting again in old life is great; theres scope in that for a whole novel! Might be interesting to try as a short story; if I ever get time!

    • I also loved we courted its outskirts….This is such a sad story. I think the details about the feeding tube might be unnecessary just because so much of the piece is so poetic.

      • Thanks Elaine. I see what you are saying about the feeding tube. I always try and challenege myself to use all the prompts- it forces me to be creative. Last week I went back and edited my piece and sent it off to a competition but the first thing I did was remove some of the sentences that were just there using the prompts and had room to really focus the story and improve the ending. I will take this into consideration if I get a chance to revisit this. Thanks for the feedback.

      • I know you are very thorough with the prompts. I consider it a success if I can build a story around one. But taking part in this is helping me to increase my pace. Good luck with the competition.

      • Thanks for your feedback Sarah. Your feedback is as inspiring as your prompts! While I was writing this I had an image of a girl lookin out the frosted glass of a window and an authority figure such as her father standing in the backgorund. I think I might turn this piece into the letter that the girl receives after he has left and maybe I will tell the other side of the story from her perspective.

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