Ten Days Ten Short Stories
One a day for ten days. I write when I can, the best I can, and I am willing to put my work out there! My thoughts are Don’t Be Embarrassed, Don’t Make Excuses, Don’t Stop Writing.
Recently I completed a 10-week term on Fridays with U3A Brisbane Creative Writing Group on Zoom and enjoyed the prompts, feedback and general literary discussions. The writers in the group are quite diverse in style and writing content.
The wordcount limit is 500 words and while I found their prompts were ‘forcing’ me to come up with something different each week, I really enjoyed doing it. I was quickly learning how to keep them short and sweet. Edit, edit, edit.
My characters are good, bad and ugly and the majority of the time I had no idea where they came from!
I say write for yourself first and don’t be precious about your words. For better or worse, here are mine—the prompt was Missing Out.
My sister wants to be called Garet, and I say “The end bit of your real name?” I count to five. She doesn’t hit me. “Why not go for something different?”
She pulls a face, accentuated by squinting into the morning sun beaming through the kitchen window.
Undaunted I continue “You’re called Margaret, right. It might be hard for people to cut off the first part. Why not the dual purpose name Monica? Get it?”
“Sounds like an English teacher,” she huffs, missing the point.
“Yeah, you’re not brainy enough.” I duck the paperback she aims at my head. It tumbles to the floor and our dog Loopy senses conflict. He hauls his arthritic body off the floor and lopes from the room.
Garet twirls a lock of hair, she’s in another place. Possibly Zone One, the Plaza hair salon which radiates militancy.
Theatrically I gasp “You’re not planning short back and sides?”
“Not too short,” she says airily, “and a different colour.”
She holds up her phone, the image makes me blink. “Wow, purple bleeding into fluoro green.”
“All the girls at school have short hair, like, I mean, really short hair.”
I lean forward. “So instead of remembering all that stuff Mum and Dad say about being an individual—”
She cuts me off “That’s fine when you’re an adult and your high school days are behind you.”
My mouth won’t stay closed. “Do those dimwits in your class use a social scale based on hair styles?”
Garet flares “Of course not!”
“So why do it?” I kinda know but want her to admit it.
“You know why.” She picks at her nails, glaring. “To fit in.”
“And?” I raise my voice an octave, my eyebrows go with it.
“It’s complicated.” Garet stacks her cereal bowl on top of mine. “The fear of missing out.”
My two hands slam onto the pine table before I can stop. “Missing out on what? Art gallery trips, tapestry classes?”
She flinches “I want to be part of the volunteer group visiting sick children in hospital.”
Instantly I regret my outburst. Until she adds “There’s some pretty cool interns who hang out with the volunteers in the canteen.”
Fair enough, I can reason with that. Tragically I was overlooked for a hot new soccer team. Now I won’t put my hand up on Sports Day because of that fear, that stab of rejection.
“Garet,” I say condescendingly, “go a full makeover but don’t forget that your family loves you, okay.”
“Thanks, Bro.” She actually blushes saying that, then twirls her hair again. “I’ll think about it for another week before I tell Mum and Dad.”
“I won’t breathe a word.”
I figure she’ll come home this afternoon with crazy coloured hair. Fear of missing out makes a person irrational; like wasting money on a soccer club tattoo.
——© Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021——
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