I figured it was about time for an update and the best part is, what with all the quick little writing workshops we’ve been doing on our course, there’s no need to write any new material. Huzzah!
Also, because although all these things are pretty short, together they add up to something mighty, I thought I’d just throw out a little plea here. If anyone has any humorous or interesting stories about Tinder, I’d love to hear them for a compilation of writing I want to try… uh… writing. The names would all be kept confidential, of course.
Anyway, the first piece is a short story I had to write revolving around the word ‘Malaise’ (don’t worry, I didn’t know what it meant either at the time).
He sat there, un-moving, as he stared out the window. In the time he had been sitting on the train, many people had come and gone, but he had remained, like a lone sentinel, guarding the carriage. In time, someone decided to engage him in conversation. She was a friendly looking young woman, wearing a pantsuit and carrying a small briefcase. She was rather flustered as she explained to him that she was on her way to work.
“It’s my first day at the job” she blurted at him, blushing slightly. The excitement was rippling off of her.
In response, he simply refocused his gaze from the outside scenery and smiled slightly, before nodding, and looking back. The woman looked down, slightly put-off. She had thought the man handsome, and figured his encouragement would send her down a good path for the day. She tried again.
“Where is it you’re off to?” she asked him.
“Crewe” he muttered back.
“Oh dear” she started.
“Yeah, I know, I know. Crewe’s a horrible place” he said as he returned his gaze to the scenery outside.
“No, it’s not that, I meant to say that Crewe was where I got on; that was two stops ago” she explained to him.
“Oh. That’s a shame” he claimed. His attention still focused on the scenes unfolding outside his window. It had started to rain, and at this, a slight smile snuck onto his lips before quickly disappearing.
Before she could continue, the train pulled to a stop. The man made no effort to move; instead he now studied the people milling around outside on the platform.
“Don’t you think you should get off here and head back?” the woman asked him.
“You think so?” he asked, but again, before she could answer, the train pulled off once more. She looked at him uneasily. By this stage, she had stopped adjusting her clothes to look smart and presentable, and had begun switching between staring sadly at him, and trying to find what he was looking for out the window.
Meanwhile, from the back of the carriage, the conductor locked eyes on the man and began marching forcefully forward.
The man matched his gaze, before looking back out the window.
Next up is a short story written in parataxis format. We could write it about whatever we wanted. I promise it isn’t telling of my true thoughts.
There’s no title, but I’m sure you can figure out what it’s about:
It was too much. My housemates were rushing down the stairs. Someone was banging at my door. Blood stained the carpet. The banging continued. I looked at the knife. I looked at her face. She was motionless…
The next short story is one we had to write using some instructions about either baking a cake or changing a tire. Being the manly man that I am, I chose the cake. And thus, it is aptly called:
“Bit heavy on the sugar there”
“You’re not helping Jessica” I growled, secretly fearing she was right.
“I’m just saying, you don’t want to give the kid diabetes for his birthday. No one wants that”
I shot her the most hateful look I could, attempting to remind her that her presence here wasn’t necessary. She smiled at me devilishly, before pouring another glass of wine. She then poured a second glass and offered it to me. The wine was bright crimson; it fired horrid thoughts of splattering her blood across the room with my rolling pin. I took the glass and had a sip.
“Careful you don’t let that go to your head. You don’t want the cake to be even worse than its currently shaping up to be” she smirked.
I added the lemon zest, savouring the zesty aroma and hoping it would distract me from the incessant pestering my ex-step-sister was offering.
“Is there not something more useful you could be doing with your time? Blowing up balloons perhaps?”
She laughed at my question; a strong hearty laugh that descended into a fit of coughing. She then calmed herself with a sip of wine, before pulling out a cigarette. “Oh sweetie, you’re hilarious. I don’t have the lungs for blowing up balloons. Get Michael to do it”
She lit up her cigarette, whilst simultaneously lighting up another grin. I wanted to punch her in the face.
“Please don’t smoke in here” I asked, trying to hide my frustration as I beat together the lemon juice, water and vanilla. I paused as I reached for more icing sugar, only to be interrupted as she blew a huge cloud of smoke at me, driving me into a coughing frenzy.
“I don’t understand why you didn’t just order a cake anyway. That’s what Michael was planning to do”
“Well, I’m the one throwing the party, so I’m doing it my way. Not Michael’s” I explained to her, tipping in some more icing sugar and resuming my thankless beating of the mixing bowl.
“How old is Timothy, anyway? Fifteen? He probably doesn’t even care about the cake”.
“You’re seriously not helping, Jessica”.
