Ten Days Ten Short Stories
One a day for ten days. I write when I can, do 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 Fork in the road.
Reconcile or Reject?
“Julian Wentworth is a pain,” thought Karri.
She actually heard him say that he was the best looking bloke in the building. The junior girls in the office loved him and admitted to having his business card pinned to their bedroom walls alongside Duran Duran posters.
They thought he was hunky, his hair so stylish, his suits so well-tailored.
“And he never has smelly breath.”
When Penelope whispered this in the tearoom, everyone squealed “Ooh, how do you know?” and she blushed scarlet.
To prevent her stuttering reply, Karri jumped in. “He’s so up himself I don’t think he knows it’s daylight.”
Blank looks turned on her, followed by the cold shoulder.
Karri swigged the remains of her Nescafe and returned to her desk. She had a secret. Julian Wentworth had been asking her out.
Nobody on staff knew Julian had initially invited her for an after-work drink on Friday. Karri shuddered when she thought what could have happened but didn’t.
She sensed his neediness. Julian was only keen on one thing; cajoling his way inside her apartment on Riverside Drive.
Grateful for the building’s strong security, Karri muttered “He won’t get his hands on my assets.” She certainly didn’t want his fingers running over Grandma’s porcelain figurines.
The other office secretaries believed Karri was so lucky teamed with Julian. He was the principal of the rental section of Frederickson Real Estate, the avaricious bastards she worked for, and he was always hunting for prestigious rental properties. Obviously he wanted to scrutinise her prime real estate, her inheritance.
When she bumped into Julian outside her local bakery on Thursday, he had insisted on walking her home until she snapped “Get real”.
At work on Friday, she told him to “Go jump”, and later to “Get lost” regarding Saturday night dinner. He was not easily dissuaded and had suggested tennis on Sunday afternoon.
Surprise, surprise, the tennis courts were close to Karri’s apartment. She enjoyed social tennis and had accepted. Now she looked glumly at her canvas tennis shoes. Julian would own an ergonomic pair, teamed with ultra-white shorts, and a tight top with a crisp collar and sporty logo.
She laughed, picturing him posing in front of the mirror then arriving late.
He was at the main gate on time but they couldn’t reserve a court. The tennis centre had just closed ranks for an Under 12s tournament.
Ungraciously Karri did not offer her home for coffee so they walked to the nearest café. She noticed envious glances from female customers and sat down hugging the tennis rackets.
Her gaze snagged on an attractive bloke in tennis gear sitting in the corner.
He sipped from a teacup, covertly watching Julian at the serving counter. Distractedly he put the cup down on top of his cheesecake.
“Oh, hell,” Karri thought as Julian fumbled with the payment, jaws clenched.
Her mind clicked; she could see it was decision time. “Which road is it going to be? Reconcile or reject?”
Julian turned quickly and walked straight over to Mr Cheesecake.
“Anthony, old friend, how are you?”
Anthony pushed back his chair and rose to embrace Julian.
“Oh, Jules, I’ve missed you so much,” he beamed. “How did you find me?”
Julian looked across at Karri. “That lovely lady lives nearby.”
They hugged again, and an elderly man at the next table dabbed his eyes with a serviette.
Another look from Julian conveyed an apology and Karri realised he must have discovered Anthony had moved into her apartment block.
She waved away his life of subterfuge.
Three’s a crowd; she could sacrifice a coffee. Anyway, her tennis shoes pinched.
“See you Monday, Jules.”
——© Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021——
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