Quick Stories #6 Walk in the Park

Moreton Bay fig tree © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

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 Pain.

Walk in the Park

The temperature was cool and pale winter light shone from an almost cloudless grey sky.

“Nice day for a walk, ” thought Janet as she drove into the carpark, “and coffee at Beans if I get that far.”

A knee injury had confined Janet to the house.  A foolish accident sustained while moving furniture.  A mere second which had induced weeks of debilitating pain.  She cautiously manoeuvred out of the car.  Elasticised support around her left knee bulked out her grey slacks giving the appearance of elephantiasis, but comfort overrode vanity.

Janet tested the weight on her knee.  It twinged but held.  She walked slowly along the ancient tree-lined avenue.  Her pace increased when she noticed murky clouds gathering in the distance, threatening.  An abrupt gust of wind buffeted her, bringing a drop in temperature and moisture in the air.  The sudden change made her head swim.

Disconcerted, she stopped.  “This is weird.”   

Regaining equilibrium, Janet lurched forward and glanced at the old Moreton Bay fig tree overhanging the path, leaves rustling and branches swaying.  She had the ludicrous feeling that the tree was getting ready to walk across in front of her.  A dry rustle came from behind.  Half her senses screamed “Don’t turn around”, the other half wanted to know what was going on.  Cold wind and grit stung her eyes but Janet turned to look.

The primeval trees were blending into each other, meshing their long heavy branches across the avenue, blocking her route back to the car.  Adrenalin rose, overruling the growing throb in her knee.

“Need shelter… Beans café.”

She spun back to confront the old Moreton Bay fig.  Its leaves whispered around her head, a long tree root tugged her leg.  She panicked, stumbled, and cried out as her knee gave way.  The wind moaned through the branches, whipping up foliage and twigs, encircling her body.  She heard a crack, the sound of splintering wood, crashing, falling.  Green, then black, followed by bright lights and two voices asking the same question over and over.

“Can you hear me, Miss Gallagher?”

Equipment beeped, the bed was hard, Janet was back in hospital with a reassuringly numb knee.

“What happened?” she croaked.

The doctor and nurse exchanged glances.

“You were in the park,” said Nurse, “and lost consciousness when a tree branch almost crushed you.”

The doctor air-patted near her shoulder.  “Nothing to worry about.”

Nurse grinned.  “The ambulance driver said you were wrapped in greenery, heaven knows why.”

Janet knew why.  The Moreton Bay fig had tried to warn her, tried to protect her from the deadly branch.

“Presumably,” said the doctor, “you had accidentally taken a double dose of pain medication for your knee.  Your GP did stress caution because it can cause disorientation.”

“Or worse,” intoned Nurse.

Janet nodded vaguely.  As soon as she was discharged, she would go and thank that Moreton Bay fig tree.

——© Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021——

“Generally, emerging writers don’t write every day; some writers don’t stretch themselves; some writers don’t share their work; some writers fear feedback; just do it!” Gretchen Bernet-Ward