In an ongoing quest of self-improvement and to stop myself procrastinating, for a while at least, I’m doing an online ‘Writing Short Fiction’ course with the Professional Writing Academy hosted by Mark Jervis.
I’m still working on more short stories, but here’s an early two samples as to what I’m up to. It’s fun delving into new characters.
He catches a glimpse of crimson cashmere. Her delicate fragrance wafts between those polyester cotton mixes, as she walks through the crowd. He is a proud man, a learned connoisseur of the cream that can be caught, and this perfect morsel not only captures his discerning eye but whets his remorseless appetite. His passion is to devour the fashionable now of new money as well as the divine taste of old Sterling, with a wealth of golden tweeds he can bite his way through.
He rises from his espresso disguise and straightens his tailoring. Off in a gentleman’s leisurely pursuit. A ripple of anticipation stirs his senses, part of the pleasure is always the chase. He savours the moment and adjusts the polished line of his brow.
His pin-striped haunches loping at a brisk pace. Stride by glorious stride he is honing in on this flicker of fiery delight.
The canopy of architectural arches runs above him in that grand station, dimming out the natural light. This is his arena. He has already blocked out the sounds and sights of bustling life, through the forest of announcement gazing statues. The trigger has been drawn and his aim is true, a predatory gaze unfaltering as his target comes to a halt.
She turns towards him as he sidles to a close. So close, he can almost smell the redness beneath her skin. Her features relay the fearlessness of adolescence, and in direct response his smile blinds her from his deceit.
‘Good day’, he says. She nods in return. A curious flush of heat tipping her cheeks. This is a place where greetings and eye contact are avoided at all cost. But he knows, he is always the exception. Handsome, rich and charming, on the surface.
‘Gloucester Road?’ He asks, a casual glance to the board before them.
‘South Kensington actually.’ She says as he slowly redirects his eyes back towards her now hopeful expression. He can predict this well. The exuberance of contradiction giving her a false sense of superiority in the play, and they are playing. His favourite game.
‘Party?’ He says, a brief nod towards the bottle of wine peeking from her designer bag.
‘Family’. She says, matching the shortness of his conversation. Eyes darting, to his, and down.
He waits, a moment longer than comfortable, idly ticking off the time whilst imagining the ample soiree he could be feasting upon.
‘You remind me I should visit my own. Family. Sweet sixteen Thurloe Square beckons.’ He flashes a smile whilst one hand slowly unbuttons his jacket, pushing it aside to retrieve his ticket. In a mirror dance she fumbles for her own, and holds it tentatively before her.
‘Oh I’m also going there, my grandmother, twenty three…’ She says and is interrupted by the minor wave of activity towards the platform.
He nods a quick farewell. Knowing they will meet again. Quite soon in fact. He takes the correct car of the train, first to depart at destination. Knowing his territory is always key. And with this especially lucky break, he will be the first to arrive.
I awake to the sound of a baby crying, which is really strange as I don’t have a baby and I’m in my own bed at home. I sit upright, as much as my old bones can manage, and realise that the muffled noise is coming from the room next door. It doesn’t seem to be stopping and I try not to panic.
I am a logical person and run through all of the possible scenarios. ‘Am I dreaming?’ Standard method, pinch the arm, ouch. No. ‘Have I been in an accident and lost my memory?’ No, not this time. A quick check of my hands, arms, touch my face and a peek under the covers, two legs present and correct.
‘Do I have a guest?’ Clearly so. I don’t recall. However, I have not seen any of my friends for a long time, and my only grandchild stopped visiting because my son’s cross-eyed ex-wife refuses to make the drive. She is the worst daughter-in-law imaginable.
The volume of crying is getting worse. It seems impossible that anyone could sleep through such a thing. I wish I could move faster, the covers are tangled around my legs, but I have to get to that baby.
Out of bed. I make it to the door in record time.
I am standing over a snoring heap of red-haired woman, lying brazenly on my single spare bed. I would know her anywhere, even if her infuriating cross-eyes are closed. I don’t know what she’s doing here, she must have broken in. She’s probably just come to steal something or ask for money, because she didn’t get enough in the divorce. Ha, she won’t get a penny from me.
There’s a cot made up on the other side of the room where the baby is. No longer crying. It can’t be my grandchild as he’s two years old now. She must have stolen someone’s baby and is using my home as a hideaway. Oh, she should be locked up!
I poke madam Sleeping Beauty with a firm jab to her exposed shoulder. She was deeply asleep, and now the baby has started crying again. On and on.
She has been pacing up and down patting that baby on the back for at least half an hour. I’d be surprised if the baby makes it to adulthood without a crooked spine. She has also been speaking to me in a very rude tone. I take no responsibility for waking up that child, it was the other way around.
She still hasn’t fully explained what she’s doing in my house in the first place. She says she’s been here for the last few weeks, but will move downstairs as soon as the extension’s finished.
‘Extension?’ She nods towards the back of the house, so at least I don’t have to try and work out which way she is looking. She asks me if I want to hold the baby. Quite right of course.
I take the baby just to keep her from digging a trench through my spare room carpet, with all that pacing. She says my son is downstairs sleeping in the living room with Jack, who is three. ‘Jack’, one of my favourite names, but I think she may have her dates wrong. Jack is only two, and she shouldn’t steal other people’s babies. It’s not descent behaviour, even for someone who is clearly unhinged.
I mention that divorced people normally live in separate houses, rather than in separate rooms. She seems to get upset and fidgety, twisting the ring on her finger. She should probably give that back.
She isn’t saying anything now which I greatly appreciate. I wonder if I should hide the ornaments, my most valuable ones are in the living room.
She’s looking through a pile of linens on the chest by the door now. At least she knows how to fold. I used to teach my son how to do that, properly. I wonder where he is. He should be looking after Jack.
But what a beautiful little girl this is. She’s drifting off to sleep in my arms. No more belly-aching. She has the prettiest blue eyes I have ever seen, and a lovely sprout of red hair on top. She reminds me of someone.
My son’s ex-wife is telling me I should go back to bed now, and we’ll all get some sleep. She clearly just wants me out of the way.
I pick up the telephone on the landing as I pass by. I think the Police may be looking for that baby, I wonder if there is a reward.
She hears me on the landing and comes out to check if I’m going to bed. I wave at her with my free hand, the phone is behind my back where she cannot see it. I’ll go to keep her quiet. She says it is late and we are all tired. I don’t feel that tired, but judging by the bags under her eyes, it is not me with the problem.