This next story is called The Probe. I don’t think there was any specifications here; just my warped mind at work. We eventually had to whittle it down to 120 words, but that version really doesn’t make any sense. We did however generally have to have a ‘resolution’ that the story was about. This one, I suppose, is about knowing your limits when it comes to drink…
Oh God, my head. I drank far too much last night. I, wait…
It’s dark. Cold. Where am I? Metals floors. Metal walls. Oh God, oh God, what’s happening? Movement outside. Footsteps. Someone’s coming this way. ‘Okay, okay, what’s in here? A picture. A picture of—
What the hell? Is that a hard drive? How on Earth did it get up there? I really hope that’s not mine.
Before I can check, the door smashes open. A man saunters in. He looks at me with intense fury.
“How did you do it?” he demands.
“Do what?! I don’t know what on Earth is going on!”
“The hard drive belongs to our employer. He wants it back. Give it to us”
“I seriously don’t know what you’re talking about” I blurt at him, although I’m starting to piece it together. It is mine. It is definitely mine.
“Look man. If this X-Ray is of me, I don’t know what happened. I just woke up here. That’s all I know. I swear!” I shriek at him, as he lumbers forward, ready to take action.
I feel an intense pain as he delivers a punch to my jaw and my head springs from his fist to the cold hard flooring. Blood splatters across it.
“Please, don’t–” I beg. He hits me again.
“How did you do it?” he screams at me, following through with another brain-shaking punch.
“I shall ask one more time, how did you do it?” He demands. He continues to stare intensely at me from his dark, seemingly lifeless eyes. I stare back. He’s a hairy herculean man. Not the sort you’d want to mess with. Not the sort you’d want making demands about how you woke up with an important hard drive stuck up your arse.
These final few extracts are less short stories, more just… extracts, I suppose. They’re just things. Good things though, I hope. Read away.
The first was one in which I had to write about a new place or person I encountered. Again, fairly self explanatory:
He was a rather burly man, with a thick handlebar mustache that marked him out as someone who would no doubt have undergone various masculine endeavors in his younger years. Had I not heard him speak, I could have seen him as having once been a cowboy who had misplaced his stetson and gotten lost in Cornwall.
Similarly, before I had properly engaged him in conversation, he had carried the air of a man of the community. In keeping with the idea of him as a cowboy, he would have perhaps been a sheriff, but instead of raising his hat like they do in the movies, he would instead raise his cigarette and nod as he walked past my house.
“What are you up to today then?” he asks me as I sit down on the bus. I tell him about my ‘homework’, where I essentially just have to go somewhere new. He laughs at this. “Alright for some”, he jokes, before telling me he’s just finished work in Truro. Turns out he’s a counselor, dashing my mental image of him wrangling animals and roughhousing in taverns.
Damn. So close, right?
Next up is a piece about George Orwell being shot, which we had to rewrite as someone else. I chose Jack Kerouac (don’t worry, it’s nearly over now).
It was a fantastical sound, one that ripped through the sky, seeming to stop time in its tracks. I knew in this moment that I had been shot, for a most terrible pain ripped through my body. It was the most terrible pain in all the world.
I thought in that moment of all the people in my life, and how I would never see them again. I thought of New York, and those women that I had danced with and loved and who had a beauty that was not matched by any others.
I tried to move my arm, but shock and numbness had overcome me as I lay in the dirt, unable to move or speak. I thought of one girl in particular as blood poured forth from my mouth. A bright crimson red, that filled me with both awe and an intense sadness.
The final part of this is something I wrote today. We had to write a reference, for ourselves, using the voice of someone we admire. I chose my aunt Mary. There are several reasons for this, which I won’t go into here. You may have noticed her name pop up in a few news stories about the influx of immigrants in Calais.
The fake reference is as follows. I hope those who know her will appreciate it.
I believe my nephew would be a promising addition to your organisation. He is a kind and motivated boy who has the drive to accomplish any task that is set before him.
His working methods are stable and effective and despite his young age he has amassed a wealth of experience in dealing with people through his time at the Ruthin Tandoori takeaway, Café-R restaurant, Leonardo’s delicatessen, Homewood Bound shop and volunteering for the Nightline organisation.
All of these various jobs have given him the discipline to manage various tasks at a time, and I truly believe that one day he may be able to keep up with my routine of walking the dogs, looking after the kids, dealing with their humorous but slightly outrageous (and very, very French) father, cooking, building schools, looking after refugees, teaching English, studying extra degrees, hosting guests, taking in any animal I set eyes on, writing magazine articles, setting up a cafe and riding my horses all on a daily basis. He has potential, and may one day be as hardworking as I am. But probably not, because it may not be humanly possible.
Perhaps you should just hire me instead; I’ve managed to free up a spare few hours on top of all that; don’t ask me how, I’m just bloody fantastic at time management.
Made it all the way through? Well, it’s appreciated. Give yourself a pat on the back and know you have my thanks. I’ll send some positive thoughts your way when I think you need them. Don’t ask how I’ll know because I haven’t figured it out yet.