Quick Stories #5 Reconcile or Reject?

Highrise apartments with tennis courts at Cerulean, Main Beach Gold Coast Australia, an apartment project designed with the owner-occupier in mind. Image supplied by Cerulean Main Beach. Information https://www.therealestateconversation.com.au/news/2018/07/16/owner-occupancy-the-rise-apartment-design-changes/1531702806

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——

“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

Quick Stories #1 Wrong Agenda

Boardroom photograph by S O C I A L . C U T Brisbane based creative agency specialising in a social media first approach Unsplash image

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 three names Beverley, Johnno and Smith.

Wrong Agenda

When Smith, the Big Boss, walked into the boardroom everyone was stunned. Beverley, Sales Manager, and the assembled staff hardly knew where to look.

A business man at the wrong end of his fifties, who wears a suit on his day off and never drinks coffee, is not the sort of person you would expect to walk into an annual general meeting with purple hair.

Branch Accountant, Johnno, was the first to recover.

“What the hell happened to your hair, Smith?”

Air was suspended in several lungs, waiting for the backlash, as Smith placed his sleek laptop on the wide polished table. He unbuttoned his charcoal grey suit jacket.  He shook it carefully and placed it on the back of his executive chair before sitting down to adjust his brilliant white cuffs.

By now a modicum of control was coming back into the astonished and amused faces around the room.

Strangely, Johnno appeared to be unconcerned at possible retaliation. He was already tapping his keyboard and pretending to shuffle through notes.

Beverley peered sideways and surmised that Johnno was on social media. She watched his keystrokes and smothered a sly grin. Publicly admiring Johnno for his clever mind and ruthless behaviour at tax time, privately she loathed his unpleasant temperament.

Stealthily, Johnno began to manoeuvre his laptop into a position where he could take a snapshot of the boss.

“Two important words,” boomed Smith, “Fundraising for charity.”

The staff blinked as one.

“Three words,” corrected Johnno.

Smith raised his eyebrows, fortunately their natural grey, as Johnno back-peddled a little too elaborately.

“And those three words are Well Done, Smithy.”

“Give him enough rope…” thought Beverley, and said out loud “Which charity benefited from your rather colourful transformation, sir?”

Smith was about to reply when Johnno, being the accountant that he was, asked “How much did you raise?”

Beverley thought this was rather blunt from a contender for the new State Manager position.

Ignoring Johnno, Smith cast his eyes around the room.

“I raised $2,450.35. My hairdo is the result of my granddaughter’s first attempt at up-styling.”

The boardroom tittered in response; Johnno was busy texting under the table.

Beverley received a subject heading Purple People Eater and another Sure Looks Strange To Me.

Smith continued “She needed a volunteer so I put my hand up, more’s the pity.” Polite throat-clearing emanated from the executives, many of whom had encountered his granddaughter and her office décor ideas.

“Two good deeds then!” exclaimed Beverley, giving a rousing wave of her arm. Johnno quoted her on Twitter with a photo of a chimpanzee offering a high five.

“Buckle up, guys,” rumbled Smith, “this session is going to go off with a bang.”

During lunch, Johnno found out his photo of Smith’s hair had gone viral. Next day he received his notice of termination and discovered the new State Manager, the only person he’d ever liked, was Beverley.

Maybe she didn’t like chimpanzees.  

——© 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