Wednesday Write-in #51


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

elastic  ::   rule of thumb  ::  spire  ::  conference  ::  wheel

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 if you like, and comment with a link so we can read it.
  • Please take the time to read and comment on as many other stories as you can.
  • If you want to write a poem, a script, or something completely different, feel free.

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Any questions? Otherwise, have fun writing!

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42 thoughts on “Wednesday Write-in #51

  1. The Crow Wood Curse

    Shadows from the church threw a miserable cloak across the village. Like a scalpel the ancient spire cut a dark line straight through the burned out shell of Roy Atkinson’s cottage. Mrs Froggett looked on from her bay window while she spun the thread on the wheel, as her mother and grandmother had done so many years before.

    They blamed her for the fire at the cottage the day after the vote but no one could prove a thing. The lamb’s wool stretched out to an elastic length as she fed the soft white down through her blistered and cracked digits. Her feet pressed down hard on the lever turning the wheel faster. An anger was brewing in her, she could not contain the surge.

    It had been three weeks since the conference; she hadn’t spoken to anyone since that desperate night. The last thing she wanted was a massive supermarket development on the edge of the village, but she had been the only dissenting voice. Betty Froggett had been born and bred in East Market village; she was the only pure native among the few hundred villagers. In eighty seven years she had rarely moved from the county and over the past few years had watched in horror as the city folk moved in and tarnished her hamlet.

    The newcomers didn’t know about the darkness and the evil thing that needed controlling in the nearby Crow Wood. Her fierce gaze had now settled on the home of the newest village incomers, the high flying husband and wife lawyers. As a rule of thumb the new folks were supposed to protect the secrets, but they had no care for backward tradition and now there was going to be hell to pay.

    Froggetts hooded eyes pulsed their message onto the stunning redeveloped home. Inside the minimalist grey, white and black dream house a spark jumped from the bedside socket onto the bed-cover. A hungry flame licked its way along to the curtains, and then the flames began to take a firm grip. A thin grin ran across the lips of the old lady.

      • ‘Like a scalpel’ – lovely! It gave me one of those ‘oh yes!’ moments when I realised I’d been looking at scalpels and spires for years and not connected the similar shapes. That’s what I like about reading – making you look at things differently.

    • Oh, fantastic! I love stories like this, with an undercurrent of dark magic and folklore. Brilliantly written, great imagery, gripping and perfectly constructed. Well done!

    • Some lovely descriptions. And great story. Can we contact Mrs Froggett to do some similar work where we are? She could be useful!
      (One suggestion: in the final para delete “… and then the flames…firm grip”? Leave it to the reader to work it out.)

    • Really enjoyed this. Love the contrast between the modern and traditional. You did a great job of evoking an atmosphere and I love how you kept the reader guessing til the end.

    • Great! I like the first para especially and the feeling of menace towards the end. Personally, I would prefer ‘fingers’ instead of ‘digits’.

    • Deftly handled! the opening sentence is a gem, setting the scene with ease. a great use of imagery.

      Two things need attention: punctuation and tense. Read through work to see where breaths are taken for commas and screen for any missing marks that indicate pronoun possession etc.

      Look too at when the story is set. Is this happening now or is it a memory? writing in the past tense can leave the writing passive rather than active so have a play and see what comes from it.

      Nice work!

  2. Big Day
    This was the major exhibition of the year. It was what the whole industry had been working up to for months. The stand designers had excelled themselves, the brochures were colourful and informative, and all the staff had been drilled until they were word perfect. Everything was good. Today she would be opening the conference with the keynote speech. Finally, recognition of her achievements; a huge honour.
    She gazed out of the hotel window over the city-scape, taking a moment of calm before entering the fray. It was a beautiful morning and would turn out to be a glorious day, not that she would see anything of it tramping the aisles of the vast exhibition hall. Comfortable shoes were essential at these events. In the distance church spires rose out of a light mist, centuries old workhorse mills gave way to towering glass and chrome office blocks and the ubiquitous big wheel sat in the centre looking strangely like it belonged. She took a deep breath and turned to the mirror for a final check before leaving the room.
    As a general rule she gave herself five minutes to look over her notes before taking a sip of water and walking up to the lectern. Everything was ready, just thirty seconds to go. She smiled and stepped into the room to applause from the delegates. Then ‘ping’ went her knicker elastic.

    • :D!! I’m so glad this kind of thing happens to other people, too. The last sentence made me laugh out loud. I love the contrast between her calm, cool, professional self and her misbehaving underwear. Brilliant.

    • I like the way the story thrummed along quietly until we hit the last sentence, then bang! The story was like elastic itself, letting it out, letting it out, then suddenly REELING us back in at the end with a shock and a smile.

    • This is great- really funny- love the anticipation and build up: how everything is so perfect leading to her big moment. Love the last line! Beware the misbehaving underwear conspiring in the downfall of ambitious women! Well done.

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  6. Hi everyone,
    Here’s mine for this week.
    {For anyone who might find four lettered words beginning with s offensive-apologies, there’s two of them in here!}

    The Vomit Comet
    I was Charlie surrounded by bubbles, floating higher and higher towards the ceiling of Willy Wonka’s Factory. Untethered from temporal and spatial anchors, my mind swirled up into the ether overwhelmed by the power of imagination. I was in a room cascading with ideas. I felt greedy and I drank them in. My mind hadn’t felt this stimulated since I was in college. The real world faded into obscurity.
    That was until I became aware of my phone vibrating in my handbag. Rather than interrupt the conversation, I waited for a suitable break and excused myself.
    I had eight missed calls from my husband. He answered on the first ring.
    “Are you ok?”
    “Yes. Why wouldn’t I? What’s wrong?”
    “Do you know what time it is?”
    “No. Why? Are the kids ok? What’s wrong?”
    “You missed the last train home.”
    “What? Really?”
    “It left 10 minutes ago.”
    “Oh shit. Shit.”
    “Don’t panic love. The last Nitelink bus leaves O’Connell Street in twenty minutes. If you hurry you might make it.”
    Don’t panic? I knew I’d have to run the whole way to get there in time. How was I going to run in these shoes?
    As a general rule of thumb I opt for comfort when manoeuvring around the city but today was different. I was reading a paper at a conference. I’d had my cream coat especially dry cleaned and bought myself a pair of ridiculously high heels to spruce up my old interview suit. I needed all the confidence I could get.
    It was my first time to dip my toe into academic life since I’d got married and had my children. I’d felt out of the loop. I always jotted down ideas and theories without any real intention, just following my own interests. Even when I sent off my proposal after spotting the call for submission in a newsletter, I did it on a whim. I never anticipated acceptance. Part of me still felt like a fraud, afraid of being found out,
    I grabbed my heavy bags and coat from the seat where I’d been sitting. I avoided the delay of goodbyes.
    Outside a misty drizzle veiled the outlines of things, making everything feel further away, out of reach, unattainable. As I tiptoed over slippery cobblestones, I shrugged off my worries about the rudeness of my disappearance in favour of more urgent concerns.
    Oh how did I lose track of time? The children must be in bed, I hope he brushed their teeth.
    I clip clopped steadily up Westmoreland Street towards O’Connell Bridge until the pedestrian crossing where the little orange man flashed to red too quickly.
    Oh My God. What about their lunches and their uniforms.
    Traffic was released like an arrow from a bow down the quays. Huge wheels sprayed me with speckled muddy water. It trickled down my newly dry-cleaned coat onto my legs. I rubbed and gritty particles smeared themselves into the mesh of my nylon tights. The digital numbers counted down to the next green man and I took the opportunity to rearrange my laptop bag and book bag which had entangled themselves in my handbag with all the jiggling about.
    The man turned green. I ran, elbowing my way through the mob coming against me.
    “Here watch where you’re goin’ Mrs. Will ya?” the nasally complaint faded into the distance as I ran.
    Half way across the bridge I noticed the man turn green at the other end. This light was not turning red without me on the other side. I had to make that bus. There was no other way home. My husband couldn’t just leave the children to collect me. A taxi would cost at least 60 Euro and I didn’t have it. Simple as that.
    Determined not to be distracted by the battle taking place between gravity and certain items of my clothing, I made it to the other side of the road just in time for the traffic to be released again.
    At the bottom of O’Connell Street I tried to fix myself but it was impossible. Through the lining of my skirt it was difficult to get a grip but I yanked anyway. With the snap of knicker-elastic something had been adjusted but the effort had caused my bra straps to slide off my shoulders and down my arms.
    With underwear behaving like a straightjacket I made a mad dash up O’Connell Street. A breeze up the back of my leg informed me of the possible presence of a ladder in my tights. The closer I got to The Spire the further into the heavens it seemed to stretch away from me.
    I could see that there was a bus at the stop. It was mine. As I approached the bus I could see him put on his indicator and as I got to the doors they closed. There’s many a bus I’ve missed at this point but tonight I wasn’t giving up.
    I desperately wrapped my knuckles on the glass of the doors, making it impossible for the driver not to see me. When he finally opened the doors I never thought I would be so happy to board a bus more commonly known as the Vomit Comet.

    • :D!! I have been here so many times – running for buses, underwear deciding to do its own thing, bags dragging me down… This was so well described, it felt like it was happening to me. I’m so glad your narrator got on that bus! I was thinking of her husband having to get the kids out of bed and into the car to come and collect her. How funny, too, that our stories both take place on O’Connell Street. This was funny, and compelling, and interesting, and real. I enjoyed it so much.

      On a point of spelling – when you’re talking about knuckles on glass, it’s ‘rapping’; when it’s presents at Christmas, it’s ‘wrapping’. 😉

      • Cool thanks for that spelling tip off – I knew it looked wrong when I typed it and didn’t retread it before I posted- thanks!

    • A great description of that nightmare feeling of rushing to catch transport. I was wondering how many more clothes were going to go wayward before she reached her destination!

    • That little chameleon man of the traffic lights. I really liked that. And that’s what happens. But I wonder how things had gone at the conference. Apart from her total immersion in the first para..

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